didn't know how
long he'd been running; it seemed like forever. His lungs burned with
the effort and his calves were cramping from the prolonged, frantic
exercise. Past the stomping of his feet on the railroad tracks, he
strained to hear anything that might indicate Parkman was following
him, but his heart beat so loudly in his ears, he could discern nothing
He yelped in frightened surprise, as he tripped on some ballast between
the tracks and stumbled, slamming to his knees with a jolt, his hands
stretched out to break his fall. One wrist buckled painfully beneath
his weight and fire shredded up his arm. Exhausted, in pain and scared
out of his wits, he struggled to get back on his feet but all his
adrenaline appeared to be spent and his trembling body collapsed back
onto the ground.
Wheezing, he tried to slow his breathing and suck in a couple of slow
lungfuls of air but his chest only tightened further and he realized he
was on the verge of a panic attack.
His fingers began to tingle and he realized he would be in real trouble
soon if he didn't pull it together. He could imagine Parkman, gun in
hand, finding him passed out on the tracks, making the drug dealer's
job of eliminating him a piece of cake. One bullet to the head, and
Blair would be incapable of stopping him.
Shuddering, he managed to sit up and rested his aching head on his
pulled up, trembling knees. He'd truly believed Parkman would have had
no qualms about shooting him back at the rest stop. Once Parkman had
realized he couldn't use Blair as a negotiating chip, Blair was
convinced Artie had only re-entered the bathroom in order to silence
him once and for all. The memory of the gun pressed to his throat made
Blair suddenly nauseous and he staggered to his knees before retching
dryly. There was nothing in his stomach to throw up.
His throat was dry, his mouth parched; he couldn't remember the last
time he'd had something to drink. Most of his memories were spotty as
though his dazed mind refused to put them together.
Lifting his head, he wiped his mouth on the hem of his shirt and gazed
around. Now that he'd rested a moment, his heart rate had at least
slowed and he listened carefully for any sound of pursuit but there was
none. A notion of where exactly he was finally filtered into his brain
and he stood quickly if shakily. The railroad track looked somewhat
unkempt, but Blair knew it was still in use.
Shading his eyes against the afternoon sun, he squinted into the
distance. Nothing. He needed to get to a road, to get to help. Jim
would be looking for him, he hoped, but Blair knew he had a better
chance of escaping and getting back to Cascade in one piece if he could
get to the road.
His eyes scanned his surroundings. Which way? His sense of direction
had never been great but coupled with almost overwhelming fear for his
life, exhaustion and shock, he couldn't even seem to get a handle on
which way was up.
A scrabbling in the bushes and the snap of a twig made his decision for
him and he was off again, almost sprawling several times when his legs
seemed determined not to hold him up, his eyes searching for the road,
not bothering to watch where he was going.
He almost missed it. A strip of sun-grayed bitumen almost hidden by a
stand of straggly bushes. With a hoarse yip of success, Blair staggered
off the railroad line and ran for the road. His hopes rose as a semi
came barreling straight at him, its horn blaring deafeningly. Blair
held up both hands in the universal gesture for stop and only just
barely managed to jump to one side when the rig rumbled past him, the
driver raising a hand in a one-fingered salute.
"Whoa! No! No!" Blair stood in the middle of the road, staring
dejectedly at his rapidly disappearing salvation. He scuffed the
bitumen with the toe of one battered sneaker. Where the fuck are you,
Jim? Are you looking for me? Do you even know how much shit I'm in this
Blair turned, determined that the next vehicle would not pass him by,
even if it had to run over him.
Green. Before he had time to react, the vehicle slowed then stopped and
the man behind the steering wheel of Blair's beloved Volvo smiled up at
him. "Great car, dude."
Blair looked up over the roof of the car to see Iris. Gripped in her
unshaking hand was a large handgun. "Get in the car, Blair."
Blair closed his eyes briefly, feeling despair rise up to choke him.