8 - Mowed Field

7 - Orchard 9 - Livestock Shed
The ground was way looser than he expected. The mud road had been slippery, but the ground was pressed together from all the passage. The field's ground was fully loose from the harvest. He pressed his foot down and it sunk a bit deeper as soon as he put some weight on it. Damn, this is hard work. Even worse than walking loose sand on a beach. His progress was slow. Only after a few, what once had been, rows, he got the hang of stepping on the ground that hadn't been split open. The occasional misstep still had him flinging his arms around to keep his balance.
He had his flashlight and rubber gun at the ready, he really didn't want to hit the mud with those. Slow and steady. That light is really annoying, can't see anything except the hay. Derrek was within fifty meters of the stack now. Going straight at it, would put him fully in the spotlight. I'm already visible from afar probably. Don't have to make it worse. I'll circle it from the left to see what's at the back.
His night vision was all ruined from the spotlight, with eyes pinched he tried catching glances from beyond the stack.
A tiny glint, some light passing through the stack which seemed to reflect on a glossy surface. There's some— oh, snap! With his focus fully on the dark, his left foot slipped forward through the mud. He went full helicopter arms, keeping both his fingers pointedly away from any buttons and triggers, found a spot with both arms up in the air and was able to regain his stance. A laugh escaped him as he imaged the sight he must strike: half split, arms up, gun and flashlight in hand. I'd be fired if anyone saw me waving my gun like that. Better take it even slower.
A blinding light flooded over him. It came from beyond the hay stacks and sounded like one of the big floodlights from a stadion. Derrek's left arm dropped a bit to block the bulk of it. He blinked a few times to get most of the blinding effect out of his eyes but still couldn't see with the light in his eyes. He ignited his flashlight.
The glint he had seen shone bright now. Metal knives, interspersed in different directions. About a hundred-thousand he counted in the fraction of a second. Oh, hell no. You gotta be kidding me.
The sudden sound of an engine starting, confirmed his suspicion. The metal contraption of death was attached to a big green tractor. Seated on that green machine, mister pumpkin. He can't be serious, this is not a joke anymore. The engine made a sputtering sound as the metal knives started spinning slowly. Derrek aimed his rubber gun, knowing it was still a hell of a distance. He pulled the trigger any way. Over the sound of the engine, the sound of the pressurized gun firing, was lost. He pulled the trigger again and again, until it clicked empty.
One hit, he was sure of it. He saw the pumpkin head shake. He pushed the gun in its holster, hand going to his other gun. Should I go with live bullets? The thought went through him and froze him, even while standing some fifty meters from a machine that could slice him to strips of bacon. Am I going to shoot a kid? Really? The thoughts flooded him, newspaper articles with his name, parents in tears, a gravestone with two dates that had only passed not so long ago. He felt his stomach turn.
The tractor's steer turned too, as it shifted into gear. Holy shit. Derrek turned away from it and started stumbling through the mud. The tractor was slow, but so was he. No way, he can't be serious. His hand still on his real gun, he knew he could make the shot if he was a bit closer.
"Stop!" Derrek shouted. He barely heard it himself over the sounds coming for him. The orchard and the road is too far off. The rows are the sturdiest part, if I follow them, I can run maybe a bit faster. Derrek put all his focus on the ground, with his flashlight he could make out where to follow the row.
He ran, slipped, slipped some more and ran. A glance behind him pushed another spike of adrenaline through his body. It's gaining on me. Fuck. He slipped again, and stumbled forward, only barely keeping himself from going headfirst into the mud.
Not like this. No way. He shone his light in front of him.
To his left were the barn, the farmhouse and further the livestock pen, down too many rows of the field. Too far.
To his right, even further away than the farmhouse, were more unmowed fields. Also too far.
In front of him was more field, except, there! Further down the row and two rows to his left was another stack of hay, only three stacks, but enough.
The sound was closing in. With his heart beating at 2500 beats per second, through his chest, throat, feet, pinkies, and ears, Derrek ran down row. He came almost perpendicular to the haystacks when he jumped a row to his left, the machination was within 5 meters of him now.
He didn't dare looking back. He jumped another row, but slipped the landing. His right foot went sideways and dropped a knee into the mud. The sound behind him was deafening. He tried pushing up with his hand, his flashlight also receiving a mud bath, but he only slipped further. So this is how it ends, stuck in the mud in the middle of a field. I don't even know what was on the field. Killed by a teen in a pumpkin mask.
The sound grew louder. Until it passed him and went further to the left. The tractor had turned. Derrek looked up, the kid in the pumpkin mask was watching him as it drove past him. Thank you, kid. Thank you for not chopping me up and splattering me all over yourself and this field. Derrek slowly got himself up, took a few steps, and dropped himself, butt-first, onto the haystack.
He wanted to chase the tractor, to catch the kid. His body didn't. He sat there breathing heavy, sweating profusely and following the tractor with his eyes as it drove back to the farmhouse. Derrek had ran past the farmhouse, the livestock shed was closest now. On top of the farmhouse, the shadow stood watching him again. Yeah, don't worry. I'm taking a break, not going anywhere just yet.
The tractor stopped in front of the barn, the floodlights turned off. Pumpkin man got down, glanced toward him and walked to the right of the barn, where the back door was. Damn, the watcher will warn him if I go there, he'll be out before I even get close. I need to get inside that house and get that one as soon as possible.
At the livestock shed was some activity as well. It wasn't bright but there came some red light from somewhere in the shed. He couldn't see anything specific. It's closest. I'm guessing they want me to go there anyway, I can get close and make a run for the house. The gap is only close, back door to the house could be open.
Derrek raised himself from the hay, his muscles strained against him. Oh cardio, you're a real bitch. He did some quick stationary stretches and started walking and slipping again.
As he neared the edge of the field, he heard some noises coming from the livestock shed. Sounds like pigs. They were empty when I spotted them some time ago, no way there's anything there. Could it be an audio recording? The red light came from the front, it shone through the planks of the shed. The place could use some repairs. Derrek looked up to the left again, the watcher was still there. A tiny light in his hand, messaging the others.
Derrek stopped in the field and checked Ashley's phone, but there wasn't anything new. New group, good call. He pocketed the phone, stepped out of the field onto the muddy road and crossed it to the back of the livestock shed.

Continue reading: 9 - Livestock Shed

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