9:30 P.M. That's right, I know the date and time now...
I woke up this morning, gathered up what little I had, and set off on the bicycle. Still in search of some form of transportation, and anything else I could find.
After riding for nearly five hours, pausing only to get a little something to eat from my pack, I noticed some movement between a couple buildings in the small town I was riding through. Didn't think much of it at first, maybe some dogs or other animals. Maybe something stirred by the breeze. But something made me turn around and head for that spot.
It was a narrow little alley, filled with trash and debris, ending in a fence between the buildings. I got off the bike and cautiously walked down the alley with my pistol in my hand. Nothing was there. I was just about to turn around when I saw it: a faint boot print on one of the fence boards! Fresh as could be.
So I climbed over the fence. Another alley between some buildings. And another partial boot print on a piece of cardboard...
I ran out to the street, looked both ways, and saw nothing. Across the street, there was a park. A pond, lots of trees, benches, picnic tables... And an old International Scout, which had decided to get cantankerous on the person who was trying to start it.
Not to spook them, I crept through the trees rather than sprinting over like I wanted to. The Scout was not going to start any time soon. Never hit a lick as it was cranked over.
About 30 yards away, I stopped and quietly watched as a young man exited the truck, looked around nervously, and raised the hood. He was soon joined by the passenger, an older woman. Both were dressed in camo, and had dirt smeared on their faces. The young man fiddled under the hood while the woman kept a lookout. She had a bolt rifle in her hands, and she looked like she meant business.
I watched them for five minutes or so, then decided to make my move. Knowing full well that I was putting my life in that woman's hands, I grasped my pistol by the barrel, put my hands in the air, and slowly walked out from behind the tree that hid me.
Instantly, that rifle was aimed at me, and I stopped. She said not a word... The young man pulled out a revolver nearly as fast, and crouched in front of the truck. Also without a word.
For what seemed like forever, I just stood there, hands in the air and holding my pistol by the barrel. Finally, I had to say something.
"I don't mean any harm."
Then I slowly knelt down and set the pistol on the ground. The young man stood up, and the woman slowly raised her rifle. I stood up and backed away from the pistol; something which seemed suicidal to me at the time, but also the right thing to do.
The woman approached me, while the young man remained by the truck, revolver at the ready. She stopped maybe twenty feet shy, and just looked at me with her piercing eyes. When she finally spoke, it was to tell me to drop my pack, kneel down with my ankles crossed, empty my pockets, then put my hands on my head. This I did, very slowly.
When I finished, she asked me to stand up again, hands on my head. She walked around me a couple times. Then she withdrew a pistol from her holster, slung the rifle, and patted me down. With the pistol pressed to my chest over my heart...
She asked me who I am, and I told her. For the next few minutes, she grilled me. I suppose I was so happy just to hear another human voice that I was almost laughing when I answered. After I finished telling her of my captivity, and the strange circumstances of my release, I saw those piercing eyes soften a bit, and a look of understanding came over her face. Then she told me to gather up my things, and asked if I knew anything about diesel engines...
Her name is Josey, and the young man is her son Kevin. Turns out it was they who were my shadows. They were just about to make contact with me before I was taken.
Their hesitance when I appeared was due to the fact that they were unsure of how I might behave after my capture. They didn't know what had happened to me. Quite understandable.
I did find the problem with their Scout; the rubber fuel line to the pump was old and brittle. It cracked, and let air into the injector pump and lines. One of those buildings I walked between was an auto parts store, so I went and fetched a length of hose. That replaced, and injectors bled, the old Scout fired right up.
We pitched camp here in the park, and we'll head out in the morning. Now there's three of us. There's got to be more.
More details tomorrow, now it's time to rest. I've got a lot more to write about...