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Old 12-27-2011, 08:28 PM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)


Wednesday 18 January 1871 (late evening)...

The trail was fairly clear now, they had picked it up a couple of
days before, after they left the original road out of Adelaide, but
it had been faint, mostly only an occasional intentional trail
marker of some sort, and not a very obvious one. Garley and
Chase had been told what to look for, but it was clear to Garley
that whoever had left the little markers had not wanted them to
be obvious to anyone who was not intentionally looking for them.
There were small marked rocks, the occasional bit of cloth tied
to the scrub brush, and as they got closer to their destination
they found the occasional track of a wagon wheel.

That morning, the trail had at last become fairly clear, there was
a wagon rut, and there were places where the occasional patches
of scrub brush were cut or flattened. They were a good way
from the nearest town or outpost, apparently their customers
were not as worried about secrecy that close to their site.

For his part, Garley was still trying to convince himself that his
nervousness was foolish. For a while he had almost succeeded,
they had started in motion again after the height of the day,
letting the mules pull the wagons forward and taking their time
to spare them the worst of the heat. As the hot, calm summer
desert weather had worked its somnolent magic, Garley had
found himself relaxing somewhat, things were so still and calm
that he
almost succeeded in convincing himself that he was
imagining the sense of threat that kept creeping over him.

Almost...but almost is only almost.

One problem was Clive, who was now showing signs of sharing
Garley's nervousness. Not that he could be absolutely sure,
Clive was not particularly talkative, though that was not to say
he was uncommunicative. He was actually fairly eager to
communicate with Garley and Chase, but he was rather limited
in his success at this, since Clive did not speak English and
Garley and Chase had a very limited ability to understand Clive's
barks and whines and growls.

Still, for a 3 year old mixed-breed mutt, Clive could sometimes
be quite expressive. Garley and Chase had adopted Clive as a
street-abandoned puppy, and now he was their watchdog, mascot,
and general useful companion. He had proven his practical value
on many occasions, more than once he had warned the partners
that someone was approaching or present when someone should
not be, not many people or animals had ever succeeded in
sneaking up upon or sneaking past Clive.

Unfortunately for Garley's peace of mind, ever since they'd started
in motion again after the midday break, Clive had been acting
nervous and high strung. Usually he rode behind either Garley
or Chase in the lead wagon, and he was used to riding in the
wagon and usually a calm passenger. But now he was nervous,
he kept getting up and pacing back and forth along the length of
the lead wagon, and sometimes he paused to whine or bark, and
his barking lacked its usual aggressive confidence. At a couple
of points, when they had paused to make sure they were still on
the trail, Clive had jumped from the wagon, ran in a circle around
the wagons, and looked in the direction of their destination with
a noise in his throat that was half a growl, half a whimper.

"I don't get what's the matter with that stupid animal," Chase said
at one point, his frustrated words belied by his worried tone, Garley
knew Chase loved the mutt as much as he did.

"You got me," Garley had said, though in truth there was a part
of him that was having a similar sort of sensation as they neared
their goal, he just wished he did not have to work to hide it. Like
the dog, Garley was getting more nervous with each passing mile,
unlike the dog, he had a human mind that could find no reason
for the nervousness.

Finally, as the Sun sank toward the western horizon, the long
shadows spreading across the rocky, barren landscape, the little
train of wagons rounded a roll in the land and came upon their
destination, with perhaps half an hour of daylight remaining.

Garley looked around, it was roughly what he'd expected, there
was a single long, low wooden building, probably assembled out
of planks hauled in at the start of whatever project was under way.
Opposite the building were several large tents, fixed in place with
ropes and poles that looked as if they were firmly placed. Cut into
the ridge that had cut off the site from view along the trail was a
trench that penetrated into the hillside, becoming a tunnel. The
area was clear of brush and there was plentiful evidence of activity,
there were footprints everywhere, tables and chairs and other
traces of human activity all about. The place was neat and orderly,
and looked as Garley would expect, with one singular exception.

"Where the Hell is everybody?" Chase asked rhetorically, a few
minutes after the wagons arrived in the encampment.


Last edited by Johnny1A.2; 12-28-2011 at 11:03 PM.
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