The Loner: Seven Days to Die

The Loner: Seven Days to Die by J.A. Johnstone

Book: The Loner: Seven Days to Die by J.A. Johnstone Read Free Book Online
Authors: J.A. Johnstone
from the opening, Jillian screamed.
    The Kid cursed. Getting his feet under him on what had become a mostly moderate slope, he scrambled upward as fast as he could go.
    The light was suddenly blocked off as one of the guards leaned over the opening and thrust the barrel of his rifle through it. The Kid found himself looking down that barrel and knew the spooked guard might start shooting at any second.

Chapter 17

    Instinct and superb reflexes, despite his long confinement, allowed The Kid to fire first. The sharp crack of the rifle in his hands was deafening in the narrow confines of the chimney.
    The guard jerked back out of sight. The Kid levered another round into the Winchester’s chamber and clawed his way to the surface.
    As he emerged from the hole in the top of the cliff, he threw himself onto his belly. A shot blasted at that instant, the bullet whipping over his head, missing him by no more than six inches.
    Lying on his belly, he triggered a round at the second guard. The .44-40 slug ripped through the man’s thigh and knocked him off his feet. His rifle went flying.
    The Kid jerked his head from side to side, looking for the other man. Relief went through him as he spotted the man lying on the ground a few yards away, clutching a bullet-shattered shoulder and whimpering in pain.
    The Kid felt an unexpected pang of sympathy as he recognized the man as Smithson, the guard who hadn’t actually befriended him but had treated him with more respect than some of the others. He was glad his shot hadn’t killed Smithson.
    Sympathy didn’t stop him from leaping to his feet and kicking both rifles away from the men who had dropped them. He swung the Winchester in his hands back and forth to cover both wounded guards.
    “It’s clear!” he called down to Drake.
    “Get on up there, you bitch!” Drake ordered Jillian Fletcher. Sobbing, she emerged from the hole, followed closely by Drake.
    The first thing he did was snatch up one of the rifles. Now that Drake was armed, too, The Kid thought it would be safe for him to take a second to look around at their surroundings.
    The mouth of the natural chimney had a cluster of small boulders around it. The heavily wooded slope of a mountain rose to his left. The Kid thought that was west. To his right, about fifteen feet away, was the sheer drop-off of the cliff, running north and south farther than the eye could see.
    That was why it took so long for guards to get up there, The Kid realized. They had to ride a long way to get to a trail that led to the top of the cliff.
    The pair of saddled horses Smithson and the other guard had ridden to the top were tied to small trees nearby. The Kid was mighty glad to see them. Those horses represented freedom.
    “Come on, Drake,” he said. “Let’s get out of here.”
    “In a minute,” Drake snapped. “We’ve got time.” He turned to Jillian and caught hold of her arm, squeezing it cruelly. “You bitch,” he said again. “I told you what’d happen to you if you let out a peep while we were climbing up here.”
    From the ground, the guard who’d been wounded in the leg by The Kid said, “Let her go, Drake. You’re out. You don’t need a hostage anymore.”
    “The hell I don’t,” Drake replied with a sneer. “Fortune dropped the warden’s daughter right in my lap. You reckon I’m gonna turn down that gift?”
    “You said you’d let her go,” The Kid reminded him.
    “Well, I changed my mind. Just for playing that little trick she did, she’s coming with us.” Drake shoved Jillian at The Kid with such force he had to grab hold of her to keep her from falling. “Get her on one of those horses and climb up behind her. I’ll finish up here.”
    The Kid was about to ask him what the hell he meant by that, when Drake swung up the rifle he held and fired, driving a slug into the forehead of the guard with the wounded leg. Jillian screamed as the man’s head jerked back and seemed to balloon for a second before

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