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 Category:  General Fiction
  Posted: May 15, 2020      Views: 48

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Warning: The author has noted that this contains the highest level of violence.
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Finale
"Dog Rebel & The War Machine Pt.5" by BlueTiger






When Dog reached the edge of town, the first person he saw was Ruby June. She was standing on the edge of the field, beneath the only tree that stood there; an enormous walnut tree with branches like whale bones, heavy with deep green leaves.

Dog got off of the bike, and they embraced in silence, with nothing moving around them but the leaves of the tree swaying in the breeze.

"Did you find what you were looking for?" Ruby asked after a while.

Dog thought of the desert; of the long black road and the night flecked with stars above the towering saguaros. He thought of the moment he had touched The War Machine and knew, fully and truly, that it was his, that he had restored it -- and that he was free.

"I did." He answered.

"Did you figure out the riddle?" She asked, her head still against his chest.

"Yes."

"I'm glad," she said, then looking up into his face she asked, "Will you leave with me? I'm going today. I don't know where, but I have to get away."

"Why?" Dog asked.

"I can't tell you...yet. But I'm leaving, with or without you."

Dog looked towards the horizon where, far in the distance, billowing thunderheads were beginning to darken the sky.

"I will," he said finally, "we'll meet here in a couple of hours. But there's something I have to do first."

*********

He would tell John Rebel goodbye. That much he felt he owed him. A peace had settled on him as he rode towards the house; he knew now that when he rode away and left it, he would have no regrets, that he wouldn't carry the burden of hate that had sunk into his bones.

The house was still. It was the kind of stillness that came before the storm, the kind that gathered itself into the trees and rested in the cool of the tall grass.

There was another kind of stillness, too. This was a fearful kind, a stillness that made the hair stand on the back of Dog's neck and made his blood run cold. The old blue truck sat in the driveway, but his dad's bike was gone from its usual spot outside the house. Something was wrong.

Carefully he stepped away from The War Machine. The gravel crunching beneath his boots was like the report of gunshots, and he was sure that the jangle of keys on his belt could be heard for miles.

The door had been left open, the screen ajar. The lights were off, except for the lamp in the kitchen that glowed a dull yellow. Dog stopped in the doorway of the living room. The coffee table had been overturned, the couch cushions flung across the room. Dog heard a noise from the hall and ran towards it.

His dad was there, kneeling on the floor by the stairs. His hands had been tied with a cord and lashed to the banister; his face was battered, one eye swelled shut, his grey hair matted with blood.

"Dad!" Dog shouted as he ran to him, knelt by his side. John looked at him, his face twisting in horror.

"Dog...you gotta get outta here..." he panted, "They're...they're coming back...they'll kill you."

"I am getting out of here," Dog said as he ran into the kitchen for a knife, "and so are you."

He crouched beside John and cut through the tightly knotted cords that held his wrist, then helped the man to his feet.

"I'm sorry," John said as they made their way to the door, Dog struggling to hold him upright, "I shoulda told you..."

"It doesn't matter anymore," Dog said, "We just need to get out of here before they find you again."

They stumbled out the door, down the porch steps.

"I can drive," John said, "I'll take the truck."

"No..." Dog said, looking across the driveway to the spot where The War Machine stood, her gold rims catching sunlight as it faded from the day.

"The bike's faster," Dog said, walking his dad towards it, "You should take it instead."

"But that's...that's your bike, Dog."

"I know," he said, "Will you be able to ride it?"

His dad nodded, and Dog handed him the helmet.

"Just drive as fast as you can," Dog told him, "Don't look back."

"What about you?"

"Don't worry about me."

His dad put a hand on Dog's shoulder; looked as though he might speak again, but he didn't. Then he straddled the bike, and the roar of the engine was like the thunder that hung on the edge of the sky.

Dog only watched his dad ride away for a moment before he turned and strode back into the house.

Dog flung open the doors of the liquor cabinet. Out came bottle after bottle which he smashed to the floor and slung against the walls. He gathered the rest of the bottles in his arms and poured them out as he made his way to the front porch. The last bottle he flung with all his strength against the side of the house, where it shattered and rained a silvery shower of glass across the porch.

He could hear the thunder far behind him, feel the crackle of lightning in the twilight. He hoped the dark would come before the rain did.

Reaching into the pocket of his jacket, he took out the book of matches Ruby had given him. He struck a match, watching the tiny flame flicker for a moment before he tossed it towards the house.

A tongue of fire shot up from the porch, growing as it followed the trails of alcohol up the door frame and into the house. The fire danced across the railings and the windows, as yellow as a field of daffodils.

Dog put the matchbook back into his pocket, and climbed into the truck. There was a crackling of dry wood, a shattering of glass. He turned the ignition, the truck purring to life.

He rolled down the windows, letting in the cool electric air and smell of smoke. The flames climbed higher and brighter as Dog drove away; but as he had told his dad, he didn't look back. He kept his eyes forward, towards the deep gray, thundering horizon, where the clouds where like silvered mountains looming in the twilight --

towards a tall green tree where Ruby June was waiting.

Author Notes
Finally done with the last piece of this story. Thanks to everyone whose read this far. I don't know how to add media files, but I had wanted to include the song 'Caution' by the Killers. The song came out just as I writing this ending, and I thought it fit well; it captures the same kind of emotion that I hope came through here.
Thanks again for reading.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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