Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: GAMBLE (04/14/16)
- TITLE: Fleeting
By Don Buschert
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He was running on instinct and adrenaline, putting as much distance between his six-foot-five, two-hundred twenty-pound frame and Lesiuk’s shorter, heavier one. He could outrun Lesiuk, but dreaded the notion of a gunfight with Lesiuk’s .44 Magnum versus his .19 Beretta. He needed to keep moving.
A large, heavy black hockey bag was bound to his back. Syl haphazardly managed to squeeze an arm through each strap, albeit unevenly. The money inside jostled around, upsetting his balance. He needed to stop staggering. But he couldn't. Not with Lesiuk in unwavering pursuit.
Syl barely spotted a low lying log, tried jumping it, but his right boot got caught, sending him flying. He crashed and rolled sideways onto the hard forest floor. He laid still on his side for a moment, panting and gasping. He was good, no sprains, no broken bones.
Syl made out the large log’s silhouette in the dark. Luckily, there was room underneath to hide; at the very least it would serve as a great shootout barrier. Syl quickly crawled over, kneeling down, he peered back into the darkness hoping to spot Lesiuk.
Lesiuk wouldn't run crazy headlong into the darkness like him. He would use his phone's light. But there was no blue light to be seen, and the forest was deathly quiet, the only sound was that of Syl’s pounding heart. Syl breathed in through the nose, and exhaled slowly out the mouth, controlling his gasping, but doing little to slow down his anxious heartrate.
It dawned on him how canny Lesiuk really was. Of course he wouldn't bother to chase him in the dark. He'll wait until daylight when he can round up a posse to hunt him down. Lesiuk was a trained, experienced killer, one of whom Syl witnessed his ghastly work firsthand on hapless victims. Lesiuk took his time to kill, showing no mercy.
Syl unzipped his leather bomber jacket, pulling out the Beretta from the holster. His sweaty hand fingered it in the darkness. If it came down to it, he’d use this gun on himself, rather than fall into Lesiuk's lethal hands.
The heavy bag fatigued his muscles. Should he stop and wait it out? Daylight arrives in about four hours, what then? He got an idea.
Syl wiggled out of the hockey bag's straps, setting it on the cold ground. With one eye looking out for Lesiuk, and the other on the zipper, Syl slowly opened the pouch a few inches. Sticking a clammy fist in, he grappled out a single bundle of one-hundred dollar bills. He couldn't read the printing on the bills in the dark, but it sure felt like ten thousand dollars as he thumbed through the edge.
He reached inside his jacket, unzipping a pocket cleverly concealed in the lining. He popped the bundle into the hole, feeling it snugly drop. Syl pulled out three more bundles, and dropped each of them in the pocket. Then he opened the other pocket in the jacket's right side, pulled out four more bundles from the bag, filling that pocket. Satisfied, he closed up the hockey bag zipper. He now had eighty-thousand dollars on his person. Enough to get away to Belize and live there many years, shack up with some cute Senorita, settle down safely and be forgotten.
But what to do with the rest? Should he just dismissively leave two million dollars under this log and walk away? He’ll be safely long gone by the time Lesiuk and his cronies locate the bag. Or should he attempt to retrieve it? With all this money, he'd be set for life. But was it worth the risk? Was it worth a bullet through the forehead over two million in cash? Should he just cut his losses and run?
Organized crime wasn’t his thing. If there was a God in heaven, Syl breathed a prayer that he’d get out of this mess alive. He stopped again to listen at the forest stillness. The sky above was still very, very dark.
His mind made up, Syl slid the hockey bag under the log. He’d find his way back to town, lie low for three days, then return to search out the bag. With any luck he’ll be a living, breathing, rich man.
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