Planet Earth Protectors, The River's End

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47 WHICH TRUCK IS WHICH?

“Okay. There it is,” Teplan said as the opening in the woods emerged ahead and revealed the highway as Ian had described. “Ian should be here really soon.”

“Let’s just wait back here until we see Ian at the road,” Terah whispered, stopping in her tracks and grabbing Teplan’s forearm. “What if we get caught?”

“What? We’re not going to get caught here — there’s no way anyone can see through the woods from the road anyway. Let’s get a bit closer, there’s still like fifty feet between us and the road!” Teplan moved forward. Terah did not until he grabbed her by the arm and pulled her along. “It’s okay — it’s not like they can tap into our phones!”

They found a bush where the woods met the opening for the road and hid behind it.

“Okay, so now we just wait,” Teplan said.

To the left of them, headlights blasted over a hump in the road.

Teplan’s cell phone rang, “Ian?”

“Yes, Teplan. Come out to the road and we can pick you up,” the voice crackled faintly on the other end.

Adrenaline pumped through him as he crouched, “We’re just up ahead of you on your right — we can see your lights. Your phone is full of static — I really can’t hear you too well, Ian.”

The phone crackled again and the voice took a moment to respond, “Then come out to the road. We’re waiting on you.”

“Sure, we can see your lights — we’re just up ahead of you on your right side. We’ll come out now,” Teplan said turning to Terah. “Well the phone works, but it was full of static. At least I didn’t completely break it. Ian wants us to go to the road.”

Terah didn’t respond and thought for a moment, “Hang on. That doesn’t make sense. Ian told us to stay put until he reaches us at the road. He wouldn’t tell us to leave a safe place until he was right here.”

“Well, he just did.”

Without speaking, Terah squished her lips together, shrugged her shoulders with her palms up and followed Teplan out of the bushes. Fifty feet in front of them, the road beckoned.

To their left, headlights began pulling to the side of the road about 100 feet from them. “That’s not the same truck Ian had before,” Teplan said.

In the other direction, Terah’s eyes met another set of headlights racing up the road. She grabbed Teplan’s arm and pointed, “Teplan! Look!”

He spun around in time to see the second set of headlights bounce and crash over the ditch beside the road that separated it from the tree line and on course directly toward them.

The first set of headlights skidded to a stop on the road immediately in front of them. All doors of the big, black truck opened. Four men in black jumpsuits jumped out and began running right at them.

“Yeah, that’s not Ian,” Terah said frankly as they turned to duck back into the forest.

The second truck was only 50 feet away and flying right at them.

One of the men running at them, face scrunched and fist waving, yelled: “You’re not getting away this time!”

Teplan’s mind flashed back to the chase up the tree after leaving Marney’s place. Frozen in their spots, Teplan and Terah watched the race unfold before them. To their right, one truck raced towards them along the grassy roadside. Directly in front of them, four men in black jumpsuits were sprinting towards them at lightning speed.

“That truck better be Ian, or we need to do some serious running!” Teplan said as they squeezed each other’s hand. In moments, the second truck was about twenty feet away when its driver slammed on the brakes, sending the truck’s back end skidding around, as if it was doing a very quick u-turn and ended up right between Terah and Teplan, and the four angry jumpsuits.

Teplan and Terah’s hearts pounded in their chests.

“Get in!” Ian shouted through the open window.

“Ian!” Teplan and Terah yelled simultaneously.

They leaped over the side of the truck into the bed and landed beside the long black box once again. Ian slammed his foot on the gas. One of the men lunged forward and just managed to grab the side of truck while his feet bounced along the ground. Ian was right on it and swerved side to side.

I have to do something, Teplan then wiped gobs of mud off his hair and shirt and wiped it on the guy’s hands as they gripped the side of the truck. The truck swerved from side to side and the hands started losing its grip. Suddenly it let go and grabbed Teplan’s wrist. “Ahh!” Teplan shouted and panic rippled through his body.

“IAN!” Terah screamed.

Ian swerved harder and slammed his brakes. The guy let go of the truck and grabbed Teplan’s arm with both hands. Pain seared through Teplan’s body as he felt his arm pulled out its socket. This guy wants to kill me!

Terah jumped on Teplan’s back, bear hugged him and wrestled to keep him in the truck. “Hold on, Teplan!” Terah yelled as she squeezed his body, forcing him to the truck’s floor.

With one arm in pain, Teplan reached with his other arm and tried to get the death grip off his wrist. The grip got tighter.

Ian hit the brakes and everyone went flying.

The guy crashed into the truck, holding onto Teplan’s wrist only.

This guy is going to rip my arm off!

“A little bumping around is not going to get rid of me!” the guy yelled at Teplan through gritted teeth.

Ian kept it up, cranking the wheel from side to side, sending the guy, and Teplan, crashing against the side of the pick-up truck.

“Hold on, Teplan!” Terah shouted as she tightened her grip on his waist, trying to keep him in the truck.

Teplan wedged his body against the side of the truck, pressed one foot against the black box and the other against the wheel-well. He let go of the truck with his free hand, wiped a hand-full of fresh mud from the top of his head and squeezed it into the guy’s grip.

“LET GO OF MY HAND!” Teplan shouted, using all his might to jam wet mud under the grip and pry the fingers open. Suddenly the hands slipped off the truck, along with the rest of the guy, and he rolled awkwardly into the ditch. Teplan and Terah slammed against the black box behind them.

“You okay?” Terah asked, gasping for air.

Holding his arm, Teplan replied with a wince, “Man that hurts, but yeah, I’m okay. Thank you, Terah. Without you, I would have been pulled right out of the truck!”

“You’re welcome. What are friends for?” Terah said, giving him a big hug and feeling quite proud of herself.

Through the open glass, Ian shouted, “You two okay?”

“Yeah, we’re okay,” Teplan replied.

“Good. Let’s try to keep close calls like this where you almost get caught to a maximum of 2 per day…” Ian said.

They smirked and nodded.

“Look inside the small seat — right here under the window,” Ian said, pointing his thumb to the small box at the front of the truck’s bed. “You should find some sort of clean clothes there.”

They opened the heavy metal box and found two large tracksuits. “I’m sure they’re big for you guys, but at least you’ll be warm and dry. You can just slip them over your clothes for now. We just have to go to my office quickly and then I’ll take you two straight home. How’s your arm, Teplan?” Ian asked as he raced the truck along the dark road.

“It’s sore, but I’m pretty sure it’s not broken,” Teplan responded as cheerfully as he could.

The tracksuit hung to the floor as Terah popped her head into the cab, “Thank you, Ian!

“You’re welcome. I’m glad to help. I hope you two aren’t planning any more of these outings tonight, are you?”

“We have no more plans to go back to the pig farm. No way!”

“Okay guys,” Ian said loudly. “Let’s get you guys into the seats.” The black metal box that took up most of the space in the bed of the truck suddenly opened on automatic hinges, like a pizza box with a remote control lid.

“Hop in.”

Teplan and Terah scrambled inside. Ian pushed a button and the cover closed on top of them.

The state-of-the-art chairs lent an air of comfort. The ultra-high resolution LCD screens housed in protective casings beside each seat popped on. Ian’s friendly face was staring at them, “Buckle-up and hold on!”

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