To Capture the Wind
To be published in 2021
Tim Darkins is also Jessie Reno. Commander of the Jesus Militia. A secret Christian strike force. Operating outside the laws of man, Jesus Militia. makes precision attacks against their enemy the United States of America. Their aim is not to overthrow the government, but to rid it of those they suspect to be subversives. Darkins designs each operation to inflict as many casualties as possible. To his soldiers, Captain Reno is a ruthless, fearless leader.
FBI agent Jay Koketon loves The Lord, his family and America. Jay is aware there are Christian splinter groups who believe they are called to defy the very principles Jay stands for. These groups maintain the government has no authority over them. They take verses of scripture out of context and use God’s word for their own purposes.
Now Jay and the FBI are pitted against the merciless and elusive Jesus Militia. Made up of everyday Christians, this group strikes with deadly force and dissolves back into the night. With little to no evidence to go on to Jay, it’s like chasing the wind.
Terror rode the 10-year-old boy’s heart. Many times his father spoke of the test. To the child, it sounded deadly. The trial of manhood. Countless nights he woke from this nightmare. In Josh’s dream, the dogs had cornered him. Sometimes in a cave, other times in the river. They glared at him, their teeth bloody salivating. Their growls shaking the trees. Their bodies gigantic, more like grizzly bears than dogs. They attack tearing his body apart. He woke in a cold sweat.
Calming himself, it sometimes took him at least an hour to go back to sleep. Quietly, so as not to waken his father in the next room, he wept.
Each morning Josh watched in horror as his father fed the dogs’ raw meat. In his mind’s eye, he saw them ripping his body apart.
This morning his father laughed, telling him he was the dogs’ raw meat. With a tremendous effort, he stilled his trembling body.
“When they set the dogs on you you gotta be able to outsmart them.” His father said, looking at the old pocket watch. The watch his father gave him before he went to prison. Josh’s grandfather, who was doing time in the federal for murdering two FBI agents. They never visited him because as his father said they didn’t want to be a blip on the feds radar.
He had passed the other tests shooting running hiding. He could shoot a pea off a fencepost or maneuver through the woods on a moonless night. Stand for hours, barely breathing.
The test with the pit bulls the most dreadful. One slip here could cost you your life. He could argue he was not ready, that he needed more time to prepare, a longer head start. His father would not listen to his pleas. He determined when you were ready.
A late model pickup pulled into the driveway and around the barn where the man and boy stood.
An elderly man exited the pickup.
Rigid, the boy backed up against the wall of the barn. This man scared him as much as his father.
“Mornin’ Easel.” The man said. He pointed to the boy. “Josh ready?
“Mornin’ Basel.” His father said. “Yup today he’s gonna make us proud. Aren’t you boy?”
The boy hung his head. No way he would disagree with these men.
“Yes sir.” The boy said meekly.
“You better ar them dogs’ll tear you apart. “Basel said laughing.
“We best get at it.” Easel said. Together they piled into the pickup.
For the next half hour, the boy set between the two men as they bounced along the back roads. The chill of the morning didn’t penetrate the pickup, yet the child shivered. Wild thoughts ran through his mind. His father and uncle seemed unconcerned. Bantering back and forth.
“They got dad so deep in that there prison you gotta pipe in the sun.” His father said.
“Yeah, they mighta let him out with the others in the exercise yard ifn’ he hadn’t killed that feller from Mississippi.” Basel said.
“He deserved killin” The boy’s father said.
“Yep can’t argue with that.” Basel said, grinning.
In a small valley, they pulled off the gravel road into a grove of trees.
In the old wood box in the pickup’s bed, the dogs howled and scratched to be out. His father handed Josh a bottle of water.
“Make it last, boy. “His uncle said.” You only get one.”
“I’m gonna give you a half hour head start. You best use every second of it them dogs are hungry this mormin.”
“Yeah, they might just eat you up then go lookin’ for real food. “ His uncle laughed.
“Go boy.” His father shouted, waving his right hand in the air.
Turning, Josh ran into the forest. Fear gave flight to his feet. Within 30 seconds, he was lost. He wanted to cry but knew it would do no good. His breath came heavy, his heart pounding he found it hard to draw in enough air.
Stopping, he gripped the trunk of a large pine. He tried to calm down his hands shook. Would his father allow the dogs to kill him? Everything swam before his eyes He looked around, getting his bearings. Behind him, he could hear the dogs still in the box. To his left he heard the rushing of the river. He must mask his scent. He would go to the river but not yet. According to the instructions, he must lead the dog away from the point where he entered the woods.
He heard the voice of his father booming over the hills.
“And I will appoint over them four kinds, saith The Lord: the sword to slay and the dogs to tear, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beast to devour and destroy.”
He wanted his mother, but had none she left long ago.
He ran, jumping logs charging through the underbrush. He swung on vines. He brushed his shoes on a dead possum. He walked on rocks. He had stolen black pepper from the kitchen table, and now he sprinkled it behind him.
Finally, he went to the river. He swam against the current, exhausted.
How much time past, he wasn’t sure. He would not know they were on him until they attack. These dogs were silent hunters. Once out of the box in the truck bed, they were all business. They tracked by scent, sound and sight. He stopped fighting the current and let the river carry him downstream. He floated past the place where he entered the water.
He glimpsed brown. Terror griped his heart. Ruffian, the leader of the dogs, stood on an outcropping. More wolf than dog. His huge chest heaved. The boy dove under the water. He swam for all he was worth. Josh felt the impact of the Ruffian‘s body hitting the water and swam faster. The dog came after the boy. If Ruffian attacked him under water, the boy would drown. He stood a better chance on land. Josh’s feet touched bottom. Leaping from the river, he ran upon the bank of the river. He searched for any escape. but, he knew there was none. His father and uncle were behind the rest of the pack. They might be a half mile away. If by chance they arrived in time, would they save him or just stand and watch the dogs tear him apart?
His eyes franticly searching, he saw it the opening of a small cave about half way up the hill. Glancing over his shoulder, he stared into the face of the killer dog.
Ruffian eyes glazed over, sending icy chills down chased up and down the boy’s spine. He knew that look. The dog became this way just before he dove for the kill. Spinning on his heel, he raced for the cave with the dog thirty feet behind and closing fast. Now Ruffian let loose with a powerful bark. A challenge to the other dogs claiming his prey.
Incredibly, he heard his father shout. “Go get him Ruffian.”
“Teach him who’s boss.” His uncle joined his father’s call. At that moment, he felt a horrible sense of loss. He was on his own. Not one person in the whole world cared if he lived or died.
He stopped. Trembling, he turned and faced Ruffian. The pitbull was five feet away. His father and uncle would not save him. Snatching up a rock, he threw it at the charging dog. The fist sized rock hit the dog in the head, shunning him. Grabbing as many rocks as he could carry, the boy ran for the cave. Recovering Ruffian chased him. He slid into the cave opening and turned to face his attacker.