Gee Yap!

“Down there.”  Jak grabbed her by the back of her head and focused her attention.  Dyan and her captors squatted behind a pair of shattered boulders, ankle-deep in their own fragmented offspring, and below them lay a red slope.  The slope gathered and dropped like an angled funnel into a narrow canyon, choked with boulders and gray-green desert trees.  At the mouth of the canyon, raggedly punctured and dark with what might be blood, lay a hat.  Her hat, Dyan realized, or Cheela’s.  Jak must have crept out and laid it there during the night, which surprised her.

But she saw something even more surprising.  Her whip jutted out of a crack in the canyon wall.  No, she realized, squinting.  Not the whole whip, but only the handle.  Which meant that the weight—her eyes flashed to the other side of the narrow canyon and spotting a counterpart crack—must be wedged into the wall on the other side.  Which meant that an invisible ribbon of death lay across the canyon, six feet off the ground.

And then Dyan saw something that made her heart stop.  Clopping steadily into view on his horse at the bottom of the canyon, stopping at her hat and looking down at it, came Wayland.

“Mmmmm,” she tried to shout, no!  Her gag was taped too tight, and her hands were tied securely behind her back.  She tried to stand, but Jak and Eirig both grabbed her and pulled her onto her back.

Dyan kicked, aiming at Jak’s face.  She missed, and her boots slammed into the rubble, sending a shower of stones clattered into the canyon below.  Jak drew back a hand to slap her and she lunged, rolling out from behind the boulder and skidding down the sandy slope on her belly.

“Mmmmm!”  She strained against the gag.  “Mmmmm!”

Footsteps behind her told her that Jak or Eirig or both were following her.  She couldn’t see anything but the red earth slamming into her face, over and over again.

“Dyan!” Wayland yelled.  “Gee yap!”

She heard the drum of galloping hooves in the sand.

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