Double Trouble: Chapter 16

Wednesday Briefs

A winter ice storm hits the ranches. For more free flash reading check out the list of authors at the bottom of this post.

Chapter 16

Josh stared out the window to the rapidly dimming scene outside. The ice already glazed the fledgling trees he and Trent planted when they’d moved into the house. They’d be old men before the trees were big enough to enjoy their shade, but right now Josh wasn’t sure there would be more left of their precious trees than kindling.

Josh jumped when one of the giant cottonwood trees along the county road lost another branch to the weight of the ice. The sound just tightened the knots that already populated Josh’s stomach. Trent was out in this shit, with both kids. He’d tried to call every few minutes for the last hour, but there was no reply. The kids movement class had turned into a nightmare for Josh.

He redialed Trent’s phone for the hundredth time and now it rolled to voice mail without ringing. He’d stopped leaving messages a long time ago. If Trent was getting them, he would have called back already. The rain slammed against the window and Josh watched as bits of ice slipped down the glass.

The room flashed with bright light as a boom of thunder rattled the window. An instant later, the house went black as they lost power.

“Well, shit!”

Josh stood quietly and a few minutes later he heard the hum of the generator starting. The lights blinked a few times and then came back on. Not for the first time he was happy about his husband’s paranoid nature and an insistence on having measures in place. Even as the lights flashed back on, he heard sounds of excited horses coming from the stables. He felt the pressure of another presence and found Max circling his legs.

“I know you little furry nag. We’ll go check on your horses.”

Before Josh could pull on his boots, Max was circling the door frantically. He opened the door and the dog shot past him, jumped from the porch and an instant later was sprawled across the sidewalk. Without considering the consequences, Josh rushed out to check on Max. The next conscious thought he had was that he was looking at the underside of porch. He moaned a little, and felt a tongue licking him.

“Max, it’s fucking slick out here. Crap.”

Josh tried to stand, and almost crashed again. Giving up walking, he crawled back to the front door. Once he reached the door, he used the knob to lever himself up and stepped inside. Max almost wiped him out as the four legged companion shot past him and back into the house.

“Alright you big hairy chicken, stay where sane people are.”

Josh dug through the closet for a few minutes and found what he was looking for. He pulled out a pair of hiking boots and flipped them over. Just as he remembered, they had spikes embedded in the tread. He pulled off the boots he had been wearing and switched them for the boots. He rummaged through the closet for another minute or two and found a walking stick he remembered them buying a few years earlier while they were on vacation.

He eased across the ice covered ground until he reached the stables. He reached the first stall just as the head of a Paint horse popped out.

Josh stopped to scratch him behind the ears. “Hey there numb nuts, how are you tonight?”

The horse looked at him and snorted before backing out and then pawing the wooden lower part of his stall. By the time he’d done it several times, Josh threw up his hands.

“Okay, okay already. I’ll get you some hay.” He made his way to the alfalfa they’d been feeding and grabbed an armload. He quickly distributed it between the horses to pacify them through the storm. They still were uneasy, but Josh didn’t know what else he could do. He went through the routine of checking each door to make sure it was locked. He tried not to check his phone every few seconds to see if he’d somehow missed Trent’s call. He paused at the open barn door and stared at the glistening scene before him, he could already see places where twigs were encased in a thick layer of ice.

He glanced over the horses before turning off the lights. “No use standing here freezing my butt off watching the ice get thicker.”

He had eased his way half way to the house, his clothes soaked rom the rain, when his phone rang. He almost pitched himself onto the ice covered road as he dug for it. He inhaled a quick breath when he saw who was calling. “Hey Darrin, what’s up?”

“Have Trent and the kids made it home?”

“No, they should have been back an hour ago. I can’t get Trent on the phone either.”

There was a long silence and Josh became more worried. “What’s wrong. You’re being really quiet.”

“It’s probably nothing. We just heard something on police radio and thought we’d check.”

“What’d you hear?” Josh’s chest constricted.

“There’s been a big pileup on the interstate, a couple of eighteen-wheelers involved.”

Josh body numbed as he tried to process Darrin’s words. “What else? What else aren’t you telling me?”

“It’s probably nothing. Mitch told me not to call and worry you.”

“Fuck it, Darrin! Tell me!”

“There were a couple of kids in the pileup. They’ve called for life flight helicopter.”

Josh collapsed to the ground, his legs no longer strong enough to hold him up.

If you’d like to see a snippet from the other Wednesday Briefs authors you can go to the groups website. Or click on the name listed below to go directly to the story.



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