The Run For The Border by Buckskin

Word Count 1,478

In answer to Charlene’s Challenge Where is Johnny going?
Thanks to Cat, Rob, and Chris for the beta

Would he make it before the storm hit? He didn’t know, but he’d give it a helluva try; his life depended on it. The thundering hooves that rumbled behind had deceptively faded and left him wondering if he’d lost them. But he had been in this position before and knew they were still in pursuit, waiting, biding their time until they could drag him to their brand of justice, and once again, stand him in front of the firing squad. They never gave up. Not on Madrid, they wouldn’t. But then, neither did he, as long as he could stay in the saddle and not give in to the pain exploding in his back and blood loss that wracked his mind and body with dizzying sickness.

Johnny Madrid felt his mount stumble, and his heart skipped a beat. C’mon, boy! We gotta beat ‘em! Just a little farther! And he damned the Rurales in pursuit, but if Valiente was tired, so were the horses behind them. Johnny leaned low over his horse’s neck, as low as the wound in his back would allow; he coaxed the steed onward as he yelled above the wind that whistled in his ears. “C’mon, boy!” And Valiente responded; he stretched out, expanding the distance between them and those that followed with gallant, long strides. He ran as he’d never run before, taking them further from the evil that followed behind, and Johnny smiled. Valiente— brave, and brave the magnificent horse was. It wouldn’t have surprised Johnny if the horse had grown wings!

The black mane whipped in his face as the billowing sand stung Johnny’s skin and eyes, and he constantly blinked as the tears washed the irritants away, but it did no good. There was too much sand, too much in the air to allow his sight to clear.

Madrid had watched all morning as the threatening clouds built over the horizon, heralding a storm. He thought with any luck, Valiente could outrun the tempest, but luck wasn’t with them; the storm had overtaken their run for safety in an angry, violent blast; it had enveloped them in a world unto itself, cutting them off from the outside. But they were not alone. The Rurales were in hot pursuit; could the storm be of some benefit and shield him and his horse, sending the Mexican soldiers to blunder down a different path?

They had to stop. Johnny would not risk the animal’s safety running blindly through the heavy clouds of sand and dust, and they slowed to find shelter. Maybe those who pursued them would continue on, or better, turn back and give up the chase. No, that wouldn’t happen, but one could never second guess when it came to Mexican soldiers. Johnny ought to know; the Rurales had chased him it seemed forever; he had been in the Mexican Army, not by choice, and he knew first hand of their unconventional tactics, their way of fighting. No rules, no reason, just what fit their purpose at the time, whatever would get them what they wanted. And they wanted Madrid.

Valiente picked his way through the walls of sand when a lull in the wind began to thin out; Johnny’s sight was clearer, enough to see a pile of rocks with a small alcove but large enough to shield them from the blowing sand and, hopefully, the Rurales. Tucking themselves in the protective hollow, they waited. Johnny hunkered down, keeping his horse close, each taking comfort in the other’s presence. And they waited longer yet.

The blood that seeped down his back mixed with dust and created a sticky, muddy mass that stuck his shirt to his skin. He hurt, his head spun, making him sick, and he was tired beyond belief. But he was still free. If he could hang on until the storm was past, those who chased him would hopefully be far enough away that he stood a chance of surviving. All he had to do was make it to the border.

He lifted his head, spit the grit from his mouth, and looked around. He gently brushed at the dirt crusted around his eyes and squinted into the day. Had they done it? Did they lose the soldiers in the storm? He looked at the sky; the dirty, brown billows were thinning and fading as the storm traveled to the southeast. Spots of blue peeked through, winning the battle, and shoved the dust-laden air away, giving Madrid hope that he could make it to the river, even though now, he would have to take the long way around. It wouldn’t pay for him to meet those who would kill him if he continued on this route. Ha! Would they wait to stand him in front of the firing squad again, or would they shoot him on sight and not wait to drag him back to the prison? He had no desire to find out which. All he wanted was to get to the border, alive.

He tried not to move; the bullet lodged against the shoulder blade and grated on the bone; pain ricocheted through his back, making him sick to his stomach and his head pound. But he wasn’t going to give up. No, he’d let himself bleed to death before he’d give himself over to those bastards. Madrid would never give up.

Johnny shoved his pain out of his mind and forced himself into a state of clarity. He would not get away if he was in a fog.

He struggled to mount Valiente then turned the horse west. He kept his eyes alert for trouble. Hell, he’d been up against worse odds and knew luck would run out one of these days. But for now, he kept going. Could he make it to the border without getting himself killed?

Madrid’s vision blurred, and he felt weak. How much further could he get before falling out of the saddle and bleeding out on the hot sand? Better to bleed out… But this was one wound he couldn’t tend by himself, and he knew he needed help; however, he wasn’t about to put anyone at risk for helping him; if the Rurales ever found innocent people giving aid to the notorious Johnny Madrid, they would be slaughtered there on the spot. But if he could make it across the border, he stood a chance. Could he make it?

Gonna give it a helluva shot! Ain’t givin’ up! Cold day in Hell b’fore I do that. Cold day… Then he heard Valiente’s hooves splash in shallow water. They’d made it to the river! They made it! Johnny looked back over his shoulder, and his heart dropped to his feet- the Rurales! They were coming! They would cross the border and come after him! Dammit! Can’t let ‘em catch us! C’mon, boy, let’s get the hell outta here!

Johnny Madrid thumped his horse with his heels, and the mighty horse lunged into the water and fought against the current, swimming across the wide expanse of river. Then the sky began to darken again; Johnny looked to see clouds boil above him once again. The storm! It roiled and rumbled as the wind blew in angry swells, tearing branches from surrounding trees, sending them tumbling in the dirt-choked air. Sand swirled in wildly racing dust devils and became one with the clouds like a living thing, protecting the man on horseback and aiding in his escape.

The wind grew stronger as it traveled south, south into Mexico, effectively shielding Johnny and Valiente from the approaching threat. The Rurales had no choice but to turn back or wait out the storm, and by then, Madrid would be gone, safe across the border.

Johnny clung to Valiente’s back, going deeper into the water, the cool relief the river— life-giving; swept him away from the threat of the Rurales behind them, the threat of his death. His heart pounded in his chest; Johnny felt the bullet grate against bone in his back, but he didn’t care; they were getting close to the other side and freedom!

He risked a glance over his shoulder and saw nothing but blowing sand. The storm hovered over the bank of the river, a wall of dense sand that curtained off Mexico, a divide that could not be penetrated.

Valiente’s hooves touched the bottom of the river bed, and with a final heave, he pulled himself and Johnny from the water onto the sandy Arizona shore. Another quick check behind ensured no Rurales had yet to make it through the storm; Johnny urged the horse onto dry land and into a gallop. They had escaped the enemy and made it to the border.

End
February 2022

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17 thoughts on “The Run For The Border by Buckskin

  1. How exciting to jump inside Johnny’s head as he made this desperate run for the border while dealing with a bullet, the evil Rurales, and a storm. Your descriptions made me feel as though I could be clinging to Viliente’s mane, riding right along with Johnny to get across the river to the safety of Arizona. Great job—I enjoyed this story a lot. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Sherry, I’m glad you were able to go with Johnny on this ride to the border. Yes, he had his hands full, but with Valiente under him, and Johnny’s determination to escape, those pesky Rurales didn’t stand a chance! Thanks for reading and sending feedback!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Susan! Thank you for letting me know you enjoyed this to the border. I appreciate your kind words!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

    1. Thank you, Pauline! I’m happy you enjoyed this story of JM and his troubles. He keeps us busy, doesn’t he?

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  2. Great start to Monday! Or any other day come to that. No Johnny didn’t quit and I was very happy that an angel was watching over him that day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there, zoeytbear! Yes, Johnny had to ave a whole platoon of angels with him, didn’t he? With all the trouble he gets into, well, there is no rest for them! Glad you liked this Madrid tale and thank you for reading and sending feedback.

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  3. I felt like I was on Valiente with Johnny and could hardly wait to get to the river. Of all his narrow escapes this has to be the closest. El Norte never looked so good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I hope it was an exciting ride for you, Debra! El Norte, indeed! Johnny was in a fix, but he made it. That picture inspired many ideas, but this was the one that intrigued me the most. Glad you liked it and thank you for letting me know!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  4. This adventure was wonderfully gripping, from beginning to end. Thank you for allowing me to ride along with Johnny on one of the most important rides of his life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Viki! Glad you were there to accompany Johnny on his way to the border. It makes me wonder how many different circumstances could be applied to this race- never ending! Thank you for reading and sending feedback!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

  5. Wow, almost felt like I was in the saddle with Johnny. Love those glimpses into Madrid and all that he survived.

    Like

  6. I loved this. Great response to the story challenge. I could see it and feel Johnny’s desperation to get across the border. Great fic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, Char! Glad you liked this tale That pic was great and thanks for the challenge! It was easy to imagine our hero racing through the storm, and avoiding the Rurales to get across the river, but as it is Johnny we are talking about, it is never easy…

      Thanks for the feedback!

      Diana
      Buckskin

      Like

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