River's Biker Heroes:The Ghost Riders 4

By: Marla Monroe

Chapter One

River wasn’t sure how long she’d been walking when her legs finally gave out. She hadn’t had anything substantial to eat in several days. The old Coke bottle she’d filled up at the last place she’d stopped was empty again. Her head pounded to the point of nausea, and since she didn’t have anything in her stomach to throw up, she’d only end up with the dry heaves.

It took all of her remaining energy to drag herself off the road to lean against one of the scrub bushes that lined it. Of all the ways to die, this hadn’t been one she’d actually thought of. River had always imagined she would die out in the wilds of Africa photographing some endangered species or maybe a plane crash over South America on her way back from filming the effects of deforestation of the rainforest. This was so anticlimactic for her.

The sun was already beginning to sink behind the distant hills. It would get much cooler once it was gone. River had no doubt she wouldn’t last the night. Between her broken ribs and her lack of food and water, she didn’t see any way around it. She’d wandered aimlessly for several days before she’d finally found the road she was on now. The last place she’d stopped had been an abandoned house that was missing most of the roof and one wall. She’d been lucky there had been a well with a working hand pump that she had been able to use to fill her bottle. Unfortunately there hadn’t been anything lying around she could have used to carry more water with her.

For a little while, she’d thought about sticking around there since she at least had water, but the lack of traffic on the road and no food was a problem. She decided instead to push on and hope for a passing car or truck to stop and pick her up. She would have gladly stood in the middle of the lane to make them stop if she needed to.

Before she’d gotten so dehydrated, she’d been coughing a lot. Now that she was so dry inside, there wasn’t anything to cough up. She wasn’t sure if that would help her or not in the long run. She was sure she had been on the verge of pneumonia from her broken ribs, but maybe that didn’t matter now anyway.

Laughter bubbled up out of nowhere. She was rambling in her head. It wasn’t like she could talk to herself out loud since her mouth and throat were so dry.

I must have heatstroke or is it heat exhaustion? I sure am exhausted.

Again the urge to laugh hit her, but all she could do was dry cough then gag and heave. Pain tore through her chest at the pressure it put on her aching ribs. No more laughing. It hurt too badly.

Why was she out here anyway? She was smarter than to go walking in the heat without water. And why were her ribs broken if she had just gone for a walk? River fought to remember what had happened to her, but now it all seemed to be a jumbled mess in her head. She could remember trying to find out about something. She’d been investigating something, right? That was what she did, investigate and document things—important things.

The more she tried to remember, the more her head hurt and the less she could concentrate. She decided it didn’t really matter since she wasn’t going to make it to tell anyone anything anyway. Even if she could remember what it was she had been doing, she didn’t have her camera anymore. Where had she lost it? It was an expensive camera. She’d never be able to afford to replace it.

The urge to laugh at that thought when she wasn’t going to make it anyway almost got the best of her, but she managed to stifle it.

No more laughing, River. It hurts to laugh, remember?

The sun was much lower now. Cooler air began to blow through the heat of the late afternoon. She looked up when her head rolled to one side and realized something was flying above her. Was it an airplane? Could they see her? She tried to lift her arm to wave, but it was just too damn hard. Then she realized it wasn’t a plane because it circled not far above her without making a noise.

Is it my guardian angel? It sure isn’t doing a very good job of watching out for me. Maybe it’s the angel of death waiting for me to die. Well screw you! I’m not ready to die yet. I have something important I have to do. Didn’t I?

River tried to remember what it was she was supposed to do, but couldn’t. Maybe after she’d taken a nap she would be able to remember. She was tired. She’d walked a long way. A very long way.

▶ Also By Marla Monroe

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