Safe Haven

By Rocket

Episode 9.19

Part Two

 

“Who are you?” Jacob demanded, seemingly unafraid of the weapon. “This is Amish land – private property.” He moved to step forwards, naivety of the weapon’s destructive power making him too fearless for his own good.

“Jacob, no!” MacGyver quickly pulled him back, balancing with just one crutch as he did so. “I think this man has already taken one life.”

“Correct,” The man’s smile held no warmth. “But you can call me ‘Roy’ if you like, just like Bruce Willis. I did like that film…” He trailed off, looking at Jacob. “You have heard of Bruce Willis, right?”

“No,” Jacob growled. MacGyver ignored him, focusing on the bad guy.

“As I assume you’re planning to kill us anyway, mind telling us what you’re doing here?” MacGyver flicked his head back towards the crop, ignoring Jacob’s shocked stare. “Killer corn?”

“Let’s call it an effective weapon, and we’re simply perfecting it here for future use.” ‘Roy’ shifted his grip on the gun. “Imagine selling the seed to communities, countries, anyone we get paid to, and in just a few short months they’d be consuming it and killing themselves.”

“You want to wipe out the Amish? Why?” Jacob started forwards again, but MacGyver still had hold of his sleeve. “We keep ourselves private from the English, we do you no harm!” His face reddened as he spoke, and ‘Roy’ began to chuckle.

“Don’t flatter yourself,” ‘Roy’ laughed. “We used your land as it was out of the way of the authorities. What Fed in his right mind would look here for dark deeds? You’re just a pawn in a much larger game.”

“You’re either a terrorist, or an arms dealer,” MacGyver shook his head in disgust. “Either way, you’re in it for money or power, or both.”

“Correct,” ‘Roy’ nodded. “And right now, you’re wasting my valuable time.” He gestured with the gun for them to start moving.

“You’re going to kill us.” Jacob shuddered, but he didn’t look afraid.

“Right again! You’re pretty smart for a religious freak,” ‘Roy’ said sarcastically. “But don’t worry, I’ve no intention of doing it here, can’t have your community folks finding bodies just yet, and I don’t feel in the mood to be dragging your sorry dead asses across the countryside. So start moving – over to the path, and down the hill to my truck,” he instructed.

MacGyver nodded to Jacob and they moved off down the hill. It was slow going for MacGyver, and ‘Roy’ jabbed him impatiently in the back with the gun, but eventually they reached a sorry looking Ford flatbed. Roy popped the tailgate and ushered them in with his gun. “Sorry about the dirt,” he apologized sarcastically. “But I just don’t have a housemaid for my truck right now.”

Jacob helped MacGyver onto the grimy bed and then followed. Roy tucked his weapon into his belt, obviously not afraid they’d try to overpower him, and used a piece of old tow rope to bind their hands in front of them. “A gimp and a preacher,” he chuckled. “Hardly the cavalry, you two, huh?” When neither responded, he shook his head, closed the tailgate and swung into the driver’s seat.

“Now what?” Jacob whispered. “Once we’re away from here he’ll kill us!”

MacGyver bit his bottom lip and began looking around as the countryside began to flash by. He shuffled into the corner of the flatbed, bracing himself as the truck bounced over potholes and jarred his leg.

“We improvise,” he nodded to an old screwdriver and a small adjustable wrench rusting on the floor. “For starters, we grab those.”

“You have a plan? Already?” Jacob looked impressed.

“Nope,” Mac answered honestly, “but I find collecting things usually helps formulate one later…”

****

Phoenix Foundation, California

“So what’s Carmichael up to today?” Seeley put his coffee down on his desk and hung up his jacket.

“Hard to say.” Nikki scrolled through her emails. “He’s due to open a fundraiser for an orphanage in Nebraska at the weekend, but as far as we can tell, he’s home today.” She shook her head at the handsome man on the screen. “He sure doesn’t look like a scumbag.”

“The worst ones never do.” Seeley waited for his computer to boot up, blowing on his coffee and taking a sip. “Willis’s long range super-bug seems to be holding up, which is good. At least we know who he’s talking to.”

“Please don’t even say ‘super-bug’ in connection with that man!” Nikki shuddered. “How can anyone do such a terrible thing? He could wipe out everybody in the country if that thing gets loose!”

“I know.” Seeley leaned forwards, tapping at his keyboard and reading Willis’s bug transcript from the previous night. “That’s interesting. Why would he be talking to..?” He stood, grabbed his jacket and strode to the door. “I’ll be back in a while.”

“Where are you going? Nikki stood, reaching for her own coat. “I’ll come too.”

“Going to check out a hunch.” Seeley held up a hand. “And no, not this time. I need to lean on one of my friends in low places for information and last time you came with me, you scared the crap out of him so badly that we didn’t learn a thing!”

“Huh. Well, call me if you need a pick up, OK?” Nikki turned back to her computer as Seeley left the building.


* * * *

Pennsylvania

Despite their speed, it took twenty minutes for ‘Roy’ to reach his destination. MacGyver had no idea where they’d traveled to, but Jacob cringed as he saw a large grain silo looming before them. “We are at the edge of the community, on Eli Yoder’s farm, or what’s left of it. He past away last Fall, and we have not been able to trace any relatives.”

“So no one around to see what the bad guys are doing.” MacGyver nodded as the Ford skidded to a halt on loose gravel.

“Kinda lonely out here, huh?” ‘Roy’ reappeared, and he was grinning again. “But not as lonely as y’all gonna be in a few seconds.” He grabbed MacGyver’s left arm and dragged him roughly from the truck. Struggling to balance without a crutch, MacGyver rolled onto the floor in a heap, and the “acquired” screwdriver and wrench fell from his jacket.

“Now just what did you expect to do with these?" ‘Roy’ picked them up and toyed with them in his hands, then shrugged and dragged MacGyver to his feet, holding him by the scruff of his jacket. MacGyver struggled, balancing on one foot and trying not to lean on his injured ankle.

“Oh you know, a little home improvement maybe?” MacGyver tensed, ready for a punch, but none came. He hopped, leaning against the side of the truck for balance.

“You can have these.” ‘Roy’ let go of MacGyver’s collar, and instead stuffed the tools back into his jacket. He cut MacGyver’s bonds with a penknife and sniffed. “’Cause where you’re going, they ain’t gonna be one iota of use to you.” He gestured with the gun for Jacob to climb down, and then pointed to a metal hatch on the silo. “Guess what? That thing is full of our first harvest of genetically altered poison crop, and you’re going in there.” ‘Roy wiped his forearm over his sweating brow. “And let me tell you, breathing that stuff for awhile is just as deadly as eatin’ it, but I reckoned you’d like the experience, given how nosy you were back in that field…”


MacGyver took his crutches from the flatbed and nodded to Jacob to do as ‘Roy’ asked. They moved to the silo slowly, MacGyver thinking hard, and watching ‘Roy’ for any opportunity to escape. But their captor made no mistakes, and MacGyver wasn’t in any condition to tackle him anyway.

And there was no chance Jacob would resort to violence.

‘Roy’ cut Jacob’s bonds, opened the hatch, and jerked a thumb, signaling they should climb inside. Jacob helped MacGyver slide in complete with crutches, and then followed; flinching as his feet slid into the soft crop and the grains shifted under him like quicksand. ‘Roy’ raised an eyebrow, smiled, and then slammed the metal hatch closed with an echoing clank.

“We’re dead men,” Jacob said slowly, no panic in his voice. “Perhaps we should pray…”

“It won’t hurt,” MacGyver agreed, “But I’m not counting on divine intervention just yet, so its time to start thinking.” He reached out a hand as Jacob began to squirm, causing him to sink. “No sudden moves, no thrashing, or you’ll drown in this stuff before it poisons you. Now listen, tear off your shirt sleeves…we’re going to use them as masks. He winced as he tried to tear his own shirt sleeve, and then stopped as the pain in his ribs became unbearable.

Jacob did as he was told, tearing the cotton easily and passing over a strip. The pair bound them around their faces.

“Now what?” Jacob asked, his voice suddenly muffled.

MacGyver looked around. There was always something to be done, if you searched hard enough. His eyes locked on the metal hatch. The hinges were on the inside, and were the simple type with a metal pin down the middle. After all, this was no jail; it hadn’t been made to be escape-proof.

MacGyver tried to “swim” over to it without sinking, and it proved harder than he’d imagined. It reminded him of the time he’s almost been buried alive on a trip with Professor Atticus. Once he reached the doorway, he examined the hinges closer and nodded.

“If we can get the pins out, I think we could squeeze through the gap!”

“With what?” Jacob asked. “We have no hammer, nothing, and the screwdriver and wrench you stole are no help here.”

“Oh?” MacGyver raised an eyebrow and smiled. “You need to start thinking outside the box, use your imagination!” He pulled out the two small tools, studying the hinges. After a moment, he reached out a hand and grabbed one of the crutches he’d brought and dragged it across the grain.

As Jacob watched, MacGyver started to undo the two wing nuts that allowed the handle height to be adjusted. He removed them completely, followed by the handle. For once, he was thankful of getting the older style wooden crutches that had now mostly been replaced with metal. Inside the handle was a metal bar with threads. He placed it in the jaws of the adjustable wrench, tightened and then removed it slowly with a to and fro motion.

Jacob watched, his face a mask of curiosity and wonder. “I think you can fix my plough any time,” he teased. “What are you doing?”

“We need to get the pins out of the hinges. I’ve done it lots before; you just need to find the right tools. This screwdriver is about the same diameter as the pins. We’ll use it to force them out.” MacGyver held up the screwdriver, smiling.

“But we have no hammer, nothing to strike it with to free the pins?” Jacob screwed his face up, as moving made him begin to sink.

“We place the bar and wing nuts from my crutch over the hinge, and over the screwdriver, and then tighten the nuts! As the distance between them decreases, the screwdriver has no place to go but down, forcing out the hinge pin!” MacGyver began to work as he explained.

“You’ll never work those wing nuts with your fingers when they start to get tight,” Jacob pointed out.

“Nope, but I can use this!” MacGyver waved the small adjustable wrench. He started to work as he talked, first with his fingers and then with the wrench. Sweat trickled down his face and into his makeshift mask, sticking his hair to the cut on his forehead, but the pin in the top hinge in the top was definitely moving.

After ten more minutes, it dropped from its place, and MacGyver began to work on the second hinge. Jacob remained silent, watching in awe.

Ten minutes more work, and the right side of the hatch dropped slightly as the hinges holding it gave way. On the outside, only the latch now held it in place, but the gap between the hatch and frame was still too narrow for either man to squeeze through.

MacGyver took the remnants of his crutch and pushed it through the open space, using the wide end to carefully dislodge the latch. With a groan and a pop the metal door clanged to the ground outside with one kick from his good leg, and Mac tumbled out of the opening with a cascade of grain. His remaining crutch followed him out, clattering onto the ground nearby.

Jacob slithered out seconds later, kicking and squirming on the ground. He pulled his mask off and gulped down fresh air.

“I thought…well, let’s just say I had begun to pray for forgiveness for my sins!”

“Me too,” MacGyver admitted. “And I suspect I have a few more than you.”

“But you are a good man, MacGyver!” Jacob looked surprised.

“I got up to my share of bad behavior, in my younger days,” Mac chuckled, struggling to get up. “If you know what I mean?” He winked, and Jacob turned a little red.

“Now what do we do?” Jacob changed the subject, brushing grain from his clothes. “We have no way to get into town for the police.”

MacGyver wasn’t listening. Instead, he was looking at the horizon and watching a plume of fresh smoke spiraling into the sky. It was thick and black, and he didn’t like the direction the wind was blowing it – it suggested the epicenter of the blaze was somewhere familiar.

“Jacob – your community’s school is over there, right?”

The teenager followed MacGyver’s gaze and his expression suddenly became panicked. “Yes! It is where the elders were having the meeting this morning! Half the community will be there!” He broke into a run.

“Hey, you’re never gonna run there in time to be of any use!” MacGyver called him back. “We need to find a quicker way.”

“How?” Jacob hesitated, then stopped and spun around, “How?” He raised his arms in frustration. “There is no cart here, no horses, not even an automobile you English like so much!”

“Hang on, I’m thinking…” MacGyver bit his lip and looked around. There was a broken-down barn behind the grain silo. He cocked his head towards it. “Let’s go take a look in there…”

Limping as fast as he could on his remaining crutch, MacGyver led Jacob over to the barn. The door creaked, and dust and cobwebs drifted down as they went inside. The barn had not been used in a very long time. MacGyver looked around, noting everything that had been left behind: A coil of rope, two wheelbarrows leaning against the wall, some barrels and a stack of barrel lids, a long-handled hoe and some new plastic containers looking very out of place at the far end of the old building, full of blue granules.

“Right.” MacGyver bent down and picked up the rope. “Jacob, would you bring both the barrows over here, please? I have an idea…”

* * * *

“Are you sure this will work?” Jacob wheeled MacGyver’s contraption out of the barn and held it steady.

“Pretty sure.” MacGyver glanced back to the village, where the plume of smoke had thickened. “Ready to give it a go?” He smiled as Jacob nodded and climbed carefully into the front barrow. Jacob climbed into the back one, now securely lashed to the first one with rope, and held up the hoe, now balanced with a barrel lid at each end.

“I balance us by touching the lids to the ground if we start to tip, yes?” He waggled the hoe, testing its balance.

“Right.” MacGyver leaned over the side and used his crutch to push the barrows along, crouching low once they were moving. “Here we go!”

* * * *

“Mind out! MacGyver’s shout was frantic as the chariot raced downhill and skidded into the village.

“FIRE! FIRE!” Jacob leaned over, dipping his makeshift paddle and dragging the barrel-lid stabilizers to help them around the turn. “FIRE IN THE SCHOOL!”

Doors opened and people stepped out into the street. MacGyver pointed towards the school, where the smoke rose thick and black. Children watched open-mouthed as the chariot bumped over a rock and careered off down the hill, the two inside it yelling as loud as they could.

The cry of ‘FIRE!’ spread, and the villagers raced towards the school carrying buckets. Jacob and MacGyver hurtled into the village square, one wheel clipped the water trough and the chariot flipped, dumping them both out onto the ground. For a moment they lay, winded, then Jacob jumped up and ran to the well, letting the bucket down with a splash.

The first of the Amish arrived, setting up a bucket chain. Two of the men soaked sacks in the trough, threw them over their heads and ran into the school to rescue the elders.

MacGyver sat up, his head spinning. Added to last week’s concussion, the spill from the chariot had made him dizzy and disorientated. Strong hands grabbed him and pulled him out of the way, propping him up against a nearby building. MacGyver blinked, seeing Irene Beiler hurrying back to help with the bucket chain.

Two men reappeared, each half-carrying one of the elders. MacGyver turned to see Jacob soaking a sack and hurrying after them. He shouted to Jacob, to come back, but his voice was lost in the noise. He struggled to get up, falling back when pain and dizziness overcame him. He watched with his heart in his mouth until he saw Jacob stagger out, pulling John with him. John fell to his knees, coughing, and Jacob knelt beside him, one arm around his grandfather.

MacGyver tucked his foot underneath him and used the wall to help him stand. The black smoke had largely been replaced with steam as the villagers got the fire under control. The elders sat on the grass in front of the school, being patched up and fussed over. John rose unsteadily to his feet and, with Jacob’s help, wobbled over to MacGyver.

“My grandson tells me I have you to thank for raising the alarm.” John stuck out a smoke-stained hand. Thank you – we owe you our lives.” He looked hard at MacGyver, taking in the new scuffs and scrapes, the blood trickling from the reopened cut on his forehead and the way he clung to the wall. “You must allow us to help you now. Elizabeth!” John turned and shouted over his shoulder, voice hoarse from the smoke.

Elizabeth hurried over, carrying a basket of first aid supplies and picking up MacGyver’s crutch as she crossed the square.

“How do you feel?” She dabbed at the cut with a damp cloth. “Did you hit your head?”

“Not hard.” MacGyver lifted his chin as Elizabeth cleaned a scrape on his jaw, frowning as he caught a flash of light. He squinted, seeing the glint again.

“What are you looking at?” Elizabeth followed his gaze, seeing a movement in the bushes up on the ridge, and a flash of red as someone moved.

“Someone with binoculars, I think.” MacGyver frowned, not wanting to worry her. “Or maybe just a hiker. It’s too far off to tell.”

* * * *

Up on the ridge, Roy watched the rescue. Damn-fool do-gooder and his damn-fool makeshift wagon had spoiled his plans. Now it looked like the village elders had all got out alive. So much for making it look like an accidental tragedy. Now he’d have to think up a new way to persuade the Amish to move away from the area. Or perhaps he could use what had happened in a different way, like the stranger using the wheelbarrows to make a wagon…

Maybe he could threaten to torch the rest of the community if they went to the police, or if they refused to keep renting him the land. Or maybe he needed a completely different threat…

Roy stared through his binoculars, watching the stranger wobble to his feet, off balance and not putting his bad foot to the ground at all. One of the women hurried over to him, wiping blood off his forehead. He watched them turn and scan the hillside.

Roy put down his binoculars, letting them swing on their strap, and eased out of the bushes, creeping away to plan his next move.

* * * *

The next morning dawned grey and overcast. While Jacob and Elizabeth were up as early as usual, MacGyver slept late, the pain from his ankle having woken him several times during the night. He limped downstairs, expecting to find the house empty, but instead found John breathing steam from a bowl of hot water. John coughed as MacGyver hobbled into the room, deep and rattling. MacGyver eased himself down into the seat opposite him, breathing in the sharp scent of pine oil in the steam.

“How’re you doing?” MacGyver watched John wipe his mouth and waited for him to catch his breath.

“I am full of smoke, but I will be fine, thank you.” John indicated the bowl.
“Elizabeth tells me this will help to get it out. She was very insistent that I stay here!” John shook his head in mock fear. “My daughter, she can be very strong-willed!” He looked MacGyver over. “Were you hurt, when you fell from the barrow yesterday?”

“Nothing new,” MacGyver waved a dismissive hand, not about to admit he was hurting to a man who had nearly been killed the day before. “How did the fire get started, anyway?”

“Some of the children saw strangers when they were playing in the woods. English strangers. None of the children saw who started the fire, but…” John shrugged. “I do not want to believe that another of God’s creatures would do this deliberately, but I do not think it could have been an accident.” He shook his head and then leaned over the steaming bowl again as another coughing fit overcame him.

“Mind if I take a look?” MacGyver leaned on the table and stood up. John nodded, still coughing, and MacGyver limped out of the house.

* * * *

The smoke smell still clung to the school. One end was badly burned but the building looked as though it could be salvaged. MacGyver leaned on his crutch and surveyed the room, feeling his ankle throb inside the cast. He looked around, decided where the fire must have been set, and hobbled outside again.

Though the ground had been well trampled in the rescue, he did find a footprint made by someone wearing trainers rather than boots under a scorched bush. He kneeled down, one hand on the ground to take the weight off his leg, and looked closer, his nose almost touching the soil. Pressed into the mud underneath the trainer print were fine blue grains. MacGyver opened up his Swiss Army Knife and used the blade to dig them out of the print. He dusted the dirt off them and held them up to the light, recognizing them as the same chemicals used on the poison crops in the Beilers’ field.

“MacGyver?” Jacob shouted from nearby, and MacGyver turned.

“Over here!” MacGyver struggled to his feet. “Are you OK?”

“MacGyver, something terrible has happened!” Jacob rounded the corner of the school with three younger boys right behind him. “They found Robert Beiler-” Jacob sniffed and swallowed hard. “He’s dead!”

 


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