“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.
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
“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
“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,
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
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
“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…”
“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.”
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!”
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
“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.
* * * *
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
“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
“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
“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,
“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
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
“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
“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
“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.
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
“I balance us by touching the lids to the ground
if we start to tip, yes?” He waggled the hoe, testing
“Right.” MacGyver leaned
over the side and used his crutch to push the barrows
along, crouching low once they were moving. “Here
* * *
“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
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
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.
do you feel?” She dabbed at the cut with a damp
cloth. “Did you hit your head?”
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
“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
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…
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.
put down his binoculars, letting them swing on their strap,
and eased out of the bushes, creeping away to plan his
* * * *
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
“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!”