As for this scene...well, poor Ellie. She's been abducted and her abductors are...you'll see.
Again, apologies for the lack of polish. When I'm done, this book is going to need an industrial strength spit and polish.
“Who the hell did that? It stinks in here.”
“Let one off. I gotta open the window.”
Ellie felt a cool rush of air. It touched her face. She smelled rain and pines.
“Oh, grow up. We’re nearly there. You can breathe all the fresh air you like.”
“What happens to her?”
“The Prophet says he’s putting her to work the soil…after she’s sent the message.”
“Come on, Jeremiah, they’re hardly going to marry her off, are they? She’s twenty years too old for a start and not a virgin.”
“So they’re going to keep her alive?”
“She’s no good to anyone dead.”
Ellie allowed herself a small sigh of relief. If she were allowed to live, she would find a way out. No matter what they did to her, she would make it. She closed her eyes while her captors squabbled about the sins of eating bean burritos and the inevitable after-effects. She would’ve laughed if she didn’t hurt so much. She christened them the Three Stooges, it made her feel better to think of them of stupid buffoons whose intellectual depth extended only as far as discussing farts and Mexican food. She hoped they had bought the offending food from the little taco stand on the main road. They’d be doing more than passing gas before the night was through. The thought gave her some comfort while the van bounced over a bumpy road. Ellie heard the crunch of gravel, when the van took a sharp turn. It slowed and the Three Stooges fell silent.
“What are we supposed to do with her?”
“Take her to Obidiah’s house. He’s got a place in the basement for her.”
“The Prophet doesn’t want her hurt.”
“You’d better come up with a good reason why you cracked her on the cheek, then.”
The van slowed to a halt, the clang of gates echoed in the cool, night air. The van edged forward and the gates rattled behind them. Ellie remained still, hating that she couldn’t see anything. Gravel crackled under the tires and a damp breeze crept into the back of van. Ellie smelled rain. Eventually, even the crackling ceased. Her three captors slid out of the front and, moments later, the rear doors swung open, admitting a welcome chill. Ellie made herself limp, determined to make the stooges work to sort her out. One of them climbed in beside her and pulled her into a sitting position. The rope tickled her wrists when he untied her. He eased the tape from her mouth while one of the others unbound her ankles.
“Which one of you bastards hit me?” She spat, flexing her wrists.
None of them answered.
Ellie scooted forward, until her legs swung over the edge of the van. “No, I didn’t think any of you would have the balls to fess up to hitting a woman. I hope I have a really big, purple bruise.” She stood up and glared at them, their bland faces pale in the fickle moonlight. They all looked the same to her, long beards, short hair. Like rednecks gone a little crazy. “Assholes.” She smiled as they stepped away from her. Knowing that they wouldn’t kill her helped.
“What’s going on out there?” A man’s voice echoed into the night.
Ellie realized that they were no longer in darkness, that a brilliant light illuminated the scene. Three witless stooges scarcely out of their teens, trying to look like hard men in black clothes. She glanced over her shoulder at the house the van was parked in front of. It was massive, one of half a dozen equally large houses spread out along a broad gravel road. A large man stood on the porch, the light turned his long, white hair to a madwoman’s wedding veil. A long beard gave lie to the illusion.
“Is this our guest?”
One of the stooges nodded. “Uh huh.”
“Well, don’t leave her standing out here. It’s cold.”
Ellie shivered. She was so used to the humid warm nights of the desert monsoon, that this place felt like the frozen north. She ignored her captors and walked towards the wide, brightly lit porch and the man with the long, white hair. “Who are you?” She didn’t feel inclined to wait for formal introductions, especially as the stooges seemed mute in the man’s presence.
To her surprise, he bowed and smiled. “Obidiah Worthington. You’re to be a guest in my home.”
“Um…thanks. I’d rather be in my own home, I’m sure you understand.”
He took her arm, his grip firm. “I do, Mrs. Freeman. Don’t worry, I think you’ll find things here quite comfortable, considering the circumstances.”
Ellie thought she was seeing things. He seemed genuinely apologetic but his eyes were sharp. “What happened here?” His hand moved towards her cheek.
She stepped back. “Don’t touch.” She looked over her shoulder at the stooges who stood beside the van.
Beneath the froth of beard, Worthington’s mouth was set in a hard, thin line. “Did one of them hit you?” His voice was low, the bonhomie of welcome gone.
“She wouldn’t cooperate.” The voice that answered had lost its bravado. Ellie wondered if the bean burritos were beginning to take effect.
“They wrecked my back door, my garden and they dragged me out of my house. I was hardly going to go without a fight.”
The Prophet won’t be happy, you know that don’t you. I won’t trouble him with it tonight but I suggest you use the night wisely and come up with a good reason why he shouldn’t lock you all up.” Worthington took Ellie’s arm once more.The stooges clambered into the van, started the engine and turned away from the long, broad road, disappearing into the darkness beyond the pool of light.