And The
Traveller 3

The Mercy Run

Chapter 1: The Day Begins

Jake and Traveller had just spent a nice weekend at home and were readying themselves to start a new week on the road.  Jake turned on the coffee pot and peeked into the bedroom.  Barb was peacefully snuggled up under the blankets so he looked over to the corner where Traveller and Angel were curled up in their catbed.  "Hey partner, you gonna get up and get ready to roll?", Jake called softly.  Traveller opened one eye and yawned.  Jake grinned and said, "I know Bud, it's hard to leave a snug bed with the missus."  Traveller pulled himself up and stretched.  "Mow", he replied and reached down to gently lick Angel's ear.  Angel sofly returned the kitty kiss and snuggled down. Jake returned to the kitchen with Traveller pacing along behind.

Jake poured himself a cup of coffee, then added a few drops to a saucer of milk which he placed on the table beside him.  Traveller hopped up and began lapping at it.  Jake smiled and reached out to ruffle his friend's fur.  "We've got it pretty good for an old pair of truckers, don't we old son?", he laughed as he scratched between Traveller's ears.  "Mow wow", softly replied Traveller and licked Jake's hand.

"Well ol' man", laughed Jake, "guess I better go fire up Ol' Red and we'll call in to see what's up for today."  He shrugged into his coat and stepped out the front door.  A gust of chill air made him pull the coat a bit tighter and he cast an experienced eye at the grey clouds overhead.  "Brrr", he mused, "looks like some bad weather closing in, hope it won't be too bad."  He checked the plug- in electric cord on the big Kenworth and popped the hood open to check the oil.  After a brief look under the hood he climbed up into the cab and stuck the key into the ignition.  "C'mon ol' Red", he whispered, "let's see if you're ready to go to go to work again."  The engine caught on the second roll and quickly settled into a steady rumble.  Jake patted the steering wheel; "Atta boy", he chuckled, "always ready for a few more miles."  He grinned and thought to himself how this old red truck had become part of his life.  Like a friend, always there, asking only for a little fuel and an oil change or two.  "Driver, you're getting road happy with the years.  Next thing you'll be hearing the truck talk back.  Better get you some breakfast."  With that he gave the wheel another pat and climbed out to shut the hood.  As he started  back to the house the wind tossed a few stray flakes of icy snow around his head.  Jake took another look at the sky and shivered.

Chapter 2: The Storm

As Jake walked in he was met with the smell of frying bacon.  Barb smiled across the kitchen at him.  "I thought I'd better make sure our men had a good breakfast in them before they went to work."  Traveller was looking very pleased as he cleaned up his breakfast bowl.  Angel was purring as she smoothed Traveller's coat.  Jake sat down at the table and stretched his legs out.  "Darlin' ", he said, "it sure doesn't get any better than this."  Barb laughed and kissed him on the nose.

The phone rang.

Jake sighed and picked up the phone.  Sure enough, it was Paul the dispatcher.  "Hey ol' buddy, how're you doing this fine morning?  If you're coming in I've got you a real special load."  Jake raised an eyebrow; whenever dispatch was THIS friendly it meant trouble he knew.  "Well Paul, I just sat down to breakfast, so as soon as I eat we'll be heading in".  "10/4 ol' friend, I'll hold this load for you. You be sure to feed ol' Traveller good and say Hi to Barb for me."  Jake was really suspicious now.

Barb and Angel walked the guys out to the truck and gave them a parting kiss.  "Be careful out there and come back safe to us", Barb told them.

The big red truck purred easily along in the morning traffic to the terminal.  Snow was beginning to fall again as Jake walked into the office.  The first thing he saw was Paul with a big smile on his face. "Uhoh", thought Jake with a grin, "here it comes."  "Well Jake, here's your load.  I saved it for our best driver; I didn't want to give it to a kid."  "C'mon Paul, quit laying it on so thick", laughed Jake, "I don't want to get bogged down before I leave the office."  Paul grinned. "Well Jake, you know how it goes.  But this load does pay good.  It's a rush load of medical supplies going to a small hospital where they have some kind of outbreak.  It's real important that it gets there ASAP and I know you won't fool around on me.  She's all pre-cleared at the border and I promise no holdups.  I'll even guarantee a quick turnaround."

Jake took the waybills and headed out the door.  "I'll do my best Paul, that's all I can tell you."

It took only a few minutes to hook up and get rolling.  Surprisingly, the border crossing was as promised, they even smiled at him and Traveller.  As they hit the interstate Jake looked over at Traveller; "Lord, I sure hope our luck holds.  So far this has been a dream trip and I'm afraid there's a nightmare coming."  "Mow wow", Traveller agreed.

Sure enough, before long the snow began to fall with a vengeance.  The wind picked up and visibility began dropping fast.  In minutes the road ahead disappeared into a swirling wall of white.  Jake geared Big Red down as the lines on the road were covered by a shifting blanket.  Traffic was reduced to barely visible circles of light.  Soon the guys and Old Red seemed all alone in the blowing snow.  Jake thought several times about pulling over but thoughts of the folks who were relying on him kept him going.

Suddenly, from out of the swirling snow appeared a sight that made Jake's heart skip a few beats.  A mini-van was on it's roof and a bedraggled man was frantically waving him down.  The guy jumped up on Red's running board.  "Hey man, thanks for stopping.  I need to get to someplace I can get another ride real quick", he shouted, "and I got my kid with me."  The guy ran back to the overturned van and dragged out a small child, a little girl.  Jake looked at Traveller; "I get a bad feeling here partner.  I don't like this guy's looks but we can't leave them here in this".  "Mrrrr", was Traveller's answer.

Chapter 3: The Capture

The guy shoved the little girl into the cab and climbed in.  "Get back there, sit down and be quiet", he ordered her.  The little girl obeyed without even looking at Jake.  "Is she ok", asked Jake, "not hurt?"  "Nah", came the reply, "she's fine; she just don't talk much, shy like".  Traveller hopped up onto the bed beside the girl.  She carefully reached out and stroked him once then returned to her slumped, eyes-down position.  Jake heard a stifled sob.  Traveller returned to his perch on the dash and looked at Jake with his ears flattened.  "I know old man", thought Jake, "there's something very wrong here.  But right now there's nothing we can do about it."

They rolled on in silence for a half hour or so.  The guy never uttered another word and the girl drifted off to an uneasy slumber.  Then up ahead came the sight of flashing lights.  "Uh-oh", said Jake, "police roadblock.  Must be an accident or something."  The guy started up and stared.  "Go through it," he snarled.  "What?", said Jake unbelievingly, "I can't do that.  What's wrong with you?" "I said RUN IT", came the gruff repy, "and I mean NOW."  He opened his jacket to reveal the butt of a gun sticking out of his belt.  But as he reached his hand for it he froze.  A vision of Hell sat on the dashboard just inches from his face.  Traveller was hunched on the dash, his eyes shooting yellow-green flames, his lips drawn back in a vicious snarl revealing fangs that gleamed like a tiger's tusks.  His small body seemed to have grown to 5 times it's size and you could see the muscles working like steel cables in his legs as he prepared to leap.  His claws crunched repeatedly in and out of the pad covering his perch, he spit and coughed in his anger.  "Mow wow wow wow wowwwwwwwwwww he screamed.  The guy's face turned deathly white as he beheld this awesome sight.  Traveller would surely have given pause to Satan himself.

Jake reached down and scooped up the heavy blade that rode beside his seat.  "I'd advise you to be very still man", he said in an icy voice.  "If you move one of us will ruin you before you touch that gun."  The guy never took his eyes off the ball of fury before him, but his hand dropped limply to his side again.

Jake brought the KW to a shuddering halt right at the line of police cars.  He quickly reached over and flipped the guy's gun out.  "Outside, quick", Jake ordered and the guy slumped in defeat and did as he was told.

Jake quickly explained things to the gathered troopers.  They slapped cuffs on the guy and led him to a nearby cruiser.  Another trooper carried the frightened child to his car and rushed her to a hospital.  A sergeant walked over to Jake.  "You did a real good thing here driver.  We've been searching for this bum.  He kidnapped that little girl from her mom this morning.  I just can't believe he gave up so easy."

Jake laughed and told the sergeant about Traveller's part in the capture.  The sergeant shook his head unbelievingly.  "That has got to be the wildest story... well would you look at that!"  Traveller had jumped down from the truck, stalked stiff- legged up to the kidnapper, spat at him and then turned and "marked" the guy's pantleg.

"Oh Lord", the sergeant guffawed, "I can hardly wait until this case gets to court.  I think his criminal career is pretty much over once the rest of the prisoners find out he was collared by a CAT." Shortly they let Jake go on his way and the load made it safely to it's destination.  Paul was speechless when Jake told him of the events and gave him his return load with no trouble.  "Just stop by the office with Traveller", he said, "I gotta take a better look at that CAT." 

A few months later, after the guy had been put behind barsfor years to come, Jake and Traveller were the star guests at a big awards ceremony.  All the certificates and things were nice enough and having Barb and Angel smiling and proud was real special.  But the best part was when the little girl walked up to them and said "This is my mother.  I wanted her to meet you both.  And I wanted to thank you both for getting me back home."  With that she kissed both Traveller and Jake and her mother did too.

Everyone went home to a very happy house that night.

Story and Art Copyrighted © By Wayne Pond


Traveller Story Part 1
Traveller Story Part 2
Traveller Story Part 4

Angel's Story

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