• T. Mark Mangum

Darkness Falls, Part 3, Saving Uncle Joe


“Mother flowers! Dog eaters!” George was pacing back and forth by the truck.

“How do you want to handle this George, there are six guys up there,” Jed said.

“I got to save Uncle Joe. He took me in when no one else would have me,” George said.

“Right, I’m with you George, we are with you, but calm down and let’s work out how we do his,” Jed said.


“Give me a second,” George shook both arms and hands, it looked like he was warming up for a race. He then sat his back against the tire of the truck and hung his head between his knees. He breathed in deep, then said a prayer. It was short. “God, help me, show me what to do,” he said. Then sat quietly.


Edvice was aiming and dry firing the pistol, a nine mill, is what Jed had called it. Earlier, Jed had shown him how to practice his aim and trigger pull. He had red puffy eyes and tears streaks down his cheeks. His hands shook as he aimed. He was getting cold and it seemed really dark for three in the afternoon.


“Ok, here is what I think we do. If we follow the trail up the other side of the tree line, we can get to uncle Joe without them seeing us. We save him and get him to a hospital,” George looked at his feet then at Edvice who was nodding his head.

“That might work, but you really want to leave these guys here to take all your uncle’s stuff,” Jed asked?

“If your uncle is awake, you think he is going to just leave once we get him free,” Jed asked?

“Fuck no!” George said. Then he said, “Sorry, I am furious and frustrated. I don’t know what to do.”

“Sorry for what, swearing,” Jed asked?

“Yeah, Uncle Joe don’t like it, says it makes you seem stupid,” George said.

“How well can you shoot with that,” Jed asked? Pointing to the rifle George held.

“Well enough, Uncle Joe taught me. I can hit a bullseye at a couple of hundred yards,” George said.

“Could you hit a man from here to the house,” Jed asked?

“Yes,” George said. “But if I start shooting now, they will just take cover. I’ll get maybe one or two is all.”

“Right,” Jed said. “But, if we send Edvice up the tree line to free Uncle Joe. I will drive up the driveway. I will pull up on the far side of the trucks and start shooting at them. They will take cover from me on this side of the trucks giving you a clean shot.”

“That’s a good idea,” George said.

“Can you shoot fast and accurately,” Jed asked?

“I guess, why?”

“Well, once you start shooting, you won’t have long before they come at me hard so they can take cover behind the trucks,” Jed said.

George walked back over to the observation area, picked up the binoculars, and observed the intruders. Then he set the binoculars down and put the rifle up over the edge. He took aim, dry fired, aimed at a different target, dry fired, and repeated the movements back and forth. Jed went over and watch through the binoculars. They spoke as George continued the exercise.

“If you can keep ’em in the open for forty seconds or so, I can get them all,” George said, sounding confident.

“What should I do after I set Uncle Joe Free,” Edvice asked?

“Just follow his lead if he isn’t seriously hurt,” George said. “If he is hurt bad, you have to get him into the tree line,” he continued.

“How long will it take you to get up the tree line Ed,” Jed asked?

“How far is it,” Edvice asked?

“About three hundred yards,” George said.

“Give me five minutes,” Edvice said.

“How long will it take me to drive over there from here, George,” Jed asked?

“It will take about seven minutes to drive there from here,” George said.

“Ok, go show Edvice the trail, give him any information he needs to find his way to the house. Edvice, when you get up there, get set and hide, don’t move till the shooting starts,” Jed said.

“Ok. Be safe, Jed. Don’t die,” Edvice said.

“Right, that’s the plan,” Jed said. He hugged his friend and went to the truck.

Jed started the truck and headed down the trail to the main drive. He thought through his options and contemplated George’s shooting skills. As he arrived at the gravel driveway, a medium-sized U-Haul truck pulled in. It stopped, and the driver got out and walked towards Jed waving his arms.

“Shit junkets,” He whispered to himself. Getting out of the truck and walking toward the man, he waited for him to speak.

“Howdy, where you headed,” the man asked?

“Just coming over to check on my neighbor Joe. You,” Jed asked? He looked at the U-Haul, then back to the man.

“Well, you see,” the man said looking back at the truck. “Your neighbor is donating some food storage to the church, I’m just…”

As his eyes left Jed. Jed stepped into the man, swinging his right fist in a roundhouse. As the man turned back to face Jed, the punch made a solid connection. The man was out cold. Jed got some twine from the toolbox in his truck and tied the man up, Jed gagged the man with his own shirt. Then threw him in the back of the U-haul. Getting in the U-Haul, Jed drove toward the house.


George walked with Edvice up the trail. He described the boulder where Edvice should turn to make his way through the trees to the side of the house. After about fifty yards he turned back to get set up. “Thanks, man,” George said.

Edvice walked a little further on his own, then looked at his watch. He had forgotten to check it when they started walking and decided he had better run. After a few steps, Edvice stumbled over a rock and fell. He lay there crying, he felt ill, he sat up but his head swooned, and it became hard to breath. “Jed, George, Uncle Joe,” he whispered and then breathed deep, trying to calm himself. “We have to save Uncle Joe,” he said aloud. He stood and started walking. After a minute, he realized he was walking back toward George. “Oh no! Edvice, you idiot,” speaking to himself. He turned around and ran up the trail. Gunfire broke out.


As Jed topped the hill, he could see the trucks and all six of the men. Jed floored the truck. A couple of the men stopped what they were doing and watched the U-haul speed up the drive and slam into the blue pickup truck. Jed jumped out, took cover behind the trucks, and fired four bullets at the guys nearest the house compelling them to move toward the brown truck for cover. A few seconds later, the head of the man he was aiming at exploded, then the sound of the rifle firing reached him. He ducked, realizing as a bullet whizzed past him, he had stood there staring at the gore a bit too long. He jumped back up, firing, and noticed one of the men run into the house.

“Shit.” He said out loud and fired at the man then ducked.

Two more repeats of the rifle, he heard screams.

He popped up and shot a couple of rounds. A man popped up, aiming his pistol at Jed. Jed fired hit the man in the chest, the man fired, and Jed fell to the ground, searing pain in his left shoulder.

Another repeat of the rifle.

A bullet impacted the ground near his feet. He looked around, trying to see who was shooting at him, and realized one of the men George had hit lay on the ground shooting under the trucks. Jed took aim, gritting his teeth, sweat rolled down his forehead into his left eye. He closed it and squeezed the trigger. The man went limp. “Damn!” he rolled over and knelt next to the truck, the pain in his shoulder slowed his movements. His breaths were quick. He listened. There was no more weapons fire.


“Oh no,” edvice said out loud as the first four shots rang out. He spotted the boulder George had described and started running faster. Suddenly he was in the yard between the house and the tree line. There before him stood a man and Uncle Joe. they walked toward the front of the house. The man aimed his pistol at Uncle Joe’s back and said, “Tell them to stop shooting, or I will kill you!” When Edvice emerged from the trail he made all kinds of noise. The man turned looked and started to aim his gun at Edvice. Edvice reached in his pocket, trying to get the pistol and aim it. Then three shots rang out loud.


Joe Crake was already plodding through his options while the man untied him. Something was happening, and an opportunity would present itself. He was sure of it. Completely free the man stuck the gun in his face.

“Get up, walk,” the man said.

“Out there, someone is shooting at people out there,” Uncle Joe said.

The man pushed him forward and pointed the gun at his back. “Tell them to stop shooting, or I will kill you!”

Joe walked to the side of the house then up to the corner of the house and peaked out. The unmistakable sound of running, a squeak, and loud heavy breathing came to their ears. The man with the gun turned to see Edvice emerge from the tree line. The boy squealed as he caught sight of them stuck his hand in his pocket.

He turned his gun toward the young man meaning to kill him.

Joe, upon Edvice emerging from the tree line, reached down grabbed the club that was leaning against the corner of the house. He swung it, hit the man’s hands, causing him to drop the gun. As his captor bent to retrieve the gun, Joe hit him with the club on the back of the head. He then dropped the club, picked up the gun, shot his captor in the center of his back three times, turned and pointed it at the young man who dropped the pistol, and looked at him.


To Edvice, the three bangs were the loudest noise he had ever heard. He dropped his gun and looked up, sure that he would soon be dead. Uncle Joe was standing there pointing a gun at him.

“Who are you,” Uncle Joe asked?

“I’m with George. We are rescuing you,” Edvice said. Then bent down to pick up the gun.

“Just leave it on the ground boy; I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself,” Uncle Joe said.

“Yes, woohoo, it worked! Jed you ok, where are you?” George was running up the front slope to the house screaming. “Woohoo, we got those Pantie hose-wearing mammer jammers! Uncle Joe, are you ok?”

“You sure you got all of them, boy!” Uncle Joe screamed at George.

“Yes sir. Well, four of them. You got that one. Jed got one over there. Jed! Oh, shit, where is Jed,” George asked? hen disappeared around the front side of the house.

“Jed!” Edvice shouted and ran after George.

Uncle Joe walked over, picked up the gun Edvice had dropped, shook his head, and laughed a light-hearted chuckle. Then he walked around the front of the house, where he hoped to meet Jed.

Copyright: T. Mark Mangum, March 16, 2021.

T. Mark Mangum, a product of the unimaginable worlds of Star Wars, Star Trek, Connan, and the Lord of the Rings. Lover and writer of fiction tales. He is a Veteran and a father of six, and a game enthusiast.

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