The Trading Post part 3
How long he had laid on the ground, Daniel did not know. Suffice to say that the blood on his leg and arm had dried over completely. He looked around to see if there were any signs of Ellie. His mind began recalling the events that had left him laying on the ground, broken and sore. The tents that had appeared before he had taken his leap at the Chief were now gone. The rail workers and Indians were no where to be found. All that remained was the school house, the tracks and the bridge. He could hear the train that had been in the background, sounding closer now. The gravel jumped up and down like tiny Mexican jumping beans and sand and dust fell through the huge cracks in the bridge above him.
"You look a little out of sorts there, youngster."
Daniel turned towards the voice, perhaps too fast, as his leg scraped the ground and fresh crimson coloring stained his Jeans. He winced at the pain and tried to straighten his leg.
"You ought let me set that for you before you do more hurt to yourself."
Daniel stared at the old man standing beside him. He shook his head, trying to decide if this too was something from the past or if the man was truly standing in front of him. The man answered as if he had read Daniel's mind.
"Oh, I'm real enough, young man. Been wandering these mountains fer longer than you have been alive, I reckon. The names Eli and it looks like I came along just in time. Let me set that leg and we can be on our way."
"On our way? What are you talking about? Where did you come from?" Daniel was confused and shook his head once more, trying to wake from what he was certain was just a hallucination brought in by the fall.
"Shake all you want, Daniel, but I ain't going anywhere unless you just want me to leave you here."
Panic raced through Daniel's whole being. He didn't know the where or what about all of this but he was certain that he did Not want to be left alone. He stretched his leg out, crying out a little as he did.
"Drink a little of this stuff while I work. It don't taste so good but it will ease the hurt."
Without arguing, Daniel drank the whiskey down. He looked at the label and then at Eli. "You've been saving this bottle for a long, long time."
"Nah, I picked it up at the Trading Post this morning. It will do in a tight squeeze."
Daniel looked at the bottle again. The label read "Hard Bourbon... Bottled in Kentucky, 1867." He looked back at Eli, confusion in his eyes. "My wife and I have been here every year for a decade plus and we have never seen a Trading Post any-where near here. I don't even know if I can walk."
"Where we go, Daniel, ain't anywhere you and Ellie have ever been. We will pass through a Forest and then enter a place where you will find healing. Healing both of your body and your soul. Then you will find your Ellie."
Daniel stood up and used a stick Eli had given him to brace himself. He was surprised at how well he could walk this way.
"Why don't we take my vehicle instead of walking?"
"No vehicle will travel where we are. Just follow me and you will be fine."
As they walked along the tracks, the train sounds grew louder. Daniel swore he could smell the trains smoke. There was a mist that now covered the path they were walking on. After walking for what seemed like hours to Daniel, the mist began to disipate. Directly in front of them appeared a train depot. The slats used to build it were ripped in half in some places. The windows were broken and the porch at the entrance looked as if it had not been touched in fifty years. Eli stopped and entered the building, motioning for Daniel to stay out. He came out only a moment later carrying two tickets.
"What are those for?"
Eli looked at him and shook his. "They are tickets for us. We are going to catch the train and find Ellie."
The train stopped directly where Daniel and Eli were standing. The conductor stood in the doorway, calling out to people to get aboard. Suddenly, beside Daniel were people. People with luggage and kids climbed up the steps into the train. Daniel had no idea where they had come from. He followed Eli into the train. As he entered the train he felt a change come over him. He looked down and realized that his leg was no longer broken. He could also move his arm freely. He sat down on a seat and was joined by Eli.
"Where did this train come from? Where is it taking us?" Daniel had so many questions and simply not enough answers. "And this, Trading Post you keep mentioning, where is it."
"We will be there as soon as we are, Daniel. Until then, relax and enjoy the view."
Daniel looked out of the window of the train. He saw tracks forming in front of the train as it traveled. As he looked behind the train, he could see the tracks disappearing. Looking to the opposite side of the seats, he could see what appeared to be at least fifty Indian warriors on horse-back following the train. The train began slowing down until it came to a stop. The conductor called out again.
"All those wanting the Trading Post... fifteen minutes and then we leave again. If you are late, we Will leave you behind."
"This is where we get off, Daniel. You will need to go in to the Trading Post now. The clerk will tell you what you need."
"Need for what!?? Damn-it, I want some answers and I want them now!!"
"Do you want your Ellie back, Daniel?"
"You know that I do! I just don't understand all of this. There were Indians following this train and not just a few."
"We will deal with the warriors. You take care of business in the trading post. Hurry, we only have a short while."
Daniel stepped off of the train. His leg suddenly gave way and he fell to the ground. The healing he had experienced On the train was gone now. He lifted himself up and took the stick Eli had given him. He stopped in front of the Trading Post. There were pelts from Beaver and Muskrat hanging over a log stand. The hides from several Buffalo and Bears hung on the side of the building. The roof was made of timber and mud and Daniel could see and smell the wood burning inside the Post. He stood in the doorway, staring, until a young lady, Daniel guessed her to be about twenty, walked up to him.
"Ah, Daniel, we have been expecting you. Please come in as we have much to discuss. You will need to make a trade to go on further."
"I have nothing to trade unless you want my watch. It won't do you much good when you need a battery though."
"We do not want anything from your time. But you do have things to trade."
"What in the hell do I have that you could possibly want?"
"You have hearing, Daniel. We are need of your senses. Here, where we are, many have lost their hearing and we need the sense from outside our world. We can only take what you will give. Your hearing would go to many that can not hear the warnings when we are attacked. The savages will come back and try to harm us."
Daniel stood still, his mouth wide open. He could not believe what he was hearing. What kind of a place was this? Was he going to have to trade his hearing to find Ellie? He walked up to the counter where an old man stood.
"Can I help you, sir?"
"I need to find my wife. Can you help me?"
"Yes sir, I think I can. I'll need your hearing, please."