Lone Wolf was a few hours behind Jed and he wasn't gaining on the four-wheeler Jed took from the barn. Jed didn't know that Sam was heading to Vegas with Maddie, but Sam's trail was clear to follow.
Lone Wolf leaned forward and patted the neck of the bay he rode, whispering in his childhood Ojibwe language. "You're doing fine, Gizhii. We can catch them if we are slow and steady. The boy will need our help, I think." Gizhii's ears twitched and he exhaled sharply, shaking his head. The two of them broke into a fast walk through the trees, careful to avoid low branches as they followed the trail.
Lone Wolf barely touched the bitless bridle as they moved through the forest. He scanned for the passage of the two vehicles, pleased to note that Jed rarely deviated from the path set by the larger buggy as it passed among the timber. Lone Wolf still wore his black combat gear, though he also had saddlebags with more clothing and some food. His bow and arrows were within arm's reach.
In the full dark, Lone Wolf set up a small camp, leaving Gizhii to stand near him. "You keep watch, Gizhii," said Lone Wolf. "Wake me if you need me."
The bay snorted and bumped his head against Lone Wolf's chest. Lone Wolf pulled a carrot from his pocket, took a bite and held the rest out for Gizhii to finish. "We should leave as soon as we can see the trail again, my friend." Lone Wolf stretched out on the pile of leaves he gathered and pulled his wool blanket over his shoulders. He left his boots on as he fell asleep.
The four-wheeler sputtered to a stop, the last bit of gasoline gone. Jed sat back, closing his eyes. Maddie got farther and farther away as he sat in the small vehicle, but he couldn't muster the strength to get out.
Coughing racked his body again, white bursts of light appearing behind his eyelids. When the cough subsided, Jed tried to take a deep breath. He failed, but forced himself to climb from his seat and move forward. He didn't know why Sam took Maddie, but he was pretty sure where they were going - Sam's hometown: Vegas.
The world disappeared into a small circle as Jed put one foot in front of the other. Head down, he watched his boots scrape along the rough road as he moved. His breath came in gasps.
His right foot stepped into a pothole and Jed stumbled, falling to the side of the road. The long, brown grass covered him as he rolled a dozen feet down the incline. Jed looked into the night sky, his vision blurring.
"Maddie," he whispered. Blackness swept over him.