Tastes Like Pork: Chapter 9

New installments of this serial novel are posted every week. Need to catch up? Use these links:

Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch. 5 | Ch. 6 | Ch. 7| Ch. 8

Chapter 9

Silas considered trying to track Wentworth on horseback to prevent him from actually kidnapping anyone. But he had a full day’s head start, and he’d be able to travel in a more direct path, so driving was probably still the fastest option. The old homestead was in east central Wyoming a hundred miles or so over the state line and according to the internet, there wasn’t a road all the way back, so Silas would have to hike in from the road anyway. The sooner he got to that point, the faster he’d get to whoever Wentworth decided to take as his last victim.

He drove through the darkness toward the state line, watching for deer and antelope a few hours later as the dawn started to break on the horizon. Coming down out of the mountains, he left the beautiful fall colors behind in exchange for the late season browns and grays of prairie grass and sage brush, with only the occasional lone tree to break up the fields and fenced off pastures. Tumbleweeds blew along the road as the wind kicked up, and the occasional herd of cattle grazed peacefully behind their barbed wire.

It was mid-morning by the time he turned onto the gravel road in the middle of nowhere, followed it three miles back, and finally found a place to park just off the road roughly a mile out from where Wentworth’s old homestead should be. Satellite images showed a building of some sort nestled in one of the shallow valleys nearby, and Silas hoped like hell that was the right place. He put his pack on the tailgate of his truck, converted the straps to backpack style, and then backed up to slide and tighten the straps over his shoulders and around his chest. He made a point of being prepared for any situation while on dispatch duty, so the pack had everything he could possibly need. He closed up the truck and locked it, checking his GPS unit one more time before setting off in the general direction of the cabin.

He’d been hiking for ten minutes or so, long enough to get to the top of the first hill when he smelled smoke. Lifting a hand to shield his eyes, he scanned the hills and valleys that surrounded him, all brown and practically crackling from the dry summer, until he saw the plume a little to his left. Adjusting his course, he moved faster, picking his way through tall grasses, thick bushes and dry downed limbs – the whole place desiccated by drought. Hoping the smoke was Wentworth’s pit and not a forest fire, Silas took the most direct path forward that he could, thankful that he didn’t smell anything cooking.


When he finally crested the last hill before the smoke, he slowed. There wasn’t much in the way of cover, so he crouched low behind the crest, lowering himself to the ground and army-crawling forward just until he could peer down into the valley.

The gray and rotting cabin had obviously seen better days, but it was still standing, barely. Rotting remnants of fence posts dotted the area around it, and a sleek quarter-horse was tied to one of the still standing posts just outside the door. Mabel, Silas presumed. Tall grasses covered most of the area, and a hedge of low bushes probably planted by Wentworth long ago formed a windbreak of sorts on one side. And directly behind the house was the infamous pit area, containing a firepit at one end topped by a long spit with a handle for rotation, and a the other end of the area, a flat area now covered in lush grasses and wildflowers where he’d buried the remains of his victims once done with them.

Not seeing any sign of Wentworth or his unwilling guest, Silas backed away from the crest of the hill and started around the north side, thinking to use the few trees at the front of the house as cover for his approach. But as he rounded the side of the hill and began weaving his way through the trees, Wentworth stepped out of the cabin, wiping his bloody hands on a rag and peering in Silas’ general direction.

“I know you’re out there, Dispatcher. I’ve had my last meal. Now come and have yours.”

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