About a day later Taylor was fully recharged. At about six at dawn, she was dressed in a black tank top, sweatpants, and a waist pack with her phone inside. She stepped out into the misty morning, and took off down the steep mountain road. It had been a long time she had been out for a run, let alone exercising. However, being a superhuman, that didn’t impact her endurance. She ran at a steady pace at sixty miles per hour, with calves burning, but not enough to warrant slowing down. In about twenty minutes, she had reached the bottom of the mountain. She passed the cold pine forests, and into a large field of dry grass and stones. She could see the peaks of town buildings up ahead, known as Silver Springs.
Silver Springs was formerly a mining town. Back in the 1800s, the town mostly inhabited miners, a few farmers, and pawn brokers. However, once the silver mine in Mount Ninovan depleted, instead of being completely abandoned or numbers tremendously dwindling like most mining towns, the farmers restored it, and it became a thriving agricultural community. It was a minimum of two hours from any big city, so the folks in Silver Springs kept mostly to themselves. But that didn’t mean they were entirely unfriendly.
When Taylor sprinted into town fifteen minutes later, the first place she stopped was a little coffee shop called “Cathy’s Cafe,” run by a friendly woman in her early forties. She and Taylor had struck up a pleasant conversation the first day Taylor came into town, and Taylor was eager to return again.
The town was beginning to wake. Trucks filled with farming resources and agricultural equipment drove slowly up and down the streets. Taylor paused for a moment as the light turned green and she had to wait to cross. A faded red truck filled with apples drove over and waved. Taylor waved back. Then she continued on her way.
Finally, she made it to Cathy’s Cafe. The bell over the door jingled as she walked in. She looked around to see she had been the third customer to walk in. She sat down at the front counter on a high stool. “Better Than This” by Hunter Hayes was playing quietly and pleasantly over the radio.
“My bags were packed from the day I was born
I knew there was something I was living for
I found my place in a runaway car and I never looked back
Never looked back,
I never was much for falling in line
I had a long time fire in this heart of mine
I may look crazy in mama’s eyes, but I don’t mind…”
Cathy walked in from the kitchen. She smiled.
“Taylor! You’re back!” she exclaimed.
Taylor grinned. “Well, I just got such great service, I couldn’t wait!”
“That’s what I like to hear! What’ll it be?”
Taylor dramatically cringed as she slid forward on the counter.
“Well, I’m trying to be good. So I’ll just have a sausage, cheddar and egg sandwich, and a mocha.”
Cathy raised an eyebrow. “Trying to be good, huh? You sure you don’t want whipped cream on that mocha?”
“Okay, fine, I’m not trying that hard!”
Cathy snickered. “Alright. Coming up.”
As she handed the recipe to one of her employees, Cathy more closely observed Taylor’s exercise gear.
When she came back with Taylor’s mocha, she asked: “So, you getting breakfast before the gym, or did you park your car really far away so you could get a jog in on the way here?”
Taylor had taken a sip of her hot bean-water and burned her tongue slightly before responding.
“No, I ran from my house.”
Cathy halted in her tracks. She wasn’t expecting that answer.
“You ran from your house?” She echoed, “You live in the cabin on Mount Ninovan, right?”
“That would’ve taken forever to jog down the mountain on foot! When did you start this morning?”
Taylor paused for a moment. She had forgotten how unusual that was.
“Erm, pretty early.”
Cathy still wasn’t convinced and didn’t believe Taylor’s story at all, but decided to be nice and not push it farther.
Instead, she inquired more about the cabin.
“You planning on any renovations? I know that house can’t be safe to live in after years of being uninhabited!”
Taylor took another sip of her mocha, this time a long one.
“Well, I have a pretty small budget, so I’m doing mostly essentials. I know the place needs a deep clean and the plumbing is barely functional. I picked up a book specifically on fixer-uppers. Hopefully I can do a little stylizing! This is actually my first house so I can choose what I want!” she replied.
“Ooh, I watch a home improvement show all about stylizing! You should give it a try! You might get some ideas!”
Taylor nodded. “Okay, I’ll give it a shot.”
Cathy had went back into the kitchen for a few minutes, giving time to enjoy the rest of her coffee in peace. The doorbell jingled as another customer entered. It was a young man, wearing a plaid blue shirt, white cowboy hat, blue jeans, and gleaming leather boots. He looked familiar. He sat on a stool two seats away from Taylor. He noticed Taylor glancing at him, and tipped his hat to her.
“Good morning ma’am.”
Taylor nodded. “Morning.”
After a few seconds, the man also began to shoot looks at her. It became apparent that they recognized each other from somewhere. Then, the man stated:
“You’re the young woman I ran into at the train station, right?”
Taylor recalled the first day she came to Silver Springs. She had arrived via train since Bumblebee had to take off to NEST earlier than she was able:
She felt herself colliding into something and almost fell! Her luggage went flying, including her phone! A young man, about in his mid twenties, with a cowboy hat and pale blue shirt, long jeans with boots, stared at her with frozen brown eyes.
“Oh gosh! I-I am so sorry, ma’am!” He exclaimed.
He picked up Taylor’s phone. Taylor froze herself when he picked it up.
“Please don’t see my messages, please don’t see my messages” she thought, holding her breath.
However, the young man quickly handed Taylor her phone and stammered, “Here! Let me help you!”
Taylor said nothing as she shoved her phone into her jacket pocket and zipped it up. She bent down along with him to pick up her luggage.
Once they stood up, the man was about to give her her luggage back, but then said, “Let me help you get your bags out front! Your hands are full.”
“Yes. I could use the help, thank you. I think I overpacked.”
The man chuckled. “That’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“Yes! I think I am!” Taylor announced.
The man removed his gloves and reached his hand out to her.
“I never properly introduced myself: My name’s David Walker. I’m a hand at a cattle ranch about three miles out.”
Taylor shook his hand. “Taylor McCarthy. I just moved here.”
“Oh really? You come from the city?”
“I’m from Michigan. I came to tutor the students at Mountain View Academy.”
David whistled. “Wow, that’s a bit of a surprise.”
“Surprise that I’m from Michigan, or a surprise that I’m tutoring at Mountain View?”
“Well, a bit of both, really. I just didn’t expect the school to send for someone that far out!”
“Well, technically NEST pulled a few strings.”
Taylor relaxed her shoulders.
“I’m eager to get started: to meet the students, as well as teaching them what I know, and maybe teaching me a little bit of how things work around here.”
“I’m just gonna give you a bit of a warning though: kids ‘round here aren’t very motivated in their schoolin’ from what I heard. That’s why Mountain View’s test scores are apparently very low.”
Taylor shuffled her posture and adjusted her glasses. “Well, I’ll help in any way I can.”
Cathy finally returned, and with Taylor’s sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich in hand. She passed it in front of Taylor.
“There you are!” she announced, then added, “Good morning David!”
“Good mornin’ Miss Cathy” David replied, courteously.
Cathy noticed the two of them sitting in such a stance that Taylor and David had been talking, and got a bit of a mischievous glint in her eye.
“So, you two have met already?” she asked.
“Yes ma’am, we ran into each other at the train station the other day” David informed.
“Literally” Taylor added, with a shy chuckle.
“Did David tell you that the Silverado ranch, the place he works for is responsible for the best hoedown this side of Colorado?”
“Silver Springs has hoedowns?” Taylor asked.
“Yeah, the entire town pitches in and the Silverado ranch hosts every one. It’s a community thing” Cathy explained.
“Well, anyone’s welcome to come” said David, “It may be a good way to get to know the people of Silver Springs, especially parents of the kids you’re going to teach.”
Taylor nodded, interested. “Okay, I’ll try to do that. Excuse me for being a bit uncultured, for awhile I thought hoedowns were just in country films.”
David chuckled. “Well, I think you’ll find real hoedowns are better than the movies.”
Suddenly, Taylor’s cell phone began vibrating. She quickly pulled it out to check caller ID.
Taylor’s eyes widened.
“Erm, sorry, I gotta take this” she apologized.
She answered it.
“Hey Bee, what’s happening?”
She suddenly cringed when she realized she actually said that out loud. David and Cathy gave her a perplexed look.
“Knightingale! NEST just received a signal from a ship! It’s Autobot!”
Taylor plugged her ears to block out the noise in the cafe as it started to get busier.
“What!?” she gasped, “Another one!?”
“That’s not even the best part! ‘Gale, I think it’s the rest of the gang! It’s Red Delta!”
Taylor’s heart nearly stopped. Red Delta? The Red Delta Squadron? Her squadron!? She thought they all died!
The Red Delta Squadron was an elite group of Autobots given for Taylor, whose real, Cybertronian name was Knightingale, to lead after being promoted to Captain following Operation Kaon. It was comprised of five members, including Knightingale and Bumblebee. Of course, there was no guarantee that any of the escaped Autobots ships were destroyed upon fleeing Cybertron, their war-torn planet. All that Knightingale knew, was that she allowed the other three squadron members to leave without her. Bumblebee insisted on staying to assist Optimus Prime in completing the Ark, the Autobot’s mothership; and Knightingale couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her best friend behind.
To think that Red Delta had managed to find them on Earth after all this time…!
Finally, she snapped herself out of her thoughts.
“Okay, I’m on my way. I’ll meet you at the halfway point” she replied.
She ended the call and quickly put her cellphone back into her waist pack.
“Sorry Cathy, afraid I gotta cut my visit short. Can you get me a takeout box real quick for my sandwich?” she asked.
“Is everything alright?” Cathy inquired, concerned.
“Yes, everything’s great actually! Fantastic, even!”
Taylor had a grin on her face that grew larger as the news fully sunk in. Cathy bought her the takeout box and Taylor hastily paid for her meal.
“It was nice to meet you, Mr. Walker. I’ll see you around!” she called.
And with that, she promptly scooted out the door.
Double upload this week, Tuesday and Thursday at 4pm!
Stay safe and wash your hands! ❤ ^^