Seminole Village Museum

[Chapter Three]

Dead Or Alive Code

Under the pile of rumble, a hand twitched once then once more. Slowly another the hand pushed passed the debris. With both hands free, the owner started to make an exist hole in the new turned dirt and finally able to get his head out.

Coughing for air and to clear his lungs as he looked around, his legs still covered with a mound of ground debris and his brain trying to comprehend what had just happened. On the realization of his situation, fear and panic settled in. His first thought was on his brothers and his nephew. He had to find the others. He scrambled out of the pile of ground he had once stood upon and started frantically searching for his family members.

"Vin!" Buck coughed out as he pushed hard against the weight of the dirt "JD! Ezra!" His voice was horse with the dust he had inhaled and his lungs burnt but he didn't allow it to slow him down. He knew every moment mattered and he didn't have time allow fear over take him. Instead he turned to the fallen mound of dirt and rock and began to claw the surface in desperation. He ignored the dirt that packed up under his nails and sharp little rocks that tore against the flesh of his fingers.

The blast had been created by the contractors for the home development a few miles from the Indian Village. That blast had then, accidentally created a man-made-earthquake that rumbled under the hallow tunnels of the old mine shaft. In turned, it caused mine which the boys stood upon to break and crumble within itself.

Rock, dirt and even small tree saplings had fallen onto the floor of the cave and the younger boys were somewhere beneath it all.

As the earth started to disintegrate under their feet, Buck held onto his little brothers as they tumbled with the once solid foundation. His actions did not prevent them from falling. He didn't shield them from being half buried with dirt and rock or prevent injuries from the fall. That moment when his instinct kicked it that made him reach out to his brothers, it kept him and his brothers close to one another when they did fall. It gave him an idea where they should be under the debris.

In the back of his mind, he knew his chances of finding Vin and JD were higher than finding his nephew who was standing apart from the brothers and who had tried to escape the cave in by stepping backwards.

Fortunately a great amount of relief and a lot of luck on Ezra, Buck could hear coughing far to his left side. While still digging through the dirt, he watched as Ezra slowly and shakily stood up from his own prison of dirt. He looked around, stunned and like Buck had, his mind slowly caught up to what had actually befallen onto the small group of boys. He looked upward from the height of their fall. He would had thought there would be a large gabbing hole above them and there was one in fact. However that large hole was concealed by fully grown trees that had fallen over the gab during the cave in.

"Ez!" Buck called over to him. "If you are good, I need help over here!"

Ezra didn't say anything but he stumbled over the spray of rocks that littered the ground. He fell once jarring his bad shoulder when he tripped over one of the rocks as he made his way towards the shadowy figure of his uncle. Ezra awkwardly scrambled back to his feet and hastened his clumsy walk to where Buck was kneeling down and digging at the ground.

Buck looked briefly over at Ezra, the younger boy was a mess. Like Buck, Ezra was covered in dirt and grim from the fall and even in the darken structure, he could make out the paleness of the slightly younger boy. There was a streak of darker dirt that had started down Ezra's face, Buck wasn't sure if it was blood or sweat. If it was blood, it wasn't anything serious looking from what he could tell. "Help me dig them out! Start there! They were next to me when I fell!"

Buck hoped his voice sounded calm because he was feeling nothing of that. His hands were shaking as they raked through the dirt, clawing in hopes the next scoop would show flesh.

Ezra started to scoop at the dirt with urgency as Buck, already assigning the situation of the other two boys.

Buck glanced over at Ezra, noticing he was only using one hand. "Both hands!"

"Shoulders out." Ezra mumbled with a shake of his head. He the pain wasn't a new feeling to him. It hurt like mad just like the first time it popped it's socket years ago. He clenched his teeth and dug, ever movement jarring the shoulder.

Buck took a deep breath and fought back the frustration, not of Ezra. It wasn't his fault his arm was useless from the fall but at how long it was taking him to find his brothers.

"I found him!" Ezra wasn't sure who 'him' Buck was referring to and only glanced over to watch as Buck quickly emerged the shoulders of one of the missing and pulled him out of the dirt. Ezra turned back to his digging, glad that one was found. He tried to use his other arm but the pain took his breath away.

Buck took off his shirt and hurried to wipe the dirt away from Vin's mouth and nose before feeling for a pulse. "Thank you god!" Buck said with a brief glance up at the heavens above. Vin's chest raised up and down slowly and there was a big gash over his forehead that was smeared with grime.

Ezra saw the dark hair first and he hurried to brush away the dirt from JD's face, clearing anything that might hinder his air flow. His hand brushed over JD's mouth, nose and then over his eyes and Ezra's hand froze and his chest tighten.

"No. No! She isn't!" Ezra pulled her head from the crimson colored water and he cradled her head in his one arm as he brushed the pinkish drops from her face. Her long dark hair flowed behind her like black ink in the water, her skin was pale as snow and her lips still stained with the red lipstick she loved to wear. It was her eyes though. Her dark eyes that once shined with life now held the stare of the dead.

Ezra jumped when he felt Buck's hand rest on his good shoulder.

"You found him!" Ezra could hear the relief filter from Buck's words. "You found him!" Buck repeated and started to dig JD out from where Ezra had left off.

Ezra looked at Buck with confusion and then took a quick look back at where JD was laying. He found him, not her. It was JD. "I found him?" His voice near a whisper.

"You did great, Ez!" Buck attention was on getting JD out of the dirt. With a bad shoulder, he knew Ezra couldn't do it. He gave Ezra a few brief glances, worried that maybe he was going into some kind of shock. Deciding that keeping Ezra's mind focus was probably best. "Can you go over and sit with Vin? I'll get JD over there if I can. You found him even with that shoulder out, that's great Ez."

Ezra nodded, though Buck wasn't looking at him when he did so. He stood up and slowly made his way to sit next to Vin through the rumble as Buck asked. He took a brief look over his shoulder once more, just to assure himself that it was indeed JD.

"JD?" Buck heart skipped a few beats when he saw those thick eyelashes his baby brother inherited from their mother rapidly blinked, trying to flutter open. He put JD's face in both of his hands, kissing the younger boy's forehead in relief.

"Buck?" JD's groan turned into a coughing fit. Like the other three, he was covered in dirt and dust. He started to sit up but Buck's pressed a large hand on his chest.

"Now you take it easy." Buck would be first to admit that he was no doctor but on the football field, he knew that keep the person down until they knew nothing was broken. "Just move a little at time. A foot, a finger, a leg until you know nothing is broken."

JD nodded his head but slowly started to move his limbs as Buck swept his hand through his brother's hair, feeling for bumps. No doubt they all had bruises.

"Think I'm okay, Buck." JD slowly sat up, putting a hand on his forehead with a wince.

"Yeah you got a golf ball growing there, kid." Buck reached for his cell phone, silently cursing to see he had no bars. The flashlight did work however.

Buck's biggest concern was finding everyone and now that he done that, he examined the damage. His fingers were bleeding from the small granted like stones when he had dug the boys out. His knee hurt but was pretty sure it was just banged up a bit. Over all, he made it through the cave-in much better than the other three.

JD had a large bump showing on his temple but it wasn't cut open. A small cut on his cheek caused minor bleeding but it wasn't serious. Hopefully it wouldn't get infected with anything down in the mine.

JD started to stand, wanting to go over to where Vin still laid unconscious on the ground. He reached out to Buck for extra balance as he slowly moved over the rocks. "Is Vin okay?"

"I gotta take a look at him but you need to sit. Not sure if you have a concussion or not, now do I?" Buck helped JD slowly sit down next to Vin.

"I'm good Buck." JD whined but his stomach was feeling a bit uneasy so he thought he better listen to his older brother's advice.

"Hmm..." Buck hummed at JD's whine as he turned his cell light over on Vin. The other boy had a rather deep gash that went across his right eyebrow and seeped blood that pooled down onto his closed eyelid, streaming from there down from the corner of his eye and into his hairline.

It scared Buck but he knew he couldn't let it show. There wasn't any use on getting the other two boys worked up without any solution on getting out of their mess. "That looks nasty, doesn't it? But you know, Vin has got that thick skull like the rest of us. Maybe he isn't as stubborn but it's still there." Buck frown at the cut, not sure how to get it under control. The shirt he had taken off and used to brush off most of the dirt from Vin's face was covered in dirt and blood. The other two boys shirts were also covered in dirt but may be the only alternative that he had. It wouldn't make a good bandage for the boy but they had limited options.

"There is water in JD's backpack." Ezra looked over at the pile of debris and like the older boy, took on how serious it was but didn't allow it to show in his voice. Instead he started to raise. "Vin had it when we fell. If we can find it..."

JD's eyes light up even in the dark light. "I had bought t-shirts too! They were wrapped -in plastic. I bet they would be good for a bandage!"

"They would, JD! Betcha didn't know that old backpack was going to save us, did you now? You." Buck gave Ezra a pointed look. "You just stay where you are." Buck put a hand on his good shoulder. "Can't imagine moving about isn't causing you pain with that shoulder. Which I knew how to knock it back into place for you."

"What's wrong with your shoulder?" JD looked over at Ezra, noticing the pain expression easily with the light Buck's cell phone created.

"He has it popped out of it's socket." Buck patted JD's back while giving him the cell phone to use as a light. "You stay here while I go dig around a bit for that backpack. Keep an eye on him and Ez too."

JD looked down with a frown at Vin noticing the swelling around Vin's eye starting to increase. "You think he's really okay?" He asked Ezra as Buck shifted back to the area he had located Vin a moment ago.

Ezra gave a nod, leaning forward to pretend to look at the gash but secretly trying to view the slight rise and fall of the boy's chest. Vin's face was so pale and they couldn't be sure how much blood the boy lost. Ezra wished Nathan was with them. Well, no. He was rather glad Nate was safe. "He'll be find, JD. No need to worry. He will however look as if he ran into a wall but he will be all right. Perhaps he will even earn a few stitches when we get out of here."

"What if we don't?" JD looked up at Ezra, his thoughts finally showing it's voice.

"Why would we not?" Ezra gave him a forced smile and added a false chuckle. "Our families will be looking for us. Probably of now. Hell, I imagine old Nate has half the village worried of our mishaps with his wild imagination of catastrophes that may had befallen upon us. They'll figure we are missing together and...well I am positive they'll figure that we must have ventured up towards the mine entrance."

"But we are inside! The entrance is still boarded up! They won't know we are inside it! They won't think to look for us in here!" JD voice broke with a threat of tears. He was doing his best to hold them back, to prove that he was just as brave was Buck and Ezra were but in truth, he was terrified. "What if we are here when it gets dark and the ghost come out."

"JD." Ezra looked around. "It's forever night in here and I doubt any spirit would know the difference from day and night as it is. Even so, we would have very little to fear from them. The spirits cannot hurt us without breaking their honor code."

"Their honor code?" JD gave Ezra a puzzled looked. "What code? Like a pirate's code?"

"Precisely." Ezra had no trouble making himself believable. Lying was like breathing, both were needed to survive. "We are in distress because of an unfortunate situation which had befallen upon us. A situation that we had no control over at all. It is a ghostly code that we cannot be harm for that very reason. Now if we would had ventured within the mine on our own will, ignoring all the caution signs of not entering, and then the cave-in took place. Well, I am sure it would had been haunting season for us. But we did not. We fell into this difficulty by nature's own disaster. That is our protection, oddly enough. We shall be spared and perhaps the good spirits will even guard over us. This is on Native ground after all and for what I understand, dead or alive their honor code is to be held in high regards."

"Oh." JD looked around thoughtfully, in a new perspective. "That makes sense. In all the horror shows, people went into places on their own free will."

Ezra grinned, leave it to JD's to take pieces of horror movies as a thumb of rule to the real world ways. "Exactly."

"But Ez." JD brows knitted and he switched his lips. "How is Mom or Dad going to know we are in here?"

"I have been told countless of times that your father is a wonderful officer of the law. You should have no doubt he would be able to solve this puzzle together."

"Yeah. Guess so." JD looked down at Vin, even started to reach out to press his hand against the boy's wound but pulled back, thinking that it might be a bad idea. "He is okay, isn't he?"

"Just took a nasty fall like we all did but he'll be fine." Ezra reassured him.

"I never seen a cut like that before. It's really deep." JD lightly touched a strain of curl that belong to his brother, thinking that was one place it wouldn't hurt to touch. "Have you?"

"Why aren't you helping me!" Ezra looked over at his mother through the blur of his tears, his voice in gasping for air. He held onto her though, he couldn't let go of her. "Help me make it stop!"

"I can't, baby." Maude's mascara inked her face in strikes of black while blood and water stained her blouse from trying to loosen him from the dead girl he held so close to him. "It's too late. Come with me. Let me help you and then I will come back to her with a dry blanket."

"Stop saying that!" Ezra's eyes blazed like green fire. "It's not! It's not! It's not too late!" He coughed out. He coughed hard, tasting the metallic blood of his own. He wiped at his mouth and looked down stunned at his own blood.

"Ezra?" Maude's voice cried out and she reached for him

Ezra pulled away from his mother. If Maude couldn't save her, why did he need saving. Why couldn't it be too late for both of them.

"No. Never but I'm sure he will be fine." Ezra looked away from Vin, trying to focus his mind on reality. He rubbed his chest, feeling the pressure of his past.

"Whoo-weee! Look what I just found, boys!" Buck held up JD's backpack as it was a golden nugget. He stood up, gave a little dance as he walked over to them in hopes it would lift the younger boys spirit or at least think their situation wasn't all too bad. "Let's see what JD's magical bag has for us!" Buck said as he knelt down to search the items of the bag within.

JD shined the light over at his older brother for him to see better and it earned him an appreciated smile from Buck.

"Water bottles!" Buck held up four bottles of water and a few cans of soda. Naturally there was some candy bars inside, hand-made lollipops, and beef strips. The bag also, as JD promised, held two t-shirts with the village's loco on the front that were prepacked in plastic. They were clean. Buck held out a small bottle of hand sanitizer.

"Mom." JD rolled his eyes. His mother always complained that he never washed his hands before eating.

"We love mom." Buck kissed the bottle thinking that their mother was watching out even though she was on the other side of the cave. Buck reached in the bag one more time and held up a box device.

"My walkies-talkie!" JD exclaimed. He turned to look at Ezra. "You have the other one!"

"Left it in Josiah's truck." Ezra gave a little grin of hope. "Maybe it will work where the cell phone is failing to do so?"

"They'll swarm the parking lot to search for us. We just need to keep this old thing near in hopes they reach out." Buck placed the walkies talkie close to Vin.

"Bet Vin has his pocket knife on him." JD patted Vin's pockets, searching for the wilderness knife Vin was found of and took when he was allowed. JD smiled on finding it and held it out for Buck who would use it to make strip of bandages.

"Why don't you open one of those bottles?" Buck nodded to the water while he laid the bandages on the plastic that had wrapped the t-shirts in. He looked over at Ezra. "You think we should soak a strip in water or just pour water over his wound?"

JD put the cell phone face down to allow the light to shine around them so he could open a bottle of water.

Ezra gave a one-arm shrug. It was his brother who was training to be a medic, not him. "Maybe pour a bit on the gash and soak one bandage to use as a compress?"

Buck nodded, finishing a shirt. "Good idea. Maybe we can get the bleeding to slow up enough that the bandages would be useful."

"Do you want me to pour?" JD asked, looking up at Buck for guidance.

"Maybe pour a little on Ezra's good hand, to clean it up. Use the hand sanitizer too." He looked over at Ezra. "That way you have a clean hand to put pressure on him while me and JD can look for a way out."

Ezra looked down at his good hand and a memory swam forward, an image of a moment in his past.

He tried to stop the bleeding but it was like trying to hold water in his hands. The warm, sticky liquid pooled under his hand before seeping between his closed fingers, running over the back of his hands. The smell of blood was nauseating and strong. "Help me stop it!"

He shook his head, he felt his stomach turn. "I'm going to be sick." He pushed off the ground, moving away from the three boys for some privacy.

JD looked up at Buck with wide eyes.

"He took a hit to the head like the rest of us." Buck told his brother. "Probably feeling a bit of that. Here, hold out your hands." Buck poured a bit of water on JD's hands, knowing they had to be careful with what water they did have. JD rubbed his hands together, trying to get as much grim off as he could through the pour of the water. Buck then put some sanitizer on JD's palms.

JD rubbed the alcohol into his skin as he looked over his shoulders where Ezra had moved too, hearing the other being sick. He looked back at Buck.

"He's going to be okay, kid." Buck assured his youngest brother. "Probably feeling better already."

JD took a deep breath and folded a bandage up while Buck poured some water onto Vin's head wound, washing some of the dirt away. JD patted the area to help clean it up, flipping the bandage over to use the other side to clean more before Buck squirted some hand sanitizer over it.

"Press a clean bandage over it real hard. Don't worry about if it hurts him or not. He's out for now and won't feel it." Buck watched as JD put pressure onto Vin's head, the boy wincing as he imagine Vin's pain. "That's good. Keep steady pressure." Buck patted JD's shoulder before standing up and glancing around him.

The family had gathered for the knife throwing contest and Nathan was more than irked that Ezra didn't bother to show up. Josiah told him that he probably lost track of time but that was an hour ago and no show of the four boys.

The parents of the four were anger that the boys were late for the contest, it meant a lot to Nathan but that anger melted away into anxiety when a half hour turned into two hours. Chris had texted Buck, warning him that he was going to be in trouble in fifteen minutes if he didn't show up. After a half hour of no response, Chris called and left a message. John called fifteen minutes after Chris, leaving his own message of warning. Natalie called, demanding Buck to call her back immediately. Josiah even called Buck, asking where he was and if Ezra and the other boys were with him.

"Somethings wrong." Natalie rubbed her arms as fighting off chills. They had gathered by the cars, hoping the boys would get bored and show up in the parking lot. "This place is too small for them to be lost in a crowd and too small to keep their interest this long."

Chris dialed Buck's number once more, shaking his head as it went into voice message.

A/N: Sorry for the story got delayed but in a way I am glad because this chapter was originally only 2000 something words. I had improved it and I think you lovely readers will enjoy it even more. Plus - a bit more of Ezra's past to keep you all wondering...

Kathy: Thank you for the wonderful reviews - you must get tired of me saying that but I do appreciate it. I love the encouragement and the reviews help me to know I am on the right track of things. I hope this chapter doesn't disappoint.

Larafrank: I did let you hang there too long and I didn't mean to do so. I had a medical emergency that held my focus but it's all good now. I do believe it was for the best, the chapter had a great improvement today then it did the last time I wrote it up. I hope you enjoyed Buck in this chapter. I wanted to show that though he was up for fun, he knew when to buckle down and take thing serious. I think from the television series, knowing that he was there for Chris doing hard times proves just how capable Buck is when it comes to needing a person in when times got tough. He's the man for the job.

Millie: Sorry for the unintentional cliff hanger suffering I placed upon you. I hope this chapter makes up for it. Thank you for the encouraging reviews. It helps me to know that I got the right amount of family bonding and that I'm not shying away from it or being over dramatic with it. A right old balance. :}

Heilgwig: Thank you for the review! It's a relief to hear that the boys personalities are interesting but acceptable between them. These kind of reviews keep me on track!

Millie: Sorry for the unintentional cliff hanger suffering I placed upon you. I hope this chapter makes up for it. Thank you for the encouraging reviews. It helps me to know that I got the right amount of family bonding and that I'm not shying away from it or being over dramatic with it. A right old balance. :}

Hollie: Buck does have a bigger role and I hope you enjoy his character in this chapter as well. He is the type that you want to be next to when things go bad. He may not know what exactly needs done but he is good a doing the best of with what he has and seeing it through.

Sibylla: Aw, thank you for the flattery. Your reviews always warm my ego!

Lotte: I love reading all these wonderful stories with the AF agency but I don't have the action type of writing. I seem to be a drama writer lol. But I do miss the childhood stories as well so I'm glad I could feel that void and perhaps- someone out maybe inspired to restart some of those stories as well.

Guest: Thank you for dropping a review. The gold mine had to be done. There was no way Ezra would had let it slip by him. Thank you for the review!

Happy: :-) :-) Back at ya! :))))