Mattie put her feet up on the dashboard and looked over at Liam. His eyes were on the road and his expression unreadable.
“So…you haven’t said. Where are we going first?”
“I’ve got some supplies I need to pick up from my cabin. Then…we need to plan the next step.”
They drove on in silence for a bit longer before Mattie looked over again.
“How’d he escape? And where?”
“I don’t know.”
“Any idea where he might go?”
“Don’t know that either…”
His shoulders slumped slightly and Matt leaned over to rest a hand on his shoulder.
“Hey, it’s gonna alright. We’ll figure it out.” His cap was sitting on the dashboard and she picked it up, looking at the old regimental insignia. Then it hit her. “He’s going to stick out. You had time to adjust, he didn’t. He’s going to still be acting like it’s the 1860s.”
That got a snort of laughter from Liam.
“Lass, so’s half the south.”
She shoved him lightly.
“I’m being serious, Granda.”
“So am I, Mattie.”
Liam turned down the old dirt road, past the beat-up, old mailbox that said O’Halloran on it in shaky letters. They could both hear the baying of a hound as he pulled up in front of the small cabin. Sighing, he looked the place over.
“I keep meaning to give it a fresh coat of paint but…”
“I know, Granda, I know. It’s not like you have to impress me.”
She opened the door and jumped out, looking around for the hound dog she could hear running on the gravel. She turned just as the dog jumped up to wash her hands thoroughly.
“Her name’s Lady,” Liam grinned slowly. “Looks like she likes you.”
The dog was a tawny brown hound of indeterminant breeding with long floppy ears and a violently wagging tail. Mattie knelt to give her a good rubdown.
“She’s a good dog.”
“Get her up into the truck. I’ll go grab my bag and we can hit the road.”
Liam started to walk away and Mattie frowned.
“Granda, we still don’t know where we’re going. Why not slow down a minute and think?”
He turned, his expression almost harried. But then he shook his head and sense took over.
“You’re right. Of course, you’re right. Come on, Lady. Let’s get inside and I’ll put on a pot and we can think this through.”
The whistling of the old teapot startled Mattie and she nearly fumbled her tablet.
“Granda, the tea’s up!”
She could hear him yelling his response from the basement.
“Can you grab it, lass? The tin’s in the top left cabinet. Honey’s up there too.”
She stood, getting what he’d asked for. A moment later, he came back up with something in his arms wrapped in old canvas.
“I’ve got your tea. What’s that thing?”
He set it down on a side table and carefully unwrapped it. She’d been half expecting a musket, one of the old rifles he would’ve been issued back during the Civil War. Instead, he revealed something completely different. It was certainly a rifle with a long wooden stock and a metal barrel, with a bayonet wrapped in next to it. But it was no Brown Bess musket. Liam picked it up, grinning like a school boy.
“The best damn rifle I’ve ever owned. They gave me this little fellow when I went over to Europe the second time. They call it a carbine rifle.”
“What are you planning on doing? Shooting him? He’s a ghost, isn’t he?”
“We’ll find out, won’t we?”
Mattie laughed and then turned the tablet towards him.
“So I have a few ideas for finding him. We could try looking through the news for any kind of encounters with a man who seems out of touch with time, but odds are he’ll just get scooped up by a hospital and locked in. But I found this…spirit? It’s called a Dullahan and it looks like they can track anyone, anywhere. Nothing stops them. We could try to summon-”
Liam grabbed the tablet, ripping it out of her hands.
“Don’t even think about it. Those things’ll kill you, Matt. You, me, and everyone else around.”
“Have you got a better idea, Granda?”
He turned away.
“Don’t fight fire with fire. We’ll find another way.”