As they left the saloon, they picked up speed. Once they had rounded the corner, Benny looked back to check on Katie. She was following, and so was Sycanus. He realized that, somewhere in the middle of all the confusion, he'd gotten the distinct impression that she was the reason they were being shot at. If so, why didn't they just ditch her?
...But at the same time, if they left her out here, she'd get shot for sure. They needed to make sure that she didn't get hurt. That Patrick and Pepper didn't get hurt. That they all made it until somebody got here and rescued them. They needed to keep each other safe. They had guns. If worst came to worst, they could use them.
It was only common courtesy that Benny tell them what they were doing.
"We're going to the lamp post in the middle of town. We said we'd meet Patrick and Pepper there. If they're there we can all get out of here somewhere safe."
A few more twists and turns, and then they were there. Benny sat down on the wooden sidewalk in the same place he had only hours before, waiting. That was just waiting, though; this felt like a stakeout. Where he had previously fiddled with his pistol, simply trying to get it to load, he now held it in his lap, pointing it out at the street. Where his attention had once drifted, it was now focused vigilantly on anything and everything. In spite of the location of his gun, his feet started bouncing up and down in an irregular rhythm on the hard dirt, threatening to break into the solid clunk of sturdy new shoes against a hard surface. He kept checking the streets for signs of life or death on the horizon, quickly settling into a regular rotation; street to the left, street to the right, lean back to see the street behind, check to make sure somebody's watching the fourth one, repeat, repeat, repeat.
Benny couldn't spend the next hour or however long it was going to take until they got back. If he spent even five more minutes out here, he felt like he was going to become a ninja and start flipping out and killing people.
Benny's mouth voiced his discontent, almost unbeknownst to him.
"We should probably... go."
He was in no position to explain what he had just said; he was still processing the fact that he had even said it. The situation demanded a follow-up, though, and he gave it.
"I mean... if whoever shot at us gets here before Patrick and Pepper, we... are in serious trouble. We need to get out. We could, like... leave a message, so the others could still find us. Like... 'meet us at the'... uh..."
He set his gun aside and pulled out the map. The paper wasn't shaking as much as it would have been a few seconds ago; merely doing something helped. He scanned the page, looking for somewhere that looked safe.
They couldn't go back to the bridge; people were undoubtedly coming their way across it. They couldn't go to the cactus patch; it was too close to the railroad. They couldn't go to the chapel; it would have already made a great fortress for whoever got there first.
"...how about the creek?"
The words lurched gracelessly through his mind. It didn't sound terribly appealing. But that was the point; nobody wants to go to the creek, they want buildings to sleep in. They could get out of town, meet Patrick and Pepper there, and then decide what to do next.
He looked up for confirmation. He got it.
A short while later, the three classmates headed for the train tracks, leaving a hastily scratched message in the dirt behind them:
MEET US AT THE CREEK
It had been a long walk.
The three of them had walked away from the sun until they hit train tracks, and then along the train tracks until they hit vegetation. As the sun continued to set, they rotated flashlight duties among them until the moon was high enough to reflect off the tracks. Even so, the first indication they had gotten to the creek wasn't from seeing it, but stepping in it. The ground was a lot less muddy and swampy than Benny had expected, although, on second though, they were in a desert. A cautious flashlight sweep had revealed more ground much like it, and...
Benny must not have looked at the map that carefully.
"Well well, looks like we have a home away from home out here. Wanna go in?"