MacGyver watched as the Pennsylvania
sky began to change from the glow of the warm sun towards
a soft twilight. Fields of young crops stretched away
over the horizon, the land looking as it had done for
centuries. He closed his eyes and for a moment he almost
drifted off to sleep in the passenger seat of the Jeep.
It had been the week from hell, culminating in a hit-and-run
that had almost cost him his life.
was sure the attempt had been made by his new nemesis
– the leader of the clandestine group resurrecting
Project Atlas. Hopefully, his bloodied form in the river
had convinced them that he was dead. For a moment, Seeley
had thought he had been. MacGyver shook his head, remembering
Seeley’s panicked shout filtering through the haze
of concussion and shock, and the pain of being hauled
out of the water. He had a badly broken ankle, bruised
ribs, a concussion, butterfly clips across his right brow,
and stitches in his right leg.
MacGyver rubbed at his thigh absently
as he remembered coming into contact with asphalt at an
insane rate of knots that most definitely should have
killed him. In the week since the attack, the concussion
had eased, but his injuries made him vulnerable to another
attempt, should Atlas find out that they hadn’t
killed him after all. For now, he hoped they thought he
was a dead man, and he needed to stay off their radar
while he healed. Pete, Seeley, Nikki and Willis were going
to keep after Atlas, but MacGyver was on a different journey.
He looked at the scenery passing
by, realizing after a moment exactly where he was. He
glanced across at Nikki who was behind the wheel, and
after a moment she sensed him looking at her.
She asked, tapping the brakes lightly as they rounded
“Yeah, the last time I was here I kinda parted company
with the highway right about now…” MacGyver
winced at the memory.
“I crashed my Jeep here after
a tire blew a few years back, that’s how I got to
know the Millers, where we’re headed.” He
brushed a hand through the front of his hair and winced
when it hurt more than he’d expected. “I thought
you knew all about it.”
“Pete mentioned it, but I
didn’t know details.” Nikki shrugged. “Are
you sure you’ll be okay out here. Atlas …”
“Won’t find me,”
MacGyver confirmed. “Elizabeth and her father-in-law
are good people, and being Amish, they’re completely
off the grid. Even if Atlas knew I was alive -which they
don’t - this would be the last place they’d
Nikki grimaced as she pulled off
road, brought the Jeep to a halt and then killed the ignition.
“Mac, you’ve got to be right about this, there
are no second chances.”
“Yes ma’am, I know.”
He smiled. “That’s why you guys need to keep
working on this while I recover. I’m no good in
the fight looking like Long John Silver and feeling like
I’ve been hit by a semi.” He raised his right
leg and scratched at the cast on his ankle. “Man,
this thing itches,” he complained, swinging around
in his seat and grabbing a pair of crutches from the back
of the Jeep.
“Just where do you think
you’re going?” Nikki asked looking confused.
“There’s no one here, and you can’t
MacGyver beamed and pointed to
a horse and trap in the distance, heading their way. There
was a teenager at the reins of about fifteen wearing a
straw hat and a smile from ear-to-ear. “My ride’s
here.” He hopped out of the 4x4 on his good leg,
sliding the crutches under his arms in a well-honed balancing
“You’re way too good
at that!” Nikki teased.
“Yeah, well, one too many
skiing accidents,” MacGyver grinned back.
“How do we keep in touch?”
Nikki tossed his holdall out after him.
phones out here, which means they can’t tap any
lines, it’s for the best. There’s a payphone
in the nearest town though, about ten miles away.”
MacGyver looked down at his bag, knowing Nikki was just
daring him to come up with an ingenious way of picking
it up without falling on his behind. He pondered for a
moment, not wanting to disappoint, and then hooked the
strap with the end of his crutch.
“Now what? There’s
no way to lift that now you’ve hooked it,”
Nikki watched, restarting her engine and sliding into
“It’s called a fulcrum,”
MacGyver laid his crutch over a boulder without taking
any weight on his arm. “You’d know all about
them if you’d taken engineering one-oh-one.”
Then he slowly leaned back onto the rock, sitting on the
crutch at its central point, and watched as his weight
lifted the holdall up within reach of his left hand. He
grabbed it, and placed it on his knee. “Now I wait
for my driver,” he beamed and nodded as Jacob Miller
Nikki flicked her hair, shook her
head and laughed before hitting the gas and spinning the
Jeep around. “I think I’ll leave the heavy
lifting to you, I’ll stick with finding Atlas.”
Her smile faded. “Watch your back, okay?”
MacGyver gave a little salute,
and Nikki pulled away, churning up just enough dirt in
her wake to make the approaching horse pause and snort.
“Hey big fella, long time
no see!” MacGyver shuffled to his feet and rubbed
Thunder’s nose as the horse came to a stop in front
of him. It nuzzled him back in a friendly way.
MacGyver turned and realized the
little Amish boy he had once known was rapidly turning
into a man. “Whoa Jacob, you’re almost as
tall as your uncle William!” He couldn’t help
Jacob shrugged. “I think
I will be taller! Mother says William did not stop growing
until he was twenty!”
MacGyver closed his eyes for a
second and remembered Elizabeth. Even with all the simple,
plain attire the Amish wore and the lack of any makeup,
she was still a very beautiful woman. “How is your
mom?” He asked as Jacob took his bag and lifted
into the back of the buggy.
“She is well, as is grandfather.”
Jacob offered MacGyver a hand up, and he took it gratefully,
positioning his bad leg half out of the buggy. Jacob frowned
at it, and at the cuts and bruises on MacGyver’s
face. “It would seem you always come to us broken,”
he mused, taking the reins and tugging on them for Thunder
to turn around.
“Yeah,” MacGyver sighed..
“I get broken a little too often lately…”
* * *
The Millers’ farm was just
as MacGyver had remembered it – like something from
another time. Somewhere that reality was on hold, and
life had returned to a better, simpler way of existing.
A patch of grass grew darker than
the rest, and MacGyver sighed as he recalled it was where
the old well had once stood – a well that had brought
a broken community together after a little girl had fallen
down it. “How’s Christy?” He asked,
watching Jacob for a reaction. Could two worlds still
co-exist? Could they still be friends now, or even something
“She is away at college.
I miss her terribly.” Jacob screwed up his face
“Are you two..?” MacGyver
wasn’t sure how to ask, settling for diplomacy “…still
the elders…” Jacob searched for the right
words, “…mellowed somewhat, after your last
“Oh yeah?” MacGyver
patted him on the back and grinned. “I tend to have
that calming effect on folks.”
Jacob pulled on the reins again,
and Thunder stopped outside the main barn. John and Elizabeth
were waiting to great them.
“It is good to see you again,
MacGyver.” Grandpa John nodded, his grey wispy beard
sticking out like he had recently preened it. He offered
up a hand and MacGyver shook it, climbing carefully down
with a wince as the cart moved.
Jacob passed over his crutches,
and then climbed down, leading Thunder away inside the
barn to unhitch the carriage and remove his harness.
Elizabeth smiled, looking MacGyver
over as if assessing the damage. “You will recover
well, without the distractions of the outside world.”
She nodded to John whose head bobbed in agreement before
he silently turned and headed for the house. “He
likes you, you know?” Elizabeth murmured.
“Yeah, he’s just not
big with words. I know a few other folks like that.”
MacGyver stuck the crutches under his arms and hobbled
after the old man with Elizabeth at his side. Somehow,
it felt right to be here, and in his mind he could see
himself one day enjoying a simple life similar to the
At least if project Atlas and its
allies didn’t kill him first…
* * *
MacGyver enjoyed supper with the
Millers, talking about how he might be able to help design
a more efficient plowing rig without anything considered
to be modern or vain. The challenge of engineering for
such a simple community intrigued him, and he excused
himself early, tired from the journey, but eager to pencil
down some ideas before turning in.
His room was at the top of the
stairs, and it took three times as long to climb the steps
than usual with his bad leg. By the time he reached his
bed, he collapsed on it, puffing with the effort it had
taken. His ankle throbbed in time with his heartbeat,
his ribs ached, and every other muscle and bone in his
body seemed to have joined in. MacGyver closed his eyes,
trying to will away the pain.
Eventually, he pulled over his
holdall and unzipped a side pocket to tug out a pill bottle.
He hated taking meds, especially painkillers, but he needed
to sleep and rest to be able to get back into the war
with the bad guys. Reluctantly, he slipped two of the
capsules into his mouth and swallowed them dry.
He looked at the oil lamp on the
bedside table, and with a quick puff blew it out, before
rolling back onto the hand-sewn bedspread and exhaling.
He threw his left arm over his eyes, blocking out a bright
shaft of moonlight, and after awhile, he drifted off,
dreaming of an ice-hockey match, good guys against bad.
His team consisted of Pete, Jack, Willis, Nikki, and Sam,
while Murdoc headed up his side with Zito, Mariotte, and
three men in masks that his subconscious probably had
created to be facsimiles of Atlas.
Images of the game bounced around
in his head faster than the puck, and he tossed and turned
as “Murdoc’s Marauders” scored goal
after goal. He lashed out with his stick, trying to regain
control of the game, but somehow he knew that in reality
he was trying to regain control of the Atlas situation,
and that he was losing. MacGyver looked down, seeing that
he was trying to skate on thin ice with a cast still on
his ankle. As realization hit, the ice beneath him gave
way, and he sank deep into the darkness below.
MacGyver awoke with a start, rolling
over and up into a sitting position. He rubbed at his
eyes, careful of the cut on his forehead, and then checked
his watch. It was after midnight – he’d been
asleep almost four hours.
He wobbled to his feet and used
just one crutch to hobble over to his dresser to pour
a glass of water from the antique pottery pitcher there.
He gulped down the ice-cold liquid, and then paused when
he thought he heard something. The sound came again, like
someone trying to yell out, but not quite making it. He
shook his head and, picking up the second crutch on his
way, shuffled over to the window. It was open, letting
in the cool night air and making sounds from the outside
more audible. MacGyver squinted, allowing his eyes to
adjust to the muted moonlight.
Something in the darkness moved
out by the perimeter fence, close to where the old well
used to be. Shadows shifted until eventually, MacGyver
could make out two figures, and it looked like they were
fighting. He leaned forwards, opening the window wide
and popping his head out as far as he dared.
There were two men scuffling, or
rather, one man overpowering another with a choke hold.
The second man lashed out with his arms in retaliation,
and the pair dropped to the ground in a ball of limbs,
disappearing into the bushes. An Amish straw hat rolled
across the grass and came to rest by the gate, and then
there was the all-too-familiar crack as a gun fired not
once, but twice.
One figure rose from the melee
and brushed himself down.
“Hey!” MacGyver leaned
further out of the window, yelling. “Hold it right
The shadowy figure spun around
at the shout, then turned tail and ran away into the nearby
trees. There was a yell, and the sounds of a further struggle,
MacGyver turned, his bruised ribs
protesting the movement, hobbled onto the landing and
began hopping down the stairs as fast as he could go,
somehow balancing the crutches as well, until his left
foot slipped and he crashed down the last few steps onto
the floor below. He caught hold of the banisters, just
saving himself from another fall.
As if by magic, and super-fast
for someone of his age, John appeared in a long white
Dickensian nightshirt. He held up a small lantern containing
a candle, his features creased with curiosity in the dim
“MacGyver? Is there something
wrong?” His beard twitched, his eyes sharp and young
in his old face.
“I woke up and thought I
heard something. When I looked out of the window there
were two guys fighting, and…I thought I heard a
gun being fired…” Suddenly, MacGyver realized
how unlikely it sounded. Amish people no more used firearms
than they did zippers. Could he have been dreaming? It
had seemed so real…
“MacGyver, you know we don’t
hold with guns here, not like you English!” John
shook his head.
“I know,” Mac countered,
“But I think only one of them was Amish. The clothes
were different. Can we at least check outside?”
“MacGyver, I heard nothing…”
John’s left brow quirked upwards, and his eyes rolled
skywards too, as if he was sure it was a waste of time,
but he moved to get his coat from a hook near the door
anyway, passing the lamp to Mac to hold for a second.
“You should wait here,” his accent was stronger
as he spoke, as if it was an order. “Your leg…”
“No, I need to see!”
MacGyver shook his head, giving John back the lantern
and gesturing for the older man to go first. He followed,
limping across the cold, damp grass on his crutches.
“Here, you say?” John
stopped by the fence. He wafted the lantern across the
ground, but there was nothing to see, just a muddy patch
of earth and a few cart tracks. “I see nothing.”
He turned to MacGyver holding up the lantern, “Except
two men out in the cold night who should know better!”
“But I saw them…”
MacGyver leaned over, examining the ground. It was true
– if there had been an altercation here, there was
no sign of it. He balanced on one crutch and ran a hand
through his hair. “This is crazy,” he said
“Perhaps…in your head?
Have you been taking pills? The English painkillers? I
have heard they can do this.” John nodded.
“I took some earlier, yes,
but I know I saw those men.” MacGyver frowned. He
had slept pretty deeply after taking the capsules, but
he was almost sure that what he’d seen had been
while he was very much awake. Hadn’t it?
“We should go back. It will
soon be time for breakfast.” John pulled his coat
tighter around him and turned, ambling back across to
the house in the grey light of dawn.
MacGyver checked his watch, and
then remembered the Amish rose early – real early.
He groaned. He really wasn’t ready for breakfast,
but maybe after some food, he could come back in daylight
and figure things out.
* * *
The sky was still nearly dark when
they said grace and then tucked in to a hearty meal –
all fresh produce from the land they worked. It never
ceased to amaze MacGyver how a family in the 90’s
could get away without needing anything from the modern
world. He sipped a glass of milk, fresh from a cow, and
pondered why the rest of the planet couldn’t be
so simple and peaceful.
“How’s William these
days?” MacGyver smiled at Elizabeth, remembering
her huge brother as he toyed with the tumbler in his hand.
she answered, wiping her hands on her apron as she collected
the pots. “He is out on the south field, working
the plough. Jacob tells me you plan to design us a new
MacGyver nodded. Any other time
he would have offered to help on the farm, but with a
broken ankle he’d be more of a hindrance.
“I wish I could do more than
sit around,” he admitted. He stretched out his leg,
aching again after his hurried trip outside.
“There are jobs that can
be done with just hands,” Elizabeth smiled, and
then vanished into the next room. Two minutes later, she
reappeared with a sewing basket, and a pile of clothes.
“These need repairs, you have hands, you can sew!”
She almost giggled as MacGyver balked.
“You really don’t want
to let me loose with those.” MacGyver pointed to
the basket and grimaced, but he was saved further embarrassment
as William appeared in the doorway. He bobbed his head,
acknowledging MacGyver, but focused on his elder, John.
“There is an emergency meeting
of the elders,” William’s voice was worried
and he spoke quickly. “Robert Beiler did not go
home last night, and no one has seen him since raising
the Yoders’ barn yesterday. His wife is gravely
MacGyver blinked. He hoped he was
wrong, but could Robert have been the man being attacked
outside in the middle of the night? Why would someone
want to harm him?
John appeared to sense his thoughts
and set a wizened hand on MacGyver’s forearm. He
swallowed hard. “Perhaps…you were right after
MacGyver bit his lip. “I
hope not, because the gunshots and your friend not returning
home would probably mean…” he petered off,
not wanting to finish.
“John, we need to go.”
William’s face was serious.
John stood from the table and grabbed
his coat, turning to follow his towering relative.
“Say, would you mind if
Jacob took me back out by the fence, and to speak with
Mrs. Beiler? Maybe I can help figure this out? It’s
the one thing I’m good at.” MacGyver glanced
at the window, seeing Jacob looking in.
John paused at the door, swallowed,
and then turned. “This is Amish business. Alles
ist en Ordnung.” He nodded, sure of what he was
saying, and vanished after William.
“I can help, you know that.”
MacGyver watched him go, then looked at Elizabeth.
She thought for a moment, then
moved to open the door. “Jacob, can I see you a
“Is there something I can
do for MacGyver?” Jacob was inside the kitchen within
seconds, his face a mask of curiosity, and eager to please.
His eyes lit up as he spoke, and it was obvious he had
been listening in.
“Jacob, Robert Beiler didn’t
go home last night. He is missing. Grandpa has gone to
a meeting of the elders. I would like it if you would
help Mr. MacGyver by taking him to see Mrs. Beiler and
ask if there is anything we can do for her.” Elizabeth’s
voice was firm. MacGyver raised an eyebrow. He hadn’t
been expecting Elizabeth to disobey her father-in-law
quite so quickly.
“I don’t want to get
Jacob in trouble,” he began, but Elizabeth cut him
“John is set in the old ways,
and usually I would agree with him, but sometimes the
old ways don’t work in a new world. I think you
know what I mean? Sometimes we need help from someone
who can see the situation through modern eyes.”
Elizabeth sat down on a wooden dining chair and looked
deep into MacGyver’s gaze, as if sizing up his thoughts,
his intentions. She nodded, as if she approved of what
“I’ll go look around
and ask a few questions. Polite, respectful questions,”
MacGyver promised as he pushed himself up with a groan.
“And if you folks think I’m going too far,
you can always take away my crutches,” he teased
as Jacob helped him to the door.
Thunder and the cart were already
hitched up outside, and Elizabeth frowned as she watched
them go. “Jacob? Were you eavesdropping before?”
“I was prepared for any
eventuality.” Jacob smiled as he took the reins.
MacGyver wanted to smile too, but stifled it. It was better
for Jacob if MacGyver’s outsider habits didn’t
“Can you just pull up by
the fence before we see Mrs. Beiler? I want to take a
look at the ground in daylight.” MacGyver pointed
to the spot. Jacob nodded and gently brought his gargantuan
horse to a halt. Thunder snorted and pawed the ground
with his left hoof, as if he sensed something was amiss.
Mac leaned down out of his seat,
hanging onto the buggy with one hand. His eyes scoured
the mud, and in daylight it was apparent someone had tried
to brush over the marks of the scuffle he’d seen.
And then he saw it: A thin line of blood that trailed
off to the road. He winced. That wasn’t a good omen
for Robert Beiler.
“Okay, let’s go see
Mrs. Beiler.” He pulled himself back up into the
seat, stretching out his bad leg.
“You saw something bad?”
Jacob stuck his hat in place and chewed on a piece of
straw absently as he spoke. He wasn’t shocked, but
definitely saddened. “Mother told me what you saw
last night,” He explained as he took a right at
a fork in the track and headed for a small farmhouse in
“Blood, or what looked like
it,” Mac admitted, rubbing at his injured leg absently.
“But sometimes appearances can be deceptive. Just
last week I could easily have been taken for dead…”
“And yet here you are.”
Jacob nodded. “Let’s hope Mr. Beiler is so
lucky.” He sighed. “I thought living this
way was meant to protect us, but it doesn’t. I sometimes
wish I could go away, like Christy and study to be something
MacGyver licked his lips. He wanted
to tell the kid that he should aspire to be whatever he
wanted, and if that meant leaving here, then he should
do it. But meddling in Amish affairs was not why he was
here, and it wouldn’t be fair to John or Elizabeth.
He hoped one day if Jacob really wanted to leave, they
would see it and eventually give their blessing.
“The outside world isn’t
always so great, either,” MacGyver countered instead.
“Look what it got me!” He patted Jacob on
the shoulder. “Just remember, the grass isn’t
always greener on the other side.”
“No, it is usually greener
here!” Jacob nodded. “You English use too
many chemicals to fertilize your ground!”
MacGyver looked at Jacob, but wasn’t
sure if Jacob was serious, or if he had just heard his
first Amish joke.
* * *
Irene Beiler’s home was just
like all the other Amish houses in the community, and
yet as soon as MacGyver hobbled through the door he realized
it felt different – as though the house and the
people in it were unsettled and unhappy.
“I…I don’t see
how you can help…Mr?” Irene looked scared
as she welcomed Jacob and ushered MacGyver to a plain
wooden dining chair that hadn’t been stained or
varnished. She was wringing her hands as she moved to
fill a kettle and place it on a wood burning stove.
“MacGyver, ma’am, but
folks just tend to call me Mac.” MacGyver chose
his words carefully. “I’m a friend of the
Millers, of this whole community, and I think I might
have seen something last night that involved your husband.”
Irene’s head lifted, and
she stopped what she was doing, still looking scared.
Her eyes darted to the door, then to a vase on the mantelpiece.
“I… I doubt it, our land is nowhere near the
Millers,” she also hesitated before speaking, but
MacGyver suspected she had different reasons, and it wasn’t
because she was scared of offending him.
“I saw two men fighting,”
MacGyver continued, his voice gentle.
“We’re simple people;
we have no cause for violence.” Irene gulped and
turned away, as if something in her eyes might give her
“You know something about
what’s happened, don’t you, ma’am?”
MacGyver said softly, hoping she would relent, not withdraw
Irene stood suddenly and she moved
to the vase. Slipping a hand inside, she pulled out a
wad of notes and shook her head.
“English money, and for all
I know blood money.” She sat down and exhaled, putting
the money down on the table. “Our farm hasn’t
been doing so well. Our crops yielded barely enough to
sustain us, and we have nothing left for the local market.
We need the market money for other essential supplies
we cannot make ourselves.”
“So someone made you an offer,”
MacGyver asked. “What was the money for?”
“For the use of some of
our land.” Irene saw Jacob watching her, and her
expression turned to one of guilt. “A man came and
offered cash to rent our lower pastures for a year. My
husband knew it was against the rules, he knew the elders
would shun us if they found out, but it was a lot of money,
and we were desperate.” She watched as Jacob nodded.
“Maybe the men genuinely
just needed land to rent?” Jacob suggested, his
voice worried but not angry. “Don’t worry,
I won’t tell…”
“No…my husband discovered
something bad in the bottom field yesterday morning.”
Irene shook her head. “He came home angry; I have
never seen him like that before. He rushed back out, said
he was going to confront them and demand they leave…”
“And you never saw him again?”
MacGyver finished for her.
“No. He’s dead, isn’t
he?” Irene started to cry, and tried in vain to
blink away the tears. MacGyver looked at Jacob. If he
had to put money on it, then he would have said yes, but
that wasn’t what Irene needed to hear, not yet,
until they knew more. “We’re going to find
out.” He nodded to Jacob. “We’ll take
the buggy down to the bottom field and have a look around.”
He looked at Irene. “With your permission?”
“Anything if it helps find
Robert.” She nodded and wiped at her eyes with her
* * * *
The bottom field wasn’t exactly
what MacGyver had expected. As Jacob pulled the buggy
to a halt, all that could be seen was corn – plain
old stalks blowing in the light breeze straight out of
a promotional brochure for the state. It looked a good
“I don’t understand?
I thought…” Jacob pushed back his hat and
scratched his head.
“You thought we were going
to find something sinister down here,” MacGyver
finished for him. “If it’s any consolation,
so did I. Ow.” He winced as he slid down out of
the buggy, grabbing his crutches as he went. Jacob quickly
followed, and they began walking the perimeter of the
It was a nice day, high broken
cloud with filtered warm sunlight breaking through and
warming their bones. MacGyver breathed in the air, closing
his eyes for a second to enjoy the scent of growing plants.
When he re-opened them, Jacob had moved ahead, and had
stopped at a corner of the crop.
As MacGyver hobbled to catch up,
Jacob turned, his face shocked. For a second, MacGyver
thought he must have found Robert’s body. He hurried
to Jacob, ignoring the pain from his broken ankle.
He stopped as he saw what was wrong.
A cow had broken through a weak section of the fence from
the adjoining pasture. The cow now lay dead at the edge
of the corn, fresh stalks still in her mouth. Flies buzzed
around the corpse and, in the warm Spring sun, it was
already beginning to smell.
“This must be what Robert
found and argued about with the people renting the land,”
MacGyver leaned on his crutches, taking the weight off
“But why would simple corn
kill the cow?” Jacob pondered, his face screwing
up in distaste. “Something isn’t right here,
“You’ve got that right.”
MacGyver nodded, taking out his penknife and carefully
cutting some of the corn, gathering samples. Around the
base of the stalks, he saw blue granules scattered on
the soil, which he guessed to be chemical fertilizers
or pesticides. He sniffed the cut stalks, pulling a face
at the bitter smell. “This is no ordinary corn,
it smells like chemicals. What’s going on here?
And who is behind it?” He passed the samples to
Jacob. “C’mon, we need to find out what this
stuff actually does…”
“Bad idea.” A new voice,
deep and guttural joined them, and as MacGyver and Jacob
instinctively turned, a short stocky man with a beard
came into view. His eyes were bright and attentive, watching
their every move, and in his left hand he held an automatic