Like just about every other farmhouse in Colorado, my parents' house is on a lot surrounded by pole barns, grain silos, and farming equipment.
I looked quickly at these options and settled on the old wooden building my dad just called "the shop." It was where he worked on his swathers and bailers whenever they broke down, and it had a lofted storage area whose key he kept hidden under an old tin drum.
"This way," I said to Bryce.
We trotted the fifty yards or so to the shop. I opened the large double doors, found the key to the storage area, and opened the lock.
The bottom level had only a dirt floor. Old engine parts, an abandoned deep freezer, and retired, dried-out saddles cluttered the space. Everything was covered in dust. Long shafts of light shined in through the cracks between the wallboards. A couple of pigeons flew out through a hole in the corrugated tin roof. Otherwise, everything was totally silent except for the sound of Morgan's quick, labored breathing.
I grabbed an old saddle blanket and shook it out.
"This way," I said. Bryce followed me.
A very narrow, very steep, very worn-out wooden stairway led up to the hayloft. As Bryce followed me, carrying Morgan's weight, the wooden planks creaked. One even cracked a little, but the stairway held.
The hayloft hadn't been used for years, but there was still loose hay scattered all over the floor. If I had to, I could cover Morgan with hay and hide her that way. It was the best idea I could think of.
I kicked some of the loose hay aside and laid out the saddle blanket in the loft's farthest corner. Bryce lay Morgan on it. He felt her forehead.
"She's really burning up."
She was panting even faster. And now there was a new rasping sound coming from deep inside her lungs. It sounded like she was struggling just to pull in air. Her hair was so wet with perspiration and slicked against her scalp it looked she'd just been doused with water.
Bryce gave me an uneasy glance.
Maybe it didn't even matter where we hid Morgan. It was hard to imagine that she could stay alive much longer in this state.
I didn't want to think about her dying. But I was terrified that she would.
I tried to prepare myself.
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