17 February, 2012

17 February 2012

The tracker couldn’t hear a thing but dropped instantly to the snow at Einar’s signal, eyes on his hands rather than on the sky, knowing from whence originated the more immediate danger. For a few long seconds Einar didn’t move, dart already placed in the atlatl, body taut behind it like a coiled spring and then he was running, nearly knocking Kilgore flat as he took off for the denser cover of the timber behind them. Made it, crouching once more at the ready as the tracker huffed and puffed up beside him and concealed himself beneath the spreading boughs of a still-snowcovered spruce, glaring at the sky and at Einar and wondering what could have got into the man, what spook-shadow he’d got himself chasing, this time. The answer came moments later and rather unequivocally in the deep, guttural growl of a Blackhawk--impeccable timing, boys. You filthy rotten scoundrels. Who made today’s schedule, anyway? Thought that was my job, and I left flight schedules for the entire time we were gonna be gone--as it rose up out of the valley and skimmed the basin, just as quickly disappearing over the ridge opposite them. Way too close for comfort, and Kilgore could only breathe a sigh of relief that the storm would have more than covered all the tracks he and Susan had left after their jump.

For Einar there was no such relief, all his inevitable suspicions about Kilgore seemingly confirmed in the appearance of that chopper, and for several minutes things were very tense indeed between the two of them, Einar giving very serious consideration to taking defensive action against the tracker before the man could move to somehow incapacitate him, prepare him for capture when that chopper should return and disgorge its cargo of fast-roping assault team members. Something held him back though, a sense, perhaps, that if Kilgore had been involved in a plot of that nature he would already have made his move, would have made it at the first indication of trouble, as Einar knew he would have, under similar circumstances, and when after a good minute or two--time stretches out so strangely--the chopper had made no sign of returning and Kilgore himself had shown no inclination to leap at him with a tree branch, knife or concealed tranquilizer dart--and besides, the tracker looked every bit as alarmed as he, himself felt, and perhaps a bit angry, too, irked--Einar lowered his atlatl slightly, relaxed his guard and allowed Kilgore to move himself into a more comfortable position there beneath the tree.

“Whew! That was a low one. Do they usually skim so low when they come over? Been trying to direct things away from the area altogether, but looks like somebody messed with the flight plan after I left…”

“They’ve been this low. Not lately, but they’ve done it. Been coming over the day after a storm, without fail, for about a month now. Taking advantage of the deeper cold to look for anomalies, no doubt. When nothing happened last night, I thought we were in the clear, this time. I was wrong.”

“Glad we hadn’t ventured out in the open at all down here. Way you kept us to the timber, I doubt there was really much of anything for them to see.”

“Not from us, but Liz will have had a fire going.”

“They didn’t go over the cabin.”

“Close enough. Sure don’t like it. She’s real careful during the day, keeps the smoke to a minimum and the trees we’ve got over the cabin help a lot, too, but someday, they’re going to see something. And we won’t know which time that is, until it’s almost too late to do anything about it.”

“Got caches?”

Slow to answer, Einar bowed his head and rubbed numbed hands together, shaking, beginning to feel once more the biting chill of the cold morning, the consequences of the past minutes of enforced stillness. Didn’t feel too steady at all, actually, now that the urgency of the low flight was beginning to fade, wanted pretty badly to lie down but knew he absolutely must not give in to any such impulse, mustn’t even allow Kilgore--who of course knew already, had known from the start that Einar was operating at maximum effort simply to get himself out the door and down that slope--to guess at the trouble. “Got them. Need more.”

“What you need is a change of location, man. I’d go nuts sitting up here waiting for the next chopper or plane to come over, wondering if this trail or that fire was the thing that’d finally give me away…pretty rough way to live.”

“I’ve seen worse.”

Kilgore nodded thoughtfully, unable to dispute the assertion. “How’d you even hear that thing, anyway? When you did. Mighty early. I didn’t hear a thing until a full minute or after you got all weird and quiet like that.”

“You learn to hear things. Feel them. Vibrations in the ground, or something. Liz always asks me the same thing, but I feel them, alright. Sometimes minutes before she does, and she’s got pretty good ears.”

“Yeah, but she’s not half wild critter like you are. Fortunately for your son, he’s at least got some normal human genetic material from one side of the equation! Though out here in the jungle--or tundra, or whatever you call it--your way really is an advantage, I suppose. So he’s doubly blessed.”

“We’re not going out into the basin today. Not with the possibility that that thing may come back.”

“Do they usually come back?”

“They’ll make a second pass every now and then, but not usually. Still not risking it.”

“No, I should think not. I will mention though that our chutes and the cargo chute both are white, and would make excellent snow camouflage if you could get your lady to turn them into parkas for you, ponchos, heck, all you’d really need to do is whack a section off and put a head hole in it, and you’d have a good concealed way to travel in the winter.”

“Sounds like a good idea. Still can’t finish this today, though. Got to come back during a storm, or just before it’s looking sure to blow one in. I shouldn’t have ever let us leave the cabin, this morning. Real bad timing.”

“Seems the clouds have been gathering ever since we left this morning, so possibly another storm’s in the offing. Maybe we can try this again tomorrow.”

“Hope so. Kinda curious now what you may have brought! For right now though, I want us heading back up to the cabin. Make sure everything’s alright up there.”


  1. Looks like E is starting to use K as a sounding board.

  2. Progress at least.

    Thank you

  3. I have a horrible suspicion about what they will find back at the cabin, I hope I am wrong.