05 April, 2012

5 April 2012

Stalking, sneaking, moving with all the silence and stealth granted him by the heavily falling snow--nearly ideal conditions, in some ways--Einar approached the cabin, every sense alert for the ambush he fully expected would exist. Cabin was clearly occupied, smoke coming from its chimney and it made no sense whatsoever that his would-be captors would make themselves at home in the cabin without setting a trap for him outside, made little sense that they would make their presence in there known at all; seemed a good bit more logical that they should quietly surround the place but leave it untouched, wait for him to enter and corner him inside, trap him. He certainly would have done it that way. But perhaps they simply wanted to avoid the siege which might then result. Would result, unless they were prepared to destroy the cabin and him with it…which, based upon previous actions, they were almost certainly ready and willing to do.

All of which left present circumstances making little sense, and he wondered if perhaps the cold might be affecting his ability to fully comprehend the situation--had been feeling it rather keenly just after leaving Liz, entire body aching with its presence and that familiar tightness beginning to grip his middle as the shivers were wrung out of him with a force that left movement a difficulty thing, though that trembling had all but ceased, some time ago--knew it was a possibility but there was little he could do about it, just then. Had to make his assessment of the place, decide on a course of action which would keep Liz and the little one as far as possible from danger and hopefully allow them to enter the place long enough to round up a few pieces of critical gear before heading out into the storm again. If not—he wouldn’t risk it unless he could be reasonably certain he’d dealt with everyone they had on the ground at the moment, in which case, weather rather prohibiting air activity, he figured they could count on having some time before the next wave showed up—they had the cache he’d just hauled up from the basin, and could quickly go through its contents, carrying along the most useful items and hoping they would be enough to see them through. And hoping they weren’t rigged with transponders, too.

No time. Don’t stop and think about that right now. First thing you got to do is clear this cabin and try to get some sense of what’s really going on here. Now. No tracks leading to the place but the way this snow’s coming down, that could still mean they’ve only been there an hour or two…no skis or snowshoes or other gear leaning against the outside of the cabin or anything, and what am I supposed to do? Walk up, bust in the door and hope I can get a couple darts to hit home before they turn me to Swiss cheese? You know how that’s likely to go… Einar crouched lower in the snow behind his light screen of trees, weary, huddling, trying to force his mind back into gear and get some clarity on the situation, but it wasn’t happening. Even the raven had left him, sailing away to a nearby tree to hunch against the storm and watch unfolding events from a safe distance. Nothing for it. Couldn’t go on sitting where he was, for soon he’d certainly be finding himself too cold and clumsy to take definitive action of any sort, and he rose, stalked closer to the cabin, getting himself up behind it, adjacent to the area where the tunnel opened up but hidden behind a small spruce, the only shelter the spot offered. Had to draw them out, get at least one of them to leave the cabin so he could deal with the man out in the open, and he knew how to do it, was about to get started when he heard something off to the side behind him, just the faintest whisper in the snow but he whirled around, dart ready to fly but it was Liz.

Wrong. It was all wrong. She had said she would wait, and yet here she was beside him, bounding up on her snowshoes like nothing at all could be wrong, no need for caution and he motioned for her to stop, get down, hit the snow where she might still have some chance of avoiding detection, keeping herself and the child out of the crossfire when things opened up but instead she took his arm, greeted Muninn, who had again drifted down from his tree to land at their feet in the snow, and headed for the cabin, urging him along beside her.

“It’s Bud and Susan! They made it back, and they’ve got a fire going for us in there. Let’s go say hello.”

No. Held his ground. Wouldn’t move, and didn’t want her going any closer either, especially not with the baby on her back. She might be right, but certain as he’d been about the enemy presence in and around the cabin…would explain a lot, though, if the intruders turned out simply to be the Kilgores. Like why they had gone straight in and started a fire, alerting everyone to their presence. Would have done so because they were cold, and besides, weren’t trying to be stealthy. As might have an enemy who had managed to intercept the couple, incapacitate them and take their place, arranging quite a warm welcome indeed, and one he and Liz would likely not survive. Liz was all but dragging him at that point, firm grip on his arm, her presence, it seemed, pretty nearly the only thing keeping him from toppling over in the snow despite his best efforts, and he shook his head, pulled away from her, feeling the entire thing begin to spin out of control, entirely out of his control and he did not at all like it. Squinted hard against the blackness that was doing its best to seize him, managed to drive it some distance away and got back behind better cover, motioned for Liz to do the same, eyes darting across the nearby timber as he sought the best avenue of escape.

Liz saw what he was thinking, read it plainly in his eyes and in the little motions of his body--the ones which weren’t the stiff tremblings of an increasingly hypothermic and exhausted man, which conscious motions were rapidly becoming fewer and farther between; a definite danger sign, but he was too far gone to see it--knew she would have to do something if she wanted to prevent his taking off into that storm again. Rabbit stick in hand, she was fully prepared to take action, and would have, had not Bud Kilgore just then poked his head out of the tunnel to squint blinking and hatless into the storm. The tracker nearly lost his head, too, before Einar realized just whose head he was looking at, and lowered the atlatl.

Kilgore let out a great breath, relieved, realizing just how great had been his danger and thinking that the cabin could really do with some indoor plumbing, just to reduce the risk of unsuspecting guests being run through with darts every time they went out to use the facilities. “Asmundson, you scoundrel, who’d you think it was?”

1 comment:

  1. Bud.... What was he thinking????

    Enters another mans HOUSE, and does not use sound judgement when he starts to go to the latrine??? ;-)

    I have a Porta Potty, currently.... when I enter it, I tell the spiders "I'm coming in" :-) !

    Good thing Einar has such quick reflexes, right? (very large wink there)

    Great read!

    philip, settled down in the swamp..... and Hail from last night....

    Will some one PLEASE talk to Al Gore???? If I get anymore "global Warming" I'll be as cold as Sue up in Alaska!!!!!!!