03 June, 2012
3 June 2012
It seemed a very long time Einar and Liz sat together in the dimness of the cabin waiting for that helicopter to power back up and be on its way, rocks putting off the last of their heat and the air cooling until its temperature could not have been too far above that of the snowy world outside, but still they heard nothing. Einar was cold, never having warmed properly from his time out in the snow and chilling rapidly in the strained, listening stillness. Liz tried to warm him with the bear hides and with occasional scoops of honey and Nutella, efforts which he largely resisted--can’t get all warm and sleepy right now, got to stay alert; not that there was any danger just then of his doing otherwise--until the shivering of his breaths began to interfere with his ability to listen, so that he feared they might miss the first signs of that chopper being ready to take off once more.
Accepting the food then, he allowed Liz to get the bear hide around the two of them and, checking first to see that little Will slept warm and undisturbed, she wrapped herself around him and did her best to prevent the otherwise-inevitable loss of heat that she knew would progressively affect him so long as he remained near-motionless there in the cooling cabin. Fifteen minutes and then twenty, Will woke and had to be fed, Einar taking up a position beside the water barrel as soon as she left him, pressing himself against the wall where it seemed he might be slightly better able to hear when the craft took to the air.
Still nothing came, and in the silence he began to wonder, worry, the suspicious nature that had been responsible for keeping him alive in more than one questionable situation suggesting that perhaps it had been a setup from the start, all of it, merely a way to get boots in on the ground without the two of them suspecting, fleeing, making ready to defend themselves. If so, it was working, for there they were, waiting, trusting at least to some degree that the rescue party was what it seemed and nothing more. Wanted to go check, creep close and peer over the dropoff to make sure everyone was present and accounted for, no string of tracks leading off into the timber, men coming their direction to take them, but he couldn’t do it, mustn’t, for in scouting he would leave tracks of his own, and that trail would certainly arouse the suspicion of the departing crew, if nothing yet had.
Liz could sense his unease, sat down as close beside him as the constraints of wall and water barrel would allow--why does he always have to jam himself into the tightest of little places like that? And up against the cold wall, too. Much as he’s trying to hide it this time, it really does bother him to hear a chopper come in this close, even if it is just a small one and we know it’s not here for us, and I guess I can’t really blame him--and fed Will, who quieted only reluctantly, seeming almost offended that he had been fooled into sleeping by himself for a nearly half an hour, missing perhaps as many as two of his customary and incredibly frequent snacks. Little one certainly had an amazingly strong instinct of self-preservation, something she supposed must be inherent to all infants, though she did wonder if perhaps something about the circumstances during her pregnancy--short rations and the three of them always on the move, sometimes running for their lives--their current situation, or possibly even some innate trait inherited from his father might add to the keenness and force with which the little one insisted that his basic needs be met from moment to moment. Whatever the cause, she expected that drive and will would serve him well through life, especially the one he was destined to be living, up there in the high remoteness of their basin. Content now, eating, Will’s immediate needs were no longer her greatest concern, and she turned to Einar, trying to make eye contact but that was a difficult endeavor at the best of times, and just then he appeared incredibly distant, wholly absorbed in his listening and whatever thought processes were required of him by the information--or lack of it--thus collected. She startled him with her first words, breaking the silence.
“What do you suppose is taking them so long? Usually when we’d have a chopper come in on the rescues I helped with, they were on the ground and gone again within minutes, it seems like…”
“Yeah, that’s what I’d tend to expect. Get in, get out, get on with it. All I can think is maybe it’s taking a while to stabilize the injured guy…he really was looking pretty bad off yesterday when I was last able to see him, but even in that case, I’m thinking most of what they’d have to do would be better done on the chopper, anyway, so I don’t know why they haven’t scooped them up and left by now. Don’t like it.”
“Maybe they’re having a hard time finding them?”
“Only circled the basin once, and I figured that was mostly just to take a look at the LZ and find the best spot to set down. Seemed they must know right where they were going.”
“Well, maybe the man who skied out gave them a pretty exact location, something that could be recognized from the air, but what if the other two moved in the night, and the snow covered up their tracks? Maybe they’re having to search for them.”
Einar ran a finger thoughtfully across the rim of the water barrel, briefly contemplating, but shook his head. “Nah, they didn’t go anywhere. No reason that I can come up with, and besides, I’m not even sure the guy was conscious anymore. Crawled into that lean-to she made, and I never even saw him move after that. Doesn’t make a lot of sense that they would have moved camp after all that.”
No. Liz could see that it probably didn’t, though she could think of a couple reasons why such might have been their course of action, including a perhaps-desperate effort to get better protection from the wind that had picked up in the night and which surely must have been tormenting them as they tried to keep warm through the night. Seemed to her that they might have remembered the nearly sheer granite cliffs of the dropoff, and remembering, made their way to the base in the hopes that the wind would be less forceful there, but either way, the pair ought to have been found by then, surely. Hopefully. She wanted the rescuers to finish their business and take off soon, needed it, lest Einar begin getting the idea that he must make another trip up to the overlook to check on them, defend against the potential assault that he probably had himself half-convinced they were plotting to launch from down there. She could see it in his eyes, the growing suspicion, knew that if not for the concern about leaving tracks all over the freshly-fallen blanket of snow, he would have already been gone.