Einar wanted to get up, was trying rather desperately to accomplish it and fearing lest he injure himself falling against a piece of furniture, Liz helped him out of the bed and got him standing. He needed to get outside, told her so in the broken snatches of speech which seemed all he could manage just then, couldn’t stand the thought of not heading up a ridge and working himself to exhaustion to burn off the poison of the dart and free himself from the dreadful, crushing fog it imposed on his brain, but Liz explained that he mustn’t do that, couldn’t do it just then, lest he leave tracks and get them all caught. Near despair at the realization that she was right, he didn’t know what to do. She suggested a rest beneath the warmth of the blankets and some broth, but that seemed all wrong. And besides, the stuff was sure to be poisoned. Everything there was sure to be poisoned, and he wished she wouldn’t eat any of it either, lest Will end up with some of that stuff in his system. Who knew what it might do to a little guy like him? That suggestion brought a swift response from Liz.
“No, you don’t. That isn’t true, and I’m not going to let you believe it. Susan is our friend, and she is not trying to poison us. And neither is Bud.”
“He used the dart, didn’t he?”
“Yes, he did, and I so wish he hadn’t done that, but it seems he genuinely didn’t know any other way, not that involved keeping you alive. He did it to protect us. You weren’t in your right mind, were back there in the jungle, and because of that he was afraid you might do something that would get us discovered by their guests.”
“Wish he’d gone ahead and used one of the other ways.”
You think that now, but you won’t once the stuff wears off.”
“I did last time. For weeks”
“I know, but you did get through it, if just barely, and this time I’m here, so it isn’t going to be as bad. Now, try some broth. You need the fluids, and besides, you’re freezing.”
“No, it isn’t. Remember last time? It wasn’t poisoned that time, either. Nothing was. It was just the dart making you think so, and you have to fight that. It isn’t true.”
Too complicated. Everything was too complicated just then, including the memory—just returned to him—of the initial event which had apparently precipitated this current trouble, and he glanced warily at the window, looking for his knife and not at all pleased when it was nowhere to be found.
“Truck…guys came? What happened?”
“They came, and then they went. Friends of Bud and Susan’s. Will and I were safe in the basement. They’ve been gone for some time, now.”
“Where’s my knife? Rifle? Gone.”
“I don’t know. I think Bud has them. Try some broth, and then I’ll help you look.”
Not happening. He still didn’t trust it, wanted some water but couldn’t be sure of that, either. Not there in the house, where he couldn’t see its source. Could eat some snow, if there was a way for him to get outside, but Liz was right about going outside. Couldn’t risk leaving tracks. But he wouldn’t leave tracks, simply reaching out a window or door for a handful of snow. If there was a place where he could do so without being seen by whoever might be out there watching the house, ground, air, cameras in the trees, maybe all three… Would have to figure that out, but it, like just about everything else, seemed way too complicated just then. But if he knew nothing else for sure, he did know that he needed his weapons, had to be ready should things take a turn and men end up rushing the door intent on taking his family into captivity, and if Liz was for some inexplicable reason unwilling to help him retrieve the knife and rifle, he would simply have to do it himself. Which presented a challenge, but he was ready to meet it, swinging unwilling legs out of the bed, having to assist them with his hands to get them down to the ground, doing his best to lock his knees and stand and rolling to the floor when they did not respond as expected. This time, Liz stood back and let him be.
“Where are you going?”
“Got to find…rifle and…need to get this stuff out of me but at least this time…not in the water.”
“Yeah. Last time after the darts…ended up in the river and woke halfway in the water. Couldn’t get out for a long time. At least now…moving a little, but…”
“It’s got to be frustrating. Please have some broth, or at least water. You know it’ll help flush the poison out a lot sooner.”
“Need exercise. Work faster.”
“How are you going to get exercise though, when you can’t even...”
“Sure I can,” and he was on his feet, swaying, knees trying to buckle as he clung desperately and almost comically to the windowsill, face white and fixed with effort. Made it two steps before he had to resort to crawling, still a major improvement over his last sojourn out of the bed, and Liz could see that Kilgore must have been telling the truth when he’d claimed to have used only a partial dart, pulled it out before its full paralyzing potential could be reached. A good thing in most respects, as she doubted he would have ever survived the full dose at present, but at the same time, she wouldn’t have minded his staying in bed a bit longer. Say, three or four days longer… Would have done him some good, but had to be done on his own terms, if at all. Which she knew would almost certainly never happen. So long as he was conscious and capable of any sort of movement at all, he would be moving, and was, having slowly but persistently reached the door and raised himself far enough to get it open, going in search, no doubt, of his missing weapons.