Knowing it would do little good to cut Einar free so long as he was unconscious and unable to move for himself, Liz waited, watching Kilgore and he watching her, her ears sharp for the sound of a vehicle in the driveway, a low plane overhead, something which might demand the attention of all and halt the current flow of things, but no interruption came, and Liz kept her silent vigil, Will watching with grave grey eyes and the raven unmoving at his post. Then the time had come, Susan returning and Bud sliding a pillow under the end of Einar’s board, elevating his head. Liz glanced up at Susan, shaking her head, hoping, perhaps, that she might there find an ally, a way to stop events which seemed to be moving far too quickly, but Susan looked away, began preparing the bag that was to hold the thick liquid with which they would feed him, shrugging as if to say, it’s the only way, right now. It’s for the best. Let it be.
Which meant that it was looking a bit late for Liz to take any definitive action, even if in this late hour she might have decided to do so, for now she would need to take on the two of them, the united front which was Bud and Susan. She wished Einar would wake up. Wished her own mind was a bit clearer on the matter, not wavering as it was with doubt, with the possibility that, despite her deepest instincts and Einar’s voice in her head, the things she knew he would say, perhaps Bud and Susan were right, and the time had come for a step such as this, to give Einar the chance he couldn’t quite bring himself to admit—or perhaps even to recognize—that he needed. To get him to a place where he could really be himself again, strong and sure and able to make rational, considered decisions…
Which doesn’t justify it, doesn’t even come close. Listen to yourself, actually considering this. Trying to make it right in your mind. This is no better than the things his captors did to him, even if the intent is very, very different. Now you take that knife and you cut him loose.
In that moment after the last of Liz’s hesitation dissipated but before she could act on her new resolve, several things happened. Will, momentarily allowed to leave her sight as she struggled over her immediate course of action, brought something heavy to the ground with a great heavy clatter and the shattering of glass, sending her bolting to her feet and dashing after him to make sure he was alright, Susan close on her heels. At very nearly the same moment and the driveway alarm went off, bringing Bud with equal swiftness out of the kitchen and to his duties.
Meantime Einar—who was not this time a victim of a stealthy dart as Liz had feared, but only of some quick pressure point work on Bud’s part—woke with a strangled howl, stock still for a moment as he assessed his situation, eyes darting from the bonds which held him firmly in place at shoulders, ankles and a number of critical spots in between, to the tubing and can of nutritional drink on the counter nearby. Lent a wild strength by the rage rising in him at the story he quickly pieced together from the sum of his hasty observations, Einar managed to get himself flipped over onto his stomach, bruised by the weight of the board atop him and near immobile because of the thoroughness of Bud’s work with the webbing but gaining a surge of almost superhuman strength at the feeling of being thus restrained, the potent conglomeration of memory, dread and anticipation it awakened in him.
Without hesitating he made a grab for his knife, which Liz had left on the floor not far from him when she’d gone running. Couldn’t move his hand very far but did manage to scoot himself over within reach of the weapon after some effort, work the knife up under the strap which held his right wrist, give it some tension by straining with all the strength he could summon, and slice cleanly through the strap. Right hand free, he was allowed enough movement that the rest was fairly quick work.
By the time Liz—carrying a chagrinned but largely uninjured Will, who had used a lamp cord to boost himself to his feet and pulled the lamp down on himself—got back into the room Einar had managed to get himself free, squirming out of his sweater in the struggle and leaving it behind, tangled in the mess of straps which had been intended to hold him. Dizzy from all the sudden movement and slipping fairly rapidly towards the pressing humidity of the jungle, stench of the water beneath his bamboo enclosure already strong in his nostrils, things became crystal clear for Einar when Liz mentioned the driveway, and the three vehicles which were then making their way up its long, winding distance at a speed which did not bespeak a friendly visit. Without a word he headed for the door to the garage, knowing any attempted escape out one of the main doors would surely result in their tracks being seen before the snow had any chance to cover them—and before they could put much distance between themselves and the house.
In the garage, working by the faint, storm-filtered light coming in through its one small window, Einar jammed his feet into a pair of Bud’s slightly too-small rubber muck boots and dove out through the firewood door, Liz close behind him with Will wrapped in a small afghan from the couch, the only thing she’d been able to grab. Out into the snow they went, Einar running hard and never easing his grip on Liz’s hand as three unmarked but very official-looking black SUVs sped up the snowy driveway, the trio never even slowing their pace until, rasping for breath and coughing up blood, Einar was brought to his knees somewhere on the heavily timbered ridge far to the west of the house.
Crouching there for no more than the brief seconds it took to drive back a bit of the darkness that was trying to rise up before his eyes he was on his feet again, subconsciously placing himself between his little family and the danger below them, shielding them with his arms as he squinted through the myriad layers of wind-swayed evergreen boughs that lay behind them, shielding them from whatever might be going on back at the house by then. He had nothing but his knife, the clothes that had been on his back—minus the sweater he’d lost in his struggle to escape the straps—and Bud’s confining and un-insulated muck boots, but Liz had done slightly better in obtaining not only the blanket to shield Will against the fury of the storm, but a large, unused trash sack over which she had stumbled in the dark garage. That double sheet of plastic was, though they could at that time only guess at the fact, to prove perhaps their most important physical possession over the following hours. Liz had done another good thing in grabbing Einar’s pistol on the way out the door, and she now showed it to him…not much, but it was a start, gave them some chance, and when he motioned for the pistol, she handed it to him.
Eianr wished very badly that they might have some knowledge of what was going on back at the cabin, how serious the visit might prove and how thoroughly Bud and Susan had been able to conceal evidence of their hastily departed guests…but they had no way to know.
Out into the blinding whiteness of a storm which had descended with renewed fury Einar led them, heading blindly for the only nearby refuge he knew, the only one with any chance of shielding them should the storm ease and the enemy manage to get choppers in the air, heading for the mines.