Well, I'm getting restless and am heading for the hills for a couple more days instead of sticking around here and working on a longer chapter…hope you’ll all forgive my absence, the shortness of this chapter, and be around for the next one when I get back.
Thank you all for reading.
Kilgore sat back down with the little group as Shirley had demanded, squinting into the wind as he studied the others, assessing his chances should he decide to make a go of it, disarm the increasingly irrational head of their expedition and take off after the shovel which would allow them shelter, and some chance of seeing the morning. Two or three of the others, he was pretty sure, would respond, come to Shirley’s aid, and unless he was prepared to use the weapon on them, that might very well be the end not only of his attempt, but of other things, as well. Not quite ready to risk so much, and it wouldn’t do to have to explain the bullet holes in several of his companions, should the rest of them make it through the night. Wouldn’t do at all. So he sat, huddling, colder than he would have liked to be but still doing a good bit better than the others because of the layers in which he’d dressed that morning, chilled, but not yet immobile.
Some of the others, faces tucked down against bent knees, backs humped against the wind, appeared to be nearing that point, if not already past it. Too bad, he could not help but think, that Shirley wasn’t among them. That might allow him the chance he needed to take charge of the situation and direct the others to some life-saving activity. As it was, he’d probably just have to wait. Which often as not tended to prove deadly under such circumstances as they faced that evening. Well. All he’d got to do was to keep himself sharp, mind alert and body moving in any little way he could manage as a buffer against the increasing grip of the cold, and this he did, occupying himself first with the details of the strategy he hoped to employ when finally he was able to get the better of Shirley and then, those details all hashed out and still nothing changing with the situation, allowing his mind to drift back across the details of past missions—all of them, incidentally, seeming to be in locations where malaria presented a far greater danger than did the possibility of hypothermia, and the fact seemed in some small measure to help keep him warm—reviewing their success or failure and analyzing the for lessons which might be applied to his current situation.
Pretty soon though, all lessons and plans aside, it became clear to the tracker that the only strategy which was to matter much on the mountainside that night involved getting himself, and anyone else who wished to survive, out of the killing force of that wind. Had to take some action, and without too much more delay. Shirley’s back was turned, and this time when he rose and started carefully down the snowy slope below, the man made no response, and Kilgore picked up his pace, swinging arms in an attempt to bring himself a bit of warmth, hurrying for the spot where they’d left the by-now buried shovels. Decisions to make…
* * *
Still unready to rejoin the cheerful voices out in the kitchen Einar remained in the library, pacing from one window to the other and staring out and the swirling snow, passing him by, time, opportunity, the chance for freedom all passing him by with those falling flakes, and he chafed at his own inaction, at the logic which had led him to conclude that he must not act, even as his every instinct screamed at him to get his family ready and out there, disappearing into the sanctuary offered by the ferocity of that storm. Logic. He’d reasoned it through, listened to the reasoning of Susan and of Liz, and knew the three of them were right, and he must wait. Which knowledge didn’t make the waiting too much easier, really…
As to his own dilemma he had no answers, could understand, to some extent, the things that were keeping him going round in circles and all but ensuring that he would continue his enthusiastic dance along the ragged edges of the world until the abyss finally claimed him, but he did not know how to turn that knowledge into action. Into answers.
Maybe he didn’t need answers, didn’t have to have them, at least not right away. Ultimately, he knew he’d have to get things figured out but perhaps for the moment, it was enough simply to follow the gentle guidance Liz was always trying to give him, eat her food and wait out the storm, wait for Bud’s return so he could get the latest news of the search and formulate a plan which would give them the best chance of escaping without a trace from beneath the noses of their pursuers. Not an easy thing to do, any of it, as all of those actions—from the eating to the waiting for Bud before leading his family on their departure—meant relying on others in areas of his life where he was long used to being sole decision-maker. Not going to be easy at all, and sitting back down on the weight bench, staring at his feet, at the abandoned weights, he prayed for the strength to do it. Stick with it, for as long as would be necessary. Liz was coming, he could hear her footsteps in the hallway, figured she was coming to get him for another meal of some sort, and he rose to meet her.