16 January, 2016

16 January 2016

Roger had done what he needed to do to fully conceal his cargo, and to keep it that way even at the other end when the bags would be unloaded, had insisted that everyone needed to stay inside for the duration of the flight, but he had left things fairly loose at the tops, both for the purpose of air exchange  and, if need be, to accommodate the barrel of Einar's FAL.

As the flight went on Einar wished he could see out, wished he had a parachute, the idea of landing in an unfamiliar place with no foreknowledge of the terrain, cover and possible escape routes, and doing it with his family, beginning to seem a risk hardly worth taking.  Too late to do much  about it.  They were committed, now.  Liz was near him, speaking softly to Will, who clearly wanted out of the bag, and to be exploring—and in all likelihood flying—the plane.  Einar smiled, tried to reposition himself slightly to alleviate a growing pressure on his ribs where he had ended up lying on a raised ridge of metal.  Did not work too well, so he let things be as they were.

Tired.  Had not noticed it until the plane had been airborne for some time and he, of necessity, lying still, but now it came over him as an inexorable force, heavy, all encompassing, so that after a time, nothing he could think of to do in that confined little space seemed to have the power to let him go on resisting it.  Wanted to talk with Liz, plan, as well as they could, how things would go on the other end, but the weariness was very strong, and though it went against all of his instincts he figured it might be best to go ahead and allow himself a bit of sleep.  Perhaps for half an hour, forty five minutes, no more.  So he would be alert and ready at the other end, when things could really get interesting.

Liz wanted to talk, too, tried, but could not get Einar to answer with any reliability.  His voice, when he did respond, was muddled, sleepy, and before long he stopped responding altogether.  It was cold up there, a lot colder than she had imagined or expected, and she was worried for him, wished the bags were sleeping bags, and that they had all been able to share one.   Will was unhappy at the confinement, wanted very badly to escape the bag and explore the unfamiliar wonders of the plane, so that she had quite a job keeping him still and reasonably content, and had little time to think about Einar for the last hour of the flight.

When finally Liz  got Will to settle down and  sleep and was able to wonder about Einar again, she found herself unable to rouse him through either speech or jabs to the spine with her elbow, but was reassured somewhat by the sound of his breathing, the occasional chatter of this teeth, until at last those things, too, were silent...  Finally she managed to wriggle around so that she could press her back against his—still, not shivering, and she knew he should have been, frigid as the high altitude air had become—enough warmth, she hoped, to make a difference.

Sagebrush, oak brush, alkali soil.  He could smell it, could feel its grit between his teeth as he lay where Roger had heaved him upon unloading the plane of its contraband cargo.  Arms cramped up at his sides, hands beneath his chin, clasped around the rifle, and its presence was reassuring, even though he found himself at the moment neither in the position nor the condition to use it, had such been necessary.  Couldn't feel his hands at all, face all stiff and strange, and he supposed he must have ended up a little chilly after the flight.  Liz was there beside him.  He could hear her speaking softly to Will, telling him to wait, to keep quiet, that they could get out very soon, but not quite yet, and then in the distance he picked up the grumble of an engine, vehicle creeping along in low gear, stopping.  He twisted his head sideways, fought to get an eye up to the little hole at the top of the bag where light was getting in, managed at last and could see out, if barely.

Kilgore.  It was Bud Kilgore who got out of the truck, boots stirring up white dust as he walked over to the plane.  Boots were just about all Einar could see of him, but the man's identity was in no doubt, and the coiled knot of readiness in Einar's middle eased just a bit. This part, at least, appeared to be going according to plan, but there were too many variables, too much he did not know and over which he had not the slightest modicum of control.  Well.  A little late to be worrying about it, so, according to plan, he kept still and waited, did nothing to reveal his presence in the bag should someone be watching from air, ground or space.

Silence for far too long, as far as Einar was concerned, then the muffled sound of voices at what seemed a great distance.

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