29 January, 2016

29 January 2016

Indistinct, muffled by layers of cloth and his position pressed into the ground, Einar struggled to make out words, to be certain beyond doubt as to the owners of the voices , but he could not.  Could not see out, either, aside from a very small half moon shaped opening at the top of the bag, and though he very much wanted to see out, he hardly dared risk the movement necessary to facilitate it.  Legs were all cramped up from the flight, knees drawn up to his chest as they had been to allow him to fit in the bag, and it bothered him, for he knew quick movement, should it become necessary, would be a tremendously questionable thing just then.  Well.  He could, at the very least, create a distraction and hopefully cover Liz's escape with Will, if it came to that.  For which he would need his hands.  Flexed his fingers, tried to find a bit of warm flesh against which to press them, restore some mobility, but without much success.   Didn't seem to be a whole lot of warmth left anywhere, and though he was not shivering, he knew he probably ought to have been.

A stirring in the dirt near him, could not see its cause but knew he had earlier heard Liz's voice coming from that approximate spot as she quieted Will, and he twisted around in an attempt to get a look, finally spotted the other bag.  That was it, explained the sounds he'd been hearing.  Liz, it seemed, was very carefully attempting to wriggle over nearer him, difficult, he could only imagine, with Will crammed in there beside her and they still presumably having a need to appear as inert cargo, should anyone else be watching.  Having no sense that anyone was particularly nearby at that moment and wanting to know if she had been able to see anything he was about to speak to her when the sound of approaching boots cut short his efforts.  A few heavy footsteps, then silence.  Einar inched his hands downwards, finger resting beside the rifle's trigger, though not in a position anywhere near what would have been ideal, its stock braced hard against the tops of his feet.  Nothing ideal about the situation at all, but at least it was something, gave him some hope of being able to resist should the situation not be as it seemed.

More footsteps, some scuffing in the dirt and then a heavy boot made contact with Einar's ribs, not too hard, but hard enough that he had a difficult time restraining himself from making a physical response.  Succeeded, lay still, waiting.

"This the stuff I ordered, Kiesl?  Is it all here."

It was Kilgore; Einar relaxed slightly.

"Yep, it's all here.  Air mail.  Special delivery."

"Is it still...alive?"  He again poked Einar in the side, a bit harder this time.  "Don't seem too lively to me, and no way I'm payin' for deceased cargo."

The pilot laughed, took what sounded to Einar like a step to the side, placing himself between his cargo and the tracker.  "Hey, cut it out.  You break it, you buy it, alive or not.  Only I was under the distinct impression that I was doing this on a pro bono basis, no so no pay coming my direction, one way or the other..."

"Oh, you'll get paid, alright.  Show up at the house next Saturday whenever you get back into town, and we'll have some elk steaks on the grill.  How's that for pay?"

"More than adequate!  Ok, got to get back in the air.  Have to be in Flagstaff in less than an hour."

Receding footsteps, and Einar, finally assured that they had no unfriendly company, rolled to his stomach, bringing him a few inches closer to Liz.

"You guys doing...ok in there?  Will ok?"

Her voice came quickly, quietly.  She sounded more anxious than he felt, and he wondered why, wondered what he was missing.  "Yes, yes, fine.  He slept most of the way.  You?"

"I am ready."


"Ready if...but Bud and Roger...I think they're alone so it's ok."

"You're really cold."


"Hang on, we'll be there soon."

A strange conversation, Einar could not help but think, and there were other things he wanted to say, but words seemed rather difficult to come by, and besides, there were the footsteps again, and he braced himself as Bud and Roger each took an end of the bag and tossed it into what he presumed must be the bed of a truck.  Liz and Will were next, that transfer much more gentle, a slam of the tailgate, some strange rustling as the tracker fiddled with sheets of some crinkly substance above them, not quite plastic and not quite metal, from the sound of it, and they were moving.

Wriggling and squirming, Einar managed at last to work one of his hands up to the top of the bag and out the hole where he could work on opening the thing.  Took a long time but he got it at last, a rush of colder air meeting him.  The truck, as he had guessed, was equipped with  a camper shell, cover from above, so no reason to remain concealed in the bag.  Above them Einar found several layers of mylar bubble insulation, which accounted for the crinkling after Bud had loaded them and whose purpose, he could only surmise, must be more to help prevent detection of their thermal signature from the outside than to keep his passengers warm.  It was freezing in there, pressed as they were against the metal of the truckbed.   He was freezing, anyway, and he struggled to get up into a sort of crouch  in the hopes of having less of him in contact with the bed.  Did not work, limbs largely refusing to respond and he left flopping rather unceremoniously back to the ground.  Well, it was progress, anyway.  At least he was no longer confined in the bag, could watch through a small crack where tailgate met truck, hopefully see in time should things start going wrong.

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