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The Saga of Jake Chapter 1 (or E&E as known elsewhere)
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 1 (or E&E as known elsewhere)

    Chapter 1.

    Damn it was cold. Jake shivered as he huddled under the fallen Aspen on the side of the mountain. He rubbed his hands together and then cupped them and breathed into them in a vain attempt to warm his hands. The moisture from his breath froze instantly to his mustache and left a cloud in the air.

    The mountain was silent as death. The cold was sharp and cut through his layered clothing like a knife. He knew he didn’t have much more time if he didn’t find shelter and find it quick.

    He shrugged his pack on his shoulders, trying to find a more comfortable position. It didn’t work but the movement offered a brief respite for his aching shoulders. He stood up and put his hands in his jacket pocket and scanned the area around him for a path to descend down the mountainside without risking his life more than necessary. The mountainside was steep and littered with a blow down of Aspen and Pine and Birch. Jagged rocks jutted out of the ground here and there and across the valley a giant granite cliff shot straight into the sky several thousand feet and from his vantage point appeared to be smooth as glass. To his left the valley choked into a point and rose sharply up to a plateau, the final 40 or 50 feet was vertical and he couldn’t detect any way to climb it. There was no way around it.

    To his right the valley appeared to open up and spread out a little. From the luscious green in the bottom of the valley near the center, he could guess there was water there. That was good to know. Despite the intense cold, it hadn’t snowed yet, but the sky wasn’t looking too friendly at the moment and the cloud cover was low and moving. In another 20 minutes, he estimated, the granite cliff in front of him would only be visible about half way up and he was in danger of being overtaken by the fog.

    Behind him, the forest became more dense and then thinned out. At the tree line, roughly 12,500 feet, the terrain changed from forest and scrub brush to a boulder field of smashed granite and frozen gravel. It was as if there was an invisible line on the mountain and above that line, all vegetation abruptly stopped. There was simply nothing but rock and more rock, with places to walk in between.

    They were searching for him on the other side, so going back was out of the question. Apparently the only way out for him was to his right. He better get moving. He didn’t have much time and the temperature appeared to be dropping, if that was possible. He wished he had some gloves. Another item on his mental list of things to grab the next time he was forced to run away into the wilderness. It seemed he was always running anymore. He was having a hard time remembering when he wasn’t running. They were always after him and somehow always seemed to be right behind him. It was getting old and he was getting tired of running. So much for the glamorous life of an outlaw.

    Jake was wishing for decent weapon. In fact he was wishing for a lot of stuff. They had come upon him last night in his camp and he had to run, only able to grab his pack that he hadn’t yet unpacked and was leaning against the tree behind him as he had been crouching over his small fire trying to get warm. The bullet had hit his small fire and thrown embers in his face. He acted accordingly and jumped and fell backward in surprise and scrambled out of the way and behind the tree where his pack was. His rifle had been laying beside him near the fire and may as well have been a mile away at that moment. He didn’t dare show himself in the firelight and expose himself to get shot. He had no choice but to get away and had to abandon his rifle. Worse even, he had to leave his small hip bag which had his gloves, ammo, compass, maps, water filter, iodine crystals, matches, tinder, and some other various odds and ends he had collected and found useful. Fortunately, he had his pistol and knives belted on so he hadn’t lost them. He had a box or two of ammo in his pack, but not much else.

    “Mental note to self, always carry extra in my main pack” Jake scowled at himself. It wasn’t the end of world hopefully, but he had not been in this area of the country, at this altitude before and wasn’t exactly sure if he could make it to another town and maybe procure some replacements. He had a small amount of cash in his pocket, he could steal it if he had to but that left a sour taste in his mouth; even if it was life or death. If they would leave him alone long enough, he could work for wages and maybe get a hot meal and enough cash to help him along. Now where was the closest town?

    He shrugged against the cold and taking his hands from his pockets, began to carefully make his way down the mountainside, trying not to fall and possibly injure himself. He knew if he did, he was dead man. That thought was enough to put up with the biting cold on his hands and fingers. After descending about 500 feet, his hands were useless and hurt like hell. He stopped and crouched down under a huge fallen cedar and put his hands inside his jacket and waited patiently for them to warm up again. A snowflake floated past his face and he was thankful it wasn’t windy, as cold as it was. Snow wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Besides hiding his tracks from his pursuers, it would actually provide some insulation and warm up the air, if only a degree or two. The really bad thing about the snow was the wet. If he got wet and his clothes and feet got wet, he may as well use his pistol on himself because he would freeze to death in no time. Hypothermia was already well into the beginning stages and he wasn’t too thrilled about that. He had to find shelter and find it quick and then solve the problem of starting a fire.

    Jake stood up and carefully watched his back trail for a few minutes. He could faintly hear the men pursuing him as they yelled back and forth looking for tracks he left. He wasn’t sure how close they were, but he could hear them and that was too close. He turned and made his way a little faster down the mountain. Movement through the air stung his face, the cold felt like a thousand needles were brushing his face as the air passed over his skin. As fast as he dared he moved down into the valley. He knew it would be colder in the valley and colder up above him. The warmest place would be in the middle of the hillside, but there was no avoiding it, he had to go down.

    After 15 or 20 minutes of traveling without a break, he stopped and warmed his hands again. He had to be careful not to break a sweat and create a layer of ice against his skin and create frozen clothes. That would be a death sentence just as sure as an injury would be at this point. As he warmed his hands inside his jacket, he watched his back trail. There was no movement he could see and the fog was closing in fast and dense. He couldn’t see more than 200 yards or so up the hill. It was eerily silent. He could almost imagine he could hear the woods and rocks around him freezing. The snow was falling slightly faster now and that wasn’t good for him. He was going to have to hole up fast and he needed to find a place where he could find some tinder and start a fire without bringing his pursuers down on him. Damn-it! Why couldn’t they just leave well enough alone? They were sure determined to get him. The greedy power hungry mayor of the last town hadn’t been too happy with his one night stand with his one and only daughter. Jake grinned to himself; something to remember with satisfaction. After the Mayor had threatened to charge him with a dozen trumped up charges and get him thrown in prison for rape, Jake had skipped town in a big hurry. He was just a drifter after all, and how was he supposed to know she was only 17? It WAS a bar after all. Evidently she was into a lot of things her father didn’t know about and she apparently had a thing for drifters. Nothing but trouble, he reflected, and might be the death of him yet. The Mayor had a drug problem and two unsolved murders and Jake was the perfect candidate to pin the rap for both on and cover up his black market business; something Jake had discovered quite accidentally and then guessed at the rest and the Mayor didn’t want any loose ends; thus the reason for the relentless pursuit.

    Hands finally warmed back up, he turned back to the valley and descended the final 500 yards into the valley. The woods closed in around him and the snow wasn’t heavy enough to make it to the forest floor yet, greatly improving his odds of finding some dry tinder for a fire. He made his way toward the huge granite cliff and hopefully in a direction that his pursuers wouldn’t guess he went. The valley going south was the obvious choice since the other sides of the valley were boxed. He hoped to find a cave or overhang or something that would work to hole up in for a few days. He had a feeling it was going to really snow hard. The cold was becoming painful and he was worried about hypothermia. He had started shivering pretty hard not to long ago and his teeth were chattering almost uncontrollably now.

    He went forward and continued in what he hoped was the right direction toward the cliff face. As he went he passed an old willow and cut four old dry branches and one green one and carried them with him. He passed an old fallen pine tree and after hunting around found a nice size chunk of relatively flat and very dry wood. After what he guessed was about a mile, he came upon the cliff face abruptly. The trees grew right up the face and there was a huge tumble of boulders and shale at the base of the cliff like he had suspected. He began walking along the edge of the rubble looking for a likely hiding spot. He almost passed it and only saw it when he turned around to investigate a shadow on a rock, or rather a darker hole than the others. There was no direct light to cause a shadow, the fog was thick and created a white ambient light that was getting darker. He suspected it was getting late in the day and that added to his urgency.

    He slowly approached the apparent cave and carefully ventured into the entrance. He wasn’t prepared to scare up a bear or some other forest native. It was darker inside but he could still see well enough. It was two huge slabs of rock that had fallen together in a V shape and then fallen together against another huge boulder, making a perfect rock teepee. Another rock slide had come down on top of this rock teepee and buried it and sealed it further and partially covered the opening. He saw how he could build a fire against the corner where the two sides met on the opening side. It was a perfect reflector that would push the heat back into his cave and warm him nicely. He wasn’t worried about the men on his trail for the moment. It was likely they would give up for the night anyway, as cold as it was and starting to snow.

    He dropped the willow and slab of pine in the corner and then dropped his pack. He wanted to get some wood gathered while it was light outside. He could make do with his flashlight for tonight after he got what needed.

    He went back out and over to a cluster of rock mangled trees and gathered as much bark and dried wood as he could hold and took it back to his cave. He repeated this four more times until he was confident he had more than enough wood to last the night. He dug into his pack and removed four large 32 gallon 4 mil plastic contractor grade garbage bags and went back out on the forest floor and stuffed them with pine needles, then carried them back to the cave.

    Once he had done that, he went out again and gathered a dozen bowling ball size rocks and carried them into the cave also. He arranged the rocks in a semi circle against the corner as a border for the fire pit. By the time he was done with that, it was almost impossible to see anything and he had to dig his flashlight out, He turned it on and leaned it against a rock, allowing him to work. By constantly moving, he had managed to keep warm enough, but now that he was in the cave, it was quickly catching up to him. He had to work fast. He dug the 550 cord from his pack and cut off about 3 feet. He took the green willow stick and carved a notch in each end and then measured the 550 cord against the stick, tying a knot in each end of the cord slightly shorter than the willow stick. He then put one knot in a notch and then bent the stick and put the other knot in the other notch. He had his bow. He grabbed one of the dried sticks and sharpened one end to a point and then carved four square sides about half way up. He took his slab of pine and using the blade of his Swiss Army Knife (SAK) he carved a hole and then switched to the saw and cut a slot from the hole to the edge of the wood. He took his saw and cut off a large corner of the slab and the hollowed out a depression in the center of it big enough for the end of his drill. He took a pile of pine needles and put them in the bed of his fire area, then took several dried leaves and crumbled them up and combined them with a small amount of pine needles and shredded bark in a small pile next to his plank. He had a scrap of leather in his pack and he took it out and put the pile of tinder on the leather scrap. He quickly looped the drill into the bow string, making sure the string was around the part of the drill that was flattened on four sides. This would allow the 550 cord to grab the drill and not slide and slip. He placed the sharpened tip into the hole on the slab. Then, using the piece he cut off as a bearing, he leaned down on the drill with all of his weight and quickly worked the bow back and forth. In no time, smoke appeared. Once the smoke was really going, he removed the drill and checked for a coal. He had one! He quickly dumped the coal into the pile of tinder and blew gently on it, slowly trying to coax it into flame. It smoked; smoked some more, and then a flame appeared and quickly grew as it consumed the dry tinder. He almost shouted for joy.

    He carefully placed the rapidly growing blaze down into his fire bed with the pine needles and carefully began adding small sticks until the fire was established and he wasn’t worried about it going out. Once it was going strong and he had a few small logs on it, he went back outside and walked away from the cave into the darkness and looked back. There was a glow, but it was very faint. He was just going to have to chance it. It was now pitch black outside, the fog was thick and the snow was falling hard, quickly covering everything in sight with a layer of white. This was good for him. He had shelter, fire, and the snow was providing plenty of cover. The fog was thick enough that no one would be able to detect the fire until very close. He would keep his pistol handy tonight.

    He walked back into his cave and arranged the bags of pine needles so he could sleep on them. On second thought, he pushed the bags into a corner and then took down the rock fire barrier he had built and built up his fire and spread it out over where he was going to sleep. With such a large fire, the cave got warm very quickly. It felt great and he had to open his jacket to cool off a bit. The heat was reflecting off the rock walls and back into him, providing lots of warmth from every direction. After about two hours of burning his fire this way, he used a big log and pushed it back into the corner again, carefully extinguishing every little ember in his sleeping area. The ground was hot to the touch and the rock walls were warm. “Very good,” he thought to himself.

    He carefully emptied two bags of the pine needles and spread them out for his mattress over the hot ground, being careful to make sure the needles stayed away from the fire. It would be a bummer to get burned out of his otherwise perfect shelter. He unrolled his bedroll and put one blanket down over the needles. He sat down on his bed and leaned against the wall, enjoying the moment and soaking up the warmth. He was sure he would be okay, for tonight anyway.

    The heat was getting to him and he realized how tired he really was. He still had some things to do though. He carefully folded up the two empty trash bags and replaced them in his pack. He packed up his bow and drill and bearing and wood slab. He dug out an MRE from his pack. He had three left, he would need to be careful. He knew what the rule of 3’s was. 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food. He knew food wasn’t a priority immediately, but in this cold, his body was burning calories at an incredible rate. He knew shelter and water were his top priorities. He had shelter now, he had a full Camelback attached to his pack, and he had food for now. Tonight he wasn’t worried.

    He only ate the main meal from the MRE and put the rest back into his pack for later. He would need to conserve his food to make it last. It was going to take a lot of energy to get out of these mountains alive and without a rifle, he would have a hard time taking any game, especially in this weather. The forest natives were no doubt warm and secure in some hole somewhere, too smart to be out in this weather.

    Jake enjoyed his meal and drank a few swallows of water. He suddenly remembered he had a stash of tea in his pack and dug it out and his stainless steel mess kit as well. He dug out his coffee pot and went outside and filled it with snow. He placed it on the fire and it was boiling in no time. He let it boil for what he guessed was about 15 minutes and then took it off the fire and poured a cup and put a tea bag in the cup. He put the pot off to the side to cool and then nursed his tea slowly as it cooled off enough to drink it. The internal warmth felt wonderful. When he was done, he poured the water from the coffee pot into his Camelback and then he replaced everything back in his pack and made it secure in case he had to run again like last night. He didn’t want to lose any more gear. He couldn’t afford to. He pulled his pistol and checked it, and then replaced it. He banked the fire against the night and added two rather heavy and dense looking logs. He lay down on the bed of warm needles and pulled the other blanket and the two bags of needles on top of him for additional warmth. .

    He lay there for a while looking up at the rock ceiling and let the warmth spread through him. Exhaustion overtook him and he slept.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 2

    Chapter 2.


    Sometime during the night, he must have added wood to the fire because when he woke up the next morning, the fire was still burning slightly and keeping the cave warm. That made him happy. He pushed the bags of pine needles and his top blanket off of him and sat up, rubbing his face and running his fingers through his hair in an effort to get it going the right way and straighten it out. He didn’t have a mirror so he didn’t know if it worked or not. “That interview would just have to wait, in any case,” he mumbled to himself as he felt the three days of growth on his face and tried to work the sleep from his muscles and eyes.

    After a few minutes in front of the fire, he decided he would have to scout around a little and see what there was to see in this area. He knew that his pursuers were somewhere nearby, most likely headed south in the obvious direction of the open valley.

    He dug into his pack and took out the snack from the MRE of the night before. It was a chocolate brownie, or that’s what the package said. It was more a compact lump of dry, crumbly cake with hard chunks of chips that were supposed to be chocolate chunks. It was tasty and went down nicely with some water and another hot cup of tea with the bag from the night before.

    Jake tightened up his boots after adding another pair of socks against the cold, adjusted his pistol and knives on his belt and put on another shirt and his jacket. He donned his boony cover and stepped out of the cave and into a white world. Overnight the snow had come down hard and heavy; at least 8 inches covered the ground. The fog was gone, but the sky was clouded and the clouds were dark. He didn’t have any idea of what time it was.
    Jake paused for a minute. If he didn’t move he wouldn’t make tracks. If he didn’t make tracks, they couldn’t find him. He thought for a minute. The other problem he had was getting his shoes wet. It had warmed up slightly over night with the layer of snow on the ground and the clouds overhead, it wasn’t nearly cold enough to keep the snow from being sticky and making his clothes and shoes wet. That could be a problem.

    He walked out into the trees a little ways and looked around until he found what he wanted, a large willow tree with several young sprouts. He pulled his Armageddon from its sheath and quickly cut a few dozen green sticks and carried them back to his cave. On his way, he picked up a long straight branch of willow that lying on the ground. The Armageddon was a knife made by Trace Rinaldi. It could double for a sword being almost 16 inches overall and with a ¼” thick D2 blade, it was very, very tough. Jake kept it razor sharp, shaving sharp; he had a stropping leather that put a very scary edge on all his blades. .

    Back at the cave, he took his 550 cord from his pack and cut several 6 inch pieces. He then took two of the willow branches that were about 4 feet long and bent the ends together and tied them with a piece of 550 cord. Then he took a length of cord and tied a loop in one end and wrapped the cord around the center of the willow circle and passed the end of the cord through the loop and then pulled the cord tight until the circle resembled a long oblong shape. He had the beginnings of his snowshoes.

    He quickly lashed more willow branches across the snowshoes, weaving them together in a very tight crisscross pattern and tied them securely to the frame. He pushed and pulled them with his hands and they felt pretty sturdy; he felt good about his accomplishment. Satisfied with his snowshoes, he took the long dried willow branch he had picked up and using his TOPS Walk About, carved the end of the branch into a sharp point. He placed the tip over the fire and turned it until it was a deep brown, then he removed it and holding his blade at 90 degrees to the wood, scraped the brown off and then repeated the process. This time when he removed it, he just let it cool down on its own. The tip was now hardened and would hold up well.

    He stood up and holding the stick with the tip up, put the other end on the ground and marked where his hand would be when used as a walking stick. He then soaked some 550 cord in some water and then wrapped the stick where his hand would be as tight as he could. He tucked the end under the last wrap and then pulled a branch from the fire and put the burning end against the frayed tip, melting it together and preventing it from coming unraveled. Then he held the wet cord wrap over the fire and turned it until it was dry. The Cord would stretch when wet and then shrink slightly as it dried, making the wrap very tight against the wood.

    Satisfied with his crafts for the day and his new silent weapon, he placed two big logs on the fire and then ventured back out of the cave and into the woods. He stopped under the first tree and looked back at his cave and the cliff. He noted a long gash in the face and several particular rocks that would be his landmarks. For additional insurance, he broke a branch on the tree he was standing under and let it hang.

    It was still cold, but somehow it didn’t bother him today. He was doing well with shelter, cover, a fire, plenty of water available in the white form, and food for at least 3 days. He would need more though and he knew if he waited till he ran out that he would be in trouble. Better to solve that problem now.

    He thought for a minute and decided that he would try to locate his hunters and see what they were up to. Woodcraft was nothing new to him as he had grown up in the woods as a kid and had been a scout sniper in the Marines. After being discharged, he had nothing to go home to, no family, and didn’t own anything so he just packed up what he could carry and wanted to keep, sold the rest, and then took off for nowhere in particular. He observed the terrain around him and made mental notes to himself, noting the positions and looks of the trees and bushes and rocks. Nothing much got by him. He looked at the sky again and decided if he was going hunting, he better do it now. The clouds looked heavy enough to fall out of the sky.

    He knew which way south was. That was easy, since he had that huge granite face for a landmark. The cliff was east facing when he had headed for it originally, so he turned left and went south. His snowshoes were working great, keeping his boots mostly out of the snow and leaving very little tracks. The next snow fall would cover them up immediately. They were also silent which made him very happy. His spear was doubling as a walking stick nicely.

    He made his way south, paying attention to landmarks as he went and breaking branches here and there and letting them just hang at the break. He had 100 feet of 550 cord in his cargo pocket and he had put his Camelback on so he had water. He also put a space blanket and several trash bags in his other cargo pocket in case he got stuck out overnight, something he didn’t want to do. He followed the cliff face most of the way until it turned further east and then he broke away and headed for the valley. After about a mile, the trees suddenly ended and he found himself on the edge of a meadow. It was a huge meadow, probably a few miles long and at least a mile wide. He was on the long side looking across the width of it, approximately halfway down the length of the valley. It was covered with a blanket of snow and the trees were heavily loaded, appearing as white towers, stark against the blackness of the forest shadows. He looked left up the valley, what he guessed was east, and the valley dropped down, slightly rose and then dipped out of sight, the tree line visible over the horizon. He looked right and west and noticed the valley climbed slightly and appeared to turn north and back into the woods. The tree line was denser in that direction. Jake determined that he had come from that direction yesterday when running from his pursuers. He began heading that direction, keeping to the edge of the meadow and just inside the trees where he wouldn’t be easily spotted.

    He had traveled about 500 yards when he suddenly stopped and moved against a tree. He had caught a whiff of smoke. That could only mean that someone had a camp nearby. He studied the tree line around the meadow and tried to see any sign of smoke. It was very difficult against the gray clouds and white topped trees, and he almost didn’t see the shadow of white smoke hovering faintly over the treetops about 60 yards to his left. He studied the area carefully before heading in that direction. As he approached the area, he pulled his pistol out and put it in his jacket pocket where it was ready to hand. He stalked the camp, working a large circle around it, watching for any movement and listening for any sound. He worked his circle tighter and tighter and finally got to the edge of the camp and was crouching behind a large pine. He slowly peered around the trunk of the tree and looked over the camp. There were two men he could see, sitting at the fire on a log with their backs to him. Neither was talking. He noticed they each had an M4 Carbine leaning against the log next to them. They were both dressed heavily with thick sheepskin coats and cowboy hats. They had scarves wrapped around their necks and he could see their hands had gloves on them. They were drinking something hot, probably coffee. He couldn’t tell if they had sidearms but he assumed they did, probably slung in shoulder holsters or on their belts under the jackets.

    Off to one side was a rather large dome tent, one of those pop up ones that you just had to shake out and it would automatically erect itself. It appeared to be large enough for 3 men, which meant that these were the only two or there was someone inside the tent. He didn’t see any gear on the ground so he assumed it was all inside the tent. That’s where his gear would be and he wanted it back.

    He contemplated his options. It would be easy to dispatch these two, especially with their backs to him like that and obviously hypnotized by the fire. It would probably be a bad move though, given the temper and judgment of the Mayor. He didn’t know if these two goons were law enforcement or sworn officers or simply a couple of hired thugs. He knew the Mayor wanted to pin two murders on him as it was, if he killed these two, he might truly be a fugitive forever. He could knock them out and take his gear and get lost or he could cause a distraction somehow and hope they left long enough for him to grab his gear and disappear. It seemed like none of the options were good ones. Suddenly the silence was interrupted when one of the men started ringing.

    “Damn Satellite phones,” The man said as he dug his phone out and answered it, “Hello?”

    “No sir, we ain’t caught the bastard yet.”

    “Yes sir, we think we have him. We had to stop for the night cause of a snow storm. I think the guy might be dead, we grabbed his gear and his rifle night before last, he’s been runnin and there ain’t no place to go, dropped to fifteen below last night.”

    “Yes sir. We’re packing up camp right now to go hunt him. Don’t see how we’re gonna find that no account though, been snowing since last night and if’n he’s a popsicle right now, we may never find him”

    “Yes sir I understand.”

    The man hung up the phone, obviously pissed off. “The mayor said not to come back without a body! Damn him! He said stay out here till we find the s-o-b. We only got supplies for another day or two! What’s he expectin?”

    “Told ya we shoulda charged a lot more for this job. This motherf’r ain’t no spring chicken. He done lost us twice and again last night. Something about this don’t feel right to me anyway, this dude is bad news, I’m telling ya.”

    “Maybe so Bubba, but we got it to do. If’n we came back empty handed, that Mayor would skin us alive.”

    “Don’t call me bubba again jackass, and I could give a damn about the Mayor. It’s sack shifting cold out here and I need a hot woman, a warm bar, and glass of whisky. And not necessarily in that order!.............. Guess we better get a move on and get this over with.”

    The men stood up and one of them finished off his coffee and then tossed the remains of the coffee pot out into the snow. He stepped on the fire and pushed the coals around and spread it out. Then he went over and grabbed several handfuls of snow and covered the fire until he was sure it was out. Meanwhile the other man had gone to the tent and begun removing stuff from inside. Jake watched as he did this and was happy to note that his gear was in the pile. The man came out of the tent with two sleeping bags and threw them on the pile and then reached back in and brought out Jakes Remington 700 and lay it on the pile with the other gear.

    “Sure is a nice rifle he had him. I think I’m gonna keep it. No need for the Mayor to know about it.”

    “Bullshit!” said the other man, “I want that rifle. I’m the one gives the orders around here and I say it’s mine. Don’t be trying to steal that thing from me!”

    “Why don’t we flip for it then? Heads I keep it, Tails you don’t.”

    “You must think I’m stupid don’t ya? Shut the hell up and pack the gear. We need to get moving. It’s damn near two pm and we ain’t gonna get far at all this time of day. In fact, I don’t see why we’re moving at all. This late in the day we should just stay here and move out in the morning.”

    “Suit yourself Bubba. You’re the boss.”

    “Damn it I said don’t call me Bubba ever again! Do it one more time and I’m gonna shoot ya in the head.”

    The other man mumbled something under his breath and began putting all the gear back in the tent. Jake watched the two with amusement. These two backwoods hick hillbilly hit men were gonna be fun to play with. Obviously they were here to hunt and kill him, of that he no longer had any doubts having basically heard it with his own two ears; evidently the mayor would be more happy with a dead body than a live one. The men were grumbling and complaining about the cold and the leader who had just put out the fire with snow, which then melted and made everything wet, was cursing up a storm about all the wood being wet and having to start another fire now.

    “Get the camp ready for one more night Bonehead. I’m going to get more wood for the fire; I’ll be back in a minute.”

    “Don’t get lost” was the reply.

    Jake watched the man head into the woods away from him and he made up his mind to take action right then. He backed away from the tree, keeping an eye on the tent and the other man inside, then quickly stalked around the camp to the tent and crouched beside the tent next to the opening, drawing his Walk About knife, and waited for the man to come out.

    The man crawled out of the tent and didn’t see Jake. He stood up and turned to grab a pack off the ground and never knew what hit him. Jake moved in fast, grabbing the man by the neck with his left hand and plunged the knife into his chest just under the Zyphoid Process at an upward angle and sank it to the hilt. The man never had a chance to scream and couldn’t do it now, his jaw dropped and the air went out of him with a whoosh. Instantly Jake pulled it out and plunged it down into the man’s inner thigh and sliced upward and twisted the blade as he pulled it out, completely severing the femoral artery. The Walk About was razor sharp and it was like slicing butter, the clothing didn’t slow it down at all. The man fell to his knees and Jake stepped around him, grabbed his forehead and promptly plunged the knife into the side of the man’s neck and sliced outward, severing the carotid and jugular arteries in the process. He made a slight gurgling noise and fell forward on his face, dead before he hit the ground, the snow turning red quickly all around him. Jake didn’t even pause; he reached down and grabbed his rifle and his bag and a sleeping bag and the pack the man was reaching for. He quickly put the pack on, slung his hip bag over his shoulder and slung his rifle. He went over to the dead man and took off his gloves, stripped his coat, and seeing the man’s pistol in a shoulder harness, took that as well as the harness.

    Jake quickly faded back into the shadows and disappeared into the woods like a wraith. He traveled quickly about 200 yards into the woods and when he came upon some boulders on the top of a slight mound, he decided to stop and stash the gear. He put everything into a small hole and covered it with the man’s jacket. He picked up his rifle and checked it; it was still fully loaded and a round was chambered.

    His rifle was a Remington 700 chambered in 308 and built almost identical to the M24 sniper rifle system he had used in the Corps. It had a match grade barrel on it and a two stage adjustable trigger. He could easily take down a target up to 1000 yards away with this rifle and the Leopold scope was accurate enough to keep his shot group inside of 3” at that range. He slung the rifle over his shoulder and stalked back to the camp, using a different path, and silently approached the camp from the north. He got within sight of the camp and noticed that the other man hadn’t returned yet from gathering wood. Jakes victim was still lying where he had fallen and nothing else was disturbed. The pool of red around the body had grown considerably. It was a stark contrast to the white snow and brown mud around the camp. Jake noticed the two M4’s were still leaning against the log, untouched.

    He debated grabbing them, but he didn’t know when the other man would return and he didn’t want to be seen. Jake waited beside the tree, taking in the layout and making note of every detail of the camp and the surrounding area. The killing of the man didn’t bother him. He had long ago learned how to detach himself from such things and perform like a machine, without emotion or thought. It was a trait learned by Marines and soldiers who studied his craft. You couldn’t let emotion get in the way when you were looking into someone’s face, times 10, and preparing to plant a bullet in their chest. No room for that stuff. So he had learned how to kill without emotion or remorse. Jake didn’t know if that was a bad thing or not and he didn’t care or give it much thought. In this case, it was kill or be killed and he preferred to live.

    He guessed the range to the camp to be about 50 yards from where he was standing. It was almost too close for his rifle, but he dialed down the scope anyway and hoped it was still zeroed from when he lost it. No telling what dumb and dumber had done to it. He used a branch on the tree for a rest and waited.

    After another 5 minutes or so, the other man came back. He stepped into the clearing and said “John, give me ha…..” The man stopped instantly where he stood when he saw Johns body. What seemed like an hour passed as he stood there and didn’t move, just slowly turning his head and looking around camp as if he expected to see the killer come running out of the trees. He slowly crouched over and set the wood down, never taking his eyes off the forest. Jake watched him through the scope, the crosshairs on the man’s chest. Jake wondered what was going though the man’s mind right now. Certainly fear. Only a fool wouldn’t be afraid in this situation.

    The man slowly stood up and Jake waited until he was fully erect and then squeezed the trigger. He saw the bullet strike the man in the chest and he instantly crumpled to the ground. The report of the rifle seemed to be absorbed by the forest and the deep snow. Jake waited a moment, watching the man through his scope for any sign of life. There wasn’t any of course, the big 308 round had flown true and exploded through the man’s chest and heart. He was probably dead before he hit the ground.

    Jake worked the bolt and caught the brass cartridge as it was ejected, chambered another round, and slung his rifle. He put the brass in his pocket and walked down to the camp. He went first to the M4’s and picked them up, slinging both of them cross body behind him. He went to the man he had shot and stripped him of his gloves and his jacket and his pistol and shoulder harness. He searched both men for ID’s and any papers and took everything he found. The one he had shot was wearing some Carhart insulated overalls. He looked about the same size as Jake, maybe just a little bigger, and definitely heavier, so he stripped them off them and added them to his pile. He made a pile of gear in the middle of the camp, working quickly because the light was fading and he still had quite a trek to make back to his cave.

    He grabbed the other sleeping bag and opened it up, stuffing all the gear inside. He collapsed the tent and rolled it up and stuffed it into its stuff sack, throwing that into the sleeping bag also. Then he grabbed the second mans pack and put it in the bag. He quickly went over the camp site to make sure he didn’t miss anything and then grabbed the sleeping bag and slung it over his shoulder and started to leave.

    A thought came to him suddenly and he went back to the two men and took off their boots. They were quality Danner hiking boots, designed for cold weather and they were both broken in. By chance, one pair was his size. He tied the laces together and slung them over his shoulder and left the other pair behind. He grabbed the sleeping bag again and took off toward his cache. When he arrived there, he dropped the bag and took everything out of the hole. He put on one pack, slung his hip bag over his shoulder, and threw the first mans jacket into the sleeping bag. He had one pair of gloves on and the other was in his jacket pocket. After checking to see if he forgot anything, he grabbed the sleeping bag and managed to get it up on his shoulders, resting it on his pack. Jake was suddenly thankful for his life as a drifter and the conditioning that always carrying a pack had given him. This was going to be one long trip and a serious load. It was getting dark quickly and he had roughly 2 miles to cover to get back to his cave. The clouds were low and dark and there was not going to be any light at all when darkness came. He reached into his hip bag and pulled out his PAL light and checked it. It worked, the bright LED would provide all the light he needed to travel by.

    Snow began falling as Jake set out for his cave. He was carrying two packs plus his hip bag, a tent, two heavy jackets, three rifles, an unknown amount of ammo but at least 6 magazines worth of the M4 5.56 ammo plus the two mag's already in the rifles. Each man had had three magazines but Jake hadn’t gone through the packs yet. He was thankful for his walking stick now. It was treacherous carrying all this weight and the last thing he needed right now was an injury.

    Jake made his way north and east toward the giant wall of granite he could still see in the distance. Skirting the meadow again, he back tracked his route using the broken branches he had broken on his out. It was a simple trick and any amateur tracker could track him down with those signs, but he wasn’t worried about that.

    It was getting dark fast now and the snow was starting to come down heavy. Somewhere in the distance he heard a branch snap as it gave out from the weight of the snow. A few minutes later he heard a howl behind him, answered by another one further away. Wolves. Jake hurried a little faster. He didn’t want to be caught in the open by a pack of wolves. He had never heard of a man being killed by wolves, but he was sure it had happened and he didn’t want to be the next one. Maybe they had just discovered the dead bodies at the camp and were happy with their free dinner prize.

    The PAL light provided plenty of light for Jake to find his way and he powered through the snow, thankful for his snowshoes in the deep powder. He didn’t stop. His shoulders were burning like they were on fire and he was starting to sweat. He hoped the fire in his cave was still burning, or least had hot coals, or he was going to be in trouble.

    He finally reached the cliff face and went north along the wall as fast as he could. He could still hear howling behind him and every now and again he imagined he heard something in the woods next to him, running ahead of him and beside him, but always just out of the light.

    He knew he was almost there. He was almost jogging now, a sense of urgency upon him, like a sixth sense. He saw the last broken branch and he recognized it as the one from outside his cave. He slowed down and began to look for the cave entrance. Suddenly something slammed hard into his back and knocked him the ground. He heard snarling and growling and knew instantly that it was the wolves he had heard and they had been stalking him after all. The massive pack had saved him from the rear attack, but now all that weight was on top of him and the wolves were coming in for the kill. He fought back kicking with his legs and trying to turn over. The sleeping bag full of gear rolled free and he was trying to grab the pistol from his jacket pocket when a wolf grabbed him by the pant leg and began trying to drag him, or tear his leg off, Jake couldn’t decide which. Another wolf charged in and grabbed his left arm and began jerking it, tugging Jake one way while the wolf on his leg was trying to pull him another. He saw three other wolves circling and snarling, still trying to decide when to join the fun. He knew he was done for. His adrenaline was pumping and everything was happening in slow motion. Another wolf jumped into the fray and went for his stomach, grabbing a mouthful of jacket and clothing and trying to rip into it. Jake was screaming and yelling and trying to kick and punch anything he could make contact with. Finally he managed to get his pistol out of his pocket and he swung it around at the wolf ripping at the clothing on his stomach and fired point blank into the wolfs face.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 3

    Chapter 3.

    The wolf dropped instantly and the others scattered from the noise. Jake fired two more shots after them and then collapsed back into the snow on his back. He was breathing hard and his heart was racing, the adrenaline still pumping wildly into his system. He rolled over onto his stomach and got on his hands and knees, looking around for the PAL light and keeping an eye out for the wolves. The shot would not scare them off for long and they would return as soon as their initial scare had worn off. He had to get into his cave and get a fire going and get shelter. He didn’t think he was too badly injured. His clothing was thick and layered and the wolves couldn’t get their teeth into him. His leg hurt something awful though and he was scared to look at it. There wasn’t much protection there, just a pant leg and some thermal underwear.

    He dropped the pack from his back and his hip bag and unslung the rifles and grabbed an M4, checking it automatically to see if a round was chambered. It was. He ejected the magazine and checked it with the PAL light. It was full. He inserted it back into the rifle and then stood up shakily, his left leg hurt terribly and he suspected the worst. He kept an eye on the woods and backed into the rocks, searching for his cave opening. He finally found it and backed inside. He stoked his fire and found a few coals. He added some tinder and got a flame going and then added more fuel. When he had a raging fire going, he picked up the M4 again and limped out with his flashlight on and began dragging the gear into the cave. On his second trip, he spotted a pair of eyes reflecting back at him from his flashlight and quickly put three rounds right between them. He heard a bunch of scurrying as the wolves ran off again. He limped over and saw he had nailed the wolf squarely between the eyes with all three rounds.

    He grabbed the rest of his gear and drug it into the cave then he went back out and grabbed the first wolf he had shot and drug it over to the cave as well, then the same with the second wolf. “Meat is meat” Jake thought to himself. It was going to be a very long night.

    Once the second wolf was drug over to the first one, Jake went back into his cave and collapsed on his bed of pine needles and proceeded to do a damage assessment of his injuries and gear.

    His jacket was toast. The left arm was shredded and the front was torn to ribbons. Jake was glad it was a heavy canvas outer shell because otherwise he would be dead. That wolf he had shot first had been determined to spill his guts all over the place. His arms were both battered but he could live with some bruises. He was glad that no wolves had gone for his head. That first one probably had but his pack and the sleeping bag had saved him. He checked his leg. His pant leg was bloody and he knew that wasn’t a good sign. The cave was warming up nicely and he knew he was going to have to treat his injuries before they got infected, or he was in big trouble, with a capital T.

    He moved to the entrance and shined his flashlight out. All was clear. He doubted the wolves would come back and he doubted even more that they would venture near his cave where there was fire burning and smoke and light. He had enough firewood to last the night fortunately, but he would have to gather more tomorrow. His left pant leg was in ribbons from the knee down and the thermal underwear he had on underneath was torn and bloody. He stripped his pants off and then the thermal underwear, discovering it was still cool in the cave despite the raging fire, but it was tolerable and he moved closer to the fire. With clothing on, he couldn’t feel the draft that he felt now. He put the coffee pot back on the fire and dumped water in it from his Camelback. While the water was heating, he dug a rag out of his pack and set it aside and then dug out his first aid kit. It was a very basic first aid kit but it had some gauze and some Tylenol and some Ibuprofen in it.

    He examined his wounds on his leg. The skin was ripped in several places around his calf and the wolf’s teeth had left a few deep puncture wounds that had ripped the calf muscle tissue when the wolf began tugging. All in all the wounds themselves weren’t all that serious but in this case they could prove to be deadly; he had no medication and no antibiotics and no access to medical help. He would have to improvise and make sure he kept the wounds as clean as possible and try to ward off any infection. He remembered seeing some chaparral and some other herbal plants in his walk through the woods, tomorrow he would have to gather some for a poultice while he was gathering more firewood. There was willow too and he could eat the insides of the branches. The white stuff was where aspirin came from and he could use some aspirin too.

    He heard a scuffle and some snarling outside the cave and grabbed the M4 and jumped up and went to the opening. He shined his flashlight out into the darkness just in time to see two wolves dragging one of his kills into the woods. He fired a quick shot at the more exposed wolf and was satisfied to hear it yelp and fall down, try to stand and then collapse again. Instantly three other wolves leapt out of the darkness and viciously attacked the wounded wolf on the ground, tearing at it and snarling and growling at each other. The wounded wolf tried to fight back but was quickly overcome. Jake watched in shock for a moment, obviously these wolves were extremely hungry and hard up for food. That would explain why they had attacked him, besides the smell of blood on the clothing from the two men, and why they were cannibalizing their own. Jake wasn’t sure but he thought maybe they did that anyway. He raised the M4, holding the flashlight along the barrel with his forward hand and fired at the wolves, dropping all three in the dirt. To make sure they were dead, he shot them all one more time center mass or in the head depending on which target was easiest to hit. He didn’t want any more surprises tonight and he was sure these wolves were hungry enough to try anything. After a few minutes no more wolves showed and he was starting to shake from the cold so he retreated back into the cave and sat down again by the fire.

    The water was boiling by now, so he removed the pot from the fire and set it aside. Picking up the rag, he dipped it in the hot water and began bathing his wounds, wiping the blood away and carefully cleaning the gashes. It was extremely painful, the heat was a little too hot, so he let the water cool off while he grabbed a pack from the two men and dumped its contents on the floor of the cave. He grabbed the other pack and dumped it as well, tossing them both into the corner after making sure they were empty. After gathering up all the clothing from the two packs and tossing it aside, he began going through the other contents.

    There was about 100 rounds of 223 ammo which he set with the 6 loaded magazines, a shaving kit, two gun cleaning kits, several cans of food, two stainless steel mess kits similar to his, several boxes of matches, one tent repair kit for the tent, a Zippo lighter, three disposable lighters, four packs of cigarettes, a rather large sealable container of coffee and another large bag of sugar, two first aid kits that were bigger than his, several apparently very long lengths of parachute cord – probably at least 300’ worth, a rope that looked like a rappelling rope, several carabineers and a figure eight, a rappelling harness that looked too big for him, a shoulder harnesses for each of the pistols, 3 magazines and one box of ammo for the Glock G20 10mm and 4 quick loaders and 2 boxes of ammo for the Ruger 44 Magnum revolver, a few folding knives including a TOPS Magnum Folder, two cheap looking hunting “bowie” knives, a fine, well built hatchet, some fire starting materials including a pouch filled with 0000 steel wool and four 35mm film canisters stuffed with cotton PJ balls, a diamond stone for sharpening knives, a First Need water purifier, an extra filter, a small wood burning camp stove, a lightweight metal skillet with deep sides that more resembled a pot, a coffee pot, two rolls of black electrical tape, two rolls of duct tape, several trash bags but they were the flimsy garden kind, a sewing kit, four quart size military style canteens in their pouches that had been attached to the packs, one Camelback, a medium size bottle of Tabasco, and several other odds and ends.

    He grabbed the first aid kits and opened them up. They were basic first aid kits like his but with some modifications. One kit had added to it a bottle of iodine and hydrogen peroxide. It also had some aftermarket tweezers, the really good machined kind with the precision tip, they looked to be made from titanium. There were some suture materials and needles and a small field surgery kit with scalpels and tweezers and clamps. Jake couldn’t believe his luck. The other kit was similar but had more medications and bandages.

    Obviously these guys were an experienced team and knew their stuff. They may have talked like uneducated idiots but they were apparently pretty competent and obviously used to spending time in the field. There was no useless gear or dead weight.

    He checked his water and it was still hot but cool enough to use. He dipped the rag into the hot water and then resumed bathing his leg. Once he had thoroughly cleaned the wounds, he dried off with the dry part of the rag and then retrieved the hydrogen peroxide and carefully poured it into the wounds, watching it fizzle and foam and bubble out of the wounds, carrying, hopefully, any germs and contamination with it. Once that was done, he dabbed the wounds dry again and then very carefully covered the wounds with some iodine. He couldn’t afford to waste any of it. He grabbed the bag of sugar and some gauze and an ACE bandage and after waiting for the iodine to dry, packed the wounds with sugar, covered them with the gauze, and then wrapped his leg with the ACE bandage. Filling the second coffee pot with water, he put it on the fore to boil and put his rag in the water to boil it clean.

    That would have to do he thought. He realized he was famished. Grabbing his SAK and one of the cans of mystery food (the labels were gone) he used the can opener on the SAK and opened the can. It appeared to be soup, maybe clam chowder. Replacing the lid, he placed the can near the fire on a rock and waited for it to get hot.

    Jake was comfortable for the moment. He was happy with his finds and had more peace of mind regarding his injuries now that he had some decent treatment options. He took a package of Motrin and opened it up and swallowed the two pills with a cup of water, then he took two more bags and swallowed the pills from them, about 1200 mg all together. He knew that Motrin was good to combat inflammation as well as kill the pain; it was what they issued in the Corps and the Corpsman handed them out like candy for the asking. He felt much better about his situation now.

    He gathered up the gear and arranged it in a neat pile. Taking the magazine from the M4 he had used, he grabbed the extra ammo and reloaded the magazine and then replaced it in the weapon. The pocket knives he put in his hip bag, as well as the steel wool pouch and the containers of PJ balls, adding to his supply already in the bag. The matches were put inside a waterproof bag in his pack, there were already matches in his hip bag. There was a ferrocerium rod and a magnesium block in his hip bag as well. He kept his bow and drill for now. The mess kits he set aside. The para cord, or 550 cord, he distributed between his pack and his hip bag. The rappelling rope was secured to the outside of his pack on the side. The rappelling harness actually fit just right. It was a little loose but once he had some clothes back on, it would fit perfect. The water purifier went into his hip bag.

    Jake went to the pile of clothes and dug out the insulated overalls. There was blood all over the front and back and a bullet hole on both sides. No matter, that was a problem easily solved. He put the coffee pot back in the fire and topped it off with water. His soup was hot so he ate it while waiting for the water to boil. By the time he was done with the soup, the water was boiling. Using some of the hot water, he washed the soup can out and poured the water in the back corner behind the fire. Taking the overalls, he poured the boiling water over the blood stains and scrubbed the fabric together using his hands. He poured water over it again and was happy to see most of the blood rinse away. He repeated the process until the blood was virtually gone, refilling the pot once in the process. Using some needle and thread from the sewing kit, he patched the holes back together. He dug a pink lady candle from his hip bag and lit the wick, dripping hot wax over the thread and patch work and working it in with his finger. This would hopefully seal the thread and keep any ends from fraying. He then used the Zippo lighter and holding the flame close to the fabric, melted the wax into the fabric itself.

    Satisfied with his work, he hung the overalls near the fire using his spear/walking stick as a prop so they could dry. He hunted through the other clothes and found a pair of long underwear that he tried on. They fit nicely. There was a couple of flannel shirts that he tried on and they fit also. It was like winning the lottery.

    The ID’s of the two men read John Kerry and Alex Baldwin. That was hilariously funny to Jake; the two men didn’t look like either man. He chuckled to himself. Their wallets contained over $5,000.00 between them, most likely the deposit on their contract to kill him. Evidently both were contract killers and on the Mayors payroll. There was a debit card for each man and several credit cards. Jake decided to hang on to the credit cards and see if they would work whenever he managed to find another town. He stashed the money inside his waterproof pouch in his bag, adding to the $107.32 he had up to that point. It was the only money he had left from his three days of work in the Mayors town, digging trenches for some landscape contractor for cash. It was the hobo life and he loved it. He would work enough to make a few hundred bucks and then hit the road. His only expenses were food and sometimes replacing some gear; his favorite places were Mil-Surplus stores where he had acquired his current supply of MRE’s. He loved his life, he usually had no worries but something had gone horribly wrong in the past week. “Damn women……” Jake grumbled to himself, “Nothing but trouble, trouble, trouble…….”

    Taking his rifle from where it was leaning against the wall in the cave, he checked it over for damage. It was a tough rifle with its heavy, thick match barrel and the scope was nearly indestructible. It appeared to be fine. He had chosen the Remington 700 over an assault type rifle because he was intimately familiar with it for one, and also because it was less scary to anyone who happened to see him carrying it. He had a special sack in his pack that he used to cover the rifle when traveling. It disguised it enough that people wouldn’t readily see it as a rifle, even when slung over his shoulder. Sometimes he would strap it to the side of his pack and then use his bedroll to cover it, further disguising it from casual view. He had learned that not everyone was comfortable with a drifter walking around with a rifle, especially the law enforcement. He had learned to avoid them and after a few close calls, he decided he was better off finding a good hiding spot for his gear before venturing into a town and then retrieving it when he left. So far it had saved him a lot of grief. Mostly he stuck to the backcountry and rural areas, avoiding cities like the plague and he never went into California at all, staying mostly in the Midwestern and north western and pacific north west states; south in the winter toward Arizona and north in the summer toward Idaho and Washington. Traveling as he did kept him in great physical shape and his senses alert. He happened be stuck in southwest Montana at the moment. He had been heading for Yellowstone to see it in the winter.

    He checked the overalls, they were dry. After putting on a flannel shirt, he donned the coveralls and then grabbed one of the sheepskin jackets. He took John Kerry’s jacket. Despite killing him with a knife, almost no blood had gotten on the jacket and it was the cleanest one. He would have to wash Alex’s jacket later as it was very bloody and had a bullet hole in the back where the round had exited Alex’s body. It fit him nicely and was slightly oversize. Grabbing his Walk About, he then tucked the G20 into his overall’s front pocket and grabbed an M4 and stepped outside. It was very dark and the snow was coming down hard still. The wolves could barely be seen under the layer of snow that had fallen, but they were obviously undisturbed.

    Going to the wolf closest to the cave, the one he had killed first, he drug it a ways away from the camp, keeping an eye on the woods and his ears tuned to the slightest sound. Several times he heard a snap or a creak or a crack and spun around with his M4 in one hand, expecting to see a flying, snarling fur ball come leaping at him. His PAL light put out just enough light for him to see about three feet in any direction clearly. He wished for a miner’s headlamp or something similar.

    When he was about 100 feet from the cave he dropped the wolf carcass and looked around carefully before he crouched down and taking his Walk About, sliced open the gut of the wolf. The carcass was nearly frozen solid and the guts didn’t come out. He grimaced. He should have done this immediately, but his injuries had taken priority over butchering a half starved wolf. With no other choice, he took off his sheepskin jacket and rolled up his flannel sleeves. It was mighty cold, but he could stand it for a short time. Reaching up into the body cavity, he pulled the guts out and let them hang. Taking the Walk About, he sliced around the anus and then pulled his Armageddon out and chopped off the head with four solid blows. Reaching into the body cavity again, he ripped the intestines out with the severed anus and pulled the esophagus out of the neck. Locating the heart, lungs, and liver, he grabbed them and put them back inside the carcass. Since the body had been dead for several hours and was mostly frozen, there was no blood to speak of. He unrolled his sleeves and put his jacket and gloves back on. Grabbing the hind legs, he drug the carcass back to his cave and inside. Taking his coffee pot and the pot from the men, and a collapsible 2 ½ gallon canvas water pail that was in the gear he had taken, he went back outside and loaded all with as much snow as he could cram into the containers, then he went back into the cave and set the metal containers on his rock fire ring and the canvas water pail on the ground beside it. He would use some for cleaning and some for boiling for consumption. The carcass was more frozen then he originally thought and dressing it out would be a challenge. He decided to wait until morning and see if it thawed out by then. Morning couldn’t be all that far off, this night was endless or so it seemed. He removed the heart, lungs, and liver from the body cavity and examined the liver carefully. If the animal had been sick, the liver would show some signs of it. It appeared to be perfectly healthy. It had a smooth even texture and the color was an even dark brown with no spots or blemishes. It was as healthy a looking liver as he had ever seen.

    He took the metal skillet and put some snow in it from the pail and placed it over the fire, waiting for it to boil. After it was boiling well, he put the heart and liver in the skillet and then added water from his Camelback until it was full to the brim. Fortunately the skillet had deep sides so it held a lot of water. He wished for some seasonings, but he could do without.

    As the water heated up again, he kept turning the two organs until they were completely thawed. He dumped the water out and took his Walk About and sliced the heart up into strips and then did the same with the liver. Normally he hated liver but right now he was hungry enough to eat the ass out of a Rhino. Spreading the fillets out in the pan, he put it back on the fire and cooked them up, turning them often to make sure they cooked evenly and didn’t burn.

    When they were done, he sampled one of the pieces of heart. Not too bad, but it could use something. He took the Tabasco and dribbled it all over the meat. Tabasco could make anything taste good he had heard, so he used it. It was a little hot, but it did taste a lot better. He ate the meat and then washed the pan.

    About then, he realized how tired he was. The adrenaline had worn off, but since he hadn’t stopped moving since the attack, he hadn’t crashed. It hit him like a ton of bricks suddenly and he got slightly dizzy and saw double for a minute. He decided he had done enough for the time being and banked the fire, made up his bed again, and lay down, this time inside a sleeping bag.

    He was asleep almost instantly.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 4

    Chap 4.

    He awoke instantly and lay still listening. He had no idea what had woke him, but he never woke like that without being disturbed.

    The wind was blowing over the rocks and howling through the trees. The draft in the cave had decidedly increased and the cold was, well, penetrating. He rolled over and checked his fire; it was out. Great. Just friggin great.

    Jake sat up and pulled his legs into his chest, the left one complaining loudly and painfully that all was not well this morning. Jake looked around the cave, there was some snow drifting in from an opening toward the back and some was swirling in from the opening. He looked over at his wood pile and saw he was dreadfully low on fuel. He leaned over and stirred the ashes with a stick, happy to find a few live coals still hot and burning. He gathered up some small sticks and pine needles and bunched them together over the hot coals and managed to get a flame going. He gently blew some more until it caught the pine needle and began burning, slowly engulfing the sticks as well. As the flame grew, he added some larger logs and branches. Once the fire was going again, he put one of the coffee pots against the fire and waited for it to boil.

    While he was waiting, he shrugged into the sheepskin coat and checked the G20. On second thought, he removed the coat and grabbed the shoulder holster and tried it on, adjusting it until it fit just right. He took one of the web belts and hung his Armageddon and Walk About on it and managed to get his Leatherman sheath on the belt as well. He strapped it on and secured the shoulder holster to the web belt. He checked the magazines for the G20, ensuring they were loaded and replaced them in the strong side magazine holder.

    He put the coat back on and checked his water. It was hot enough so he put three heaping spoonfuls of coffee into the pot and waited for it to boil. It was ground coffee, not instant, thank God. Instant coffee gave him the runs bad. There was no percolator though and that had him stumped as to why the men had used ground coffee instead of instant. Maybe they liked their coffee crunchy. An idea came to him and he grabbed the four military canteens from the pile and checked each of them to see if there was a canteen cup. Sure enough there was one. He removed it and thanked his lucky stars. For some odd reason he had never bought one although they were handy for all kinds of uses. Probably because he always used a Camelback for his water, he just never thought of the canteen cup when he was shopping for gear.

    He took one of the clean socks and stretched it over the top of the cup and poured the coffee in until it was full, screening the gritty coffee grains from his coffee. He put the sock aside and added some sugar to the coffee and sat back and sipped it, enjoying the warmth as it went through his body.

    Once more he wondered what had woken him. It could have been the wind, which was howling like a banshee through the trees right now, deflecting off the granite cliff he was camping under and causing snow to blow into the cave. He would have to do something about that. To leave this shelter now would be pure stupidity and most likely suicide. After the storm passed and the weather cleared, he would take some time to look around and see what was out there. For the moment he had food and water and shelter and fire.

    Food! He immediately thought of the dead wolves outside and stood up and hobbled over to the entrance, his leg was throbbing horribly. Outside the wind was blowing so hard that the trees had been blown free of most of their snow and the drifts against the cliff were piling up. He could see that in a few more hours his cave would be sealed up tight. If he was going to get more wood, it had to be now. He glanced over to the area where the wolves should be. It was covered in deep snow and he couldn’t tell if they were still there or not. He suspected they were. As he reviewed the fight in his mind, he could only recall about six wolves and he had killed at least five he thought, or was it six?

    He backed back into his cave and finished his coffee while he evaluated his situation. He had shelter but his wood was about to run out and there was at least two feet of snow on the ground. It was terribly cold, most likely below zero. He had plenty of food for the time being and lots of warm clothing, but without an external heat source, like a fire, the cold would overcome him eventually. His shelter kept him out of the wind and snow. Most likely no one would be searching for him in this weather and the mayor certainly couldn’t know his goon squad had moved on to a warmer climate, so it was unlikely he would be sending out another search party any time soon. He suddenly remembered the satellite phone and went over to the other sheepskin coat and checked the pockets. It was there. He studied it for a minute. It looked like any other cell phone he had ever seen. It was turned off to preserve the batteries and he wasn’t about to turn it on. He didn’t think it would work anyway in this weather; satellite signals are generally pretty weak and easily interrupted by weather and overhead objects. It was always a problem in the Corps when he was acting as a Forward Observer and the Sat-Link was always having trouble.

    Determined to get more wood before the storm got any worse, he pulled on the boots he had taken from Alex and tightened the laces, then tied on his snowshoes. He pulled on his gloves and buttoned up the coat. He slung the M4 cross body, barrel down, behind him. If he needed it, all he had to do was grab the barrel, pull it forward and then change his grip. He could get it into action from this position in less than a second and it would still allow him to gather wood. He wasn’t too worried about any danger though, he was probably the only idiot out in this storm, with the exception of the Abominable Snowman.

    He wrapped a scarf around his neck and face and donned his boony hat and stepped outside. The wind hit him like a wall and the exposed skin on his face stung as if a thousand needles were stabbing him. He adjusted the scarf so only his eyes were visible and walked into the woods. Instantly the wind died down to a strong breeze. That area between the wood line and the cliff face was like a wind tunnel, funneling the wind down that channel. The trees broke the wind inside the forest. There was less snow on the ground here and he walked over to the pile of dead trees he had seen before, always looking side to side and watching over his shoulder.

    There was snow covering the pile of dead wood but he managed to clear most of it and began dragging logs and branches out and making a pile. The wood was frozen and only slightly wet. He was thankful it wasn’t raining and was cold enough to keep the snow from melting onto the wood and making it wet.

    After gathering a large pile of heavy branches and logs and bark, he began dragging them back to the cave. He brought them inside and stacked them against the far wall. He continued this until he had accumulated what he thought was about three or four days worth of wood at his current consumption. Most of it was pine, so it would burn hot and fast, although it was mostly old, dried, and dense stuff so it wouldn’t burn too fast.

    He went back out and over to the area where he thought the wolves should be and prodded around in the snow with his spear until he located them. Of course they were frozen solid, but they were still there. He grabbed one of the animals and pulled it near the cave but left it outside.

    Satisfied he had done all he could outside, he went back in the cave and stoked his fire up again. By this time, the snow drifts had covered the top of the cave and the wind was no longer howling in his cave. The drafts had been sealed off and the air in the cave was still. It warmed up quickly now and he thought that a good thing since it would require less fuel to keep it warm.

    He picked up the lungs he had left out the night before and went outside and threw them away from the cave. He wasn’t really interested in eating the lungs. They didn’t taste very good in any case. The wolf carcass that was in the cave was sufficiently thawed that he could dress it out.

    First of all though, he had to check his leg. The cave was getting warm so he stripped off his coat and boots and overalls, keeping his pistol near to hand. He removed his thermals and then unwrapped the ACE bandage and carefully peeled the gauze from his wounds and threw it on the fire. The wounds had oozed a lot of fluids overnight but the sugar was doing its job and soaked everything up.

    He grabbed the pot of hot water from near the fire and his rag and proceeded to bathe the wounds clean and remove all the old sugar. Once that was done and he was dried off, he applied some more Hydrogen Peroxide and then the iodine. He decided to let the wounds air out for a while and made himself another cup of coffee. Leaning back against the rock, he sipped his coffee and relaxed.

    After a while, he repacked the wounds with sugar and applied some new gauze and rewrapped his leg. The wounds looked good, they were slightly red around the edges but that was normal. No sign of infection so far but he would have to be careful. He recalled a time once when he had been shot in the leg and had treated it himself. He had used similar treatment and packed the wound with sugar and kept it clean and it had never become infected. Sugar was good for that, continually absorbing the oozing fluids and trapping bacteria and contaminates, keeping the wound clean. It also kept the wound open so it would heal from the inside out and not close over and trap any infection inside.

    Once that was completed, he dressed himself and began dressing out the wolf. It was still pretty cold and solid and rigor had set it, but he managed, stripping the hide first using a combination of his fist and his ATAX knife. Once that was completed, he butchered the meat, separating the shoulders and hind quarters from the rib cage and spine. He used his Armageddon to chop the lower leg bones off and cut the ribs from the spine. The knife was great for that as it hacked through the bones with ease. He piled the meat near the entrance, outside but behind a rock, and then covered the meat with snow. As long as it stayed frozen, or least very cold, it would last a long time. He figured he had enough meet to last a week or longer now, in addition to his other food.

    Suddenly the urge came over him, rather intensely, that he had to relieve himself of some, well, extra cargo. He dug his ass-rag out of his hip bag, donned his heavy coat, grabbed the M4 and headed outside. The wind slapped his face again, driving all those tiny needles deep into his flesh. He went back inside and grabbed his scarf and wrapped his head, leaving only his eyes exposed, then went out again. Going into the woods, he searched for a likely spot and found a place where two rocks were spaced apart just perfect for the job. The wind wasn’t too bad here either. He situated himself and sat down, keeping the M4 across his lap while he contemplated life and how freaking cold those rocks were. He used his ass-rag to complete the mission, folded it up with the dirty stuff inside, put himself back together and returned to the cave. Once there, he used a stick to scrape the rag as clean as possible and chucked the stick out in the snow. He used one of the pots and boiled the rag until it was clean and then used fresh water and repeated it; allowing it to boil for almost a half hour before taking it out and hanging it on his spear to dry over the fire. He cleaned the pot out again and boiled water in it a third time to ensure nothing remained that could come back to bite him.

    The next three days passed slowly. He wished he had a book or something to read while sitting in his cave waiting out the storm, but he didn’t so he spent his time cleaning the hide from the wolf and scraping the fat and tissue from it. Since he had nothing to tan it with, he improvised a rack by lashing tree branches together and stretched the hide over it and suspended it over the fire and smoked it with green wood he chopped from some trees. It wasn’t the best, but it did dry out the hide. After smoking it for a few hours, he took it down and beat it thoroughly and worked it in his hands until it was well broken in.

    After this he cut off a long section and turned in hair side up and stripped the hair off with the edge of his knife. When that was done, he cut several long thin strips for latigo. He took his sheath for his Armageddon and made a pattern on the hide. After he cut it out, he punched holes all along the sides with his awl on the SAK. Stretching the hide tight around the sheath he laced it together, with the laces on the back of the sheath. On the front, he made a slit across the hide near the top of the sheath about three inches from the top. Taking the tin can from the soup, he cut it in half and then removed the bottom. He flattened it out and folded it in half then trimmed an inch off of one side. He took some of the strike-anywhere matches, one of the three magnesium blocks he had, a ferrocerium rod, a chunk of the steel wool, and about four feet of snare wire. Using the wax from the pink lady candle, he waterproofed the heads of the matches. He used the snare wire to tie everything together in a relatively flat bundle and inserted it into the center of the folded tin. Then he took the duct tape and wrapped the tin with a few wraps to hold it tightly together and keep moisture out. He inserted in the slit in the hide on the sheath and then tied in securely with a length of 550 cord to keep it from falling out. He now had a mini kit of fire starting materials that would always be on him, no matter what.

    He worked on several crafts over the three days including making some gloves, patching and cleaning the other coat, and packing and securing all the gear. He managed to get it all packed and tied to the largest pack, his hip bag, and one of the smaller packs he modified so it attached to the top of the large main pack. He used some straight branches to act as a frame and it worked great to hold everything together. It was tall enough he could secure his 308 to the side of the pack and it was completely hidden by the pack and his bedroll, which covered the rifle as it lay over the top of the pack and hung down both sides.
    He tied the best of the two sleeping bags to the bottom of the pack and bundled the meat in the remaining hide and lashed it the back of the pack. During the three days he had decided to butcher another of the wolves and smoke all the meat so it would preserve longer and hopefully eliminate the attractive smell as well. He made a bundle of jerky in the process. It was the first time he ever eaten wolf and it didn’t taste half bad.

    He felt good. His leg was doing well and hadn’t become infected and the wounds were closing nicely. His arms were bruised, but that didn’t bother him. He took one of the M4’s and stripped it down and managed to get it packed. The other he kept handy and put the magazine pouches on his web belt with his knives and the Ruger in a holster he had fashioned from some of the old clothes. His original pistol, an HK USP Compact 45, he had stashed in his hip bag, as well as the spare magazines, quick loaders, and extra ammo. It was quite a load, but manageable.

    On the fourth day, the storm broke and the sun dawned on a clear sky. The wind died and the snow sparkled in the sunlight. The temperature was rather warm by comparison of the previous week. He decided to move. The mayor would no doubt be wondering about his two goons and be sending others out to search for them and him. No doubt it would be more than two people this time around.

    He extinguished his fire, stacked the remaining wood against a wall, and threw the clothes and other stuff he had no use for in the spare pack and hung it in the cave. If he or anyone else ever came back through here, maybe it would be of some use. After policing the cave for any gear he may have missed, he doubled checked his pack to make sure it was securely lashed and tied; his 308 was attached to the side and hidden.

    He put on his snowshoes, coat, web belt, and hip bag, then shrugged into his pack, adjusted it, and slung the M4 in the tactical front ready position. He grabbed his spear/walking stick and set out.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 5

    Chapter 5

    The sun was bright against the snow and he wished for some sunglasses, but wishes never solved anything so he just squinted and walked on. When he came to the meadow, he veered east and followed the tree line, skirting the edge of the clearing and keeping the granite cliff on his left. Yellowstone was somewhere to the south. He figured he was heading into the Gallatin National Forest. He had had all his trouble in Emigrant, Montana and he had fled east from there. The last map he had looked at, the one hanging on the wall at the ranger station he passed just outside of Pray, Mt, had shown the Gallatin National Forest was between him and Cooke City; he had friends there he could hole up with for a few weeks. The National Forest was the perfect way to escape and evade his pursuers. The small town of Emigrant sure had a lot of things going on behind the scenes for a town of only 372 people. He had been heading south on highway 540 out of Livingston, making his way toward Yellowstone and then further south. He had always wanted to see Yellowstone in the wintertime. He wasn’t worried about the gun laws for the State Park; since he was on foot, he planned to elude all of the check points and stay away from any Rangers. They usually weren’t much trouble in any case since he was a foot traveler and was usually passing through. All of his run-ins to date had been uneventful and the Rangers were usually more than happy to let him continue on his way after sharing some hot coffee around a fire and infatuating them with some of the tall tale adventure stories he had to share. By the time they parted company, the Rangers were always so envious of his life that they just wished him luck and hoped to meet again some day. His friends in Psy-Ops had taught him a few tricks for getting people to see things his way. The few that tried to cause him trouble quickly saw the error of their ways and by the time he finished with them, they were more than willing to let him be on his way.

    Heading East into Gallatin National Forest, he intended to lose any pursuit and disappear into the mountains. He knew it was going to be tough and probably suicide, but it was better than getting caught, framed, and rotting in a jail somewhere; or dead from a bullet.

    He continued east and kept on. Checking his back trail continuously and memorizing the landscape so if he had to return, he would be familiar with the look of the terrain and less likely to get lost. Lost…. He chuckled to himself. That had never happened yet. Basic land navigation skills using landmarks and the sun, stars, and shadows made it very difficult to get truly lost. Panic was the real enemy, but he wasn’t even close to panicking; being as comfortable in the woods as most people were in their homes; although that wolf attack had left him a bit jumpy lately.

    A mountain loomed high to the north east and continued around westward and met with the same mountain that the granite cliff was a part of. It continued around southward and circled the valley, creating a bowl. He guessed it was about fifteen miles to the base of the mountain range, too far for him to trek in a day over deep snow with a heavy pack.

    To the south, the mountains appeared to drop in elevation and there was deep saddle between two prominent peaks that looked like a likely pass. Everything was covered in snow; at least two feet deep in the valley and the trees were loaded. The mountains were covered and he could see the shear rock faces and rocky crags where the snow couldn’t rest or was blown clear; stark black against the pure white snow. Heading in that direction, he continually made mental notes to himself about landmarks, keeping him oriented and on course.

    He decided to cross the wide meadow and risk the chance of being seen, however unlikely it may be. He would stand out like a sore thumb against the white snow but he continued anyway. Halfway across the meadow he spotted several dark patches in the snow about a mile away. He watched them for a while and when one of them began moving, he realized it was herd of elk or some other kind of deer. Although he didn’t need any meat at the moment, it was good to know there was meat on the hoof available. Hopefully the weather would hold for a while; he wasn’t eager to get stuck in another storm.

    He journeyed a few more miles, crossing the meadow and going deep into the woods. He kept his eye on the sun and when he determined he had about four hours of daylight left, he began scouting for a good camping spot; one that would offer shelter and a good defensible position. The terrain had become more rugged and several times he had passed outcroppings of rock and shale. A few washes he had crossed had some deep undercut banks. In the rainy season he wouldn’t consider such a spot, but he found it unlikely that there would be a flash snow flood to carry him away. It was such an area he was watching for now.

    He traveled over a low rise and saw the valley spread out below him to the south. The view was breathtaking; the snow gleamed in the sun and the forest thinned out and there were incredible old growth Engelmann Spruce trees towering almost 200’ in the air and loaded with snow on the upper branches, slightly shorter Douglas firs dotted the landscape intermittently throughout the valley. He spotted several varieties of pine and there was plenty of undergrowth mixed in. The mountains rimmed the valley far to the south, jutting straight out of the earth probably a few thousand feet by Jake’s estimation. There was a large boulder to his right that jutted up into the air about 40 feet or so and had some smaller boulders jumbled around it, creating a hollow near the base of the big boulder. There was some Bitterbrush and Mountain Mahogany growing near and around the boulders. It wasn’t the best, but it did offer a windbreak and some shelter from snow, as well as a reflector for the fire and a defensible position where his back wouldn’t be exposed.

    He dropped his pack and walked around the boulders; seeing a way to climb up the big one, he checked it for ice and carefully made his way up to the top. Once there, he stood up and the view was even more spectacular now that he was above the immediate vegetation. Across the valley was another clearing, lower down and to the west. There was something big in the middle of it and he could almost swear it was a building of some sort. He checked the sun, it was getting late and it was a long ways away to that building. If he was wrong, he would have to make his camp in the dark and he wasn’t fond of that idea; it was just plain hard to make camp in the dark.
    The wolf attack from a few days ago had left him wary and on guard; he couldn’t guarantee that all the bears were in hibernation and there was bound to be a mountain lion or some other hungry meat eater out looking for a free meal of wolf jerky, smoked wolf, or fresh Jake. He doubted they liked MRE’s and canned food was too hard to open without opposable thumbs.

    Against his better judgment, he decided to go see what was in the meadow. He removed the 308 from its place on his pack and used the scope to scan the clearing and the object. It was definitely a building, an old barn by the look of it, and in horrible disrepair. A building was better than a rock, in Jakes opinion. Shouldering his pack again, he picked a few landmarks for bearing and direction and started out. The trees were not so dense here and fairly spread out, allowing plenty of sunlight to penetrate to the forest floor. It was peaceful and quiet, a few birds were singing, but otherwise there was no sound except the crunch of the snow under his snowshoes. They were holding up well but the weight was beginning to take its toll on the soft willow branches he had used. He would have to fix them up or make new ones soon.

    The meadow was further away than he had thought and by the time he reached it, the shadows were growing and the sun was turning the sky pink and red as it sank toward the horizon. He stopped at the tree line and surveyed the empty meadow. There was the barn; a fairly big one, but old; very, very old. The roof was barely hanging on and sections of it had fallen in. The walls were very worn by weather and the boards were twisted and warped and many had fallen off. It looked rather unsafe, but on the other hand it had survived the last bad storm a few days ago and was still standing.

    He examined the rest of the clearing, looking for any signs of anything out of place. He wondered about the barn. If there was a barn here it stood to reason that there was a house nearby. It was much too big to be a line shack. He guessed it would have been used for hay storage if the ranchers had grown hay here at one time. It was obviously long abandoned so he wasn’t too worried about the owner coming by and kicking him out.

    After satisfying himself that there was no obvious danger in the vicinity, he made for the barn, keeping alert to his surroundings as he went, the walking stick in his left hand and his right hand was on the pistol grip of the M4, thumb on the safety, ready to bring it into action in an instant. The barn grew larger as he got closer and he saw the damage was quite intensive. Father Time and Mother Nature had worked this place over well, blasting it with rain and snow and wind and sun for decades at least. It had to be at least 75 years old by his guess, maybe older. The knarled wood was gray and ancient looking and snow was piled on any horizontal surface that would catch it. The snow on the metal roof, what was left of it, had slid off and created a huge drift against the walls of the barn. He walked around it slowly, ready for any surprises be it man or beast. As he got to the far side opposite his approach, he noticed another building came off the barn and the windows were boarded up and the roof was intact. There was a chimney on one side but no smoke was coming from the top. So far it looked empty.

    Walking around the back of the end of the small building, he went to a boarded up window and tried to see inside through the gaps in the wood but it was dark inside and he couldn’t see anything. He continued around to the west side and noticed that the setting sun was shining directly at the front door of the cabin, which he now assumed was a living quarters at some point in time; probably a line shack of sorts that was used during harvest time or by line riders in the winter. He went to the front door and tried the knob. It turned under his hand, squeaking loudly, and he carefully pushed it open with his walking stick, holding his M4 in his right hand and pointing the muzzle at the opening, standing to the side in case anything came barreling out of the door.

    Nothing happened.

    He peered around the jam and looked inside. There was a large plank table in the center of the room, an old pot bellied stove in the corner, a few chairs scattered around the room, and a counter along one wall with some cabinets above it that he assumed was the kitchen. The boarded up window above the counter had an old bar across the top and a few remnants of what must have been a window curtain at one time hung in ragged strips from it. He stepped inside and noticed there was a wall with a door on the barn side, but the wall was too close to be a part of the barn so it had to be a room. Everything was covered with dust and cobwebs. The dirt on the floor was thick, in a corner he saw a packrats nest, and there was evidence of bird droppings on the floor. He looked up and noticed that the rafters were exposed and there was an opening in the gable where the birds must have gained their access. It was obvious no one had been here in a very long time.

    He went to the other door and pushed it open with his stick, standing to the side once again, and waited, half expecting a banshee to come screaming out at him. Again, nothing happened. For some reason this place gave him the creeps and he found himself looking over his shoulder as if he was being watched. A shiver went down his spine.

    It was the perfect shelter though and he didn’t want to leave it this late in the evening since it was highly unlikely he would find anything better.

    He stepped through the door into the other room and looked around. There was a window in the room, boarded on the outside, but still had drapes hanging raggedly from a bar across the top. Streams of sunlight shone through cracks in the walls and the boarded window, illuminating the room enough to see and highlighting the dust floating in the air. There was a bed against the back wall centered in the room and a nightstand on the right side. An oil lamp stood on the nightstand, draped with cobwebs and dust. The bed had covers on it but they were obviously ancient and looked like they would disintegrate if he touched them. There was another door that he presumed led to the barn and he ignored it.

    Looking around further, he noticed a closet in the corner and opening the door found an old lever action rifle in the corner, badly rusted and covered with cobwebs and dust like everything else in this place, the wood stock had been gnawed by rodents and was dried out and twisted. On a shelf near the top of the closet were several boxes of ammo, evidently for the rifle. It was ancient 45-70 ammo. He reached for a box and the cardboard shell fell apart in his hands, exposing the rounds lined up in their inner case. He pulled a round out and examined it. It was badly corroded and the lead tip was green and growing white deposits that looked like salt. He put it back and noticed a jacket hanging against the wall opposite the rifle. He took the jacket out and saw it was an oilskin canvas duster, full length with a riding split; a cowboy’s slicker. He looked in the pockets and found a piece of paper with some faded writing on it. He could barely make it out as some of the letters were faded out and the others were almost unreadable.

    “500 he..d…..trail to..Livin.sto..e…..Del..v..r next mon..h
    ’63 Ranch… On h….d, 12..0 he..d, D..c...14, 1894…”

    As near as he could make out, the note read that 500 head were to be delivered to Livingston the next month and they had 1200 head on hand as of Dec 14, 1894. So this barn was at least 112 years old. He knew the ’63 Ranch. It was a Guest Ranch just south of Livingston, established in 1863, it was declared a historic landmark in 1984 or thereabouts, if he recalled correctly. Evidently this barn had been abandoned a long, long time ago as he knew this was not ’63 land anymore, if it ever was. He couldn’t be that far north, since he had left Emigrant heading directly east and south. He couldn’t fathom what this barn was doing here; in a place which was really far south from the ’63, and obviously out of place. He shrugged his shoulders at the thought and dropped the paper back in the pocket of the slicker.

    The slicker was a big one, he guessed it was big enough to wear over the sheepskin coat he had. The oilskin had preserved it well but the years had taken their toll and the slicker was in bad shape, despite the oil in the canvas, and a rodent or two had helped itself to some of the fabric at the bottom of the slicker. He put the slicker back in the closet and looked around the room again. There was a dresser against the wall behind the door and he went over to it, pulling out the drawer’s one at a time starting at the bottom. The dresser was empty. He pushed the top drawer back in and returned to the main room.

    There was a stack of wood against the wall to the right of the pot bellied stove fireplace. If that wood was over a hundred years old as well, it would burn fast and hot. He went over to the stove and opened the door. The hinges were badly rusted and he had to pull hard. The stove was full of wood, as if someone had stocked it against cold weather and never returned to start it.

    He noticed an old straw broom in the corner by what he considered to be the kitchen. He grabbed it and took it outside and banged the cobwebs off against the wall and then went inside and swept off the table, the chairs, and did a quick sweep of the floor and pushed it all outside. Amazingly, the broom held up and didn’t fall apart. Sweeping stirred up the dust a lot in the room though and made him cough.

    He took off his pack and leaned it against the table, shrugging his shoulders and working out the stiff muscles. The pack was heavier than he was used to, but it didn’t bother him much. He dug into his hip/shoulder bag for the Zippo lighter and went over to the stove and saw that some tinder actually remained inside, stuffed under the logs. It was a mixture of old shredded bark and shaved wood. He lit the Zippo and put it to the tinder. It lit almost instantly, much like he thought it would. The fire roared to life in seconds and he shut the door and managed to open the damper without too much swearing. He could feel the heat almost immediately.

    He went to the kitchen counter and swept it off with the broom; then looked in the old cabinets but there was nothing to be found. He looked in the cabinets under the counter and found an old cast iron skillet and a large coffee pot, some silverware, some old metal plates, and some other kitchen odds and ends. He found a rusted spatula and a two pronged meat fork. Then he found several large candles hiding toward the back and still intact which he lit and set and on the table. Everything was far too rusted to be used though so he left it alone.

    It was amazing to him that this barn had just been abandoned like this and apparently no one had ever come back, or discovered this place. He was certain someone would have helped themselves to a free rifle and whatever else was to be had. He found that curious, and also found himself looking over his shoulder repeatedly for no apparent reason. He had the feeling of being watched, as if he was treading on forbidden ground or violating someone’s space. Another shiver went down his spine and left goose bumps on his back and the hairs on his neck stiff.

    He shrugged it off and sat down carefully in one of the chairs, making sure it would support him and then he dug into his pack and got out his skillet and a can of food and the smoked wolf meat. He opened the can with his SAK can opener and saw it was pork and beans. Perfect. He poured the beans into the skillet and sliced some of the smoked wolf meat into the pan and stirred it up. He placed the skillet on the stove top and waited for it warm up. The area immediately around the stove was warm, but the room was much too drafty to heat much more than that. While the food was warming up, he took his coffee pot and filled it with snow and set it on the stove to boil. He swept off the floor around the stove until it was satisfactorily clean and unrolled his bedroll and the sleeping bag, placing his hip bag down to use as a pillow.

    The sun had set and there was no moon. Suddenly out in the darkness came a high pitched scream that made him duck for cover and the hairs on his head and neck stand up straight. It was long and high pitched and wavered for a minute and then subsided. It sounded like a woman being tortured, or a teapot blowing its relief valve; only much more hideous. The sound left him shaken, more than a slight shiver went down his back again and the hairs on his neck and arms and back was stiff and he suddenly felt very cold, despite being near the fire and wearing layers of warm clothes. He had his pistol in his hand, he couldn’t remember drawing it. He stared at the open door for a minute as if it was a portal to his worst nightmare, expecting any moment to see something come rushing through it. That scream wasn’t the sound of any animal he had ever heard and was positively not human.

    He cautiously stood up and then bolted to the door and slammed it shut, grabbing a chair and shoving the back up against the door knob, wedging it shut. He doubted the old walls and door would sustain a heavy impact, but he hoped that whatever had screamed wouldn’t try to get in.

    He grabbed the M4 and kept it close to hand. He didn’t know what the hell that was but the fear stayed with him, refusing to let up. Subconsciously he remembered his food on the stove and went over and grabbed the skillet off the stove, never taking his eyes off the doors and windows. Setting the skillet on the table, he pulled a glove off and went over and checked his water by sticking his finger in it. That snapped him out of his trance as he plunged his finger into the almost boiling water.

    “OW!! DAMNIT!!” He yelled, immediately pulling his finger out and sticking it in his mouth in a vain attempt to quell the pain. It slowly subsided and he examined the damage. Just a little redness was all. He dumped some coffee into the pot and stirred it with his spoon. After a few minutes, he poured it into his canteen cup, not bothering to strain it and put his glove back on.

    He was just beginning to calm down when something very large and heavy began brushing against the back wall of the cabin, scraping along it and making the wood creak and groan. There were no trees near the building and no wind in any case so he knew that wasn’t the cause. He grabbed his M4 and held it at the ready, following the sound as it moved along the wall toward the end of the room. His heart was pounding in his ears and he was trying to keep his breathing normal, forcing the fear down.

    Suddenly the scream came again, this time louder and much closer and with a higher pitch, warbling at the end and then dying out. Jake dropped the rifle and grabbed his ears, the sound was excruciating and his head felt like it was going to split.

    The noise along the wall stopped and he waited, almost holding his breath, not sure if he should even breathe. He grabbed up the rifle again, holding it ready. There was shuffling noise near the door and something pushed on it, then there was nothing.

    He waited, barely breathing, for what seemed like hours. His nerves were on edge, his legs felt weak, his hands were shaking, his heart was pounding, and his mind was imagining things; or was it? He wasn’t sure if heard a noise at the back of the cabin or not. There…. Another one coming from the barn side…. He turned slightly at each sound, pointing his rifle in that direction, prepared to fire at anything.

    The scream came again, from the back of the building this time and then there was a loud sound as if a strong wind was suddenly blowing over the small cabin. It started slow and then built to a crescendo like the rush of a freight train overhead, then died off slowly and vanished.

    The fear was incredibly strong; he had never experienced anything like it. The urge was overwhelming to just run out the door and into the night, to get away, to go anywhere else. He fought the panic in his mind. “What are you?!” he half shouted it at the walls, almost expecting an answer. The answer he got was another scream, or rather two of them, this time from each side of the building. He dropped his rifle again and grabbed his head, covering his ears, and fell to his knees bending over at the waist until his head touched the floor.

    “Crap. There’s two of them?!..... WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU?!” He yelled the last part. Something crashed against the back and front walls, shaking the entire building to its core and Jake thought for a second it would come down on top of him. He decided to shut up and keep quiet.

    The fear was tearing at his mind. It was unnatural. He had never experienced anything like it in his life. He fought it, pushing it down. It was becoming a real tangible thing. It was crawling over his skin, and darkening his eyes. The room seemed to close in, shrink, and a dark shadow seemed to creep along the walls and floor, spreading to the roof above and absorbing the light as it went. He was on the verge of going completely insane.

    He rose to one knee, picking up the rifle and keeping it at the ready, aimed toward the obvious entry point of the front door. It became deathly quiet. There was no sound at all except the pounding in his ears as his heart raced.

    He finally regained control of himself and forced himself to take slow deep breaths and try to slow his heart down. It was like he was battling some other force, or power. He felt his heart slow down and he kept his breathing controlled. Slowly, his senses calmed down and his mind cleared. The shadows faded from his vision. He looked around the room and everything was still together. His food was still on the table. It was cold. So was his coffee. He put both back on the stove and added fuel to the fire.

    His legs and arms were still shaking slightly as the adrenalin ran its course through his body. After an hour had passed and there was nothing further, he began to settle down some more. He seriously doubted he would sleep at all tonight. His mind was still racing trying to come up with a rational explanation of what he had just experienced.

    The M4 felt pitifully inadequate to him. He wasn’t sure if any weapon would feel adequate. He had already dropped it twice just from the scream. The experience had left him at a loss for an explanation; the place was haunted, that was the best he could do. He called it The Fear. There was no other name he could give it. Well, The Fear had certainly succeeded if that was its intent. He hoped it didn’t come back and he wondered exactly what would happen if The Fear did get him. Jake didn’t want to find out.

    His food was hot; the beans were bubbling. He removed the skillet and his coffee and sat down and ate the food, the entire time his ears felt like they were growing out of his head trying to listen for any little sound and thumped at every little noise, causing him to jump. Except there was nothing at all; it was deathly silent, not even a creak of old wood in the cold.

    Jake sat very still and waited, listening intently. Something wasn’t right. The cold was gone, but it wasn’t warm either. His breath was no longer visible in the room, and it had been freezing in the air only a minute before. He noticed the air was cool, bordering on warm. How could that be? He was sure it had been below freezing only a minute before.

    He slowly looked around the room, nothing had changed that he could see; the fire was still burning. That must be it. The fire had finally warmed the room and he just hadn’t noticed it. He relaxed some more and resumed eating his food, sipping his coffee, and tried to resume feeling normal.

    He had just begun feeling better when he heard a click and a board creaked somewhere. Instantly his senses went back into alert mode and reached out and put his hand on the M4, slowly lifting it and bringing it back to him, his eyes and ears straining to detect anything. The front door moved slightly and he watched in dismay as the doorknob slowly turned and the door pushed again and creaked loudly.

    The chair held.

    Jake was tempted to put a round through the door, but he still had some rational thought and realized he had a very finite amount of ammo and he better not waste it; he wasn’t at all sure it would be effective in any case and he may well just be wasting it if he did. He wasn’t at all sure that there was anything to shoot at in the first place. Bullets don’t work against spirits.

    The Fear was back. It was creeping into his mind and subconscious and spreading like a dark shadow into his eyes and senses. He fought it with all his will and felt it subside, but it didn’t go away, it was like holding panic at bay.

    Something crashed hard against the wall behind him and he spun around and saw the boards across the window over the counter crack and break, but they remained in place. The cabin shook to its core from the impact and dust fell from the rafters.

    He felt it now, he could actually feel it. Fear; and terror; stark terror that penetrated his soul and he felt the overwhelming urge again to go running into the night, screaming and flailing his arms helplessly as whatever it was overtook him and swallowed him up. The panic was rising in his chest and he wanted to scream.

    He snapped out of the nightmare and came back to reality. The building still stood. Whatever it was, The Fear, hadn’t gained entry yet. For an instant he wondered what would have happened to him had he been camped outside in the open away from the protection of this ancient cabin. The thought came to him suddenly that he was trespassing here; the spirit or creature or things, out in the darkness, wanted him to leave; they were trying to drive him out. The more he considered it, the more it made sense and he became convinced that was the reason for the assault against him.

    He looked around the room again; then, almost in a whisper, spoke to the empty space around him, “If you want me to leave, stop attacking. I’ll go.”

    Everything became quiet. Unnaturally quiet. He took that as his cue and hurriedly packed his bedroll, sleeping bag, and other gear back into his pack. Tying it down rapidly and making sure it was tight. He threw the pack on his back and grabbed the M4 and started for the door. Before he removed the chair he looked around the room and then said again, in a quiet voice, “I’m leaving. Will you let me pass?”

    Instantly, as though responding to his question, there were four screams like the first one, from each side of the cabin. The walls crashed and the building moaned. The floor bucked upward and Jake fell to his knees, dropping his rifle and grabbing his head again. The sound of rushing freight trains came back, stronger than before, and lasted for what seemed like an eternity and then slowly faded away. The screams continued, without fading for what seemed like hours. Jake thought he was going to die, the screams penetrating his head and causing piercing pain through his ears. The walls continued to be assailed and the wood was cracking and coming loose from the assault. The Fear came on him stronger than ever and the terror made his heart skip, his body shook from the adrenalin and he no longer had any rational thought. He screamed up at the ceiling, grabbing his ears in pain and fear. The last thing he saw was the roof being ripped away and the debris flying up into the clear, starry sky. Something slammed hard into his head and he fell backward onto his pack. His vision tunneled as blackness closed in and then the light went out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 6

    Chapter 6.

    Jake was standing in a square room. There were no doors and no windows. He wasn’t aware of a ceiling. Everything was black but there was an ambient light that seemed to emanate from the bottom of the walls and softly lit the room. There was a gray fog drifting slightly over the floor, obscuring the floor itself from sight. Across the room stood a woman and she looked gorgeous; he watched her standing there, her back to him. Her hair was blonde and flowing and reached halfway down her back. She was dressed in a thin red summer dress that flattered her figure and sparked his desire. He stared at her, smiling to himself; her golden shoulders and slim arms showing sensual muscular tone and her skin was impossibly smooth. He couldn’t help himself and he walked up to her and touched her lightly on the shoulder. She turned around and Jake staggered and fell backward in terror. Her face was the face of a wolf; the eyes were smoldering red and the lips were pulled back in a snarl, showing rows of gleaming white, razor sharp teeth; drool was cascading freely from its mouth and dripping to the floor. The jaws opened and he heard the scream of The Fear again. The feeling of terror returned and fear conquered him again and he scrambled backward on his hands, screaming in terror.

    Jake awoke with a start, drenched in sweat; his heart pounding, his breathing ragged, and his eyes refused to focus; he grabbed his head, holding it in his hands while he tried to stop shaking.

    He realized he was sitting in the same position he fallen in when something hit his head, his pack supporting him from falling over. His M4 was beside him. His head was pounding like a drum and he felt dizzy. He felt his forehead; it was covered in dried blood.

    He felt hot. He wondered if he had a fever or something. He was trying to recall everything that had happened and come to some rational conclusion. He looked up and saw the roof was indeed gone, the clear blue sky was impossibly blue above him and the sun was rising, shining hot into the room. “So I didn’t imagine that part anyway….” He leaned his head back and tried to relax, attempting to ease the pounding in his head. What had happened last night? Was it a freak storm that took the roof? And what was all that screaming and crashing from? It was a nightmare no matter how he looked at it. He closed his eyes, enjoying the sun and the heat, not moving.

    He must have dozed off because when he awoke, the sun was high in the sky, directly over him. He thought several hours had passed and judging by the sun, it must be the afternoon. Wiggling out of his pack, he staggered to his feet, carrying the M4 in his left hand. He swayed slightly on his feet trying to get his eyes to focus and his head cleared. His mind was still clouded and he couldn’t seem to think clearly. He looked slowly around the room. Except for the roof being completely gone, there was nothing out of place; except for a very large chunk of wood lying near where he had been sitting.

    He stumbled over to the stove and opened the door. The fire was out and there was nothing but fine ash in its place. No wood at all. He looked over to the wood pile. It was gone.

    “What the hell….?” He stood up slowly, trying to get his mind to think. He automatically felt for his pistol in the shoulder holster. It was still there, as were all his knives and other gear. His hip bag was still slung over his shoulder. He removed his pistol and checked it; fully loaded and chambered, just as he had left it. He checked the M4; same condition.

    He looked back at the stove and then he noticed it was covered in a thick layer of rust, in fact, it looked as though it had been exposed to the elements for years. “What……?” He went over to the table and sat down in a chair. It immediately crumbled under his weight and he tumbled to the floor, sprawling on his back. He just lay there for a long time trying to get his mind to clear and think rationally about what had happened since yesterday.

    The sun was scorching hot and he was sweating profusely. He hadn’t noticed until now. He rolled over and got to his hands and knees and sat up on his heels. He stripped the heavy sheepskin coat off and laid it over his pack. He was still wearing his flannel, two undershirts, thermal underwear, and the insulated overalls. It was still hot, but slightly better without the coat. He undid the overalls and the shoulder holster and removed the shirts. Even with a naked upper torso, he was still warm. A slight breeze came through and it was refreshingly cool, not cold like he would expect, being the middle of winter and almost 2 feet of snow on the ground. He put the web belt back on to support the overalls and let the shoulders just hang.

    Jake was a well developed man. His hobo life of traveling the world on foot, always carrying a pack, and eating lean had left his body hard and virtually fat free. His shoulders were wide and strong, his delts and traps well developed from years of carrying a pack. He didn’t have much insulation in the way of fat to keep him warm, so he was surprised that after he removed all his shirts he was still remarkably warm.

    He gave up. There was simply no explaining anything, at least not right now. He shook his head and tried to clear it again, the flashback of his nightmare sent shivers down his spine. Digging his pack open, he retrieved a first aid kit and took another 1200mm of Motrin. He drank almost his entire 100 oz Camelback. He realized he was thirsty; thirsty like he hadn’t had a drop of water in years.

    After a moment, he dug into his hip bag and pulled out several pieces of the jerky. Chewing on them, he sat back against the wall and tried not to think about anything. He was enjoying the sunlight, the warmth, the gentle breeze, and 20 minutes later, the effects of the Motrin. His headache lessened greatly and his thoughts seemed to clear up tremendously.

    He chugged more water and then stood up and grabbed his M4 and went to the front door. He removed the chair, which fell apart when he grabbed it. “That’s strange” he thought, the chairs had been pretty sturdy last night. He examined the remains closer and they appeared to him to be greatly weather worn and completely deteriorated. It hurt to think so he didn’t try, he just stood there and stared for several minutes in a daze. He looked around the room again and this time he noticed that everything seemed to have aged incredibly since last night, as if the roof had been missing for years and everything inside exposed to the elements. He couldn’t understand it.

    He carefully opened the door, almost expecting to see a pack of wolf-women waiting to devour him. He stood in the doorway for several minutes and looked out over the valley in utter disbelief, blinking and rubbing his eyes to make sure he wasn’t seeing things, he looked again. He must be hallucinating.

    There was no snow. Not a drop.

    The trees appeared to be where he thought they should be, but something was different about them; they looked older somehow, and, well, different. He turned around and went back inside and shut the door, waited a few minutes, pinched himself, slapped his face hard enough to make sure he was awake, then opened the door again.

    Yup, still no snow. And the weather was warm and the sun was hot.

    He scratched his head, trying to make his current situation make sense. He couldn’t. One thing was for certain though, he wasn’t about to stay here and wait for The Fear to return again tonight. He put one of the lighter shirts back on and then dug a pair of heavy canvas jeans from his pack and put them on in place of the overalls. He put the shoulder holster back in place, wrapped the other clothes up and stuffed everything in the packs. The heavy coats were tied to the top. He managed to get the pack back on and grabbed his M4, swaying a little from the heavy weight; the pack must weight around 80 pounds or so. He looked around for his spear/walking stick and found it, only it was terribly old looking and the wood was rotted and the paracord wrap was gone altogether. That was strange. He left it and went out the door. Jake decided to make another as soon as possible.

    The valley as far as he could see was a lush green and the grass in the meadow was thick and tall. He decided to head back west and return to civilization and leave this cursed forest, he would head back towards Emigrant and then north to Livingston, and anywhere else from there. “Feels like the damn twilight zone.” He mumbled out loud as he walked away from the barn, fighting the urge to run. He turned around and looked back and was only slightly surprised to discover the entire attached barn was completely gone; only the single room cabin he been in was still there. He shrugged in resignation and disbelief and continued on his way.

    He headed directly west, keeping an eye to the north trying to locate his big granite cliff. He had hiked barely 6 miles from his cave the day before and he should be able to see the cliff face easily. The cave! He suddenly decided to go back to it and see if that had changed as well.

    Without the deep snow hindering his travel, he made good time. After a short trek he saw his granite face and then came to the meadow he had crossed in the snow. When he reached the edge of the big clearing, he stopped behind a large tree and carefully surveyed the area in front of him. The immediate vicinity was clear of any danger and he saw nothing but the tall green grass which was bending slightly in the breeze. There were some boulder outcroppings scattered around the field he didn’t recall seeing yesterday; but then again, they were most likely covered with snow. As he looked farther away down the valley, he noticed several large black objects sitting in the clearing. He wished he had some binoculars; the objects were too far away for him to make out what they were.

    He took off his pack and untied his 308, detaching the scope by releasing the tactical quick release on the rings and scoped out the valley where the objects were.

    “What in the world……??”

    He counted four twisted and shelled out hulls of what he was fairly certain used to be M1A1 Abrams tanks and three Bradley Fighting vehicles, or were they old LAV’s? He couldn’t tell. They had been shelled and bombed and the wreckage was complete; and old. Even at this distance he could see the rust and decay. His scope had an MP8 reticule and he could use it for ranging targets, but these were too far away for his scope to range. He guessed they were a good three miles distant. There was lots of brush and undergrowth around the vehicles and there was a massive twisted tree growing out of one of the tanks where the turret should have been. He slowly scanned the rest of the area and saw a few spots where the terrain didn’t look right and wondered if there were more vehicles buried there.

    Jake was perplexed. To his knowledge there was not a military base within 500 miles, save for a National Guard post here and there. But the NG didn’t usually have these vehicles available to them, at least as far as he knew. And why were they blown up? Even more concerning was the fact they were blown up here, in Montana, in America. He knew he wasn’t on a training base and there weren’t any in this part of Montana to his knowledge.

    He stopped for second. He was still in Montana, right? He could plainly see his granite cliff directly north of him and even without the snow, he recognized it plainly. This was getting stranger by the hour. Jake decided not to move and just stay right here for the night. It was getting late anyway and the sun was beginning to set. He scanned the area again, sweeping back and forth, pausing on anything that grabbed his attention and worked his way closer and closer back to his position. He located a creek running across the valley just south of him and decided to make a camp over there. In one section of the valley he spotted a huge heard of Elk with a lone Moose, evidently having an argument over grass rights. Closer to him, he saw another wreck, it appeared to be a military HMMWV (Pronounced humvee). It was completely destroyed and by the looks of it had received a direct hit by something big, maybe a 198mm Arty round. He remembered what vehicles looked like after that shell hit them. He had called in Arty strikes several times as an FO and had witnessed the destruction first hand. This resembled the same thing, but it had not happened recently. This find was only a few hundred yards from his position so he decided to check it out, his curiosity getting the best of him. He finished scanning the area around the wreck and all the way back to his position.

    Satisfied that all was clear and there was no apparent danger, he grabbed the M4 and checked his pistols again for good measure. His hip bag was still on and he had all the extra ammo in it. Reconsidering, he set down the M4 and reattached the scope to his 308 first and secured it to his pack, positioning the pack so it was hidden but where he could grab it on the run if there was an emergency.

    He took up the M4 again and carefully headed for the wreck of the HMMWV. He kept himself at a low crouch, using the tall grass as concealment, and had his M4 at the ready as he approached the wreck. When he was within 50 feet of it, he stopped and listened for any sounds that shouldn’t be there and watched for any movement that might indicate danger. After five minutes of studying the area, he crept up to the HMMWV and examined it.

    It had definitely been hit by something big. He felt sure his initial guess was correct. It looked a lot like it had been the recipient of a 198mm HE Arty round. The metal and frame and body was twisted and mangled, the engine block was in pieces, and the fiberglass body parts, including the hood, were completely gone. Absently, he wondered if the people had been inside it when it got hit. As if in answer to his question, his foot bumped something in the soil and he crouched down and carefully dug around it with his fingers. It was skull…. a human skull. He felt the hair on his neck stand up and he was suddenly tense again.

    He looked at it for a moment and wondered what had happened here. Was it possible this had been here under the snow and he hadn’t seen any of it? He supposed it was, but a lot had happened today he couldn’t explain and he wasn’t taking anything at face value. If this was a training accident, why weren’t the remains recovered and the wreck removed?

    He swept the area again, keeping alert for any sign of danger, but he found nothing else that told him anything. The wreck was obviously very old, so he assumed it had been here when passed through the first time.

    Nothing eventful happened as he returned to his pack and put it on and continued down the valley a ways, looking for a likely spot to set up camp near the creek. He preferred a spot where he didn’t have to watch his back. He didn’t feel safe at all and for the first time in his life, he felt scared of the woods; or rather, what might be in the woods. What was that saying? “Don’t fear the dark, fear what hunts in the dark.” The sun was setting and the shadows were growing long when he found a suitable spot. He guessed he was about four miles from the old cabin/barn. He hoped it was far enough. He didn’t want to imagine what The Fear would do to him if it came upon him in the open.

    He built a small fire several hundred feet from his camp just large enough to make some coffee and warm up some of the smoked meat. He warmed a pot of water from the creek and bathed his head and upper body, removing the dried blood and the sweat from the day. Feeling much better and slightly refreshed despite his returning headache, he put out the fire and returned to his camp area. He used his blankets from his bedroll to sleep in and his pack for a pillow. He didn’t want to be trapped in a sleeping bag if he had to move fast. Keeping his pistol handy, he tried to fall asleep.

    The sun woke him up. It was midmorning and the sun told him it was around 10 am. He must have been really tired because he didn’t remember waking at all during the night and he woke in the same position he fell asleep in. He lay there for a moment, remembering where he was and after a few minutes of letting his mind catch up with his body, he sat up and rubbed his face.

    He needed a bath and a shave. His beard was heavy and thick and he knew if he could smell himself, he would most likely pass out. He smirked at the thought as he rolled his bedroll and secured his pack. After donning the pack, he grabbed the M4 and stood up to leave. He turned around and came face to face with a very large grizzly bear.

    Jake figured he scared the bear as much as the bear had scared him. They both stopped in mid stride and stared at each other for what seemed like hours to Jake. He slowly and carefully moved the M4 into a position where could shoot the bear if he needed to, trying not to alarm it in the process. It wasn’t necessary, the bear sniffed at him a few times and swung his head back and forth as if trying to see if Jake was edible and worth it, and then, apparently deciding Jake wasn’t fit to eat, turned and rambled off into the woods at a lope.

    Jake exhaled the breath he had been holding and waited for his heart to slow down before continuing. He would have to start hanging his gear, especially the food, from now on. He hadn’t been concerned with bears in the dead of winter, but this obviously wasn’t winter and with all that had happened in the last 24 hours, he hadn’t even considered bears.

    Thankful the bear was apparently well fed, he walked down the valley toward the tanks he saw yesterday, keeping in the tree line in case there was anyone or anything looking out for him. Along the way he saw lots of birds and several times he flushed a deer from the grass nearby. He thought there was an awful lot of wildlife in the area. He could never remember seeing so many animals so often in such a short distance. He thought about that for a moment, his wolf meat was running low and he would need fresh meat in the next few days.

    When he was directly across the meadow from the wrecked tanks, he stopped and surveyed the area, looking for anything out of place. Nothing attracted his attention so he set out toward the tanks. When he reached them, he carefully walked around the wreckage and looked it over. They had been hit by Arty for sure, but also an air strike by the looks of it; probably Hellfire missiles from an Apache or Cobra. The damage was complete and there was no way there could have been survivors. All the vehicles were riddled with bullet holes, 50 caliber or 20mm by the looks of them but also smaller holes which he guessed were 7.62. He found several bones in the dirt, mostly by accident when he stepped on them or his boot kicked them. They were all buried just under the surface topsoil, as if they had been there for so long nature had just covered them up on her own. One skull he found had a bullet hole in it. Nothing remained that wasn’t made of steel, and most of that was almost rusted away. Once again he found himself looking over his shoulder, expecting something but unsure of what.

    The tank with the tree growing in it was proof that it had happened long ago; the tree was thick in the trunk and the roots had spread throughout the entire floor of the tank and found their way through cracks and holes to the earth below. The tree itself had actually lifted the tank off the ground as it grew. Jake found that amazing and was so intrigued by it he almost didn’t hear the voices.

    He froze in place and carefully turned his head, scanning the area around him. He had distinctly heard two men’s voices a second ago. He crouched down along the tank with the tree in it. He was between two tanks that were slightly staggered to each other. He looked left and right but didn’t see anyone. He quietly removed his pack and untied his 308. He pushed his pack under the suspended tank and then crawled around the other tank to a position where he could see the forest. The tall grass obscured his vision so he carefully raised his head up, looking around for the makers of the voices he had heard.

    He lay there for almost 30 minutes, just watching and listening. Nothing ever appeared and he didn’t hear the voices again. Jake wondered if he was hearing things now as well. He was almost convinced that he was going to wake up any minute and find himself in a Section 8 somewhere.

    Finally he retreated to his pack and put it back on. He decided to finish his recon anyway, but there was nothing to tell him what had happened besides the obvious. There had been a battle here. People had died. No one had ever come to bury the dead or remove the vehicles. That was simple and straightforward enough, but it didn’t answer any of the questions in his mind as to why or when.

    He turned north to go to his cave and as he traveled through the forest, he kept an eye out for a likely candidate for his next walking stick. He finally found what he wanted when he passed an Ash tree with several rather straight branches lying on the ground. They were straight enough and small enough for his use, and they were dead. That was important because he didn’t want a green piece of wood. The dried wood was extremely hard and very durable and tough. He sat down on a nearby log and pulled out the TOPS Magnum Folder and scraped and whittled and carved the stick until it was smooth and clean. Happy with his new walking stick, he continued on his way.

    After about five miles of walking, he finally came to the cliff face and followed it back west and then north as it turned. He watched for his broken branches, but he didn’t see any of them, in fact nothing looked remotely familiar except the granite cliff. He walked about a mile along the face watching carefully for his cave but he couldn’t find it. It was getting late in the evening and he would need to camp soon, but he continued to look for the cave.

    Finally! He saw the cave opening after walking another 100 yards and he saw the two giant slabs of rock that formed his teepee. He looked carefully at the entrance before walking up to it. After all that had happened to date, he didn’t need any other surprises like a grumpy bear or something worse.

    He chucked a rock inside the cave.

    Nothing happened so he ventured inside the cave. Inside the cave, the fire pit was still there but the walls were blackened as if by years of use. The pack he had left in the cave was gone, but that didn’t surprise him. He doubted anything would ever surprise him again. He had left a bed of pine needles on the ground when he left, and now the entire floor was thick bed of needles. Someone had expounded on his idea and improved it for themselves, and maintained it. He dropped his pack and sat on it, leaning against the wall.

    It was warm enough that a fire was unnecessary and he elected to have a cold camp. He drank some water and ate some more smoked wolf meat and then unpacked his blankets. He spent some time cleaning his guns; the 308, M4, G20 10mm, Ruger 44 mag, and his HK USP Compact 45. When that was done, he unloaded and cleaned each magazine one at a time and wiped off each individual round and reloaded them, but he always kept at least one gun loaded and chambered at all times. He packed up the cleaning gear and spent some time honing his blades, especially the Armageddon and his Walk About, which he had been especially hard on the last several days. When he was finally done, he ate some more meat, drank some water, and lay down. He went to sleep almost instantly

    Out in the forest, a branch broke, the wind picked up slightly, and something moved among the trees and watched the cave.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Sage of Jake chapter 7

    Chapter 7.

    Outside the cave, the breeze picked up into a light wind and the temperature dropped slightly. Jake pulled the covers tight but did not wake up. The creature in the forest crouched at the base of a tree and watched the cave for several hours, listening intently and trying to decide if the invader was friend or foe. After several hours, the creature rose and retreated into the forest.

    In his dreams, Jake imagined a war of epic proportions; with all the might of the militaries of the world in a battle for survival. Bombs and fire from the sky rained down death and destruction and millions of people were dying. He saw this vision as though he was a spectator from the sky, watching the events unfold as if he was watching a baseball game in a giant stadium.

    Suddenly Jake awoke. He had no idea what had made him wake up so he lay still and listened, trying to remember where he was and what was going on. The cave was pitch black and quiet. He could faintly hear the slight wind outside blowing through the trees. The G20 was in his hand, ready to use, but he didn’t have any feeling of fear or danger. After a moment, he quietly sat up and dug into his hip/shoulder bag for his flashlight. Covering the lens with his hand, he flipped it on and then slowly removed just enough of his hand to allow enough light into the cave to see. There was nothing, just the bare walls and pine needle floor. His pack was still beside him, the M4 was still where he left it. He flipped the light off and stood up and went to the cave entrance.

    Outside the sky was perfectly clear with more stars than he could ever recall seeing. The moon was only a sliver but it was clear and sharp in the black night sky. He breathed deep. The night was cool and refreshing and somehow seemed to calm his nerves and relieve his stress. He stood there for several minutes just enjoying the peaceful night and clearing his mind of any worries.

    For a moment, he thought he heard a slight shuffle in the woods in front of him but the noise was slight and he didn’t hear it again. ‘Probably a squirrel or something’ the thought passed through his head and he didn’t think anymore about it. After a few more minutes, he returned to his cave and went back to sleep. He guessed it was just after midnight when he woke up so there were still several hours left before dawn.

    He awoke again and saw that there was a soft gray light coming through the entrance of the cave. He stood up and stretched and stuck the G20 in his waistband and walked to the entrance. The sky was just turning gray as the final moments of night surrendered to the dawn. There was no wind and the air was comfortably cool. It was quiet and peaceful. No sounds came from the forest save for the sound of dew dripping from tree leaves onto the forest floor.

    Jake retreated back into his cave and prepared a small fire from the stacked wood against the wall. After making some coffee, he ate more of the wolf meat for breakfast. He was getting tired of wolf meat and looking at his stash was glad it was almost gone. He would need to take some game soon and make more jerked and smoked meat. He had two MRE’s left and four cans of mystery food. He would need to be careful with that; he had no idea when he would be able to acquire more. He looked at his pack and considered. The pack weighed almost 80 pounds with all the clothing, spare guns, other gear, and the little food he had. The two Camelbacks and the two military quart canteens were also attached to the pack. He had his 308 secured to the side and protected and covered by his bedroll and heavy jackets which he tied to the top of the pack and let drape over the sides. The second pack was attached above the larger pack he had kept. The sleeping bag was tied below. His snowshoes were attached to the front of the pack. He didn’t need those anymore. Altogether the pack was almost four feet tall when it was all put together. It was comfortable enough to carry, but if he added another 100 pounds of meat to it, it would be quite a load to be carrying around in the mountains.

    The weight didn’t really concern him that much. He was in great shape and it wouldn’t take long to adjust to the added load. It was speed and maneuverability he was worried about. With that much weight, he would be limited on what routes he could travel, and more importantly, how fast he could respond to an emergency. That pack would severely hamper his response if he was attacked or taken by surprise, especially from behind. The memory of the wolf attack made him shudder.

    He made up his mind. He would hunt down a small fawn if he could find one. That would not overload him with meat and not leave much waste. He doubted it would go to waste though, with all the wildlife he had seen in the last two days of traveling, there were obviously plenty of wild animals out there willing to take advantage of a free meal, even if it was scraps.

    After finishing his breakfast, he took his 308 and put his shoulder holster back on with his G20. He carefully put out the small fire and then made up his pack and secured everything, lashing everything tightly in place. He would stay here for another day or two and smoke the meat and relax before continuing west.

    Leaving the cave, he set out going south toward the meadow that bordered his cave. The sun was barely coming up over the eastern mountain range when he reached the clearing. A creek he hadn’t noticed before was flowing through the valley from north to south, coming within several hundred feet of his position and he guessed right it wasn’t far from his cave either. He had probably walked right over the top of it in the snow when he was fleeing from his pursuers a week ago.

    A lot had happened in that week, Jake reflected absently to himself.

    He surveyed the meadow in front of him. It was clear. There were no animals anywhere to be seen, but it was still early. He found a spot near the creek that looked like a likely watering area. There appeared to be some game trails through the tall grass leading to the creek that looked promising.

    His MP8 reticule on his scope estimated the range at around 250 yards. It was an educated guess at best; he had no object big enough to range off of in his field of view so he used the terrain and estimated the distance that way. It was good enough and he made the appropriate adjustments on his scope.

    The tree he was next to had a branch about shoulder height sticking out on the opposite side and he used it as a rest while he waited. About two hours passed and he was about to give up and move on when he saw a movement at the edge of the meadow about 500 yards from where he was standing. He remained still and watched.

    He didn’t see it at first, the buck was well concealed against his backdrop of forest and sage and undergrowth. It was a big one too; much bigger than he was interested in. He continued to wait and see what developed. There was no wind so Jake wasn’t worried about the buck picking up his scent.

    After several minutes, the buck stepped out into the clearing and proceeded cautiously to the creek. Jake waited, he doubted the buck was alone and his harem would most likely be waiting for the all clear signal to be given before coming out from the protection of the forest.

    The buck was indeed huge, he must have weighed well over 500 pounds by looking at him, and his rack indicated that he had been around for a long time. Jake counted 16 points and guessed the rack to be several feet wide. He was a beautiful and noble creature and Jake had to respect him. It was uncommon to see such a prize buck and if he was sport hunter, this one would indeed be a prize worthy of the taxidermist.

    He was admiring the buck so much he didn’t notice when the rest of the herd ventured out into the clearing. He counted seven Doe’s and two fawns. One was apparently very recently born and the other appeared to be only a year or so. The yearling would be perfect for his needs. The fawn wasn’t too big yet and would be light enough to handle easily.

    He sighted on the fawn and waited until he had a shot that was clear of the other deer. When the fawn was separated for a moment, he took the shot. The bullet went true and the fawn dropped in place like a sack of wheat. The other deer scattered and bounded off in all directions, unsure of what had happened and where the sound had come from. They didn’t go far but they were tense and alert and had their heads up, ears moving in all directions listening for any danger.

    Jake waited for them to settle down and one Doe began circling around and looking for the fawn, or so Jake guessed. Obviously this was mom and there was still some tie there, despite the age of the fawn. Jake wasn’t sure at what age that mother-fawn tie was severed, or if it ever was. Deer are gregarious herd creatures anyway and family is family. One of them was missing suddenly and they were wondering about it.

    The Doe found the fawn and nudged it with her nose, then pawed it gently. When the fawn didn’t respond, the Doe looked around woefully and then moved back with the rest of the herd which was gathering back together further down the valley where the buck had run off too.

    When the deer were out of the way, Jake went out to the fawn and quickly gutted the animal, leaving all the innards in the grass, then threw the carcass over his shoulder, grabbed his rifle and began heading back to his cave.

    When he reached the cave, he immediately sensed something was wrong. There was a slight wisp of smoke coming from the cave entrance and out the gaps in the top of the rocks. He knew he had extinguished that fire so there was no way it could be smoking. He dropped the deer and drew his G20 and began stalking up to the cave. He was almost at the entrance when he heard some shuffling and rummaging around coming from inside. Thinking it was a wild animal ravaging his gear, he snuck up to the entrance and carefully peered around the corner to see inside. If it was a bear, he didn’t want to tangle with it this close. What he saw instead made him back up and sit down.

    It was a woman.

    Or he thought it was a woman. Her back had been to him but the person had the figure of a woman, the long hair like a woman; but she was dressed in leather, or buckskin, or something similar. She was going through his pack too.

    Jake remained sitting on the boulder next to the cave trying to figure out what to do when the woman came out of the entrance. She saw him immediately and instead of yelling, she pulled a knife from her waistband and lunged at him.

    It caught Jake completely off guard; he was expecting anything but that. He didn’t have time to think about a response, he simply reacted. As she jumped on him, he allowed himself to roll backward with her momentum and pushed her backwards as she continued to sail on by. The move caught her by surprise as well and her attempted knife attack failed as she was knocked off balance and redirected.

    Jake rolled over and came to his feet instantly, bringing the G20 up and pointed at the woman. He didn’t want to shoot her; she was obviously not someone who was after him. Something strange was going on here. The age of mountain men and buckskin clothing and Cowboys and Indians was long gone. What was she doing wearing buckskin clothes? He could tell they were indeed buckskin having just had an up close view of them and grabbing them in his hands.

    The woman also came instantly to her feet and was holding the knife low, circling to the side away from the cave. Jake kept the G20 pointed at her, but if she knew what it was, she either didn’t care or she was just nuts. Probably nuts Jake figured. Why else would a woman be out in the wilderness alone with a knife dressed in buckskin?

    All these thoughts fleeted instantly through his mind as he watched her every move. She didn’t appear to have any inclination to flee, in fact, she was moving the knife slightly back and forth and was slightly hunched over in a sort of fighting stance. She had a very serious look on her face and he was convinced she would attack again. He didn’t want to kill her though.

    “I don’t want to hurt you lady. Can we talk about this?”

    She didn’t answer. Not vocally anyway. She charged in and was bringing the knife up in a stabbing slicing arc toward his gut. He stepped sideways and turned slightly, deflecting her knife hand with his empty left hand and whipped around with the G20 and laid the barrel across her head as she continued by, her momentum continued by Jakes sudden move. The impact had the desired effect and she fell in a crumpled heap, sliding forward a few feet from the momentum of her fall.

    “Your determined, I’ll give you that, but your technique could use some help.” Jake stood there and looked at her for a moment before pulling a length of 550 cord from his shoulder bag and securely tying her hands behind her back. He checked her for other weapons but found nothing. He carefully lifted her up and carried her inside and laid her on the pine needles. He looked around saw she had stripped his entire pack and everything was strewn about the cave. He sighed and swore a little and then left the cave to retrieve the fawn.

    He put the fawn in the cave and checked the woman again. She was still out cold. Going back out into the forest, he filled the 2.5 gallon collapsible water pail at the creek. It was close just as he had suspected. He heard the trickling water running over some rocks when he was barely 100 feet into the forest. He left the water pail on a rock and scouted around, looking for sign and any indication she was not alone. He found nothing and after 20 minutes of scouting around was satisfied there was no one else near. She was alone.

    When he got back to the cave with the water pail, she was still unconscious. He feared he had killed her and checked her pulse. It was slow, strong, and steady. That was good. She would wake up in time; although she would no doubt have a powerful headache. Jake put some water in a pot and made a fire, then put the pot on a rock nearby to warm. He gathered up all his stuff and put it in the corner; he would repack it later.

    The fawn wouldn’t last too long before rigor set in, so he wanted to get it dressed out. Forgetting about the woman for a moment, he grabbed the small deer and took it back outside, walking several hundred feet from the cave before dressing it out. He used his Armageddon and chopped off the lower legs and the head. Once that was done, he used his bare knuckles and his Walk About to strip the hide. The Walk About he used around tight areas to carefully remove the skin without damaging it. The rest of the time, he simply used his fist and pushed it between the hide and the flesh, separating the membrane and removing the hide in a matter of minutes. It was a technique he had learned growing up on a sheep farm. When slaughtering time came, he had been taught this technique. It was faster than using a knife and the hide was almost never damaged this way. He would flesh it later.

    He used the Armageddon and the Walk About to quickly quarter and separate the cuts of meat. He was wishing for a sawzall or bone saw when it came to the spine, but he simply hacked through the ribs with the Armageddon and then chopped the spine into manageable, meal size sections. He wrapped the meat up in the hide and then stacked the waste in a nice pile further away from the cave; a gift to the natives.

    When he returned to the cave almost an hour later, the woman was still out, or faking it. He ignored her and spread his fire out a little, creating a good cooking surface and then took a shoulder and sliced it into manageable chunks of meat and then placed them in the skillet with some water. He thought about making a spit; it wouldn’t be too hard to do using a slim willow branch or simply lashing the meat to a stick with some snare wire and hanging it over the fire.

    He put the rest of the meat aside and while the meat on the fire was cooking, went out to a nearby willow tree and cut several long branches off and returned to the cave. Using the 550 cord, he lashed together a smoking rack for the meat and rigged it up over the fire so it wouldn’t burn. He took the meat and carefully sliced it up into thin strips for jerky and laid it out over the rack, the heavier pieces closest to the fire. It would take a few days to slowly cook and dry the meat enough that it wouldn’t spoil on the trail. It wouldn’t taste all that great and it would be tough to eat, but food was food. When he got near Emigrant again, he would take a chance and go into town and treat himself to a good meal. With his heavy beard and different clothes, he doubted he would be recognized immediately, if at all.

    He was checking the meat in the skillet when he sensed he was being watched. He glanced over at the woman and she was staring defiantly at him. Her eyes were bright and she showed no outward fear of him or her situation; mostly just defiance.

    “Welcome back to the living lady………… I don’t suppose you have a name?”

    She didn’t respond at all, she just continued to stare at Jake.

    “I’ll untie you if you promise to behave.”

    Still no response; Jake shrugged and turned back to the fire, turning the meat one more time. She sure was pretty. He thought she was younger than him by a few years; she looked like an Indian woman, maybe Sioux or Crow, although they were more toward the Dakota’s. If she was really Indian, she might be Paiute, or Navajo. He thought there were some reservations around here and in Idaho and Wyoming. He couldn’t really recall. Nothing was making sense anymore and everyday was getting more and more confusing. First there was the barn, then the weather change, then the tanks and other military vehicles, the bones and skeletons, the voices, the nightmares and dreams, and now this woman. What next?
    “Do you speak English?” He asked without looking at her.

    No response.

    “Do you speak?”

    Nothing. Jake looked over at her.

    “Okay. Can you understand what I am saying? If so, can you just nod your head or something?”

    She didn’t move.

    “Look, I’m not going to hurt you. I don’t know what’s going on here lately, don’t know who you are; but I’m not your enemy. I’m not going to hurt you. If you will talk to me, I’ll untie you and let you go.”

    She just stared at him but Jake thought he saw a shadow of doubt in her eyes. They remained hard but softened a little, just a little.

    He took the skillet off the fire and set it on the ground between them. He pulled two forks out of the mess kits and stuck one fork in a chunk of meat. He picked it up and blew on it to cool it off a little and then took a careful bite. It was really good. The juices ran out of it and the meat was tender and rich. “Sure beats Wolf meat” he said to the woman. She had to be in her late 20’s, Jake surmised. She just glared at him.

    “Look…..” He said removing the necklace he had made of wolf teeth while waiting out the blizzard in his cave a week ago, “This is for you. I am giving it to you. These wolves attacked me last week, right here at this cave, and I killed them all. You can have this.”

    He laid it next to her and then got up and grabbed her by the shoulders. She immediately stiffened and glared at him, expecting some abuse, but he just pulled her into a sitting position and let her lean against the wall. Jake sat back down and put the necklace in her lap and then resumed eating the meat.

    The woman just glared at him but he could see she was intrigued. She also looked famished and she was rather dirty, as if she had been running around in the woods for a while with nothing. He guessed he was just as dirty, despite his bath of a day or so ago.

    “You must be hungry. If you want to eat, and promise not to try to hurt me, I’ll untie you. You don’t have to say anything, just nod if you understand me.” To emphasize his point, he placed the skillet with the other chunk of meat directly beside her.

    She looked at the meat and then back at him, then back at the meat. She could smell it. The meat was still sizzling in the pan a little and the juices were pooling on the top. She was definitely hungry, that much he could tell. She looked back at him and almost imperceptively nodded at him. He smiled at her slightly and reached around and untied her hands. Almost instantly, she grabbed the meat and bit off a big chunk. Almost as fast, she spit it back out and dropped the meat in the pan, shaking her hands and holding her mouth open. Jake handed her the canteen of water after showing her there was water inside. She gulped a mouthful; then drank the entire thing without stopping.

    “Hungry and thirsty I see…… At least we are making some progress.” Jake watched her, prepared for any surprise attack or attempt at escape. He tried to appear relaxed and easy for her comfort, but inside he was tense and alert.

    After she drank the canteen, she put it down and looked at Jake as though he had tried to kill her. He looked back at her and then took another bite of meat. He then grabbed the other fork and stabbed her meat and took a bite and put it back in the pan. She looked at it again, then back at him as if expecting some other surprise. She grabbed the fork and picked up the meat and took a careful bite. Apparently satisfied that all was well, she continued to eat the meat but never took her eyes off of Jake and watched his every move.

    Jake pretended to ignore her and began to repack his gear carefully back into his packs. He didn’t bother to lash everything down since he planned to stay here for a few more days and would no doubt be getting into the pack again anyway.

    “Is this your cave?” He asked her, watching her face closely when he asked.

    She looked at him and shrugged slightly.

    “At least we’re making some progress now. How long have you been here?”

    She looked at him again intently for several minutes and then said “Five days.”

    Jake was surprised for a second but quickly recovered. “So you do speak English. That’s good, maybe we can communicate now……… You don’t look like you’re dressed for cold weather. Five days ago, this place was covered in two feet of snow and it was several degrees below zero. How did you survive dressed like that?”

    She looked at him, obviously confused. “What’s snow?”

    Now it was Jakes turn to be surprised. He sat back against the wall and exhaled sharply, the world suddenly lost all sense and he could almost feel a panic setting in. What in the world had happened to him?!

    He was in the very same mountains where he was about to freeze to death just days before, several feet of snow had been on the ground and if he hadn’t built the snowshoes, he would never have been able to travel anywhere. The events surrounding the barn came flooding back to him. He remembered the heat, the sun, the lack of snow, and the almost tropical weather. He never thought twice about the lush green grasses. Suddenly he realized there was no dead grass anywhere that he could recall. There was always dead grass somewhere, even in spring. When the grass reached maturity, it almost always turned brown. Even the bunch grass on some of the barren slopes was green. A whirlwind of memories and unconsciously observed oddities came flooding into his mind in an instant.

    He waited a minute before responding. She was looking at him intently as if she could sense that something was wrong.

    “What do mean…. ”What’s Snow?””

    “You said there was snow here. What is snow? I have been here five days and I did not see you, or this snow.”

    “I was here 5 days ago, waiting out a blizzard. There was two or three feet of snow on the ground. You could not have come here five days ago, you would have died if you had been caught in that blizzard and there is no town anywhere near here that you could have come from.”

    “I do not know what this snow is, or this blizzard. Is it some kind of animal? What do you mean town? I have been here five days. I put the leaves on the ground and made a fire at night. I have slept here five nights.”

    Jake looked at her like he was seeing her for the first time. What in the world was going on? Where was he? WHEN was he? This made no sense. She had to be delusional; or he was having the mother of all nightmares.

    “Do you have seasons? A summer? Winter? Cold weather? Hot Weather?”

    “Yes. It is like this mostly, but it gets cold later. Not much though. It does not get hot, just warm.”

    Jake thought that strange indeed, especially in Montana, in the Sierra’s where the winters were known to get severe.

    “I’ll explain what snow is someday. Something strange has happened.

    “Where did you come from?” He asked her.

    “I come from over the mountain. My village was attacked six days ago and I barely escaped. I think they are all gone now.” She said matter-of-factly. Jake couldn’t decide if she was really that detached or just very good at hiding emotions. If someone had killed his entire family and village, he would be pissed.

    “Who attacked you?”

    She was quiet and stared at the fire for a moment. “It was the tribe from the North. They came at night, by surprise, and attacked with no warning. I was out in the woods at the time; I heard the attack and the screams. There was fire everywhere and I watched as they killed everyone. They did not see me. I ran away and came here.”

    ‘What the hell?’ Jake wondered.

    “My name is Jake. I am your friend……. I give you my word I will not harm you. Do you have a name?”

    “My name is Kai. I believe you. You could have killed me earlier and you did not. I thought you were keeping me for your enjoyment, but I can see you are an honorable man. I will stay with you”

    “What do you mean ‘You’ll stay with me’?”

    “You did not kill me. You did not abuse me. You have fed me and treated me with respect. I will stay with you and serve you.”

    “You can stay with me. I’ll be happy for the company. But you do not need to serve me.”

    “I will serve you. It is our way.”

    Jake let that go. It didn’t look like he would win that argument anyway. Do women ever change?

    “Can you…….ummm…. do you know what the date is?”

    “Date?”

    “What year is it? Do you know?”

    “I do not know what you mean by year. My elders say…said… that the years are six hundred and twenty-six since the Great War.”

    “The Great War? What Great War? I know of several but I do not know of this one, I do not think. Are those steel giants in the field from this war?”

    “Yes. I believe so. The war was between great nations. These nations no longer exist. Many died. After the war, the world died, and only a few remained. We are descended from a tribe of that war.”

    “What do you mean the world died?”

    Kai looked at Jake like he just fell off the turnip wagon. Did this man know nothing? “There were great towers of fire in the sky that killed everything for a great distance in all directions. After that, there were plagues and sickness. The earth was ravaged and it died. Then the earth changed and the weather changed and it became like this. I think I know what you mean by snow now. I remember our village historians told us about an Ice Age that happened and then the climate shifted. I do not understand what they told us.”

    Jake sat back and considered for a moment. He was sure he was having a psychotic break and that any second now a nurse was going to stab a needle in his arm and he would wake up in a white room with people in white robes standing over him.

    None of this made any sense. There was never a war like that. What was this lady talking about? He could tell she was dead serious and believed every word she had spoken. Questions flooded his mind; mainly what had happened to him and where was he? Was he in some kind of alternate universe? A parallel world? She looked completely human to him, decidedly female, and very, very pretty. How could a woman that pretty be a psychotic loon? His mind was swimming with questions. The thought came to him suddenly; was he in the future? If so, how?

    “This tribe, the one from the north, who are they?”

    “They are ruthless and vicious. They do not spare anyone. Mostly they take the women and children and kill all the men when they attack. The women become slaves and the children are raised as one of them. Their numbers are great, maybe thousands of them. They are a great tribe and no one can stop them. We were only a few hundred. There was no chance for us against their army.”

    “What do they look like?”

    “They are fearsome. The warlords wear the heads of wolves on their heads and they ride horses. They all wear black armor made from metal and leather and they carry great swords and spears and black sticks that make loud noises and kill from far away. Like that one.” Kai pointed at his M4.

    “The others are naked or wearing skins. The Chief of the tribe is a giant. He is very tall and very strong and has black skin. Some say he has magic powers, I do not know this. No one has ever beaten them in battle and no one has ever escaped that was taken. The borders of their land are lined with spears in the ground and the heads of their enemies and those they have conquered are on them. I have heard they eat their own and the bodies of their enemies. I fear they will do this to my tribe.”

    Jake felt sick.

    He poured some hot water into two cups and made coffee. He gave one cup to Kai and then sat against the wall beside her. He contemplated what she had told him and what he knew. He was still certain this nightmare would end in a white Section 8 room somewhere, but so far things were painfully real. If he was indeed somehow catapulted into the future (his mind flashed back to the events at the barn), then he was spared the Great War and dropped right into the path of a barbarian cannibalistic horde. Right here in America too. Kai was examining the wolf tooth necklace as if this was old news.

    “Are we in America?”

    “I do not know what America is. We are in a cave.”

    “Do you know of a village north of here called Livingston?”

    “There is no village north of here; only the Tribe of the North.”

    “Does this tribe have a name?”

    Kai paled under her olive skin and glanced quickly at the entrance. “No. We only call them the Northern Tribe or the Tribe from the North. If they have a name, we have never spoken it.”

    “I see”

    “See what?”

    “Nothing….. Never mind.”

    “Kai, I am not from here. Five days ago I was sitting in this cave, taking shelter from the blizzard. I was being pursued by men from a village east of here who meant to kill me. I killed them and then fled south and east and came to a barn, a building made of wood, in a meadow about six or seven miles from here, to the south. I stayed the night there and strange and horrifying things happened during the night and I was knocked out. When I awoke, I was here. I have traveled two days to come back here and now I have found you.

    “I know nothing about this Great War, this Northern Tribe, or what has happened to me.”

    Kai looked at him in horror. “You came from that house in the clearing? That house has stood for many years longer than me. It has never changed and the spirits are strong there. No one will go near it. Even the Northern Tribe does not go near it. I do not understand what you have said.”

    “Kai, I am from before the Great War. Somehow I have traveled through time to where we are now. That is all I can say. I do not understand it either.”

    Kai looked at Jake, wondering if he was human or some demon in human form playing and toying with her. No, it could not be. He had not caused her any harm. A demon would cause her harm. He must be telling the truth.

    “Kai, if you wish to stay with me, I will protect you as much as I can and I can’t say I wouldn’t be glad of the company. We will stay here a few days and then I suppose we should travel south and go away from this tribe. We do not need to invite trouble.” Jake thought quickly about the extremely pitiful amount of ammo in his shoulder bag. Only 100 rounds for the M4 plus the seven spare mag’s and the one in the rifle. He had roughly 75 rounds for his 308; and not much more than that for the pistols. And there was a thousand of the enemy horde to the north. If her story was true, his chances of procuring more ammo was looking mighty slim. If the Northern Tribe was using guns like his M4 though, there had to be a supply somewhere.

    “I will stay with you and serve you. I have no village and no family. You have been good and fair to me after I tried to kill you. I will stay with you.”

    “Kai, you say the Tribe to the North uses these?” He picked up the M4 and she shied back a little and then relaxed. Evidently it would take some time for trust to fully develop.

    “Yes. They look the same.”

    “Do you know where they get the ammo for these?”

    “I do not know what ammo is.”

    Jake sighed. How was he going to explain this?

    “The ammo is small.” He ejected the magazine and removed a round, “It looks like this. This shoots out of the rifle. This is a rifle.” He held up the M4. “I need lots of these.” He held up the round, “Do you know where I can get them?”

    “YES!” Kai said excitedly. “There is a trader who sells them. He travels the great river north and south and trades all kinds of things. I did not know what they were.“

    “Great Kai. Can you take me to meet him?”

    “No. The Northern Tribe took him four weeks ago and we have not seen him again.”

    Jake considered this. Would they kill a supplier of ammo? To Jake that seemed like a priceless commodity if things were as they seemed; however, it sounded like this tribe didn’t really care.

    “Is there any other place?”

    “Maybe. I do not know.”

    “How is it you speak English?”

    “We have spoken English always. It is our language.”

    “I understand. What language does the Northern Tribe speak?”

    “I cannot understand it. It is strange to me.” She imitated the sounds and Jake thought it resembled some Asian language. He remembered that the US and China were having conflicts and Iran and Russia were threatening nuclear war with Israel but he had always been on the road and never paid it much attention. It could be Chinese. But why would a black man be leading a tribe of Chinese speaking warriors?

    He suddenly realized that the Great War must have been a full scale nuclear war as the result of conflicts between all the nuclear powers of the world. Great Nations and Towers of Fire….. It made perfect sense. Maybe China had invaded America. He also knew the authorities had been warning of a potential pandemic from some kind of mutated flu and a few other bad bugs that were threatening humanity. It was coming together in his mind, slowly, painfully, but he was beginning to understand; as much as could be understood of anything of course.

    They talked further, Jake asking a lot of questions and Kai answering them as best she could. Before they realized it, the day was over and it was dark outside. Jake went out and gathered more wood for the evening and checked the meat. The jerky was drying nicely. Kai knew more than he did about making smoked meat and jerky and took over. She also knew how to tan a hide using wood ash and also using the brains from the animal. He retrieved the head of the fawn and hacked open the skull and retrieved the brain and she used it to tan the hide.

    Three days later the meat was done and it was good to boot. Jake was beginning to find himself falling for her, despite the short relationship. Maybe it was the years of being alone on the road, or the stress and life changing events of the past week. Whatever it was, all he knew was that she was incredibly beautiful, she could cook and keep a camp, and above all, she trusted him completely. He knew that now beyond a doubt. For whatever reason, she decided to trust him and once that decision was made, that was the end of it. She had softened toward him after that first day and they had become good friends in the short three days they spent together.

    They packed up the gear, Kai taking the smaller pack, and on the morning of the fourth day, they left the cave.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 8

    Chapter 8.

    Heading directly west, Jake wanted to go as far west as Emigrant Valley and see if anything remained. He had finally resolved in his mind that he had somehow been catapulted into the future and that he wasn’t going to wake up from this dream. Besides, he had kissed Kai for the first time last night and that was enough for him. He was here and that was that and he decided he didn’t want to go anywhere without Kai.

    She was carrying the meat in her pack and he had the majority of the gear in his. It was going to get challenging now with two people to care for and supplies only for one. She would need clothing and hygiene stuff. He wasn’t sure what she would need when ‘that time’ came that every woman deals with and every man fears, but she was old enough to know how to handle that and he decided he wouldn’t concern himself with it if he didn’t have to.

    They made their way directly west for about ten miles, stopping every so often for a breather. Kai was in great shape but she wasn’t used to carrying a pack. After a few miles, the weight on her shoulders was slowing her down noticeably but she never said a word. Jake didn’t either and just slowed down with her. She had insisted on carrying a portion of the load and he wasn’t going to insult her by asking if she needed help. Along the way he found another suitable staff and fashioned a walking stick for her. It helped her a lot.

    That first day, they made ten miles by noon, stopped for a meal, and then journeyed another five miles before Jake decided to stop for the night. It was obvious to him she had reached her physical limit; she had stumbled a few times in the last mile and Jake had pretended he didn’t see it. Jake found a good spot to camp in an old river course that had undercut the bank and offered shelter and a semi defensible position. Jake gathered wood for a fire and Kai simply collapsed in a heap. Jake laughed softly to himself and felt sorry for her. He knew how tough it was getting into shape for carrying a pack and on top of that, she had just recently witnessed her entire village being destroyed and everyone she knew, including her family, was brutally murdered.

    During the three days back at the cave, he and Kai had backtracked her trail to the village and when they were close, he had made her stay hidden and had stalked to where he could observe the village. Using his 308, he scoped the little clearing where the village had been and saw that she had not exaggerated about anything. The entire village was burned to the ground, smoke was still coming from smoldering hot spots, and he saw several mutilated and decapitated bodies lying burned in the dirt. All around the village there were sticks shoved in the ground and the heads of the villagers were impaled on them. It almost made Jake sick to look at it and he was used to seeing death, both from far away and up close and personal. He had never seen anything like this.

    Looking further out at the edge of the village, he saw a pile of burned bodies stacked in a heap. All of them were missing their heads and appeared to have been disemboweled. If there were any survivors, he didn’t see any. He recalled what she said about this tribe taking prisoners of the women and children and he shuddered at what they must be facing now; but there was nothing he could do for them.

    He backtracked to Kai and told her what he saw, minus the gory details. She just nodded and didn’t say anything, but when they got back to the cave and he went out for more water, he heard her sobbing inside. He left her alone for awhile until she came out looking for him, wondering what was keeping him.

    “I thought you needed some time” He said.

    “I’m okay now. Thank you. But you don’t need to leave me alone; I would have liked the company.”

    “I’m sorry about what happened.” He stood up and they went back into the cave. After making a meal, he had held her close for what felt like hours to Jake. He didn’t mind a bit.

    Then she had kissed him.

    That did it. He was committed. He didn’t know what strange world he had landed in, but he had a friend now and damn-it he was going to keep her; even if he had to fight the whole of the Northern Tribe to do it.

    Once the fire was made, Kai dug out some meat and warmed it over the fire and made some coffee. She had never had coffee before she met Jake and she thought it was wonderful and bitter at once. She also found it gave her extra energy and she had a hard time sleeping after drinking it, but she didn’t mind. She was happy for the time being and she was pleased with her new man.

    Jake rolled out the sleeping bag for her and his own bedroll for him. Despite himself, he felt whipped also and this time, the coffee didn’t keep either of them awake. Jake considered keeping a watch but the days march caught up with him and he drifted off.

    The fire died down and after a while was only smoldering embers. Crickets sang their songs in the darkness and a slight breeze was blowing from the west. A big grizzly bear smelled the smoke on the wind and the faint remnant of the smell of meat and food. He stood up on his hind legs and sniffed the air again, trying to figure out where it was coming from. He dropped back to all fours with a grunt and began ambling in that direction. He didn’t particularly care for the smell of smoke, it warned him of danger as fire does for all animals, but the smell of food was awfully enticing. He approached the camp and stopped at the edge of the trees across the dry riverbed and tested the air again. He picked up the smells again, but this time he also detected the two humans. Being an old bear and a cautious one, he circled the camp carefully, trying his best to determine if the reward was greater than the risk. He had smelled men before, farther north, and they had caused him great pain and injury. His memory about the encounter had faded but the caution had not.

    “Go away old boy.” Jake said into the darkness. He heard the bear grunt in reply and then it was gone. Jake stirred the fire, adding some fuel. He was careful not to stare at the fire knowing it would ruin his night vision. Instead, he drug one of the logs around and sat with his back to the fire, facing out into the forest across from the river bed.
    The night was warm and he sat there and thought about what he knew so far. According to all the experts, if there was another ice age, the entire northern hemisphere would turn into a block of ice, the southern hemisphere becoming more tropical. If there had indeed been an ice age as Kai said, then what had happened? Someone had been very wrong about that evidently. Here he was in what he supposed was still southwestern Montana, but the weather more resembled Arizona or some other southern region; not quite muggy or humid, actually more airy, but warm and breezy. For the moment, it was pleasant and comfortable and that was all that mattered.

    Nothing stirred in the darkness and the crickets continued their midnight melody. He drifted off again, still sitting up on the log. Once again the fire died and after a long time, the eastern sky began to gray. The air took a sharp dive in temperature with the coming of the dawn and Jake woke; his back and neck stiff from sleeping while sitting up and hunched over.

    He stirred the fire and got it going and put water on to boil. The Northern Tribe had him worried. What if there were roving war parties out looking for trouble? The best they could hope for was to remain as invisible as possible. He would have to teach Kai some of the bush craft and stalking skills he knew. She would need to know that to stay alive. She was already pretty good and with a little improvement, she could be invisible in the woods if she wanted.

    He considered their location. If he was correct, they were somewhere near where he had been on his first night outside of Pray. It was probably another 20 miles or so to Pray and then another few miles to Emigrant as the crow flies. They could easily make Pray and Emigrant today he thought. If it was still there, and according to Kai, there was nothing there.

    Kai’s tribe had been fairly nomadic and moved about as their whim desired. Evidently there was rarely winter here and snow was almost unheard of, which he found very hard to believe at these elevations; but the peaks around him bore that out: there was no snow on any peak within sight, not even on the north facing slopes. They had drifted around, trying to avoid altercations with tribes like the Northern Tribe. Those guys were bad news, but evidently weren’t the only bad tribe around. Some smaller ones existed further east and she had heard rumors of a great tribe far to the east but had never been there. He guessed this huge tribe was either a city or large town. Jake couldn’t imagine that no modern technology had survived the Wars and Plagues. If everyone had indeed been knocked back into the Stone Age, then something much bigger than a war and a pandemic had occurred. And she had said the Northern Tribe had guns. If they had guns, they had to have ways to maintain them and fix them and maybe even make them. Guns were no good without ammo either, so there must be a source for that too. He would need ammo in a desperate way if they ran into sort of trouble and he had to shoot his way out of it. Maybe he should begin making a bow and arrows.

    He looked over at Kai sleeping soundly on her sleeping bag. She wasn’t inside it; probably got too warm. She wasn’t any thing he had thought she was as far as being Native American. There simply weren’t any Indian tribes that survived, at least by the names he knew them as. As far he was able to determine, she was simply a mixed breed with olive skin. There was definitely some Indian somewhere in her lineage, but not like he had originally thought, probably more Caucasian than anything else. Not that it mattered at all. She was fine by him.

    The water was ready so he added some coffee and let it simmer. While the coffee was brewing, he did his quick morning calisthenics of 50 pushups and 100 sit-ups. That got his blood flowing and the kinks out of his muscles. Kai was watching him when he finished the sit-ups.

    “What are you doing that for?” She asked him.

    “Well, it keeps my stomach hard and strong. It helps with carrying the pack. The pushups keep my chest and arms strong, which helps also. “

    “I think I understand.”

    “Why don’t you try a couple? I’ll help you.”

    She walked over, “What do I do?”

    “Just sit down and keep your knees bent. I’ll hold your feet steady while you do a few sit-ups. Just lean back all the way down and then sit up to your knees.”

    “That sounds easy enough.” She sat down and immediately complained that her stomach hurt. She touched her abs.

    “Okay, forget it. We can try it later. Have some coffee.” He helped her back to her feet. “That soreness you feel is your abdominal muscles. They got quite a workout yesterday carrying that pack. Sit-ups help those muscles to stay strong so they don’t hurt like that.”

    “I think I get it now.”

    “We have even further to hike today. Do you think you can handle it?”

    “Yes. I will stay with you.”

    Jake grinned. “Okay, after breakfast, we leave.”

    They enjoyed a hearty breakfast of more deer meat and coffee. Jake was tempted to open a can of mystery food but decided against it. At least not until he better understood his situation and what was available to him. He wondered if that $5k in his shoulder bag would be worth anything; he guessed it wouldn’t be good for anything but fire tinder.

    “What do you use for money?..... When you trade for goods?

    “Money? I am not sure what you mean. We barter when we meet up with other people. If you want something, you have to have something the other person wants. Then you agree to trade and that is all.”

    “I see.”

    “See what?”

    “Kai, ‘I see’ is an expression; it is the same as saying ‘I understand’.”

    “Okay…. If you say so.”

    They finished their meal and Jake packed the packs again, taking stuff from her pack when she wasn’t looking and managing to find a place on his pack for it.

    “My pack feels lighter than yesterday.” She said when she put it on.

    “Well, you’re carrying the food and we just ate a bunch. Besides, you’re probably stronger today than you were yesterday.”

    “Oh. I see.”

    Jake grinned at her and they started off. He led the way west, heading for the last ridgeline above the valley below where Pray and Emigrant lay. With any luck, they should make it before sundown.

    They finally crested the ridgeline and looked out over the valley. As far as he could see in each direction there was nothing but grass and a few trees scattered out over the valley. The giant Yellowstone River ran right down the middle.

    “There is the Great River. The trader I told you about used to travel along this river.”

    “Kai, that river used to be called the Yellowstone River. There used to be a few small towns in this valley. If you follow the river north, eventually you would have reached a village, a town, called Livingston. It was about 20 miles to the north. You said there is no town there?”

    “No. No town… or village. Just the Northern Tribes territory.”

    “Then we head south. I don’t really want to meet up with those head hunters.”

    “I will go where you go.”

    Jake looked at her and saw she was serious. He led the way down the mountain and into the valley. By evening time, they reached the Yellowstone and it was too late to go much farther. They found a suitable spot that would work for the night. There wasn’t any shelter and certainly no real defense. It was just out in the open. There was a deadfall they found and they made camp beside it. Making a small fire just big enough to warm the meat and make some more coffee. He would have to figure out another drink soon. There wasn’t much coffee left. Maybe to the south there would be a trading post or something where he could get more supplies.

    They would need a plan. He didn’t think that Kai would want to just drift around like he had been doing. In fact, he was getting tired of it himself. He suddenly wanted to settle down, find a place and just stay there; with Kai.

    That brought him up short. He had never considered settling down in one place and staying there; he had never thought of getting married either, not with all the trouble women had caused him in the past; a memory of the mayor came back to him for an instant. But Kai was different than any woman he had ever met or known. Different time, different place, and different circumstances he supposed.

    “Kai, have you ever been south?”

    “Yes.”

    “What is there down there? Any trading posts?”

    “No. I don’t know. I have only been to the end of the valley.”

    Jake realized she had only been as far as the old Yellowstone border, what used to be Wyoming. There were some novelty tourist shops there and some other general store type shops here and there before, and town called Gardiner, but what about now?

    The next morning they headed south, keeping close to the river on their right. Jake was watching for a crossing. Highway 89 had been on the west side of the river but he knew further south it had crossed over the river in a few places. Maybe there would be some indication of an old road.

    Skirting the edge of the Yellowstone, he could see the water looked very clean. It was clear enough he could see fish swimming in the river. He could see a few Salmon and some other fish he thought were trout. Some others he didn’t recognize. Jake thought the fish would be an excellent change of diet and he was confident they would bite; he guessed they had never been fished before.

    They made a quick camp for lunch and Jake dug out his small spool of 50# fishing line with some hooks and sinkers. He used his walking stick as the rod and secured one end of the line to the end of the stick. He cut off about ten feet of line and attached the hook and sinker to the other end. He didn’t have any bait though. Looking around the field where they made camp, he saw a rotting log lying close by and using Kai’s walking stick, he pried on it until he rolled it over and then he kicked it open. Jake was happy to see lots of maggots and a few potato bugs go scrambling for cover. He snatched up the two potato bugs that lingered too long and then scooped up several handfuls of maggots and put them in his hat; maggots were an excellent source of protein and didn’t taste too bad when they were lightly fried. They weren’t bad raw either, but there was less gag factor when they were cooked.

    Going back to camp, he gave the hatful of maggots to Kai and took the potato bugs down to the river. Hooking one of them on the fishing hook, he tossed it in the water. Within a minute he had hooked a large trout. Large enough in fact that Jake was worried his line would break. Finally he got it out of the river and then hooked the second bug and caught another fish just as fast.

    By the time he returned to camp, Kai had made a fire and was frying the maggots. He went over to a nearby rock and cleaned both fish then brought them back to Kai. Kai sliced them up and after putting the fried maggots in a mess kit bowl, placed the fish in the pan to fry. Jake dug the Tabasco from his shoulder bag and showed it to Kai. “We can use some of this to flavor the food. It is spicy hot though. Try a tiny bit first to see if you like it.”

    Kai took it and set it near the maggots. While the fish was frying, Kai went out near the river bank and located some wild onions and harvested some young nettle leaves and two big thistle plants. She put the nettle in the pan with the fish and sliced the onions up and added them. She took the Thistle and shaved off all the outer leaves until the stalk was exposed and then peeled the fibrous outer stalk off, exposing the soft, juicy inner stalk. Jake watched in fascination as she chopped up the inner stalk and added it to the mix, then took the root ball that was left and tipped it over, pouring the Thistle’s juices all over the fish and other plants. Jake was surprised at this and even more thankful he had found Kai. Kai handed him the root ball and told him to taste the insides. He did and was surprised to find that it was actually very sweet. Variety was the spice of life.

    “The inside of the bottom of the Thistle is full of liquid. You can drink it like water. It is very sweet. You can eat the inside stalk too, you do not have to cook it.” She informed him.

    Once the meal was done and served, Jake found that the Tabasco was not needed. The fish tasted excellent and the onions added some delicious flavor. The Thistle added a sweet accent also. Kai informed him that onions could be found in most places if you knew what to look for, including other plants like thistle, nettle, asparagus, artichokes, and many others; even potatoes. Jake was in love; even the maggots tasted good.

    “Man that was good Kai!........ I haven’t eaten that well in centuries.”

    “Thank you. What is a century?”

    Jake looked at her and laughed. “A century is 100 years. I was trying to make a joke but I guess it was only funny to me. I still have no idea what happened to me, I guess I can’t really explain it to you.”

    Kai looked at him with amusement. “I do not understand what you say happened to you, but I will try. I know you do not lie. I am glad you liked the meal.”

    “Kai, that was the best meal I have had in a long time. Promise me you will never leave!”

    Kai actually laughed this time and Jake thought it was a beautiful sound. They finally picked up and continued south. Two days later they reached Gardiner, or at least Jake assumed it was Gardiner. Where the north entrance to Yellowstone was, the Stone tower was still standing. Well, most of it anyway. It had crumbled over the years, the top was gone but the two towers remained. The walls on each side had crumbled but were still identifiable. Jake located the tower by following the remnants of the old asphalt road that still showed in patches. It was difficult to see but once Jake knew what he was looking for, he followed it with relative ease. There was nothing left of the town of Gardiner; nothing at all. He could guess at where it used to be, but there was no trace of it. If there were any concrete slabs or foundations left, they were buried under the topsoil. Amazingly though, a bridge still spanned the river where highway 89 used to be. The bridge looked like it was ready to collapse at any time and was just looking for an excuse. Jake and Kai crossed it carefully and safely made it to the south side of the Yellowstone River and into Gardiner.

    They went through the gate between the towers and continued on into the valley. By following the river, they had a steady supply of fish which they supplemented with the last of the deer meat and Kai harvested plants along the way that she added to the meals. Jake was learning a lot about edible plants he never knew until now. Kai cooked rather well rounded meals, providing nutrients that meat alone couldn’t provide.

    On the seventh day out from the cave, Jake fashioned a flat bow from a large branch of willow. It took him a whole day to carve it out and he used some of the 550 cord for a string. He harvested a dozen slender straight branches and whittled and shaved them until they were clean and almost perfectly straight and round. He found some obsidian rock and knapped it until he had several good arrowheads that he was happy with; that was the hardest part and he cut himself several times in the process. Kai saw what he was doing and took the brain tanned deer hide she had finished and cut several long thin strips of latigo. Jake split the tips of the arrow shafts and inserted the arrowheads and then lashed them tightly with the latigo. Until they could make pitch, Jake used one of his pink lady candles and melted wax over the latigo to secure it. Kai had never seen a candle and was fascinated with it. Once that was done, he tested the bow. It was pretty accurate to about 30 or 40 feet. He didn’t know if it was strong enough to bring down a large deer but it he was going to find out.

    The following morning Jake made himself a makeshift ghillie suit with some branches from some ferns and grass and tied them to his arms, legs, and hat. Satisfied with his cover, he grabbed his 308 for backup and told Kai he was going hunting.

    He walked about a half mile from camp until he came to a clearing with a stream running through it. He crept around until he found a game trail and then picked a good spot close by and waited. Several hours went by and he was getting impatient when he heard a scuffling noise nearby. He tensed and waited, expecting to see the animal come down the trail at any second. Instead he heard the shuffling noise behind him and then heard a grunt and a small squeal.

    Jake knew instantly what it was and that he was in trouble. He whirled around just in time to see a javelin come barreling out of the brush straight for him. Jake barely had time to react and he dove sideways as the pig came charging for him. He slapped it with his bow and the pig moved sideways for a second and then spun around and came straight for Jake again. He used his bow as a spear and jammed the end of it into the pigs face. It wasn’t very effective and the pig grabbed it in his teeth and snapped the wood. It slowed the pig down enough that Jake was able to draw his 10mm though and he fired a quick shot at the pig and missed. The pig startled at the noise but instead of running away, charged back in. Jake was on feet by this time though and managed a kick to the pigs head as it charged it. Jakes heavy boot caught the pig behind the ear and it squealed loudly and veered off balance but wasn’t about to give up the fight. As the pig charged in again, Jake fired once more and this time he didn’t miss. The big 10mm slug hit the pig in the center of his forehead and the pig sprawled forward on its face.

    Now, pigs have very small brains and it is hard to hit them, they also have very hard skulls. If you miss a little, the pig doesn’t die, so Jake was quite surprised when the pig staggered to its feet, squealing loud enough to wake the dead and stood there disoriented for a moment. Jake, not wanting to waste anymore ammo, jumped on the pigs back and knocked it to the ground, pinning it. The pig wasn’t about to just lay there and die though so it began kicking and thrashing about. Jake dropped his G20 and pulled his Walk About out while trying desperately to keep the pig contained without getting bit. He plunged the knife into the pigs chest just behind the front leg and then stabbed it again and again, until at last the pig quit moving.

    Jake collapsed beside the pig, breathing hard. His adrenalin had gone into overtime and his heart was pounding and his muscles were shaking. After a few minutes, he got control of his breathing and his heart rate slowed. He stood up and checked himself for injuries. His clothes were torn slightly, but amazingly he was unhurt. He looked at the pig and shook his head. Pork wasn’t what he wanted and that pig stank like he had been decomposing for a year. Jake remembered what a friend of his had said when asked about eating the wild pigs he shot on his ranch; his friend had commented “If I had to choose between eating the pig or a fresh pile of horse shit, I’d eat the horse shit.” Jake couldn’t blame him.

    Oh-well. Food was food and pig hide was tough stuff. It would make good shoes for Kai. Jake picked up his 308 which had fallen aside and his busted bow and then grabbed the pig by the hind legs and started to drag it off. He changed his mind pretty quick. The pig just wouldn’t drag; it was too heavy.

    Jake set everything down and proceeded to dress out the pig. It was tough going skinning that danged thing out. Its hide was tough and apparently glued on with superglue. It took Jake quite a while to get the hide off. It was too tough for his knuckles so he had to use his knife the entire time, then separate the cuts of meat that looked good to him. He wrapped it up in the hide and left everything else behind for scavengers who would probably appreciate the free food. Before he left, he cut out the four huge tusks that he narrowly avoided in the fight and put them in his pocket. He gathered up all his gear and returned to camp.

    When he got there, Kai was waiting anxiously for him.

    “I heard loud noises, like the ones Northern Tribe makes when they attack. Are you okay? I was afraid for you!”

    Jake dropped the pig skin and meat at her feet and then showed her the busted bow. “I was waiting for a deer to come along when this pig attacked me from behind by surprise. I’m not hurt, the blood is from the pig. I shot this” he pulled the G20 out, “at the pig. The first time I missed, the second time I hit him in the head but didn’t kill him. I had to jump on him and kill him with my knife. I didn’t want to waste the ammo because I don’t know when or if I can find more.”

    Kai looked at the pig skin and the meat and nodded. “I’m glad you’re safe. What do you want me to do with that?” She asked, pointing at the meat.

    “Well, I figured food is food and maybe we could use the hide to make shoes for you or anything else we might need.”

    “I will not cook that meat. It will make us sick. We have hunted pig before and the meat always makes us sick. It is a painful sickness that lasts for a long time.”

    Jake knew what she was talking about. Pig farmers had eliminated Trichinosis by what had been modern medicine and advanced animal husbandry techniques but wild animals, especially pig, would definitely be carriers of the disease. Usually if you cooked the meat well enough you wouldn’t have to worry about it, it was undercooked meat that caused the problem. Jake explained it to her and what it was and what caused it. Kai understood but still refused to cook it.

    “Okay, but we can still use the hide right?”

    “Yes. If we can find an oak tree, we can tan it nicely and use it for anything. It is tough enough for shoes like you said and my moccasins are going to wear out soon. We can use Birch or Alder, but Oak is best. It will take at least two weeks.”

    “Okay, I’ll see what I can find. I’m not in any hurry to go anywhere anyway.” Jake took the meat still wrapped in the hide and carried it far away from camp and dumped it. He kept watch for oak, alder, or birch trees and saw a few several along the way. When he returned, he told Kai what he saw and she told him they would need a large log to make a big bowl to hold the hide and several pounds of bark. Jake replied he would get it but he had something else to take care of first.

    Jake had left early in the day for his hunting trip and it was still early afternoon and warm. He went down to the river and when he found a likely spot, he stripped off all his gear but left his clothing on and then jumped in the water. He almost had a heart attack.

    The water was icy cold. It took Jake a few shocked minutes to get his breath and adjust to the temperature. The Yellowstone flowed north, and judging by the temperature of the water had to be coming from a glacier. He considered this for a minute. There were no glaciers in Yellowstone Park that he could recall, but things had changed a lot so there was no telling what was there now. He didn’t want to stay long so he scrubbed his face and hair with his hands as much as he could and then thrashed around in the water trying to clean his clothes as much as possible. He stripped in the water down to his underwear and scrubbed his clothing together with his hands until he was satisfied they were clean enough. Most of the pigs blood came out and virtually all of the dirt from the last several days of travel. He wished he could get rid of his beard which was getting pretty heavy and thick on his face.

    Climbing out of the water, he gathered up all his wet clothes and walked back to camp. There were some boulders nearby so he spread out his clothes on the rocks and let them dry. ‘Thank God it was a warm day’ he thought to himself.

    Kai just watched him as she prepared some fish with an assortment of plants as she always did. He walked over to the fire and warmed himself some more. Evidently an almost naked man didn’t phase Kai, she hardly gave him a second glance and just continued preparing food.

    He dug out the coffee and looked in dismay as he realized there was only one serving left. He swore under his breath and then dug out the coffee pot and filled it with water and put it near the fire to boil. “This is the last of the coffee Kai.” He dropped the bag near the fire but away from the heat. He hadn’t used the sugar at all in case of further injuries.

    “I can make tea. It’s good and we will never run out because the plants grow everywhere.”

    “Really? What do you make the tea with?”

    “Yarrow. And Dandelion. And a few other plants and herbs that grow around.”

    “Wow. I never knew any of that. All my time on the road and I never learned anything about wild plants. You’re incredible Kai.”

    Kai just smiled and looked away and continued with her meal preparation. Jake dug his second and only spare pants from his pack and put them on, then his boots. He put the G20 into his waistband and a second magazine in a pocket; then he grabbed his hatchet and the Armageddon and left for the nearest oak tree.

    After scraping several pounds of bark from several of the oak trees, near the base as Kai had recommended, he gathered it all in a pile and realized he nothing to carry it in. He went back to camp, retrieved the deer hide and brought back the oak bark.

    Kai told him to find a very large log that he could hollow out enough to hold the hide and tanning mixture. Jake had no idea what Kai was up to but he went along and figured he would learn as he went.

    He walked through the forest and looked for something that would work. He finally found a large tree that had fallen for some reason. It was a Spruce tree and it was still somewhat green; not fully dried out. He thought it would work but he wasn’t sure how he would move it. He didn’t need the entire thing though, so he set to work hacking a five foot length off the trunk. He was glad the tree was still green a little because the hatchet bit deep and tore off big chunks with each stroke he gave it. It took him about an hour with several rest breaks and switching hands from time to time. Once he was done, he buried the hatchet as hard as he could into the end of the piece he cut off and began dragging it back to camp.

    He finally reached camp, exhausted, and sat down on a rock to rest. Kai wasn’t there. He looked around and couldn’t see her anywhere. A fleeting moment of panic came over him and then it was gone. He wondered where she could have gone to. Jake grabbed his M4 and looked around the camp quickly for any sign of trouble. Nothing was missing as far as he could tell and nothing appeared disturbed. He hadn’t been that far away and he would have heard her scream if she had. He saw her tracks leading to the river.

    He ran quickly to the river and stopped suddenly when he saw her in the water. She had her back to him and was bathing. And she was naked. Jake watched her for several minutes but if she knew he was there, she gave no indication of it. He returned to camp and left her alone to finish in privacy.

    He pulled the log over to the fire and sat down on it. His lunch was waiting for him so he relaxed and ate it, enjoying every bite. By the time he finished, Kai was just walking back to the camp. “God she’s beautiful!’ Jake thought to himself. “You gave me scare Kai. I came back and you were gone. How was your bath?”

    “Very nice. I feel much better now. Did you like your lunch?”

    “Kai, you’re a excellent cook. I couldn’t ask for better food.”

    Kai blushed and sat down. “You need to hollow out that log until it is big enough for the hide and the tanning mix.”

    Jake set to work hacking out the length of the log, creating a large tub in the middle of it. He worked late into the evening and finally quit as the sun was just disappearing over the mountains. He was utterly exhausted from the work. Meanwhile, Kai had collected a large amount of yarrow and dandelion leaves and some other plants and was making a tea with some of the leaves. She stored the rest in her bag, wrapped up in a rag. She also caught several fish and cooked them, with some wild plants and some other herbs as well as a mess of maggots she had dug up from another rotten log and bear had ripped open.

    When the meal was done, they both sipped their tea. Jake was admiring Kai’s beauty silently to himself, after her bath, she was incredible. Her jet black hair was smooth, he had no idea how she had managed to comb it, and her skin was clean and smooth. All the dirt was gone and she looked absolutely stunning. Jake was having wild thoughts and trying to keep the smirk off his face.

    After relaxing for awhile, they both decided to turn in. Jake unrolled the sleeping bag for Kai and his own bedroll. He picked up his M4 and walked off into the darkness away from camp to listen to the night for a while. After listening for several minutes and staring up at the sky filled with an impossible number of stars, he returned to camp. His clothes were dry and warm from the reflected heat of the rock so he dressed in his old clothes and turned in, keeping his M4 beside him and his G20 in his hand. Kai was already asleep.

    Several miles to the east, a raider stood talking with several others. Kai wasn’t the only one who heard the shots that day.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 9

    Chapter 9.

    The next morning, Jake finished hollowing out the barrel in the log while Kai made a rack and began drying the bark over the fire. By the time Jake finished with the makeshift barrel, Kai had dried the bark to the point where she was satisfied and had begun smashing it up and grinding it down into small chunks and dust using some rocks and the pig skin she used as a blanket to hold the stuff. Seeing what she was doing, Jake hunted down some more rocks and sat down and helped her. In an hour or so, they had ground up and busted up about five pounds of bark. Kai thought it was good enough and told Jake to bring up water from the river. He grabbed the collapsible pail and both coffee pots and went to the river and filled everything.

    When he returned, Kai had dumped all the bark into the barrel and was picking through the chunks of wood from his log barrel for select pieces and throwing them into the log barrel as well. She told him to boil all the water and then dump it into the log barrel until it was full. He put the pots on the fire and then dug out all the mess kits and used all of the metal dishes and small pots to boil water as well.

    There wasn’t much to do while they waited for the water boil, so Jake cleaned his guns one at a time and resharpened all his knives. Meanwhile Kai stretched the pigskin over a smooth boulder and proceeded to shave and scrape the sparse, course hairs off the hide. When she finished with that, she flipped the hide over and began fleshing it.

    When the water was ready, Jake stopped cleaning and poured the water into the log barrel and then refilled all the pots. He took the collapsible pail back to the river and filled it, stopping to catch a few fish while he was there.

    When he returned again, Kai was done fleshing the hide and was cleaning her knife at the fire. He showed her the fish and she smiled at him and took them and began cleaning them for lunch. Jake was so used to her cooking now, he dreaded the day he would have to cook for himself again. He hoped that day would never come.

    He finished cleaning his guns and sharpening his knives and put everything away. The second batch of water was ready so he poured it into the log barrel and Kai told him to stir it up well. He just used his hand since the first batch of water had cooled enough to absorb the heat from the second batch. The water was still very warm and as he stirred it he could visibly see why they were using warm water. The water turned dark as the tannins and other chemicals leeched from the bark and wood into the water.

    Jake repeated this process until the barrel was full, then Kai took the hide from the boulder where it had been drying in the sun and submerged it in the water, stirring it all around and making sure it was well saturated and mixed up.

    “Now we wait. Two weeks.” She said

    “Two weeks? Why two weeks?”
    “Because the pig skin is very thick and very tough and it takes a long time for the tanning mix to soak through the hide. Sometimes we have soaked hides for a full year. Two weeks is good enough for shoe leather.” She stated the last part matter-of-factly and Jake decided he understood enough for it to make sense. He had never studied tanning hides and was only halfway decent at it. The smoked wolf hide had held up well so far. He knew that ash was sometimes used and he had always used salt whenever they butchered sheep back home. It worked well enough but it definitely would not win any prizes.

    The rest of the day was uneventful. Kai showed Jake several types of plants that were good for eating and medicine, some were good for both. There was cattail and the stalks, when young, were good for eating, as was the root. The down from the flower at the top was good for stopping bleeding in a wound. Horsetail, where they could find it, was good for making tea and cleansed the blood and helped with nervousness and anxiety. It was also good for treating wounds when boiled into a tea and used in a compress. She showed him Thistle and how to eat it. He did and found it was actually very good. There was the nettle she had used, sagebrush, chaparral, gooseberry, silver buffalo berry, blackberry, and a bunch of other native plants that could be eaten or used for treatments.

    They spent a lot of time the next four days walking the forest and she taught him things he never knew about living the primitive life. He already knew a few basic skills, like making fire with the bow and drill. She showed him how to make a fire bed and catch trout with his hands. That was actually pretty easy in the smaller streams. He would find a spot where the bank was slightly undercut and then lay down and reach his hand under the bank and feel around until he felt a fish and then grabbed it. The fish didn’t know they were in trouble until it was too late. They weren’t big trout, just small yellow trout that they could even eat raw if they wanted.

    He built a couple spears and they speared some of the larger salmon in the river and they were really good to eat. Kai showed him how to set snares that actually worked, including some deadfall types and some mechanical snares. They caught three rabbits and four marmots with her snares. He only caught a squirrel. Kai laughed and told him he would get better with practice.

    She showed him how to trap birds but that wasn’t very practical. Birds didn’t have much meat weren’t really worth the trouble. He worked on another bow, this time using a heavier and longer piece of willow. He took his time with it, taking two days to carve it out. He made longer arrows and on several of them, he simply sharpened the tip to a needle point and hardened them in the fire. The others he put the obsidian tips in and lashed them. But this time, since they had the time, he gathered a bunch of pine sap and made pitch by boiling it in a pot of water until the impurities were separated fully. Once he scraped the impurities off the top, he set the water aside to cool. As it did, he stirred it with a stick until all the pine pitch was stuck to it. The pitch was then warmed up and dripped over the lashings of the arrows. When it was completely cooled off it was as hard as rock and better than glue. It would hold a lot better than his wax could ever hope to.

    He let the stick with the pitch cool and then placed it in his pack for future use. On the fifth day, he went out before dawn and stalked the meadow where the pig had attacked him. He waited an hour before a big buck walked into the clearing and within a few feet of him. Jake held his breath, barely breathing as the buck got closer and closer. At the last second, Jake pulled his arrow all the way back and let fly at the bucks flank, just behind the front leg. The distance must have been less than 15 feet and the buck jumped about four feet in the air and took off with a bound across the meadow away from Jake. He cursed under his breath and got set for a long hunt but he stood up just in time to see the buck go flying head over heels as the arrow did its job.

    He breathed a sigh of relief and hiked over to the buck and quickly field dressed it, keeping the head. The antlers would make good tools. He wrapped everything up in the hide and slung it over his shoulder and humped it back to camp. It was farther than he remembered and the deer was heavier than he thought by the time he got back. If he had to guess it was probably close to 200 pounds of meat; enough to last a very long time.

    Kai cleaned the hide like she did with the pig skin, only she left the hair on the deer hide. She told Jake to chop the skull open and remove the brain like he did with the fawn. That was quite a project since the skull was harder than a rock and pretty thick. He used his hatchet and his ATAX and after much cursing and sweating and some nicks and scratches managed to get the brain out. It was pretty mushy and mangled by the time he got to it but that was fine because Kai immediately put it in the largest bowl they had and added some warm water and then blended the concoction up until it was a creamy paste. She then took the paste and liberally spread it over the hide, massaging it in with her fingers. Once the flesh side was fully coated, she flipped the hide over on the rock and thoroughly worked it into the hair and hide. Then she flipped it over again and applied a second coat a little thicker than the first and rolled the hide up tightly. She covered it with the fawn hide and let it sit.

    After a few hours, she unrolled it and stretched it out on the rock again. Once it started to dry, she began working the hide, breaking it down and massaging it until it was supple and soft. Once that was done, she hung it over the fire and smoked it. After she removed it from the fire, she took it to the rock again and beat it against the rock until it was completely broken in.

    Dinner that night was deer steaks and fish and wild ‘vegetables’ as Jake had taken to calling them. It was feast for sure. Jake was positive when it came time to move out, they would be too fat to go very far.

    That night around the campfire, Kai finally got the best of him and he gave in and leaned over and kissed her. She responded at once and before he could think about the situation, the fire was burning and there was only one way to put it out. After the fireworks, they both lay there for awhile trying to catch their breath, basking in the moment. That sealed the deal for both of them. They didn’t need a preacher to sign the paperwork, their relationship was sealed and there was no turning back. Jake realized he truly loved this woman. She was a blessing and a life saver. He could not say what would have happened to him without her. He might have gone insane from being alone, or stumbled onto that Northern Tribe and been killed. He held her tighter and thanked God for sending her his direction.

    The next morning dawned gray and foggy. The air was cool and wet and they were huddled together in his blankets, sitting close and staring at the fire. Jake reached out and put another log on the on the fire. Kai put her head on his shoulder.

    There was nothing to say. What could they say? They just sat there enjoying the fire and each others warmth for what seemed like hours to both of them. After a while the sun began to burn through the fog and Jake looked around at Kai.

    “You hungry?”

    “Yes. I’m very hungry.”

    “So am I.” He leaned out of the blankets and grabbed some of the deer meat and sliced off several big pieces into the skillet. As that started frying, Kai pulled some herbs from her accumulated stash and put them into a coffee pot with some water. As the water was heating and the meat cooking, passion took over once more and they forgot about the food. When they came up for air, the meat was burning and the water was boiling.

    “Crap!” Exclaimed Jake as he grabbed the skillet, burning his bare hand in the process. The meat was well charred on one side so he flipped it and put the skillet back on the fire. Kai examined his hand but it wasn’t bad; he would live.

    Kai removed the pot from the fire and poured them both a cup full. Jake sipped carefully after letting it cool for several minutes. It was good tea. She had showed him how to make it a few days ago when the coffee finally disappeared. It had a pick up like coffee did too, but it didn’t stain your teeth.

    After they enjoyed their meal and each other again, they both got dressed and Kai proceeded to prepare the deer meat for smoking and preservation. She was going to make a lot of jerky this time around too. After all, they had plenty of meat to work with.

    It was the seventh day at their camp. It was nice area and the scenery was magnificent. The mountain range surrounded them on all sides and rose sharply into the sky. The Absaroka mountain range was to their east/northeast and the Teton’s were directly west and southwest of them. They were closer to the Teton’s though and could clearly see them. Jake noted that there was no snow on them either.

    He took the deer hide down to the river and thoroughly cleaned it, washing all the remaining brain tanning material from the hair and underside. He drug it out of the water and wrung it out as best he could. It was a big hide and heavy when wet. He threw it over his shoulder and took it back to camp where he spread it on the rock again and let it dry. Kai told him to make sure to move it as it dried to keep it supple and soft, otherwise it would dry stiff and hard. The brain tan was pretty quick, but it didn’t offer much protection from water.

    Jake noticed that they were almost out of firewood and told Kai he was going into the woods to get more. He checked his G20 to make sure it was full and loaded and then set off, grabbing his hatchet as he went. He wasn’t worried; there had been no indication of anyone or anything other than wild animals for the past week. They weren’t being pursued and as far he knew, no one knew they existed. He left his M4 behind.

    He walked around gathering up fire wood in his arms. Once he thought he heard something, but when he stopped to listen he heard nothing more. When he had an armful, he began walking back to camp.

    Jake heard Kai scream from the direction of camp and he dropped his wood and took off at a dead run in her direction. He heard her scream again and then he heard the pounding of hooves on the ground. He broke into the clearing where their camp was at a dead run, his G20 in his right hand, his hatchet in his left.

    He took in the scene as he ran. There were four horsemen to his right with spears and two more galloping around the camp toward the river. Kai was just ahead of them and running as fast as she could toward the river, the two horsemen were almost on top of her. As he watched, he saw her trip and go tumbling to the ground, the two horsemen thundered on by and then wheeled around and came back for her.

    No one had yet seen Jake as he came running out of the woods. He took the scene in with a glance as he ran. There was nothing he could do for Kai, but he could do something about these other four. He ran toward the four horsemen, coming up behind them. He must have spooked their horses because they started suddenly and jumped forward, almost dismounting two of the riders and the third went tumbling. The fourth man recovered quickly and spun his horse around, saw Jake and charged him with his spear pointed right at Jakes chest.

    Jake didn’t even flinch, he pointed the gun at the man and fired, almost at the last second and was rewarded when he saw the man’s chest fairly cave in from the 10mm round. The spear dropped, barely missing Jake, and the man toppled off his horse as it ran by. The other two had recovered and were charging down on Jake at a full run. Without stopping or even slowing down, he fired two quick shots at the charging horsemen, hitting one horse in the chest and saw it stumble and go down. He must have winged the other rider because he dropped his spear and grabbed his ear.

    Jake was almost to camp. He could see his M4 and his 308 lying near his packs. He was close, only about 50 more feet when the warrior that got tossed off his horse jumped up in front of Jake with a knife held low and swung it in and up, intending to gut Jake right then and there. Jake barely ducked the stroke and felt the knife slide across his stomach. He didn’t feel anything, the rush of adrenalin was on him and his bloodlust was in full fury and he was seeing red, he didn’t know if Kai was alive or dead. The mans knife hand went sailing by as if in slow motion and Jake spun around with it to his left, going with the momentum of the stroke and trying to minimize the damage. He continued to spin in a full 360 degrees and when he came back around the man was slicing back into Jake on the return stroke. Jake blocked it by burying his hatchet into the man’s forearm and followed it up by bringing his right hand up and planted the muzzle of the G20 right in the mans eye and squeezed the trigger. The man’s head exploded into a red mist and he fell in front of Jake. Jake jumped over the body and ran into the camp, diving for his M4. He heard the galloping of a horse coming up behind him and spun around just in time to see the horse jump over him and mans spear come hurling at him. He fired his M4 at the man and saw his chin disappear and the back of his explode from the bullet and then the horse was past and the man with him. The spear impacted against Jakes head and stars exploded across his eyes. The last thing he heard was Kai scream again and the galloping of horses and then the world faded away.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 10

    Chapter 10.

    Kai saw the riders come into the clearing and instantly fear surged through her. Her mind flashed back to her village and that night when the Northern Tribe invaded. She knew she was caught and there was no place to run. She panicked and screamed as the riders spotted her and came toward the camp at a full run. The pounding of the horse’s hooves sounded like thunder in her ears and she turned and ran for the river.

    She looked over her shoulder and saw Jake come running out of the trees toward the camp and then she saw two of the riders barreling down on her. She screamed again and looked back forward, desperate to make it to the river. What safety that would provide she didn’t know, but it was away from the attackers. She stumbled suddenly on a rock and fell forward, sprawling on her belly and smacking her head against another rock, temporarily dazing her. The two horsemen thundered by as she unexpectedly fell and she heard them continue a ways and then turn around come back. She heard gunshots from Jakes direction.

    Her head was pounding and she was terrified. She saw the two riders coming back and tried to stand again, but one of the horses slammed into her and she screamed as she was knocked backward and her head slammed into the hard ground. As if hearing things from far away, she barely heard more gunshots and the pounding hooves on the earth. She was only barely aware when the sounds suddenly ceased and then she sensed someone standing over her. She felt the terror welling up inside her, she knew what happened to prisoners, especially the women, and she was panicking. She wanted to scream; to fight; to die. But her body wouldn’t respond.

    She couldn’t see anything, everything was black. She didn’t know where she was. Kai felt like she was detached from her body, as if she was spectator to this nightmare that had suddenly come upon her. She felt a foot nudge her and heard voices but she couldn’t understand them.

    Her head felt warm and pain began to creep in. At first it was just a dull throb but then it got harder and more painful and spread down her neck and into her shoulders. It became more intense until she wanted to scream, but she couldn’t. Her chest was burning and she needed to breathe. The voices faded away and then everything else faded out and she drifted into oblivion.

    Kai wasn’t aware of anything for a very long time. She slowly drifted back into consciousness and she was aware that she was breathing again. She didn’t open her eyes though and waited to find out what her other senses would tell her. She didn’t hear anything. There was no sound at all. She felt the hard ground underneath her and the grass she was laying on. There was a slight breeze on her face and legs.

    Slowly she opened her eyes and found herself staring up at the starry night sky. The moon was full and bright and lit the area with a soft silvery glow. She turned her head and a stabbing pain shot down her neck and her head began pounding with heavy dull thuds that made her wince in pain. Off to her left, the grass was bending slightly in the breeze and reflecting moon light in silvery strands. She saw the same on her right side. She tried to sit up but collapsed back down on her back. She heard a roaring in her ears and it took her a moment to realize it was the river flowing below her. Her ears were amplifying the sound and it sounded incredibly loud to her.

    She waited for the sound to subside and then forced herself to roll over on her side. She felt like she would throw up from the movement. The feeling of nausea washed over her and she broke out in a cold sweat. She didn’t know what was wrong with her and she tried to remember what had happened.

    It all started to come back to her, slowly at first and then the memories flooded back all at once. She was suddenly scared and felt the panic rising up inside her again. It only amplified the pain she was feeling so she fought it back down, trying to keep her mind focused and think about the situation she was in. She wasn’t tied up, that was good.

    Where was she? She continued to roll over onto her belly and the movement made her head swim. Her chest was incredibly sore she discovered as she tried to push herself up. It was a challenging and painful job but she finally managed to get to her hands and knees and then sit up on her heels and look around.

    Her eyes wouldn’t focus and everything was blurry. She blinked a few times and rubbed her eyes. Her head was pounding fiercely now and she was squinting from the pain. She reached up and put her hands on her head and her hair felt crusty and matted. She felt around more and discovered a large gash on the back of her head. Blood was all over the ground where she had been lying and she knew that it was blood in her hair.

    Her throat was dry and her mouth felt like cotton. She needed water. She slowly turned toward the river and managed to crawl down the bank toward the water. The icy water shocked her back to her senses and caused a rush of adrenalin to course through her body. She crawled forward a bit more and put her head in the water, drinking a little and feeling the cold water sear its way down her throat and land like a rock in her belly. She moaned in pain but it slowly subsided and she carefully drank some more; each time less painful than the last as her dehydrated body adapted to the shock of the cold water. She put her head under the water and let the river soak the blood out of her hair and wound. Despite the cold, it was a huge relief and the icy water numbed the pain.

    She pulled her head out and drank some more water. She moved back from the bank and then managed to stagger to her feet. She looked around slowly and realized this place was familiar. Of course it was, it was where she and Jake had been camped while waiting for the skins to tan for the past week.

    JAKE!! Suddenly she felt an urgent fear wash over her. Where was he? Was he alive? She felt the panic set in again and fought it down. She would be no help to Jake if she gave in to her fear. She stopped for a minute and regained her composure, pushing the panic down and forcing her mind to think rationally. Her headache subsided a little after the cold water treatment and the pain in her neck was almost gone. Her chest hurt really bad and she wondered why until she remembered the horse crashing into her and sending her flying backward into the dirt.

    Her eyes slowly came back into focus as her headache subsided and she attempted a step. She swayed and felt off balance but she didn’t fall. She took another step and made it and then continued staggering up the hill back towards the camp.

    As she approached the camp, she saw that the entire camp was strewn with the contents of their packs. Everything was tossed about and opened and spread all over. She couldn’t tell if anything was missing or not. She wouldn’t know anyway, she reflected; Jake had never fully unpacked anything. Where was Jake? She recalled hearing gunshots during the attack. She felt the panic again. Did they take him prisoner? Would he have left her?

    She slowly turned and looked around the campsite. She saw the log barrel was still there, but the hide was gone. She looked over at the rock where the deer hide had been. It was gone too. She looked around for their meat. It was gone. She looked over at where they had slept the night before and saw the blankets were still there but they had been tossed around. Absently she checked her waist for her knife and found it was still there.

    She walked out from camp toward the forest and almost tripped over the body of the man Jake had shot in the face. She almost screamed again when she saw his head was almost gone. She backed away quickly and turned back to camp. Then she saw Jake.

    She froze in her tracks and stared for a minute. Jake was lying on top of his pack, which hadn’t been touched for some reason, the M4 was still in his hands. He was covered in blood. His stomach and head were drenched with blood; it glistened slightly in the moonlight. A spear was sticking in the ground next to his head.

    Kai’s heart stopped for a minute and then she took another breath and stumbled forward, trying not to panic. Tears were streaming fast down her face and she was sobbing. She knelt beside him and took his head in her hands, turning it slowly toward her and looked at the wound. The spear tip had glanced off his skull, tearing it to the bone and then sliced through the upper portion of his left ear before burying itself in the dirt. The wound had bled significantly and the ground beneath Jakes head was saturated with blood.

    She looked quickly down at his belly and saw that his clothing was soaked in blood and there was a long gash across the front of his shirt and she could see the open wound through the cut. She quickly pulled her knife from her waist and cut his shirt off and looked closer. It had cut deep, but it hadn’t severed the muscle tissue. It was serious wound though and would need immediate treatment to keep it from getting infected.

    She wasn’t even sure he was still alive. She put her ear to his chest and listened intently for a heart beat. Her heart soared when she heard it; slow, but steady. Kai completely forgot her own injuries for the moment and quickly rushed to make a fire. Once the fire was going, she put water on to boil and searched around the camp through the debris for a rag. There had been several, now it seemed she couldn’t find a single one. In frustration, she ripped the shirt apart that Jake was wearing and threw it in the pot of boiling water. She found her stash of herbs and plants she had gathered and quickly put together a poultice by crushing the plants in a small bowl and adding some warm water until she had a thick mixture. She took the hot water over to Jake and began to carefully bathe his wounds until they were clean. She took the poultice and packed it into the wounds on his stomach and on his head. She looked in vain for something to use as a wrap to hold it in place. When she couldn’t find anything, she took her knife and cut the bottom of her buckskin dress off, creating two long ribbons. She wrapped one carefully around Jakes head and the other around his slim waist, securing the poultice in the wound.

    She set the M4 close by and tried to make him as comfortable as possible. She was still crying, but she was doing something about their situation. She took the rest of the poultice and put it in a fresh pot of water and let it boil into a tea. She poured some into a cup and let it cool while she drank a cup of her own. Once she thought it was cool enough, she cupped Jakes head in her lap and carefully tried to get him to drink some. She poured a small amount into his mouth and felt a moment of hope when his body responded by swallowing. Over the next hour she managed to get the rest of the cup into his body, one small swallow at a time.

    The sun was coming up in the east when Kai finally collapsed from exhaustion, lying next to Jake. She didn’t hear the horses come, nor did she wake when she was picked up and laid into a wagon. She didn’t wake when they began dragging her away, the wagon bumping along the ground, supporting her in a bed of blankets and buffalo hide. She didn’t wake up either when they lifted her again and placed her in a room on another bed of blankets.

    It was pitch black when Kai woke again. She tried to remember where she was for a minute. There were no stars and no light at all. Suddenly she realized that she was lying on a bed of blankets and she sat up fast, making her head swim as she did so. Instinctively, she reached up and touched her head where the gash was and discovered it was bandaged. She looked around her but everything was pitch black. Where was she? And where was Jake?

    She felt around her and felt a body lying next to her. She felt it carefully; the body was naked and she found the wounds, but they had been redone differently from what she had done; there was some sort of tight wrapping around them. It was Jake all right, that much she knew. She was scared beyond belief and didn’t know where she was. She was desperately thirsty but she dared not get up. She didn’t know what was around her or who had taken them. She suffered in silence for a long time, sitting in the darkness and letting her mind imagine all kinds of horrible things. She hugged her knees to her chest and sat there, trembling from the pain of her horrible headache and the fear of the unknown.

    After an eternity of waiting, she finally began to make out her surroundings as the darkness faded slightly with the coming of the dawn. She was in some sort of room, it was built with logs and there was a door in the center of one wall. A window was beside it with a heavy blanket draped over it. As the light increased slightly, she could make out more details of the room. She saw their packs sitting in one corner. Jakes M4 and the other rifle were leaning against the wall beside the packs. She saw his belt with all his knives sitting on the floor against the packs. There was a bundled blanket that she recognized as Jakes bedroll. It was stuffed full and tied together at the corners. She guessed it was all the gear that had been spread out all over the camp. It surprised her when she saw the two hides lying on the floor against the wall next to where the packs were. Then she suddenly got scared. Were these the same people that had attacked them? She calmed herself down and thought that if they were, why would they have bothered to pick them up and then give them back their weapons?

    She looked over at Jake and saw he was resting peacefully. His wounds had been dressed and wrapped in some sort of white material. Satisfied that he was okay for the moment and that they were alone in the room, she carefully got out of bed, trying to be as silent as possible, and went over to the packs and grabbed one of the Camelbacks. She sucked on the tube for a long time, draining the Camelback, and then she took a canteen and went back and lay down next to Jake and tried to get him to swallow some water.

    His lips looked dry and she knew he had lost lots of blood. He needed water and lots of it. She managed to get several swallows into him when the door to the room suddenly opened and a fat man in a white apron and black shirt walked in. He had a beard and no hair on the top of his head. He was carrying a black bag in his left hand and had some sort of necklace around his neck. It had two long metal tubes on each side and long center piece with metal medallion attached to the end. He stopped just inside the room when he saw she was awake and trying to feed Jake some water.

    Kai reacted by reaching for her knife. It wasn’t there. She sat up quickly and defensively put herself between Jake and this new man. They stared at each other for a minute or two and Kai didn’t think he looked like much of a threat or a dangerous man. She had almost made up her mind he was safe when he spoke something to her. Kai didn’t understand a word he said, but she knew it wasn’t the language of the Northern Tribe. That was a little relief to her anyway; although she realized if it had been the Northern Tribe, Jake would be dead and his head on a stick and she would have been a play toy for the hordes. This man had a kind look on his face and wasn’t making any threatening movements.

    The man appeared to be waiting for an answer of some sort. She just stared back at him and tried not show any fear or any other expression that would betray her feelings. The man tried again and still she didn’t understand. She just continued to stare at him.

    Finally the man decided she couldn’t understand him and he motioned to someone outside the door. She looked that way and noticed that door led into another room. Another man walked into the room, this one was rather tall and slim. He was also dressed in a black shirt and wore a white apron. This one had hair on his head, but no beard. Both men were dark skinned, as if they had a deep tan. The new guy tried to speak to her now. It sounded like a question but she didn’t understand the language. He asked again.

    The two men looked at each other and shrugged and then the skinny one left the room. A few minutes later another man came in. He was about the same height as Jake and powerfully built. He had no hair at all and he was dressed differently than the others. He was wearing clothes like Jake wore and a jacket with no sleeves; there was a badge on his chest that said ‘Sheriff’. He looked at Kai carefully and she could see he wasn’t a bad man; his eyes were soft and his expression was one of caring. He spoke to her.

    “What’s your name ma’am?”

    Kai didn’t know what ‘ma’am’ was but the man was obviously talking to her. She wasn’t sure if she should answer him or not but finally decided that she was at their mercy anyway and they apparently meant no harm to her; and someone had cared for Jake.

    “Kai.”

    “Kai. That is a nice name Kai. My name is Joshua Razzor. Who is your friend Kai?”

    “His name is Jake. He is my husband.”

    “So I thought. We guessed what happened to you Kai. We will tell you when you are rested and well. We are going to help you and Jake to get well. We mean you no harm as you can certainly tell and you are safe here. I need to have the doctor look at Jakes wounds again. They are pretty serious. This man here is the doctor,” Joshua pointed at the fat man with the bag, “His name is Ismael. Do you mind?”

    Kai looked at him and decided he was telling the truth. “Fine. But I am not leaving.”

    “I didn’t think you would. I will tell the nurse you are awake and have her bring you some food. I am sure you are hungry.”

    “Yes.” Kai paused, then said hesitantly “Thank you.”

    Joshua left the room and Ismael moved over to Jake and began to remove the bandages and treat the wounds. He worked quickly and silently and when he finished, he checked Kai’s head and chest. When he motioned for her to remove her dress, she hesitated for a minute and then took it off, feeling rather embarrassed about it. She was horrified to see that her entire left side was horribly bruised and several shades of blue and black and purple. Her left breast was painful to touch, almost as much as her ribs and chest. Ismael didn’t seem to even notice that she was a naked woman; he just examined her quickly and efficiently, pushing here and prodding there; noticing when she winced or flinched from the pain. He used that strange necklace, now in his ears, and put the disk on her chest and back. He motioned for her to take a deep a breath and exhale it slowly. She understood and did as he asked. Kai didn’t have a clue what he was doing. Ismael picked up her buckskin dress and handed it back to her and then left the room, closing the door after him.

    The nurse who came in was a woman about Kai’s height and age and she was also dressed in a black shirt and dress and a white apron. The nurse smiled at Kai as she came in but didn’t say anything. She was carrying a tray with some assorted food on it. Kai examined it and found there were eggs. Something she had had only once before in her life when one of the men in her village had raided an eagles nest and stolen the eggs. She found the eggs to be delicious. There was also a slice of some sort of meat and some kind of orange and green fruit she had never eaten before.

    Kai carefully tested the fruit, she had no idea what it was. The orange fruit tasted very sweet and refreshing and had lots of juice. The green fruit was soft and mushy and had a unique flavor she had never tasted before; it was not juicy but slimy and slippery.

    She found that she was famished and devoured every bite. There was a glass of milk on the tray which she had never tasted before. It was warm and pleasant, but had a strong aftertaste.

    The doctor had given Jake something to drink when he was treating him and so Kai just lay back down next to Jake and put her arm across his chest and after a moment, fell asleep.

    The next 3 days passed slowly. Ismael was a good doctor and treated Jake every few hours, cleaning the wounds and dressing them with fresh bandages. He paid special attention to Jakes head where the spear had cut to the bone. The top of his left ear was gone and he would have a horrible scar along his face and scalp for the rest of his life, but at least he was alive. The laceration across Jake’s stomach was healing well also. Ismael kept it packed with a poultice of herbs and some other stuff Kai didn’t recognize. He had used some brown liquid to bathe the wound that left Jakes skin stained yellow.

    The first night there, Jake had been taken by a fever and an infection had set in. He was sweating profusely and became delusional. Several times he would appear to wake up, only to pass out again. Kai was scared he would die and never left his side. The doctors watched over him constantly, bathing him with cold water and forcing him to drink. On the morning of the third day Jake’s fever broke and he slept peacefully for about eight hours and then suddenly woke up.

    He lay there quietly for several minutes, trying to gather his thoughts and figure out where he was and what had happened to him. Slowly he remembered the fight along the river and seeing Kai fall before the two horsemen. He had rushed in and killed at least two of the attackers, maybe a third, but his memory was fuzzy. He remembered the horse jumping over him and the spear hurling at his head.

    Kai! Where was she?! Where was he? He turned his head and looked around the room. He was lying on the floor on a bed of blankets in a room built of logs. There was a window beside a door in the wall, the curtains were pulled back and he could see the blue sky and the sun shining in. He tried to sit up slowly and his abdomen burned like fire. He collapsed back on the bed and raised his head and looked down. He was completely naked with a blanket over his legs and waist. His stomach was wrapped in a white linen, almost like gauze. He could see the multi colored stains bleeding through from whatever had been packed on the wound. His mind flashed back to the brief fight with the man with the knife. Jake guessed he must have been cut after all, strange he didn’t feel it at the time.

    He reached up and felt his head and discovered it was wrapped as well. He remembered the spear again and gingerly felt the area where it had hit. He couldn’t really feel any of the damage through the wrapping.

    He relaxed back into the bed. He had no idea where he was, what had happened, who had found him, or how much time had passed since the fight. As he tried to think, he had fleeting memories of people standing over him and Kai crying in his ear, almost like an out-of-body experience, like a spectator to his own tragic end.

    He thought of Kai again and sadness washed over him. He had no idea what had happened to her. The sadness was slowly replaced by anger, then rage. It began burning deep inside him and his mind focused on one sole thought, to escape from this place and track down and kill every last man who had anything to do with harming Kai. He lay there for a long time smoldering in his rage and trying to figure out what to do.

    Obviously these people were not the enemy. If they were, they would not have treated him and cared for him. He didn’t know if he was a prisoner or not but he had to assume he was for the moment. He knew he was in bad shape, but he felt like he could move if he had too. The side of his head throbbed a little where the wound was but it was tolerable and he didn’t have a headache. He turned his head and looked around the room again, trying to locate all the possible escape routes. He stopped when he saw their packs against the wall and all his guns and knives and gear piled in a heap. He noticed the M4 still had its magazine inserted.

    Jake paused and thought about that for a minute. Either these people didn’t know what a gun was and thus didn’t consider it a threat; or they were friendly and he was not a prisoner after all. The more he considered it, the less it made sense for him to be a prisoner. He wasn’t tied and all his knives were there, less than ten away. These people had to know what a knife was; knives had been around since the beginning of time. He concluded he was not a prisoner and that these people, whoever they were, were not his enemies and presumably friendly.

    He tried again to sit up and grimaced with the pain, but sat up anyway. He saw his canteen lying beside the bed and reached over and picked it up. Suddenly he realized he was very thirsty, so he took a small swallow first to allow his body to adjust to the shock. It wasn’t a bad reaction and the water tasted sweet and he enjoyed the sensation as the coolness ran down his parched throat and spread through his body. After a few seconds, he drank some more, waited, and then drank the entire canteen. He sat there for a while waiting for his body to soak up the water then he managed to stagger to his feet.

    He went first to his pack and bent over and grabbed his Walk About off of his belt, a knife was silent and he didn’t see his G20 anywhere. The other pistols were in his pack, hopefully, where he had stashed them. Bending over caused the wound on his head to pound heavily with the blood pressure and he stood back up quickly, causing a head rush and the room spun a little. He reached out and grabbed the wall to steady himself and then slowly moved over to the window.

    Jake kept to the side of the window and cautiously peered outside. What he saw was not unlike a small one street town you would expect to see in an old west movie scene. There were several buildings in a row down the street opposite of him. The signs on the front of the buildings were in several languages; he recognized Spanish and English, the others were some kind of Asian script that he didn’t recognize. One sign said in English, ‘Proprietary Goods and General Store’. It was directly across the street from him. The building next to it said something about gold and silver and further down the street he saw a building that he could swear was a sheriff’s office. He saw the universal star in front but couldn’t read the sign.

    People were walking up and down the street, dressed in all manner of clothing. Many wore buckskins and the garb one would imagine a mountain man would wear. Some wore jeans and shirts that looked more modern to Jake, several wore clothing just like his, and most of the women were wearing dresses of some fashion or another. “This keeps getting better and better.” Jake mumbled to himself, “I got transported into the future and dropped into the old west….. I thought cowboys and Indians were a thing of the past…” This was all too strange for Jake and he shook his head in disbelief and moved to the opposite side of the window and looked the other way. He couldn’t see anything at all; the building was in the way and he realized that the door opened into another room. He noticed a sign near the roof, it was written in all the languages he saw everywhere else; the English version read simply ‘Doctor’.

    Jake sighed and moved back to the bed. The little bit of movement had left him exhausted. He lay down and put the blade under his pillow where he could grab it easily and fell back asleep almost immediately.

    He heard voices in his sleep but didn’t wake up. He imagined he was dreaming, he was walking through a sunlit meadow with Kai, holding her hand. The breeze was pleasant and soft and her buckskin dress was flowing in the wind. He grabbed her in a big hug and they fell down on the soft grass together, rolling over until she was above him, leaning over him, her face was close to his and he could feel her breath on his lips and her soft hair on his face.

    He heard her whisper something but couldn’t make it out; then she leaned closer and kissed him softly on the lips. He moaned slightly in his dream but didn’t want to wake up. Then suddenly the dream faded and he saw warriors lined up against him. It was a pitch black night and the warriors were silhouetted against a raging inferno of fire behind them. He saw they had black armor and on their heads they wore the heads of wolves, their eyes gleaming red in the night. He felt the rage burning in his heart and no longer cared if he lived or died. His mind flashed back to the field by the river and he imagined he saw the riders plunging their spears into Kai as she lay on the ground. He screamed in a rage and waded into the warriors with his hatchet in one hand and his Armageddon in the other. He fought them all at once and one at a time; they kept coming and they kept dying. There were hundreds of them and blood was everywhere; he was covered in it and it ran in rivers through the dirt. The fight finally ended and the field was covered with the bodies of his enemies. He walked across the field and saw Kai lying in the dirt, pierced with spears and covered with blood. She was dead and he was mortally wounded and knew he was going to die also. He lay down beside her and pulled her head close with his hands and everything faded away.

    Jake woke with a start, covered in sweat and realized it was dream, or rather a horrible nightmare. The room was dark but there was light coming from under the door that allowed him to see a little in the room. He became aware of someone lying next to him and stiffened a little, unsure of who was there or why. He turned his head and looked into the most beautiful face he had ever seen.

    KAI! She was sleeping peacefully beside him, her head was wrapped in a bandage, but she was here! Right beside him! He rolled over and grabbed her and pulled her in close, relief and joy flooding over him. She woke up startled, but when she saw he was awake, she began sobbing and crying and began kissing him quickly all over his head and face, grabbing his face in her hands and resting her forehead against his.

    “I thought you were dead or gone.” Jake whispered hoarsely.

    “No I’m not. I’m here, we’re here. I didn’t know if you would live or not. I’m so glad you’re awake now!”

    “What happened?”

    “You were almost killed. You lost a lot of blood and your injuries were pretty serious. I thought you were dead when I found you; there was blood everywhere.”

    “What happened with you? I saw you fall and the riders come back for you. I tried to help you but I couldn’t reach you. I killed three of them, I think, trying to reach you and then the last one threw a spear at me. I shot him though, I saw him die, and that’s all I remember.”

    “The spear hit your head. The tip sliced your scalp to the bone and cut your ear off. It was a very serious wound. Your stomach was also cut very badly. I made a poultice and packed the wounds and cut my clothes to make a bandage. I worked all night on you and tried to make you comfortable. I fell asleep in the morning and I woke up here. We have been here for five days.”

    “Where are we? And you still haven’t told me what happened to you.”

    “We are in a town, as you called it. These people are helping us. Some men who were hunting the raiders found us and brought us here. They are good men.

    “I fell when I was running and the riders went by. I do not think they wanted to kill me. I think they wanted me alive. When I fell, I hit my head and almost passed out. I stood up and when I did, a horse hit me very hard and I was thrown backwards on my back. I hit my head again and lost my vision and couldn’t move. I think they thought I was dead so they left me. They were talking over me and they kicked me. I did not understand what they said though; the language was strange to me.

    “When I woke up, it was night and my head hurt a lot; there was blood everywhere. I managed to get to the river and drink water and wash my head. After that I felt better and I went back to camp to find you. I found a man you killed. Then I found you. I thought you were dead.”

    “So what happened to the attackers, why didn’t they take all of our stuff?”

    “The people here told me the attackers were raiders and had attacked several families around here and they had kidnapped women and killed them. The men said they had been chasing the raiders for three days. The raiders attacked us and took some of our stuff but before they could take more, they were attacked by the men from here. The raiders ran but the men pursued them because they thought we were already dead. One man came back here and got help and they brought us here. The men killed all the raiders and returned with lots of the stuff they had taken, including our hides. But the meat is gone.”

    “You are all I care about Kai.” Jake was putting it all together in his mind. Their luck was unbelievable. They hadn’t seen a soul for weeks and then they get attacked and unbelievably help comes out of nowhere and saves them both. Jake supposed he had to give God credit for that, but why God would care about him was not something he could answer.

    Kai was safe. Jake didn’t care about anything else. The rage was gone and he was filled with happiness. He pulled her close again and she cuddled in close and they laid there in silence.

    There was a tap on the door and then the door opened and a fat man walked in carrying an oil lamp and a black bag. Jake saw the stethoscope around his neck and assumed he was a doctor.

    “That is Ismael. He is the doctor but I cannot understand his language.” Kai informed him.

    “Buenos noches, Senor. Esta Bein?” asked Ismael.

    “Buenos noches. Si.” Replied Jake. He hoped it wouldn’t go much further; his Spanish was very limited. “No habla espanol, muy poco.”

    Ismael just smiled and nodded and then knelt down beside Jake and examined him quickly, checked the dressings and wounds and then stood up. “Muy bein.” He said and walked out, leaving the oil lamp behind.

    Jake looked at Kai in the lamplight and they just stared at each other; maybe everything would be okay for awhile.

    They had no idea how wrong they were.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 11

    Chapter 11.

    After recuperating for two more days, Jake left the makeshift hospital with Kai at his side. His head was mostly healed and scabbed over and the wound on his stomach was a nasty red line, scabbed over, but healing nicely.

    Kai was excited to be getting out. Since Jake had woken up, she had rarely left his side. Jake had been told to take it easy, he was healing nicely, but he had lost lots of blood and his body was still catching up. Jakes legs were a little shaky still, both from the dehydration and blood loss, as well as being stuck in a bed for the longest time in his life; a little more than a week.

    The bright sunlight made Jake and Kai squint, but their eyes adjusted rapidly as they stood on the small porch and surveyed the town. Kai had been out several times, but this was Jakes first real look at the town. What he had seen from the window was very little indeed.

    The main street went up the center of the one street town, directly past the doctors office, and off toward the east. Along the street were dozens of shops and proprietorships. There was a furniture shop, several restaurants, a few stores that looked to sell general merchandise, a store that advertised weapons and armament, the sheriff’s office which he had seen earlier, and one last building that caught his eye: a book store or library of some sort. All of the building had signs in front advertising what the store sold or did. There were a few side streets with more buildings behind them that looked like a mixture of residential and storefronts.

    “Well, where should we go first Kai? You’ve been out more than me.”

    Kai had been excited about the town. So far she had been kept away from the settlements; only one memory of a visit from when she was very young was all she could recall. Usually her people had traded with people traveling by or a few select men would venture to a settlement to trade for goods. All the shops filled with all kinds of wares and merchandise and clothes fascinated her.

    Before she could answer, the sheriff appeared seemingly out of nowhere and confronted Jake. “Good to see you up and about son. We weren’t sure for a while there if you were gonna pull through. That fever you had was darn right horrible. How you feeling today… Jake, right?”

    “Feeling great sir. Sunlight hurts the eyes just a little but otherwise I feel fine. I think I could stand a good meal though, that hospital food leaves a lot to be desired.”

    The sheriff laughed softly, “That it does son, that it does. By the way, my name is Joshua Razzor, but my friends call me Joshua. I’ve been told to keep the peace around here, but so far everyone does a fairly good job of it themselves.” Joshua paused, “Jake, we need to talk about what happened to you, if you don’t mind.”
    “Don’t mind at all Sheriff.” Jake said, his guard automatically up; he didn’t know how much law enforcement had changed in only God knew how many years, but he wasn’t going to admit to anything in any case. Joshua seemed like a good man, but Jake knew looks could be deceiving. Kai liked him though and that had to count for something.

    “Follow me then.” Joshua turned and led off down the street. When they got to the sheriffs building, Jake could see it was a simple one room building with a desk in the room, one chair, a cell, and a bench seat outside on the wood porch near the door. “Wait here.” said Joshua as he disappeared inside. He came back out a minute later with some paper and a pen and small box. Jake noted the familiar articles and was glad that not everything from the past was lost.

    Joshua led the way down the street a little further until they came to a restaurant called Bon Appetite. Jake assumed it was a French restaurant. Joshua said “You all like French food? Or Italian? The folks that own this place make some of the best meatballs and garlic bread I have ever tasted!”

    Jake thought for a second that he was back in his time again. “Absolutely Sheriff! After eating fish and deer jerky and hospital food for the past four weeks, that sounds incredible!” Kai was excited too. She didn’t know what French or Italian food was but Jake sounded enthusiastic about it.

    “Alright then,” said Joshua, “let’s eat. Then we talk business. You’re a big man around here Jake, you know.”

    Jake wasn’t sure what that meant. Kai had said they were all talking about him, but he couldn’t fathom the reason. They walked into the restaurant and the interior was decorated with soft green and yellow and black tapestries. The floor was polished wood and the walls were plastered and painted a soft tan color. The ceiling was open beam rafters, darkly stained. There were many booths with overstuffed cushions and also several tables and chairs. The restaurant was fairly busy for the middle of the morning and about half of the seats were filled. Everyone stopped and looked at Jake and Kai when they entered; that made Jake nervous and Kai gripped his arm a little at all the sudden attention.

    “Good morning Joshua!” Said the enthusiastic waitress. She was shorter than Kai but had the same olive skin and jet black hair. Her smile revealed bright white teeth. She was a friendly and bubbly person. “And to you Sir and Lady!”

    “Thank you ma’am.” Jake replied.

    “Follow me please. My name is Erin…. The usual place Mr. Sheriff?”

    “That’ll do Erin. Thanks.”

    Erin led them to a back corner and a semi round booth. The table was polished wood; it looked like manzanita to Jake. The cushioned seats were a soft reddish brown. Oil lamps burned in the centers of the tables, giving a soft glow to the darkened room. Jake noted that there were no windows except at the front. The only other door he could see was the one to the kitchen; waiters were bringing food out of that door and removing empty dishes back through it.

    Erin sat them and gave them each a menu. She brought them water while they looked it over. The menu only had a few basic items and Joshua highly recommended the meatballs, garlic toast, stuffed mushrooms, and next day spaghetti. They took his suggestions and ordered all of it. That just about covered the menu anyway.

    “Uh, Sheriff, I don’t really have any money…… at least nothing I suspect will be any good here. I’m guessing this food ain’t free and I’ve always paid my way.”

    “Don’t worry about that Jake. This time around, it’s my treat. You can owe me if’n you want to. I ain’t never refused a free meal!” Joshua grinned broadly, revealing well maintained teeth.

    “Yes sir. Sounds like a deal.”

    “Good. I’ll hold you to it. Listen, I’ve got a lot to talk to you about and I’m sure you have questions for me too. We can talk now, or later. Like I said, my name is Joshua and my friends call me that…… or just Josh, so quick calling me Sheriff all the time. It’s more a formality title than anything else. I get paid to wear it, but that’s about as fun as it gets!” he mused, “cept for the last month or so though.” He added grudgingly.

    Joshua looked at Jake thoughtfully for a few minutes. “You’re one tough Hombre Jake. When we picked you up by the river back there, we coulda sworn you were dead. You sure were a mess. By the way, you killed three of them raiders and wounded a fourth pretty bad. I read the sign, it was quite a fight, but I’d like to hear you tell it.”

    Jake paused a moment considering. He didn’t think he was in trouble and the sheriff was turning out to be a really nice guy. Jake couldn’t remember the last time a law enforcement agent took someone to lunch for a crime investigation. Jake decided to trust the man and recounted the events of the entire day.

    Their food came and Joshua hadn’t been kidding. The garlic toast was incredible and the meatballs were huge, practically a meal in themselves. There were a dozen stuffed mushrooms with some sort of cream filling that made Jake think he was dreaming again and Kai almost cried when they were gone. The sheriff ordered more.

    The Next-Day Spaghetti was also very good. Evidently someone had finally figured out that spaghetti was best the next day, after the sauce had plenty of time to soak into the noodles. Kai had never tasted anything like it and she was in heaven. Jake hadn’t had food this good in centuries. That little thought brought an involuntary smirk to his face and the sheriff noticed it.

    “What’re you thinking about son? I seen that smirk and whatever it was must have been worth sharing now…. Come on! Lets hear it!”

    Jake looked at the man. He was a happy, seemingly carefree individual. He was built like a tank and had a shiny bald head and a clean shaven face. Jake noted to himself he needed a shave and haircut too. And a bath. Preferably a hot one.

    “I don’t know Josh. I doubt you would believe me if I told you.” And Jake really did doubt that. Time Travel was probably as foreign a concept to this guy as an automobile; he hadn’t seen any sign of those yet either.

    Joshua leaned over and looked Jake straight in the eye, “Try me.”

    Jake thought for a second that this guy knew a lot more than he was letting on.

    “You told some tall tales in your delirium son, when that fever had you going hot. I never heard such nonsense. But I ain’t never seen the kind of stuff you got either. I went through your stuff while you and Kai were passed out, just to try to get a feel for who you were and all. What a man has for possessions can tell a lot. I’m guessing you’re a drifter, never settled anywhere. Your woman tags along with you and she probably likes it too, else why would she stay? I found some other stuff too.”

    Joshua reached to his small box and opened it and removed three driver licenses and several credit cards. Jake seemed to go cold all of a sudden and he unconsciously tensed for an attack, or an attempt to escape.

    “I don’t know what these things here are. Never seen this kinda thing before. Your weapons are strange to me too, although the black rifle is a little familiar and the 308 you have is one of my favorite calibers to shoot. The pistols I have never seen before except the revolver. That Ruger 44 magnum is a dandy. But I digress, what are these little square things and what do all these numbers and letters mean. I see a picture on this one and the name says Jacob Evenflow. I’m guessing that’s you, although with that beard you have on, it’s hard to say. These other two say Alex Baldwin and John Kerry. Who might they be? And can you explain these numbers to me? I got a fair idea who these two men are, you mentioned them once or twice. Bad guys I take it. What’s this? A date? 9/30/2010? Son, I am out of guesses and I’m thinking you know what’s going on here.”

    Jake sighed visibly and resigned himself to telling the story of his adventure over the past month or so. He told the sheriff about the corrupt mayor and how he found out about the illegal dealings and business ventures. He left out the bar girl for Kai’s sake. Jake told about fleeing the town and heading into the hills, being chased by the two men on the ID’s. He recounted how he had turned the tables and hunted them; killing them and then taking their gear and fleeing further into the mountains. He told the tale of his nightmarish experience at the old barn in the field and how he ended up here. He explained how he met Kai and her story and then everything leading up to the attack by the raiders.

    Joshua interrupted him several times and asked him questions when he didn’t understand something. Kai just listened in silence and mostly believed her husband but still had her doubts about some of the more wild stuff.

    Joshua was very impressed with Jakes tale and thought it was grand lie. He still didn’t know what the ID’s and credit cards were, or how they managed to get a man onto such a small object and do it so clearly. Jake discovered that photography was an extinct technology; evidently it hadn’t been re-invented yet. Jake tried to explain it as best he could but the concept was lost on Joshua and Kai both.

    “So what is the year now?” Asked Jake after he was done explaining everything. Joshua looked like he had fried a few brain cells trying to keep up.

    “The year? Well, that’s a question. I can’t say I know since I have never been asked that question before. I like to study at the library and we have a school for the kids to try to get them educated, but you have said some things I don’t have any idea about. We have a historian at the town library who has managed to collect quite a large number of books telling our history. They go back a very long ways. You might want to check with him. He likes to study the past and he is always recording things; for the future I guess…. I suppose we need people like him.

    Their table had been cleared and they were getting pretty comfortable with each other as time dragged on. The restaurant filled up around noon and then mostly emptied out, the townspeople going about their business and lives.

    Joshua said, “I found a bunch of green paper too, had numbers on it in the corners and drawings of men in the centers. What is that stuff?”

    “It was money. It is what we used back in 2010. I guessed it wouldn’t be worth squat now.”

    “Money huh? That’s interesting indeed. Well, it definitely looks easier to carry anyhow than what we use nowadays.” Joshua put the small box on the table and opened it up. “We use gold and silver for money nowadays. Been that way for as long as I been alive. And my dad, and his dad, and his dad, and, well heck! As long as I know.” Joshua reached into the box and took out a dozen rolls of coins. “The raiders hit us about a month ago. At first they were just a nuisance, robbing stuff from farms and taking a sheep or a cow here and there. Then they began raping and pillaging. They burned three farms to the ground and kidnapped several women. We found em days later. They had been beaten, raped, and killed. Then tossed aside like trash. Made me sick it did.

    “We posted rewards for them, preferably dead. We didn’t have any takers though and they never struck twice in any one place or with any kind of routine. We tried laying traps for them, but they outsmarted us every time. We began pursuing their trail over a week ago. We could never seem to catch up. They attacked your camp and that’s when we finally came up on them. When we caught up to them, they were just starting to go through your things. We chased em down and finished em off.

    “The reward was $2500.00 per head. Put up by the townsfolk. You rightly killed three of them so your entitled to $7500.00.” Joshua paused and Jake thought he was dreaming again. “BUT, you wounded one of them pretty severely; hit him in the head with that small black pistol thingy of yours. He was good as dead when we caught them, he might have lived another day or so but his wound was mighty nasty and infection would have got him if he didn’t bleed out first. They had that guy bent over a saddle and tied down too; I suppose they didn’t think he would live either. Hell, I’m surprised they didn’t just leave him on the ground to die like they do with all their other trash.

    “I’m giving you credit for the fourth guy also. That brings your total up to $10,000.00 in gold coin. If you like, I’ll keep it locked up in my office and you can get it anytime you want. Ain’t no thieves around here to worry about though.” He chuckled, “Leastways no live ones!”

    Jake couldn’t believe his luck. Ten grand was more money than he had ever had at any one time in his life. Guess they would be okay after all. He could buy Kai some nice clothes and some perfume and….

    “I want to talk to you some more Jake, it’s a serious matter; but right now its getting late and I need to make my rounds. Why don’t you take this money and have yourself a night on the town. You folks deserve it.”

    “I don’t know what to say sir; this is quite a shock to me.”

    “Well, no need to be thankin me. The town is thankin you though. I think you will find everyone here is going to be mighty happy to help you all out.”

    “Okay. Well, thanks for the lunch in any case. I owe you one now and when you’re ready, come find me.”

    They stood up and the sheriff gathered his things. Jake held his hand out and the Joshua shook it, his grip was like a vice but Jake matched it and two men smiled at each other. At least the handshake was still around.

    Jake and Kai followed the sheriff out. “There is nice clothing shop down toward the end of town.” Joshua whispered in Jakes ear. He gave Jake a wink and then walked off down the street.

    Jake took Kai by the hand and they began walking down the street in the direction the sheriff had indicated.

    “This money, this ten thousand dollars, it is important?” Asked Kai.

    “Money is what makes the world go round Kai. For you, money would be something you would use in place of trading for something else.” Jake tried to explain.

    “I see. So where are we going?”

    “I want to get a haircut and a shave and a bath. We can get you a bath too Kai. You’ll like that. Then I was thinking that we could go buy some nice clothes for you.”

    “That sounds nice.” Kai leaned into Jake and they continued down the street. Jake saw a sign for a barber and bath. It read simply: Haircut, Shave, Baths. Jake led Kai over and they went into the door.

    Inside they found a pot bellied old man and a younger Mexican looking man. The old man spoke up when they entered. “You must be the one who took care of them raiders. Those sumsabitches burned down my wife’s parents farm. Luckily they got away. I’m grateful to you for killing them worthless rags. What do you want? It’s on the house.”

    Jake was taken back by the abrupt personality of the man. He didn’t look like a man to argue with though so he just said, “Thank you sir. I’m sorry about your wife’s parents. I, we, were looking for a bath, preferably a hot one. I need a shave and haircut.” Jake’s beard and head had been growing for over a month now and the hair was thick and heavy and ragged.

    “Pedro!” The old man yelled for the Mexican, “These folks need a hot bath. Fetch the water and light a fire.” He turned to Jake, “Sit down there Sir and make yourself comfortable. How’d you like it?” He motioned to a chair and Jake sat down.

    “Make it like the sheriffs if you don’t mind.”

    “Well hell. Your easy to please. Yes sir, have you cleaned up in a hurry. By the way, my name is Sam.”

    “Pleased to meet you Sam. I’m Jake and this is my wife Kai.”

    Sam bowed slightly to Kai. “Yes ma’am, and quite a lady you are!” Sam turned back to Jake and began trying to comb out the mess on his head. “The whole town has been talking about you two since they brought you in. Lots of stories going around, I’d be real interested in hearing the real one.” Hinted Sam.

    Jake just leaned back and closed his eyes. Careful not to move as Sam rubbed some cream on his face and head and began stropping his razor. Kai began talking and told Sam everything that had happened since they met. Jake loved the sound of her voice and just listened.

    “Jake! Wake up sir! I’m all done and your bath is ready. Your wife is already to go.”

    Jake opened his eyes with a start and realized he had drifted off. His body was still playing catch up and he hadn’t realized he was tired. He stood up and Sam handed him a small mirror. Jake admired his fresh shave and bald head. The air felt cool on his smooth damp skin and it was quite refreshing. The mound of hair on the ground was quite impressive.

    Sam led the way through a door in the back and Jake was mildly surprised to see giant wood barrels lined up against the wall of the building. The barrels were plenty big enough for a man to lie in comfortably. At the end of the long room was a very big iron pot, as big as or bigger than the wood barrels. Under the pot was a raging fire. An iron pipe ran from the pot to the wall and along to each barrel; a spigot was placed over each barrel. Jake thought somebody was quite a genius and said so.

    “That there is Pedro’s invention. That little kid is the best thing to ever come my way. His parents were killed by raiders down south and he ended up here. I took him in and he’s been working for me since. We put a water tower out back that we pump full every night from the well. It’s big enough to fill all these tubs. On a busy day, we have to fill it twice or more but we don’t usually get more than three or four customers a day. There’s a pipe that comes down from the water pipe and into that pot. We get it started boiling in there and then let the water out of the bottom into a barrel. We keep it full by letting the tower feed it and that way we always have hot water for our customers.” Obviously proud of his explanation, he bowed again slightly to Jake and Kai, mostly Kai, and then showed them their bath barrels. “Here you go. One for each of you. Or you can share. It don’t mind me any. We’ll leave ya alone till you ring this bell.” He set a small bell down beside the barrel.

    Pedro came in with clean towels and some soap for the two of them and then Sam and Pedro left, closing the door after them.

    Jake and Kai looked at each other. They were both a little embarrassed, the night before the attack had been the only time they had been together. This was different. Jake shoved away the embarrassment and quickly stripped off his clothes and stood naked in front of Kai. She looked shocked for a second and then she smiled at Jake and slowly took off her clothes. They had two steaming barrels of hot water, they only used one.

    Almost an hour later, they were dried off and dressed and both cleaner than they had been in months. They had used the first barrel for bathing and some other extra curricular activities and then Jake had suggested they rinse off in the clean water from the other barrel. No one else came in while they were there. Jake rung the bell for Sam and a minute later the old man came walking in.

    “You two satisfied? Feel better now? Ya’ll certainly look cleaner.” He winked at Jake, “Why I’d say Kai there is positively glowing!”

    “Thank you for the bath. It was very nice.” Said Kai. Jake just grinned slightly but didn’t say anything.

    When they left Sam’s place, it was getting toward evening time. They were both hungry again but Jake thought they should find a place to stay for the night. They headed back towards the doctors office where all their gear was. Jake had noticed that virtually everyone in town was armed in some way. He had his Walk About on his belt and his HK under his shirt where it couldn’t be seen.

    They arrived back at the doctors office and inquired of Ismael if there was a place to stay in town so they could leave the hospital. Ismael, in broken English, told them there was an old woman in a small house down the street behind his office that had rooms for rent. Jake told Ismael he would return for their gear and they left for the woman’s house.

    They walked down the back street until they found the house that matched Ismael’s description. It was small cottage with rose bushes growing in front. Jake walked up to the door and knocked. After several minutes a woman opened the door. To say she was old would be an understatement, she was ancient. She looked to be well on her way to a hundred years old; or nature had been exceptionally hard on her.

    “Yes?”

    “Yes ma’am. Ismael told us you had rooms to rent? My name is Jake and this is Kai. We need a place to stay for a few days.”

    “I know who you are. Thank you for killing those savages. They killed my son and took his wife. I hope they burn in eternal fires for what they have done.” She said with conviction and unabated anger, though her voice never rose at all.

    “Uh, yes ma’am…..” Jake agreed uncertainly.

    “You two go around back. There is a door with a Celtic emblem on it. It is yours to use as long as you wish. If you need anything at all, just knock on this door.” She said and closed the door.

    “Yes ma’am….. uh, thank you ma’am.” Jake said to the closed door. That was strange. Jake looked at Kai and she grabbed his hand as he led the way behind the building. He found the door with the Celtic emblem and they went inside. It resembled a motel room like Jake would have found in any town he came across back in his world. There was a bed that looked about a queen size and a table and a couple of chairs. There was a washtub and some towels. There was even a bathroom with a toilet that flushed. Jake wondered about that. There seemed to a motley mix of modern and primitive technology in this world. Evidently enough survived that people weren’t completely in the stone ages.

    They went back to the doctor’s office and Jake carefully packed all his gear back into the packs. He found his G20, it was lying hidden at the bottom of the pile and it was caked with dirt. He checked the magazine without thinking and saw it was half full. Jake shouldered the pack and then grabbed his rifles and slung his shoulder bag. It was a lot heavier than he remembered it being.

    Once they got everything transferred to the new room, Jake asked Ismael about the bill and Ismael just grinned at him like he didn’t understand. After awhile, Jake gave up and shook Ismael’s hand and left. Jake knew that Ismael understood every word he had said.

    Kai was waiting for him outside and Jake still had a promise to keep. There was one general store still open this late in the evening so Jake led Kai by the hand and they went inside. The store was exactly what it said, there was a little bit of everything. There were isles of cooking gear and food. Cast iron pots and pans, flatware, burlap sacks full of flour, beans, and sundry other items. There were isles of farm tools and animal equipment and husbandry tools; seeds. Finally they found the clothing.

    Kai had never seen so much stuff in one place and Jake watched her like a kid in a candy store. They went through the clothing and finally found her a nice light red dress. It was made of fine linen and it looked like it would fit her perfectly. Jake paid the man at the counter who insisted that they only pay half of the asking price. “It’s my cost, that’s all.” Said the man who wouldn’t budge on the issue.

    They left and went back to their room. Kai didn’t want to wait to wear it and insisted that she wear it for dinner. Jake agreed without argument. When Kai put it on, Jake thought his heart would stop. ‘God she’s incredible!’ he thought to himself and wondered how he got so lucky. The red dress hugged her figure and showed off her sensuous muscle and feminine curves. Her jet black hair fell down her back, soft and silky from the recent bath. Her skin was an olive tan beneath the red dress and Jake could barely restrain himself.

    They walked out and down the street, looking for a restaurant that was still open, Kai was on his arm and Jake couldn’t help but grin. He made a note to himself to buy new clothes though; he was looking pretty ragged despite his fresh shave and bath.

    Finally they found a place that was still open. It was the same Italian place the sheriff had taken them. Kai was especially happy and ordered more mushrooms immediately.

    “You have to wait till we’re seated Kai” Jake whispered.

    “Oh. Sorry.”

    “It’s okay, don’t worry about it. I’m sure they’ll get us some mushrooms.”

    They were seated immediately. No one else was around. The waitress, it was Erin again, brought out some coffee for them and the mushrooms without even asking. Jake thanked her and they ordered the spaghetti and meatballs and garlic toast again. Once the meal was over, Jake paid the bill and they retired to their room.

    After they had undressed and gotten into bed, Jake lay there holding Kai close, feeling her warmth and her smooth skin. They kissed softly and just before they drifted off to sleep, Jake wondered what the sheriff still wanted to talk to him about.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 12

    Chapter 12

    The first thing Jake wanted to do this morning was go check out that library and see what he could discover about the few hundred years of missing history he had skipped. Kai was interested because she wanted to learn the history as well as read. Kai liked books and had been reading since she was little. Her little nomadic village had never stayed long enough in one spot though for her to ever acquire a collection of books. She also loved to learn new things; she was constantly asking Jake questions about his stories.

    The sun was just breaking in the east when they entered another small eating establishment called Seattle Smiths Eats. That said it all according to Jake and they decided to see what they had to offer. They had one choice for breakfast, “Steak and eggs and potatoes. Milk if you want it. Coffee is free with the meal. We got pork sausage if you want that too.” The proprietor was a short fat man, balding on top, with a jolly smile and looked like the kind of guy you would find in a bakery. “Smith’s the name. Seattle Smith. Most folks around here just call me Smith. So have a seat and I’ll be right out with some grub for you good folks.”

    Smith walked back through the swinging door at the end of the room and Jake and Kai sat down at an empty table, across from each other. Jake preferred to sit with his back to the wall whenever possible so he could watch anyone who came or went.

    In a moment Smith was back out with two cups of warm milk and two mugs of scalding hot coffee. “Careful with that coffee, it’s a mite hot. Just milked the cow an hour ago so the milk is plenty fresh. I’ll have your food out in a jiffy.”

    “Thank you Sir.” Said Jake. He and Kai were the only ones here at the moment and he was impressed with Smiths enthusiasm. So far everyone they had met was very congenial and friendly. He poured some of the milk into the coffee and stirred it. Kai copied him and discovered a whole new way to enjoy coffee. “Now if there was only some sugar…” Jake said as he looked around. There was nothing in sight.

    Smith arrived with their steak, eggs, potatoes, and sausage. Jake thought he’d died and gone to heaven; he forgot about the sugar. The steak was a far cry from a Denny’s slab of cardboard; it was a huge slice of ribeye, broiled to perfection. The eggs were barely over medium and the potatoes were cubed and fried and seasoned. “Now this a breakfast!” He told Kai before digging in. He made up his mind that he was coming in here every morning from now on.

    After breakfast was done, they headed in the direction of the library. The library was on the east side of town, past the sheriff’s office. As they neared the sheriff’s office, Jake saw several hard ridden horses tied up in front, the sweat was lathered up on their flanks and girth and they were still breathing hard. Jake wondered briefly what was going on.

    They reached the library and went inside. A studious looking man in an off white long sleeve cloth shirt and a brown vest met them inside. “Hello. What can I do for you two?”

    Jake responded, “I’m interested in history. What do you have?”

    “Well, quite a bit actually. Anything in particular?”

    “Everything since the year 2010.”

    The man looked a little shocked, “That is a ways back indeed. I have some books that I have collected over the years that were written within a hundred years of that date and some others that are more recent.” Darius led them down some isles of shelves and into a back room, gathering books as he went. He laid them on a table in the room and then brought in two chairs from an adjoining room. “You are welcome to look them over all you like. Here, you start with these and if there is anything else you need to know, just call on me. My name is Darius.”

    “I’m Jake and this is my wife Kai. Thanks for your help.”

    “No problem sir. I’ll be about.” With that Darius left to another part of the library. Jake and Kai looked around the room. Kai was awed by the vast collection of books; shelves upon shelves of them. Jake sat down at the table Darius had shown them too and began looking through the first book. “A History of the America’s”. There were several other books in the pile as well. Kai began looking though one of them.

    Several hours later, Jake and Kai were famished and decided to take a break for lunch. They were surprised when they stepped outside and it was actually late in the afternoon. The Bon Appetite was only a few buildings away so they went there. Erin greeted them as they came in and almost as soon as they were seated, had a plate of mushrooms for Kai. Kai squealed a little with glee and thanked Erin immediately.

    Once they were done, they returned to the library and Jake continued reading, fascinated with what he was discovering. A lot had happened in the past few centuries. As near as he could figure, the year was somewhere around 2750, and the world had indeed died, just as Kai had said.

    In 2013 China had decided that it was done playing politics with the rest of the world. It had developed its military beyond anything any other country could compete with. It kept it under wraps of course; they didn’t want any of the superpowers to be alarmed. In secret, they had also been building nuclear weapons as fast as they could process the materials. China decided it was bored with its own country and when Emperor Zhen had come into power, he decided the world really wasn’t enough. They called the United States bluff one night in June of 2013 and invaded Taiwan.

    That little upstart of a country had decided it was a free nation and told China where to stick it; then Taiwan got the backing of the U.N. and all the world leaders. The conflict dragged on until Zhen came into power and he decided that the world had no right to interfere with China’s affairs. They maintained the threat against the United States - that if the US interfered at all with China invading Taiwan, they would retaliate with nuclear weapons. It had been a seven year standoff. On June 2, 2013 China invaded.

    The US, bound by treaty and law to aid in the protection of Taiwan as well as Japan, acted in defense of Taiwan and began launching a Navy campaign against China’s invading Army.

    China went nuclear against the US on June 4, 2013. The US retaliated in kind. Unknown to the rest of the world, the disarmament talks and treaties and agreements were paper tigers. The United States wasn’t as stupid as the rest of the world believed and had continued building nuclear weapons in secret. MAD was a very real thing and it just became reality.

    Iran had openly declared that it had nuclear capability back in 2006, but the president of Iran at the time was full of hot air and only made threats, vowing to wipe Israel off the map. Russia was allied with Iran and China. When China launched against the US, Iran didn’t waste the opportunity and launched against Israel.

    Israel wasn’t about to be wiped off the map by a bunch of mad Muslims so they launched a full nuclear strike back at Iran and every other threat against them in the Middle East. Pakistan retaliated against Israel.

    Russia, being allied with China and Iran, had no choice but to retaliate against the US and Israel. Israel’s allies in Europe and the US retaliated back against everyone attacking Israel.

    In the space of twelve hours, the world had become a ball of nuclear radiation. The fallout was tremendous and MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, was an understatement. No government survived the exchange and hundreds of millions of people died in the space of twelve hours. Millions and millions more died from fallout and radiation exposure within the following weeks, months, and years.

    Just when the world thought it couldn’t get any worse, a viral, airborne bacteria that was threatening to cause another pandemic, pre-war, mutated with exposure to the radiation and went on a rampage of death. 100% contagious and airborne transferred, it spread like wildfire around the world in a matter of months after the nuclear exchange. It was 98% fatal and it wiped out 90% of the remaining population of the earth. Only a few million survived the holocaust.

    It took nearly one hundred years to begin to rebuild. The radiation from the bombs took longer than expected to die out. The fallout areas recovered quickly by comparison and within several months wildlife and vegetation began making a comeback. Without human interference, the wildlife population exploded. Mother Nature began reclaiming cities and towns and roads and highways and breaking them up and tearing them down. Those who were conscious of the future made concerted efforts to store and preserve every book they could. Some entire libraries were saved and books on every subject were sealed and stored in safe places until they would be needed again. Anything in print form was considered a precious commodity. Every technology that could be saved, was. Most of it required some form of power though and without the ability to produce power, it was useless. But the information and knowledge was saved for future generations who would be doing the rebuilding and so, in that sense, it wasn’t entirely lost.

    Then the second Ice Age hit. The earth had been experiencing changes for quite some time. The storms and weather became more severe and more frequent. Earthquakes happened more often and with increasing force. The polar ice caps melted off, accelerated by the insulating blanket of fallout in the atmosphere, and the oceans cooled and the earth’s temperature plummeted. All the major fault lines in the world let go like dominoes and triggered the volcanoes, some previously undiscovered. The Yellowstone Caldera went off as expected and Mt. Saint Helens made a grand second showing. What was left of Japan was washed into the ocean in a giant tsunami that also destroyed the remainder of Far East Asia and the Pacific Islands. The Hawaiians got their wish when the ocean sent a few large waves over the Island chain and scoured it clean. Unfortunately, it also took the natives with it.

    The drop in temperature triggered massive snow storms in the northern hemisphere and the temperatures continued to drop. The snow piled up throughout the northern hemisphere and buried everything for 550 years or thereabouts. A few hardy people stuck it out and managed to survive and continue their legacy in the Great White North.

    Once the snows melted off, there wasn’t much left. It took a few decades for all the vegetation to come back, but it returned, as did the wildlife. As the snow melted and the earth settled down again, the poles shifted slightly and the equator shifted north on the America’s side and down on the European side, creating a tropical environment in upper North America and lower Canada.

    The human population on earth had been cut down to near hopeless numbers. People are resilient though and tend to adapt to their environment. The population began making a comeback and people began migrating north again. There were no more countries, no more borders, and no more governments. Small societies began to form of tribes and other nomadic groups. Towns were established as more people settled together and eventually certain individuals were elected by the majority vote to maintain a societal order, for the health and well being of everyone. Without laws and a way to enforce them, society cannot exist and chaos rules. History was not lost on the remaining survivors and it was passed down as the generations grew. What little technology could be saved was put to use and guarded carefully. The saved books were worth more than gold.

    Most of the factories and tools and equipment that existed before the wars and pestilence still remained, but the people who knew how to use them were gone. Electricity and power was a thing of the past. The industrial and technological revolutions would have to begin all over again; although it would happen faster this time. The knowledge was already there and documented and people like Darius were preserving it and keeping it, salvaging it wherever they found it.

    Evidently in the southern areas of what used to be the United States, there were a few big cities and civilization was well on its way to where it once was. Factories were running and producing and technology was being re-developed as fast as they could make the equipment to do it with.

    Jake thought that Kai would be impressed with a city and automobiles and electricity. Someday he would have to take her to see those things; things he always took for granted that would be beyond belief to someone like Kai.

    Continuing his research, he learned that weapons were a high demand commodity. Several firearm manufacturing plants had been brought back online and the people learned how to use the machines and began manufacturing weapons. Since steel and metal was required for that, the steel mills were also reopened. Manufacturing steel and metal is some of the most basic and oldest technology in existence, so it didn’t take long for the people to re-learn it. The hardest part was excavating the iron ore and other minerals from the earth. The factories had been designed and built to be automated and fed by huge machines and equipment. The equipment had mostly been destroyed by time and nature so finding alternatives and fixing or rebuilding old parts had not been easy.

    Jake skimmed through most of the more recent history. He had learned enough to satisfy him. For some unknown reason, he had been spared and delivered to this era. He was positive he would never know the reason why.

    Kai was fascinated with the books and had been reading all day beside Jake. Finally Jake felt like he had fried his brain with enough information and suggested to Kai that they go eat and go back to their room.

    “That sounds good. I am hungry after all, I was reading so hard that I wasn’t paying attention. Yes. Let’s go eat.”

    They went outside and it was nighttime. “Wow, time really flies when you’re doing something interesting doesn’t it?” Jake remarked, mostly to himself.

    “Yes it does. I had no idea it was this late.”

    Seattle Smiths place was still open so they went inside. Smith was in the corner talking to Joshua at a table. The sheriff was helping himself to a huge slab of steak and a mountain of mashed potatoes and a slice of apple pie that looked big enough to feed two people. Smith just nodded at them. “Have a seat, be with ya in a minute.” Joshua nodded to them but didn’t say anything.

    After several minutes, Smith brought them some coffee. “The house special is steak and potatoes. With gravy I might add. And fresh apple pie.” He paused for a second, “It’s on the house tonight…..” He stopped again and looked around at the sheriff, then back at them like he was going to say something else, but he didn’t.

    “Sounds great Smith. We’ll take it.”

    Smith nodded and retreated to the kitchen. A short time later he returned carrying two plates loaded with food. It was a huge slab of T-bone steak and a mountain of potatoes smothered in dark brown gravy. They dug in at once. Jake finished his meal to find a giant slice of apple pie waiting for him, it was almost too much. Almost.

    Kai didn’t make it. She barely ate half of her steak and half of the potatoes. Jake was surprised she ate that much. With her small frame, he wondered where she put it all. She ate a small amount of the apple pie and then gave up, stuffed.

    Jake managed to eat his pie and he swore it was the best apple pie he had enjoyed in recent memory. Smith came to take their plates and Kai was embarrassed that she had so much food left over. “Don’t worry about it missy. The hogs will thank you for the left over’s. Nothing much goes to waste around here.”

    He cleaned off their table and they stood up to leave. The sheriff called Jake over. “Jake, have a seat. You too Kai. How was your day?”

    “Well Josh, it was good. We spent it at the library down the street, talking to Darius and reading up on history. I learned a lot. Thanks for directing us there.”

    “Don’t mention it. Darius is a great guy. Kinda quiet for me, and spends all his time with those books, but then again, I tend to read myself from time to time. Amazing what kind of stuff is written in those books.” The sheriff paused for a moment, “I need to talk to you tomorrow Jake. There are some bad reports coming in and I have a hunch about you. I’d like to get your opinion and see what suggestions you might have to help with the situation.”

    Jake thought that was a little cryptic. “No problem sheriff. When would you like to meet?”

    “How about lunch. Right here. Say noon time?”

    “Okay. Can I ask what this is about?”

    “The Northern Tribe is gathering.”

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 13

    Chapter 13
    Thomas Jefferson wrote: “It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it. “

    The following day, Jake met with the sheriff while Kai browsed around the stores; looking at everything they had to offer, especially the clothing and dresses.

    “So why do you want to talk to me about this Northern Tribe Josh? What makes you think I can help you?”

    “Jake, have a seat. Let me tell you something, I read sign on a trail as good as anyone. Sign to me is like a book to Darius. Back there on the river when we picked you two up, I scouted around and read the story. I know you were running to save Kai and you were taken by surprise. You had been camped there for many days and you probably got comfortable and let your guard down. Who wouldn’t?

    “I’ve been watching you the last couple of days. You walk like I imagine one of the soldiers in the books I’ve read would walk. You never miss anything and you’re always watching your back trail. I doubt you’re even aware of it most of the time. It’s automatic for you.

    “You killed four out of six raiders when they came on you by surprise. That’s a hard thing to do even when you’re expecting them. I’m just guessing here, but I’d say you know quite a bit about fighting. Am I wrong?”

    Jake didn’t answer immediately. He looked Josh straight in the eye for several minutes before he answered. He guessed where this was leading and he wasn’t sure if he wanted to be a part of it. “Yes sir. I know quite a bit.”

    “That’s what I thought Jake. How did you learn it?”

    “Excuse me?”

    “Well, you had to learn it somewhere. Either you had to fight to survive growing up, or someone taught you. I’m guessing a bit of both in your case but there is something more. I can sense it.”

    Jake was wondering how much he should tell the sheriff; he never was the bragging kind and he still didn’t know where this was going. “Sheriff, before I tell you anymore about my life, why don’t you tell me what you have in mind.”

    “Fair enough, I’m not trying to pry. I had two scouts come in yesterday and reported that the Northern Tribe is gathering. We don’t know whether they are planning an invasion or not. They have an army of warriors and when they invade, they kill and burn everything in their path. We need to be ready for them if they attack here. I am looking for warriors and fighting men who can put up a defense and fight these monsters.”

    “I see Josh. And you want me to volunteer to help?”

    “That’s what I was hoping for. Yes.”

    “Joshua, you and your men saved our lives. The town has helped us out and the doctor saved me. We owe everyone a debt of gratitude. I’ll gladly help you. I will tell you what I know and what I can help with, but first tell me everything you know about this tribe; starting with their name if they have one.”

    Joshua sighed a little. “Okay, here goes. This is everything I know about them. There are many settlements, tribes, and villages in these mountains. Most of them are friendly enough and we have lots of traders, trappers, and travelers that come and go, selling and buying and trading wherever they go. There are a few nomadic tribes that are not friendly and they cause all kinds of problems. Those raiders that attacked you were a perfect example. They move into an area and see what is available to plunder and then they wreak havoc. Lots of the outlying farms and ranches have been victims of these raiders.

    “The Northern Tribe doesn’t have a name as far as I know. Everyone knows who they are and everyone fears them. They number in the thousands according to all the reports I have heard. I have been lucky so far and I have never had an encounter with them. They are led by a giant black man. No one knows his name. He has underlings that lead raiding parties and control his army and the people. I have never seen them or him. No one to my knowledge has ever seen him and escaped to tell about it. There are reports that they are all under his control, like a spell or something. The tribe is pure evil no matter what you believe and it will be a blessing on this earth the day they are destroyed.

    “Darius has some books in his library I have read. They were written by some guy named Tolkien. Something called the ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ or something like that. Have you ever heard of it?”

    Jake was a huge fan of Tolkien. “Yes I have Josh. I have read almost every book Tolkien wrote.”

    “Good. Then the best way to describe this Northern Tribe is to compare them to that guy Sauron and his hordes of Orcs. I’m glad you know what I’m talking about. There ain’t no Orcs up there, but they are controlled by the Black Chief. All his underlings answer to him and they control the army of raiders. The Tribe itself is very large. Some say as many as two thousand people. When they raid, they kill all the men and take the women and small children; but if a male child is too old, they just kill him too. The women are never seen again and God only knows what kind of hell they’re in. They never just kill anyone either, they mutilate the bodies, cut off the heads, pull out the guts, you never seen such sick and evil stuff. I had nightmares and couldn’t eat for three days the first time I saw a place that was attacked. They burned everything.”

    “I saw it Josh. I know exactly what you are talking about.”

    Josh looked shocked. “You’ve seen this Tribe?!”

    “No sir. I saw what they did.” Jake related Kai’s story and what he had seen at her village.

    “I had no idea…… that poor girl.” Josh said quietly. “So you already know what we are up against. What do you think we can do? We ain’t got no army. At most we could muster up maybe a hundred men to fight if we went to all the outlying farms and recruited everyone who would come. The Tribe has never come this far south though so we can always hope they stay in the north.”

    “And if they don’t Sheriff?” Jake asked seriously.

    “Well then I guess we’re doomed. I ain’t gonna roll over and die though dammit! If they want a fight, I’m darn sure gonna fight! I heard what they do to prisoners and I sure as hell am gonna die fighting before I become a prisoner.” He smacked his huge fist on the table for emphasis.

    “What do they do to prisoners Josh? What have you heard?”

    “They eat em…... Alive.”

    Jake shuddered and felt a streak of cold travel down his spine. “What would happen if someone killed this Black Chief?”

    “I don’t know Jake. No one has ever seen him and lived to tell about it. If I had to guess, it would be like cutting the head off the snake; without him they might all just scatter to the winds. Of course one of his underlings might take over too. I’m sure he’s planned something in case of his death.”

    “Maybe, but maybe not. Most evil tyrants don’t think that far ahead and several in history actually thought they would live forever. The emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, who built the Great Wall thought he would live forever too. He sent his people on a quest for an elixir of immortality and refused to believe he would die. When he died, everything went to hell for a while. They eventually got a new emperor though. But this tribe isn’t a nation. If no one is there to hold it together, they might just split. At the very least, they may be easier to fight.”

    “If there was a way to kill him, then his underlings would have to be killed also so no one would be able to take over. Problem is, how in the world would we be able to kill him?”

    “Joshua, you said you read Tolkien. Tolkien was alive in the early 1900’s, He wrote his books during the second World War. That is a very long time ago now, but it was recent memory in my time, before I came here. How much history have you studied Josh?”

    “A bit. I like reading about all the old wars and ancient civilizations and things I cannot imagine. I suppose if you really were around back then like you say, then you know all about that stuff.”

    “So you’ve read about different Armies and Militaries of the world?”

    “I’ve read a few, Yes.”

    “What do you know about the United States Marine Corp?”

    “Not much. I know the Germans called them Devil Dogs. They must have been great fighters to get a name like that. Why?”

    “Why Devil Dogs? Because that was one of the bloodiest battles in the first World War. The Marines took a battlefield called Belleau Wood a total of six times from the German Army. They just wouldn’t quit and often they had to fight hand to hand when their guns ran out of ammo. The Marines were so fierce and tenacious that the Germans called them Devil Dogs. We could take a lesson from that battle and apply it here. We fight till there ain’t nothing left; or they quit and go home.”
    “That’s the only option as far as I can see. But why did you ask me about the United States Marine Corps?”

    “Cause I was a United States Marine.”

    Joshua looked at Jake incredulously. “What do you mean? That was centuries ago. That ain’t possible.”

    “I told you Josh. I got thrown through time somehow. I am from the year 2010, not from now.”

    “Okay, okay. I’ll believe you for now. Why would that matter?”

    “Because you asked me if I knew how to fight.”

    “So you were a soldier?”

    “No. I was a Marine. We were better than soldiers. The soldiers always showed up after we got the fighting done.”

    “So you know how to fight then? You can teach us how to fight these guys?”

    “Yes. If you have men who will fight, I will teach them. I was a grunt; infantry. We were the ones who went into battle first and we always won. I was a sniper. That is someone who kills the enemy from a long ways away while hiding. It is a very effective method of battle. I can teach your men to fight, but if you can gather all the best hunters and riflemen you have, I will teach them how to act as snipers and we can take out the enemy a long time before they get here.”

    “That sounds good to me. I’ll start spreading the word and gathering the men. I’m starved, how about you?”

    “As a matter of fact Josh, I am. One of Smith’s steaks sounds mighty good right now. You order us up whatever Smith is serving today. I’m going to find Kai, she is probably hungry too.”

    Jake stood up and walked outside, pausing a moment to look up and down the street. Everything appeared normal and people were coming and going about their business, apparently unaware of the gathering storm in the north. Jake walked back to their room first and found Kai sitting outside under a tree and working on the deer hide from the stag he had killed. “There you are Kai. We were going to eat, are you hungry?”

    “Yes. I was wondering how long you would be meeting with Joshua.”

    “Well, come on. Meetings over and the foods probably waiting.”

    They walked back to Seattle Smiths place and Joshua was waiting with three big plates of food on the table when they walked through the door. Sure enough, it was steak and potatoes again. But it was the best steak and potatoes that Jake could ever remember eating.

    Joshua gathered all the best hunters and long riflemen in the valley over the next week and sent out several scouts to keep watch on the northern border. If the Tribe began moving, they would report it as fast as their horses could bring them back. It was a two week journey. All the scouts went out with four spare horses so if they had to return on the run, they could ride in relay and switch to fresh horses as they needed to.

    All told there were only 50 men. They had a variety of bolt action and lever action rifles of different makes and models and some of them were obviously very old, but all were in excellent shape. Jake knew what a well trained sniper could do to an enemy unit but these men weren’t snipers and they certainly weren’t well trained; however, they were hunters and that was almost the same thing in a very different way.

    Jake began training the men and teaching them about cover and concealment, stalking, and using the terrain and micro-terrain to hide from the enemy. He taught them how to make ghillie suits and how to weave the natural vegetation into their clothing to break up their shapes and camouflage themselves to look like their natural surroundings. He taught them windage and elevation, estimating distances, shooting uphill and downhill, compensation and the effects of mirages.
    The training continued for three weeks. The men learned quickly and Jake worked them hard. The townspeople learned what was happening and everyone began asking what they could do to help. Jake was confronted with over a hundred volunteer fighters. Evidently everyone knew about the Tribe and everyone adamantly agreed that becoming a prisoner was definitely not an option, especially the women.

    So Jake dug deep into his memory and training and starting teaching the men and women fighters about small unit tactics, close ambush drills, counter ambush drills, rushes, and flanking and maneuvering techniques. Trees were cut and logs were stacked and a barricade was constructed around the town. The heavy logs were stacked and laid end to end so that horses could not pass. Spears were made and lashed into place pointing outward at random angles and heights to thwart any sort of charge. Inside the fence, and under the heavy logs, foxholes were dug and fighting positions were laid out. Each was placed in a position that allowed one fighting hole to cover another, and the fields of fire overlapped.

    In the surrounding forest, traps were set. Jake showed them how to create Punji pits of various designs, spiked mud balls, bamboo whips, and swinging man traps. Since bamboo wasn’t available, young saplings worked just fine. By the time they were finished, it was a veritable mine field of death in waiting.

    Jake selected several areas for Observation Posts and set up a guard. The guard would be rotated every four hours and the OP would be manned 24 hours a day. One of the general stores in town sold monocular glasses and Jake asked the sheriff to acquire one for each OP and four more for his Forward Observers and scouts that he was personally training. The warning system was the big bell that was in the steeple at the church in the middle of town. Jake made sure the guards in the OP were equipped with shotguns and he had the doctor, who turned out to also be a chemist of sorts, make an explosive flair that would ignite when fired from the shotgun. It was hard pellet made from ammonium nitrate and some other bonding agents that ignited from friction in the barrel when fired. The ammonium nitrate was derived from the abundance of chicken manure; most everyone raised chickens. It was quite successful and would send a white hot flare hundreds of feet into the sky.

    There was plenty of ammunition for the various weapons that the townspeople had. The owner of the weapons and armaments store had just received another big order from the southern factories. He ordered supplies frequently because inventory was always questionable, the long trade routes were dangerous, and because there was always a need. Hunting was a way of life for most people and people were also always prepared for a conflict of some sort; this was still wild country after all and with threats like the Northern Tribe and other smaller groups of raiders, weapons and ammunition were in constant demand.

    The factories in the south that had started creating firearms again were only making lever action and bolt action rifles and revolvers. Automatics weren’t yet back on the market as they were still too complex for the manufacturers. Ammunition had been the easiest thing to begin manufacturing again. Jake found the weapons dealer in town had ammunition for his 308 and 44 magnum and his M4, but not the HK or the 10mm Glock.

    Jake took his spare M4 and taught Joshua how to use it. Joshua was quite impressed with the weapon and by now he was thoroughly convinced that Jake was telling the truth about his time travel experience.

    “I think we are ready for them Jake.” Joshua said one evening over coffee at Smiths.

    “I hope so Josh. We haven’t heard from the scouts in almost three months. I hope they are okay.”

    “I’m a little worried about that too Jake. I was debating whether to send someone out to look for them.”

    “No. You need everyone here in case you are attacked. Everyone here knows what their role is and how to respond. We don’t have the numbers, but we have the advantage. We have strategy and a solid defense. My snipers will wreak havoc on any attacking force, even more so if we have enough warning before an attack.”

    “I’ve got the people from the outlying farms and ranches living in town for the time being. The ones that will come in, anyway. Can’t force em to live here if they don’t want to. Most of em are more than willing to come in though. Safety in numbers and all that. You sure got everyone feeling pretty confident about this.”

    “Josh, what good would all this do if they thought they didn’t have a chance? If people don’t think they can win, they won’t try. I think we have a fighting chance but a lot depends on how many come against us. If the Northern Tribe is sending their whole army out, I doubt we will survive, but they will suffer greatly for the victory. Do you know what the definition of courage is Josh?”

    “Tell me.”

    “When you know that you will lose, when you know that victory is impossible and death is certain, but you go and fight anyway for that which you believe in. You fight because you value your life and your freedom, although freedom may cost you your life. You fight for your family and you fight for your way of life. To surrender is to die, or become slaves to a master. Fighting against impossible odds for something you believe in, even when victory or success is impossible, THAT is courage.”

    “So you think we will lose?”

    “I do not want to lose Josh. I don’t want to die. I want to live. But sometimes in order to live, you must fight. Freedom is won by the blood of hero’s Josh. Sometimes to keep it, you have to fight against those who would take it. All through history, men have died for freedom Josh. From William Wallace is Scotland in the year 1297 to the World Wars against the Germans and Japanese, to right now, today. This Tribe takes no prisoners and gives no quarter. We know what to expect from them, we better be prepared to respond the same way. If I thought we would lose, then I would also have to think that all my time and training and preparations have been in vain. This Tribe is coming to kill and destroy us. As long as they exist, they are a threat against us and our freedom.”

    Josh looked thoughtfully at Jake. “You’re a good man Jake. Your training has not been in vain and we will fight. We will fight them until there is no one left to fight or every last one of us is dead.”

    “Glad to hear it Josh. Why don’t you go make the rounds this time and check the guards in the OP’s?”

    “Yes sir.” Josh shook Jakes hand and looked him straight in the eye. They parted company and Jake took Kai to the Bon Appetite for dinner. It had been a long three months and Jake had been busy, sunup to sundown, training and teaching and training. He had been running his snipers through the mountains and doing physical conditioning exercises until they were honed like a razor and in top physical condition. Jake figured it was the shortest Special Forces training program in history, but his men had learned fast and they hadn’t quit. Everyone knew the stakes.

    He hadn’t spent much time with Kai, but she had been busy herself. She had been apprenticing under Ismael and the nurse. The nurse, whose name was Carina, spoke Spanish and English and had been teaching Kai the language. Kai meanwhile, was learning to be a nurse for the doctor. If a battle came, then there would be wounded and Ismael and Carina would need all the help they could get.
    They ordered their usual dinner of spaghetti, meatballs, mushrooms and garlic bread. Erin was happy to see them again, but there was an edge about her. She seemed stressed and tired and the lines around her eyes were sharper than usual. Jake comforted her. “It will be okay Erin. We are as ready as we can be. Always look for the positive in a situation.”

    “And what would that be?” Asked Erin.

    “Maybe they won’t show up!”

    Jake enjoyed a quiet romantic evening with Kai and they finally returned to their room. After a not so quiet but just as romantic finale, they cuddled up close together and finally drifted off to sleep. Jake’s dreams were wild and violent and there were drums beating and warriors fighting.

    He woke with a start; listening. The church bell was ringing.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 14

    Chapter 14

    Jake jumped out of bed. It was pitch black in the small room but he knew where his clothes were and pulled them on quickly.

    “What’s going on?” Kai asked groggily then she heard the bell. “Oh no…” She also jumped out of bed and threw on her new buckskin dress and jacket that Jake had bought for her.

    Jake threw on his web belt and shoulder rig. He had modified it to hold the Glock on the left side and the 44 Magnum on the right. The web belt had all his spare Glock magazines and several quick loaders for the 44 magnum. Kai had built him a leather magazine holder that held the three spare magazines for the M4. The other four had gone to Joshua with the spare M4. His Armageddon and his Walk About were on the web belt as well. He threw his Camelback on, grabbed the M4 and his Remington 700 and then he and Kai raced out of their room and ran across the town to the church.

    There were already a dozen people gathered around a very sweaty horse and the rider who was talking to the sheriff. The horse looked like it was ready to collapse from exhaustion and Jake told the man nearest to him to take the horse to the stables and strip him down and water him and then put the horse up and come back. The man took off on a run for the stables, the horse in tow.

    The rider was one of the scouts they had sent out. He was telling the sheriff “…on the move right now…. maybe ten miles from here.”

    “How many did you say there were?” asked Joshua.

    “At least three hundred. They have been raiding as they came south. I was following for a while to try to determine if they were really headed this way. They are. There is no doubt of that now. I killed two horses running to get here and I almost killed this one. I ran hard for two days.”

    “This settlement is the biggest one for five hundred miles. If they wanted a prize, this would be it.” Josh turned to the crowd that had doubled in the last few minutes as everyone rushed to the rallying bell, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Tribe is approaching. This is what we prepared for and hoped would never happen. The latest report is that there are at least three hundred raiders coming down on this town. That’s two raiders for each of you.” Josh tried to lighten the mood with a poor attempt at humor; no one thought it was funny. “People, we know what to do. Jake, you’re in charge.”

    “No sir I’m not. This is your town and I trained you as much as anyone. You know the plan, execute it. I’m taking my snipers and we’re going to meet them before they get here. Make sure the guards at the OP’s have warning and know that the enemy approaches. Gideon, gather the sniper teams and get ready to move. Josh, you know what to do, do it.”

    Gideon was Jakes top shooter and his platoon leader for the sniper team. There were 50 snipers total and over one hundred men and women volunteers to defend the town. More were coming in by the minute; the bell sounding their death toll if they didn’t act to defend themselves. If only three hundred raiders were attacking the town, Jake was confident that they would be enormously victorious. The Tribe obviously didn’t plan for an organized resistance.

    “Scout, what is your name?” Jake called to the rider.

    “Clancy sir.” The Irish looking man said.

    “Clancy, was the Black Chief riding with them?”

    “No sir. He did not leave the border. But several of his underlings have come.”

    “How are they for weapons?”

    “Sir, they’re armed to the hilt. They’re carrying long spears, swords, bows, guns I have seen before, and they’re all riding on horses. The horses are armored in their black armor and the underlings are wearing red capes and wolf heads. The men appear to be insane, sir. They have the look of madmen and they are painted with red paint on their faces and they are covered with their tribal markings.”

    “Anything else Clancy?”

    “Yes sir. They are dragging cannons.”

    “WHAT?!”

    “That’s right sir. They are dragging cannons. They have long steel pipes, as big as trees, mounted on wagons, and they look like cannons. I’ve read about cannons in the library and they look like what I read.”

    Jake cursed under his breath and yelled at Josh, “Josh, get everyone into fighting positions NOW! Shoot on sight and take no prisoners! MOVE IT!”

    Jake turned to Gideon who had all the snipers in formation behind him. “Are the men ready Gideon?”

    “Yes sir. We are ready.”

    Jake turned to Kai, “Stay at the hospital, you will be needed there before the day is through. If they break through, run to the south. You know where to go.” Jake had found a spot they could retreat to if things went bad.

    Kai looked terrified and her olive skin was actually pale white. “KAI! Did you hear me?”

    Kai snapped back to attention and replied, “Yes. I heard you. Be careful Jake, I love you.”

    Jake kissed his wife quickly and then she headed for the doctors building. Jake turned back to his snipers; Josh was yelling orders in the background. “Gideon, take squads 1, 2, and 3, and go east. Circle around behind them and flank them. I’ll take squads 4, 5, and 6 and come around from the west. Halcon, take squads 7, 8, 9, and 10 and head straight north. Use the hides we designated and wait for my signal. We will envelope them into an ambush and kill as many as we can. Shoot to kill, shoot once. You know the rule. Change positions after the first shot, aim for the leaders first and work your way down the chain of command. We’re playing for keeps boys. Let’s go!”

    Gideon and Halcon turned to their squads and had them fall out for their ghillie suits. Within minutes, everyone was on the run for their respective positions. Jake ran back to his room and grabbed his ghillie suit and met his men on the trail, heading west out of town. Everyone was dressed in their ghillie suits and had their rifles ready; they had painted their faces black with paint made from ashes and coal. Their ghillie suits were made from shredded burlap fabric and died assorted natural colors. When they reached their positions, the men would weave grass and leaves into their suits to complete the disguise. Once they were completed, they were virtually invisible and one could almost step on a sniper and never know he was there.

    Jake ran his squads five miles west and then turned north and ran up the mountain until they came to their ambush positions. Squad 4 went down the mountain several hundred yards to a large rock outcropping that jutted out and provided an excellent field of fire into the valley below. There was a choke point coming into the valley from the north, it was the only entrance other than the south side of the valley. The mountain slopes were too rugged for horses to traverse and so the enemy would be forced into the canyon that funneled into the valley.

    The valley was heavily forested with spruce and alder and cottonwoods and there were rock outcroppings and boulders strewn randomly; ejected from the mountainside at some point in history and then rolled down onto the valley floor. These boulders also offered excellent fighting positions and cover for his forces to fight the enemy from. Squad 5 was spread out among just such an outcropping near the valley floor at the base of the mountain.

    The canyon that served to funnel into the valley had been thinned of trees which they harvested to build the barricade around the settlement. There was the main trail that was used by everyone, friendly and otherwise, and they had avoided planting that area with traps. Once a man left the main trail however, he took his life in his own hands. Jake had supervised a team of men who had done nothing but build traps for an entire month up and down the valley. There were hundreds of punji pits with poisoned spikes. Some of the pits were large enough for a man to fall into entirely. In key locations that looked like easy access routes, there were swinging man traps and spiked mud balls, all trigger activated and designed to cause the maximum amount of damage.

    The canyon was covered by Jakes team on the west and Gideon’s team on the east and Halcon’s team on the south. It was a three sided death trap that was ready to be sprung. Jake checked his team to make sure everyone was set and then ran to the OP he had set up that looked north into the approaching countryside.

    The sun was just beginning to rise over the mountains on the east side and the day promised to be a beautiful one, but Jake didn’t notice. He was staring north and waiting for the first sign of the enemy. He had his ghillie suit on and, like all the others, it completely covered him and his rifle and from a mere five feet away, was indistinguishable from the surrounding vegetation. He had his Remington 700 pointed out over the valley and was scanning back and forth, examining every bush, rock, and tree and watching for any sign of movement or anything out of place. His senses were on high alert and everything seemed to be amplified just a little.

    Birds were chirping and singing, a light breeze was blowing from the west, and the sun rose higher and the temperature began to rise. Out in the valley below him, a herd of Elk moved out into the open near the trail and grazed along, ears flicking back and forth as they listened for any danger. Jake watched them as he continued to scan the area. He wished he had radios so he could communicate with his men. “I suppose that’s still a ways into the future though….” He mumbled to himself with regret.

    A slow hour passed with nothing happening. The Elk down below were still grazing along, moving eastward slowly and every so often one of them would lift its head and look around. Jake noticed one of them suddenly lift its head and stare to the north. The others also suddenly became alert and they stared north for a minute and then began to nervously head east, looking north as they went. Then they broke into a run and ran for the tree line on the eastern edge of the valley as fast as they could run.

    Jake pointed his scope north and scanned the trees, watching for the enemy and trying to detect any movement. Suddenly at the edge of the clearing he saw a movement. A man dressed in black armor with his face painted red was standing beside a tree and looking across the meadow. He was slowly joined by four more men. They all held spears that were at least eight feet long. The men were light skinned and covered with tribal tattoos on their arms and faces. He could see the tattoos even through the red paint. Jake ranged them at close to a mile and a half away; it was an educated guess because they were well beyond the ranging capability of his scope. They had to cross the clear valley floor before going into the canyon and then the valley below where the town lay. Jake waited.

    Another man suddenly appeared out of nowhere beside the other five and he was wearing a red cape and a wolf’s head. Jake could not see his face but it disturbed him. The man looked like something straight out of one of his nightmares. He carried a staff with a human skull on the top and the staff appeared to be carved with symbols of some sort but the distance was too great for Jake to make it out. He noticed the man had a sling around his chest that apparently held something behind his back, but Jake couldn’t see what it was.

    Jake watched them to see what they would do and barely detected the movement across the valley directly west of the men. Several dozen horsemen rode slowly out of the trees and into the valley. They were dressed the same as the footmen he had been watching. He counted three more men with the red capes and skull-topped staffs. He also saw what they were carrying on the sling. AK47’s. “What the hell?” Jake breathed to himself and studied them harder. Sure enough, they were AK47’s and the red cape guys were all carrying them. He decided the guys in the red capes were the leaders, or the underlings. He slowly turned his head and motioned to one of his men. It was Ajax, “Yes sir?” he asked in a whisper.

    “See the men in the red capes? They’re the leaders. I want you to run to all the other teams and tell them to take the red capes out first. Report back when you’re done.”

    “Yes sir.” With that Ajax disappeared like ghost into the woods to carry out the order.

    Jake turned his attention back to the valley below. Fifty more horsemen had entered the valley and were moving slowly south at a walk. The first five men and the red cape man hadn’t moved.

    Jake watched as more horsemen continued to exit the forest and pour into the valley floor. They kept coming until Jake guessed there were several hundred men in the clearing below him. There were more than three hundred men as Clancy had suggested; Jake guessed there was closer to five hundred and they were all armed with bows, spears, swords, and AK47’s. Jake was thankful that the AK’s seemed to be limited to the higher ranking fighters and thankfully there weren’t that many of them. The raiders were organized like an army and moved in units.

    The footmen were tough looking men and heavily muscled with heavy black armor and most of them carried swords that resembled the swashbuckler swords that pirates of old used to carry. They all appeared to be mad, as if they were under some sort of spell and driven by some force or will that wasn’t their own. As Jake studied them through his scope, he thought that they did indeed resemble the Orcs of Tolkien’s novels in behavior and movement; although they were decidedly human. Jake thought absently that maybe they were the Wild Men that sided with the Orcs when they attacked the White City of Gondor.

    Scanning the valley below, he was dismayed at the force coming against them. His snipers would wreak havoc against these raiders but there were simply too many of them and sooner or later, it would come down to hand to hand fighting. They would be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the enemy, even more so if they attacked in a rush and couldn’t be turned back.

    The cannons were finally drug out into the valley and Jake was appalled to see what they were, “Son of a bitch! What the hell?” The guns were howitzers and there were two of them. Not big ones, but howitzers none the less. Where they got them or the ammo for them was a mystery to Jake but he knew if they began launching shells at the settlement it was done for. The howitzers would have to be taken out and they would have to be a priority. But how?

    Jake cursed to himself as he watched the array of fighters and raiders organize below him on the valley floor. He hadn’t planned for artillery and the possibility had never entered his mind. He wondered where they got a hold of the big guns but that was beside the point right now. This was here and now and they were in trouble. Jake hoped they weren’t very proficient with them.

    The army below sectioned off into five formations of fifty footmen and fifty horsemen and two red cape leaders. One red cape horseman marched forward of the column and raised his staff over his head. They began marching forward and the guns were drug behind by draft horses. They marched in step and Jake could hear them as their feet hit the ground and the noise drifted up the mountain top. It was almost two miles to the town from the canyon entrance and Jake and his men had to cause maximum damage before the Tribe got that far. Suddenly the entire column halted and then three footmen, tall and lightly built, raced forward and met the red cape leader on the horse in front of the army. They listened as the leader gave them orders about something and then they set off at a run for the canyon.

    “Scouts! Dammit.” Jake wondered where Ajax was. He looked slowly over his shoulder and back at his men. With Ajax gone, that left him three men. He got the attention of Lothar, the German scout closest to him. Lothar looked at him and Jake motioned at the three running scouts and then motioned for Lothar to take them out, quietly. Lothar just grinned and disappeared into the forest without a sound. Lothar was Jakes best stalker and he could scare a ghost in the woods on Halloween. The raider scouts would never return, of that Jake was sure.

    Jake looked back at the field and realized the leader in front was waiting for the scouts to return before going further. He was going to have a long wait.

    Lothar ran fast through the woods down the mountain. He made as much noise as a mountain lion and ran almost as fast. He reached the valley floor just as the scouts went running into the canyon. The three scouts slowed to a walk and began stalking carefully forward, watching the canyon walls and the forest ahead of them. They had bows and they were strung with arrows. The three men moved as one, with the first man taking point and the other two following and watching their flanks. Lothar moved behind them like a ghost and quickly closed the distance. He was within twenty feet of the last man when he threw one of his daggers as hard as he could at the loitering scout.

    The dagger flew through the air and buried itself in the man’s neck to the hilt. The scout dropped to his knees without a sound and then fell forward onto his face. The other two immediately went on guard and started scanning the forest for the threat, trying to locate Lothar. He didn’t move from his position and just stood still and watched them. They were getting nervous and kept looking at their fallen comrade and then out into the shadowy forest. Finally they began to move on, a little faster this time and they kept looking behind them as they went.

    Lothar waited until they had traveled out of sight into the trees and then retrieved his knife, wiping the blood off on the man’s pants. He picked up the scout’s bow and removed his quiver of arrows and then began stalking the two remaining scouts. He moved behind them silently, wafting from tree to tree like some wraith demon and closed on his prey. He pulled the bow back and sent an arrow into the scout that was taking point. The man dropped as the arrow pierced his spine and impaled his heart. The other scout spun around just in time to see a huge bush come flying off the forest floor and tackle him. He felt a white hot burning in his stomach as Lothar impaled his knife into the man’s gut. He wanted to scream, but Lothar’s gloved hand clamped down on his mouth and held it shut. He felt the knife twist inside him and then it was ripped out and the last thing he saw was the knife as Lothar stabbed into his eyeball.

    Quickly Lothar removed the bodies from the trail and covered the blood with dirt and leaves. He grabbed up the scouts weapons and returned to his position, nodding at Jake that the deed was done. No scouts would be bringing any reports back today.

    Three slow hot hours passed as they lay in the sun waiting for the Tribe to move. The leader in front was obviously waiting for the scouts to return and report with what was up ahead. It was apparent that they knew the settlement was here and in this valley. Ajax finally returned while they were waiting and Jake sent him back to town to warn the others and give them an update. He told Ajax about the howitzers and what the townspeople should expect from them. Jake was furiously trying to come up with an idea to disable the big guns.

    Ajax took off for the town. Jake was desperate. Those guns, even though it was two of them, could spell death for everyone in the settlement. Jake thought quickly of Kai, but she was beyond his protection now. Suddenly he had an idea, but he wasn’t sure how to implement it. He waved Lothar over and told him his idea. Lothar listened and nodded enthusiastically. Jake took off his scope and pointed to Lothar where to look to see the guns. Lothar studied the situation for several minutes and then handed the scope back to Jake.

    “It’s a suicide mission Lothar. You don’t have to do it.”

    “I understand that sir, but what choice do we have? I’ll go.” Lothar disappeared before Jake could offer any more protest.

    “Via con dios my brother.” Jake said quietly as he turned back to the field below him. The leader was getting impatient and was riding back and forth along the column, shouting something that made the men even more wild and mad; working them into a frenzy of bloodlust like a bunch of rabid dogs.

    It was noon and the fourth hour was closing when the red cape leader rode forward of the column and raised his skull staff again. The entire column lurched into motion and the drum of footfalls on the earth sounded loud against canyon walls as the enemy moved forward. Drums began pounding, slow and deep, driving the men forward and keeping them in step. Jake hadn’t seen the drums and scanned the mob frantically trying to locate them. He finally saw them hiding toward the rear of the column; two big drummers at the rear of each formation, pounding in sync with each other and keeping everyone moving at the same pace.

    “Showtime.” Jake breathed under his breath and motioned the alert signal to his remaining team. Tamerlane retreated into the forest to signal the other teams and get into position. Jake watched as the army advanced toward them and slowly came into range. He knew the rest of his snipers were waiting on him.

    When he fired, they would rain death into the crowd and wreak havoc. Sniper warfare has always been a psychological war tactic. It was unnerving to the enemy because it made them afraid; if you couldn’t see your enemy, you couldn’t fight them. Snipers killed from hiding, over long distance, and without warning; as a result it was demoralizing to the enemy. Jake doubted it would have that effect on this group of madmen though; they seemed to be locked under some kind of spell that drove them; something other than their own madness and will power.

    The drumbeats and footfalls got louder as they approached. It was definitely an intimidation tactic and no doubt it worked well against most of their enemies. Once an enemy was overcome with fear, the rest was easy. The drums didn’t bother Jake though and he hoped the rest of his snipers weren’t bothered by them either.

    Jake waited until the first formation was in range of his non-scoped snipers before he squeezed the trigger. The lead rider who was obviously the commander of the army behind him had a look in his eyes that scared Jake. The man was possessed by something and the eyes were red in the man’s skull. Through his scope, Jake could see every detail of the man up close and personal; the sight sent a shiver of fear down his spine. The red caped leader never knew what hit him.

    Jake squeezed the trigger and watched through his scope as the man’s head blossomed into a pink mist. The head snapped backward on its body and then the body slid off the saddle and landed on the ground with a thud. The leader’s horse shied violently and jumped sideways and bolted into the forest.

    Instantly the mountains erupted in gunfire as Gideon’s squads opened up on the attackers. Halcon’s men were still out of range, but Jakes squads were opening up on the army below. The army was caught in a crossfire and raiders were dropping like flies. Jake had taught them to shoot once and make it count. Ammo was precious and couldn’t be wasted. “One shot. One kill. No exceptions.” His men had been expert shots to begin with; having hunted their entire lives, but a little improvement never hurt anyone.

    Jake worked his bolt and quickly sighted on another target: another red caped leader. This one was on foot and was just standing still, looking around as if he didn’t believe what was happening. Jack put a round through his heart and watched as the man toppled backward from the impact. He found another red caped target and dropped him where he stood.

    Chaos broke out immediately when the leader fell and the army went mad and berserk. The raiders began running wildly into the woods and yelling and screaming like banshees. Jake and his snipers concentrated on the red caped underlings and in a matter of minutes, they were all dead. The raiders, with the loss of their leaders began running through the woods without any direction and trying in vain to find a target to destroy. Dozens of them found the traps that had been set and Jake could hear their screams as they died horrible deaths. Soon the area was empty except for the howitzers. They had been abandoned right in the middle of the field. There were several wagons staged around them and Jake wondered if they contained the ammo and gunpowder.

    The raiders funneled into the canyon and ran down through the valley screaming and waving their weapons overhead. The snipers pursued them through the trees and continued dropping them, one after the other. The raiders never turned to look back; they just charged the settlement, intent on causing as much damage and death as possible. Over half of the raiders were still alive and they charged down upon the settlement and the spiked fence like waves on the shore. The horses ran headlong into the barricade and impaled themselves on the giant spears. The riders flew off and they too were impaled against the wall. The footmen were cut down in wave after wave by the entrenched townspeople in their fighting holes beneath the logs.

    A few of the smarter raiders had grabbed up the AK47’s from their dead leaders and were spraying wildly as they ran, mostly killing their fellow raiders but many bullets found their way into the settlement and a few found targets.

    Some of the footmen managed to skirt the fence and get inside the walls. Joshua was standing in the street facing the onslaught and shooting the raiders as they came through with the M4, dropping them like rabid dogs in the dirt. The wave of attackers soon overwhelmed the defenses and they crashed through the fence, invading the town and killing anyone they could find.

    Jake and his snipers were hot on their tail, shooting on the run and dropping the raiders, one after the other. The raiders slowed when they were hit by a barrage from the front, but then they crashed through the fence and into the town.

    Jake was running as fast as he could now. His Remington ran out ammo for the fourth time and this time he dropped it and swung his M4 around from behind his back. He went through the fence at a run and saw a dozen men surrounding Joshua. He was frantically trying to reload a new magazine into his M4 and the raiders were closing fast.

    The world was moving in extreme slow motion for Jake. He saw the raiders closing on Josh and then he saw four others closing in on the hospital and saw Kai in the doorway watching what was happening. Jake skidded to a halt and dropped to one knee, bringing up the M4 and took one last look at Kai and then began killing the men around Josh.

    The men surrounding Josh immediately turned their attention on Jake and rushed him. There were six men left, Jake fired two rounds into the man closest to him and then dropped the man directly behind that one. Two more were charging up side by side and Jake dropped the one on the left and his bolt racked open on the empty magazine.

    Damn! No time to reload. Jake dropped the M4 and drew his Glock, holding it weaver style, he put two rounds through the chest on of the fourth guy who was almost on top of him. The man stumbled forward and collapsed on top of Jake. Jake threw him off just in time to see the fifth and sixth guy leap for him with knives drawn. Jake fired and hit one raider in the chest while he was in midair.

    The other man landed on Jake and stabbed his knife downward at Jakes head. Jake turned his head at the last second as the knife plunged into the dirt beside his left ear. The raider immediately pulled his knife out and tried again. Jack grabbed the raiders wrist on the downward stroke and then shoved it backward over his head. The raider went off balance and fell on top of Jake. Jake punched him hard in the kidney and then lifted his knee up as hard as he could into the man’s crotch. The raider screamed in Jake’s ear and then tried to stab him again.
    Jake caught the man’s arm in his hand and was holding the knife away, trying to push the man off of him.

    Suddenly the man’s head exploded in a pink mist, spraying Jake in the face with blood and brain matter and bits of bone, and he toppled backward. Jake immediately rolled over and looked up at where the shot had come from. Lothar and Ajax were shooting quickly in every direction and dropping a man with each shot.

    Kai! Jake jumped up and grabbed his M4, dropping the magazine and inserting a new one on the run, he slammed the release with his palm and the bolt slammed forward on a loaded chamber. The hospital door was open and a man was lying in a pool of blood on the porch. It was a raider Jake saw when he got closer. He felt his heart stop and everything went cold inside him. He slammed through the open door, covering the room as he entered. Another man was dead by the door, a spear holding him upright against wall. He took it in at a glance and then raced into the back room. There was no one there.

    Jack felt the coldness of panic in his heart and he frantically ran back out of the room and into the main foyer. There was another door and it was slightly ajar. He burst through it and covered the room again taking it in at a glance. Kai! She was in the corner, huddled over Ismael, who was covered in blood. Carina was lying on the floor, a bloody mess. Three raiders were sprawled across the room and they were dead. Josh was sitting against the wall beside Kai with his pistol in his lap. His shirt was covered in blood and he was grinning at Jake. “Thought you’d never make it cowboy….” He sputtered and blood gurgled out of his mouth.

    “Hold on Josh. Hold on.” Jake was in warrior mode and realized that the threat had to be neutralized before any aid could be given. He glanced at Kai, “Are you hurt Kai?”

    “No!” She sobbed trying to stop the bleeding on Ismael’s wound on his head.
    Jake spun around went back out the door. He stepped into the street and shot a raider who was running straight for him. He began sweeping the street, scanning the buildings and alleys and looking for more threats. The shots were becoming more sporadic and random from the fence and other parts of the settlement.

    There was no one around him. Bodies littered the street and raiders were hanging from the spikes on the fence. He quickly ducked around the corner of the hospital and silently crept to the back, looking for any more enemies. There was no one and the alley behind the hospital was empty as well.

    The gunshots were stopping now. Every so often another shot would sound. Soon, the gunshots were minutes apart; apparently the townspeople were cleaning up. Jake returned inside the hospital and saw that Kai had gotten Ismael stretched out on the floor and his head wound wrapped. She was working over Josh who was still grinning, but this time at Kai. He coughed and more blood ran out of his mouth.

    Jake quickly crossed the room to him and crouched down beside him. He could see Josh had been stabbed in the chest. The wound was bubbling and frothy and Jake knew his lung had been pierced. He quickly looked Josh over some more and saw that there was another stab wound lower down, it was oozing black blood. Jake carefully sat back and looked Josh in the eye. His friend was a dead man and Josh knew it. Jake was cursing inside. He grabbed Josh’s hand and held it tight. Kai was frantically trying to stop the bleeding from Josh’s chest wound. He put his hand on Kai’s shoulder and stopped her. There was nothing she could do for him. Kai looked at Jake and Jake squeezed her shoulder. She began crying silently and tears were steaming down her face.

    “Don’t cry over me darling.” Josh said. “Take care of your man there. He’s a good one.” Josh coughed again and more blood poured out of his mouth. “Leave me alone. Let a man die in peace.”

    Jake looked Josh straight in the eye, “Thank you friend. Thank you for saving her. I will never forget it.”

    Josh coughed again, “Just doin my job…. “ He slumped over and his eyes rolled back.

    Kai began sobbing openly and collapsed against Jake. “He saved us. He came in and saved us.”

    Jake held Kai for a minute and then said, “There’s lots of work ahead Kai. We’ll mourn him later. Right now we have to focus. Is Carina still alive?”

    Kai gathered herself up and looked over at Carina’s body. “No. She tried to protect Ismael and they stabbed her.”

    Jake went over to Carina and checked for a pulse. There was one! It was light and weak, but it was there. He quickly lifted her up and carried her to a table and set her on it. “She’s alive Kai. We have to work fast.”

    Kai immediately began moving around the room gathering up medical supplies and bringing them over to Jake. Jake stripped Carina’s clothes off and examined the wound. She had been stabbed low down on the side. It was bleeding freely and Jake thought she should survive the wound. It probably wasn’t bleeding inside from the looks of it, but this was beyond Jake’s abilities. He needed Ismael.

    “Hold pressure on that wound Kai and try to stop the bleeding. What’s wrong with Ismael?”

    “He got struck in the head. I don’t think it’s that serious but it knocked him out and he was bleeding heavily.”

    Jake walked over to Ismael and looked him over. The wound was bandaged and it wasn’t bleeding anymore. He needed the doctor to be up and working so he took a chance and grabbed a pail of water from the sink and splashed it on Ismael’s head.

    Ismael groaned and woke up slowly. He immediately grabbed his head and groaned louder. Jake grabbed him and pulled him up to a sitting position. “Ismael, can you hear me? Do you understand me?”

    Ismael looked at Jake and shook his head yes, “Si.” He mumbled.

    “Good. Ismael, Carina’s wounded. She needs you NOW! And we’ll have many other wounded coming in today. We need you up. Come on. Let’s get moving.”

    Ismael nodded he understood and when Jake mentioned Carina’s wound he looked around at her quickly and immediately began trying to stand up. Jake gave him a hand and the doctor stood there trying to get his balance for a moment and then went to Carina and began working on her; Kai took over as the nurse.

    Jake walked outside and back to the fence. Lothar was standing there with Sloan, Ajax, and Tamerlane; the rest of his personal sniper squad. Halcon and Gideon had their squads patrolling the woods around the settlement and back into the valley canyon, hunting down any last raiders and killing them where they found them.

    It was going to be a long few days ahead. There were five hundred dead raiders beginning to rot in the sun and several dozen of the townspeople had been killed in the battle. Jake lost ten of his snipers and his friend Joshua, the sheriff.

    “Lothar, find Gideon and have him gather all the snipers when they’re done hunting. Everyone meet me at the sheriff’s office at sundown.” Jake paused.

    “Joshua is dead. We’re going hunting.”

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 15

    Chapter 15

    Jake walked along the fence and surveyed the damage. Under his direction, the townsfolk had harvested trees that were at least two feet in diameter and had stacked the first row side by side and end to end around the perimeter of the town, leaving only two openings at each end for regular traffic. Then they had stacked a third log above the bottom two in a pyramid shape, effectively stopping any horse or vehicle from penetrating the defenses. The branches of the trees had been sharpened to a needle point and fire hardened, the largest and heaviest being placed at the bottom of the fence and the lighter ones up higher. To build the fence, logs and branches had been stacked vertically and lashed together and then lashed to the logs below.

    It had worked remarkably well. The attack had been rather reminiscent of a Mexican Soccer game gone wild however, and the raiders had simply piled against the fence in a mad rush and the fence had failed in a few places. Everywhere there were bodies hanging from spears and horses were impaled against the logs. It was a grisly, bloody mess.

    The fighting holes had worked incredibly well. Jake had the idea to dig them beneath the logs, deep enough for the average man to stand in and big enough for three or four men each. There was just enough room between the ground and the logs for a man to aim a rifle, bow, or whatever he had to use and fire at the attackers. The risk to the defenders was minimal, since there was very little for the attackers to aim at. The logs above had the added advantage of deflecting lobbed weapons or munitions as well as provide shade during the hot day. The first wasn’t a problem as the raiders had no lobbed weapons or munitions to employ, thank God.

    The final tally of the dead was 500 raiders and 58 townsfolk, the sheriff, and twelve of Jakes snipers. There were almost 100 wounded, many of them women and some older children who joined the fight. It was a fight for existence and almost everyone came to help defend the settlement, and indirectly, their own outlying farms and ranches. All together almost 350 men, women, and children, had taken up arms and fought the attackers and utterly defeated them. Survivors were executed on the spot with no questions asked. Jake had no doubt in his mind that if his snipers had not gotten the upper hand immediately and taken the leadership out with their surprise attack, things would have turned out much differently.

    The entire battle from the moment Jake squeezed off his first round lasted barely an hour. The attack of the Northern Tribe was routed and soundly defeated. By the end of the day, the hospital was packed and Ismael was running on fumes. Everyone who knew anything about treating injuries was employed to help. The minor injuries were treated quickly and those people in turn helped others. The more seriously injured were staged in the hospital on blankets on the floor since there were only two examining tables and one recovery bed. When the hospital filled up, the church was used. There were 34 seriously wounded who couldn’t leave the hospital; the others immediately left to help repair the town, the fence, and begin gathering the bodies.

    That evening at sundown Jake met with his remaining snipers and the mood was somber. Twelve of them were dead; men they had been training with for the last three months, day in and day out. “Men, good job today. We beat the enemy and completely defeated their attack; but we had casualties and people died. That is the price of freedom and it isn’t to be taken lightly, as you all know now more than ever before.

    ”The Northern Tribe sent an army against us and we defeated them by the grace of God. This settlement is a peaceful community full of good people; not warriors and fighters. And yet, we defeated the enemy who came to destroy us.

    “The fight isn’t over men. Not by a long shot. The Northern Tribe itself still exists and the Black Chief still lives. What remains of the tribe, I don’t know. I do know this; the Black Chief will not sit back and leave us alone after we have annihilated his army. We must attack them and we must do it now, before they can regroup and send another force against us. If we can hit them by surprise, then we can wipe them out forever and rid the world of this scourge.

    “Are you with me?”

    As one man, 38 enraged woodsmen turned snipers yelled out “YES!”

    A small crowd of tired men had gathered while Jake was talking and they all yelled in agreement as well. The people were angry and wanted vengeance for the unjustified attack which had killed family and friends.

    “Prepare yourselves then. We leave in four days, at dawn!”

    The following three days, the people gathered the bodies of the raiders and built funeral pyres and burned them. It was a messy job and the odor of burning flesh was horrid. Then the men who had set the traps in the forest were tasked with retrieving the dead raiders from the traps so that no townspeople got hurt by traps that hadn’t been sprung. The traps had done their job extremely well and the bodies of the raiders were horribly mutilated by the swinging man traps and the spiked mud balls. The bamboo whips, made from young saplings in place of bamboo, had impaled at least three raiders against opposite trees; the others had had simply impaled their victims and held them upright in the trail. They were all a bloody mess.

    The punji pits had worked well also and the ones that were large enough for man to fall completely into had all caught their prey. The raiders were suspended in mid air and pierced by dozens of poisoned spears that waited to accept them. The smaller pits that were made to trap a leg and hold it still had men stuck there. Some were still alive when the townspeople found them; but they weren’t alive when the people removed them. One raider had been so desperate to escape he had chopped his own leg off and then crawled toward the battle, only to bleed out and die several feet from the trap.

    The howitzers were inspected by Jake and he found, on closer inspection, that they were Russian and incredibly old. The barrels were deeply rusted and corroded and the breeches were terribly worn. It was a wonder to Jake that the raiders hadn’t blown themselves up when they fired them. The legs had been modified to accept wheels so they could be pulled by horses; in fact the horses that pulled them still stood patiently waiting to be rescued. Jake saw that the poor animals had been badly abused and the animals were covered in scars from beatings with whips. Jake told four men to each take a horse back to the settlement and get them fed and watered and turn them loose.

    Jake searched the wagons beside the guns and found several dozen shells. They were 105mm and looked as old as dirt. Jake wondered if the guns had actually been fired at all and went to the closest one and opened the breech. It was full of rust and he didn’t see any sign that the gun had been fired. He checked the other one and saw it was cleaner and that there was gunpowder residue. Looking up the barrel toward the sky, Jake could see it had been scoured clean from at least one firing.

    He thought about that while he inspected the rest of the wagons. If they had at least one gun, they could set it up in defense of the town. Jake didn’t know anything about artillery except how to call it in. He wondered if the weapons dealer in town could make more bullets for the shells. They would need primers also. Jake looked at the base of the shells but didn’t see a primer; so much for that idea. This would be a one time use unless they could find more ammo somehow or figure out how to reload it. Jake wondered again where they could have acquired the guns.

    The other wagons carried ammunition for the AK47’s and more edged weapons and supplies of food and water and basic logistic requirements for moving any mass of people. He noted curiously there were no medical supplies whatsoever. That alone told Jake a lot about the enemy they were dealing with; there was only one explanation for an army having no medical supplies: they never treated their wounded. You either kept up or died and if you were wounded in battle, they just left you or you cared for yourself.

    Some horses were brought from the settlement and they towed the one working howitzer back and positioned it near the front gate. Jake instructed them to take oil and grease and use steel wool to thoroughly scrub the gun inside and out until the rust was removed as much as was possible; then coat the outside of the barrel with wheel grease. He wanted to test fire the gun one time to make sure it worked before relying on it for defense. The other gun was hopeless and he wasn’t going to risk injury or death to himself or anyone else by trying to fire it. He had it hauled back to town where it could be stripped for parts and the scrap metal could be melted down and used for other things.

    The second morning after the attack, everyone gathered together on a hill just outside of the settlement where a graveyard had been started. There were 71 graves lined up in a row and the bodies were wrapped in blankets and laid to rest. The preacher stood at the center of the row and said a prayer and words over the dead and blessed them for their sacrifice. Jake and Kai stood silently at the foot of Joshua’s grave. He had become Jake’s good friend in few short months they had known each other and now he was gone. Jake had lost many close friends in the Marine Corps during the wars in the Middle East that he participated in and it never got any easier. Someone had a bugle and played Taps after the preacher finished. The Honor Guard that Jake had quickly put together before the ceremony performed their salute.

    ”PRESENT ARMS.”

    “READY….FIRE”

    Seven guns fired as one. Everyone flinched. Some began crying.

    ”READY….FIRE.”

    Again they fired. Again everyone flinched. More people were crying.

    ”READY….FIRE.”

    The guns fired again for the last time and then there was silence. In the crowd, people were crying over family members and friends who had died. Some lay flowers on the graves, and others just stood silently. Jake and Kai stood together in silence for several more minutes until finally they turned to leave with the others.

    The morning after the attack, Jake sent Lothar and Tamerlane and Clancy out to backtrack the raiders and see what, if anything, was left behind and to make sure there were no more raiders waiting in ambush. Clancy had followed the raiders for six weeks as they raided and pillaged their way south to the settlement. The three men returned on the evening of the third day, the night before they were to leave and launch an attack on the Tribe and hopefully finish them off.

    “We backtracked them for a day and half sir. We didn’t find anything left behind but we did find four burned out homes and the men and women were mutilated. I have never seen such evil before sir. They cut the heads off the men and ripped their guts out and then stuck them on a stake in the ground. The women….. I cannot say what they did to the women, it made me sick and I vomited.” Lothar reported back to Jake, “We saw nothing else.”

    ”Okay. We leave at first light tomorrow. Go see Alexander and get whatever you need.” Alexander was the weapons and armaments dealer and he was in hog heaven after the cleanup. He had a pile of weapons and ammunition, swords, knives, spears, and bows to keep him in business for several lifetimes. He had explained about the AK’s, “It was always the hardiest of the so called assault rifles ever made. Since it was the main weapon of virtually every third world country and even most first world countries like China and Russia, after the plagues and wars of the twenty-first century, there were millions of them just waiting to be gathered up. There was an endless supply of them and the ammo was everywhere. We don’t see them very often up here in this part of the country, but there are a-plenty of em. And SKS’s too, but I don’t see them hardly at all. With a little care, a rifle will last forever.”

    So that explained the AK47’s to Jake and he could count on facing more of them when they engaged the Northern Tribe. He was going to have to reach back into his memory and pull out his strategy training assignments before just waltzing into the Tribe’s country, guns blazing. That would just get everyone killed. They would have to get there quickly and remain undetected and then perform a few recon missions to see what they were up against. If there were the same number of raiders still there as had attacked the settlement, Jake wasn’t sure exactly what the plan would be. He was confident though that if he and his snipers could eliminate upper management and execute a bunch of permanent lay-offs, the rest of the tribe might just scatter to the winds. The problem lay in doing that without getting killed themselves.

    It was a two week journey traveling light and fast; Jake would have plenty of time to think it over on the way. Tonight he had to spend time with Kai. She was not at all happy or comfortable with the idea of him going to fight the Tribe and was worried he would be killed, or worse. Tonight he was going to take her to dinner to her favorite place and discuss it with her.

    He went to see Sam and Pedro for a bath on his way home. Sam’s head was wrapped and his arm was in a sling, but Pedro was just fine. Sam grinned when he saw Jake, “If it ain’t the hero of the day! I take it you want a bath? PEDRO! Draw this man a bath and make it quick. We been busy all day Jake, this should only take a minute to get ready, fire’s already hot…… There you go sir!”

    Jake bathed quickly, his mind distracted by the events to come and his heart was heavy. There was a foreboding over him he couldn’t shake; and it wasn’t pre-battle jitters. He finished quickly and had Sam give him a quick shave. When he was finished, he shook Sam and Pedro’s hand and left for home.

    He went back to the cottage and saw Abigail, the woman who owned it, standing on her front porch. She waved to him.

    “You, sir, are a great warrior and I’m thankful that you have come to us in our time of need and I’m praying for your success in the north. May you be victorious in battle! I will care for your wife while you are gone; have no worries here.” Abigail was so old that she could barely stand and yet she suddenly stood up straight and put her hand on Jakes shoulder and began praying for him and his protection, asking God to set his angels around him and his warriors and protect them from the evil that was waiting for them and to give them victory. When she was done, Jake saw her eyes were on fire and burning with a bright light and she seemed to be taller and less frail than a minute ago. She pulled Jake down to her and kissed his forehead and then pulled a bottle of oil from somewhere and poured a small amount in her hand and rubbed it on his forehead, praying in a language Jake couldn’t understand as she did so.

    Jake had been a Christian once in his life, but after a series of events in his life had left it behind and never took it seriously again. The catalyst was when his father died just before he entered the Marine Corps and he had always blamed God for that. He felt strange and uncomfortable as Abigail prayed over him and anointed him with oil and called for God’s blessings. He didn’t deserve it and he knew it, but he endured it and tried to accept it.

    “Young man, all that is necessary in this world for evil to reign and be victorious is for good men to do nothing. You are a good man and a great warrior; but what you are going to face is more powerful than flesh and blood my son. You are fighting the devil himself. But if God be on your side, who can be against you? I will gather the elders and we will pray for you without ceasing until you return victorious. May God be with you.”

    Jake choked. He couldn’t say anything; he just nodded silently and departed, walking around the back to get Kai. She was dressed in her pretty red dress and some new boots and she had a scarf tied around her hair. Jake still couldn’t believe how beautiful she was. He quickly changed into some fresh clothes and they stepped outside to go to dinner.

    The evening was cool and refreshing after the long hot day. The sun was setting below the mountain rim and the sky was streaked with red and pink and yellow. There was slight breeze that carried down from western mountain range moving through the trees and smelling of pines. Kai walked along with Jake in silence for a ways, neither saying anything. There just wasn’t much to say. She leaned on him and hugged his arm as they walked down the main street toward the Bon Appetite.

    Finally they reached it and went in. Erin greeted them at the door and immediately showed them to a corner booth in the back of the restaurant. The oil lamps were casting a soft glow over the table and the light in the room was dim. Jake and Kai sat down and ate their usual meal of spaghetti, meatballs, mushrooms, and bread. Jake didn’t have all that much of an appetite and mostly picked at his food. Kai could sense something was bothering Jake and she was quiet at the table.

    Finally they left the Bon Appetite and walked out from the town and outside the fence. They continued along until they reached a spot where a log had been left lying beside the fence and sat down. The moon was full and bright and cast a silvery glow over everything. Jake wondered briefly if this was the way it felt for his fellow Marines the night before they were all deployed to war. Jake had no family to speak of and never had a girlfriend to kiss goodbye; to him going to war was just another exercise and he had never had the feeling of loneliness and the fear of never returning that he was experiencing now.

    No words were spoken, they just sat there together and enjoyed the night and the moon and the wind in the trees. As they stared at the moon, Jake wondered how it could be possible that just a few hundred miles to the north, a band of bloodthirsty savages wanted them all dead. The night was peaceful and quiet, no sounds interrupted the stillness, and they continued to sit there, far into the night, and just hold on to each other.

    Finally they returned to their cottage room and Jake kissed Kai long and deep, holding her tight as though he feared she would slip away. That night he held her all night long until the night gave way to dawn. It was time.

    Jake rose from the bed, careful not to disturb Kai and quietly got dressed. He gathered his weapons and his gear and placed them outside. He quietly went back inside and stood over Kai for several minutes just staring at her sleeping form. He bent over and kissed her softly and then quietly went out the door.

    He met his men at the stables where they quietly and somberly saddled and prepared their horses for the long ride north. They would have twelve pack mules loaded with food, clothing, ammo, and medical supplies. They gathered at the gate to leave and many of the townspeople came out to meet them and see them off.

    They stepped into the saddle to leave and just as they turned their horses to leave, Abigail stepped out of the shadows near the gate and walked up to them and began praying in tongues again and went around and placed a drop of oil and touched each man as she prayed.

    Finally they started out on their long journey. Jake led the way and the column followed. Thirty-eight snipers and fifty more volunteer men set out to fight the evil in the north. The crowd was silent as they watched them go and no one looked back. They disappeared into the tree line and were soon gone from sight.

    Kai stood alone in the middle of the street watching them ride off, the blanket around her shoulders blowing softly in the wind and a single tear ran down her cheek.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 16

    Chapter 16

    The day passed slowly. Jake led the small column of 88 men north out of the valley and pointed them north toward where Canada used to be and the Northern Tribe’s territory. He had two scouts up ahead and two more on their flanks scouting for any sign of trouble or any evidence that any large groups had passed by in the last several days.

    There was no sign except that of the raider army. Jake and his men back tracked them and followed their trail north for three weeks. Along the way, they discovered almost a dozen places that the raiders had attacked. The bodies of the men had been decapitated and disemboweled; then they were impaled through the back on spears planted in the ground; the mutilated bodies arching backward toward the sky and the ground beneath them saturated in their blood. The few children they found had been impaled on spears through the bottoms of their jaws, their small mutilated bodies hanging from the spears like some horrible cape; their faces still reflecting the horror of their final moments. The women they found had been mutilated beyond recognition; the bodies stripped and raped and hewn with blades. Every building was burned and all the livestock were killed, the bodies left to bloat and rot in the sun.

    The first discovery they had made like this, every last one of the men got sick and vomited. Jake couldn’t believe that someone could do this to another human being. He thought he had seen the worst of it, but when they came to the fifth place, they found an entire family that had been butchered and eaten. The bones of the adults and children still had flesh on them and they were scattered around and gnawed on, and not by wild animals. Several of the men turned back at this point, too sick and terrified to continue.

    Jake gritted his teeth and clenched his jaw. Up till now, they had been burying the bodies and the chosen religious man among them had been saying prayers over the bodies, asking God to comfort the dead and give the men strength to continue. This time the job was exceptionally hard and even the most hardened of the men broke down and cried as they gathered the bones of both children and adults and laid them into a single grave. The preacher said his blessings and they continued on.

    Each time they came to another burned and destroyed place, the resolve and morale of the men weakened. Jake pushed them harder and tried to get them to replace their fear with anger and loathing. Each time it was harder to get them to continue on.

    ”This is what they will do to us, and the people we love if we do not complete our mission and destroy this evil.” Jake said every time the men felt like turning back and retreating. The thought of this happening to their wives and children and the people they loved firmed their resolve and they continued on and pressed forward.

    But even Jake was feeling the dread and doubt; it was creeping into his soul like a black shadow and he could feel The Fear coming back to haunt him again. But this time something was different. This time there was a force fighting back against it that wasn’t there before. The Fear couldn’t grab him and in his mind he could hear Abigail praying her prayers and he saw her placing the oil on his forehead. He didn’t know what it meant, but The Fear left him as he remembered Abigail and her words.

    ”Whatever you do Abigail, don’t stop.” Jake said silently to himself as they continued to push north.

    On the tenth day of their journey, Tamerlane shot four Elk. They ate half of the meat for dinner that night and salted the rest and packed it on the mules, wrapped in the hides of the Elk.

    Their moods were grave and somber and conversation ceased as each man withdrew into his own thoughts. Many were breaking inside and silently crying out to God for salvation and forgiveness; they prayed for the courage to continue and the strength to see it through to the end and face this evil; whatever the outcome.

    Jake held on. His own pride and stubbornness refusing to let him admit he needed help, much less God. He wasn’t about to give in. He knew he wasn’t worthy of asking God for help, much less forgiveness and strength. He clenched his jaw in rebellious determination and kept his horse pointed north, scanning the horizon for any sign of trouble or danger.

    ++++

    The church bell was ringing loudly, echoing through the town and calling the congregation together. Abigail and the preacher, Jacob Craft, and several of the Elders of the church had called a meeting.

    “Ladies and Gentlemen,” Jacob began, “We have lived in fear of the evil that resides in the north for many years. I have been in this valley for almost 35 years now and when I came here, there was nothing. I remember when I first heard rumor of this evil Tribe and I didn't believe what I heard.

    ”Over time the rumors grew more frequent and people began fleeing from the north and traveling south. This settlement consisted of only a few houses and a small store at the time. There was no one to fight this evil Tribe and they grew unchecked for many years. We have lived under that shadow and felt its fear for far too long.

    “A stranger came to us, a warrior whose name was Jake Evenflow. When he came to us he was on the brink of death but God spared him through Ismael, our wonderful doctor. He helped us to plan and trained our men; he has helped to defend us from the attack of the evil Northern Tribe as they approached and it is because of him that we survived. Without him, we would surely have been crushed and destroyed. I believe the Lord sent him to us to save us, yet fear is still in our hearts. Many of you wives and children here now have husbands and fathers who have gone out to meet the enemy in the battlefield today that would otherwise have most assuredly met us at our homes in the days to come, had Jake and our loved ones not gone forth to battle on our behalf. We know now that this confrontation is inevitable, as much as we strive to live in peace, the time has come that we must fight so that we can continue to live in peace.

    "Just as the Lord was with Gideon and his army in victory against overwhelming odds, and with Sampson as he stood alone against the Philistine Army, we must fervently pray that the same strength and Spirit of our Lord will abide greatly with our beloved warriors as they are traveling into the lions den to wage war against this evil and stamp it out. They cannot succeed without our help, The Scripture says that the 'prayers of a righteous man availeth much'. The Lord is faithful to hear our prayers we must get on our knees and lift our voices to our Heavenly Father in prayer, without ceasing, until Jake and all of our men return home safely. Let us gather together now and pray.”

    The congregation said in one voice “AMEN.”

    Abigail, Jacob, John, Christian, David, and Kaleb were the church Elders and they gathered people around them into groups and began praying for the men on their way to battle. They prayed day and night and they did not stop.

    On the third day, Kai walked into the church to see Abigail and tears were streaming down her face.

    ++++

    The terrain was changing rapidly the farther north they went. The forests became thicker and denser and the trees were larger and taller. The mountains grew more rugged and steep and the rivers wider and stronger.

    On the eighteenth day, they began seeing signs that they were getting close. The vegetation thinned out and began dying. The ground looked diseased and fallow and the trees were more stunted and sick looking. The air had a smoky haze to it and the breeze carried the stench of death. The horses became nervous and skittish and hard to manage.

    The next day they were forced to abandon their horses and continue on foot. They constructed a makeshift corral using deadfalls and trees and lashed branches together to make an enclosure that would secure their horses until they could return for them. The packs and gear were hidden among a massive rockslide that had come loose from the mountain above.

    Jake had the men build a blind near the makeshift corral and posted four guards for the horses and told them not to give away their position or engage the enemy unless forced to do so. He instructed the snipers to suit up in their ghillie suits and then they helped the other fighters to camouflage themselves using branches, leaves, and twigs tied onto their clothing. They used chunks of black wood coal to paint their faces, hands, and arms black. Jake led the way and they set out, following the trail of the raiders that was still plainly visible even after almost three weeks.

    They had traveled on foot almost ten miles when Jake crested a small hill and instantly dropped to the ground. Everyone behind him froze in place and didn’t move. Jake looked back and motioned to Halcon and Gideon and Lothar. Lothar was Jakes squad leader and he grabbed the rest of the team and moved up to Jakes position. Gideon took his squads and moved left and crawled up the hill until they could see over, Halcon repeated the maneuver with his squads up the right side.

    The scene before them was one straight out of hell. Headless bodies were impaled on spears every fifty feet or so in a straight line for as far as Jake could see to the right and to the left. The bodies were all in various stages of decay and some were just skeletons, held together by some unseen means. The sight sent shivers down Jakes spine and once again he felt The Fear trying to claw its way into his mind.

    Jake shrugged it off and continued to scan the valley before him. He used a pair of monoculars to look left and right and forward, scanning the tree line across the valley for any sign of life.

    He had been watching for almost thirty minutes when a group of horsemen appeared far down the valley to the left and began riding in their direction. Jake studied them through the glass as they approached.

    There were six of them, all armed with spears and bows. One carried an AK47. All of them were dressed in black armor and were covered in tribal tattoos; their faces painted red just like the ones who had attacked the settlement. The one carrying the AK had a red cape on, but no wolfs head. His head was bald and shiny and Jake could see his ears were pierced with small bones, as was his nose. He was a black man, but the others were fair skinned; two of them looked Chinese.

    The red caped man carried a staff with a human skull on it, like the others did. Jake was convinced that these men were the leaders, or at least the upper command; maybe they were like Corporals or Sergeants. The patrol rode along the line of impaled bodies without talking, looking solemnly straight ahead. Jake studied their faces and saw death and defeat in them. There was no will of their own, and the men looked like hypnotized zombies to Jake; mindlessly following orders with no original thought of their own and no expressions on their faces.

    Jake and his men watched silently as the patrol rode past and continued down the line until they were out of sight. Jake signaled his men to gather around and they retreated down the hill and grouped together.

    ”We have to know what we are getting into. I am going forward to do a recon and see what we are up against. I need one volunteer to go with me. Lothar, you are the best stalker here, do you want to go?”

    ”Yes sir. Let’s be done with this.”

    ”I agree. Lothar will go with me. The rest of you set up a perimeter and stay hidden. DO NOT engage the enemy unless you have no other choice. The element of surprise is the only advantage we have here. If they know we’re here, we won’t have a snowballs chance in hell of defeating this enemy and returning alive. STAY HIDDEN!” Jake spoke quietly but with force.

    He checked his ghillie suit and re-checked his rifle again, making sure it was fully loaded and chambered. His monoculars were in his shoulder bag, along with over 100 rounds of 308 ammo. Jake’s Camelback was full and Lothar had a leather bota bag filled with water for himself. Lothar signaled he was ready and the two of them vanished into the woods like smoke.

    They moved back through the trees until they crested the hill again. A quick survey revealed that there was no one in sight in either direction. Jake studied the opposite tree line for any sign of watchers or OP’s. He didn’t see anything that looked out of place. The distance they had to cover was close to 200 yards and they would have to do it fast. The valley below was dry and the grass was brown and short; there was virtually no concealment and they would be exposed for the entire run.

    Jake looked at Lothar and he nodded. They sprinted from the trees and ran full tilt for the opposite tree line. As they neared the bodies in the center of the valley, Jake could imagine he heard horses thundering down on them; the demons ready to throw their spears into his back. The stench from the bodies was almost debilitating.

    Then they were through and into the trees. They quickly sought cover and blended with their surroundings, hiding in the undergrowth until they could catch their breath and relax. Jake and Lothar were virtually invisible; their suits blended perfectly with the surrounding undergrowth. The grass was short and dried on the ground, but it was silent to walk on.

    The two men waited and studied their back trail to make sure they hadn’t been spotted. After a slow hour of waiting and watching, they moved off and began stalking further into the enemy’s territory.

    The feeling of evil unchecked grew steadily as they went further into the enemy’s territory. It became oppressive and hot; the air was still and rank with the smell of death. The trees looked more diseased and wretched the further they went; they became thinner and shorter, stumped and haggard looking. The undergrowth became thicker and harder to navigate; thickets of thorny bushes and stinging plants grew up in their path and forced them to move even slower. Rocky outcroppings and boulders were strewn across the forest floor and the mountain slopes began to rise steeper around them until the cliffs were sheer and jagged.

    Jake and Lothar moved to the mountain slope on the east side and climbed carefully for several hundred feet. The Trees seemed to flourish better up here away from the oppressive air of the forest floor. The stench wasn’t as rank and strong up here either, but the smell of death and decay was everywhere.

    They traveled slowly along the side of the mountain, using the terrain for concealment, moving along from bush to boulder to tree; watching constantly for any sign of life. As they rounded a bend in the mountain, they saw the valley open out before them. The air was brown and hung like a poisoned cloud over the blasted and barren valley. The trees vanished all together and they saw a village spread out across the valley with no apparent thought to order or structure.

    Jake and Lothar quickly sought shelter behind a large cluster of rocks and several surrounding boulders and began to survey the valley below. There was no direct sunlight, the air was murky and thick and reminded Jake of being below the cloud of a large brush fire. The light had an eerie yellow tint to it and a smoky flavor; the smell was just as strong as before.

    Jake scanned the valley slowly. The structures ranged from log buildings, hastily thrown together, to tents and teepees made from animal hides. There were several buildings constructed of rock that looked like they were better than all the other others. Jake wondered if those were the living quarters for the underlings and other ranking, privileged tribal members.

    Toward the center of the valley, almost 600 yards away, there was a very large building made from rock and stone. It looked just like a castle of sorts and there was a balcony on the second floor with a giant table on it and Jake could see it was covered in dried blood. Jake was positive this was the Black Chiefs home; it was bigger than all the others. Along the sides of the walls torches were burning and human skulls lined the tops of the walls. The front of the structure had two massive wood doors that Jake estimated were twelve feet wide and 20 feet tall. The skulls of goats were mounted on either side; the horns curling down and forward in a menacing and evil posture. Guards stood outside wearing red capes and wolf heads, they held spears in their left hands and had AK47’s slung under their right arms. Their faces were painted red and streaked with black and they too had tattoos all over their bodies. They were naked from the waist up and powerfully built.

    Everywhere in the valley people were moving about. Jake noticed quickly who the slaves were and who the masters were; the slaves were all naked and being driven about their chores by men with whips. Almost all the slaves were women and children but Jake saw a few men. All of them were covered in scars and some were bleeding from fresh whipping wounds. There were hundreds of them. The look on their faces was of utter defeat and hopelessness; almost begging for death to take them away from this hell on earth.

    Fires burned everywhere and filled the air with more smoke. Several of the fires had huge spits over them and Jake watched in horror as a female slave was grabbed and dragged over to one of the spits and impaled alive. She went limp and didn’t resist at all when they shoved the spear down her throat until it came out between her legs. They lashed her ankles to the spit spear and tied her arms behind her, then she was hoisted over the fire and another slave began to turn her body slowly. It was over quickly and she died almost immediately. One of the Tribe masters walked over and with a quick slice of his knife, sliced off a chunk of flesh from the woman’s body and ate it.

    Jake fought for control of himself. He wanted to vomit. He wanted to shoot them all right then and there. How could anyone be this cruel and evil? He looked at Lothar and the big white German was even whiter beneath the black coal. He could see the big mans jaw working hard and Jake was worried Lothar would grind his teeth to powder. Jake felt physically ill and moved back behind the rock to catch his breath and slow his heart and regain his composure. He imagined the woman was Kai and the fear and loathing was replaced instantly with a burning hatred and a powerful lust for vengeance. Everything inside of him went cold and he shoved his emotions back into the mental lockbox that professional warriors reserve for just such a purpose; he would deal with the emotions later when he was alone and it was all over. His face turned to stone and his eyes burned with determination. Lothar looked at him and saw the face of the Grim Reaper; he nodded at Jake that he was ready.

    Jake moved back up into position and continued his reconnaissance of the area. He wanted to see the Black Chief and so far there had been no sign of him. He studied the castle again but he could only see the one entrance. He looked back at the poor woman on the spit. At least her suffering was over; fortunately, she had died immediately and before they hoisted her onto the fire. He said a quick prayer for her soul and then continued scanning the area.

    Suddenly, the people all began to move excitedly around and began migrating toward the castle. Jake and Lothar were instantly alert; praying they hadn’t been detected. The people clustered together under the balcony and more were streaming in from the outer edges of the valley. There were many of the red caped underlings; several of them wore wolf heads, the pelts hanging behind them like capes. All of them carried a staff with a human skull on the end of it. As they gathered, Jake and Lothar were dismayed at their numbers. Jake estimated there were over eight hundred gathered below the balcony of the castle.

    Jake studied the balcony and waited. After several long minutes of waiting, the door behind the balcony opened and three men walked out. Two were dressed like all the other underlings, but the third had his face painted black, his arms were covered in the tattoos of the Tribe, and he wore the head of a bear. His cape was red, but it was bigger than the others and he wore black armor with red scales. He carried a staff with a cluster of three skulls on it and feathers were hanging from the staff near the base of the skulls. Jake saw his eyes and they were solid black with no white showing at all and instantly Jake felt The Fear coming on him again when he looked at them.

    ”God help us.” He whispered under his breath. The Fear subsided and he continued to watch. As the man walked out on the balcony, the crowd began chanting in rhythm and stopping their feet. The sound was loud even where Jake and Lothar were hiding on the mountain. The man raised his staff over the crowd and they quieted instantly and became still. The man said something to the crowd and then backed away and stood to the side.

    Another man walked out of the door and Jake knew immediately it was the Black Chief. The first man must have been his Lieutenant, his second in command. The Chief was a giant of a man, tall and heavily muscled. He had no hair anywhere that Jake could see and his skin was shining as though it was covered in oil. He was naked from the waist up and wasn’t wearing any of the trappings the underlings wore. Jake studied him and felt a shiver of despair and revulsion travel down his spine. This man was evil incarnate and Jake could feel it even from where he lay among the rocks almost 600 yards away. The Black Chief walked to the edge of the balcony and stood before the giant table and looked out over his Tribe. He raised his hands out over the crowd and they went berserk.

    Jake looked around at the crowd and saw the men and women acting like they had gone insane and mad, like rabid animals. They began chanting and stomping again; looking like hypnotized zombies cast under an evil spell. Jake looked for the slaves and wherever he saw them, they were just standing there with their heads down, unmoving.

    The Black Chief put his hands down and the crowd stopped. Jake watched him through the scope and saw the Chiefs eyes were pure solid white and there were no pupils at all. Jake was convinced he was looking at a demon manifest in a human body and wondered once again what kind of world he had landed in. The Black Chief looked directly into Jake’s scope and Jake felt his heart stop and he choked with terror. This was a fight he could not win.

    ++++

    Abigail felt the terror at the same time Jake did, but she handled it differently. She took Kai’s hand and the small group of people gathered together close and began to pray in earnest. Abigail began praying out loud, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil. Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. The Lord is my refuge and my fortress, in him we will trust. He will deliver us from our enemy’s.”

    Then Abigail opened her bible and read Psalm 91.

    He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
    I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
    Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare, and from the deadly pestilence.
    He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
    You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day,
    nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.
    A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.
    You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked.
    If you make the Most High your dwelling, even the LORD, who is my refuge-
    then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.
    For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
    they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
    You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
    "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
    He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
    With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

    Abigail continued praying far into the night with urgency and fervor. Across the miles, Jake was beginning to break.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    North of Spirit Lake, Id
    Posts
    994

    The Saga of Jake Chapter 17

    Chapter 17

    The scene continued to unfold before Jake and Lothar like some kind of evil matinee; the characters acting out their demonic theatre with bloodthirsty enthusiasm. The Black Chief looked away from Jake’s direction and immediately Jake felt relief flood over him. He couldn’t take it anymore, this was beyond anything he had imagined and the feeling of hopelessness and despair was like a lead weight on his mind and soul.

    The Black Chief signaled another guard at the door and a slave girl was dragged out and forced onto the wood table. She struggled and fought but to no avail. She was lashed down to the table and Jake could see her trembling in fear as she lay helpless before the Chief. The Chief raised his hands to the crowd again and they responded as before; going berserk with mindless bloodthirsty madness. The Chief turned to his lieutenant and was handed a kriss shaped dagger. The chief turned back to the crowd and then looked at the poor woman on the table. He smiled at her and the smile sent shudders through Jake’s body. The woman screamed so loud that even Jake heard it, almost 600 yards away. Drums began pounding somewhere in the madness.

    The mission had to be completed and this evil man and his evil tribe had to be destroyed. Jake wasn’t sure at all how his small group of 84 men were going to defeat a demon possessed army of over 800 hundred bloodthirsty zombies. His will was wavering and he was beginning to succumb to defeat and loss; the battle was not even joined yet.

    As he studied the scene before him and fought with the doubt and despair in his mind, a still small voice began speaking to him. He ignored it at first but as the battle waged in his mind and in his will, the small voice became stronger until he couldn’t ignore it any longer. He knew he was lost and that victory was hopeless. He knew he could not defeat this enemy on his own and he finally yielded to the voice.

    Jake lowered his head into the rocks and cried out to God for salvation, mercy and forgiveness. He knew he was a sinner and unworthy of God’s grace and forgiveness but he humbled himself before God and wept silently in his hide.

    ++++

    Abigail, Kai, and their small group joined together with Jacob, John, Kaleb, Christian, and David and their groups and they prayed in earnest for Jake and his warriors; reciting verses from Psalm 91 and 23 and 27.

    Abigail opened her bible again and began claiming scripture on behalf of the warriors. She read Isaiah 30:17 “A thousand will flee at the threat of one…” and 2 Chronicles 20:15 “This is what the LORD says to you: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.”

    And then Abigail beseeched God to speak to Jake and open his eyes…..

    ++++

    Jake heard the voice in his mind as clearly as if Lothar had spoken it to him. He looked around, expecting to see Lothar talking to him, but he was concentrating on the scene below and wasn’t looking at Jake at all.

    The voice spoke to him again and Jake knew it was God answering his prayer. A peace he could not understand washed over him and his spirit was calmed. The Fear left him and did not return and Jake’s mind was clear and focused. He heard the voice speaking again and this time he listened.

    “Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory. (1)

    “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. (2)

    “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (3)

    “Attack and be victorious, for they will be given into your hand.” (4)

    Jake knew he had just heard the voice of God. He knew now the battle was joined and there was no time to return for the others. He turned to Lothar, “We have to do this now Lothar, we can’t wait. There is no time to return for the others. We have to take him out now.

    “I’ll take the Chief, you take the lieutenant and then we will start killing the upper leadership as fast as we can. We won’t have much time, I think they will come for us immediately, but this evil must be stopped.

    “Lothar, have you also heard from God?”

    Lothar turned his head and smiled at Jake, “I was wondering how long it would take for you to finally let go. I could see you were struggling in your mind and rebelling against the calling of the Almighty. I’m glad you finally repented and listened. God just told me to attack and be victorious; that he will give us the victory. Jake, I have faith in my God; He will not fail us. If he says we will be victorious, then we will be victorious.

    “Jake, Isaiah 30:17 says “A thousand will flee at the threat of one”; Psalm 91 says “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” It also says “"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation."

    ”I believe what God tells me Jake and he’s telling me to kick some butt.”

    Jake grinned at the last comment and nodded in agreement. His spirit was light and easy and he knew that God would deliver them; that God had forgiven him. No matter the outcome of the battle, Jake was saved and he no longer felt any fear.

    He quickly got back into position, resting his 308 on a large rock in front of him; utilizing it as a bench rest and ranged the distance to the Black Chief. It was right at 600 yards and there was no wind. The temperature was moderate and there was no mirage coming off the valley floor; though at this altitude, it would hardly be a concern if there was. He adjusted the elevation on his scope for the distance and pushed the two stage trigger forward until it clicked in place; reducing the trigger pull to three ounces. He was breathing calmly now, back in warrior mode, and he was focused on his target. He monitored his heart beats and measured his breathing; the Chief was dead in his crosshairs, the reticule centered on the massive chest of the demon infested man. Jake could see the man in stark detail, his white eyes scanning the crowd, his chest moving with each breath, and the intricate tattoos that covered it. The chief was raising his hand, the dagger held tightly in his fist ready to plunge it into the poor slave girl strapped to the bloody table for his sacrifice to Satan. Jake flipped the safety off and exhaled his last breath; his finger brushed the trigger and instantly the world froze in slow motion.

    Time seemed to stand still for eternity. For an eternal nanosecond, nothing happened. Jake saw the Chief in his crosshairs, the lieutenant to his right, and the knife poised to strike the sacrificial girl. Jake could almost hear the trigger release and then the firing pin slammed forward into the primer of the 308 cartridge; the rifle slammed backward into his shoulder and the report echoed across the valley. The rifle settled and Jake instantly reacquired the Chief in his sights. He was already working the bolt to feed another round.

    The 175 grain steel core, copper jacketed bullet left the barrel at a blazing 2700 feet per second and drilled the Chief dead center in his chest less than a split second later; slamming into his sternum and ripping through his heart with nearly one and a half tons of kinetic energy. The Chief staggered backward in shock as the bullet shattered through his spine and slammed into the guard behind him. The Black Chief tried to recover but his spine was severed and his heart was obliterated.

    His eyes cleared immediately and returned to normal as the demon abandoned his lifeless host and Jake saw the fear and terror in the Chiefs eyes as the last seconds of his life drained out of him. The Chief instantly knew his fate as he saw the demon leave him and felt the darkness of Hell reaching out to grab him; his lifeless body collapsed into a heap on the stone balcony.

    Lothar fired a split second after Jake did and Jake saw the Lieutenant’s head disappear in a pink mist. Jake was already searching for another target and saw an important looking red caper starting to react to the surprise attack. He was sitting on a large black horse at the gate of the castle, grabbing the reins and beginning to spin around when Jake’s bullet entered under his armpit and penetrated the ribcage, ripping through both lungs and shredding the man’s heart; breaking his opposite arm as it exited his body. He slid off the horse and flopped on the ground.

    Instantly chaos broke loose. The army of demon possessed raiders went into a mad frenzy, churning like an angry sea of rabid dogs. They began spewing from the valley like a swarm of ants who had just had their nest disturbed; searching for an enemy to attack. Jake and Lothar were shooting fast; picking target after target of red capes and anyone who looked important. Their aim was true as if guided by some unseen force and every shot scored a kill.

    ++++

    Abigail fell on her face and cried out to God. All the elders followed her and began praying with renewed fervor. The battle was joined and evil was on the rampage.

    “Lord God, allow Jake see the real battle!” She prayed in earnest.

    ++++

    The valley was swarming with countless raiders, every one of them searching for the invisible attackers. Red caped lieutenants were dropping like flies and the leadership was crumbling. The raiders became even more berserk each time a red caped lieutenant fell and they were screaming like banshees; their cries filling the valley and echoing out into the mountains.

    Gideon and Halcon and Sloan heard the clamor rising from the valley and immediately took action. They divided up their squads and Halcon took 40 men and rushed the border to the east, Gideon took 39 men and rushed the border to the south. Sloan, Tamerlane, and Ajax took off at a dead run to get to Jake and Lothar and give aid to their leaders.

    Halcon and his men crested the hill and immediately saw the patrol from earlier in the day come rushing up the hill to enter the valley. The raiders were cut down in their tracks by the invisible rifles of Halcon’s men. They continued in and headed straight for the canyon where Jake and Lothar had entered. Forty ghillie clad bushes crept along, ready to vanquish the enemy at a moments notice.

    Gideon was creeping up the hill on the west side and closing in on the same canyon. They discovered the canyon was a choke point and Gideon decided to set up an ambush.

    Sloan, Ajax, and Tamerlane made their way into the canyon as fast as they could do so with stealth. As they tracked Jake and Lothar and saw where they had climbed the east slope, they could hear the rifles of Jake and Lothar above them, firing rapidly and steadily. They began to climb.

    Jake was searching out targets as fast as he could find them. The valley was in complete turmoil. Slaves were running as fast as they could toward any likely avenue of escape. The raiders were milling about in confusion, unsure of where the attackers were and they began to turn on themselves in the confusion and slay each other.

    Suddenly Jake’s eyes were opened to the spiritual world and he witnessed a battle beyond comprehension. The sky was suddenly ripped apart and a lightening bolt shot down and struck the castle with tremendous force, shattering the rock and stone and pulverizing it into powder; the air came alive with electricity and dozens of raiders were slain in the blast. Demons covered the sky and the valley with an inky darkness and all light disappeared into their bodies. They were hideous creatures and loathsome to behold. Jake trembled at the sight of them and could not continue the fight.

    The largest of the demons saw Jake and began to streak across the valley straight for him. The raiders in the valley saw Jake and Lothar at the same time, as if guided by the demon, and they began streaming in mass for the two men. Lothar was shooting as fast as he could at the approaching mob. Jake dropped his rifle and backed up in terror at what was coming upon him. Lothar could not see the demon, he could only see the raiders, but the look on Jake’s face told him everything he needed to know.

    He continued to shoot down one raider after another as he yelled out loud “Do not be afraid, God has promised us the victory!”

    The demon was streaking toward Jake at an incredible speed; his red eyes glowing and flaming and his jagged teeth drooling with spit as he opened his mouth and screamed. Jake had heard that scream before, but suddenly he was no longer afraid. Just when Jake was sure the demon would devour him, a mighty angel appeared out of nowhere with a flaming sword and a shining shield. He met the demon in full charge and they clashed together; rolling across the sky, tangled together in mortal combat. The angel attacked the demon with a speed and strength that Jake couldn’t imagine. The demon twisted around to attack the angel again the Angel plunged his flaming sword deep into the bowels of the demon and it screamed again; but it was vanquished. It fell flaming to the earth and disappeared into the ground.

    Jake looked at the angel in awe. The being was incredible to behold and solemn and grave. The angel came back to Jake and placed his hand over him and instantly Jake was no longer afraid. He snapped back to attention and saw that he and Lothar were about to be overrun by red faced raiders charging up the hill with their weapons drawn; many had AK47’s and they were shooting wildly in the direction of the two lone warriors on the mountainside, killing many of their own as they did so.

    Bullets were flying all over the place and arrows were zinging out of the sky and bouncing among the rocks where Jake and Lothar lay prone, shooting the advancing enemy as fast as they could work their rifles.

    “I’m out of ammo!” Lothar suddenly announced.

    Jake tossed him his 308 and the shoulder bag with the remaining ammo and then unclipped the sling that held his M4 in place behind his back and pulled it out. He quickly brought it into position and began rapidly shooting the enemy as they swarmed up the hill; every shot killing another raider.

    It was hopeless. There was simply too many of them. Jake dropped the empty magazine and inserted another one and continued firing. The enemy was getting closer, trampling the bodies of the dead into the ground as they drove up the steep mountainside.

    Jake was out again. He loaded his last magazine into the M4 and prayed for help as he unloaded on the swarming masses below him, barely 150 yards down the steep slope. His bolt locked open on the empty magazine just as Lothar announced that he too was out of ammo. The raiders were closing fast.

    Jake knew this was it. His life began flashing back through his mind over the last few months and lingered on Kai. He felt sad that he wouldn’t be returning to her; he remembered her soft touch, her gently caresses, and her love. He said a silent prayer for her safety as he dropped the M4 in the dirt and pulled out the G20 and the 44 magnum from his shoulder holsters. He tossed the 44 magnum and the extra quick loaders to Lothar and then aimed the G20 and began picking off the raiders closest to him first. The slide locked back and he dropped the magazine and slammed in a new one; the raiders were almost on top of them and he was shooting fast.

    Bullets and arrows continued to rain about them, but Jake and Lothar were untouched. Jake’s pistol locked open again and he slammed in his last magazine. This was it. It was going to be hand to hand in another minute. He emptied his last magazine into the raiders that were almost on top of him and dropped the empty gun into the dirt and drew his Armageddon. Lothar was out of ammo also and he stood up from his kneeling position and pulled his hawk from his belt. The two men looked at each other and each knew that this was their last battle.

    A raider sprung up from the rock in front of Jake and instantly Jake imbedded the Armageddon into the man’s skull. Jake put his foot on the man’s shoulder and ripped the big knife out and turned to face the next opponent. A man was rushing toward him and Jake moved to meet him when the raiders head exploded in a pink mist. Suddenly all the raiders closest to Jake and Lothar started dropping like flies. Jake and Lothar dropped to the ground as they heard the volley of rifles open up behind them and they turned around and saw the rest of their squad, Sloan, Ajax, and Tamerlane in position on the trail above them, shooting the raiders as fast as they could work their rifles. Jake and Lothar quickly grabbed up their weapons and retreated back to the rest of their squad.

    “Here ya go boss. Thought you might need this.” Sloan said as he tossed Jake a bag of 308 ammo and another bag of 30-06 to Lothar. Jake wasted no time reloading his rifle and jumped back into action shooting the raiders who continued to charge up the hill after them.

    Across the valley, Jake could still see the angels and demons waging war with each other. The raiders were still possessed and showed no signs of humanity; their faces looking mad and an insane light danced in their eyes.

    Suddenly another lightening bolt streaked out of the sky and slammed into the middle of the large group of hundreds of raiders clustered before Jake and his squad. The bolt of lightening charred the bodies of the raiders closest to it and then the electricity arced from man to man in a widening circle and killed several hundred in an instant.

    Jake signaled his squad to advance and attack the enemy, taking no prisoners and forcing a retreat. The remaining raiders regrouped and began attacking again. There were only a few hundred left now, maybe they would win after all. Jake continued shooting, each time his scope found a target, he scored a kill. The hand of God was on him and his squad and they could not miss.

    Gideon knew the fight was on and they heard the gunfire increase in tempo when Jake began unloading with his M4 on the approaching raiders. He quickly gave up any thought of an ambush and led his 39 men in a rush down the hill. When they reached the bottom, he signaled to Halcon to join them and together the group of 79 camouflaged men stormed into the canyon and flanked the enemy force from the west and below.

    The raiders never knew what hit them. They had been concentrating so hard on Jake and his squad that they didn’t see or hear the attacking force below them until it was too late. One by one the raiders began dropping like flies. There was no time to react. The raiders couldn’t see the camouflaged men attacking them from below and quickly abandoned all hope and scattered into the forest.

    “Get them! No one gets away!” Jake yelled to his men. As the raiders scattered into the forest, Jakes men took after them and hunted them down and killed them where they found them; the hunters became the hunted. Not a single raider from the Northern Tribe survived that day.

    Jake charged into the trees after them as the raiders scattered and focused on one particularly large raider who looked like an upper ranking tribal member; he had an AK47 in his hands and the tattoos and painted face, but no red cape or wolf head. The raider saw the flank attack and quailed in fear and turned to run into the forest. Jake pursued him down the mountain until they broke out into the valley. The raider was ahead of him by several dozen yards; Jake skidded to a stop and dropped to a kneeling position and raised his rifle into position, centering the crosshairs on the back of the running raider. He pushed the trigger forward again and exhaled, held it, and then his finger brushed the trigger and the 308 round shattered the man’s spine in mid stride and the raider sprawled forward on the ground; dead before he stopped moving.

    Jake looked around for more targets and saw a guard staggering to stand up from the ruble of the castle; Jake dropped him with a shot to the head. All around him, raiders were running, trying to desperately find a way to escape. Jake’s men continued to wipe them out, sparing no one. Slaves were running scared all over the place, unsure of what was occurring or why.

    Jake lowered his rifle as he looked around at the sky. The demons he had seen from above were grouping in mass at one end of the valley and aligning themselves in some sort of formation, as if they were preparing for war. Their numbers could not be counted. Jake suddenly realized he was right in the middle of whatever was about to take place and he fell backward and began scrambling to get back into the trees and their illusion of security; anything was better than being exposed and helpless in the open field.

    Suddenly a searing white light flashed across the valley and a legion of angels riding on brilliantly white horses came charging out of the sky toward the demons with giant flaming swords and silver shields. They were arrayed in incredibly white clothing and a brilliant, piercing light shone from their eyes. Jake watched in awe and terror and rapped fascination as they charged down upon the demons; their swords held high and they yelled as they came.

    The demons quailed in terror at the sight of them and the sound of their shouts and shrunk back, recoiling from the light and then the angels were upon them and Jake watched as the battle ensued and the demons were slaughtered. Each time a demon was slain, it fell flaming to the ground in a smoking ruin and disappeared into the earth.

    Finally the battle was over. Jake watched as the angels gathered around him and then one angel walked his horse forward to Jake and reached out his hand and placed it on Jakes head. Jake closed his eyes and bowed his head before the angel in respect and awe; the angels being both majestic and terrible to look at.

    After a long while, Jake opened his eyes and looked around. He could no longer see the angels but he knew they were there. He fell on his face and praised God for the victory and for the salvation of his men. He was still laying there when Lothar found him and touched his shoulder.

    Jake stood up and looked at Lothar. “Did you see them too?”

    “See who Jake?”

    “The demons and the angels.”

    “No I didn’t; but if you saw them, then God revealed them to you for a reason. The battle is won. We have killed them all and none of our men were injured at all. It is a miracle indeed; we should all have been killed.” Lothar paused.

    “One other thing Jake, we must give God the glory. He’s our salvation and our strength, without him we could not have won this battle. I witnessed an unexplainable miracle myself today…..”

    When Lothar didn’t continue, Jake asked “Well? What was it?”

    Lothar was incredibly excited and could hardly contain himself. “You won’t believe this Jake. I never reloaded one single time after our squad joined us, and I still have a full magazine. I should have reloaded a dozen times. None of the other men reloaded either. It was the hand of God.”

    Jake stood there looking at Lothar. He didn’t want to believe him, logically it was impossible. But he had just witnessed the supernatural as well and now knew that all things were possible with God.

    Lothar continued, “We have asked God for help and he saved us. “Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory." (5)

    “And so he did Jake! So he did…”

    The two men stood there in silence and surveyed the valley. The feeling of evil was completely gone, as was the fear and the dread and the terror. The castle lay in ruins of blasted rock and stone; the wood table was split and burned and shattered.

    As they stood there, Jake’s men began to gather around in silence, waiting for further instructions. All of the men had witnessed God’s hand today and all of them were praising God in their hearts; their spirits light and full of joy from the impossible victory.

    Jake looked around at his men. “Halcon, take your men and gather the slaves together and free them. We don’t have clothes for them, so salvage what we can from the raiders and get them covered somehow. Gideon, send a man back for the guards and the horses and bring them here.

    “The rest of you start dragging the bodies of the raiders to the castle and pile them there. Gather up the horses from the raiders and use them to drag the bodies.

    “I need 20 men to come with me and begin tearing down these structures. We’ll pile everything that will burn onto the castle remains, along with the bodies and then we will burn it all. Nothing remains. We will not leave any trace of the Northern Tribe here.”

    Gideon sent one of his men to run back for the horses and the guards. He would return the next day as it was a 20 mile round trip. Halcon took 40 of his men and began to round up the slaves.

    At first the slaves were terrified of the new men who had just slain their masters, but once they saw that the men were removing their chains, they quickly gathered around; eager to have their shackles removed and be set free.

    Some of the slaves immediately ran away and didn’t look back but most of them stayed and began helping the men with the task of tearing down and destroying every structure and artifact that was once the Northern Tribe. They walked about in a daze, unbelieving of the freedom that come to them suddenly and without warning. Their wicked masters were gone forever and the joy was evident on their faces.

    The following day, the man Gideon had sent returned with the other four men and all the horses in tow. Jake’s men had rounded up 400 horses for the slaves to ride and found the saddles and bridles for them. Jake sent four men back to the settlement to tell the townspeople the good news about their victory.

    Over the following week, with the slaves who stayed to help, they destroyed every structure and dragged the burnable materials to the castle’s remains and piled it on top of the bodies. It was quite a pile.

    The raiders had numbered 865; men and women. They stacked the bodies like cordwood; the bodies taking up the space of the castle’s remains from end to end and side to side and six bodies high. They piled the debris above the bodies and pushed it up against the sides until the pile was almost 50 feet in height. Then they lit it.

    The fire took to the dry wood and materials like it was smothered in gasoline and soon the flames were reaching skyward and the heat forced them to retreat across the valley to the mountainside. Even at nearly 500 feet away, the heat was almost too intense to tolerate.

    The former slaves were dancing and jumping for joy as they watched the last remaining vestige of their former lives reduced to ashes. Jake smiled to himself, praising God once again for the victory and thankful that this scourge was wiped from the earth.

    The fire burned for days. The fat of the bodies ignited and helped to consume the flesh of the raiders. The fire burned so hot for so long that when it finally burned down to ashes, not a single bone remained. When the fire had been out for four days, a strong wind came down through the valley and swept the ashes off the pyre and spread them across the valley; the filthy stagnant air was swept from the valley with the passing wind and carried off. The ashes of the Tribe settled into the ground and became fertilizer for the fields. In time, Mother Nature would heal her wounds and wipe out all remaining trace of the evil that once plagued the valley.

    Jake gathered the men and former slaves and they began the long journey back home.

    ++++

    Abigail, Kai, and the other Elders were gathered in the church praying when the four men returned to town. They heard the clamor outside from the other townspeople yelling excitedly as the four men rode down the street.

    They rushed to the door to see what was going on and saw the men sitting their horses in the middle of the street with a large crowd gathering around them. The men were obviously excited and joyful; the smiles on their faces told the story well enough.

    Kai rushed out onto the porch to see the men, anxious for any news of Jake. She stood on the porch and waited, watching silently as she listened to the babble of the crowd and overheard portions of the reports from the men. Finally one of the men noticed her standing there and walked his horse through the crowd and over to Kai, It was Sloan; he stopped beside her and looked down at her. All he said was, “We won. God delivered all of us unharmed.”

    Kai felt her heart leap in her chest and she praised God for the victory. She ran and told Abigail the good news. The men would give their report tonight at the church so everyone could hear it.

    Kai hugged Abigail and the old woman wept silently in joy for the victory. Kai went outside again in the cool evening air and walked to the edge of the town and stood at the gate looking north. The sun was setting over the hills, coloring the sky with streaks of red and pink. The fresh smell of the recent rain was pleasant in the cool evening air and she looked toward the mountains and saw a faint rainbow over the mountaintop. She smiled as she saw it and then looked up at the sky.

    “Please protect him on his journey home Lord. He has so much to come home too now.” Kai spoke softly, a tear running down her cheek and she rubbed her belly gently as she stared into the pastel sky.


    The End


    (1)Deuteronomy 20:3-4
    (2)Chronicles 20:15
    (3)Isaiah 41:10
    (4)2 Chronicles 18:14b
    (5)Deuteronomy 20:3-4

  18. #18
    A good story. It takes an unexpected turn. I wish he was still writing.

  19. #19
    I had read this before somewhere. IT was as good the second time as it was the first. Thank you.

  20. #20
    1st time I ever read it and really enjoyed it.

  21. #21
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Where fog and sun meet.
    Posts
    3,523
    Bump up of a very intense and incredible story.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Siskiyoumom View Post
    Bump up of a very intense and incredible story.
    Thank you Siski for bringing this story back to the front....
    It is a pleasure to the soul....
    Reminds us of God's love and glory....
    For with God nothing is impossible...
    Texican....

  23. #23
    Great story very well written and worth reading.
    Wayne

  24. #24
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    OUT SIDE OF THE FALSE REALITY
    Posts
    9,134
    Holy cow that was just a fantastic story to read.

    Yes I wish he was still around to write more.
    JUST A FEW OF MY SIMPLE THOUGHTS
    LAY LOW WAIT LIKE A WOLF IN THE WILD UNTIL THE TIME IS RIGHT
    Never Pick A Fight With An Old Man He Will Just Shoot You He Can't Afford To Get Hurt

  25. #25
    VERY GOOD STORY

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Texican View Post
    Thank you Siski for bringing this story back to the front....
    It is a pleasure to the soul....
    Reminds us of God's love and glory....
    For with God nothing is impossible...
    Texican....
    Thank you Marine....
    Was as interesting the second time as the first....
    For with God nothing is impossible....

    Texican....
    An American Christian....
    Live Free and Die Free....

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