By Stephen Brandon
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Copyright 2016 Stephen Brandon
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Shakespir Edition License Notes
Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.
This book is a work of fiction. All characters, organizations, incidents, and dialogue are from the authors imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or other persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. Real and fictional locations are used for background only.
Table of Contents ~(ToC)~
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Chapter 2 The Return
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Chapters from other books
Prologue to Fire Plug
Short skinny kids never have it easy in school. They are easy prey for those bigger that have no core values. I’m not just talking about the schoolyard bullies. I’m talking about every m&%^#$r f&#*#$r that feels superior because they’re taller and have more muscles.
In the fifth grade one of the schoolyard bullies, after knocking him down said he looked like a fire plug with his red hair. Later that year this group of bullies caught him on the way back from the store, knocked him down and standing over him, they peed on him. One even stood on one leg and barked like a dog. At that point humiliation turned to anger and a desire for revenge.
One day the leader of the bullies made a mistake when taunting him, he said he’d never amount to anything because he couldn’t fight.
Some schoolyard bullies mature and repent of their youthful ways, but others simply grow up and learn new covert methods.
Chapter 1 Thought
James Theodore Brown was born on a Wednesday, the 29th of February. Two years after he was born his father lost his job and was only able to find a minimum wage job, and his mother also had to work just to make ends meet. After struggling for years, his father finally started making enough so his mother didn’t have to work any more. As an only child he was the apple of their eyes. His school grades were above average. His small frame kept him out of sports and made him the target of bullies.
The Saturday his father caught him crying behind the lawn shed was the day his life turned around. His father knew a friend that was ex-army. After talking to him he agreed to teach James self-defense.
Between formal fighting lessons and disabling blows he also taught James how to survive in the woods and wilderness.
Within a year James developed enough automatic reflexes that one afternoon when he was attacked in the school parking lot he effortlessly broke the lead bullies collar bone and knocked another down with a leg sweep before he realized what he’d done. Standing back up he told the other two bullies to take their friends and go. They went.
That evening as he was telling his father about the attack there was a knock on the door. It was a big man and he demanded that James’s father punish his son for breaking his sons collarbone and pay the doctor bill or he was going to the police. James’s father called James to the door and told him to tell about the attack in the school parking lot. James’s mother listening to the threats the big man made called the police and told them that a stranger was threatening her son. They arrived just as the story was ending and the big man started ranting and raving. After taking the details they told both fathers to be at the school in the morning with their sons. Then they told both fathers that they could either arrest both boys for assault or let the school principle handle the punishment.
The next morning James and his father were sitting in the school office when the two injured bullies arrived with their fathers. Both their fathers were talking about suing James’s father when they walked in. When James stood up and they saw that he was smaller than either boy they looked at each other and then their son’s. The other bullies father turned to his son and said, that little punk is the boy that cracked your skull, just wait until I get you home.
In the principles office with the two cops in attendance he listened to one of the bullies tell his tale and then asked James to tell his side of the story. Then he had all three boys stand against the wall and commented, well unless James had a crowbar, I don’t see how he came out uninjured. A teacher reported the attack and the other two boys haven’t been identified yet. James, you’re suspended for one day for fighting on the school grounds. You two are suspended for the rest of the year for assault on school grounds unless you want to let the police handle the punishment. Your fathers can arrange tutors, at their expense, for you or you can repeat the grade next year. I’ll allow you to take the finals in five weeks and advance to your senior year, if you pass them. This report will remain in your school records and if you come on school grounds while suspended I’ll have you arrested. If James is assaulted or harassed in anyway for the rest of the school year you boys will be the prime suspects and the first the police will arrest. Do you boys or your fathers have any questions?
That summer his father’s friend took James to Montana for the summer.
Chapter 2 Pebbles
The summer for James started off with two weeks camping. Bill told James that they had food for a week and in that week he showed James how to make a bow and set traps for game. They made two bows and a dozen arrows. Bill taught James how to recognize edible plants and construct snares and dead-fall traps along the game trails.
At the end of the second week a friend of Bill’s stopped by and took the tents and sleeping bags. When they returned to camp all James found was his back pack, a small shovel, a new knife, his canteens, and a note stating that at the end of the next week Bill would disappear. After that he would start hunting James and take anything that he left unsecured.
When James asked Bill what was going on, Bill simply replied, this summer you learn to survive completely on your own. My friend is an expert, and he’ll steal the meat right off your fire if you turn your back.
Three days into his solo survival, James went to relieve himself just outside his camp and when he returned the rabbit cooking over the fire was gone. All he found was one footprint at the edge of his fire. The next morning he followed the trail of drippings to a spot near his camp. Other than a few bones nothing else was visible. After searching the area for an hour he still couldn’t find any trail leading away.
James moved his camp and set new snares. That night he went to sleep hungry.
He started moving his camp every few days and setting new snares until the day he got a small deer with an arrow. Taking three days to dry the meat he watched for his tracker. On the third night his drying rack collapsed when one of the trip wires was tripped. All he caught sight of was the back of the tracker leaving his campsite with one handful of meat. The next morning he packed up and moved his camp to a small cave he’d spotted several days before.
The cave looked small from the outside. It was much deeper than he originally thought and near the back he found evidence of a camp fire that was only a few days old. After a more careful search he found a weapons cache along with food. The cooler still had ice in it. After two days of a cold camp surviving on dried meat and what was in the cooler he heard a noise near the front of the cave.
An individual entered and started toward the back after dropping a small load of firewood at the old fire location. James let him take several steps before he cocked the revolver. The intruder froze and then slowly turned. As he turned around all he said was damn. James immediately realized it was a girl from her voice and figure.
All he could think of saying was, “You owe me some meat.”
She laughed and replied, “Nope that was my pay for catching you unawares, although that trick with the drying rack was really cool. Dad never taught me that one.”
“Who’s your dad?”
“Bill, our teacher. Now he’ll fail me because I got caught by you.”
“After finding the fire and cooler I was hoping to catch my tracker, but wasn’t really sure I would. My original plan was to hide up here for several days until the tracker moved out of the area. Then keep clear until time to come back off the mountain. Now I have a problem. I can’t tie you up and escape. I can’t let you go because you’ll ambush me. Get the fire started while I try to figure this out.” stated James.
“Nothing to figure out James, this is my daughter Deborah although she prefers Deb.” stated Bill.
Deb and James both jumped because they didn’t hear him enter the cave and he was standing right beside them in a deep shadow.
“By the way James, the revolver is empty, I took the shells out last night while you were asleep. Deb, you ain’t got the fire started yet? I know you like your meat cooked, and James has enough for all. Plus I brought some supplies. James, get my pack from the cave entrance.”
I heard him tell Deb that she passed because she tracked me well. However, she did need some remedial training in booby traps. His was a work of art, and I might even have tripped it. It was bad luck that he found your base camp, but you should have left some indicators to inform you that it was compromised. Your training on that starts in the morning.
With the pack slung over his shoulder, James added, “I want in on that training. She avoided all the campsite traps, and you avoided the pebbles at the cave entrance twice.”
All James got for an answer was a laugh from Bill. Then Bill said, “Next time make sure all the pebbles are turned right side up so their discoloration doesn’t show.”
After eleven days of intensive training and practice they walked off the mountain into town and left the next morning for home.
Chapter 3 Alice
James never felt more confident and aware of his surrounding as he entered his first class of the new year. After glancing around the room he grabbed a seat on the last row of desk. A few minutes later he became aware that someone was watching him. Using his peripheral vision he checked out the last row of desk and then the next row up. It wasn’t until he got hit with a spit-ball, and saw a redhead holding a straw, that he knew he’d been tagged. Looking closer he realized it was Deb, although her hair was a dull tan during the summer.
After class they compared schedules and found they had one other class together.
That afternoon one of the bullies made a move on Deb. She elbowed him and then James grabbed his ear and pulled him down so he could whisper in his ear. Don’t mess with people I know.
As soon as he released the ear the bully took off down the hallway as Deb commented, does the head always follow the ear.
The senior year went quietly. James noticed several girls that before wouldn’t give him the time of day, giving him the eye when they thought Deb wasn’t looking.
Neither of them mentioned it until just before Christmas break when Deb commented that he’d better let Alice know he was taken before she had an accident. Deb didn’t like the comments she’d overheard in the girls gym locker room.
James asked what was the comment.
Deb grabbed his ear and said, “You just make sure she knows you are spoken for before she loses some of that bleach blond hair.”
That afternoon James spotted Alice with a couple of her girlfriends and called her over. He then told her that his girlfriend didn’t like the comments that she’d made in the girls locker room and if she didn’t cool it she’d loose some of her hair. As he told her he looked close and could actually see some dark roots in her blond hair.
He understood Deb dyeing her hair for the summer because red was to easy to spot, but Alice bleaching her hair blond. Blond wasn’t a good color for camouflage. Now that girl in third period math class that dyed her hair purple, she was just trying to attract attention. Girls, what did they think of?
Chapter 4 Deb’s gone
After Deb graduated Bill moved his family to Montana where he owned most of a mountain. He made his daughter half owner in the campground he opened. As a sideline he taught survival skills in the woods. By the end of the summer he’d managed to procure a lease to buy eighteen square miles in the valley bordering his mountain. With his contacts he was booked up for most of the next summer before the ink was dry on the contracts. Jesse, one of his contacts is California offered to send him a man to train so he could expand. Bill thought about it and decided to contact James, after all he knew his skill level and Deb had mentioned the fact that she missed him several times.
James had found a job for the summer and when it ended he was back home living with his parents when the call came in. After a quick conference with his parents he called Bill and accepted. Bill told him to get there before Thanksgiving.
Picking James up in town, Bill told him that his winter gear was in the back of the truck. To qualify, all he needed to do was survive on the mountain for the three weeks until Thanksgiving and then make his way to the house undiscovered. Then he handed him a rough sketch map of the mountain and valley, and his house location. Next week he’d have his assistant would arrive. Prey and tracker rules are the same as last summer for both of you. You’ll have a slight advantage because my assistant hasn’t been on the mountain since it snowed.
Bill dropped James off at the end of the gravel road a quarter of the way up the town side of the mountain. James decided he’d follow the fire trail up the mountain and then backtrack to a good area where he could hide his trail. After an hour climbing he decided that backtracking would still leave indications in the snow. So he wandered over near a rocky outcrop and tossed his pack. Immediately he noticed that his tracks weren’t the same so he continued further up and then stepped on rock and went back down to his pack. Heading off at a right angle to the fire road he found a thicket and started cutting limbs below the snow level. Three hours later he had a fair set of snowshoes that also smeared his tracks when he lifted his foot. Then he followed the rocks back up to where he got off the trail and followed the rocky area until just before dark. Digging a hole he built a small fire, cooked supper, bent some bushes over and bedded down. In the morning he ate a cold breakfast, buried his fire hole, and camouflaged his campsite by placing vegetation and then sprinkling snow over the area from a snowbank.
James circled the mountain until he got to a good overlook of the town. Picking a good spot he used his heaviest knife and chopped limbs and brush until he had a nice blind that was almost invisible from below.
The next morning he started searching for a cave to setup as his base camp. He found one overlooking the valley that Bill’s house was in.
On the way down to where the caves he found last summer he spotted a deer. It took two arrows to bring it down. Field dressing it on the spot and burying the entrails he wrapped it in it’s skin and hauled it down to the cave. After spending the night he searched until he found another cave that had brush growing in front of it. After checking it out he set some trip indicators around the area and hiked back up to the heaviest snow bank he’d seen where he finished butchering the deer and placing thin strips of meat in the snow to freeze. Digging in he built another camouflaged campsite in a nearby thicket. Cutting the deer hide up he made three bags and packed them with snow to shape and freeze.
The next morning climbing back up the mountain he started looking for a suitable pine or spruce to hang his bag of meat in. After four tries he found a suitable pine and hung the meat bag just out of sight of the ground and high enough, he hoped, that a bear or wolf couldn’t get to.
The next morning he took his second bag down the mountain toward the valley and was surprised by a stand of spruce in a creek bottom. Climbing the spruce was easier than the pine so he hung the meat bag higher. Circling the stand of spruce’s he set a dozen trip indicators.
Climbing out of the creek area he heard a thump. Freezing he heard faintly two people talking. Even straining he couldn’t make out the words. He assumed that the sound was coming from up the mountain. It was a day early for his opponent to be dropped off so it must be a poacher. With a grin James pulled out his spare bowstring and put the old string in his pocket. He knew he only had ten good arrows left since one was broken when the deer bolted and one was slightly damaged from the hunt. He decided to use that one first. He tracked around the base of the mountain in the direction that he guessed the noise came from. Coming up upon the gravel road he looked to see if he could tell which direction the gravel was thrown by the passing vehicle. Traveling up the side of the road he found at a bend what he was searching for. The driver had applied his brakes and left fresh groves, so the vehicle was gone. With about three hours of daylight left he slipped a little further off the road and headed up the mountain looking for indications of where the vehicle stopped. An hour later he was at the end of the road and found one broken twig leading off toward the direction he’d departed when he was dropped off. From the lack of ground signs the individual he was following was very much at home in the woods. His opponent must be a day early, so extreme caution was needed in tracking him. James decided to head up the mountain and spend the night in his blind.
The next morning after checking around his area he started a small fire, thawed and cooked a strip of meat, then put out his fire. Changing from his soft boots to winter moccasins he attached his snowshoes and headed down the mountain in the direction he guessed his opponent traveled. It took three days before he found a leaf that was wrong side up. Scouring the area he quickly found light indications of a trail. It was headed in the direction of the caves. Circling around above the area the caves were in he started checking his trip indicators until he found one disturbed. It had been reset, which meant that the individual was good. Backing out of the area he checked and found one he’d tripped, but it wasn’t one of his. Tying a string to his damaged arrow he easily fired his damaged arrow up past his trip indicator and dragged it back along his path and then over the indicator he’d tripped and then backtracked to the rocks leaving a faint trail in the leaves and snow.
Circling around to the other side of the draw facing the caves he found a thicket and settled in for a long watch. Several hours later he heard what sounded like a twig snap. The silence on the mountain was deafening. Not a sound or any indication of movement below the caves for over half an hour. Then he saw out of the corner of his eye movement where he’d found the tripped indicators. His opponent was stealthily moving along the rocks following his route. He however was wearing boots and every once in awhile dislodged pebbles bounced down the ridge. Over the next three hours he circled the entire area around the caves and finally slipped into one. It was right next to the one he’d checked out as a backup camp. After dark he slipped across and around the brush and into his cave.
The next morning he watched the opponent depart just before dawn. As soon as his opponent was out of sight he slipped into his cave and searched it. He took a can of peaches and on the way out placed several pebbles just inside the cave entrance. Slipping down the trail his opponent used he tripped all the indicators he’d set up by dragging a small branch tied to his spare bow strings. Finding a good spot to leave the trail he tossed a limb knocking the snow off some pine branches at right angles to the trail. Back in his blind up the mountain he settled in and made himself a good meal of venison with canned peaches as dessert.
The next morning James picked a spot where he could watch the cave area. His opponent was nowhere to be seen. That evening he spotted the faint glow. It was just about where his first nights campsite was. Since his opponent was several hours hike from his cave, James decided he’d spend the night there and eat his opponents supplies. Approaching the cave entrance he smelled cooking meat. Quietly slipping into the cave he crept back toward the fire. Laying by the fire were several rabbits. Slipping to the side of the cave he crept into the darkest shadow and waited. Moments later he recognized his opponent, Deb. Watching her over the next hour or so she seemed unaware of his presence although she did utter some unpleasant words about her missing peaches. As she was bedding down he slipped out of her cave and over to his. Eating a candy bar he settled in for the night.
After Deb left the next morning James slipped over to her cave planning to strip all the paper labels off her canned goods only to find everything gone. Now he’d have to track her down. Carefully moving back to his high camp at the blind he cooked himself a good meal. Late that afternoon he prepared himself another meal and as he was eating he heard a rustle in the brush off to his left. “Come on in Deb, he said in a voice just loud enough to carry.”
Then he heard an exclamation from directly behind him and then movement as she walked into his camp. James picked up a piece of meat and held it over his shoulder and commented, “You should be getting hungry by now.”
Deb replied, “How did you know I was there, I haven’t made a sound for an hour.”
James ignored her comment and simply stated, “We’re both really good so don’t be to hard on yourself. Also, you were cute when you undressed last night in your cave.”
She snatched the meat from his hand, slapped him on the back of his head and demanded, “How long were you there?”
James smiled and replied, “I was in the cave while you were cooking and left after you crawled into your sleeping bag. By the way the canned peaches were very good.”
Deb yelled, “You bastard, I’d tell dad but he’d kill both of us.”
Then a calm voice off to their right stated, “Why should I kill my best two instructors, after all you’re both adults. Your mother might rip someone apart, but when I return with the venison she’ll be happy to add it to dinner. Now you two figure out who’s going to be the senior instructor and I’ll see you at the house in a few days.” We heard him snap a branch and then nothing as he moved away.
They both sat with their mouths hanging open until James commented, “Tomorrow I’ll check to see if he found both bags of meat I stashed.”
“It looks like more snow tonight, I’m going back to my cave.” stated Deb.
“Give me a hand and we’ll move my supplies down the mountain. The cave sounds good.” commented James.
“James, you aren’t sleeping in my cave!”
With a laugh James stated, “My cave is only a minutes walk from yours. After all I don’t think I want to hear you wheezing all night in your sleep.”
James gathered up the remaining meat from the snowbank and together they moved all his equipment and supplies down to his cave. After building a fire at the entrance they talked most of the night until they heard a wolf howl further up the mountain.
Deb then said, “James gather some more firewood, I’m moving my stuff over here.”
James checked his knives, strung his bow, and headed up to a thicket where he knew lots of dead wood would be easy to gather.
When he got back Deb anxiously said, “What kept you?”
“We need to move this meat and hang it in a tree away from the camp, and gather more wood.” After tying the remaining meat in deer skin they made their way over to the thicket. Deb gathered wood as James tied the meat up in a tree. After two more trips for wood, James built a second fire just under the overhang to the cave entrance. Then it began to snow.
In the morning James gathered small branches and started making another set of snowshoes. Deb told him to go get some meat and she’d cook breakfast.
When he returned she held up one of his snowshoes and asked where he learned to make them.
Off the internet. Also they somewhat hide your tracks in shallow snow. After breakfast we’ll move to my base camp overlooking your dad’s house and go down in the morning.
Chapter 5 Base Camp
It took half the day to trek down to the creek bottom where his meat was stashed. It was gone along with the sinew string. They then headed around the mountain toward his cave. Half way there James spotted tracks.
Together they determined that there were three wolves. Changing their bow strings they continued on toward James’s base camp cave.
James started gathering deadwood and had both arms full by time they arrived. Gathering some twigs and smaller branches he started a fire at the cave entrance. Leaving Deb to set up camp he went back out to gather more wood. After several trips he figured he had enough for the night.
That night they heard the wolves out in the darkness and saw the reflection from their eyes. They counted four sets. Deb tried yelling to scare them off, but it only worked once.
James pulled his damaged arrow and notched it. Picking the eyes closest in he aimed just below them and fired. There was a yelp and all the eyes disappeared. They could hear the wolves scrambling and growling outside the glow from the fire. Neither wanted to sleep, so they kept the fire going all night.
Packing in the morning they departed on what looked like a good route down the mountain. Deb spotted a faint blood trail and found his arrow beside a tree. James said leave it, the blood on it will attract the wolves again.
By late afternoon they were almost to the base of the mountain when Deb asked James if they could make camp. Looking around they found a tree with good branches and climbed. After securing their gear they descended and built a fire and cooked the remaining meat and split the last can of pears for dessert.
Deb started back up the tree while James put out the fire. As he turned to start his climb he heard the twang of an arrow being fired. Pulling himself up on the first limb he felt a tug on his leg and heard a ripping sound as his pants leg tore. Finishing his climb he looked down and saw two wolves jumping against the trunk of the tree. Deb exclaimed, move out of the way so I can get one of them.
Her compound bow twanged and an arrow sprouted from the back of one of the wolves. As it started to run it collapsed and the other wolf was on it in a flash, shortly joined by another wolf. She fired again and lost her balance. Her bow bounced off two limbs before it hit the ground as James grabbed her arm to keep her from falling.
Now we have a problem Deb, “My bow is to long to maneuver for a good shot. Help me bandage my leg.”
Cutting the arm off a shirt from her pack she wrapped James’s leg and then commented, “We’ve got more wolves, one is licking your blood off the tree trunk.” Then she started laughing, “You peed yourself.”
“You would too if a wolf tried to bite your leg off.”
Then Deb asked, “What are we going to do?”
In the morning they climbed down to the lowest limb, and after looking around dropped to the ground. James had an arrow notched as his feet touched down. Deb had an arrow in her hand as she grabbed her bow off the ground and notched it. Shouldering their packs they started down the mountain and across the valley. Several hours later they relaxed as they closed the gate to the yard around the house.
Knocking on the back door Deb’s mom answered and after taking one look at her blood covered daughter screamed and fainted. Bill was there in a flash with a pistol in his hand. Looking at the kids he said, “You shouldn’t scare your mother. Help me get her back inside.”
James brought in Deb’s pack and bow as she helped her father carry her mother to the living room couch.
Leaving the bows and packs in the kitchen James followed them into the living room. Bill told Deb to get the first-aid kit and then go take a shower.
After cleaning James’s leg Bill told him he’d take him to the hospital in town later for some shots and let the doctor take a look at it, after all wild animal bites should be checked. Then he told James that the shower was at the top of the stairs and towels in the closet beside the door.
As James stepped into the hall Deb came out of the shower in a towel. All she said was, “You should see your face, I’ll get you some clean clothes while you shower.”
Deb drove James into town, after sixteen stitches, an antibiotic shot, and a visit to the drug store for pills they headed back.
Deb’s mother fussed over them all evening and kept saying that Deb was never to go back on the mountain again.
When Bill got a word in he asked them what they’d learned.
James commented, I think we need to build several wolf proof enclosures up there and we should carry pistols for protection.
Bill then stated, a revolver is more dependable. We’ll get you and Deb some revolvers tomorrow and start training. Now, have you two decided who will be the senior instructor and guide. The first booking is only three months from Friday. You two still need to survey camp sites, trails, and figure out your training programs. I’ll call a friend and see what he has in the way of wolf proof enclosures.
Chapter 6 Plans
Bill watched with amusement as Deb and James struggled with their instruction plans. After a week he called them in and told them they were fighting air, they needed to pick valley campgrounds and mountain campsites. No mountain campsite should be used more than once a year. They needed to make maps of the area and detailed maps of the areas around each campsite. The trails and terrain would help them determine what skills they needed to teach the campers after determining their skill levels. Then they should make up a general training plan and from it detailed training plans for each skill and test for the campers to accomplish. Now back to the valley campgrounds, tenderfoot campers will need almost full support such as electricity, bathrooms, showers, marked camping areas, tables, fire rings and grills, full time guides, improved marked hiking trails, and improved trails for their vehicles. Level 2 campers will just need marked camping areas, fire rings, toilet facilities with and without showers, marked hiking trails, and maybe part time supervision or guides. Level 3 campers will just need a place to park their vehicles, a map to their assigned camping area, and a map to the facilities available. Survivalist level 1 campers once they park their vehicles will just need a guide to their assigned camping area on the mountain, after evaluation training in the skills they lack with test and a mountain guide. Survivalist level 2 will simply get more advanced training with test by their guides. Survivalist level 3 will be given an assigned area on the mountain and told when to report back and how to call for help if they need it. This is a rough outline you should consider. Last year I handled nine small groups of what I would consider level 1 and 2 survivalist. This year I have eight survivalist level bookings so far. I want to at least get a level 1 campground operational to generate revenue in the valley.
After looking over the aerial map of the valley James and Bill picked an area accessible to the main road and roughed out a campsite layout to accommodate ten tents and ten vehicles from pop-up size to a full motor home. The toilet and shower building was planned to be located between the areas. For the tent area, a cooking shack was centrally located with running water. Water lines were roughed in to all the RV pads with a sewer dump between each. The pop-up pads had running water and at each end of the road a sewer dump. The sanitation guy Bill hired recommenced a gray water tank and oversize tile field for the showers. The toilet and cooking areas would have regular septic tanks and tile fields through the woods to the edge of the flood area near the stream. By creating larger than normal tile fields the extra water should not change the vegetation growth pattern in the area. If the town ever decides to extend the sewer system out to the campground it would be easy to tie in.
Deb and James divided the mountain into fourteen areas with the most difficult on the side facing the town. Six wolf resistant areas were mapped and contractors hired to build the lower four and an emergency station at the end of the gravel road on the town side.
After building a wolf resistant fence in area thirteen they decided to take a couple of days off before going back to the emergency station and their truck. With their tents inside the fence they went to sleep. During the night Deb crawled into James’s sleeping bag and told him she was cold before they both fell back asleep.
The next morning James insisted they go back because he couldn’t remember how she got into his sleeping bag.
Chapter 7 First year
The first customers to arrive was a family that Bill had taught some skills to the year before. He briefed the kids and told them to take them up to survival site 3 and evaluate their skills. Then start training them on tracking. From the entrance office parking lot it was half a day hike up to site 3. Deb showed them the wolf resistant area and then told them to go find an area to set up their tents and dig a field latrine. James watched them pick an area and then moved off to the side and set up his and Deb’s tents. Grabbing a shovel from the wolf fence he dug them a latrine downhill behind some bushes and cut a paper holder. Deb watched the customers set up their tents and then suggested where to build their fire pit. They then moved one of their tents closer to the fire pit. She instructed them how to pick a good area to dig a field trench latrine and showed the oldest son how to select a forked branch to make a paper holder. James reviewed how to set a snare across a game trail and had the father and sons place several after they located trails. Dinner was canned beans and pears.
The next morning after checking the snares, James took the father and two sons up the mountain and told them how he’d spent two weeks up here last winter. He showed them how to tell if someone had been along a trail by looking for indicators and even showed them one of the trip indicators he’d set. Even though it was tripped he reconstructed it and told them how to make several types. Approaching the caves he told them how he’d set trip indicators consisting of pebbles near the caves and how they could tell if pebbles had been disturbed. It took several demonstration before they realized they could tell which side of a pebble was the top. After that lesson checking leaves and looking for disturbed twigs and branches was child’s play. On the way back down he told them how to walk quietly and look where they stepped so as to leave as little trail as possible, but they evidently just didn’t get it. A stampeding herd of buffalo could travel quieter.
When everyone got back to camp there was a stew waiting. Deb had got irritated at the chattering squirrels and shot several with her bow. She only lost three arrows. She’d also started showing the mother several forest plants that were edible and they were in the stew.
The next morning James took them back to the trail they’d used and explained simple tracking techniques. Disturbed ground cover, broken and disturbed branches, and drilled them on how to look at the forest ground. Then he took one of the boys and had the others follow them. The boy located and explained every sign he spotted for half and hour and James showed him many that he missed. This was repeated with the other son and father for several days. The youngest son even had Deb show him how to make simple moccasins from a pair of rabbit skins that were caught in the snares.
By the end of the week the boys could sneak around an amateur and follow a simple trail. Arriving back at their vehicle the father gave James and Deb each a fifty dollar tip and told them he was really pleased with the week of training. The boys begged him to schedule another week soon.
The next group arrived two days later for their two week outing. They were photographers and wanted a week of nature photographs. Bill took them out for two days and then gave them to James for the rest of the week. Deb had been tracking the wildlife and together they showed simple tracking and identification methods on how to located game. She helped them in set up their cameras to get the best shots day and night. Two days were spent near the top of the mountain for sunrise, sunset, and terrain photographs. The last two days were spent retrieving all the cameras and packing the rest of their gear down the mountain.
The summer groups continued, all different but with similar desires. By early September Deb and James were exhausted. Then Bill told them he had booked the photographers back in early December for two weeks in the snow. In late November the kids packed up and went up the mountain to locate the freshest game trails and sites to photograph.
The second night out Deb crawled in to James’s sleeping bag claiming to be cold. Two days later, half way down the mountain, James stopped and proposed to Deb. She said that since she loved the mountain almost as much as she loved him, they would be married on the mountain near the caves where she first met him. He agreed.
When they told her parents all Bill said was, it’s about time. I’ll fly your parents up for the wedding as soon as you set a date. Now, the photographers need to get a lot of good pictures because, the book they intend to publish will be a great advertisement for our business.
Deb’s mother then asked it James had given her a ring, and when she answered no she told them to get to town and get one after James called and told his parents.
James’s mother cried and then told him that she would ship his grandmothers wedding band to him so he could get it sized to fit Deb.
Deb set the wedding date for January 1st.
When the photographers arrived Deb asked them if they would take pictures of them on the mountain. Also if it would fit into their schedule to return to take their wedding pictures on the mountain. They agreed.
Chapter 8 Not Our plans
What surprised everyone was the fact that Deb’s mother got pregnant before she did.
The second year the business thrived. James’s parents moved into the new house James had built in the valley and helped run the campgrounds. At the beginning of the third year Bill didn’t know how to act with a new son and then a month later twin granddaughters.
Jesse visited from California and spent several days with Bill looking over the campgrounds and mountain. Finally he told Bill about his plans to start a private investigation company and his need for Bill’s skills. He also wanted Bill to teach his employees basic tracking and survival skills in the woods. After all, not all investigative jobs were in cities. Also as an avid survivalist Jesse suggested to Bill that his property was a great area for a survivalist stronghold. The area should have some pretty good caverns to create a safe area from nuclear attack and remote enough to keep the people from the cities from mobbing them. He’d help him build an oversize bomb shelter if he’d assist in the agency and hold room for his family. After a handshake, Bill brought James and Deb in and Jesse outlined the verbal agreement. That summer two tough looking guys arrived and spent over a month with several survivalist groups on the mountain when not being privately trained by Bill and James.
A cave exploring group arrived that fall and spent six weeks on the mountain. They’d found a cavern system from one of the caves that extended down to the valley. After mapping most of it they gave Bill the best locations to start building and the location for a short tunnel making access easier. Over the next few years Jesse and a friend from back east sent crews in. They worked on the cavern bomb shelter and general improvements to the campgrounds and hiking trails.
Every year more men and women from the agency arrived for basic survivalist training until one year a group of women arrived. After two months on the mountain they handed James and Deb a paper giving them ten percent stock ownership in the Overview Private Investigation Corporation. Then the youngest, a mere teenager named Brenda, handed them ID’s and told them they needed to take a PI course and then get licensed. Bill simply nodded and commented that he’d wondered when Jesse would draft them into his business.
Brenda puffed up and stated, it wasn’t Jesse’s idea, it was mom’s. She suggested plans for James and Deb and their children when they grow up. Plus there will be benefits and access to the network that they don’t have now. By the way she also suggested a second honeymoon at her Biscuits for Breakfast, the company will pick up all expenses as soon as you’re employees. After all you’ve never been to California, Alaska or any of the other states we have offices in.
Scott was feeling hemmed during the board meeting by the demands being made. Finally having it up to his eyebrows he jumped up and told them flat out, “I never should have taken this company public. You guys are a major pain in the ass and want to pervert my original invention. I’ll tell you what, for fifty million and one percent of each years profits I’ll sell you the controlling shares and then you can run it into the ground.”
“What’s to prevent you from undercutting the company and trying to take control back from us?” demanded on the of the board members.
Scott looked at him with and grinned, “I’m fed up with the back biting and political crap you guys consider normal. I’ll write into the sales agreement that as long as I get at least a million a year I’ll stay out of any business that is in direct competition with the invention that built this business.”
The CFO then announced, “I’ll have the company lawyers draw up and have a draft on your desk Monday. I make the motion we adjourn the meeting now.”
Still irritated Scott got into his limo and told his driver to head for the best camping supply store in the city.
His driver turned around and said, I know of a much better camping supply store, but it’s an hour away. Do you want the glitzy shit they sell here or quality camping equipment?
I want the real stuff, I’m getting out of the city for awhile. Also do you know any really good lawyers because I blew my top and told those assholes upstairs to buy me out.
I’ll think about it while we head out of town Sir.
As they pulled up in front of a rundown looking converted supermarket two hours later the chauffeur simply stated, I’ll take you in and introduce you to the manager who’s a family friend. He’ll take good care of you while I make a few calls.
Scott felt like he was being interviewed by a reporter until the manager finally called one of his clerks over and gave him a list and told him to set everything up in display area two. He then told Scott, “He will have a complete outfit set up for you in about fifteen minutes. From what you told me, I guarantee you will like it. This setup is for short term camping like a week or two in the semi-wilderness. What I mean by that is area’s that have civilized facilities within a mile or two. I’ll also give you a list of contacts for resupply here in the states and Canada. I recommend that your next stop be at Colt’s down the street. He will get started all the paperwork so you can pick up a firearm anywhere in the states. You will need training for one for self defense in the wilderness. If you decide to go hunting he can also arrange that training and pickup of weapons. Lets go and look at the camping gear.
He was almost through at Colts when his phone rang. Noticing it was an out of state area code he answered.
I received a call from a colleague that you needed a good contract lawyer that is not in anyone’s pocket. I’m Dale Spartain presently located outside Nashville. I can be in your office Tuesday morning.
Scott turned to Colt and asked, “Where around here can I set up a meeting with someone from out of state?”
Colt replied, “The Biscuits for Breakfast down the street gets a lot of business. I’ll call Annie and set you up. How many days do you figure you’ll need.”
Into his phone he stated, “I’m selling a multi-million dollar corporation to the board of directors. The CFO will be using the company lawyers to write up the sales contract. Can you handle that and give me an estimate of how long.”
Dale replied, “At least a week depending on how convoluted those lawyers are.”
“OK.” replied Scott. “I’ll make you reservations at Biscuits for Breakfast for a week starting Tuesday and we’ll go from there.”
“Good, now drop the rumor that you’ve hired an out of state law firm with local contacts. And by the way tell your chauffeur that I charge $1500 an hour and the corporation will pay my fee. He can spread the rumor so just smile when you get back to the office and enjoy the weekend. Tuesday morning we’ll start having some fun. Monday morning you’ll get a call from some young lawyer that I’ll hire, so take him to lunch somewhere public where you can’t be overheard, but where word will get back to your board of directors. He will put on the preliminary show. I think I’m going to have more fun than I’ve had in a few years.”
“What do you mean by that Dale?”
Dale’s reply brought a smile to Scott’s face. “I quit the rat race last year after making my second million. My small town law office doesn’t give me the challenge I was used to, but it has its own perks. Got to go and tell my wife I’m taking a job in California. By the way was that Jesse Colt I heard in the background.”
“Yes.” replied Scott.
“Tell him Dale and Jane will need a setup for weekend camping with a guide and maybe a little hunting.”
As Scott told Jesse the message he simply pulled his phone from his pocket and hit speed dial. “Allen, Dale and Jane need a full setup for weekend camping and possibly local hunting. Get the Fraser kid and let his old man know that I’ll need his hunting lease next weekend so clear it out.”
~ ~ ~
Monday Scott’s secretary announced he had a call, but the man on the line refused to give his name, just stated that Mr. Scott Lavey was expecting his contact.
“Sir, I’ll be in the city in an hour. Dale suggested we meet. Name the place and reserve an out of the way table large enough for me to spread out my paperwork.”
Scott replied, “I hope you like BBQ. I’ll be at Willard’s Homestyle BBQ at 1 PM. Just tell the clerk that Scott sent you and what size table you want.”
“No problem, I’ll see you there Sir.”
Not five minutes later the head of security knocked on Scott’s door. “Sir, I just received a report that you received a call from someone and will be meeting them at Willard’s. I would recommend security in that part of the city. That’s a rough neighborhood.”
“No problem, I have friends to watch my back down there. Please squelch that report. I have arrangements to make before my departure, so tell my secretary to come in as you leave.”
“You wanted to see me, Sir.”
“Yes, has the board delivered the draft contract yet. I’ll need three copies. Now make sure I’m not disturbed for the next hour. Thanks.” Scott was really pissed. The board had even gotten their fingers into his private secretary. Then he picked up his phone and called his chauffeur. “I have a late lunch at 1 PM. It will be at Willard’s Homestyle BBQ on the south side. I will also need about half an hour extra for another stop so what time do we need to leave?”
“No later than 11:20 Sir. Will this be pleasure or business?”
“This is a business meeting, so inform Sally and her friend.”
“Yes Sir, I’ll be out front at 11:15.”
As his chauffeur opened the door to a late model sedan he calmly said in a low voice, Sally is it a blue ford and her friend is driving a blue van. Both are ready for anything. This is a friends car and clean.
The drive to the southeast part of the city took over an hour due to traffic. Twice Scott heard reports to his chauffeur that they were being followed.
Then James announced, we’ll be stopping at that pawn shop on the corner. Just wander around and tell the clerk that you’re picking up a package for James.
The bag was so heavy that Scott had to use both hands as he lifted it and place it in the trunk. As he opened the rear curbside door two police cruisers pulled up and they popped out with guns drawn. Scott put both hands up and James kept his on the steering wheel like the cops yelled. After being frisked they demanded to search the trunk.
As James popped the trunk the young female clerk loudly announced, “Scott, you forgot your receipt.” The cops all froze and one turned with his gun toward the clerk.
He demanded, “Whats in the bag girl.”
She took two steps forward and handed him the receipt. Looking at it he handed it to the officer at the trunk and said, “Look and see if it’s what’s on the receipt, don’t lift anything out where it can be seen from the street.” Turning to Scott he asked, “Do you have security since you are transporting something this valuable.”
James calmly answered, “Yes, and I’m sure you are making them nervous. You may have noticed that all traffic has stopped since you pulled us out.
Glancing back up the street there was a blue sedan parked in the middle of the street with its hood up. The woman standing beside the car had her hand inside the hood and the two men on the other side were each facing different directions. Looking at the other end of the street he saw a blue van with its side doors open. Only a woman was standing near it glancing around. Pedestrians had disappeared except for three men carrying long thin bags. With a low whistle he told the others, “I think we got a bad call guys. I recognize two of the guys, and they ain’t cheap security. Lock everything up and lets get out of here. Scott, James, I’m sorry, but we got a call that there was a drug deal going down and your description was given. I sincerely hope we haven’t jeopardized your shipment.
James reached into the car and pulled his cell phone out and dialed a number. “We’ve been delayed and possibly compromised. Rendezvous at check point 2 with extra security and new vehicle.”
The officer then asked, “Would you like an escort?”
James answered, “No, you’d draw more attention to us. If you would just write us a parking citation or something like that and depart. If it looks like police harassment then any any extra attention to us may evaporate.”
One police car pulled away while the officers from the car poked around inside the car and then stomped off like they were pissed off that they couldn’t find anything.
James said, “Lets go.” Arriving at 1:02 he pulled around to the side parking lot beside the blue sedan. Opening the trunk he tossed the bag into their trunk. They pulled out with the van following them. Two SUV’s then pulled out of the parking lot behind them.
Inside Scott and James got their order and then Scott asked where his contact was.
The clerk hesitated and then said, I think he is at the corner table near the door. Scott sat down and James sat at the next table. Then a guy that looked like a biker sat down beside James and they started talking. Three more bikers took the other table and started talking.
The lawyer looked at Scott and said, “I’m Bill Bendert, not a bad way to cover our conversation. Hope there are no lip readers around.”
Scott laughed and passed a copy of the draft contract over. “My chauffeur made security arrangements. As you can see my companies lawyers are trying to screw me.”
Don’t worry, I checked before I accepted Dale’s retainer. He’s so far above me that I may have to move out of state just to find my next honest client. He was laughing when I called him and told him I would do the local legwork. When he quit laughing he simply stated that I would gain very useful experience. Now here is a rebuttal to the original draft.”
Scott looked at the seven pages and then reached for his drink.
“Damn, I only gave him a brief outline of what I told the board, I never mentioned anything about the patents or retirement package.”
“Oh don’t worry, half the demands are negotiable and disposable. Dale claimed he was going to have some fun, but don’t worry he’ll do you right. When I checked him out I also checked his last public case. The company being sued hired two law firms and still lost it’s ass the small businessman he was representing.”
~ ~ ~
Tuesday morning Scott only spent five minutes in the board meeting. As he threw his counter offer on the table he said he had other business to attend to and started out. Halfway to the door he turned and told them that he’d like to be out of here within a week, but if they screwed with him, he’d stick around and give them hell.
He stopped in his office, picked up his briefcase and the got on the elevator. After a nonstop trip through the lobby he saw James holding a door open to a SUV. Getting in he tossed his jacket and brief case into the back seat and said, “My doorman is holding a package for us and then lets head east.”
~ ~ ~
As they pulled into the Biscuits for Breakfast parking lot Colt walked up to the SUV and handed Scott a box. As Scott opened the box Colt said, “If you ain’t armed in there they consider you a wimp or a tourist to fleece. Don’t forget to always carry your permits!”
Scott looked at the permits and official ID card in the box and said, “When did I get hired by the Overview Private Investigation Corporation?”
With a chuckle Colt replied, “As soon as yo sell yo company, but you’re on probation for six months and must pass an accredited PI course. I have offices in 13 states. States that I may add, all have excellent hunting.”
Inside it looked like a scene from a wild west movie. The lobby had a bar along the right wall with bottles and above the mirror the picture of a redhead reclining on a blanket with a revolver aimed at the lobby door. On the back wall beside the stairs was a counter with a young girl in front of a peg board with keys and a small cage labeled Mabel’s Post Office. Under the stairs was a doorway with a sign saying Kitchen and on the left wall to the left of the counter was another door labeled Out House. To the left of that door was another door labeled Shortcut to Boot Hill and Private rooms. The wagon wheel hanging from the ceiling had oil lamps mounted around the rim. Four of the six tables in the middle of the room were occupied.
Scott was nudged from the rear by Jesse and heard, move out of the doorway and your new lawyer is at the 2nd table on the left. I’ll get us some drinks and be with you in a minute. James, go over and tell Brenda that your boss is ready to check in. Then he approached the bar and told the young man, two sarsaparillas.
Turning to the table everyone heard, “Hold it stranger. I don’t run at tab here. Cash on the bar.” Jesse turned set the drinks back on the bar and said, “Deliver them to my table” as he slapped two singles beside them. Then he turned and walked over to the table and sat down.
Dale, with a grin stated, “Your kid brother still likes to screw with you, will you ever get him trained?”
“He’s not as bad as Nancy. Scott, Dale, I guess you’ve introduced yourselves. I’ll take Jane over to see Fred and pick up the gear so you can discuss business.”
Dale looked over the revised contract and then made a few notes on his paperwork. Then he asked, “Can you arrange a meeting tomorrow afternoon with those thieves and their lawyers? I’ll have Bill fully briefed with a reply and we’ll teleconference from here.
The meeting went as expected. The company lawyers demanded that half the requirements in the counter offer be dropped. William Bendert just smiled and stated, if you want to be unreasonable my client will simply exercise his prerogative as patent owner and revoke your companies permit to use it and lease it to other interested parties.
He can’t do that several of the board members exclaimed.
Yes he can, replied William. He owned all rights to his patent when the company was private. When he took the company public a year and a half ago he never signed any paperwork authorizing the company sole and exclusive rights to his patent. Hence, he still owns and controls who may use his patent. The only patent infringement lawsuit filed was handled his personal lawyer, not the company lawyers. That enforces the precedent. Now since he isn’t a reprobate like most of you, he has authorizing me to limit the profit payments to the length of the time of the original patent, and he will sign over exclusive rights to use his patent to the company. This will prevent any other competitor from using it. That will give you a shade over 15 years to make or break this company, and that is a quote from him.
I’ll make it easy for you, fifty million deposited to his personal bank account, then one million dollars deposited for the next fifteen years. The companies reported profit last year was thirty-eight million and change. Assets that I’ve located in the last four days total over sixteen million. You should have no problem leveraging a loan for fifty million cash. Fax me your decision and we’ll set up a meeting for next Monday.
Dale turned to Scott and said, “Looks like the kid got our point across. Will you join us this weekend camping. Jesse said he could come along and continue your training.”
Scott replied, “It would be my pleasure.”
From across the room they heard, Dale, can I come too?
~ ~ ~
Friday afternoon everyone loaded up and a blue pickup pulled into the parking lot. Brenda got out and swaggered over to their two SUV’s and said, “Where do I throw my gear or would you like to put your gear in my truck Scott. It would be a shame to scratch up the finish on that rental.”
Scott looked at Dale and asked, “Can she drive?”
Without a thought Brenda reached out and slapped Scott on the shoulder hard enough to make him step back. “No, I’m a helpless female that can’t pour piss out of a boot by following the instructions written on the bottom of the heel. Throw your stuff in the pickup while I get my guns.”
Jane, Dale’s wife, simply stated, “I think she likes you, so watch out.”
Dale then said, “I’ll give you a hand, unless you want to back out. She is a hunter and carnivore.”
Scott replied, “I was worried that the company board might hire a hit man. Now I have to worry about a blood thirsty amazon. What else can go wrong before I unload my company?”
Two and a half hours later the dirt trail turned into just two ruts. Half an hour later Dale pulled into a meadow and announced, “We’re here, Jane and I will set up here and you two find a spot over near the other side. I’ll build the community fire pit behind my truck.”
Brenda pulled her pickup halfway around the meadow and backed up to the treeline. You can setup on the passengers side, I’ll take the drivers side. After you’re setup go about 30 feet into the trees and dig us a slit trench latrine. I’m sure you can find the instructions in your camping handbook. If not give me a call.”
Thirty minutes later Scott finally got his tent setup. After throwing his sleeping bag and clothes bag inside he grabbed his camp shovel and started toward the trees. Suddenly he notice the sound, someone was chopping wood. Looking over the bed of the pickup he saw Brenda slamming her ax into a small tree. He then noticed that she was building a lean-to. After a minute he yelled, where is your tent and ducked toward the front of the pickup.
He heard, “That brother of mine is a dead when I get back. I know it was him that took my tent and put a torn tarp in the tent bag. Unless you want to share your tent with me, shut up and get the latrine dug.”
He replied, “You can have the left side provided you don’t snore. I could use some help digging the slit trench, and by the way did you bring any toilet paper. I seem to have forgotten to get any.”
With a laugh she put the ax up and tossed him her sleeping bag. “Put that where you’ll let me sleep while I get my clothes bag. I’ll get a hatchet, we’ll need it to make a paper holder.”
The first spot he picked she didn’t like. She showed him a better spot and when he struck the first tree root she told him to dig around and below it. Two feet down she told him to stop and extend it two feet away from the tree. She returned with a trimmed tree trunk with one branch sticking out just far enough to hold a roll of toilet paper. After sharpening the end she hammered it into the ground using her hatchet. “Now get out of here and leave the shovel. I need to use the trench.”
Scott walked away resisting the temptation to look back. When he got to the tent he continued around the meadow to Dale’s camp. No one was there so he hollered Dale, Jane, where are you?
From the tent he heard an answer, “We’re busy come back later.”
Returning to his tent he flipped back the door flap and froze. There was Brenda standing there with one foot in her panties as bare as the day she was born. “Don’t stand there gawking, close the flap before I kill you.”
Backing up he went and sat on the tailgate of the pickup and loudly said, “Well it is my tent. By the way, where is the food. All I can find is some drinks and a couple of cans of beans.”
Brenda replied from inside the tent, “We will go hunting as soon as I finish changing. You’ll need to put some boots on because those shoes won’t hold up in the woods.”
A few minutes later she appeared in jeans and boots with a bright yellow blouse. After getting a rifle and pistol from behind the front seat she asked, “Where is your rifle and boots.”
Scott replied, “I wasn’t planning on this being a hunting trip. My boots and pistol are in the tent. Back in a minute.”
Even with Scott stumbling through the woods scaring the game, Brenda managed to shoot a small buck. When she started skinning it he gagged and threw up behind a tree. A few minutes later she told him to get back around the tree and give her a hand. “Dig a deep hole to put the entrails in. Then you can wrap the meat in the skin and carry it back to camp. Dale should have a bed of coals ready by time we get back.”
The steaks were great and then Jane split the remaining meat between a cooler and a big cast iron pot that Dale moved to fire pit. Jane poured two beers in the pot and put a the lid on. “In the morning I’ll add vegetables and we’ll have a great stew when we get done hunting. Brenda, is he any good in the woods?”
Brenda replied, “No he walks like an elephant and couldn’t hold his stomach when I skinned it. Hopefully he’ll learn fast.
“By the way Dale, I want you to write up a lawsuit against my brother for theft and mental distress. He replaced my tent with a torn tarp. Mom’s going to be pissed when someday he goes to far and I kill him.”
The next morning they were up early. The meadow was fogged in and they got lost headed over to Dale’s camp. When they hit the treeline Brenda pulled her pistol and fired one shot into the air. After a minute they heard a shot from close by. They were only a hundred feet or so from Dale’s camp. Jane started laughing when they tripped over the tent ropes. Dale will be back in a minute with some steaks for breakfast. Coffee is on, grab a cup. We all ate and sat around till about ten when the fog finally cleared.
Jane stated, OK, here is the plan. We’ll cross the meadow and head toward that mountain. Brenda and I will take the pictures and you guys will cover us. Dale, grab a can of bear spray for each of us and the .30-30’s. Make sure Scott knows how to aim and fire before we head out. We’ll pack a light lunch.”
Dale handed Scott one of the .30-30’s and five rounds of ammo. “These are solid slugs with a heavy black powder load. Heavy enough to stop a brown bear if you hit him square in the chest or in the spine. These are old, but solid rifles. You’ll probably only get one shot because a bear can outrun any man alive. If the girls surprise one you need to aim for the shoulder. Do not aim for the head because it’ll bounce off and just irritate the bear. If the bear stands up aim but don’t fire unless he moves toward the girls. They know not to run. Don’t you run unless you want him to chase you down and eat you. Since you are left handed, mount the bear spray holster on your right hip. If you can get a second shot, good, if not get the bear spray aimed at the bear and let him have it. This stuff is worse than pepper spray so be prepared if the wind is in your face. This is how you load the rifle and this lever jacks another round into the chamber. Try it a few times. Good. Girls, we’re ready to go.”
Scott asked, “What about my pistol, it’s a .357 mag. Won’t it stop a bear better than this old rifle.”
With a laugh Dale stated, “That .357 may stop a bear or it may just ventilate it. I’ve seen magnum pistols drill holes through a bear and out the other side. If the rifle doesn’t stop him and the spray doesn’t deter him and he starts chewing on you, use your pistol to put a lot of holes in him. You might get lucky, but Jesse can tell you tales about bears that have been hit with all calibers and still run 20 or 30 yards before dropping. The best defense is not to aggravate and tempt the bear to take interest in you.”
Well the girls were the only happy campers when they got back because they’d shot up rolls and rolls of film and all the guys did was lug the water, lunch, rifles, and other supplies.
~ ~ ~
Monday morning the teleconference was set up again. This time after a bunch of bull from the company lawyers one of them demanded to know who William had on the other end of the line.
Then Dale simply said, “I’m Dale Spartain, Scott’s personal lawyer.”
The company lawyer then stated, “Never heard of you, so you can’t be to good.”
Dale then said, “Do your homework boy, look east a few thousand miles and then for lawyers rich enough to buy small countries. If you ever got off the ground you might have heard about our club. Now I suggest you listen to my young protege and use your brains, because if you don’t you will be looking for a job in a third world country.
“William, give them the third proposal and if they don’t like it have them state the reasons paragraph by paragraph. I really don’t want to have to fly out there and personally chew them up. Call me in the morning.”
Friday we walked into the office. We had the contract in our hands and Dale sat down and read it beside his notes. After making a few corrections in wording he told the secretary we’d brought with us to type it up.
Scott was amazed that it was only three pages in length.
She noted the changes and then asked where the printer was. She carried her laptop to the printer and made two copies. She handed one to Dale and the others to the companies lead lawyer. After glancing at it he passed them to the Chairman of the Board and said, “Sign both copies.”
Then they passed the copies to Scott and as he lifted his pen Dale said, “Wait, I haven’t gotten confirmation of the fifty million deposited into your account. Line six on page one states that the fifty million will be deposited prior to signing by Mr. Lavey. I really hate sitting around, but at $1500 dollars an hour starting now I’ll be able to afford a nice dinner. I suggest you get your accountants moving.”
The Chairman jumped up and demanded to know what that meant.
Dale simply stated, “Up until you placed your signature on the contract, Mr. Lavey was paying my fee. As soon as you signed any delays will be charged against your corporation. That includes today’s signing, and yearly payments, unless you default. Miss Jones, print out a copy of page two lines 40 to 44 and give them to the chairman.”
She picked up her second case, opened it and connected it to the laptop. A few keystrokes later page two popped out and she handed it to the Chairman.
He read the lines and threw down the paper. He then picked up the phone and told the operator to get accounting on the line. “Why hasn’t the payment to Scott Lavey been deposited it his account.”
Everyone heard the chief accountants reply, “When our creditors heard that Scott was selling the company there was a run for payments yesterday. Our line of credit was reduced to twenty million and the loan you arranged folded. The stock price has dropped to half what it was day Monday and its still falling.”
Dale said, “Miss Jones, please print up a standard resignation form for each of the board members and all the lawyers. Make sure the section explaining that this also terminates any retirement or further benefits from the corporation. Mr. Lavey, I suggest you wait until this evening and buy every share of stock for sale on the market and then call an emergency stock holders meeting with the provision that only members present can vote. Accept the resignation of the board and the lawyers. Any that don’t resign I’ll have charges for incompetence filed against. I’m sure William will enjoy the experience of prosecuting them. And since this delay is costing us all money, I feel in a charitable mood and will only bill the corporation for and eight hour days until you either get your money or the corporation is sold for junk. If you want, I know a few sharks that would probably like to bid on this corporation and since you are and will be the primary stock holder they will have to deal with you through me. If I think of anything else I’ll inform you through William.
Miss Jones, remain with William and after all copies are signed and notarized bring them to the office.
“I hope that I can convince Mr. Lavey not to sue each of the board members and corporation lawyers for incompetence and causing the corporation and stockholders undue financial loss. Mr. Lavey, will you please accompany me back to your office and then this evening I’ll entertain you at my hotel.”
As Scott and Dale entered his office Dale held up his hand and said, “Mr. Lavey, I know that you are irritated with the incompetence and the probable illegal actions of your board of directors. I advise that if they resign without any further benefits you let them go. Court battles could take years before you stripped them of all the dubious financial gains they’ve acquired. The corporation lawyers are another matter. You won’t be able to retrieve their dubious financial gains, but you can probably get them all disbarred and ruin their reputations easily enough. Right now I suggest that we retire to the club and have a drink while you contemplate your actions this evening and tomorrow.”
In a private room at the club Dale made a call to the SEC in New York. He simply stated, “Mr. Lavey was planning to sell his corporation and stock to the Board of Directors and retire. However, they leaked the information and the corporation is now in dire financial straights. The stock has lost half its value. What would the SEC recommend as far as Mr. Lavey trying to shore up the corporation using his personal fortune. You have my number, as soon as the chairman makes a decision please call me back.”
Scott asked, “Why did you do that?”
“You cover all the bases, even those that don’t really need covering to prevent stupid investigations and backbiting.” replied Dale. “Now lets order dinner and then head back upcountry or would you rather eat up there?”
One call and dinner was arranged at the Biscuits for Breakfast. Later that evening Dale got the call he wanted and was told the recommendation was on its way to his office.
Dale then told Scott to call his stockbroker and place a buy order for purchase of 100 shares as soon as the market opened in the morning. Then he called William and inquired if all the board members and lawyers signed their resignation contracts.
William replied that there was a rush to sign about 3 PM when the word got out that the SEC was looking into the corporation for corruption. Two of the board members are already out of the country and the lawyers were pulling in their horns.
Then Dale told William that he could purchase up to 100 shares of the corporation stock Tuesday morning, but no more that 100. That will be part of your bonus if this works and we save the corporation. If not then you’ll only be out a few hundred dollars because my overseas contacts inform me that the overseas price is quickly approaching penny-stock prices.
By Wednesday afternoon large blocks of the stock were being purchased by other competitors.
The next Monday in a downtown auditorium Scott took the podium and the first thing he said was, “I apologize to all the stockholders for not keeping a better eye on the corporation board of directors and their lawyers. It wasn't until I informed them of my plans to retire that their dubious actions came to the front and the mess that they made resulted in the loss of millions in just a week. I hold over 50% of the stock as part of my fortune. I've lost millions also, so I have hired an outside lawyer to help draft a plan to recover and rebuild the corporation. You will pick up a copy at the doors on the way out and after lunch we will reconvene. Counter proposals may be presented for consideration. I've retained this auditorium for all week so we have a few days to find the best solution. Thank you.”
After lunch one of the competitors that guessed at what he was doing when he started buying up the stock bought as much as they could afford. They suggested that the corporation be broken up and its divisions sold off at market value.
With a scowl Scott announced, if you think that will help you, you are mistaken. When I took my company public I retained all rights, privileges, and ownership of the patent that has made the corporation its fortune. Now a merger might be beneficial if the stockholders were given a decent price for their shares. That would convince me to sell the patent to that corporation. By now all of you probably know that I was intending to retire and the corporation was going to purchase all my stock and the patent for fifty million plus an annual payment of one million dollars for the next fifteen years. The corporation may own improvements to my patent, but without my permission to use the basic patent, the improvements and subsequent patents are useless. The stock price high was $47.23 two weeks ago, and now it has stabilized at $13. Get your corporation to make a fair offer allowing everyone present to save some of their investment and we’ll vote on it. If you pay $19.50 per share and purchase all physical assets this will cost you just under $100 million. The walls have ears and if word of this gets out we all can expect the stock price to start back up. That’s just under cost of materials last year and just over expenses. That’s also a little less than all sales. I will be loosing half of my stock value, so that is my punishment for not keeping a better eye on those scoundrels. We’ll adjourn until 8 am in the morning.
In the morning there were 2 offers from competitors and after a short discussion Scott announced. Neither offer allows shareholders to save even a portion of their investments. My counter is, I will not retire, I will reorganize the corporation, I will bring the company back to prosperity, then I will sell to highest bidder and it will cost you more than you are willing to pay now. Your option at $19.50 a share and 54.9 million for all physical assets plus a guarantee that none of the lower level employees or their direct supervisors will be dismissed or have their pay changed. The mid-level and upper-level management will automatically be terminated without any further benefits. Make your choice and take it or leave it! Meeting adjourned, my lawyer and I will consider offers in the morning at 8 AM and decision will be announced at 9 AM.
At 9:05 Scott announced that both competitors offered $19.51 per share to edge out each other. The representative now have 30 minutes to contact their management and up their offer. I will accept one sealed bit from each with no argument. Time starts now. Thirty minutes later when he opened both bids at the podium he announced that ZZY corporation bid the highest at $19.75 per share. I’ll give them 10 days to finalize the buy out. If they can’t then I’ll be forced to accept the other bid or rebuild the company myself. If there are no objections I’ll accept a verbal approval. Any nays. The ayes pass the proposed sale.
Four days later Dale called and told Scott that he would sign the sale contract for him. $100,498,306.16 has been deposited in an account to cover the sale. Scott, you are now retired.
~ ~ ~
When Scott returned to Biscuits for Breakfast Sunday evening he went up to his room kicked off his shoes and collapsed across the bed and fell asleep. The next morning he realized he was under the covers and had been undressed. Looking around he saw his luggage stacked by the door and his cloths neatly folded over the chair. Damn, his underwear was folded over the arm. Jumping up he rushed to the bathroom and after a quick shower, dressed, and went downstairs to the dining room in the lobby. Sitting at the table after ordering breakfast he contemplated who could have stripped him and put him to bead.
Brenda brought his breakfast out and sat down across the table from him. “Guess?” was all she said as she sipped her coffee.
Scott replied, “You brought my luggage up and stripped me and put me to bed.”
With a smile on her face she said, “Well now we’ve both seen each other naked, but you weren’t very lively last night. Kinda limp from what I observed. For some off the wall reason Dale and Jesse want me to train you, and have arranged two months at a private survival camp in Montana, a month in Alaska, and then a month in Tennessee. Dale said something about a cool down period before you show yourself again in the business world.
“I’m supposed to take you over to see Fred for a wilderness outfit. Also to pick up a PI correspondence course and satellite communications gear. After familiarization we will pack everything in your new trailer. You also have a new 4×4 that you need to register this afternoon.”
Don’t I even get a full day off?” asked Scott.
“Your day off begins when we pull out of here headed northeast. Your first assignment is to be a well to do tenderfoot with the new gear and make contact with a certain survivalist group in Montana and then when we get to Alaska we are to find and deliver some more equipment to one of Fred’s contacts. Jesse told me I was to travel as your wife or girlfriend, the wife bit will be a cold day in hell.”
Arriving in the target area of Montana a week later they leased a hundred and fifty acres on the side of a mountain for a month. After a night in a local motel they headed into the wilderness. Two days later finding an out of the way campsite they setup. It was almost a mile from the one the agent had recommended. Then they hiked to the recommended site and setup overnight and burned a nice fire to leave traces that they’d been there. In the morning they put out a bit of food and left, knowing the scavengers would find it and overlay their footprints and scent trail.
Further up the mountain near a stream they located an empty cave and set it up as their refuge camp and cache.
Between the hiking, camping, hunting, and trying to avoid Brenda and her paint gun Scott got comfortable in the wilderness. The third weekend they went back to town for supplies and to see the land agent. They told him that they wanted to buy the lease and also a few acres in the valley that bordered it. That night in town they played the boyfriend girlfriend bit and retired to a single motel room. Scott took the first guard shift and they swapped at 3 AM.
At breakfast the next morning a napkin was dropped on their table by a passerby. Turning it over the note requested a meeting in two hours a mile north of town where a black pickup would have a flat tire. Brenda blew her nose using it to mop up the remains of her sausage and eggs in her plate.
~ ~ ~
The meeting went without a hitch. After verifying that the grisly old man was Jesse’s contact they gave instructions on where to meet to pick up the supplies.
He asked, “What did Jesse send me this time?”
Brenda replied, “We don’t know. It’s in a sealed crate in our trailer. You can pick it up on the mountain or we can deliver it.”
His reply was, “Give me ten minutes and I’ll follow you to your trailer, and then you can follow me to my place.”
Later they followed him up a dirt road. When they came to a tree that had fallen across the road Scott saw him poke what looked like a garage door opener out the window and press the button. The tree raised up about eight feet and stopped. There were hydraulic lifts on each end of it.
Another half mile up the road they pulled into a farmyard and he directed them to back into the barn as he opened the doors. Six men with weapons sundered over and started to open the trailer.
“Stop”, yelled Brenda. “It’s booby-trapped. She walked back and spun the built-in combination lock dial and then pressed two icons on her cell phone. Then turning the dial to 14 she pulled the doors open.”
“Neat”, said one of the men. “What kind of booby-trap is built into this trailer.”
I replied, “Thermite, hot enough to melt the contents and my new truck so don’t dick around with it. Not to mention start a big enough fire to piss off every fire fighter within 500 miles.” Blocked in the front of the trailer was an 8×6 crate that was half the length of the 14 foot trailer. The grisly old man looked and then said, “Guys, get the block and tackle out. That puppy is going to be heavy. Scott, can you back the trailer over there on the left side near the tack room?”
“Sure thing”, Scott replied.
It took thirty minutes to unload the crate and then old man walked around to the trailer end and inserted his crowbar. With a screech each time it was quickly removed.
The first thing Scott noticed was what looked like a commercial air conditioning unit, but it had places for several filters plus a flange that looked like it could be connected to a large pipe.
Ooh, said Brenda, that’s the new filtration system. With my look of inquiry she continued, a pipe is run to a chamber that is half filled with water so the water filters the air first and then it’s sucked through the filters. Properly installed it cleans the air as good as the best HEPA filter system with less maintenance. However, you must have a clean moving water supply. On top of the unit were six boxes labeled filters.
Then he commented, “I understand you are trying to buy the mountain next to my valley and some adjourning flat land. If you get it I’ll have my boys start on a refuge for you. My equipment is in the valley. If it wasn’t for the old mining laws the damn government would have chased me off long ago. So make sure you get all the lumber and mineral rights and then file a claim. I’m sure you can find something of value in the streams. My boys can show you how to pan and build a hand sluice.”
~ ~ ~
The purchase of the mountain and trim at the bottom bordering his valley I left to my lawyer. We dropped a few hints down in the town that I was thinking about setting up a wilderness camping corporation and wildlife amusement park.
A week driving through Canada and we crossed over into Alaska. My new pickup and trailer looked like they’d been dropped in a creek and then rolled through a dust storm. Both sides had dents and scrapes from minor accidents. The only accident that wasn’t minor was when a big rig had clipped the front left fender and tore it halfway off with the steel bar on the back of his trailer. I had to chase him ten miles before he could pull off the road.
I was pulled by a local not 50 miles in and told that if I was going to do any hunting I needed to stop at the next town and get a out-of-state hunting license. Then he wanted to know what I was hauling in the trailer. Brenda just batted her eyes at him and said a bunch of camping gear and other personal stuff. We have paperwork from the customs at the US border and you can check the seals if you want. After a quick look at the papers and seals he walked back to his cruiser and made a U-turn and left.
Late that night in the middle of nowhere Brenda’s phone lit up and when she answered it all she said is we’ll need a guide. We just passed mile marker 203.
Within an hour we had a tail and then he passed us and signaled a left turn. When he made a right Brenda told me to follow him. Just past a cabin the road disappeared and the ruts looked like two red light stripes underneath his taillights. After following him over several hills he pulled over and stopped. As I stopped another guy with a rifle stepped up to my window and said, “You’re trespassing.”
Brenda simply held up her phone and pressed a button and said, “If you want your stuff, you’ll open the cave and let us back-in, or we’ll have a bonfire.”
Squinting, he said, “Oh hell, he sent you! Now I’m going to have problems with my wife for another six months. It took that long for her just to quit prancing around the last time you were here.
“The ground on the right is firm, just pull up beside the truck and you’ll see the entrance. The mine now has a turnaround inside.”
It looked like an entrance to a mine, but as I pulled forward the rock around the entrance folded back making it look like a garage. A few hundred feet in I could see someone with a flashlight signaling me to come ahead. The tunnel ended and he said, “Swing wide right and park over by the other truck. We’ll get you unloaded in the morning.” Brenda walked to the trailer and disarmed it and then we got in the other truck and went further up the trail to another cabin.
When we walked in a monster of a woman looked at Brenda and said, “So you brought a boy toy. Don’t look like he has enough meat on his bones to keep you warm.” Then she hugged Brenda and swung her around in a circle. Dropping Brenda she stuck a meaty paw at me and asked, “Whats your name boy-toy.”
At six two I’m not a shrimp and can press over 400 pounds. As I grabbed her hand she started ratcheting down on mine. For about five minutes we had a squeezing contest and then she jerked me forward and wrapped her other arm around me and lifted me off my feet.
Brenda then quipped, “Don’t break my boy-toy. He does most of the driving.”
Sue gently set me back on my feet and said, “He’ll do until winter, then you got to get a man with some meat on his bones.”
To try to retrieve some of my dignity I said, “I’m hungry, any bear steaks around.”
Sue looked at me and then stated, “We’ve already had supper, but I flip one over in the pan for you, rare or medium.”
I replied, “I don’t want to have to chase it down or bleed it. Just don’t burn it either.”
Brenda said, “Cook it like I like mine, I’ll just take the end off his.”
Sue then said, “Then you get in there and cook it. I got to get fancied up now that we have company.”
Tom just slapped his forehead and moaned, “Not already,” then went and sat down. Looking at me he announced, “Scotch is in that sideboard, bring two glasses.”
I noticed my 2 inch steak had a hole cut in the middle and Brenda had it plus the tip on her plate. What was left covered my plate. A humongous split baked potato with onions, bacon, chives, and sour cream was on a plate between us and Brenda simply indicated that when there was room on our plates for it, we could split it. My steak was cooked to perfection and tender. Together we ate less than half the potato, but we did finish our steaks.
Sue came back in dressed to the nines. For a big woman she had all her curves in the right places. The baggy clothes she was wearing when we arrived fooled me and as I was looking at her Brenda slapped me upside my head and said, “She’s already spoken for so reel you eyes back in.”
Sue was laughing as she dropped into Tom’s lap and announced to everyone, “See, I can still turn heads when I dress up. Brenda, I hope I didn’t get your boy-toy in to much trouble, we only have one empty bedroom. Alice and Daniel are in the other one. They dropped by for a few days on their way back from Japan.”
Brenda squealed like a school girl and demanded that Sue not let them out of the house until she got to talk to them. I don’t know what I expected this far out in the country, but when we opened the door to the bedroom it put to shame a high end hotel suite. The two king size beds were dwarfed by the size of the room, a very large table was between us and what looked like a wet-bar, and a desk occupied most of the far wall with radio’s and a monster of a TV. As tired as I was I just pulled off my shoes and belt and flopped on the first bed.
In the morning I found the bathroom and was soaking in the hot tub when Brenda came in and demanded that I move over. I still had my hands covering my lap as she pulled the nightgown over her head and dropped in beside me. I thought, evidently modesty wasn’t one of her faults as she demanded that I scrub her back.
Shortly thereafter Sue stuck her head in the door and announced that Alice was up and breakfast was almost ready. Then snidely she said, “Brenda, your boy-toy missed a spot down there.” and ducked out without closing the door.
Meeting Alice and Daniel in the dining room I expected Sue to introduce me as boy-toy, but to my surprise she gave them my full proper name. Then she told them that I worked for Jesse and Dale. After a huge breakfast I realized that I missed the teasing.
The next morning Daniel announced he had to get back to Tennessee and get some work done. After all a months vacation in one block was more than he was used to.
Then Alice commented, yea, I guess teaching all those kids organic farming wasn’t work. His reply was, teaching isn’t work.
For the next two weeks I hiked up more hills than I wanted to count and the only fun was the hunting we did with a camera and then going back and using a rifle to harvest some of what we took pictures of. I left my truck at the camp and we flew by private plane to Anchorage and flew back to California and then on to Nashville.
Visiting Dale’s office he invited us up to his valley for a week. It was very nice and peaceful camping for the weekend. Then he took me on a tour of his refuge. I’d been by the entrance we used several time and hadn’t spotted it. The cavern was more like an underground motel on steroids. Dale said he could support twenty families for a year on stored supplies if they couldn’t get a stockpile of fresh food before they buttoned up.
Back at his office he brought out plans for my amusement park and campgrounds on the mountain.
~ ~ ~
We were met at the airport by the local sheriff. Not ten feet behind him was an individual I realized must be a political hack. I was right, because not two minutes later he introduced himself and said he had to inspect my work sites to insure they met federal standards.
When I asked him what federal standards campgrounds and hiking trails must meet he looked puzzled and stuttered, your mines of course. I laughed full in his face and said the only mine I have is a gold panning set I bought the last time I was here and I have a nice collection of water polished rocks to show for all the work I did with it.
We have satellite and aerial photos of mining operations on the south side of the mountain you bought.
Then Brenda said, he must mean the underground mansion you’re building for me.
I looked at her and said, that was supposed to be a surprise.
Her answer was, It would have been if you’d told the boys where to dump the rock they dug out. I told them to pile it up and then you’d use it for leveling out the campgrounds and probably on the hiking trails to prevent erosion.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see the sheriff smiling and the bureaucrat looking more and move flustered. Finally I turned and told him, I have a copy of the campground and park plans here, if you want to see them I’m sure the sheriff can get the airport bar to let us have a couple of tables to spread them out on. I’ve been on that damn plane for hours and need a drink.
The bureaucrat was muttering as he left. The sheriff had his hand over his mouth, but I could tell he was busting a gut to keep from laughing.
I commented to Brenda, we need a ride into town to a good restaurant. That airplane food wasn’t worth looking at, much less eating. Sheriff, are you busy, we could use a ride.
He looked surprised and then said, it’s almost time for me to get off and I haven’t eaten since breakfast.
No problem I said, I’ll buy you a steak.
In his cruiser he told me that the federal boys were all up in arms because I bought property next to one of their pain in the ass targets. They’d been after old man Wright for decades and his lawyers just kept blocking them on every turn.
Trying to look serious I said, if you mean Matthew, we have some of the same lawyers. Oh, and by the way, I am going to have to get the town to rebuild the bridge on the south end because I’ll be getting some really heavy loads coming up that road. The town bridge is the only one below load standards on that highway. I just hope that we can do it quickly with no state or federal interference. If you could arrange a meeting with the right people I can get a crew on it within the month.
Looking at me he said, I checked on you and now I know how you made your money. You didn’t screw around, you just bulldozed your way through every obstacle. What are you going to be covering up with your campground. I really don’t want to know, but I need to know if it’s legal.
It’s legal I assured him.
We pulled up in front of a small restaurant and went in. He introduced us to his daughter Deborah, the owner. Bragging he told Brenda that his daughter was the finest cook in the state. After the steaks were history I told Brenda to get her a supply of steaks from Alaska.
The next morning I was called before the city council. They first said that the bridge was a historic landmark. I then told them that if the property on both sides of the old bridge could be purchased, I would foot the cost of building a new bridge beside it and then they could really make it a historical site with proper paperwork and use it as a tourist attraction. After all my engineer told me that the original bridge had just been strengthened and overbuilt. When my bridge passed their and state standards I would donate it to the town for two years relief of taxes. The sheriff knew my phone number and he could call me when they made a decision.
Stopping in the hall I listened at the partially closed door as one council member ranted about me being a young upstart that wouldn’t stay around more than a year.
Then the sheriff’s voice calmly told them who I was and what I was worth. I think the clincher was when he told them that old man Wright and I were friends and he’d seen the plans I had for the mountain. I was going to build a tourist attraction and that meant more money coming into the town.
I caught the only taxi in town down to The Best Little Restaurant. I commented to the driver that within a few years he might have to expand his company because if I got what I was planning there would be quite a few tourist. Once inside Deborah recognized me and I simply asked her if Brenda had talked to her about stocking some bear, moose, and antelope steaks. When she nodded I then told her to let Brenda know when the first shipment came in because she excelled in cooking those type steaks. In the meantime I’d have to suffer with mere beef unless she had something better. With a smile she said grab a seat. Fifty minutes later I complemented her on the venison steak and had her call me the town taxi. Instead she pulled a mike from behind the cash register and said Dad, he’s finished eating and needs a ride.
Be there in 10, give him a beer or coffee, out.
About 10 minutes later the sheriff pulled up and said hop in. On the way back to my hotel he told me that they’d approved me building the bridge provided I bought the land on the far side of the ravine and paved a road from it to hook up with the old highway. They would handle the town side because they wanted to expand the business district and reroute the highway.
At the hotel I called Jesse and asked him if he could use his contacts to get me a heavy duty bridge built. He asked me where I was and said he’d be there in the morning. Then I called Dale and told him of my plan. He laughed and said, well ten or twenty million for a new road isn’t to much. I’ll send someone to inquire about property near the old bridge with instructions to buy. If you can get the city council to threaten eminent domain that will help a little, but I don’t want to have to use that. I’m sure you’d rather have a happy seller, if you know what I mean. I agreed and would mention it to the sheriff.
That evening I sketched out a six lane bridge with granite sides and a pull over park going toward the old bridge. I knew that a granite bridge would never be approved.
The next morning I was told at breakfast that there were two rough looking guys in the hotel lobby asking for me. The waitress looked shocked when I pulled my 45 from under my jacket, checked it, and then told her to tell them I was in the breakfast room. I then moved around the table so I was facing the door. I heard her tell the cook to call the sheriff as she took her time meandering out to the lobby. I’ve never seen a waitress that wanted a tip move so slow. As the two guys walked through the window I saw the sheriff’s cruiser and another police car pull up.
One guy was wearing a stetson and cowboy boots, and the other guy was wearing a leather vest that showed off the tattoos on his chest and arms. After glancing around they headed straight toward my table and said quite loudly a friend of Jesse sent us. He said you needed some experts and we were the closet.
I told the waitress to bring them breakfast.
Both immediately said they’d eaten, but coffee would be fine. Then the one with the stetson pulled out a sheaf of papers and started unfolding one. On it was an order for them to survey and start the preparation work for a 200 ton rated bridge. Flipping the page over I asked for a pen. With his pen I quickly sketched out my idea from last night and then labeled it showing the old bridge as a reference point. Then I said, I’d love to build a stone bridge that would last as long as the pyramids, but the authorities would never approve it. A stone facing and stone pull off will have to do to meet modern architectural standards.
Then the sheriff stepped around beside me and said, “Morning boys, I need to see some identification and know if you have any weapons on you.”
The guy with the tattoos pulled out his wallet and handed the sheriff three cards. Then he reached down into his boots and pulled a gun from one and a wicked looking sheath knife from the other. He then commented, “Bill left his guns in his truck since he’s the trusting sort and has killed more men with his hands than his guns.”
Bill then pulled his wallet and handed over several cards.
The sheriff then dropped two cards in front of me and said, I never heard of the Overview Private Investigation Corporation. Have you.
With a smile I pulled my wallet and handed the sheriff my ID from Overview along with my carry permit and PI license.
Shaking his head the sheriff then said, calling in false alarms is again the law, who’s going to pay the fine.
“Sheriff, we didn’t call, but I guess we made someone nervousness, so would breakfast for you and the deputy handle the inconvenience?”
With a smile and a growl he replied, “No, but a steak dinner about 6 PM would make up for it. Make sure your boys know where The Best Little Restaurant in Montana is. I’ll see you there.
I was showing them the old bridge when stetson’s cell phone rang. Turning he said we’ll have eight more for dinner, boss. I’ll get the purchasing agent to put bids in on both sides, but I think this side will prove the best. Bedrock appears closer to the surface along this side of the old fault line. Then he turned and started punching in numbers and when he got an answer he told someone on the other end that he needed an updated topographical map, geological survey of the area, and sounding equipment. Then he told them that could just fly it in, he wanted it tomorrow afternoon at the latest. Now lets get back to town and see if their courthouse has the land maps I need for this area.
We were sitting in the restaurant when Brenda walked in and froze. Then she walked over and threw her belt around Mr. Tattoo’s neck and said, I told you never to come to this side of the country again, didn’t I.
With one hand he reached up and pulled the belt til he had room to speak and then said, “Brenda, I’m on a job, quit screwing around and have a seat. You can beat on the rest of the crew when they get here.”
She came around and sat in my lap and nodded to Deborah and said, “You can put the shotgun up sis, these assholes are friends of a sort. They love their meat so I hope you have a good supplier. They will eat you out of house and home and their crews will eat leather boots if they can’t get a steak. I’ll call Tom and have him airship a few hundred pounds of moose and bear tonight.
“Tex, how many of the boys will be in town and for how long?”
The guy with the tattoos commented, “About two dozen for six months to get the bridge built and then probably another six months to finish off the campgrounds and trails. They’ll need some land to set up their campers on.”
Deborah, I’m going to order you another commercial freezer, figure out where you can put it and you might start looking for another local waitress unless some of the boys bring their wives and girlfriends. You might tell your dad that if he wants, I’ll arrange some volunteers to ride with him and take over the night shift.”
“Tell me what!” roared the sheriff. “Scott, have someone tell that convoy headed this way that we only have a 10 slot campground.”
“Brenda, can you lead half of them out to the mountain and then arrange their transportation back here for supper?” Then I pulled my cell and called Matthew and told him that I had a crew about an hour out, could he tell Brenda the best place to put them because they were traveled in motor homes and pickups with trailers.” Then I handed her the phone.
She listened for a few seconds and then said, “He’ll be here with two of his boys in a bit. He said if we could divide them up out near the old bridge his boy would guide them in.”
Looking at the sheriff cowboy said, “I hate to have to ask you to do this, but you know the capabilities of the campground in town. If you will take me out to the bridge you can help me get the ones that will fit separated, or tell me the size of the campground and I’ll have them sort themselves out. I think you might like meeting some of the boys anyway.”
The Deborah piped up, “Dad, do you want moose or Alaskan bear steak tomorrow for dinner?
All I head was mumbling as he and cowboy left. Brenda yelled, “Cowboy keep the women from mobbing him tonight, he hasn’t eaten yet and is probably weak from hunger.”
The sheriff stopped dead in his tracks and turned around saying, “What do you mean weak from hunger?”
Brenda gave him a smile and said, “Some of the crew are women that chew up guys the size of cowboy and then fold them until they’ll fit in their jeans. You are warned, the crew doesn’t mingle amongst themselves, they like fresh meat, but only the guys are civilized. They will know three seconds after meeting you that you aren’t spoken for, that means you are fair game.”
Deborah looked shocked and then asked, “They won’t hurt Dad will they?”
With another smile Brenda replied, “If he looks very tired and has a big smile on his face tomorrow, you’ll know he’s been tagged. I’m skinny and weak compared to most of the girls on the crew. They fight like men and love men with power and authority. Your dad will have his choice and now I have to mark Scott to keep them off him.” Then she bit down on my neck until I thought the teeth marks would be permanent. When she let go she said, “Tell them who marked you or else.”
Within the week the soundings were completed, surveys completed, the draftsman had the preliminary plans drawn up and was on his way to the state capitol with a van full of paperwork to get them approved.
At the end of the month we had finalized plans, state approval since this was a state highway, and the crew took the weekend off. The first supplies wouldn’t be in for a two weeks, but the excavation equipment was on hand. Boring into the bedrock on the far side wasn’t that hard according to the crew. When the trucks of steel, and concrete started arriving the biggest problem was the fact that only half a load of rock could be transported over the old bridge at a time. Two days later Matthew’s boys were grinning like school kids as they rigged up a conveyor belt system over the gorge and started moving rock from my mountain over.
All the state inspectors did were get underfoot and make check marks on their paperwork. When I cornered their supervisor all he said is they’re doing everything beyond specifications. This is only supposed to be a 200 rated bridge over a fault line, but I wouldn’t be surprised if my grandchildren can still drive over it in a hundred years. California will probably fall into the ocean before this bridge falls down.
Then I asked him if all the bridges between here and the interstate would hold up to several hundred tractor trailer loads over the next year.
When he asked why, I told him I was planning to build a campground, amusement park, and animal refuge on my mountain. I’d have heavy equipment moving in and then out. He walked back to his truck and pulled out his computer and after punching on the keyboard for a minute he looked at me and said, I’ve got a weak bridge, 23 miles back. It won’t hold up. It was supposed to be replaced last year, but budget cuts moved the replacement time out five years. Estimates of loads over 60 thou will weaken it further. Between you and me, your crew knows more about building than mine do, could I get them to look at that bridge and see what we can do to preserve it?
Sure thing I answered, tell me which one and I’ll have them give you a report. In fact I’ll have them check all the bridges if you’ll give them authorization. That way no one will hassle them.
Two weeks later I got a call from the sounding crew and their supervisor told me to get the state bridge guy down to the bridge he had a question about. It needed to be closed down to all truck traffic now. When I talked to him at the site and my crews supervisor showed him the problems that showed up on the screen he turned pale. I didn’t understand how they could tell by sound waves and reflections that the bridge was cracking every time a truck crossed it. He got on his phone and started making calls.
~ ~ ~
The basic parts of Camp Mountain were completed the next summer. I managed to have someone taunt two members of a survivors series to try our weekend camp. After signing a liability release, getting photographed at the welcome station they were escorted through the gate to the safety station where all the safety procedures were explained and equipment was issued. The course started with a 78 foot free climb up the cliff with a safety line. From there a two mile hike around the side of the mountain to the backside where they would set up a wilderness camp using what they carried. The next morning they would construct a rope footbridge across a 20 foot ravine and a mile up the mountain trail set up camp for the night. The last morning was a camera safari back to the top of the cliff where they would rappel down. At the bottom in the welcome stations the certificates and T shirts would be given awarded. The designer and two of my Indian guides took the first group of six in on Friday morning.
Dale said he never had so much fun writing up a liability release. Basically it stated that you were a crazy pain loving survivalist that wanted to be abused and worked to a point just short of death, for three days. Safety equipment was provided, but accidents happen, and the nearest medical facility was 43 minutes away once the guides got you back to the starting point. The customer was to expect and accept, scratches, cuts, sprains, contusions, possible broken bones, with the possibility of meeting their creator through their death. Failure at any point to follow the guide’s instructions or utilize common sense released Camp Mountain from all liability. In fact you are advised to not sign, run, don’t walk to your car, and depart now. This is the first instruction from the sky guide. Sections of Camp Mountain are under photographic surveillance for safety and advertising purposes.
The ten foot chain link fence that surrounded of the parking lot was posted with signs warning people not to feed the bears. The section below the cliff had additional signs saying trespassing, violators will be eaten by the hungry bears.
The next morning one was brought back with a wrenched knee an Sunday morning one of the survivors rappelled down the cliff on his own and walked into the safety station. I heard from my crew that when he walked in he told one of them there was no way he was going to put up with any more bullshit. His failure certificate was printed up stating that he only survived two days on Camp Mountain. When they handed it to him he threw it down and stomped on it saying that he didn’t need no piece of paper saying he couldn’t hack it. Then my safety crew explained that the only way out was using the certificate, because the gate release was a photo activated lock. He then picked it up stomped over to the gate and held it open below his face like the sign indicated. When the gate opened he left and threw the certificate in the nearest trash barrel.
Monday four miserable looking individuals rappelled down the cliff. In the safety station I had the local newspaper reporter and photographer. They grinned as they were interviewed and told how terrible the three days were. The young lady that I didn’t think would make it when asked if she’d go through it again simply stated, “Hell no, but I’m glad I did it once. I now know I can handle anything.” A group photo was taken with their certificates stating that they survived three days on Camp Mountain with their T shirts. After shaking their hands I invited them all downtown to The Best Little Restaurant and told them the bear stakes were my treat. As they looked at one of the No Trespassing signs that stated violators would be eaten by hungry bears one of them mumbled I didn’t see any bears.
One of my guides then stated, “What don’t eat you, you eat!”
That brought a nervous laugh from all.
At the restaurant Dale and Jesse were waiting. They congratulated me on the opening and asked how many survived. My comment about one injury and one quitting out of six brought a smile to Jesse’s face. Then he told me that the course would be added to his agencies requirement for advancement. Then he mentioned that I needed to pass it also. Brenda just laughed and said, “We designed it with help and were the first to make it through. Half the Indian guides failed the first time. The only group that made it through complete was six of the construction girls, but their guides took a week off to recover. No one will talk about what happened that weekend.”
~ ~ ~
Two years later Brenda and I were married.
Camp Mountain was a success and only had two fatalities. One of them was a trespasser that almost made it to the top of the cliff before he slipped. The other was a guy that wandered off from the group and was mauled by a bear.
The town now brought in half their revenues from tourist trade.
I added a youth camp to the weekend camps and it went through the valley that Matthew owned. There were four weekend camps of varying difficulty with certificates for each. Three civilian type campgrounds and over fifty miles of hiking trails made up the parts of the mountains open to the public. Even the small Indian reservation I hired my guides from began to prosper.
Then one Saturday evening our phones went off and Jesse said, “The shit is about to hit the fan, I suggest you head home. Take good care of my girl, and a crew will be there in a day or two.”
The sheriff stopped by with his daughter Deborah and informed me that she needed a place to stay. She then said everything was buttoned up at her restaurant and handed me the keys. I sent the crew to move all the food up to the refuge. Then the sheriff kissed his daughter and told her he had a job to do keeping order it town.
When the crew returned with the last load from the restaurant I noticed they were short one woman. I asked and was informed that she had partnered up with the sheriff and was staying in town.
That winter the radioactive fallout from Vancouver blew through. We went to radio silence until we picked up a call from Dale two years later.
~ # () # ~
“Jim, I need you to call a meeting of the families for this evening. Make sure the com links are all set to video.”
“Sure Dale, anything else.”
“Yes, inform the families that I don’t think youngest children should be in the rooms when the information I have is put out. I don’t think anyone under 16 will understand.”
That evening Jim pulled up a recording of the last three days news and weather forecast. After watching the recordings he opened the meeting for analysis and discussion of what was developing.
Andrea jumped in and told everyone that she was moving herself and her children into the valley in the morning. Butch will follow in a couple of days after making arrangements to keep his business running if her analysis was wrong. Either way their health was paramount. Then she asked Dale if he could quickly build an air filtration system for the cavern and what materials he would need.
Dale commented that in two days he would have everything he needed. I’ll send my daughter to the valley in the morning with my son and then have him return to help me pack in equipment and supplies.
Daniel then commented, “If I understand this correctly, it means that rising atmospheric contaminants will are going to cause a lot of lung problems within the next few months and probably contaminate my crops. The weather forecast for this fall and winter is severe and will probably make it a late spring for planting which could cause food shortages next year. I’ll pack up all my seed and send it to the cavern and monitor the air quality at my farm. I suggest we hunt and preserve half the game in the valley quickly. I’ll have Alice make a run into town and get a lot more canning jars and another pressure canner in the morning. Butch, do you think you can haul in 50 or 60 bags of fertilizer without raising suspicions?”
“No problem Daniel, I have about 40 bags in stock and can order the rest tonight. I’ll also move in a couple of large fans and the angle iron to build frames for the filters I ordered. My boring machine will be repaired this week and I’ll move it up to drill a couple of vent holes. Anyone know it we have enough supplies for the welders in the cavern?”
Jim replied, “We have enough for the arc welder, but need another set of gas bottles for the other one. The trailer for my hummer was deliver yesterday. I’ll be hauling up a water distillation setup this weekend. I also have ten bundles of hunting arrows that I’ll be bringing. Anyone want any luxuries brought up?”
Albert then added, “I’m halfway through converting my Hydroponic farm to Aquaponics. I can finish it up in a week if you’ll bring me a couple of 500 gallon tanks and a mechanical water pump. I’ll email you the information of the equipment I still need. Daniel, I’ll need you to bring me live fish from your ponds as soon as I get the tanks installed along with enough fish food and water plants to keep them alive for a few weeks. And by the way does anyone have an adult bicycle they don’t need?”
“No problem Albert.” replied both Daniel and Jim.
Then Jim announced, “I think that just about handles it, we’ll set up another secure link for anyone that isn’t at the cavern Monday evening.
~ ~ ~
By 5PM Sunday evening everything was unloaded and stored in the cavern entrance. The tents were set up at the west end of the valley and boys were all excited about going bow hunting in the morning.
At dusk a helicopter circled overhead shining its spotlight down on the camp and two hummers with Feds blasted into camp. With them was the county game warden.
Their warrants included a search for illegal weapons and the game warden wanted to see all their hunting permits.
After lining up all the weapons in camp the Feds were pissed that they couldn’t find any assault weapons. Jim, Dale, and Dale R all had 30-30’s with scopes and Daniel’s boy had his 22 and his bow.
All the boys had bows. The arrows were a mix with bird and small game tips to heavier large broadhead arrowheads.
Jim reminded the game warden that they didn’t need permits to hunt on his private property, but they did have their permits back at his farm house. If they’d give him a ride back he’d get them.
The ride back took 45 minutes and the game warden OK’d the hunting permits after a cursory check. They then left Jim at the farm house to make his own way back to the campsite. A three hour hike left him so exhausted he immediately crawled into his sleeping bag and crashed.
Dawn came to early, but the boys were lined up and ready to go before the coffee was even finished. After a quick breakfast they lined up and moved out. The men carried their rifles. After all any game not killed outright was not to be left to suffer.
By noon the boys had three deer, half dozen rabbits, and numerous squirrels.
Butch set up a campsite to clean and prepare the game for storage. He even had the boys build an oven out of rock and clay gathered from the creek.
The wives had girls with them when they arrived that afternoon. It was different for them because they had never canned outside. They had mix of campfire stoves and a solar oven to use. Maintaining their fires hot enough to keep each pressure canner at the right temperature was to be a new experience.
No sooner than they’d started two of the younger boys reported that they’d spotted and tracked several men in camouflage prowling the valley and taking pictures of everything. Hope was in hog heaven when she heard, because she had her camera and laptop. After her first batch was started she pulled them out and started taking pictures of each setup with a brief description.
Dale R assigned wood gathering teams and then took three of the younger boys out to do some tracking. He explained to them that there were several men in camouflage in the valley and their job was to mark them. He just happened to have three cans of spray paint. They were to sneak up on them without being discovered and paint whatever part was handy. He explained to them that they’d probably be discovered because the spray cans hissed, but that was no problem because he’d be nearby.
Two of the boys managed to sneak up on their targets and spray them before they radioed their confederates and informed them that they’d been spotted by children. No mention was made about the florescent orange spray paint on their backs and boots.
~ ~ ~
Two hours later a Fed stormed into camp. He threatened to arrest everyone on charges of destruction of government property. Butch then called the three young boys forward and told him what they’d done. Two of the boys told how they snuck up on the guys in camouflage and spray painted them. The third admitted to catching his target as he ran by and only got his ankles and boots.
When Hope walked up and asked his name, he looked around and spotted the movie camera and two smart phones that were recording everything. When he demanded the recordings Hope informed him that the recordings from the smart phones was already posted and showed the Tweet requesting the names of all parties involved.
He slapped the phone out of her hand and then stomped on it.
One of the other girls yelled can you do that again, I didn’t get a clear picture.
The Fed then lost his cool and stomped off tearing down a tent as he tripped over the rope. When he got to his hummer he drove over a fire leaving camp and ruined two pressure canners.
I got it all screamed two of the girls.
One of the other girls then announced that the site she checked already had over 500 hits on their recording.
Jim then told everyone that they needed to keep watch on their canning and detailed the boys to put the tent back up and set up the fire that had been driven over. Also there is someone on the ridge to the east because he’d seen a flash off something so they were still under observation. He then called his lawyer in the city and told him about the encounter and told him that he wanted him to get an injunction against the Feds. His reasons were invasion of privacy, trespassing, threatening children, and destruction of part of their campsite. He could find the video proof on the girls websites.
The next day they moved the campsite over to the edge of the valley near one of the camouflaged cavern entrances. Half of the canned game was taken inside.
Then Albert and his girls started building a smoke house and smoking racks. He detailed two of the older boys to go out and get a small deer. They were half way done building when the boys returned with the deer slung between two poles. After butchering it they cut the meat into thin strips and steaks. Two of the other girls cooked the steaks for supper. The scraps went into a big cast iron pot slung over the fire with vegetables and herbs. Hope told everyone that that would be stew for tomorrow.
After supper guards were posted to keep scavengers out of camp and protect the meat on the drying racks.
~ ~ ~
A week later we moved into the cavern. It seemed crowded at first with everyone working in the two main rooms. We got the air filtration system installed and the air holes bored. The Hydroponic farm was converted to Aquaponics. The fish installed and a few plants put in the fish tanks to help feed them.
The older boys explored down and found an underground river. After testing Andrea, Butch’s wife, declared it safe to drink, but she’d need to test it frequently for safety.
Every day or two we sent out a couple of hunters to get a deer. They were butchered and we only kept enough fresh meat for one meal. The rest went into the smokehouse. Wood was becoming a problem, the wood crew had to travel out of the valley to prevent over cutting.
Air quality continued to degrade outside. The news reported terrorist had blown two chemical factories, one only two hundred miles northwest of us. Between the coal plants in China putting out all their pollutants, the chemical plants pollutants, and the dirty bomb in Vancouver, we were lucky we were underground. Every week we had to send out a crew to clean the windows to the Aquaponics farm and the solar cell arrays.
After three months underground Daniel put forth the suggestion that he an another man go to his farm and bring back a generator and two of his diesel tanks. The discussion was heated, but he finally prevailed. He and Butch would make the trip with his son, Allen, as scout and guard. Making protective breathing headgear took three days and the rest of the preparations took another day. They left before dawn on the fifth day and walked out. Arriving near his farm Butch holed up while they scouted the entire area. After getting the all clear, Butch moved in and they rigged his tractor with three tanks and the generator. They were filling the second tank when they heard a shot. Scott called over the walkie-talkie and reported that he’d been shot at by four men near the front gate. Daniel and Butch immediately moved out in a split formation that would take them to each side of Allen’s position. The intruders ran when they started being fired upon from three different positions.
After loading all his fuel tanks on his second trailer Daniel had Butch start back on one tractor. A few minutes later he and his son started shooting and then they set fire to the house. When they caught up Daniel simply said, “If one set of scavengers is looking for easy pickings there may be others. With the gunfire and smoke from my house burning they may decide this area has already been stripped. Know of anything at the other farm that we need? We might just need to burn that house also!”
Butch got on his walkie-talkie and called the cavern for guidance. Dale and Jim both agreed that it would be best to burn their farmhouse also after getting the extra guns and ammo. Jim told them he’d meet them there. They should scout the area before going in.
Dale and Jim arrived in the hummer shortly after Butch called the all clear. With Allen and Daniel on guard they stripped the house. After about five minutes of gunfire with sever different rifles and pistols they lit the five gallons of diesel they’d poured on the living room carpet and in the kitchen. They quickly retreated up towards the valley and found a good spot to watch the farm. As soon as they had word that the tractors were back at the cavern they headed into the valley and reset the alarms. They also dragged down a rotten tree and moved it across their trail.
One of the fuel trailers was backed into the smokehouse. The other was moved into the main cavern entrance. Daniel then drove his oldest tractor down the trail and turned it over at a choke point near the valley entrance.
~ ~ ~
That fall there was only one incursion into the valley. It was a group of three men and three women. They were sick with open sores. The decision was made to keep isolated to prevent contagion from entering the cavern. Distant observation was maintained for the week they lived. Then a team was sent out to bury the bodies. The team did all they could to decontaminate and then remained in quarantine for two weeks after returning to a little used section of the cavern.
The winter snow was really bad. Not only was it discolored but it had a bad smell to it.
When spring arrived the melting snow and water in the creek was so smelled so bad no one could go outside without a charcoal embedded mask. Over half the vegetation in the valley turned a sickly yellow or died. Game was almost nonexistent. The game spotted looked diseased and malnourished. The decision was made to not hunt for a year and hope that the wildlife would recover.
The boys built crystal radio receivers from several types of crystals they’d discovered while exploring the cavern. Late spring they started picking up signals. Butch then ran an antenna wire to the ridge and built an antenna that the boys mounted in the top of a tree. Dale R converted one of the walkie-talkies and hooked it up to the antenna and tried to establish contact.
It took until early summer to contact another group that claimed they were located in the foothills of Virginia. They also claimed to be in good shape with over 10 families in their community. Of course neither of us would give our exact locations.
After talking with their leader for several hours, Dale explained to them that we were to far away to offer any physical assistance. We could and would exchange information on weather, contamination appearances, and technical know how.
The next day two more groups transmitted their willingness to join our loose community. Neither would give their location, but one did say they were in Arizona. Jim welcomed them to our radio community and we set up a communication schedule for around midday. He told them that we were on solar power and could only transmit when we had sufficient power. We did have some children that could monitor their crystal radios all the time, so we’d know if anyone called.
It was the next summer before we dared to briefly venture outside. The vegetation in the valley had recovered, but game was still scarce.
Our radio community had expanded to seven groups. They all reported that the vegetation was recovering, but none dared go out and farm or eat anything growing wild.
We’d explained Aquaponics to everyone and found that six of the communities were using that system. The group that claimed they were in Montana were eating MRE’s and survivalist food they’d stockpiled. They calculated they only had a few months of food left.
After due deliberation they decided that they would go out and try to get the materials needed to build their own Aquaponics setup. Albert told them that they should be able to use any vegetable seed they could locate, but unless they could find an uncontaminated source for fish they should not eat any of the fish they used. They also needed to ensure the soil they used in the growing trays was uncontaminated. That went double for the water, they should filter it through sand and charcoal several times. There should be no odor or discoloration. After filtration they should let it settle as long as they could and dip out the water on top to use and dump any sediment at the bottom.
~ ~ ~
Our third spring in the cavern was the first time we saw birds in the trees. They were a sign that the outside world was recovering. Erlyst informed everyone that we would know when the eggs hatched. If the hatchlings survived to become fledglings then it would probably safe to hunt the adults, but it would be better to wait an additional year. A bird watching detail was set up by the children.
The game animals were also observed closely. Our contacts with the other groups reported about the same, except for Montana group. They claimed that the game recovered fully and they were hunting. They even said they had several gardens planted outside in meadows.
Dale R asked them if they’d burned any of the vegetation. When they answered yes, he asked them it the smoke smelled right or did it have a chemical smell. They said the wood smelled right but the bushes and grass they burned smelled a little like chemicals. He then informed them that the soil they’d planted in and the game they were eating probably still had some contaminants. They should be aware of that, and take any precautions they thought necessary.
He then told them we were still decontaminating ourselves when we came back into our shelter. We’d built a three room airlock and kept outside clothing in one and inside clothing in another with a shower rigged in the middle room. Several of our people argued that this was a bit extreme, but no one tracked possible contaminants into our shelter.
That fall James fell into the creek. He swallowed some water and got violently ill for over a week. Jim and Deborah, his parents were beside themselves until he was up and walking around again. Nina’s first aid expertise was used along with the home remedies that Erlyst knew. His hair didn’t fall out so we assumed that it wasn’t radiation, so Dale organized an expedition up the creek to discover what may be poisoning it.
At the head of the valley they found several decomposed human and animals bodies. The team cleaned up the carcasses and buried them. Then they continued up the creek and followed all the tributaries up to where they started cleaning them as they went. When they returned they had several hand drawn maps. As far as Dale knew no one had ever completely mapped the valley and this was a start.
They had even found a few more cave entrances, one with bones it it.
Jim and the other community leaders discussed a face to face meeting the next summer. Several dates and locations were discussed where they could rendezvous. That way they could survey their surroundings for resources and possible threats to their communities.
~ # () # ~
Chapter 1 The Summons
Bill was hanging by his fingers from just five feet from the cave entrance. He cursed his luck. He knew he should have rigged ropes or something the second time he visited the cave. But, entrance to a sacred cave had to be earned each time. If the spirits didn’t want him to enter, either he would fall or be allowed to climb down.
Hearing a crack, he looked down and saw all his handholds below were gone and the cliff now looked like a sheet of glass. Invoking his spirit guide he pulled himself up one handhold at a time and watched the glass-like surface crawl up the cliff. As he threw his arm over the ledge to enter the cliff he felt his fingers being forced from the crevice and the glass-like surface approach the ledge. With a last desperate pull he managed to get his other hand on the ledge and felt for the ridges on the ledge. With a sigh of relief he realized they were still there and it felt like someone was pulling on his arm as he levered his leg over the edge and rolled into the cave.
Never before had the forty foot climb been so hard.
Then he heard a whisper on the wind saying that he should go south and see Buzzard Head. A chill filled him and frost started forming on the walls. As he pulled his rope over his shoulder it disintegrated in his fingers. Quickly he rolled to the right and reached for a handhold he’d used before to climb to the top of the cliff. As soon as he touched it he fell. Wondering why the spirits would give him a command and then make him fall to his death, he inhaled the cold air. It shouldn’t be this cold in August. Opening his eyes he could see the shadow of the cave entrance above disappear.
Then he saw Nuttah looking down at him and she said, “Husband we must go quickly, the spirits have spoken.” As they approached the camp Nuttah pulled him directly over to the ponies and said, “We leave now.”
Looking over his shoulder as they crested the ridge the small valley looked like it was filled with smoke.
Three days later they passed through Phoenix and headed for the reservation that he knew was near the border.
Suddenly Nuttah said, “Take that trail and stop at the first creek. I need to gather a few things.”
She hopped out and gathered a few pebbles from the creek. He felt something fall on his head and reaching up realized it was a feather.
When they came to fence she tossed a pebble into the air and it drifted to the ground to their right. They turned right and followed the fence for about 3 hours until he found a gate. Looking at the gate he knew that only the top latch would open it. After driving through he closed the gate and followed the trail. At dusk he turned and found an old campsite. Nuttah gathered wood while he built a fire and placed the grate back on the stones. As they heated their food a young Indian walked into their camp and said, “You should not be here. This is not your land.”
Pulling the feather from his hair Bill said, “I follow a spirit command. Where do I find Buzzard Head.”
The young Indian said, “A guide will be here in the morning.” Then he walked out of sight in a second.
Nuttah said, “Husband that was no man. I have never heard of the spirits being so restless.”
In the morning a young Indian entered the camp with a horse and said, “He will take you to Buzzard Head, carry nothing except your knives.”
Stripping to a breech cloth he leaped upon the horse and held a hand down to his wife. She pulled her beaded vest closed and moved behind him. A few paces from the camp the horse leaped a ravine and then they were at another camp with many campfires. A woman with fire from her hands told them to get down and walk to the second campfire and wait.
As they approached the fire a woman with a pouch hanging from her neck turned and a cougar sign flared on her face. Nuttah raised her left hand and said, “My husband was summoned. I shall wait here.”
The woman simply pointed at the fire and said, “You will need to listen also. Sit.” Handing Bill a piece of wood and a reed she then said, “You must make a new pipe.”
Sitting, Bill started digging a hole in the wood with his knife and then using Nuttah’s thin knife bored down and then a hole in the side to insert the reed. Then taking a brand from the fire he started burning the inside of the bowl. A young maiden came by and gave Nuttah several tobacco leaves which she shredded and put in her vest pocket.
Bill sat very still as a white man and several medicine men sat down and several medicine women sat behind them. Only the white man had three women sitting around him. Nuttah moved behind her husband and handed him a palm full of shredded tobacco.
Looking at Bill the white man said, “You have been summoned to this world because in your world you must prepare to save your people. You will find several men of power that already prepare to save their families. Heed their knowledge.
~ ~ ~
Chapter 2 The Return
Bill and Nuttah were no sooner standing after the smoking of the pipes than the camp faded. Nuttah quickly said, “We must leave this place and find our truck.” It took them three days walking to return to their first campsite.
Driving north on the trails they knew they’d passed the fence when they arrived at the highway. Nuttah pointed to the right and they proceeded to Phoenix. Bill noticed the feather moving around on the dash and followed the direction shaft pointed.
Several hours later the shaft pointed back toward a building they’d just passed so Bill circled the block and the shaft kept pointing at the building. Parking in front of the main doors he picked up the feather and they walked into the building. The shaft pointed toward the elevators so they walked into one and the shaft pointed toward the number 7. Nuttah pressed the button.
Arriving at the 7th floor they followed the floating feather passed a startled receptionist and down the hall to the door at the end. Bill knocked on the door as Nuttah turned and placed a protection spell on the hallway. Two security guards ran into it and bounced back on their seats. A woman opened the door and glared at them.
Bill repeated, “The spirits have summoned us, but you don’t have the fire your sister from the spirit world has. Where is Buzzard Head?” Then they saw him sitting behind the desk by the big window. In front of the desk was a one legged man and a young woman.
Nuttah took five steps forward and knelt in front of the young woman and said, “Spirit Sister, we have been summoned to protect our people. You will travel to the ring of loose rocks and your father we will help.” Then she passed out on the floor.
The one legged man turned to the man behind the desk and demanded to know what kind of con he was pulling. “This is not what I came here for. You wanted an advertising program set up to educate the Indians on health, not some harebrained bullshit about my daughter flying off to the asteroid belt.” Suddenly he knew that he’d said to much and stopped.
The man behind the desk stated, “I don’t know these people.”
Bill then said, “I am Bill Gascoyne and this is my wife Nuttah. We have just come from a trip through the spirit world where we met Buzzard Head and Fire woman,” pointing at the man behind the desk and the woman by the door. “We followed the spirit feather and it brought us here. The Buzzard Head in the other world possess an ice spirit and the woman possess a fire spirit. You don’t. However you are with the one legged man and his daughter that have a plan to save their people. Our people at four corners need their and your help before the rocks in the sky fall.”
The man behind the desk quietly said, “Liz, have security escort these people out.”
She looked out into the hall and said, “Security seems to have run into an invisible wall. They can’t get in!.”
“Paula, get in here.” shouted the man behind the desk. The receptionist walked around the two security guards and into the office.
Liz’s mouth dropped open along with the security guards in the hall and they doubled their efforts to break in. She realized that something beyond her was in effect so she waved the guards off and closed the door.
“Sit down Paula and take notes.”
The man behind the desk then demanded, “I want you to tell Tim and me your story from the start.”
Bill decided to start from the beginning. “My great grandfather was a trapper that went native in the mid 1800’s and built a cabin high in the mountains of Colorado. Over the decades he acquired more land. His sons and grandsons being part Ute used the laws from the white culture to increase their land holdings. When the Ute were finally given a reservation near four corners we all were lucky and managed to be included under the law as Indian, but kept our privately owned land on the edge of the reservation.
“Last week visiting my medicine cave the spirits told me to go south and meet a great medicine man. South of I10 we ran into a fence and went through a gate the the feather guided us to. After setting up camp at a prepared spot we were contacted by a spirit man.
“The next morning we were transported to a village by horse in a few minutes. We met you and two of your four wives. All three of you had different powers. The second wife had the mark of a panther on her face. After they told us what to do they and the village faded. It took us three days to walk back to our camp.
“Driving north we passed where the fence should have been and reached I10. We followed the feather until we were here. You know know my story and why we came here. I know your white name and hers, but as you know I can’t say it until you are identified.”
“Paula, give me your note pad and none of this is to be even hinted at. It comes under much more than client privilege.”
She stood and handed her steno pad to him and then asked, “Sir if half of this is true would you please do your best to insure my children are safe.”
With a sigh he said, “Yes. Now that she’s gone, I have a story to tell. Two months ago, a woman walked out of the wall of my bedroom. I thought I was having a nightmare. She informed me that there were multiple time-lines on earth. Her’s was one of the more advanced and they’d detected the others after an two individuals appeared in her laboratory. She said her high energy experiment went wrong. It had pulled a couple from another time-line to hers. They died, but not before they told her their story. It took her team two years before they could duplicate travel between time-lines. She gave me a video tape and told me to copy it immediately because when the reactor dropped below a certain level the tape would snap back to its own time-line I got about half of it copied before it disappeared. It’s in the safe at home.
“Now you appear and tell a tale that can’t be true, yet I think it may be. This man is Tim and his daughter Susan. The young woman by the door is the owners daughter Elizabeth and she has a sister Suzanne that I’m married to. I give you permission to say my name.”
Bill thought for a few seconds and said, “Mike Warren is your name and you have a son in Texas. Do you know a Wilhelm Doctor or Setia Zysk? They are two other names that I have heard that are important, yet they must be brought and introduced to me before I’ll know anything more about them.” Turning to Tim Bill commented, “Your cavern will be safe for almost a year after you launch your first spaceship. You have someone named Albert in your company that is very important to that cavern’s security and someone named Stephen that will be a catalyst to keep you on time.”
The intercom on the desk chimed and as Mike answered it a voice announced. “The lobby just called up. A policeman informed the receptionist that the pickup truck parked out front has been ticketed and will be towed on their next circuit. Security says that the truck was driven be the couple in your office. What do you want done Sir?”
“Have someone from security drive it to my home, and arrange for transportation for six for this afternoon. Also call the house and tell the cook that we’ll have four extra this evening for supper and overnight. Also tell them to notify everyone that there will be a family meeting tonight.”
Removing his finger from the intercom Mike said, “Accumulation of information is essential. You’ve hinted of a global catastrophe coming, the woman that visited me hinted that it wasn’t natural and only a few would survive provided they got off the planet. Tim you’ve been implicated as having a secret space program by two sources, that woman and Bill here. I’ve heard of Dr. Doctor and he will be hard to contact. Liz, put Paula on it and call Jacinda and have her locate this Zysk woman and I want a full report on her.
“Uh, Tim you have the contract for health education to the Indians and I think we’ll also include the Ute at the four corners reservation. Since you cavern is revealed, I’ll let you handle finding this Albert and Stephen. Anything you say here comes under client privilege as soon as you give me a retainer. Now we have about three hours to rough out a plan before we leave for supper.
About the Author
I’ve loved westerns and science fiction since I picked up my first book at the public library.
I’ve been writing on my computer for years. I never planned on any of my stories being published, just to be read by myself, family, and friends. The base journal is on forty spreadsheets with links to about a thousand files of short one day paragraphs plus other stories.
My nephew George is published and he encouraged me to let others read some of them. I’ve to a lot of work to do, because I wrote as they came to me. As you know, family either loves or hates what you do, so any criticism will be appreciated at , my Shakespir page. As I gain experience rewriting and reformatting my writings, they will read better, and I hope you enjoy them all, the raw and the polished!
Other books by
The Impossible Ambition
The Alien Spacecraft
The Asteroid Belt
spin off from the SATURN2020 series
The Ones Before
Miscellaneous Fiction & Short Stories
Grandpas Hot Sauce
The Plan and other short stories
From Texas to New York
5 Short Stories
Connect with Stephen Brandon
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