I found myself walking in the snow, my head aching with a sharp pain. I feel the back of my head, there is something crusted upon the rear of my skull. I dig my nail carefully into it. I can feel the crust collect beneath my nail like dirt.
As my feet trudge through the sixteen inches of snow I look to my nail and there in my nail is blood. Dried cells of my body. Upon seeing this I become confused with worry. I place my hand once again upon my bloodied skull and began to examine it.
I slide my index finger like the bristle of a broom, back and forth trying to see what wound had allowed such blood upon me. But after several seconds of feeling about, I find nothing. No scratches, no lacerations, nothing.
My worried confusion musters down to mere confusion. I rub my eyes as I am strangely held with a slight daze. As if I have been interrupted from a deep sleep. And the evening air is not helping my situation.
I am comfortably wrapped for a day trip, but the sun is falling. And the temperature will be frightfully unforgiving and I can’t say my clothes will do me much justice against its bitter breath.
I scan the horizon looking for anything familiar, but I see nothing. Nothing but snow for miles, not even a mountain breaches from the earth. My heart begins to show signs of worry as I can feel it pacing faster.
I try to calm it with concentrated breaths. Last thing I want to do is tire myself out through pointless worry. So, as I breathe deliberately I think of sunny meadows and beaches. Places to keep my mind at ease as I watch the sun sink.
I have only a couple hours before I become gripped in the tundra. My breathe is already becoming thicker by the moment. I can see it almost freezing as I exhale. My face is already feeling numb but I do not worry about that.
I always keep a scarf tucked away in my jacket just in case of the wind decides to surprise me on one of my daily walks. I pull my black scarf from my pocket and wrap it snugly on my face. I am instantly taken by the warmth of my head.
“Ha, my friends can’t make fun of me now for the scarf, this thing is probably going to be the reason I don’t lose my nose. “ I think to myself as I snug my hands beneath my arms. I continue on trudging through snow.
One step at a time trying to enjoy the joyful sound of snow crunching beneath my feet. But that only works for so long. Two hours into walking and it is colder than it was before. The winds start to pick up and I am doing my best to follow the stars above.
From the looks of it, if I keep heading this way I am bound to hit my town or a neighboring one. That is if I am even still back home. I have only lived here for six months so I am not one for the navigation of these lands. Practically still unfamiliar with at least three hundred square miles.
Being a geologist I should have known these lands by now. But six months was the longest I was to remain here. And my research was only to figure out why the earth was heating up beneath a town just twenty kilometers from where I’m staying.
There is no volcano, no tectonic plates. Nothing that would generate such heat beneath the earth. Maybe a sink whole that once was a volcano? Hell, at this point I don’t care. Only job is to make it back alive.
The sun is now basking just at the edge of the horizon. Its hazel orange hue is the last piece of beauty I’ll see. Soon, it’ll just be me and the stars and but eventually I won’t have the luxury of enjoying their gem like beauty.
Walking I start to feel a pain my side, not a pain one gets while running…definitely not a side ache. Something worse, I cease my walking and inspect the pain. I reach under my jacket on my right side. As I slide my hand up I come upon a very tender and nerve shocking area.
Touching whatever is causing this pain, sends a needling agony through my entire body. I almost collapse but I do my best to remain standing. I remove my hand quickly and pull my jacket and other layers further up, I peer my head over the layers of clothes and there I see a wound.
A wound that appears to be a stab wound. I’ve never been stabbed before and what the hell happened? I must’ve still been in shock or my body was too cold to feel the pain? Surprisingly the cold air is some what pleasing to the wound. But my body becomes too cold quickly.
Any longer and my skin will surely gain the unwelcome company of frost bite. The wind is now becoming wild. It’s forcing itself now from the south side, behind me. It is making it difficult to not fall forward.
The evening is now taking hold the land. The moon light and stars is all I have. And now, I see no further than one or two miles. The winds are starting to throw snow around and I am beginning to lose my sense of direction.
The stars are becoming difficult to see. And I must keep my face buried in my clothes as best I can. Losing my eyes is not something I want. And now that I have some sort of wound in my side I am once again on the ship of confused worry.
I do my best to stay focused as the weather is only going to get worse. On the bright side, the wound is not bleeding. Guess that’s the plus side to waking up in the cold walking in a lost tundra. It’s like living ice in the air.
The wind howling, the sky dimming further to the brashness of the weather I huddle myself tighter and tighter from the cold. My body is beginning to shiver. I can even feel myself slowing down to the exhaustion of walking.
As I try my way home my mind is somehow becoming clear of what happened. I am getting glimpses of being in a plane with three other people. I can’t quite make out who they are or why I am seeing such a memory.
But something about it does not feel right. The temperature has now dropped well below freezing. It is damn cold, past the point where keeping track of such temperature is pointless. I am starting to lose feeling in my hands and feet.
Even my legs are struggling to keep sense of walking. The snow is only becoming more icy. Causing it to extreme difficulty to navigate through. I am having to cover my entire face with my scarf time to time. To allow my eyes to keep warm.
I keep looking up at the stars and momentarily form time to time I get a short glimpse of them. I can still recognize them enough. I can see that I am headed in the general direction I want.
Further and further I walk and more and more memories start to pop up. I can see myself running to a plan. Possibly the one I was in? I feel a sense of urgency and fear from the memory. As if something or someone was after me.
I look to my watch and it has been four hours and still no sign of anything. I am losing hope but I will keep walking till I can’t anymore. Hopefully this weather is too frigid for any animals. I would be quite the snack.
I can feel that my boots are now slugged in water. So much for water proof boots. My fingers are tingling and my teeth won’t stop chattering. Starting to feel the signs of shock wanting to settle in. I speed up the best I can to generate warmth. It helps enough to keep me from falling into delirium.
Another thirty minutes goes by, there is no chance of seeing the stars any more. I can’t even see the moon. Now, I am really beginning to lose hope. I am no survivalist, (memories of hiking play through my mind) I may have hiked a lot but this is nothing. Weather like this I would surely hunker down during a hike.
I realize I have not checked my pockets for anything. The cold and keeping awake is all I have thought about. I flounder my numbing hands through my pockets. Shivering rapidly it makes it hard to unbutton my pockets.
“Damn buttons, who the hell puts buttons on a snow jacket….”
I become successful on after a few tries per pocket. But I find nothing. No phone, no maps….nothing. My flicker of hope had rose from the seeming demise ahead only to be smothered in an instant. But I keep my mind forward and my steps going.
Forty-five minutes drag by and just as I feel myself drowning to the howls of the wind and snow. I hear something, I hear the sputtering of a diesel engine and what sounds like a voice calling out. I freeze my motion.
I carefully remove my hood fighting the biting wind to listen. I listen for about a minute before the cold becomes too bitter. But I could hear what I heard. But the wild winds makes it tough to discern where the sounds are coming from.
But I do my best and respond to the voice. I send out a few yells accompanied by some hoots to mimic an owl. I remember reading something about that, if ever lost hoot like an owl. The sound I guess carries the best.
I try a few more times and on the third set of responses I believe I have made contact. I keep sounding off as well as they do. I hear them drawing closer as I remain still. Feeling the snow pile up around me.
After several minutes I can almost clearly hear them. They sound no more further than twenty meters. I hear them yell out, and they are yelling out my name.
“Samuel!….Samuel…where are you?! Samuel, is that you?!”
The howling wind tries so hard to drown us out but I fight back. “Yes! Yes…it’s me..It’s Samuel.”
I never felt so relieved in my life. I feel rejuvenated in mind and body. Everything in me heats up like a flame inside my body. I call out again and we find each other. They peer through the snowy wind like a misty ghost.
We converge together in an embrace. Its my colleague John Row. We hug for only a few seconds as he urges me that we must get out of here. He guides me back to his snow-cat and we board it. Inside is two other gentleman. I do not recognize them but drive myself with no concern.
I am happy just to be out of the horrible weather. I remove my hood and scarf and say, “Thank god you found me, I probably would have died if you didn’t find me.”
John leans back from the driver seat and says, “Glad to have you back buddy.” He smiles and starts to drive.
I look over at the gentleman sitting next to me and then to the one in the passenger seat. “Hi, I’m Samuel Rinds, and you guys are?”
Both the men, emotionless look at me and the one in the passenger seat says in a Russian voice, “I am Boris and this is Verge.” As he points to the gentleman next to me. Both I can tell are not researches of any kind.
They are built well with stern faces. Faces you would probably find on soldiers. I look to each of them one more time, trying my best to act okay. “Nice to meet you Boris and Verge, I appreciate your help.”
They say nothing and go back to their silence. John then starts to ask me what happened and how I got out there. I tell him I can’t remember, that the only thing that pops in my head is running to a plane and then being inside one.
John looks from the rear-view at me, “So you remember nothing, nothing at all?”
I look at Boris and Verge with suspicion. “Yea, I don’t remember much apparently, by the way, how did you find me?”
John silent for a moment….”We took a guess on your flight pattern and where you possibly could have crashed. Got really lucky…”
Inspecting my situation Verge leans toward the window to look outside and when he does I see the muzzle of pistol peer from his jacket. I keep calm and start to ask questions. “So Boris and Verge, where you guys from?”
Verge peers back from the window and with his dark eyes and deep accent he says, “I am from Ukraine and Boris, Boris is a my brother, we grew up together…”
“Well that is interesting, what brought you….and your brother here?” I ask with intrigue to dig deeper as Verge’s response was not quite solid. His accent did not sound Ukrainian to me, neither did Boris’s. More Russian than anything.
“Boris responds while looking forward, “We are here for research.”
I reply, “Research, what kind?”
John interrupts my clear interrogation, “Hey Samuel, there is some hot tea and cold water in the cooler there.”
I look around and there in the middle of me and Verge is a cooler. I open it and pull out a bottle of water, open it and take a drink.” Damn, I needed that…(I take another drink.) Thanks!”
We’ve only been driving for about twenty minutes till we hit what appears to be some sort of research post. “Whoa, I was this close to running into you guys?! What the hell, man, yea, you guys got super lucky with finding me.”
John, “Yea we did, thanks to Boris and Verge.”
I look to Boris and Verge,” What did you guys do and oh, you guys have any idea what this might be from, I can feel the pain coming back.”
I lift my jacket and show them my wound, John looking from the mirror and Boris and Verge examine it as well, “Whoa! What is that from? That looks bad!.” Johns says as his eyes express otherwise.
Boris, “Looks like injury from crash maybe?”
I glance my eyes briskly across all three of them, “Yea, you’re probably right. From a crash. But I really need it checked out its really starting to hurt.”
John, “We’ll get you all cleaned up here in a minute. Let me park this thing and take you to medical.”
Johns eyes glance over at Boris for second.
“Okay cool, thanks man. And thank you guys again for finding me. What did you guys do exactly to help?” Looking at Boris and Verge.
Verge grabbing the door handle as we park, “We use heat map…see.”
Verge leans over pulling an Ipad from his jacket. “We use software to find you heat, like this.” He types in very precise coordinates and the four of us pop us. He points to the screen, “See, that is us.”
Looking over the heat map, “But don’t those only work when you are at least within a hundred yards of the coordinates you want?”
Everyone in the snow-cat becomes pensive with energy. John opens his door, “Lets just get you all patched up.” John exits the vehicle.
Boris opening his door, “Yes, patched up my friend.”
Verge puts away the Ipad and exits the vehicle but as he does I quickly brush up his jacket and snag his pistol from his holster and cock it. A round flies out the chamber and lands on the cooler. The sound of the pistol caulking grabs everyone’s attention.
Holding the pistol and aiming it at Verge, “Now what kind of researcher carries a forty-five on him?”
Verge with a witty comeback and nerves of still, “Keep safe from bears?”
I laugh a bit, “This ain’t going to do anything but piss off the bear. Now tell me what is going on. And John, get back in the vehicle right now. “
John, “Come on Sam…”
I interrupt him sternly, “Get back in now!”
John steps back in the vehicle reluctantly. “Now what?”
“Close the door start the engine and when I say go, you go”
John starts the engine, Boris and Verge step slowly from the vehicle, Verge has his arms up but Boris, his are still at his waste. I keep aimed the pistol at Verge but direct my eyes slowly to Boris. As I do I see a quick jolt from Boris’s right hand. I fire off two shots passing between the door frame and seat.
It wasn’t difficult to hit a man who is at least six-five and two hundred and fifty pounds. One round hits him in the chest and one in head. He falls instantly. Verge tries to run but his bulked body allows for a slow start. I fire three rounds into him.
Two in the back one in the head. He falls, we sit and wait for a second.
John panicking, “What the hell Sam..what the hell are you doing?”
I shift myself to john and aim the pistol at him and with a calm stern voice, “Just drive just….go” I kick the back of the seat and he starts to drive. I cross over to the other side and close both doors of the snow-cat.
I remain to the right back passenger seat keeping aim at John. “You aren’t going to do anything stupid are you?”
John nervously shakes his head and says, “No, but what the hell Sam? Why did you do that, you know who they are?”
I ease my posture a bit, “Yes, I do and no thanks to you John I almost died. Why the hell would you follow them? They were building nuclear devices right under our nose on our own soil. I really liked you John I really did. But then you had to go and be a spineless scientist.”
John concerned and confused, “Spineless, I had no choice, they were going to kill my family if I leaked the information and you just wouldn’t stop investigating what it was. Everything was fine till they sent you over.”
Looking out the window for a brief moment, “John, did you ever find it strange that after two years of research from the government that they decided to send me. You sent them all the reports they requested but never sent them the ones they needed. They played dumb for a bit till they were right that you were hiding information. Now here I am, to clean up your mess.”
John, now sweating from his brow with his black leather gloved hands gripped tightly while steering, “I didn’t know this was going to happen. I stumbled upon this whole pile of shit while doing tests for possible new oil drilling. But I found all this instead. What was I supposed to do, let them kill my family?”
Keeping aimed my pistol, “I can’t blame you for that, but you put the whole country at risk. A damn nuclear massacre was underway. And for them to be where they are, well, my guess is we have a mole. And John, I am sorry to say, but you’re that mole. I always feel sorry for you moles. You play tough, pushing your buttons and your lies. But the moment you get in the corner. You just dig yourself a hole till you have no where to go and no one wants you.”
John slowly moving his left hand out of view, “How do you even know all this, your memory was gone?!”
I smile, “Well, that’s the funny thing about temporary amnesia, memory is only lost for so long. And I remembered the moment we hugged. Shooting my plane down was a big mistake. You tried to kill me, if you didn’t I would have just handed you over to the government to set you in a nice cell for the rest of your life. Or, at least till they got what they wanted. Now I have to kill you, and those people in the plane were innocent. They were just a couple living their dream. Our transportation John, like what the hell man. Guess you moles are heartless. And by the way, they never were going to kill your family. Government already has them. They had them six months ago. Oh, and this blood on my head, that’s on you. That’s the pilots wife on me. Hope you feel good about that. I mean, damn, I’ve done some shit, but killing a married couple with a family, when all you had to do is ignite the device in me I would have died. Or just wait till I landed, not hard to track a plane John. Oh that’s right, the device was only a tracker, I switched it out. The night after you implanted in me. See, I don’t get drunk John, I was quite awake when you implanted me.”
John swiftly reaches down to his left, I fire a shot grazing his right shoulder. “Don’t do it John, unless you never want to see your family again.”
John in agony, “But…agh…you said you were going to kill me!”
“Just a threat to keep you listening, I am not here to kill you, I am here to run the Russians out and take over their project. But I sure as hell will make it so you can’t walk anymore. So don’t do anything stupid.”
John grunting in pain keeps the vehicle moving till we hit the city. I have him park just outside a hospital. I grab some rope from the tow kit and tie his hands down to the steering wheel. I hide the pistol in my jacket and sneak my way through the hospital and grab some supplies and return to the vehicle. I have John drive to the city movie theater. I patch myself up as we drive.
We both keep to ourselves as we make our way. After ten minutes we arrive at the theater, I tell him to park behind the theater. His hands still tied to the vehicle I help him place it in park and take the keys. I exit the vehicle and turn to John and say,
“It’s always the cocky ones that think they won’t get caught. Everyone gets caught, it’s just a matter of time till you run into someone bigger than you. I’m sure at some point I’ll meet that person as well, until then, good bye John.” I smile at John, shut the door and walk to a blacked out Suburban. I enter the vehicle and sit in the passenger seat and look to John. A squad of agents exit a second Suburban and surround him and pull him from the vehicle.
Staring out the tinted window, I say to the driver “Look at that, his face is already tearing up. Lets get out of here.”
What secretes are our enemies hiding on our land?
Keep your heart to the truth, you’ll live better, A Man’s Traveled Heart
Coming soon, The Bleeding of Words
Thank you for your support!