Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Walk for Christmas Pt 4

The roads had become slippery the closer they got to Aspens. As the 4WD rounded a bend just twelve miles from Aspens, Mark saw something swinging near the edge of the road. He slowed down and turned the spotlight on the edge. There, illuminated by the lights was yellow police tape tied to a large rope.
"This has to be the place where Dad went over, Mom. You two stay inside for a minute while I have a look."
"Please, please be careful Mark. I don't want to have to go looking for you too. Your sister and I will wait here until you get back in."
Mark walked through the deep snow, stepping slowly so he didn't go to near to the edge. Looking over the ledge, Mark could see long scrapings on the side of the cliff where it looked as if something had slid all the way down the wall. He was certain now that this was where his father had gone over. As he looked into the deep ravine, he wondered how anyone could survive such a fall. He would keep those thoughts to himself. He walked back to the truck and got in.
"This is for sure where he went over. It doesn't look too bad but we will need to find a different way down. This way didn't seem to work to good for Dad."
They all looked at each other for a moment, then laughed. A laugh they needed right about then. "Where do you think we can get into the ravine, Mark?"
"I saw a road about 2 miles back. It looked as if it went down the mountain, Sis. I am sure I saw tire tracks. We can go back there and see where it takes us. At least we know we aren't far from where we need to be. "Mark maneuvered the truck around and drove back to the road he had seen. The tire tracks were barely visible but there had been a vehicle or two through there. "Probably the rangers or whatever that went looking for Dad. We will follow the road as far as we can."
"Mom... are you sure you want to go down there with us? We can go to Aspens first and get a motel room. You could wait there for us, if you would feel safer there."
Sarah smiled tenderly at Ellie. She touched her hand to Ellie's face. "No Ellie, I have never felt safer than I do with you and your brother. I want to be right with you where-ever we go here. Besides, all I would do is panic in a motel room until I heard from you again. Let's stay together and find your father."
Mark drove down the road until it leveled off. There was a cliff wall that didn't allow any vehicles past where they stopped. He got out of the truck and walked around a bit. He returned to the truck and explained what he had found.
"There is a trail that leads all the way around this cliff wall. I don't know how far you can walk in this snow Mom."
"I will be fine, Mark. Let's take a few blankets and matches. If we need too, we can stop and warm up for a while. I know your father is here. I can feel him in my soul."
Mark reached into the back of the truck. He pulled out a rifle and two lanterns.
"Mark, where did you get that rifle!? You know how much I hate those things."
"The way I see it Mom, we don't want to be out here in the dark very badly without something to protect us. It is one of Dad's hunting rifles. We may be glad we had it with us if a hungry bear comes along."
"Oh Mark, don't even say that! God, I have already imagined getting eaten by some creature out here. Jeeze!"
"We will be fine, Sis, I promise."
Carrying lanterns, the three made their way along the wall. Sounds of something running through the trees beside them made Mark glad he had brought the rifle along. It gave both the ladies a feeling of safety too though neither would say so. They had walked about a mile into the woods when marks lantern beam shined on something in the snow. He told the girls to stay where they were until he could check it out but they didn't listen to him. As they all got closer to what Mark had found, a gasp echoed as it slipped out of Ellie's mouth.
"Is that what I think it is, Mark? Is that freaking blood!?!"
Moving closer to the huge red spot in the snow, they could see part of a jacket laying in the snow. Mark reached down to pick it up. He could see there had something laying in the snow. A body from the shape in the snow. Mark handed the torn cloth to Sarah. She held it too her face, oblivious to the blood on it. She smelled the cloth and began to cry.
"It is your fathers scent. He was here before we got here."
"But all of the blood, Mom! What does it mean?!?"
"It means your father is alive, Ellie... that is what it means. That is all you need to think about. We are going to keep walking in the same direction as those footprints in front of us."
"It looks like there are two sets of prints here Mom."
"Someone may have found your father and taken him to safety. The are other tracks but I can not make them out. We are just going to keep walking."
As they walked in the direction the footprints led, Mark couldn't help hearing the sounds of running in the trees beside them. He also had looked closer at the tracks his mother could not make out. He had scene Wolf tracks before. He walked on in silence.
The man had picked Jake up and carried him part of the way to where he took him. Jake wasn't sure what he was to think of his rescuer. He was not friendly and he handled Jake roughly. He had dragged the wolf carcass along with them. They had reached a small cabin that appeared out of no-where. Inside, Jake saw it had only a wood stove and planks that made up a bed. There were a couple of chairs sitting around a large tree stump. A make-shift table that seemed to fit perfectly with the rest of the cabin. The man put a pot with coffee grounds in it on the stove. He stoked the stove full of wood and then hung the lantern on a nail on the wall. His voice was low and intimidating.
"Ya say you don't know your own name? How can that be?"
"I must have hit my head or something when I fell."
"Yea, I was about to ask about that. Were you walking or something when you got attacked?"
"I don't remember. I have little minutes of remembrance so I know I was in a car that went over the edge. I don't remember much after that. I do remember a woman but she has no legs."
"That must be from the wreck but I didn't see no car. You sure you ain't a Ranger come looking for me!?"
Jake moved away from the man as he leaned into Jake's face. The man genuinely scared him. "I am not a Ranger and I have no clue who you are."
"How do you know you ain't if you can't remember your own name? The last Ranger what came looking for me has still not been found. I think I might have to give him some company. Don't know if i can keep you alive to tell the authorities where I am. We will have to see after we have a cup of coffee. You might as well enjoy that cup. That might be it for you.

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