Tyler was ferrying a small airplane between Australia and Hawaii. Problems with the plane caused him to make an unscheduled stop on a small island, launching a series of events he certainly wasn’t expecting.
I looked confused and started listening. About 15 seconds later I could hear it too through the storm. “Who the heck would desperate or insane enough be out here in the middle of nowhere in this storm?” I asked as the only logical answer came to me before I finished speaking. “Crap! It’s them! Has to be!”
Cory looked at me with suspicion. “You told them we were here.”
“Whoa!” I thought. “Wrong thought path there. We don’t have time for this.”
I looked at Cory and said in a calm firm voice: “I didn’t tell them you were here. They are obviously monitoring this island. You yourself even think so. That is the reason you never go outside unless it is overcast. I’ll bet you don’t even go out at night because you think they have satellite capability.”
He gave me a surprised: “How do you know that?” look. I ignored it and continued. “Even though they haven’t visited the island for years actively looking for you. You are still prepared for a visit from them.” Our thoughts were interrupted by clap of thunder that exploded nearly on top of us. Followed a few seconds later by the sounds of increasing engine power. Then a series of distant obvious crashing noises.
I started putting on my tee shirt and shorts. “It is obvious they have resources nearby. Most helicopters don’t have long legs. 200 to 350 nautical miles (370-650 km). So, either another island. Not likely. Or more likely, a ship with a helipad on it. I have no idea why it took their chopper so long to get here after me. Maybe the ship was out of position for some reason. The storm slowed them down. Who knows? They obviously monitor the aircraft and shipping frequencies for anyone who may notice this little out of the way paradise. From what you say, they probably make sure anyone who knows about this place never has a chance to talk about it. They probably heard my broadcasts to ATC, knew I had probably successfully landed and were coming for me. Not you. Again, they probably think you are long gone. Now it sounds like they may have crashed. I just don’t know what took them so long.” He stood there looking at me, with a look of uncertainty and confusion.
I turned to leave the room. “I don’t know about you but, if there are any survivors, I need to do what I can to keep them away from that airplane. Or we are all screwed!” I jogged to my room. Finished dressing and quickly and carefully went down the stairs to the first floor. I got to the front door of the building and cautiously looked out of the window. The rain was falling hard, almost sideways in fact.
Out towards the middle of the runway to my right, behind the palm trees, I could dimly see a small fire burning. I looked to the left towards the hanger. The light from the fire was pretty faint at that range but I could see what might be one person slowly moving towards the hangar. A close lightning flash gave me a better picture. It was a person in body armor, trying to do a tactical move with a pronounced limp. They had a rifle of some sort and a helmet with I think may have been night vision gear.
Unfortunately, the person was about 25 to 30 feet (7-10 m) from the hangar. I did the only thing I could. I opened the door, stepped into the frame and yelled at the top of my lungs: “Hey! Hi! I’m over here! Boy am I glad to see you! Are you okay?” The person stopped. I started to spin and drop as they pivoted, raised the rifle to their shoulder, and fired a burst towards the doorway.
I heard the buzzing sound of bullets hitting the metal door and frame. I also heard and felt flying concrete chips above my head. I felt something burning along the length of my upper right arm as I slammed into the tile floor and slid a short distance. I twisted myself around. I could barely see the top of the head of the person in the next lightning flash. He started slowly moving towards the building as I swept my foot to slam the door shut. “Okay,” I muttered quietly to myself. “The plane’s hopefully safe for now. Now what Dr. Einstein?”
As I finished that thought I heard: “Tyler!”—a hoarse whisper in the pitch blackness of the foyer. “You idiot! Are you okay?”
I felt my right arm. I felt a hole in the shirt but didn’t feel anything sticky. “Yeah. Think I got a friction burn from a bullet though.”
Cory growled: “You’re right. You aren’t bleeding. That was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever seen. What the hell were you thinking?”
My thoughts skid sidways for a moment. “Wait, he can see me? Oh yeah. Nevermind.” I grinned at where I figured his face was and whispered, “It was exactly the thing the average poor shub stuck here might have done if they didn’t know better. Unlike them, I knew enough to react in time. Barely. He’s quick. Maybe the plane is safe for now. Could there be more than one of them?”
As I got up on my hands and knees I felt Cory slip past me along the wall, peek out the window, and lock the door. “I don’t think so. SOP should have at least two people approach the building. Covering each other. Maybe if only two people thought they had two targets, they might split. No, I think he’s the only one moving right now.”
“Good!” I replied. “Now what do we do with him?”
I heard a touch of humor in Cory’s whisper. “Well, as you said, he doesn’t know I exist. So you get to play the bait and I get to play the trap.”
I replied in a droll whisper, “Charming! You’ve probably been waiting for the last 55 seconds to say that! Okay. He obviously has body armor, automatic weapons and what looks like night vision. Who knows what else? Any ideas?”
Cory, still with a touch of humor, whispered, “I have one. Probably not the best one. But it’s the one we have time for.”
Once you enter the building through the front door, you walk into an 8 to 10 ft (2.5-3 m) wide, about 14’ (4.5 m) deep foyer with chairs along one side. On the far wall, was an elevator door. The hallway ran to the left and right. There was a mechanical room door and a stairwell door to the right of the elevator. To the left of the elevator was a set of restrooms. I crawled along the floor around the corner to the right, leaving an obvious damp trail in the dust. I left no tracks towards the stairs or mechanical room. I stood and went down the hall past several doors. I partially opened a couple random ones on the way. Then stepped around the corner where the hall turned to the left and stopped. There I held a fire extinguisher in the ready position with my resisting arrest special in the other hand.
Less than a minute later, I heard the sound of the front door being unlocked and opened. After a few moments I heard him open what I guessing was the first closed door down the hall. While I thought he was starting to check the second or third room, I let out a loud, to me, unmuffled hiccup. I started to cautiously, for me anyway, backing down the hallway in retreat and gave a second muffled hiccup.
I could hear him quickly limping down the hallway towards the corner. As he approached it I heard a short series of sounds. Too short to be called a scuffle. Then the sound of something hitting the floor. Cory called out from around the corner. “All clear, Tyler!” I started moving forward and approached the corner, turned on my flashlight, aimed it low and looked around it towards the entrance.
I saw Cory kneeling over a man lying face up. The rifle was lying several feet behind him. Cory had just removed the man’s night vision goggles and helmet. He looked to be about late 40’s in age. Crew cut black hair. Between 5’ 8” to 6’ 0” (148—183 cm). Hard to tell under the body armor, but I’d guess a pretty solid build. “So, is he alive or dead?”
Cory replied without expression as he stood up, “He’s alive. But he shouldn’t be.”
“Oh?” was all I could think to say at that moment.
“Tyler, I would like to introduce Major [redacted], former chief of island security and one of my former trainers.”
After I lowered my eyebrows out of my hairline I replied: “So not pleased to meet you this morning, Major.” To Cory I added, “Nice call you made on him getting overconfident about chasing me. Walked right past those open doors. Well done!”
Cory gave a tight smile, “You did pretty well yourself playing the inexperienced prey. I suspect you are really better at this stuff than what you claim. I did note you grabbed a fire extinguisher to blind him and your flashlight to club him with if he actually made it around the corner or spotted me.”
I changed the subject. “I will leave you to catch up with the Major. I need to check on the hanger and the crash site to confirm no one else is moving around out there.”
Cory reached down and handed me the night vision goggles and pointed towards the rifle. “Take these, just in case. You know how the goggles work?”
I shrugged. “I don’t think they can be much different than the civilian ones,” I said as I took them from him.
The rain hadn’t slowed down any as I reached the hangar. I stood to the side of the human door. I turned on my flashlight, quickly swung the door open, held out my arm and shined the flashlight through the doorway at chest level. No reaction. I turned off the flashlight, aimed the rifle from my waist and quickly stepped through the door and moved to the side. “Real professional and trained like,” I thought. My little voice laughed in reply.
I closed the door and scanned the building with the goggles. Then, I turned on my flashlight and looked around the hangar. It appeared exactly the same as I left it. No other people inside. Then looked at the floor. No wet footprints anywhere. Other than mine. I breathed a sigh of relief and exited the hangar and started carefully walking towards the crash site about half way down and just off the edge of the runway. The lightning flashes were really messing with the vision gear. At least for me.
As I approached I could see what little fire there was had gone out. Apparently there wasn’t much fuel left aboard. It appeared to be a 4-5 passenger model. The fuselage was lying on its left side. There was a camera pod on the bottom between the skids. I could see the end of the tail boom lying a short distance away. Looking up I could see where they somehow managed to successfully clip a couple of the handful of palm trees on the island that were actually close to the runway.
This was making less and less sense. This chopper has a range of about 250 nautical miles (465 km). Maybe 350 (650 km) tops if it has reserve tanks. With a speed of 90 to 100 knots (166-185 kph). Probably a lot less in this weather. Their ship had to be way out of position. It still has to be. By rights, they should have shown up before we finished pulling all of the plugs out of the engines. Why the hurry since I had already been here this long? Particularly in this storm. I certainly wasn’t going anywhere. Why risk flying on a night any bird or most sane humans won’t?
I got to the cockpit and looked inside. I could see two fully kitted up males strapped in the back seats. They appeared quite dead. In the front left seat I could see a fully kitted up pilot strapped into his seat. Lying against the ground, surrounded by broken Plexiglas and metal. He was obviously dead. All of them were wearing night vision gear. The right front seat was empty. That had to be where the major was sitting. I had no idea if he was the pilot type, but instinct told me he was just riding there. Maybe the pilot was blinded by the lightning? The chopper was hit by lightning? He clipped the trees and overreacted? The weather exceeded the capacity of the chopper? Or the pilot? All the above? Who knows?
I crawled up onto the fuselage, and fully opened the rear door. Thankfully it wasn’t sprung. I spotted the ELT (Emergency location transponder) and noticed it had been locked off so it wouldn’t activate. On a whim, I loosened the lock and activated it. Wiped off any prints I may have left in the rain, mostly closed the door and walked back to the hangar. To this day I don’t know if doing that was a good idea, but it seemed like a good ‘giving a middle finger at the company’ idea at the time.
Inside the hangar, I opened the aircraft door, flipped the master switch and listened for the ELT. I could hear the signal ok. Then I realized that ATC might think the signal was mine. “Idiot!” I muttered. So I decided to break some rules and turned on the aircraft’s ELT for about 5-10 minutes. That way they should have seen two separate signals and ID’s for a time on the satellite. Meanwhile, I flipped the radio through a few of the common frequencies just in case, and heard nothing but static. I switched to the emergency frequency and broadcast in the blind that a helicopter just crashed on the island and that there were no survivors. I did this because, I of course know nothing about the history of this place and have nothing to hide at all. I shut everything down and went back to the building.
Inside the building, I found Cory and the Major in Cory’s room. The Major was lying on his stomach. He had been stripped bare. His arms were securely tied behind his back with strips of bedsheets by his wrists and elbows, forearm to forearm. His legs were tied by his ankles and knees. A blindfold was around his head. One knee looked pretty swollen. I could see where he had a nice collection of bruises on his torso. Looking at where they were, they were probably from the crash, not Cory. Cory was nude. He hadn’t put on any clothing since we were interrupted by the helicopter. Considering the way the coveralls fitted. I suspected this was his normal condition.
Cory was standing nearby. “I tied him the way I did so I would reduce the chances of leaving marks. I think I gave him a concussion when I knocked him out. If he didn’t already had one. I’m not sure.”
“Is he conscious?” I asked.
“I believe he’s awake. Just faking being out of it. I just didn’t want to talk with him until you were back.”
I nodded. Cory walked over and rolled the Major onto his back and removed the blindfold. He opened his eyes, looked at Cory and said with a smile. “Adam! I always suspected you were still alive! I just couldn’t convince anyone else of it!”
I gave Cory side glance. He looked at the Major. “Adam is the name I was given. I no longer use it.”
I nodded and sarcastically added, “Figures! I’ll bet they even tortured it into an acronym too.”
The major looked my way. “Mr Tyler [redacted] ! You are one lucky individual. Sad to say your luck has finally run out.”
I didn’t bother to reply. Cory knelt by the Major’s head and looked into his eyes. “I have a question.” A hint of a smile stayed on the Major’s face but he said nothing. Cory continued: “Why kill everyone? Why try to kill me?
The major laughed out loud. “Adam! I can’t believe you honestly don’t know the answer to that! It is as obvious as the nose on your face!” He shook his head and turned his gaze towards me. “But you might not know. So, I will answer it. In case it hasn’t given you any details.” He continued to speak.
“The company built this outpost for classified experiments. One of the company’s clients wanted a super soldier prototype. They finally, after several unsuccessful tries, successfully built Adam here. Even though there were some minor questions about how the project was progressing. Everything looked good overall. It could bench press the same weight I could at age 11.”
Cory interrupted, “I did mine for reps.”
The major’s eyes narrowed for an instant. Then he smiled and continued, “Until it hit puberty. Then everything went to hell. After that, almost nothing was within specs. The client eventually canceled the contract.”
He went on, “The company decided to keep the project going. At least until its hormones stabilized in a few years. They wanted to test its capabilities, limits and learn what they could about it. So, if the opportunity to try again ever came up, they might avoid making the same mistakes again.
“If everything had been in specs, we would have delivered the product to the client after hormone stabilization. It would have never seen this place, or anyone on it ever again. Then one of two things would have happened.
“One. We wouldn’t have gotten a production contract and shut down. Or, two: We would have gotten a production contract. We would have used the knowledge from any mistakes made on the prototype to build new and improved models for delivery. Eventually, like all things, it would have all come to an end.
“Everyone here would have wrapped up their work here and either started a new project. Or, may have left here to work on other projects. The rest who weren’t reassigned likely would have been tragically lost at sea in an aircraft or ship disaster.” He must have saw something in my eyes.
“Oh, come on! What else would you expect? Surely, you would know how many international laws and conventions, much less all the so called moral laws we flaunted here? Can you imagine the worry the client and company had of the sheer number of potential sources of eventual leaks? Not only did the client, and by extension the company not want the world ever asking questions. They didn’t even want the world to know the questions even existed!
“As far as letting it go?” He tilted his head towards Cory. “The nexus of all the questions. Look at it! Imagine the list! Who are you? Where were you born? Who were your parents? Where did you go to school? How did you get so big? How come no one in your hometown remembers you? Even something as innocent as someone standing at a urinal, glancing over and wondering where that mutated dick came from could be dangerous. They’d never stand for it. Nor ever take the risk.”
Cory continued to stare at the Major in silence. I waited expectantly for him to continue.
He obliged. “The company ultimately decided to shut down the project early. Before hormone stabilization. Because the situation on the island was starting to get out of control. Before the cancelation, there were a couple personnel who were showing signs of going native and getting personally involved with the project. But it was deemed minor and controllable. After the project cancelation, more personnel were showing signs of getting emotionally involved with it. The situation was getting worse over time.
“The decision was made to cut their losses. Collect the information. Liquidate the assets and mothball the island in case it might prove useful in the future. They certainly weren’t expecting the amount of property damage it took to do it.” He looked at Cory. “It seems even leveling a multimillion-dollar lab didn’t even do the job. I’d love to know how you pulled that off.”
Cory looked at the Major and asked in a neutral voice: “Mothballing the island meant still keeping it hidden. Did anyone ever find it besides Tyler?”
The major thought for a moment. “From construction to today: 2 aircraft and 3 boats. Including one small pesky Chinese, ahem, ‘fishing boat’.” He smiled with pride. “As far as we can tell, they never did figure out what happened to it. Or where it actually disappeared. The Pacific is big and anything but peaceful.” His grin became even wider.
“Sadly for you two, neither of you will be leaving this island alive either. Even if you do make it off the island, you won’t make it to Hawaii. If by some miracle you do make landfall…”
I interrupted his gloat. “No! Sadly for you and your masters, I have no intention of dying yet. When I finally do, it won’t be by the hands of your masters. Or, if it is, it won’t be for anything about this.”
The Major gave me his most confident smile. “I beg to differ. I know what is waiting for you. The two of you are fucked.”
I smiled back. “I don’t think so. It is your masters who will have to work at not being fucked by the time this is over.”
“No, major,” Cory said in a cold, emotionless voice. “Right now you are the one who is going to get fucked. For destroying everything and everyone I have ever known in my life.”
I could see Cory starting to rhythmically tighten his lower abdominal muscles a couple times a second.
“Co…. Adam!” I said in a warning voice.
I got a determined ‘don’t mess with me’ look. “Don’t worry, I won’t do anything to him that can’t reasonably be explained by the crash. Back off!” I raised both my hands chest high and literally backed off a step.
As Cory’s cock started to grow, the smile faded from the Major’s face. For the first time he started to struggle against his bonds. He knew he wouldn’t leave this room alive. He just didn’t know by what means until now. I’m not sure Cory did either until that point.
When he was fully erect, he bent over, flipped the major onto this stomach, and grabbed the major by the hips. Then straightened up like the major wasn’t there and held him straight out at almost arm’s length. Cory looked at me. “Cut his legs loose.” I looked doubtful. “Cut them loose, please, sir.”
I grabbed the major’s knife, unsheathed it and cut the ties, quickly jumping back at the major tried to strike at me and missed.
The major kicked at Cory’s legs with his unbound legs. He twisted around trying to break his grip on him with no luck. Cory extended his arms and put the head of his cock between the majors’ glutes. The major put his feet against Cory’s thighs and strained to push away like he was doing a squat. Cory didn’t seem to notice the resistance as he very slowly pulled the major onto his cock. The major let out a long loud scream of pain. Stopping only to take a breath, then screaming again. After about 15 seconds Cory’s head was inside. Then he started pushing in a little further.
I’m not quite sure when the major’s rectum or colon perforated, but the screaming mostly stopped. The major’s face was a mixture of pain and fear. I could see a long bulge slowly sliding up the inside of the majors’ abdomen. It stopped right below the sternum when Cory bottomed out. “Please cut his arms loose too if you could?” I did so and quickly stepped back again.
Cory then quickly moved his grip to the sides of the major’s chest and pulled himself about two-thirds out then bottomed again. He maintained his look of grim determination as he repeated this cycle about once a second or so. The major gave an involuntary exhale each time Cory shoved on his diaphragm.
After about two to three minutes I could see that the major was starting to lose consciousness from internal blood loss and the beating his internal organs were getting. Finally, I heard a quick series of loud pops and a faint gasp of pain from the major as Cory flexed his forearms and hands. Collapsing the major’s ribcage like an empty beer can.
Cory released his grip on the major. He arced downward and slowly slid off of Cory’s quickly shrinking cock onto the floor. “At least it was faster than what good old Vlad È epeÈ used to do back in the day,” I thought.
Cory looked at me, still expressionless. “If you will excuse me sir. I need to put the major back into the helicopter.”
“Go ahead.” I replied. “I have some things I can do in the meantime.” I left the room as Cory started to wipe himself off with a bedsheet.
I got lucky and found some powdered graphite in the maintenance shop. I was afraid I may have needed to take time I didn’t have to chop up a couple pencils. Finally some clear tape and white paper. Next, I made a fast stop in Cory’s empty room. Made a check of the usual ‘safe spots’ where people like hide to things. I found what I was looking for there. Then I went to work.
When I was done, I checked my watch and did some quick time zone calculations. Then I walked out to a covered area by the physical plant and made a couple phone calls. “Harry. It’s Tyler”. Pause. “Doing pretty well. Yes, that is rain you are hearing.” We spent a fast minute catching up on things. “Need to ask a favor of you.” Pause. “No. Well, maybe that’s the only reason I called.” Pause. Laugh. “I have a set of thumb and index fingerprints to send you.” Pause. “I know I can ask other people. But this one might be interesting.” Pause. “Well, probably not nearly as interesting as the last favor I asked. Not sure yet.” Pause. “I’m just saying to use caution with this one. I’m not really expecting you to find any official records. Best I know, this person’s never been in trouble. Or, worked for the government. But there is an extremely remote possibility of your search hitting a tripwire.” Pause. “I can… try to explain in more detail next time we meet. But I am probably more interested in finding out if there actually is a tripwire and who put it there. More so than any record you may or may not find.” Pause. “I’ll send you a high resolution photo of the prints.” Made a little more small talk and ended with me giving thanks. I hung up, sent the photo file of the prints, and called the next number.
“Hi Julie. Hope I didn’t wake you up.” Pause. “Good! Well, I’m flying another friend’s airplane to Hawaii for him.” Pause. “Not quite a vacation but it’s been fun.” Pause. “I’ll tell you the story the next time we meet.” Some of it, anyway, I thought. Then, had some small talk and gossip. “I need to call in one of my markers. If you can help, great! If not, no harm no foul.” Pause. “On the trip back I picked up a hitchhiker.” Pause. “Yeah. I know. I probably always will be a sucker. He’s a nice young kid who picked up the wanderlust when he was younger and stupider.” Pause laugh. “Yeah. We’ve never knew anyone who did something stupid when they were young. He left the US. Wandered the Pacific Rim for a while. Then he got onto Samoa. Maybe without letting Samoan customs know.” Pause. “Uh huh. Not sure. That’s where I picked him up.” Pause. “I need you to get a hold of some of your low friends in high places. If possible, I’d like to arrange at a minimum, an electronic trail with US customs of him entering US Samoa sometime before [date redacted]. It will make it easier when we land in Hawaii. As a bonus, if it’s possible, please have them do the same with the Samoan customs office records, that’d be even better.” Pause. “In less than 24 hours. Actually, much less.” Pause. “Yeah, I know it’s asking a lot. I know it will cost me a lot either way. Maybe you can get me a family and friends discount?” Pause. Laugh. “Yeah right! Agreed! If we can do this great. If not, oh well. I will just have to get creative.” Pause. “The name is: [redacted]. DoB: [redacted]. Born in [redacted]. Parents’ names [redacted]. Passport number: [redacted]. SSN [redacted].” Pause. “Correct! I should be back on the mainland in a couple weeks or so. See you all then.” Pause. “Please let me know ASAP what you get. One way or the other.” Pause. “Thank you again! Bye.”
I went back up to Cory’s room. He was sitting on his bed staring at the wall. “I assume the major is back in the chopper?” Cory nodded. “Good! Now while we could both really use some sleep, we both have a lot of work to do so we can both get off this island as quick as we can.” Cory gave me a quizzical look. “Yes, I said ‘we’. We are both leaving and you have no choice in the matter.” Cory started to open his mouth to protest. I held up my hand to stop him.
“I have already heard your reasons for wanting to stay here. Over half of them were also echoed by the Major. Hear me out. Listen to my reasoning. Then, if you have an objection, state it then. Okay?” Cory silently nodded. I took a deep breath.
“First. I only have normal human physiology to go on but, I assume that you haven’t normally wandered around with close to zero percent body fat in the past. Correct?” Cory nodded. “At first, I had trouble believing the next one myself, but evidence is evidence. Looking at the loose skin here and there, I also assume you’ve lost a decent amount of the muscle mass you’ve had in the past?” Cory again nodded.
“While you were taking care of the major, I did some exploring. One of the things I found was the food larder.” Cory quickly turned his head towards me and stared. “You have my ultimate complements on your camouflage job in there. You did a first rate job of making a lot of empty boxes look full and untouched. Well done sir! If I didn’t know what I was looking for, I wouldn’t have spotted it.” I got a small smile of thanks.
“You mentioned that you were fishing to kill time. You were also fishing to complement your protein and fat intake. But since you seldom if ever go outside. There is no way you could fill in the gap with the metabolism I suspect you have.”
Cory interrupted with: “How do you know…?”
I smiled. “Elementary, my dear Watson! Considering where we are located, you have jack for a suntan. So obviously, if you go outside, it is either overcast, or for short periods. Or, at night.”
Cory gave me an “okay, yeah, duh” look as I continued.
“In conclusion, you have been rationing your food for quite some time. Not at starvation levels but close. This question is rhetorical, and I don’t expect an answer, but: Just what were you planning on doing when your stockpile finally ran out?” Cory showed no reaction as he looked towards the floor.
“Second. The fact that we are leaving here alive means this island won’t be as secret as it used to be. This means that the company will have to do one or more of the following: Dust off an old contingency plan to explain it. Come in and do a deeper cleaning to hide its past. Possibly re-occupy it to help dampen questions on why it was abandoned and keep away the curious. Come in and level the place down to the native coral to give the curious nothing to look at. Or any combination of these.
“You have two good hiding places and a nice hidden way to go between here, the hangar and the old lab.” I got another surprised quizzical look. “But, do you honestly think you can manage to stay hidden long term if any of these things happen?” Cory again showed no reaction and went back to looking towards the floor.
“Third, and final. Even if you do somehow figure out a way past these first two things, the way the climate is changing and the ocean levels are rising. This island will probably become uninhabitable in your lifetime.” I paused about half a minute. Then I asked: “So, what say you?”
Cory kept looking at the floor for a few moments. He finally stood, gave me a small smile made a fist, held out his thumb, pointed to the side and said. “Can you give a guy a lift, sir?’
I smiled. “Sure! Not a problem, kid.” I dropped my smile. “But we need to do a lot of prep in a short amount of time. Most of this you are obviously aware of but I’m going to mention it anyway to be sure. Plus I suspect you will be busier than I will be.”
Cory nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“What you need to do is, cover your tracks on this island. Using whatever magic you use. Obviously leave my tracks because I would certainly have crawled all over this place. Let me know when I may need to re-create any of mine after your cleaning. Next, you need to pack up two bundles. Stuff we need to throw away because we don’t have time to deal with it. Then, stuff you want to take with you. Bring them both to the hangar.
“My list consists of: Arranging the plane to fit you and yours in it. Clearing the runway so we have an uninterrupted shot at taking off.” Cory replied: “I can help with that if needed sir.” I nodded. “Sounds good to me. Just remember, don’t move anything I can’t without cutting it up.” Cory grinned. “Then I need to do some chemical “aging” to the bullet holes in the front of this building. Then, find and get rid of all of that shiny brass scattered around outside.” When I said all that, I saw a fast cloud pass over Cory’s eyes. I thought, “I may need to have him do something else first.”
“Finally, I need to really get a couple hours sleep. Which I don’t have time for. Think we can do this in 2-4 hours?”
Cory nodded. “Yes, sir.”
I gave him the classic disapproving dad glare. “There is one issue yet.” Cory suddenly looked apprehensive as I continued. “I have never served in the military. Also, until my father passes from this plane of existence, he has the exclusive title of sir. Not me.” I grinned. “Got it?”
Cory gave a relieved smiled and nodded. “No problem… Tyler.”
“Good! There is one more tiny thing you might want to do. I assume you have been taught meditation, centering and calming exercises?”
He nodded. “Yes, I have some training. Why?”
“Well, I would like for you to do one thing before you start. Even if it causes a bit of a time crunch.
“I would like for you to grab a bar of soap and a towel. Go stand out in the breezeway between here and the physical plant. Then do the best you can to take all of the pain, fear, anguish, sadness and betrayal you have experienced in the past and tonight inside you. Picture it as a dark liquid. Use your center light to push that liquid out to the exterior of your body. Imagine that liquid exiting your skin like sweat. Sitting on the surface of your skin. Once you have it all pushed outside. Step into that clean clear rainwater and take a nice long soapy shower and wash it all away. Sound reasonable and doable?”
Cory nodded. “Yes, it does. I’ll go do that now. Thank you.”
I nodded. “Good! I hope it helps.”
We both left the room to start our tasks. I hoped that shower might be the first step in him getting some long overdue healing done.
I went to the kitchen and found some salt and vinegar. Then some hydrogen peroxide in the infirmary. I started hopefully giving the bullet holes in the metal parts a sheen of rust. Next I got some instant coffee and vinegar, mixed it strong and painted it on the places where the concrete was chipped. I hoped it all would do something useful in the rain. Then I went out picked up and pocketed the large concrete chips and all of the spent brass I could find. I grabbed a hammer, broke up some of the smaller chips and lightly coated the holes in the concrete with a very thin layer of the wet dust. Plus more mixture. Inside I swept up the plaster dust and started digging out or finding all of the slugs I could. I didn’t want any one in a million curious person to have anything to do any ballistic testing with. Next, I found a couple large dust bunnies, broke them up and used them to “age” the holes in the wall board.
Next I went to the airplane and started pumping fuel between tanks. With the fuel I already burned I wasn’t expecting a weight and balance issue with Cory. But it pays to be sure. It did mean I would be mixing some of the suspect fuel with the rest of it. But I hoped dilution would be the solution to pollution in this case. I also crossed my fingers that no one ever thinks to ask how I ever managed to take off with a full fuel load and Cory. Then I sat down for a minute to think out how I was going to work out, explaining Cory, the flight plan, ATC, customs, the storm and the approaching company ship.
I woke up when Cory stepped into the hangar and called my name. “Tyler? I came in to grab a saw for the tree on the runway.” I blinked a couple times. He was carrying one large garbage bag and one smaller one. “Fantastic! I’m ready to help. How goes things inside the building?” He shrugged. “I’m pretty much done. Half hour at the most. I will need you to retrace a lot of your steps though. Your aging process on the front door looks pretty good.” “Thank you. They probably need a second coat though. Let’s go tackle that tree. Then make tracks.” Cory blinked and shook his head.
I had dozed off for almost two hours. Thankfully, I’d got most of my stuff finished. But we were taking a lot longer than I would have liked. The rain had mostly tapered off but the wind was still blowing strong down the runway. We had about 2 or 3 hours before sunrise. Cory carried off the wood chunks as I cut them. We finished in about 20 minutes. I said I would put the saw back. Cory said he would meet me inside the hangar.
On the way to the hangar, I stopped by the chopper. The major was hanging from a slightly loose lap belt. The shoulder harness was loosely set around his torso. His chest was resting against the center console. I took in what I could for any reports I needed to write for the FAA. Plus a collection of photos of the crash scene that I uploaded. I continued back to the hangar, then over to the building. Then gave the concrete and metal a second coat of the mixtures and poured it out. I hoped it was enough Then, as directed by Cory, I left nice sets of tracks in all the areas of pristine dust. I gave the concrete and metal a final rinse. The metal looked ok. The concrete, I crossed my fingers.
I left Cory to button up the building and say any goodbyes as I opened the hangar and did the preflight on the plane. I set up the large garbage bag so we could throw it out after we were in the air and well clear of the island. I had just opened the main hangar doors when Cory showed up. I ‘helped’ him push the plane out of the hangar and close the doors. We both got in and I cranked over the engines while telling my inside voice to shut up. I breathed a slight prayer of thanks that they started with no problems.
With the headwind we took off with runway to spare. It seemed like I had power to climb but I stayed slightly above ground effect. Not that far above the storm generated waves. I made a slow 90 and picked up my crosswind. The rain and turbulence made the piloting ‘sporting’ and I kept both of my hands firmly on the yoke.
After about three minutes Cory looked at me. “Is there anything wrong? We are pretty low and I feel like a die in a cup right now. I am a virgin at this too. Okay?”
I switched frequencies on the radio, turned down the squelch and turned up the volume. A hiss could be heard. “This is an unused frequency out here. Hear the static?”
Cory nodded. I switched frequencies. “This is one of the commonly used frequencies out here.”
There was dead silence. It only took a second for Cory to say, “It is being jammed!”
I nodded. “Uh huh!”
A second later he said: “You are worried about their ships radar and SAMs!”
I smiled and nodded. “Right again! That’s why I’m also flying a course parallel to the one we need. Rather than an intercept. I have no idea beyond a vague guess of where could be and I hope we don’t accidently fly too close to them. The jamming can’t go too far. Otherwise people would have complained about it before now. This will suck for a while. But, once the jamming fades, I will climb to altitude, contact ATC and customs and get on course to Hawaii.”
Cory looked worried. “How are you going to explain me?”
I shrugged. “I’ve been working on that. I have several ideas. I really hope we can use a simple one. I’m hoping to get a phone call from a friend before we land that may help.” I got that appraising look I got once before from him. “I hope I can keep explaining you simple. Maybe we can. Oh yeah. Just so you know, I borrowed your wallet and passport long enough to grab the info for my friend to use.” I wasn’t about to tell him about the fingerprints. I may never tell him. Cory’s look switched to an appraising glare. I ignored it. “My plan regardless of how the call turns out will be this:
“I’m telling ATC and customs that we will be arriving at Hilo international on Hawaii as planned. But 3 hours or less before arrival I will let them know that I’m worried about fuel and wish to divert to either Maui or O’ahu. That should throw off any company people who may be waiting for us at the airport. It will annoy customs but they have ports of entry there and they will still get about two hours’ notice. Next, we hit a thrift store or something and grab you better clothes.
“Then grab a quick inter-island flight to throw off our scent even more for the short term. I’ll send you first, Then, I’ll follow on the next flight. I not as worried about them spotting me as I am about them spotting you and connecting you to me. I plan on leaving the plane where I park it and tell my friend I’ve had enough flying for a while and he needs to move it on the final leg himself.
“As far as you. It would be easier if we could just have you living in US Samoa when we met. We can stay quiet and let them assume that first. If they start pushing, or it starts to fall apart, we go with: In your stupid period late teens you got the wanderlust. You left the US without letting Customs know. You wandered around the Pacific Rim for a while.”
“If the phone call is bad news: You worked on a freighter or something, jumped ship and somehow got into US Samoa without letting customs know. Or filling out the paperwork.
“Or, if the phone call is good news, I managed to get a friend of mine to arrange customs documents on the US side saying that you arrived legally in Samoa. “There we ran into one another and you talked me into giving you a lift back home to the mainland.”
I continued: “The reason I didn’t mention you in my flight paperwork before now was: One: I figured my friend might not like me hauling hitchhikers and forgiveness VS permission. Two: I was having computer issues and probably fat fingered the customs forms while updating them to list you and it apparently either never saved or sent. Three: I obviously picked you up in Samoa. The only other place I landed for fuel has all of its tiny population accounted for.”
I gave an evil grin. “If for some reason all this goes to pot: While taxiing in, I’ll look for a spot where the tower or customs people might not see us, have you jump out of the plane while I’m taxiing, jump the fence and I’ll meet you later.”
Cory shook his head and smiled. “Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.”
I nodded in agreement. “The odds of that one working aren’t good.” I added, “I assume you know the routine. Never volunteer information.”
Cory grinned and continued, “Keep the lies simple, minimal and vague. Simple lies are the easiest to defend. A simple yes or no is always a good answer. Never elaborate on an answer. Incredibly detailed stories and answers are almost always fabricated.”
I returned the grin. “Good! It sounds like you know all this, but I like to talk. Get your story together. At least a couple simple versions. Include some family background stuff, geographical info and such. Customs will probably make some small talk to loosen you up and maybe catch a mistake. Make sure it all hangs together well. Give me the broad brush outline of it later so I can give some collaboration but not sound identical. After all, we only just met and I don’t know everything about you. I might be able to help with some geographical stuff. Depending on what you come up with.” Cory nodded.
Things went silent for a while and I concentrated on simply flying straight, level and out of the water. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Cory looking at me in thought. He finally said: “Tyler. Just what do you do for a living?”
I shrugged. “A little of this. A little of that.”
Cory frowned. “If I recall, that is exactly what you told me yesterday. Wow! Yesterday.”
I kept not looking at him and nodded. “Kind of hard to believe. A lot has happened. Are you going to be okay?”
He wore an incredibly evil grin. “No changing the subject.” I glanced his way as he dropped into English with a spot on Mid German accent. “Ve haf vays to make you talk. Und I zink ve will start vit.” He interlocked his fingers stretched out his arms slightly and cracked his knuckles. “Tventy… Questions.”
I went back to my visual scan and sighed. My inner voice laughed and laughed. “Gotcha!” it said. This indeed was going to be a very long flight.