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.
“Well, it’s almost show time. I’ll let ATC know that we want to divert to Maui and contact customs.” I got on the radio and requested a clearance to Kahului Airport. Then asked the tower to contact customs and let them know I had to divert.
Cory looked at me. “Do you think your friend will call before we land?”
I shrugged. “I certainly hope so. Otherwise, the plan D of throwing you out on a taxiway is starting to look better and better.” He gave me an annoyed glare. I smiled. “I’ll try giving her a call.”
I pulled out my phone and dialed Julie’s number. She answered on the 4th ring. “Hi Julie! Any word yet? Pause. “Really? I have perfect timing then!” Pause. “Now I’ve done it more than once. Really.” Pause, laugh. “So what’s the damage?” Pause. “What!?” Pause. “Oooch! No discount then?” Chuckle, pause. “You did good my friend.” Pause. “Really! Thank you!” Pause. “Okay, I’ll get you the cash after I land. Thank you again.” Pause. “I don’t know if you will meet Cory later and hear the story. I don’t know what his plans are after we land. I’ll ask.” Pause. “Gotta go now. I’ll talk with you later.” Pause. “Bye.”
I looked towards Cory. He had a concerned look I couldn’t pin. “Julie was able to get a connected friend of hers to insert an electronic file into the Samoan and U.S. customs saying that you arrived in Samoa on
Cory look relieved, but still worried for some reason I couldn’t figure out at that point. “I’m not an expert, but wouldn’t we have been ok without all of this paperwork you paid for? Going from Samoa to the U.S.?”
“Maybe,” I replied. “If they did any digging on you, they would come up blank. Plus, I landed and refueled in another country before we met. So, technically it would be a problem if they wanted to make it one.”
He nodded. “So, since that’s apparently covered, what’s next, oh great scheming mastermind and silent observing shadow behind the curtains?”
I favored him with one of my patented glares. “First thing is, once we land, I’ll hit an ATM, grab some cash and give it to you. Then you will open a bank account and deposit it. Then we will have you buy a plane ticket to Hilo using that account. I’ll follow on the next flight. At some point, we find a big and tall store and maybe a thrift store and buy you some less noticeable cloths and a carry-on bag.”
Cory looked down at himself and his ill-fitting coveralls and shoes. “I am rather noticeable right now aren’t I?”
I nodded. “Yes, you are.” I grinned. “Not as bad as you could be though. Sadly we can’t do anything about that now. That is why I think we will go with loose long pants, loose long sleeved shirt to make you thicker in the middle. Maybe a tie so you look more ‘professional’. Do what we can quickly to make you less noticeable.”
We spent the last of our time in the air talking about our plans to get out of Hawaii and onto the mainland. We also discussed several ‘what if’s’ in case the company did have someone successfully waiting for me at some point. I let him know that if by some bad luck something did happen to me. Where to go and who to talk to for his next steps.
We landed without incident and I parked the plane in the transient ramp. Finding the best spot to give the security cameras their worst view. Then we sat in the plane as required to wait for customs to show up. While listening to my voice go through the list of doubts. Meanwhile, I contacted the local FAA and NTSB office. Since the chopper was registered in the US. I gave them the information on my unplanned landing and the helicopter crash. I emailed them the photos I took of the crash scene and immediate surroundings. I also rented a car.
I had just finished that when my phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and I winced. “Samoan Customs,” I said. Then answered it. “Hello?” Pause. “Yes I am.” Long pause. “What sort of questions?” Pause. “Really? So is everything okay?” Long pause. “Okay. Sounds good.” Pause. “I will do that. Thank you!” then hung up. My little voice muttered, “How much luck can a guy have?!”
Cory watched my various facial expressions and nervously asked, “Tyler. Is everything okay?”
I gave Cory a look of pure envy. “I sincerely wish I had your reservoir of good karma.” Cory cocked his head in worried curiosity. “Someone in the customs office noticed your update showing up in their computer system,” I explained, “and saw it wasn’t in their hard files.” Cory rightfully wore a worried look. I continued. “They called to let me know that they found the misplaced physical paperwork and there were no issues.”
Cory looked about as confused as I’ve ever seen him. “That doesn’t sound right.”
I nodded. “I agree. But this person asked me to pass along a message to you: ‘Tell Cory, Nofo’s cousin said hello’.”
Cory’s surprised look quickly turned to sadness. “Nofo was one of the maintenance guys on the island.” He was silent for a while. “Nofo must have told his cousin about me and they remembered.”
I nodded. “Maybe more than that. It’s possible this person was involved in getting you your papers.” He nodded sadly as tears streamed down his face. I continued, “I will tell you one thing. You mentioned having no one outside of the island. It looks like you very likely have some family if you decide to go that way eventually.” I put my hand on this thigh and squeezed. “That’s why I said I wish I had your karma pool.”
“Just hope it isn’t empty yet,” My little voice muttered. We waited silently. Sitting inside the plane until customs showed up.
About 45 minutes after landing, 10 minutes after the call from Samoa, the customs agent finally arrived. Cory’s karma held out and the questions about Cory were surprisingly minimal. Other than some minor grief about how old the still legal passport was. I think if he got a full view of what he was wearing there may have been more. I on the other hand, got a stern lecture on doing a better job of making sure my paperwork was correct next time. Along with messing with his day by having the nerve to run low on fuel and diverting his way. He did ask a couple questions about my fight diversion and forced landing. I showed him a couple photos of the island and the crash site.
I secured the plane. Put the keys in a key locker in the FBO office under the owners’ name. Then I left a message to my friend on how and where to find his plane and how long he had to get it before the rent ran out. Since I haven’t heard from him since my last call, I figure he still hasn’t checked his messages. I wonder how he stays in business the way he does things.
We found another quiet corner with bad camera angles and not many people for Cory to hang around in while I picked up the car. I continually watched for anyone showing unusual interest in us. “So far as I can tell, no one’s watching.”
Cory nodded. “I’ve had training in how to spot a tail. But no practical experience.”
“Good!” I replied. “Well, now’s your chance. Keep giving me a second set of eyes, if you will.”
“Yes sir. Uh, sorry. Tyler.”
I hit a friendly ATM and withdrew my daily max. Then, to a separate large multi-state national bank so Cory could get a checking account and ATM card. I popped into a department store and grabbed him some underwear I thought might go over his thighs and still fit his waist. Plus, socks, sneakers and travel toiletries. Meanwhile Cory sat in the car and purchased his flight on my phone. The little voice wasn’t happy with Cory doing that. But the risk was minimal. I did have to go back in and exchange for a pair of larger shoes. We found a back alley and got Cory into socks, shoes and snug for him, underwear for the next step.
At a big-men’s store, I ordered my tickets on the next flight ten hours later. I also grabbed a cash advance on my credit card. Cory bought a couple sets of loose shirts and pants. Plus one pair of dress shoes. The young male clerk was around Cory’s age. The clerk quickly noticed what was under the coveralls and was quite interested in helping him out. I noticed he provided wonderful, attentive customer service.
However, for a few moments as I was wandering about. I was at the right angle to notice Cory did “accidentally” “tip him” by giving him a couple minutes of a slow G rated muscle show through the dressing room door he “accidentally” left slightly open as he tried stuff on. When we left the store, I could tell the clerk was apparently eager to go on break. Cory’s coveralls and boots eventually disappeared into a couple different trash cans.
We both got into the car. “Next stop, thrift store for a carry-on bag. I assume you meant well in there but just be careful. Okay?”
Cory smiled. “He was trying so hard to hit on me I thought I should give him something in thanks.”
I nodded. “I can see that. I’m quite sure he appreciated it. I don’t see anyone tracking you through that store anytime in the near future if we are successful. But giving the poor guy less of a reason to remember you would have been a good thing. Particularly if you showed your…… ‘package’.”
Cory’s smile disappeared as he shook his head. “I wasn’t stupid enough to show my ridiculous package. But, you’re right. I know better. It wasn’t a good way to stay undercover and unnoticed.”
“Nope.” I and my little voice replied.
At this point we both realized we hadn’t eaten anything all day. We went to a grocery and grabbed some takeout food. Cory stocked up on fresh fruit and a large fresh sandwich. When we got outside, he wore a childlike grin as he blurted. “Other than last night, it has been years since I’ve eaten anything not out of a can, or dried.” He looked slowly around the cityscape. “I can’t get over all of the room and all of the people.”
I agreed. “It may take some getting used to after a lifetime of near hermitage on a few city blocks worth of land. Wait until you hit the mainland if you like room.”
I hit Cory up for some of my former cash as I hit a thrift store. There I found a gently used bag that didn’t smell of long term storage. I also grabbed him a used paperback book of a genre he liked. At the counter under the glass, I saw a not quite obsolete smart phone and charger for cheap. It doesn’t have to work for anything more than a prop for now. We threw all his stuff into the bag and drove back to the airport. I let Cory out at the departures drop off. Then dropped off the rental and checked in myself. My little voice stayed surprisingly quiet.
Coincidentally we were seated a couple gates apart but potentially in line of sight of each other. Cory made himself as unnoticeable as possible and unobtrusively people watched over the paperback. I people watched too. Maybe for different reasons than him. After a time, I saw Cory in line to board the plane. After he took off, the little voice and I breathed a silent sigh of relief.
My little voice whispered, “This is going waaayyy to well…”
“Shaddup!” I thought back. “We probably shook any tail they may have put out on Hilo and hopefully Maui. Assuming a corporate committee even moves that fast. Besides. The FAA having the info on the chopper will keep them busy. Plus, the photos I put up on those four abandoned places websites will help with the indecision.”
“Maaaybeeee,” my voice whispered.
“Damn!” I carefully glanced around. Looking for what my annoying subconscious noticed that I hadn’t.
Earlier I noticed a man in his mid-30’s, conservative haircut, wearing jeans and a polo shirt walk up and down the concourse a couple times. I initially filed it away as someone stretching their legs before or between flights. Not all that unusual. I do it myself. I was so busy stupidly watching for people watching Cory I slipped on noticing if someone was watching the more likely target. Little old me. This man had sat down in the row of seats facing outward in the gate next to mine. He didn’t appear to be watching me. “Ah, bloody hell. Guess I should find out,” I sighed to myself.
As I test, I got up, stretched and leisurely strolled towards a coffee shop most of the way down the concourse. Doing what I could to obscure his potential view of me by keeping people between me and him. Then hit a restroom. Taking a lot of extra time to get back to the gate.
While I paid no obvious attention to him, I did notice he re-positioned himself so he could see further down the concourse when I got back. “Rookie mistake there, bub,” I thought. I sat down again. Not too far away, kind of with my back to him, watching the planes outside. I had a solid guess he was unarmed since we were on the clear side of the security station. The little voice laughed.
Right before the boarding call, my friend, the airplane owner, finally called me. I accepted his apology for being swamped. I assured him the plane was okay. That I was okay. But I was tired of flying for a while and repeated what I said about where I left the plane. We arranged to catch up tomorrow afternoon in Hilo. Plus, I gave him a teaser short version with the promise tell him the “whole story” of my adventure. I even sent him a few selected photos of the island. All hopefully in earshot of my likely tail and everyone around me. I had fun playing the loud phone talker in public individual. Since I have nothing to hide at all from anyone. At least he was going to still pay me at least the full amount and expenses. Plus a little extra for the trouble. Sadly it still wasn’t going to cover all of my extra expenses on this trip.
For some reason I couldn’t figure out, my tail didn’t take my particular flight. I had no idea where he may have been going. So I probably have one on the other end waiting. I just wish I had a better idea of what they were waiting and watching for. Otherwise my flight to Hilo was uneventful. I collected my bags and picked up my rental car. Then I drove to my motel. I gave grudging complements to the tail I didn’t spot until I was practically to my destination.
It was one of those 2-3 star hotels with some age, history, and character I kind of prefer. I did some shrewd negotiating and got some credit from my no show the day before. I broke even renting a larger room with some extras as a thank you. As I was finishing checking in, Cory walked into the lobby. He had gotten a haircut and suddenly grew a mustache and goatee. I gave him the “I’m being watched” high sign. He walked up to me.
“Tyler! I was wondering if you were ever going to get here.”
I held out my hand. “Hey! How’s it going? Honestly wasn’t expecting to be late. Unplanned adventure.” I replied.
Cory laughed. “Unplanned adventure eh? With you this has to be good.” I raised an eyebrow at his grin.
I started my story standing in the lobby for all to hear. Then I invited him to follow me to my room so I could regale him with the rest of my adventure. I told Cory one of the websites I put pictures on that he could look at before the elevator doors closed behind us. My tail, sitting in a lobby chair pretending to work her tablet heard and probably recorded it all.
Once we got into the room I unplugged the power to the TV. The early evening, combined with lack of sleep and stress suddenly washed over me. Cory gave me a worried look. “You okay?”
“Yeah. I think I may be hitting the wall. I’ll be okay.” I looked Cory over. “Nice job on the beard.”
“Thank you.” he replied. “I saved some of the hair they cut, got some spirit gum and put this together.”
I nodded in appreciation. “My complements to your teacher.”
Cory continued, “So the company is tailing you like you thought?”
“Yep.” I sighed. “I assume you are clear?”
“I just wish I knew what they were planning, if anything,” I rambled on. “I’ve already given them obvious signals twice that I’m spreading the story of my island misadventure. So it is a little late to shut me or anyone else up now.”
Cory shook his head. “Let’s hope they decide soon. As far as I can tell, I’m still below the radar.”
“Good,” I sighed. “That’s what I was hoping for. They have no reason to try looking into my customs paperwork, or airport security. With plenty of luck, they never notice I had a nomadic hitchhiker from Samoa.”
Cory looked at the nightstand clock. “I just realized I’ve only known you for about 30-some-odd hours. Feels like a lifetime. Thank you for everything, my friend.”
I gave him a smile. “I don’t think it’s over yet, buddy, but you are quite welcome. I’ve always been a sucker for somehow riding to the rescue of good people in trouble. In one way or another.” An awkward silence fell over the room.
I filled in the dead air first. “You want to grab a late bite to eat, either here or somewhere else before I fall over?”
Cory smiled and started unbuttoning his shirt. “Sounds great! But I’d like to take the opportunity to keep thanking you first.”
Like an idiot, I was slow on the uptake. I blinked and smiled. “I can’t see any reason not to accept,” I said, as I pulled my shirt over my head.
Even though I was exhausted, I still managed to get excited as we both stripped. Cory got hard fast enough he was having issues getting the underwear off undamaged. We embraced each other in a long hug and exchanged kisses. We moved our hands over each other’s bodies in exploration. We finally separated and I made a quick dash to the sink and grabbed a towel. I laid it out on the floor in front of him, grinned and said, “No need to risk the hotel asking too many questions about us.”
Then I got on my knees in front of him. Grabbed Cory’s cock in both hands, then slipped my tongue in between his head and foreskin. Then slowly circled around his head for a while. Even though there was no way I was going to get his whole head in my mouth, I used my lips and tongue to massage the tip, while sucking up the slow, steady stream of precum.
Cory whispered, “My turn. Stand up.” I obliged. He took my hand and led me to the bed and laid on his back. “Come here. Sit on my stomach.” I got up on the bed, swung my leg over his cock and put my knees on both sides of his abdomen and sat down. I could feel the ridges of his eight-pack massage my glutes as he breathed. His cock head brushed the middle of my back, leaving a wet spot with each heartbeat. Then Cory grabbed me by my hips and effortlessly moved me further forward. To where my cock was sitting between his pecs. He used a finger to push it firmly down between them.
He flexed his pecs and got an even firmer grip on my cock. Then he whispered, “Fuck me, Tyler.” While I have titty fucked a couple women I’ve been intimate with, Cory was the first guy I’ve met who could successfully pull it off. I used my hands to try to massage his pecs but had no luck denting them. So I switched to playing with his nipples. After a time I tensed and had one of the most powerful climaxes I’ve had in a long time. Even better than yesterday. Cory smiled and used his finger to wipe cum off of his chest and slowly licked it off.
“Okay. My turn now,” I said as I straightened up swung off the bed and curled my finger in a come hither motion. Cory followed me into the bathroom. This room had an accessible style bathroom with a large flat bathroom floor and a shower with no tub. Once inside, I went to one knee. I leveraged his cock against his torso and started licking and French kissing the length of the underside. Cory looked down and brought his mouth against his head and started working on himself.
After a time I lowered his cock, wrapped each of my hands about half way around the shaft and jerked him off. Meanwhile I used my tongue to again torture his head. Cory lasted about three minutes then convulsed and came. The first couple shots were like getting hit point blank in the face with a garden hose spray nozzle. My face, hair and chest were coated in sperm after his fourth or fifth shot, about half way through the dozen or so squirts. After the flow had slowed, I put my mouth over his head and used him like a drinking fountain.
I stood and we wetly embraced again. We simultaneously said, “That was fun!” We paused and broke out laughing.
I managed to stop first. “Well if we want to grab some food, we better clean up with a proper shower.” We then had even more fun cleaning each other up. Even though it was way too soon for me, Cory came again. Pity for us, that required a longer shower yet.
After Cory had reapplied his mustache and goatee, we walked out to the lobby and to the car. My little voice was making worried noises. A quick walk around check of the tell tales I left told me that the hood, trunk and doors had not been disturbed. I pretended to fumble my keys and knelt down to retrieve them, while giving the undercarriage a check with my mini flashlight.
Cory quietly said, “Do you always do a walk around of a vehicle like this?”
I replied, “Yes I do. Old habit from having a commercial driver’s license and lots of rental cars. Plus, right now I’ve got a little extra paranoia from watching a lot of law, crime, and spy shows in my youth.”
Cory looked around the parking lot. “Ah. Got it. I haven’t watched too many of those. But I understand car bombs. I don’t see anyone near us. All clear?”
I stood up. “Looks like it is. Nothing unusual or big enough to be an explosive. Though a tracker could be hidden anywhere.” I grinned. “No worries there. I have nothing to hide after all.”
“You hope!” my voice chimed in.
We got into the car I paused a moment, as my voice said, “Are you sure you really checked all the undercarriage?” I mentally shrugged closed my eyes and started it. We drove to a nearby restaurant and sports bar. We kept up our cover conversation inside the car on the drive. Just in case they spotted my telltales. I noticed my tail about half way there. I’m getting better or they are getting worse.
We sat at a table in the bar. Ordered drinks and several unhealthy bar food entrees. Cory enjoyed experimenting with sampler plate containing large shot glasses of different beers. He ate his fill then said he wasn’t sure how his unsuspecting stomach was going to handle the sudden grease bomb. Our tail did come in but was sitting far enough away they wouldn’t normally hear anything. Not an assumption I was counting on, considering the technology out there. I called Cory a ride and paid the tab. At no time after we left the motel that evening did I use Cory’s name, nor he mine. Let them guess what the names are.
We stood outside talking until Cory’s ride arrived. We shook hands and did a quick bro hug. He got into the cab. I walked to my car and did my walk around. Everything looked good. Listening to my little voice fret, I did the same pause and shrug, before I started it. I headed back to the hotel and up to my room a little past midnight. I spotted my tail pretty quickly on the now quieter streets. I checked the plethora of tell tales I left around inside and out. Everything looked good. Turned on the camera mode of my phone and looked around the room for misplaced blue glows in the room. Then I cranked the room AC up to the high rattle setting.
About 15 minutes later I heard the first half of “a shave and a haircut” knock. Then the door unlocked. Cory walked in. I gave him the “all clear” high sign.
“The taxi dropped me off a block from here and I came in through one of the side doors like you asked. Didn’t see anyone watching.”
“Good! Time for bed. You have the big bed, I’ll take the pull out.”
Cory looked confused. “I apologize for saying this,” I said, “but you are a big guy and need the space. Besides I don’t know how you normally react when you have nightmares. Considering how many of them you say you average. I’m slightly concerned what might happen to me if we were in the same bed together.”
Cory nodded in understanding. “Makes perfect sense when you put it that way.”
I stripped to my underwear. Cory stripped all the way. I killed the lights and probably fell asleep before I hit the pillow.
I woke up to the light streaming in around the edges of the blackout curtain. I glanced at the clock and was not surprised how long I slept. I could tell I was still short but enjoyed what I got. I noticed that Cory was sitting on the floor. His massive legs were as crossed as they could be. His forearms were on his thighs, palms upward. I brought myself upright and sat on the edge of the pull out. Cory opened his eyes and looked at me. “Good morning!”
I blinked, rubbed my eyes and replied. “A journalist friend of mine once told me, ‘Morning is a statement in fact. Good is an editorial comment’. Morning. You sleep okay?”
“Very well. Best I’ve slept in a long time. I did notice that you sound like a two-cycle engine when you snore.”
I stood and stretched. “Not surprised, as wiped as I was. I slept like a rock.”
Cory glanced at the night stand. “I know. You slept through your phone. Twice. It went to message.”
I checked the messages. First one was the airplane owner. I now had a time to meet him for lunch. The second one was from Harry. I turned to Cory. “I will be meeting with the owner of the plane for lunch. I should be back this afternoon. If you want, you can go by a library or something and catch up on the world while I’m there.” Cory, still sitting on the floor flashed me a thumbs up. I dialed Harry as I walked into the bathroom, closed the door, and took a seat.
In as low of a voice as I could manage I answered Harrys greeting. “Hello. Tyler here. Hope your mornings going ok so far?” Pause. “Good! What’s the word?” Pause. Wince. “I prefer cardinals to robins thank you.” Pause. “Uh huh.” Long pause. “Sounds good. Fantastic.” Pause. Thank you again.” Pause. “With luck, I’ll catch you in a couple weeks or so.” Pause. “I promise. Take care my friend.” Pause. “Okay. Bye.” I disconnected. Then I mentally repeated to the babbling little voice that Cory’s prints were not on record. Nor officially or unofficially off the record. Nor does it look like they had any passive or active alerts tied to them. Yay for the version of paranoia we needed! Rather than the version I was afraid of. The company certainly has, hopefully had, copies of Cory’s prints. But apparently not any of the U.S. authorities. Who knows about any other government’s files at this point? I did the things I needed to do in there. Came back out and got dressed. That karma well of his wasn’t empty yet.
When I came out, Cory had finished meditating and was mostly dressed. Cory exclaimed: “I’m glad you got me back into some of my meditation training. It is really helping.”
I smiled. “You are welcome. We need to remember to buy your plane tickets to the mainland today. Mine were bought months ago.”
Cory looked worried. “I was looking at those yesterday. Last minute tickets aren’t cheap. Can you afford that?”
I shrugged. “That’s why I have a credit card. But I’ll be able to cover it by the end of the month.”
At that he looked guilty. “I’m sorry I’m creating issues for you.”
I gave him a stern look. “You are not creating issues for me. I accepted those so called issues the moment I decided to get involved and get you off that island. Besides, ferrying this plane was going to be optional cash I was going to put towards something else anyway. I am pretty much breaking even.”
He graced me with a glare. “I happened to just barely overhear the part of the conversation with Julie when she said how much the favor cost you. That cost you more than my plane tickets probably will. I suspect you won’t be anywhere near breaking even.”
I blinked. Three times. “You could hear the other side of that conversation over the engine noise and wearing headphones?”
Cory shook his head. “You did turn up the volume on the phone and I only got that short louder section where she yelled the amount. I didn’t overhear the conversation you had with customs either.”
Hmph. Still, I was glad I went to the bathroom for my talk with Harry.
“All righty then. Yes, I will be short on cash short term. But that still isn’t a major problem in my life. We will worry about that stuff once we are free and clear.” Cory still looked doubtful. “I will do a cash advance on my credit card, transfer the cash into your account today for the ticket. Besides, I’ve always maintained an unexpected emergency fund that will cover this shortfall. This is no problem for me.” He finally looked mostly convinced.
I put the pull out back together so it looked like it hadn’t been slept in. Hoped the next guest didn’t mind lightly used sheets. With housekeeping coming in I figured tell tales on anything other than what they wouldn’t normally touch would be a waste of time. I plugged the TV back in. Then we left the room together. I took the elevator to the lobby and to the car. Cory used the back stairs and a side exit. I gave the car the once over. It appeared to pass inspection. I did my now habitual mentally saying “shaddup!” Pause, shrug, close eyes, start the car. I didn’t see my tail in the parking lot.
On the way to my lunch appointment, I hit two different banks. I did another maximum ATM withdrawal on my physical one. In their parking lot, I accessed a savings account online under an alias that no one should know is me. Withdrew about a third of the balance. I didn’t want to drain it. I also used a credit card under that alias to grab a few hundred dollars more. I transferred that cash to Cory’s account online. Paranoia can give you minimal social life, ulcers, headaches and a straitjacket. But it can also keep you alive.
It wasn’t until I had left the bank and got on a more open road that I finally spotted my tail. This delay in spotting them was really starting to annoy me. I consoled myself by saying that they may be using multiple vehicles. The little voice hoped not because that wouldn’t be a good sign for us. I was incredibly tempted to play with them. But I didn’t. Because I had no reason to worry about a tail. Also, the only way to shake a vehicle tail outside of the movies is to drive like an idiot. Run lights, sudden turns using oncoming traffic to block the tail and so on. Much too dangerous and attention getting to do. Unless you had no choice. Finally, they probably should know where I was going anyway. Since I practically told them earlier.
Not long after. For reasons I couldn’t fathom, the universe uncharacteristically decided to again smile on me. I had the opportunity to run a yellow light and lost them. It usually doesn’t work that way. It did counter intuitively put my little voice in an annoying and paranoid mood.
I eventually got to the resort where I was to meet my friend. It has a nice restaurant with a beautiful view. Where a basic well drink cost as much as the whole meal in most of the places I prefer. He could afford it. Being one of the partners in the place after all. We had a long conversation about, things and stuff. I gave him the whole story, minus anything with Cory of course. He understood why I was tired of flying. We both sounded equally confused about the whole crashing helicopter in the storm thing. Sent him even more of my photos from the island and a few no body photos from the helicopter crash too. I kept an eye out for any patrons who seemed interested in me. But didn’t see anything unusual.
One of his business partners came by and my friend insisted I tell her the whole story. No problems with that for me. She got copies of my pictures from her partner. I would have hated to try quickly and widely spread this protection story in the pre-internet and film camera era of my youth.
In the early afternoon, I said my goodbyes and started heading back into town. I did spot the tail on this drive. I stopped by a couple places and window shopped. At one store I did buy a cheap RF detector. It was the only one they had in stock. Like everything, these devices are a case of: you get what you pay for. So I wasn’t expecting perfection from it. But it was more than I currently had.
I eventually got back to my room. Housekeeping had done their standard job on it. I checked my tell tales, and turned on my RF detector. Then, activated the camera on my phone again to search for hidden cameras. I used the screen to look for a bluish glow on things. I could see a glow from the remote detector on the TV but nothing else on it. I unplugged the TV just in case.
I carefully looked all over the room, with the camera and RF detector. Even moving furniture. Looking for RF transmissions and blue glows on things that shouldn’t have one. It came out clear. “Okay,” I thought to myself. “Either they really aren’t too worried about me. Or I missed what I’m looking for. I’ll check again later after I’ve been here for a while.” The little voice said: “Even money you missed it.” I couldn’t think of a witty retort. I laid down on the bed and tried to take a nap.
Probably several seconds after I dozed off, I got a call. I fumbled for the phone, looked at the anonymous number. Something told me not to let it go to message. I shrugged and answered it. “Tyler. This is Cory.”
“Hold on!” I replied. I stepped out of the room and into the hallway. “Go ahead. What’s up?”
Cory replied: “Just wanted to let you know I used the phone you gave me and turned it into what they call a burner phone. It has a prepaid plan with a few gigs of data and unlimited text and voice.”
“Good thinking!” I replied.
“Thank you. I also bought the plane ticket to the mainland at a library computer. Good grief! That wasn’t cheap! It is the flight the day after yours tomorrow morning. Closest one I could get. I also grabbed a cheap motel room for the next couple days in an… interesting neighborhood. Figured I’d stay put here until my flight leaves?”
I nodded my approval to the hallway. “Very good idea. I’m not sure if I still have any fans. Nor can I confirm yet if my room has bedbugs. You?”
He replied, “I haven’t seen anything so I don’t think I’ve been noticed. It finally sunk in from the precautions you’re taking, that we shouldn’t risk being seen staying in the same room.”
I nodded again to the empty hall. “Very good, they taught you well.”
“Tyler, you provided some of that training too. Don’t sell yourself short.” I throttled off the automatic “funny” denial and simply thanked him for the complement. Cory continued: “Should we get together later this evening? Dinner somewhere to do more planning.”
“Why not? Send me a text of where you want to catch up. Be careful in that interesting neighborhood of yours. Okay?”
“I will try,” Cory promised. “Call you later.” We said our goodbyes and disconnected.
Sifting my thoughts, I continued down to the lobby to buy something from the overpriced vending machine and a cup from the complementary coffee station. “His trainers, and mentors…” (My voice interrupted: “Including the late unlamented major.” “Thank you for your input.” I replied.) “…did well with him. In spite of the company. Once he makes it to the mainland he should be able to take care of himself without too much effort. Once he manages to blend in with the outside world.”
My little voice continued, “If he’s ever seen out of baggy clothing, or in swim trunks, he’ll have problems blending that ultra-Mr. Universe body and that average to large sized forearm between his legs in anywhere.”
I sighed. “Okay. True. That’s a problem. With luck, once he gets some body fat back on him it should help.”
The voice chirped: “Your problem? A problem? How about: finding a past, documented education history, a job.”
“Enough already!” I interrupted. “One problem at a time. Okay?”
As I took my first sip of coffee, the accursed little voice got in one last shot. “So, how does it feel to have an adopted nephew?” I sprayed my sip back into the cup, shook my head and mentally snapped back. “Don’t go there! Nephew with benefits is right out! Way too young friend with benefits is bad enough. Okay?” My little voice finally shut up. For a while.
While I was considering one last try at that nap, I got a text with the meetup time at Cory’s motel. I decided to stay up and watch some news and weather channels until it was time to leave. I went through my usual procedure with the car. Then drove down to Cory’s neighborhood. Interesting neighborhood was right. There are some places on the islands where nonnatives are “discouraged” in some manner or another from visiting. This area appeared to be one of them. He looked Polynesian enough to probably get away with it. I certainly wouldn’t.
If I still had a tail, I never saw them. So either they have quit; I’m getting old; or the car has a GPS tracker on it. I probably need to go over it better. Or, since I’m leaving tomorrow morning, maybe it doesn’t matter. Decisions! Decisions! I let Cory know I was inbound and I’d meet him at the main entrance.
We met as planned and Cory got into the car. I gave him the unsure high sign.
He smiled. “How was your day?”
“Not bad.” I replied. “Got to visit with the owner of the airplane over a decent lunch and drinks.”
“You tell your tale to him too?”
I grinned. “Of course! Figured I should let him know why I didn’t bring it all the way in two days ago. Besides, is the most interesting thing to happen to me for a while?”
He chuckled. “Why do I have problems believing that?”
I attempted to wither him with my patented scowl. “You can believe anything you want my friend. You were right about the interesting neighborhood. You look close enough to native to hang around here. I sure wouldn’t try hanging around too long this time of night.”
Cory looked confused. I described the actual type of neighborhood he appeared to be in. He nodded in understanding. “I was thinking interesting in other ways. That explains why the clerk spoke to me in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi. I said I only spoke a little Gagana Sāmoa. He accepted that and switched to English.”
“Makes sense” I replied. “I realized I’ve never asked you how many languages you know.”
Cory thought for a moment. “Five fluently. Seven more I can get by on.”
I whistled in appreciation. “That might be a record out of people I know of. Sure makes it easier to travel. I have trouble asking for a bathroom location in my native tongue.”
Cory laughed. We drove in silence. At some point I realized we were holding hands on at least the last third of the way to our destination.
It was a small restaurant with an open deck and probably had a decent view of the ocean. Kind of hard to tell since it was dark. We sat outside enjoying the stiff evening breeze. After a very good “authentic native Hawaiian” meal and quiet conversation we paid our bill.
We drove a few miles down to a section of what looked like public beach. The tide was out and we had a mostly quiet walk. Sometimes hand in hand, enjoying the nighttime scenery. I could see a few other people in the dark, out in the distance out there with us. Eventually we headed back towards the car. Cory had that sad look on his face again as he looked out over the ocean.
He stopped and stared into the darkness. “Go ahead Tyler. I’ll be there in a couple minutes.”
I silently patted him on the shoulder and walked the last couple hundred yards or so to the car. The little voice muttered: “PTSD’d much?” I silently snapped back: “That make two of us and you very well know it.”
Just before I got to the car, I saw two people silhouetted by the lights further inland. They were hanging around in the parking area close to the car. I did not see another car in the lot. So they were local or walked from where they parked. Normally, this wouldn’t have put me on alert. Probably the hour of night, the last couple days, and a final realization the area we were probably still in put me on edge. I paid no obvious attention to them as I entered the lot.
“Hey!” one of them said. “We ran out of gas and was wondering if you had some spare change.”
I replied, “Sorry, no. Can’t help you out. I’m tapped myself.”
We got to where we could mostly see each other’s faces. Two younger Polynesians in their 20s or so. One about my size, the other about a couple inches taller and wider. The shorter one replied: “I have trouble believing that looking at you old man. Why are you around here? Lost?”
My little voice muttered: “Uh oh!” I smiled. “Yep. I get lost pretty often. I’m pretty sure I figured out how to find my way back though.”
He replied, “That’s good. Unfortunately this beach isn’t—” (air quotes) “—public and we think you owe us an entrance fee.”
“Really?” I replied. “Sorry about my mistake but as I said, I’m tapped.”
I could hear the grin in his voice as he reached towards his waist. “Well, we’ll just have to see what you can pay with. Empty your pockets.”
I saw the glint of a knife in his hand and moved back a couple steps paralleling the side of the car. As the great William Fairbairn once wrote, “The first rule of a knife fight is, don’t get into one.” Unfortunately, if I followed his advice and ran, we’d be giving up the car and be effectively trapped here. On their territory. Although I think Cory and I could more than hold our own, I really didn’t want to give the authorities any reasons to notice us.
“I told you. You aren’t going to get much out of me.”
He started to close in, moving his right knife hand slightly side to side. As he came into close range, I quickly stepped in and reached out with my left arm and quickly put my left hand on his upper right arm. In a single motion, I slid my left hand down his arm using my thumb and index finger as a guide towards his wrist, pushing his knife arm down as I did. When I reached his wrist pocket, I wrapped my fingers around his wrist and turned his palm away from me. At the same time, I considered stepping in and punching him in the face with my right hand. But chose instead to close and slap his face. Hard. I continued with my right hand swing and brought the outside of my right hand against the flat of his blade and forcefully pushed it upwards, towards and against his forearm, breaking his grip on the handle. I kept my right hand there holding the blade flat against his forearm. As I released my left hand grip on his wrist I quickly spun my hand around and grabbed the knife handle. Finally, I stepped back with the knife in my hand. I glanced at it and realized it was a good quality one I could even throw if I had to.
He looked at me in shock. Both from the slap and the now lost knife. I said, “If you walk away now, no one will get hurt. I’ll leave and put your knife here where you can find it.”
Both of them hesitated for a moment. For a few optimistic seconds I thought they might actually leave. Then the larger guy pulled out a pistol.
I sighed. “Ah hell! Someday that line might actually work!” I said aloud, in concert with the little voice. I started looking at my very few options in this knife vs. gun fight.
Suddenly, I heard a thump and saw what looked like a fist sized rock ricochet off of the larger guys chest. It knocked him back a step as he loudly exhaled and dropped his pistol. Then he fell on his back with the wind knocked out of him. My opponent apparently didn’t see the rock. He only heard the noise and saw his friend hit the ground.
I looked at my suddenly distracted, shocked and disarmed opponent. “My two friends aren’t too far behind me. I suggest you leave while you can.”
The smaller guy glanced the darkness behind me, at me, then at his friend who finally started gasping and moaning in pain. He raised his open hands to chest height and stepped back beside his friend. As he knelt beside his friend, I held the knife in a throwing position. “I assume you know to not try for the gun?” I growled.
Not that I was about to test my so called throwing ability right now. Nor did I want to potentially give him his knife back. He didn’t need to know any of that. He helped up and supported his friend as they quickly exited the parking area. They started moving faster as he looked back and saw a fast-moving Cory run up to me. “Are you okay!?”
“I’m good. The adrenaline rush finally woke me up.” I walked up to the pistol on the ground and picked it up by the trigger guard, since I didn’t want to mess with the prints.
Cory looked around. “We should get moving! Now!”
I nodded. “I agree. I’ll bet you a dollar they have friends close by. But I think we have a couple minutes.” I put the pistol on the car and carefully ejected the magazine. I used my thumbnail to push all of the rounds out of it onto the pavement. Then wiped my prints off and threw it as far as I could into the weeds. Then I used a corner of my shirt to grip the very edge of the slide and ejected the chambered round. Next I threaded the knife blade most of the way through the trigger guard.
I handed the knife to Cory. “Think you could stick this into that wood pole with the dead streetlight over there and make it hard to remove?”
Cory grinned walked over to the pole and stuck I think about half of the knife blade into it about 7 feet (2 m) from the ground. He wiped his prints from the handle.
“Time to get out of here.” I did an abbreviated check on the car and unlocked it. We got in and left with no lights on until we were well onto a main street. Those two must live close since I didn’t see them anywhere on the way out.
“Well! That was another stupid, not well thought out move on my part,” I grumbled.
Cory replied, “From what I saw you had some pretty good moves.” He paused and apparently noted my mood had not improved. “Remember, I did talk you into going to this beach. I didn’t think. Maybe we should have driven further out.”
I grumbled more. “I know that and I didn’t even think of it myself. Stupid, stupid, stupid!” I changed the subject. “Do you see any tails?”
Cory looked around again. “No. I haven’t seen anything all night.”
I nodded. “Me either. I haven’t seen one since early afternoon. I hope that’s a good sign and not us getting sloppy or outclassed.”
We drove back mostly in silence to the motel. Cory must have figured I wasn’t going to get out of my self-annoyed funk. I dropped Cory off at the front entrance. He invited me up to his room but I declined. Since it was late. I was wiped and I had an early morning flight. Plus, he had a cover he needed to keep too. Finally, spending any more time in this neighborhood at this time of night, probably wasn’t a good idea, particularly after listening to my little voice scream at me repeatedly about the subject. He agreed with my assessment. Smart kid there.
I crashed in bed and woke up way too early and likely still short on sleep. Cleaned up, checked out. Drove to the airport and spent about three hours waiting for my 7 a.m. flight. At no time had I noticed anyone following me to or inside the airport. I got a text from Cory saying all was well.
I thought, “Maybe we got away with this. Or, I’m just getting too old to see things I should be.” I paused and silently interrupted, “Don’t say it!”
The little voice stopped what it was starting to say and responded instead with: “This whole thing has been going way too easy. Not something we are used to.”
I mentally nodded. “No, it isn’t. Murphy and the universe have been very kind this time. That’s why I am still expecting a very large piano, anvil or whale to drop on us at any moment.”
My voice continued: “Just watch out for guys with sharpened chopsticks in the concourse restroom.”
I winced at the memory of getting stabbed. “Ouch! Don’t remind me of that! Okay?” The little voice thankfully shut up again as I watched the people moving about and the airplanes out on the field.
Eventually we boarded and departed. It was a totally normal flight to Seattle. I had about a two hour layover waiting for the flight to my home airport. While waiting, I updated Cory on my status. It was about 40 degrees F (4.5 C) in Seattle. An unusually low temperature for that time of year. Which probably meant it was probably below freezing at home. The next flight took off on time. Everything appeared normal and I saw no signs of any tail. I used caution on the normally couple hour drive home because of the possibility of black ice on the road. I was still having severe problems believing things were going this well.
Once at my house, everything looked normal. Both neighbors are over a quarter mile (0.5 km) away with a decent line of sight. The lack of indoor lights said they probably bedded down hours ago. Nor was it late enough in the morning for them to start moving around. They would have let me know if something unusual had gone on around here.
It looked like the neighbor kid mowed the lawn that didn’t really need it anymore the day or two before. Probably for the last time this year. There were no indications of anything amiss with the out buildings. Nor around, or inside the house. I breathed a sigh of relief. I figured I’d grab my good bug and camera detector and go over the inside in the morning.
I reset the exterior security system. Gave the interior one last look then collapsed into my own wonderful bed and pillow around 4 a.m. local time. After I uncharacteristically tucked a .38 semiautomatic under my pillow. After spending over a week in Australia my body thought it still around late afternoon / early evening tomorrow. I hoped the jet lag on this one wouldn’t be too bad as I managed to fall asleep quickly.
I woke up well after sunrise from a wonderful dream concerning Cory. I rolled onto by back. My morning woody was quite apparent under the sheets. I spoke to the room: “Wow! Nine days ago I was in Australia. Five days ago I was on that island.” I stopped myself from saying: “And rescued Cory.”
“Quite a trip.” I strolled over to the bathroom did my business and showered.
I slipped on some running shorts and a T-shirt. Then went through the house with my regular detection equipment. This wasn’t my standard coming home procedure by any means. But this wasn’t one of my standard trips. Nor was it anything like my previous non-standard trips for that matter. Those were strange and unique enough all by themselves. Everything thankfully came up empty. I spent about an hour on the phone and computer theoretically making plans. Then, dressed more warmly, grabbed my phone and went outside to do some chores.
We basically had no cell reception here. So, most people out here still have landline phones. The only reason my cell phone works here is because I installed a network cell extender. It covers the outbuildings and all of the yard. If I go on top of the ridge behind the house, I can occasionally get 1 bar off of a tower. Maybe even a text if I held my tongue in the right place. My home computer network is hard wired. No wireless router leaking to the outside. I don’t willingly own anything with smart technology. If it is capable of it, it’s firmly disabled with extreme prejudice. I’m not anti tech by any means. I’m pro privacy. I sadly know too much about the world and some of the people in it. So I don’t trust the stuff or its suppliers any further than I can throw my pickup.
I got a text from Cory sometime before noon. Cory arrived in Seattle and would contact me when he landed here. I finished up what I was doing, cleaned up and started prepping for my drive to the airport.
I met Cory outside of the arrivals door. He had a completely uneventful flight. We got him loaded into the truck and started heading back to my place. As Cory closed the door to the truck he exclaimed. “I haven’t felt this cold since I spent over 48 hours in a freezer!”
I looked at him quizzically. “Training or experiments I assume?”
Cory nodded. “Both. Endurance tests on me and some training.”
“Ah,” I replied, then smiled. “I figured this might happen. You spending your whole life close to the equator. I have a blanket behind the seat and the heats on high. Now that we are here we’ll work on warmer clothing.”
Cory nodded thankfully as we exited the airport grounds.
“Do we need to stop for food?” Cory nodded and we stopped by a sandwich shop.
On the drive back we talked about his movements and activities he made while I was gone. It really looks like no one knows about him. Even my little voice was mostly quieting down. A nearly full moon and a cold cloudless evening lit the night and the roadway. The closer we got to my place, the thinner the traffic got. By the time we passed through the town closest to me. The only thing open was one combination gas station and convenience store. The only thing moving was the one city police car driving along the main street.
Cory asked, “How many people live here?”
I replied: “It’s pretty close to what the sign says. About 1,600 or so. It used to be larger a few decades ago. Then the jobs started drying up and moving out.”
He nodded, “I thought so. I noticed quite a few empty storefronts.”
I nodded. “Unless they get some industry or touristy thing going here. The older people will stay and the younger one will keep leaving. Most of the working age people here drive to a couple nearby towns for work.”
“Tyler, I’m curious. As much as you travel, why do you still live here and not somewhere closer to an airport and such?”
I shrugged. “I wasn’t born here but I was raised here. The place I have belonged to my great great-grandfather. Most of the property got sold off over the years as the family needed money. Or to settle estates and such. But I still have the house, outbuildings and about 40 acres / 16 hectares of ground I lease to my neighbors who raise livestock. I will probably be there until I die.”
We finally pulled into the driveway around 4 a.m. Cory said, “That house has been around for a while.”
I nodded. “Yep it has. Built in 1918. An actual two story Craftsman house.”
Cory replied: “Those were the mail order kit houses?”
“Correct. This one was shipped by railroad flatcars to a nearby sidetrack. The flatcars were unloaded onto horse and wagons and moved to this site. Then assembled over a pre-built basement. I have a few photos somewhere. The utilities have been upgraded over the decades. But done in a way you really can’t tell.”
We got unloaded and I showed Cory to one of the larger spare bedroom upstairs. After explaining the interior and exterior security systems I bid him good morning and to sleep well. Then I went back downstairs to my bedroom.
The sun was just rising when I awoke to a scream upstairs. “Damn! Sounds like another one.” I went upstairs and knocked on Cory’s door. “You okay in there? Need anything?”
After a few moments I heard a shaky sounding, “I’m okay. Come on in.”
I opened the door and saw Cory sitting on the side of the bed. I could see that he was shivering slightly. I could also see that the few days of a decent amount of food was showing up on him. He was nearly as defined as ever. But at least the striations and veins weren’t sticking out anymore. “Bad one I take it?” Cory nodded. “Want to talk about it?” Cory shook his head. “You want some company for a while?” He nodded.
So, I sat down on the bed beside him. Wrapped one arm around him. Cory did the same and we just silently sat for a time. My little voice and I discussed where we could possibly find a therapist or counselor we could trust for him to talk to, since mine sadly was no longer amongst the living.