Chapter 6

The group walked for about 40 minutes when they came across a small clearing resembling a large dried-up watering-hole with several downed trees along the opening. “A perfect place to rest.” Said Red.  Red having extensive tactical training, decided to scout the area. It was about 5:30 am, and dawn would soon be breaking the mountain top, and the morning fog started to roll in. “Okay, everyone,” said Red. “It’s going to be daylight soon, and we’re going to pass close to the dock and the ranger station to get to the parking lot, and we can use the fog as cover.  We know nothing about what’s going on, on the shore, so I’m going to scout out a bit, you guys’ rest.” Red made sure everyone was settled. “I’ll be back,” said Red. “Shane, keep an eye on the group, and if Doc needs anything, “I got this,” replied Shane, “I got this.”

Red disappears into the trees as the group takes cover in the dry pond.  Tammy looks at Doc for a long minute as if deciding whether to ask a question or start accusing of some wrongdoing in the group.  Tammy softly clears her throat and asks, “Red has shared some of your journeys with us, and it’s cool and all, but can you tell us some?

Doc looks at Tammy for a long couple of minutes and says, “sure, what would you like to know?  Tammy shrugs her shoulders and looks at Doc.

Doc starts chuckling and says’s. “A few years ago, we were camping up in the white mountains when this child came out of nowhere.  The boy looked about 12 or 13, very friendly and polite, but he didn’t feel right in his skin. He’d had been hiking in the mountains alone most of the day. All he knew was that he felt someone or something that could help, and he needed to find them. I talked to him for several minutes when I started feeling this sharp stabbing pain in the side of my head.   I excused myself, thinking I was getting a migraine, and I went and laid down in our RV.  About 30 minutes passed, and my head was feeling better, so I went out to rejoin the group.

As I approached the group, the sharp pain in my head started to throb, and the migraine felt like it would burst through my skull. Said Doc.    I lost consciousness and dropped, hitting my head on a rock which brought a migraine out, but there was something else just lingering in the back of my head.  EVERYONE WAS STANDING OVER ME when I had come to, but the boy was almost hiding behind a tree, taking in slight glimpses before ducking back behind the tree.  Suddenly, a question I hadn’t thought to ask him surfaced in my head.  Red helped me up as he always does. He sat me in my chair, where the boy had a few questions of his own but was afraid to leave the tree.

“Can you help me? Asked the boy before he disappeared behind the tree only to re-emerge less than a minute later, only to ask, is it you I’m feeling?  Can you send me home?  The group went silent.  I asked where home was, but I think I already knew it wasn’t here.  The boy fidgeting behind the tree, almost afraid to come out, slowly takes steps towards her.  I held my hand out and slowly approached the boy. With every step, I saw a new vision of him playing with other children, talking with his mom, and even being so sick he couldn’t stand.  I slowly started to understand what help he needed, and Doc saw his death and his mother crying over his grave.

The boy wasn’t only lost. He was stuck and afraid. He walked over 100 miles to meet her there in hopes I could help him move on.  The boy died almost 30 years prior of brain tumors.  He stayed close to his home and family and acted as their Guardian Angel until he felt the rebirth of the Elementals.  Elementals like me said Doc, have the power, no, no, a duty, to help set a situation straight even sometimes to our elementals, peril.  Did you help him said, Tammy? I’m getting there, my sweet, Doc said as she smiled and patted Tammy’s hand.  The boy named Heath had died before his 25th birthday, and he reverted to the age of enlightenment. For him, that was the age of 12 or 13.  Heath was a child prodigy in the medical industry. He worked on cures for several different cancers, headed up some of the leading research and development at John Hopkins Research Center until the treatment took his life.

He started working on different projects about his type of tumors that showed promising results, until one day, he just up and died.  He didn’t fully know how he died or what happened, and he chalked it up to dying in his sleep.  As Heath reached out and touched my hand, I could see what had happened to him. “I saw his death,” said Doc, “like a movie in my head, but he had to see it too.” Doc looks down at her hands in her lap, rubbing them together. With a tear in her eyes, she reached out and touched Heath’s hand.  Heath worked in a top-secret lab that he shared with Dr. Linda Patel, and their relationship was a competitive one very competitive.

Heath and Linda had been working on a new class of drugs that used tech to trick cancer and tumor cells in the human body, allowing safe healing without poisonous drugs like chemo and radiation.  They started seeing great results with the trials, and they decided to move on to human testing before they got approval.  In the end, it began to threaten their work, especially since Heath chose to do the human testing on himself.  The trial, however, didn’t react how they expected, and Linda was afraid of being overshadowed, or worse, Heath shutting the trials down.  Linda shared their results to a large grant funding panel, headed up by none other than the tech mogul himself, then poisoned Heath staged his suicide, and he was found dead in their lab the following day by security.

As I watched the whole thing like a movie in my head, I knew what I had to do.  Heath needed help moving on, but he had unfinished business.  He died before he could ask Linda to marry him. Heath even had the ring.  He was holding on to her to stay here because he thought she needed him.  Heath and I sat on the edge of a cliff for hours, watching the view, not saying a word.  Red had taken a post about 100 feet behind us and kept a lookout.  After what seemed like a lifetime, Heath looked at me and said, hum, I guess I didn’t die in my sleep?  I guess not… “What’s next? said Heath.  Anything you want, said Doc.  Heath and Doc stood up at the edge of the mountain and hugged for a long minute.  When Heath looks at Doc and Says, “Anything?” Doc shakes her head with tears in her eyes and repeats “anything….” Heath turns and salutes Red, and with one step back, he vanishes over the side of the mountain.

Red from over Doc’s shoulder says, “that was fucking freaky,” as he softly puts his hand on Doc’s shoulders.  Doc looks up at Red as if they were having a conversation no one else could hear.

“The thick fog started rolling in from the lake,” said Red as he came peering over the dirt mound. “I found Adam and JR in the ranger cabin. JR was sleeping, and Adam was sitting at the desk. I think he’s asleep too, but not sure” What about Art ?  said Tammy. He seems to be more dangerous than the other two?  Yes, said Red. I didn’t see him at all.  Is there anyone else there? Asked Nathen  Yeah, two other guys sleeping on cots inside the cells with the doors closed.  I don’t know if they are prisoners or partners, so we go with the worst-case scenario. There are possibly four people to avoid at the docks and Art floating around someplace.” Everyone needs to keep their eyes open and be as quiet as they can. We are going to slip by with the fog as cover.  Well, that’s the plan anyway.” Said Red

As the sun started cresting over the mountain, the fog drifted through the trees turning everything a grey-white, concealing the group as they reached the trail 132A that would take them ultimately to safety.  Red, leading the group, held up a hand to stop the group. I heard something said Red.  In a short distance from them, they could hear someone or something moving around in the fog.  Doc seeing something out of the corner of her eye, slows down, allowing the group to pass in front of her.  When Tammy looks at Doc and says, “Your stone isn’t glowing, it always glows.” Doc looks down at the blood diamond.  Quietly Doc motions to Tammy to rejoin the group just ahead as Doc veered off towards the beach and ranger station.  Doc started placing several rocks in a row between the ranger station and the group making light tapping noises to resemble wild animals with an occasional wolf or coyote noises.

Red, noticing Doc wasn’t in the group anymore, holds a hand up. He looks around, stopping the group to take a headcount. When Tammy looks at Red and says her stone wasn’t glowing, Doc’s stone wasn’t glowing, clarifying whom.  Red motioned to Shane to hold the line as he slowly maneuvered towards Doc’s direction, who was still making slight animal noises.  Red reaching up to Doc in the fog. Grabs her, and they drop to the ground.  Art passed by a short 10 feet from where they were laying and 30 feet from the rest of the group. “Doc,” said Red forcefully really, no dare-deviling didn’t I say that?”  Yes, but Doc nearly gets out when Red asks.  “You promised,” said Red as he pulled her close and whispered. My stones went dark. We were in danger, the whole group was in danger, and I had to try to throw whomever off.  Red looks at Doc and says, ‘s it’s Art.  Artlookedated Doc, I couldn’t get a reading on him.  Red looked at Doc and said, “he’s the leader. He sits back and watches his dogs do his bidding. “I believe he’s the one pulling the strings, in this case, said Red. Let catch up to the rest of the group.” Doc looked down at her blood diamond “not yet,” said Doc, Red stopped and looked at her. “There is something else I have to check,” said Doc.  Red repeating pitter-patter with a slight giggle, said, “well then, pitter-patter, let’s get at her.”

Doc slowly and quietly made her way to the ranger’s cabin and the ranger station.  Peeking in the windows of each building, not entirely sure what she was looking for, while Red quietly followed Art.  The first building appeared to be storage; it was a small building with floor-to-ceiling shelving.  The shelving held some food, office supplies, ropes, life jackets, floatation devices, extra boat supplies, and on the bottom corner of the building was the CPR practice or certification dummy when Doc had an idea.  Doc makes her way around the building to the door.  Building 2 was on the water and, from what Doc could tell, was a boathouse or where they maintained the patrol boats…  Doc makes her way quickly and quietly to the far side window as to not get caught.

Grabbing a create to stand on, Doc cautiously peaks into the window, scanning from side to side for movement.  Just then, in the corner of her eye, Doc sees something or someone tied to a pole. Please don’t be locked; she repeated to herself several times before reaching the doorknob and turning it.  The door was unlocked when she twisted the doorknob, but it was stuck, really stuck.  Doc looked around for something that she could wedge under the door to pop it open.  She walks to the far corner of the building. There was a pry bar sitting against the building.  Doc Wedged the pry bar under the door, then stepped and jumped on the pry bar until finally lifting the door up just enough to slide the door open. Doc was able to get the door open with minimal effort. She slipped inside grabbing the duffle bag that had the dummy inside, and quickly entered the building.  Closing the door proved a bit more challenging. Doc ended up leaving the door ajar for fear of being heard and made her way to another building.

Doc makes her way around the boathouse, looking for a door, and she finds the door facing the other buildings. Doc takes a moment to watch that whole side of the building, noticing another window just around the corner.  The window was dirty, and it looked stained from the sun and dirt.  Doc wiped off a small corner of the window and peeks in, “yep, that’s a person,” thought Doc as she scanned the area for a guard or something. Everything was still.

Inside the boathouse, there was a dock for the patrol boat with decking all the way around on the far side of the boat, a toolbox with a workbench on either side of it, a large metal shelving that appeared to be boat parts, oil, a couple of gas cans, tarps, rope, even an extra anchor.  The back of the boathouse had a figure tied up to a pole in the far corner, in the middle had another shelving system with every type of floatation device ever made, and a BBQ grill in the corner closest to Doc.  Along the wall where Doc was standing just outside the building, there was several paddles, two canoes, a couple of paddleboards that looked like they hadn’t been used in over a decade, a half a dozen camping chairs, two bicycles, and a partridge in a pear tree Doc quietly thought.  Doc reached her hand out, trying to stay as close to the building as possible, and checked the door. “Two for two,” Wisper’s Doc, as she slowly opens the door.  Slipping through the door, Doc takes cover by the canoes. She watched for movement in the dark corner.  Doc waited a few minutes, and still no movement, so she slowly made her way towards the BBQ grills.  In darkness, Doc remained in the corner watching for any movement or sound…still nothing.  Doc makes her way by the shelving on the back wall when she notices a jacket on the ground in front of her. It was a green camo jacket with a familiar patch on the side. She slowly picks it up, only to realize her worst fear. This was her friend Alo’s jacket.  Doc looks at the figure in front of her, still no sound or movement.  Doc takes a deep breath and lunges forward towards the figure when the figure lets out a hushed moan.  Doc recognizes the sound of her friend and softly puts her hand on Alo’s shoulder.  Alo jumped, he looked up at Doc, and the tears started streaming down his face, happy and surprised to see Doc.  Doc puts the duffle bag with the dummy inside, down next to Alo, and helps untie him.  Alo looked a bit rough for the weather. He had a black eye, cut open lip, a couple of broken ribs, cuts and bruises all over.

Once Alo was untied, they quickly pulled out the test dummy and set it up as a decoy.  As Doc and Alo were leaving the boathouse, Red appeared around the corner of the building. “We got to go, people,” whispered Red. “Art is two buildings down. We have to go now!” Alo looked at Red and said, “I have to get back to the reservation. I have to warn my people.  Red looked at Alo and asked, “where’s your ride?” I’ll take one of the canoes I know how to get out of here without being seen. Besides, I don’t have a large group like you.” Red, Alo, and Doc snuck back inside the boathouse, “Who the hell is that, said Red, as he pointed to the corner that the dummy sat tied up in. That’s the dummy, said Doc. Red looked confusingly between Doc and Alo. “I’ll explain later said Doc, as they started getting the canoe down as quietly as possible.  Red nodded, definitely later said Red look at Doc.  The three of them quietly released the canoe and set it in the water behind the patrol boat.  Red told Alo to get in the canoe, Doc holding a rope and the canoe while Red made his way to the boat’s engine sabotaging it and giving Alo the best chance of freedom as possible.   Red pulled the spark plugs and wires out, throwing them in the lake behind the boathouse. He then made his way over to Doc and Alo.  Red helped launch Alo’s canoe, grabbed Doc, and swiftly exited the boathouse and back up to the tree line.  Alo quietly floated out of the boathouse and into the thick fog as if never being there.

Red looks at Doc for a good minute and finally asks, “Do you always have to be the hero?’ “It’s not about being the hero. It’s about knowing I’m protected, and I can protect them.” Said Doc as she started stumbling around like every bar patron on New Year’s Eve. She was getting weak at the knees and became faint.  Red grabbed on to Doc, looked at her, and asked, did he need to be healed?  Doc, Doc, did you heal him?  Doc nodded her head faintly “he was dying,” said Doc. “I couldn’t let him die.” When suddenly, Doc dropped to her knees, repeating, “I couldn’t let him die.” Red looked towards the lake, in the direction Alo was headed, watching the fog slowly retreat and dance with the shoreline and hiding Alo from the shore.

Red re-emerges from the forest and ranger station with Doc’s lifeless body in his arms.   Setting Doc down on some brush against a tree.  Seeing Red with Doc in his arms, Tammy grabbed a water bottle and sat down next to Doc, looked up at Red, and asked, “what happened to her?” Red said she’d be okay. She needs some rest; can you sit with her?” Tammy nods as Red heads to the front of the group and finds Shane.  Shane jumps up, saying, “We ready?” In a minute, said Red, I’m going to have to carry Doc out of here. Shane spoke up Doc,?  What happened to Doc. She’ll be fine, but she is out of commission for a bit, said Red. I’m going to head the group out from here said Red pointing along the path. However, instead of walking up this trail were going to take the back way through the dry storage lot.  There are five down at the ranger station if Art made it back down by now, but I didn’t see him, and we don’t know if they are going through what’s in there. We may run into a couple of people in there.  Once we get into dry storage, I’m hoping to find a place to lay low with the sun coming up. They are going to be able to catch up to us fast. “Awesome,” said Shane, “do you do this kind of thing a lot?   Red looks confusingly at Shane shaking his head.  Yaa, this is what I do for fun on the weekends.  No, I’ve never done anything like this before, I’ve done different things, but not this said Red as he chuckled a little shaking his head and saying I do this all the time as he pats Shane on the back “you crack me up snickered Red, I even like your movies I just don’t watch a lot of TVs.” “You’ve seen my movies, said Shane, almost giddy as he hopped along beside Red to the rest of the group.  Yep, and if you tell anyone, I’ll deny it said Red. I have a reputation to uphold.  Shane looked at Red, with a big grin on his face, like being a little kid sneaking downstairs on a frosty Christmas morning.  Red waves an arm in the air to get the group’s attention, everyone quietly looks at Red. “It’s time for us to move up the mountain towards the dry storage. Keep your eyes open I don’t know if anyone is up there. We are going to find a place in dry storage to lay low for a little while.  Doc needs some time to recover, and we need to disable any vehicle they could use to catch us.  Most of the fog has started retreating over the water, and we already disabled the patrol boat so they couldn’t go after Alo. Still, they will more than likely try to pull another patrol boat out of the lower water storage if they have any available.

Red bends and picks Doc up, and Tammy helps hold her head steady.  As Tammy looked at Doc, worried because she was lethargic and unresponsive, she noticed out of the corner of her eye, Doc’s Blood Stone was glowing again. As she looked closer, she noticed there were a total of three stones, and only one looked like it burned, but upon closer inspection, she noticed it looked like it was alive. Just then, Red looks at Tammy and nods, and they head to the front of the group and quietly head up the mountain using the tree line as cover.

It took 35 minutes and a sprang ankle to make it across the lot to get into dry storage. Red again sat Doc against a tree.  The lot was about 100 yards wide with some desert plants and rough terrain with several large boulders to scale and then home free into the dry storage lot.  Red turned and looked as everyone gathered around. Red cleared his throat and said quietly, we are almost home free, across this lot. Red pointing towards the empty lot.  This is the only way in or out of the dry storage lot. We have Doc, whom I will carry, and Beth with her ankle that Don will help. We will go first. I want the rest of you to pair up and cross the lot two at a time.

First, Shane and I will check out the lot and make sure it’s safe and figure out where we are going to hold up together until dark.  I was hoping to get the hell out of dodge this morning, but I don’t think it’s safe to cross, especially now that we set their almost dead prisoner free and disabled their patrol boat. I’m sure they have others down at the docks and the patrol dock.  They shouldn’t need or want anything up here in dry storage, but we need to stay vigilant.   Beth sat down on one side of Doc and Tammy on the other side.

Red and Shane quietly started crossing the lot and scaling the boulders, disappearing halfway across the lot within minutes.  They make it to the gate, and Red lifts his hand around the corner, telling Shane to stop.  They take cover by a beautiful white and black houseboat.  Listening for sounds in the storage lot as they carefully look around.  Red taking the back half and Shane the front, they both make their way around the lot, looking for a place to take cover for the day and stay concealed from any unexpected company.

The dry storage lot was the size of a football field with boats, RV’s, tractors, and a small workshop, and with it being the end of October, the lot was full.  As Shane and Red completed their sections working towards each other, they stumbled upon a large yaught in the middle of the lot.  The yaught was covered with a boat cover and large tarp as Shane and Red circled the boat looking for any signs of it being tampered with.  There was a wood swim deck at the back of the yaught that a tarp was secured to.  It looks safe said Shane as Red looked at the ropes and the tarp, making sure he could hide any signs of them being there. “And,” said Shane looking at Red, We are good?  I think we are good said Red repeating I think we’re good.

Red and Shane slipped out of the storage lot and reappeared over the boulders about 30 minutes later. Okay, we found a houseboat in the middle of the storage lot.  There is a good-sized yaught in the middle of the dry lot.  It should fit all of us comfortably.  Remember we go through the lot two by two, said Red. We will wait on the other side of the fence until everyone makes it across and go to the houseboat together. Keep your eyes open and quiet.  The lot appeared empty, but if you hear something or someone take cover, the best you can, and when the coast is clear, Shane and I will find you!  Red made his way over to Doc and said, “it’s you and me, baby,” he squatted down, picking her up like nothing.  First, the boulders proved to be more challenging than he thought, having to put Doc down on one of the boulders, climb up himself and pick Doc up again.  Red and Doc make it around the fence and signal for Don and Beth.  Don and Beth were next to start scaling the boulders, Beth’s ankle gave her some trouble, but they made it around the fence as well in record time.

It was going on at 9 am when Shane brought up the rear and made it around the fence. The sun was bright, it was a beautiful 77 degrees, and it was eerily quiet.  The group made it to the yaught in one-piece, Red-handed Doc to Shane, and started carefully untying the rope on the swim deck.  Red lifted the tarp and disappeared inside, re-emerging a few moments later, giving Shane the thumbs up. Shane handed Doc back to Red as they disappeared under the tarp once again.  It was a beautiful 4 level, six-room suit, with staff quarters, two formal living rooms, a formal dining room, game room, and a cinema room houseboat.   Tammy and Nathen were the last to make it on board. They all made their way inside the boat, finding a place to relax a little in the main cabin. Red had laid Doc on the couch and instructed everyone to remain as quiet as possible while Nathen, Shane, and himself clear footprints and resecure the tarp to the swim deck, and off they went.  Tammy and Beth again sat with Doc while the others explored the boat some.

Did you see Doc’s Stones, Tammy asked Beth?  Yes, they’re pretty, said Beth. I think they’re alive, Tammy whispered. Okay, said Beth. Now that’s cool. We’ll have to ask.  In the distance, you could hear the rustling of the tarp and the screeching of the trailer as people moved around and in the distance was a soft ping-ping sound of a colt 44 with silencer practice rounds the distance.  Red, Nathen, and Shane re-emerge from under the tarp and head straight for the main cabin.  Red sits on the couch next to Doc. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m exhausted whispered Red. We can’t leave here until dark, so I’m going to take Doc to bedroom two, cleanup a little, and take a nap.  I suggest you guys get some sleep as well.  I don’t know if they will come up here or not, so quiet is critical, and please keep in mind movement causes the trailer to squeak and squeal, and it will draw attention if anyone is around.  I recommend staying on board the boat, especially since we’ve covered up all our footprints and retied the tarp to the swim deck.

We need to check the kitchen for any food and or water, said Jase, and maybe some Tylenol if we’re lucky.  Oh, yeah, I can second that one, said Dave, as they quietly started downstairs.  The stairs were rustic iron spiral staircase that had a small platform on each landing.  Red started his way up the stairs with Doc over his shoulder. The staircase was too narrow for him to carry her any other way.  When Red made it in front of bedroom 2, he opened the door slowly as not to make a sound and entered.  The bedroom was freshly cleaned. The furniture was covered with white sheets.   Mahogany and cedar filled the room. The light was dim under the tarp, perfect for a nap.  Red heads towards the bed and gently lays Doc down on the left side of the bed furthest away from the door.  Red was old-fashioned and very protective of Doc, putting himself between any danger and her.

The bed had four large, beautiful mahogany bedposts with white netting draped over them.  Red pulled back the covers and softly got into bed, falling asleep almost immediately.

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