Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Prologue To A Future - 1

The net was down....

Inspector Harry Monday rested in the sunlight, high up the river gorge, his back pressed against the warm mountain granite that lined the walls of the stony pocket he had taken refuge in. The mountain fell away in front of him, throwing the river cascading out and down into a steep forested valley that plunged towards the thin grey line of old Highway 99, and beyond that to the shining silver plate of Howe Sound.

He opened his eyes and brushed at the flies that kept gathering over the open burn wound on his leg.

"Not dead yet!"

He swore as he swept them away with an open hand.

It was just plain bad luck that had finally caught up with him. He still hadn't been spotted by any of the Special Forces search teams that were combing the tangled mountainsides for him, but he knew it was just a matter of time.

Harry leaned out to look over the edge of the cliff in front of him, then gasped as pain ripped through his body. The shock ran like bad electricity from his injured right leg up through the twisting nerve ends in back of his teeth, exploding somewhere just behind his eyes. He held his breath and sat completely still until things swam back into focus.

"Would've made it, if it wasn't for this," he muttered in disgust, wincing as he moved back carefully, waiting for his leg to quiet down.

Harry eased up against the wall again and reached around to check that his pistol was where he had left it, tucked into his belt behind him. For the hundrenth time that morning he ran his fingers over his police badge to make sure it was still hanging from the left chest pocket of his beat up old fatigue jacket. His fingers were scraped and stiffened from the climb and exposure to the cold of the night before.

"Won't be playing piano for a while," he said, as he held his hands out in front of himself to view them. He tried to laugh. A wisp of wind carried faint voices and the clatter of equipment up from the valley bottom, silencing him.

Harry rubbed with renewed energy at the filthy gold badge, polishing it with his dirty sleeve until it glinted in the sunlight like new. The lettering on it became clear; it read City of Vancouver Police Department - Homocide Division. Hopefully they'd see that first and slow up long enough to ask some questions. A week in the bush could change the way people look at you.

Harry had to keep reminding himself to keep his hands away from his body, but not too far. He might need his gun after all. It wouldn't do to give those totally freaked military types down there an excuse to just blow him away. He still wanted some questions answered, although he didn't think the people he wanted to talk to would be in any mood to talk to him. Judging from all the trouble they'd gone to, he suspected they had other plans for Harry Monday.

Harry had awakened earlier that morning to the rattle of helicopter blades approaching. He had fought through the fog that clouded his head, struggling to hear more clearly as the helicopter came closer. A kind of nameless peace had attached itself to the sound. It was as if the noisy machine was part of some forgotten scene from his own lost childhood, a moment where he had been truly happy. But he was uncertain; there were no pictures in his mind, just a sense of place, of feeling home. Was it memory or the first intoxicating flush of fever that was beginning to course through his body? Thirst took hold of him, and he had pulled himself close enough to drink from the mountain stream that plunged over the cliff before him and crashed into the rocks of the river bed far below.

The craft had approached unseen along the base of the cliff below, hovered for a moment, then seemed to turn at the foot of the falls, probably to follow the rocky riverbed downstream. He felt the sensation leave him as the blades thumped off into the distance, and he had slipped off to sleep again.

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