13 January 2012

Chapter 6: A Dish Served Cold

(Chapter 1) 
(Chapter 2)


They both knew what was coming as the shock wave buffeted the broad-winged plane. The mushroom-shaped column of orange, red and black flames rose swiftly toward them.

The Beaver bounced and shook through the waves of concussion and flame, curving around the pillar of fire that rose from the center of what had been the largest moving object either of them had ever seen: a bag of gigantic proportion, which had clearly been filled with flammable gases and ignited by the red hot silver-tipped, boat-tailed rounds which passed through its outer layers and into whatever lay beneath.

A concussion of heated air and thunderous sound buffeted the little aircraft as Jamie fought the stick and rudder for control. The rolling, rumbling sound continued at a near-deafening level, shaking them to their bones as the plane tossed like a leaf on the wind.

A "leaf on the wind", he said. Wash made it sound easier than this, Jamie thought. Please, wings ... stay on. She gradually corrected the plane's attitude, and then inhaled with a shudder, never having realized she hadn't been breathing. 

"Did you know that was gonna happen?" Sandy shouted. She could barely hear him above the ringing in her own ears, but supposed his hurt just as badly. "No, I didn't. I'm not surprised, though; nothing that big should have been able to move that fast unless it was hollow," she yelled back.

Jamie pulled back on the yoke, taking advantage of the boost provided by the hot air rising from the explosion of the ... "Hey, Sandy - what do we call that thing?" she asked.

"Gasbag? Hot-air monster? Hydrogen-filled blimp? Why are you asking me? I don't wanta name it. I don't even want to see one again," he replied.

"We have to make a report, but I reckon the archivist can figure out what it was. Meanwhile, I need to get Baby back on the ground and make sure she's still got all her parts."

"Uh, Jamie? I hate to bring this up, but did we ever figure out what was causing the waves in the harbor?" he asked.

"I was kind of hoping you'd forget all about that. It's not like we don't have enough trouble already. Okay, let's go back to the port."

They turned back toward the coast, and could see the white-capped waves lapping at the beach, even from this distance. "Is there any wind?" Sandy asked.  "No," said Jamie.

"Then what's making those waves?"

* * * * *

In the air above the Wrangell Mountains:

"Okay, Rick - it's time. You promised to tell us about Harvey." The guys all nodded and looked expectant.

"Yeah, I did. Okay ... I came up here in the early '70s, because Earl said the Alaskan team was getting stretched too thin, and a lot of the Hunters were getting a bit too long in the tooth for the stuff we do. You know how it is."  Everyone nodded again. "Well, the team leader then was Jake Cavanaugh. He was a sourdough, a real old-school kind of guy. Jamie's his niece, by the way, so no wisecracks.

"He had a cabin at Pete's Landing on the Chitina River. We're probably flying over that area right now. Anyway, I hadn't been up here too long when he took me under his wing and said I was gonna be his replacement. One night when winter was setting in, he and Jamie and I were sitting around his cabin, just shootin' the bull, and Jamie asked him to tell the story about Harvey again.

"Seems that back when his daddy was Hunting, there was a ... what did he call it? Oh, right. A 'dust-up'. They were chasing a rumor, a old campfire tale, about a moose with glowing eyes - a big moose - that would be seen on a winter's night. Folks would tell how the old-timers would see it, and a few of 'em even took potshots at it, but no one ever hit it. Leastways, not that they could tell. They'd find tracks, but never any blood trail.

He stretched out his legs in an attempt to ease the ache in his knees, and put one foot on a gear bag.

"No one ever heard a sound either, but come morning, some cabin somewhere would be found with the door busted down and tracks all 'round - but no sign of the hunters or miners who'd been staying there. In fact, there was no sign of 'em ever seen again."

"Aw, Rick, this sounds like a campfire story. Real monsters leave plenty of sign: blood, torn clothes, or whatever, when they take victims," Tom said. "This sounds more like a ghost story to scare kids than a real monster report."

Rick said, "Harvey was real, and I've got the scars to prove it. Hang on; you haven't heard the best parts yet.

"Jake's daddy ... Zeb, his name was ... Zeb and his team went out looking for an old trapper that'd been way back in the Bush, up around the Canuck border. They'd been contacted by the guy's nephew from California; seems no one had heard from the feller for a couple of seasons. They got so far back in the Bush, they weren't even sure where they were anymore. That's when the trouble started.

"They'd find a campsite or a little cabin, but never any fresh sign of people. The ground around the fire pit or cache would be torn up and trampled, and a lot of times the cache would be be knocked over. You know those old-time caches where the folks would build a miniature cabin on tall stilts, to keep their stores in? Those would be flattened, no matter how heavy the timbers were. And the cabins didn't fare much better: doors caved in, windows busted, but nary a sign that anyone had been there in a very long time. Jake said his daddy and the team were getting pretty discouraged.

"But they finally picked up one set of hoof prints that were much bigger than normal, and decided to follow them for awhile. The tracks led to a high ridge in some old growth. Zeb told Jake that it gave his team 'a good case of the willies', and those guys were experienced Hunters.

"They never found the big moose, glowing eyes or not, and the disappearances stopped after awhile, so they gave it up and worked on other cases. That is, until the year after I joined Jake's team."


DISCLAIMER: I do not own MHI or any of its characters; those are owned and copyright Larry Correia. I only claim the ones I've created. And a BIG h/t to Mr. Correia for creating such a wonderful universe in which to play, and for his kind permission to use his concepts here.

A h/t also to Jenny S., who contributed a couple of crucial ideas to improve this short story and the book cover & team patch above. Her help has been invaluable, both here and in my first book.


Cathy said...

Tell you what.

I don't read fiction . . BUT . . I do no effective writing . . and THIS is effective.

Have you an agent?

I understand that's a first step.

Cathy said...

I need to try that again ;)

I do 'KNOW' effective writing.

Actually I also 'do' effective writing.

Only poetry.

Won a third in the Robert Frost Poetry Contest a few years back.

Rev. Paul said...

Cathy, thank you for the complimentary remarks. No, I don't have an agent; I'm not trying to sell anything. This is just for fun.

I may try something more commercial in the future, but for now, I'm just doing it for the practice.