It was snowing heavily and very cold. When I say very cold, I mean something beyond most people's imagination. I live 30 miles southeast of Hammerfest, Norway and when I say cold I mean more than 50 below zero. Sane people just don't go outside in that kind of weather. The slightest mishap and you're a dead man. The only way in and out from where I live in the winter is by snowmobile or dog sled and the winter lasts nine months. I live there for a reason; I'm not a hermit, retreating from the world or a monk on a pilgrimage. I have reasons that will become clear as we move along through this recounting.
I was outside feeding the dogs when I heard an almighty thump about two miles away to the south. I stood there for a minute and when I saw smoke I got worried. Something had blown up and there wasn't anything in that direction for a hundred miles. My cheeks began to freeze and I went inside. I mulled it over in my mind and went to put on clothes. You dress right when it's 50 below or you die. If you sweat, you die. If you don't keep out the wind you die. If you get wet you die and there was a creek between me and the explosion. I took Sam and Bella, my Tibetan Mastiffs, and put on skies. I tied snowshoes to my pack and started toward the smoke. It was making a smudge heading south and it looked like rubber or oil.
As I got close I could see flames through the trees and I could see metal. It was a helicopter. One of the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawks and it was a mess. I could see bodies. I knew it could carry 12 people and I could see eight lying around in various stages of dismemberment. I had no clue why it had crashed, but it looked like US military. That set alarms off in the back of my head and I took the SR-25 off my back and cycled a shell into the chamber. I didn't see any movement but I checked the bodies carefully. They were all dead. I approached the aircraft low and there was another body inside. It was a young woman and she didn't appear mangled, but there was a seat lying across her leg. I slipped off a glove and felt her neck. She was alive, but she wouldn't be for long. Her neck was freezing cold. I debated with myself for a minute. I should leave her here and hump back to the house. I knew I wasn't going to do it. The dogs were sniffing around and Bella barked once. I went to her and there was another body. I knew this one.
He was a Ranger named Benson out of Hunter in Georgia and the last time I saw him he was lying on a floor unconscious while I was getting the hell out of Dodge. He was trying to stop me and I couldn't let him. He was alive too, but not for long. He was bleeding out and I wasn't about to stop it. I left him there and went back to the woman. I got the seat off of her and pulled her out. I took off my pack and got out a blanket and a tarp. I put the tarp on the snow, placed the blanket on top and put her down on the blanket. I rolled her up and put my pack back on. She wasn't heavy and I draped her across my shoulders. I knew where there was a cave about half a mile away and I carried her there. It was a squeeze to get in carrying her, but I made it.
I noticed a deadfall near the cave and I put my pack down beside her and got a hatchet out. I got enough wood to last the night and in five minutes the fire was roaring. I put up a reflective sheet behind her and unrolled her. She was shivering and unconsciously tried to hold on to the blanket but she would warm up quicker with the blanket off. I put snow on to boil and added a soup packet. I carry things like that in my pack in case I'm caught out and it smelled pretty good. I called the dogs in and fed them. They lay on the other side of the fire and watched me. I checked the girl over and didn't see any obvious bad injuries beyond a bump, swelling on her head. I felt it and there wasn't anything broken in there. She moaned when my fingers probed around it. It obviously hurt. I should take her home with me but her company made her dubious. She was dressed like a spook; black winter clothes and she had a gun. It was a 9mm auto, Government Issue and that made me even more suspicious. I put it in my pack.
The soup was ready and I poured it into a cup. I sat her up and leaned her against me. I let the soup cool for a minute and poured a little into her mouth. She swallowed and I slowly fed her the whole cup. She began to stir when we were about halfway through. Her eyes opened and she looked at me. She didn't say anything until she finished her soup.
"Thank you," she said. Her voice was low and husky.
"You're welcome," I told her. "Do you know who I am?"
"Yes," she said. "You're Macalastair Slate."
"Do you know what happened to your chopper?" I asked.
"Yes, someone didn't want me to find you. Benson pulled a gun on us and shot the pilot. We crashed."
"Are you going to tell me why you were looking for me?"
"Maybe; I haven't decided yet."
"What's going to make up your mind?"
"If you don't kill me in the next few minutes I'll have an idea."
"Did you expect me to kill you?"
"I expected you to have horns and a tail. I didn't expect you to buy me dinner."
I laughed. "Well, I'm not going to kill you unless you try to kill me. Are you going to try to kill me?"
"If I were I would say no, and if I weren't I would say the same thing."
"Yes, I guess you're right. But, the same thing applies to me."
"I know, but you fed me and brought me here. If you wanted me dead you could have left me out there."
"Maybe I'm planning to torture information out of you."
"Maybe you are. Are you?"
"No, but I didn't know enough about you to make a decision to let you die. You look like CIA or NSA. If you are, I may take you back. Are you hurt?"
"I think my leg is broken," she said. "My head hurts like hell. I think I have a concussion and I can't hear well. I think my eardrums are ruptured."
I looked in her ears and she had been bleeding. Her eyes looked normal so I thought the knock on the head would be ok in a couple of days. I helped her stand up but her leg wouldn't take any weight.
"I didn't catch that," I told her. "Do you want me to check?"
"What will that involve?"
"Do you want me to take your pants off or cut them?"
"Will I need them again?"
"If I don't kill you; yes. We're quite a ways from shelter."
"Then we'll take them off. I don't want to be out there with my pants cut up."
She lay back and I unsnapped her pants. I pulled the zipper down and she cringed a little.
"Relax," I told her. "Whatever you've heard, I don't think you've heard I'm a rapist."
"No, I haven't heard that. Go ahead."
She had long cold gear on under her pants. It was very tight and she winced as I tried to push it up.
"You're going to have to take that off too."
It was now quite warm in the small cave and I thought it wouldn't hurt her. I pulled at her waistband and her panties started to slide down too."
"Woops," she said, and grabbed her waistband.
I laughed and peeled the cold gear down. She had on nice panties. They were red lace and bikini cut. They didn't leave much to the imagination. Her legs were long, tanned and muscular.
"Um, are you going to ogle me or help me," she asked.
"Both," I told her. "I do enjoy a good ogle every now and again."
She laughed. "Just look at my leg."
It was badly bruised but the break wasn't compound and there wasn't any curve to it. I wrapped it up in an elastic wrap and pulled her cold gear back up reluctantly. I helped her back into her pants.
"You have nice legs," I told her, "Nice panties too."
She blushed furiously. "Thanks, I guess. My name is Caden Rush, by the way."
"Pleased to meet you, Caden Rush. I like that name."
"Thanks again. What are you going to do to me, Mr. Slate?"
"Nothing, if you mean kill you or hold you hostage. We might do some things together. It depends on you. If you tell me why you're here, I might help you. I won't let you die, but if you're here and your interests are opposed to mine, I might have to stop you. I'll do that however I have to. How did you know I was here?"
"I didn't. I knew you were in Norway and somewhere up north off the grid. We were just trying to get wind of you somewhere. We were checking towns. Will you tell me where we are?"
"No, not until you tell me why you're here."
"Well, the dance goes on," she sighed. "Did you really kill a Seal team in Macon?"
"Yes, I did."
"Why did you do that?"
"Why did they tell you?"
"You had information vital to National Security. They were trying to extract it and you killed them and escaped. Is it true?"
"Part of it is true. I have no information vital to National Security. I've been gone five years. Is the nation falling apart?"
"Yes, but not because of you."
"By 'extract' they meant torture and drug. That's how they were 'extracting' the information."
"I see. Now the question is, do I believe you?"
"I don't care if you do or don't, Miss Rush. It doesn't matter to me. I didn't come looking for you."
"So, we're at a stalemate. How long can we stay here?"
"A couple of days. I can only feed the dogs one more time."
She looked across the fire at them. They raised their heads when they felt her eyes on them. Sam rumbled in his throat, but Bella thumped the floor of the cave with her big fluffy tail.
"What kind of dogs are they? I've never seen such huge furry dogs. Are they friendly?"
"They're Tibetan Mastiffs. They're friendly to my friends. Bella is friendly to everyone unless she thinks I'm being threatened. Sam hasn't made up his mind about you."
.... There is more of this story ...