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Chapter 77

Copyright© 2013 by Banzai Ben

Present – Ben – at the Continental Divide Trailhead

Jim had just asked me about my rifle, which isn't totally legal, so I reply, "Jim, I would rather you didn't ask me about it."

I'll admit to shock when he smiles and says, "I figured you would say something like that. Listen, you're going to get in to trouble carrying that on the Continental Divide Trail unless I take care of it for you."

I have no idea what he is planning so I ask, "Just how do you plan to 'take care of it'?"

He laughs and explains, "How about I make you a deputy sheriff - which would then allow you to carry that rifle?"

Shit, I have never considered being a lawman! I'm not sure about it so I continue, "Jim, are you sure this is the only way and does this cause any problems for you?"

He smiles at me and replies, "Well there are other ways, but you would have to wait around until the paperwork came back. Hell, it's easier for me to hire you as my only SWAT member which will let you carry that or any other rifle or weapons you want to carry."

I'm not sure about this so I continue to ask, "Jim, you know I am headed up the Continental Divide Trail, what will happen when I cross into Wyoming and the other states."

Jim smiles again at me and answers, "Ben don't worry, I will take care of you by calling the other sheriff offices and letting them know you're going to be entering their jurisdiction. Hell, I will even tell them you are pursuing a suspect who is wanted for questioning in Lake County."

This sounds too good to be true so I ask, "Who is this 'suspect'?"

He looks at me and asks, "Didn't I hear that you had some problems out at the cabin with a bastard named Mike Murphy who commanded a full company of Special Forces from Fort Carson?"

Even though Jim and I go all the way back to high school, he is the sheriff of Lake County and seems to know much more about what was going on then he originally implied so I carefully word my reply, "Yeah, I had a little run in with that bastard."

Jim let loose with his belly laugh, which I hadn't heard since high school, and lays it on pretty thick, "Ben, I may be the sheriff but I still remember how you saved my ass in high school and that friendship still means more to me than this fucking job. Hell, the whole county knows you handed that bastard and most of the Special Forces their asses and they are damn proud of you. It pissed all of us off when the bastard came in and declared Martial Law. In fact it was a full time job keeping the old timers in the county from running up there with their deer rifles and getting killed."

This is shocking so I reply, "Hell Jim, I had no idea..."

He interrupts me, "Yeah, we all know you didn't have any idea. You know how independent we are up here, once word got out that the government from the east fucking coast came in and declared Martial Law on your place most of us were ready to go to war. Hell, I had to keep a deputy on station at the road to your cabin to keep turning the crazies back to town. The only way we could keep them happy was to supply them with daily reports of how you kicked their asses. So, how about it, you ready to be my only SWAT member?"

Jim finally convinces me, I nod my head and say, "Sure, why the hell not. So how do we do this?"

He produces a letter and gives me my instructions, "Sign on the two places with the red arrows, then raise your right hand and I will swear you in."

I read the paper, because I don't sign anything without reading it, and notice that it's backdated a few weeks so I ask, "Hell Jim, how long have you had this drawn up?"

He smiles at me and replies, "Since I found out you were back and we discovered what was going on at your cabin. We needed to make sure you were covered for the armaments you were sure to be using."

It's good to have a friend in 'high' places. I smile, sign the paper, raise my right hand, Jim swears me in, hands me a copy of the document and a badge. He says, "You should probably keep that badge on while you're on the trail and if you come across any other officers of the law or forest rangers on the trail cut them some slack because we don't need any incidents."

I salute him and say, "Yes Sir!"

He scowls at me then I come up with another idea, "Hey Jim, since you did this for me, how about doing the same for a couple of my friends that are still at the cabin."

He thinks for a moment and asks, "Don't tell me the girlfriend you jilted and the old fart that was your spotter."

I sure as hell didn't like him talking to me about Jens that way because of what I did I did for her, but I also didn't want to offend him so I ignore the comment and answer, "Yeah, those two and any others that they deem necessary."

He grins and says, "You know that's a great idea, especially if we fix the date for them like we did for you. I can use it to really raise some hell with the federal government for letting Mike Murphy come here and do what he did. Did you know he talked the feds into letting him declare Martial Law because he convinced them your girlfriend assembled a private army on American soil? I can tell the feds that she was a deputy and what she did was sanctioned training authorized by my office. If we do this I think we can assure this will never happen again."

I pin the badge on my tactical vest, shake Jim's hand and say, "Jim thanks so much for this, it's been fun and reminds me of the two of us in high school. But daylight is burning and I need to get going."

He hands me a business card and says, "Ben if you have any problems at all, just have them give me a call."

I get ready to leave and ask Jim one more question, "Hey Jim, has anyone reported seeing a wolf in the area?"

Jim looks at me and answers, "Ben, you know there haven't been any wolves here for years."

I sure as hell don't like that answer and begin to think on it as I grab my pack out of the back of his truck. I sling it over my back and take off down the Continental Divide Trail. I smile as I realize that Jim might say he is still my friend but he sure played me like the smart sheriff he has become. The fucker knew most of what went on at the cabin but didn't let me know until he was damn ready to. I began to think about it and tried to analyze his motives for wanting to make me a deputy and a SWAT member and I'm positive there is more going on behind the scenes than he mentioned...

Present – Jens, Maria and Liz- At the cabin

We're almost to the fucking medical plane and I prepare to ask Maria a question, when there's a hell of an explosion that rocks the ground. I about jump off the gurney because I worry it might be the fucking thing Mike put in my chest. But I notice I'm still alive so I guess it wasn't me then I look at Maria and ask, "What the hell was that?"

She says, "The hell if I know, but it sounds like it came from the port-a-potty."

I finally ask Maria my question along with an order, "Maria, if this is a fucking bomb inside of me, we're going to need someone with ordinance disposal experience to remove it. Please check on what the explosion was and find out if we have anyone with the experience we need."

Maria asks, "Jens, who is going to get you into the medical plane."

I smile at her and explain my thoughts, "Maria, if this is a bomb inside of me, the last place I want to be is inside the medical plane." I look at Liz and ask, "Liz, can you wheel the gurney away from everyone and everything and also find me a hat to wear because the sun is starting to bother me."

Maria answers, "Shit Jens, I didn't even think of that but you're right. Let me go find out what the explosion was and see if I can find someone with ordinance disposal training to remove whatever the hell it is from you."

Liz agrees, "Sure Jens, the ground is smoother here and I can easily move you away from everyone. Then I will see about finding you a hat."

I smile because my plan is working great...

Present – Maria - At the cabin

It's not hard to see where the explosion came from because there's a hell of a mushroom cloud over the area. However, I'm sure it wasn't nuclear otherwise we wouldn't be here right now, but the shape of the cloud is an indication that it was one hell of a blast.

I jog toward the mushroom cloud, get close and then stop when I see Thom and another woman...

Present – Thom, Maria and Inga – back at what used to be the port-a-potty

We are almost to the mobile kitchen trailer where we plan to appropriate a piece of plastic to put between the port-a-potty bomb contacts. The ground shakes, there's a hell of an explosion, we look at each other and Inga says, "Oh no! Byron!"

We turn around and run back toward the port-a-potty but there's nothing left except for tiny little pieces of plastic and what looks to be small pieces of flesh. Inga drops to her knees and wails, "Byron what did you do?"

I ... I ... I am in shock! I just can't believe the old fart is gone! Hell Byron always seemed like he was a fucking cat and had nine lives so I figured I would be the first to go. I sink to my knees beside Inga and hells bells, I can't stop the tears from running out of my eyes. Inga sees my tears and we hug each other.

I swear, "What the fuck went wrong?"

Inga says, "Thom, I am so sorry. It should have been me not your best friend Byron."

I hold her tight as she sobs and comfort her, "Inga don't go getting crazy on me, it must have been Byron's time to go."

Maria runs up and says, "Was that the port-a-potty and was anyone injured?"

I look at her and give up the bad news, "Yes it was, Byron was in it and we can only assume the blast killed him."

Maria looks at us and says, "Thom I'm sorry this happened to Byron, he was a hell of a man."

I extricate myself from Inga, stand up and say, "It's that bastard Mike's fault! I'm going to make it my life mission to find him and kill him."

Maria looks around and states, "Thom, right now we might have other problems."

I shake my head and ask, "What the hell is wrong now?"

Maria starts her explanation...

I don't blame Thom for being pissed off - Byron was a hell of an asset and from what I had seen Thom's best (and possibly) only friend. The incident with the port-a-potty makes me even more concerned for my Princess Boss. I need to find someone to take a look at the fucking thing in her chest. I could do it, but I would prefer to have someone that has more skill with explosives than me.

Thom wonders what else is wrong so I tell him, "Thom, the fucking bastard, Mike, left us another present before he left. The bastard had someone implant something in Jennifer's chest at the sight where I put her chest tube. I was concerned it might be a bomb and after this I'm even more concerned. With Jack being down I am wondering if you know of anyone that's a bomb disposal expert."

The woman who is with Thom (who I don't know) stands up and says...

It should have been me that died in the port-a-potty explosion, not Byron. I had a bad feeling about leaving him in the port-a-potty but everything looked fine when we left. I am angry and wondering what in hades happened. The woman talking to Thom says Jennifer might have a bomb inside of her and she is looking for a bomb disposal expert.

This might be a chance for me to redeem myself. I wipe the tears out of my eyes, stand up, look at her and say, "I have had extensive training in bomb disarmament and would love the chance to help."

The woman asks an insulting question, "If you are the bomb expert then what the hell was Byron doing in the port-a-potty?"

I look down at the ground, get ready to answer when Thom interrupts, "Since you weren't here Maria, you have no idea what happened. Inga disarmed two of the three triggering devices on the bomb and kept the third one from detonating with her own hand. Byron volunteered to take her place so we could head to the kitchen trailer to devise a way to permanently disable the bomb. He must have done something wrong which caused the bomb to detonate. I have worked with Inga and hell she's even saved my life several times. You need to back the hell down because she is your best bet on saving Jennifer."

The woman (who I now know is Maria) looks at me and apologizes, "Sorry about that, it's just that I don't want anything to happen to my Princess Boss."

I am a little confused and question, "Your boss is Jennifer and she is a princess?"

Maria laughs and says, "Not really, but many times she acts like one so that's my pet name for her. Now, let's get you over to her so you can see if you can figure out what the hell they put inside her."

I look at Thom and he says, "Inga I know you can do this. I'm staying here to see about getting this mess cleaned up."

I wish that I had the faith in myself that Thom has in me...

Present – Jens and Liz- At the cabin

Liz wheels the gurney out into the middle of nowhere looks at me and asks, "Is this good Jens?"

It's perfect so I tell her, "Yeah this is great, you think you can find me a hat to wear, the sun is starting to burn me?"

Liz smiles and asks, "Are you sure you will be okay here by yourself?"

I give her a dirty look and order, "Liz, of course I will be fine by myself, now get your ass out of here and get me a damn hat."

She complains, "Damn Jens, you sure have gotten bitchy." Then she leaves to find me a hat.

When she's far enough away, it's time to implement my plan. I take my arm out of the stupid hospital gown to expose the fucking thing in my chest, pull back my covers and begin to open the surgery kit that I acquired. I'm going to take the fucking thing out of me if it's the last thing I do. I take a deep breath and begin to cut the stitches over the fucking piece of shit, it hurts like hell but there's no way I'm stopping now...

Present – Maria and Inga – heading to Jens

I'm not so sure about letting this woman work on my Princess Boss. If she is as good as Thom says she is, then Byron wouldn't be dead. I figure I can watch her like a hawk and if I see anything I don't like I will kick her ass out of the way and take over.

We approach the medical plane, I see Liz and ask, "What are you doing here, I thought you were taking care of Jens?"

Liz answers, "I am. I moved her away from everyone like she wanted and now I'm going to find her a hat because she's getting sunburnt."

I get ready to read her the riot act for leaving my Princess Boss alone when there's another fucking explosion. Liz looks at me and says, "Maria, that's from the direction where I left Jens."

I run past her toward the sound of the explosion and threaten, "If anything happened to Jens I'm going to fucking kill you."

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