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Chapter 81

Copyright© 2013 by Banzai Ben

Present – Ben – at the Continental Divide Trailhead

As I trot along the Continental Divide trail, I let my mind wander from trying to figure out what Jim is doing by making me a deputy sheriff (I can afford to delay this because I don't have any idea why he did it and it's not like I won't have some time to figure this out later) to the more pressing and troubling thought about how damn resourceful Destiny is - I know without a doubt she will find me. I slow down, stop running, and recall how damn fast she can run. As I remembered how she escaped from the greenies I decide she is probably already ahead of me, just waiting for me to show up so she can give me a ration of shit and continue with her annoying as hell statements about being a Shaman. I'm still not sure what the hell she is but I also don't need to make this any easier on her. Since I have already missed the part of the Continental Divide trail that is in New Mexico, (I briefly considered heading back to New Mexico and starting at the beginning but I'm already here and from what I understand the New Mexico part is boring) so I decide it is no big deal if I bypass a bit more of the trail especially if I make it harder for Destiny to find me. I pull out my maps, find an adjacent trail, take a compass reading and head off bushwhacking in a new direction. Yeah, let's see the crunchy granola bitch find me now.

With the change of direction and the possibility of delaying Destiny finding me, I have the first chance since I've been back, to really enjoy the mountains. I couldn't do that at the cabin because I was too busy kicking the greenies asses. I'm glad to be away from the cabin (other than for one major reason) but I miss the hell out of the trees. I'm above timberline here and miss the smell of the fresh pine scented mountain air, instead I smell the tundra that grows in the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains and it's just not the same. But as usual the sun is out, the skies are clear and I'm free from all the chains that held me back last week. No, it's more than that: I'm free of the chains that had held me down for years. Now that I've changed directions again I kick it into overdrive to make it hard as hell for the crunchy granola bitch to find me. Then I find something which slows me up...

Present – Destiny – Looking for Ben

Ben hasn't shown up yet and I wonder why. I remind myself that I made a promise to not underestimate him again so I head back toward the Continental Divide trailhead. It feels good to be in my animal form running on the trail and it doesn't take long to find the place where the side trail intersects the Continental Divide trail, however there is still no Ben. This is unusual because by now he should have been here. I decide I need to be more thorough so I take the trail toward highway 24 in hopes that I will find him. It's not a very long trail so in a short period of time I arrive at the parking lot of the trailhead - again without finding Ben. The whole time I still have the sense that something is watching me. It reminds me of the feeling I had when the drone was watching us.

Since my attempt to find Ben failed, I need a new strategy. I sit down, reflect on the problem and decide that once again Ben must have changed direction and is somewhere besides the Continental Divide trail. I head back in the opposite direction with the hope to find a clue as to where Ben's gone.

I begin to scan the footprints on the trail which isn't bad because no one else is on the trail today. I reach a spot close to the start of the Continental Divide trail and notice something has disturbed the tundra beside the trail. I stop, examine it and scold myself for missing it on the way down here, Ben has left the trail.

I begin to slowly and carefully follow his footsteps which is not easy because he has something soft covering his boots. Then I run into an area where I cannot track Ben because of the soft things over his boots and the special suit he is wearing...

Present – Ben – taking a detour

I realize even with the socks over my boots, I am still leaving enough of a trail that I'm sure Destiny can track me. I'm certain if I can see my trail then she sure as hell can see the trail. Then lady luck smiles on me as the path I've taken toward the side trail becomes a boulder field. The whole valley leading up to the ridgeline is covered with boulders that range in size from skull to desk. The insecure footing forces me to slow up but if I'm careful and don't flip over any of the smaller boulders, Destiny shouldn't be able to track me. The combination of the intense sun and having to pick my way through the boulder field has an added benefit - I've cooled down some. Yeah, I was beginning to sweat in the damn chemical suit and sure as hell didn't want to do much of that because when night comes and if my clothes are sweaty, I could die from hypothermia.

The whistle pigs (marmots) sure don't like my scrambling through their homes and interrupting their sunning sessions. They vocalize their complaints with many eerie sounding whistles and grunts as they scurry away.

The boulder field steepens which slows me more because I can't afford a mistake now - one wrong step and...

Present – Jens and the gang – at the cabin

Maria has my pants down and is busy pulling cactus thorns out of my rear when she quickly covers me up with the sheet. Then a couple guys run up who I haven't seen for what seems to be forever. I guess I'm really feeling the effects of the cactus because I use a prickly greeting, "Matt and Jim, where the hell have you guys been?"

Jim answers first, "Hell Jens, after the piece of the carbon fiber handguard was removed from my leg, the docs had to suture the femoral artery and the leg so I just got out of the hospital a few days ago. We heard about all the shit going on up here, came here as fast as we could but it looks like nothing much is going on."

Matt adds additional information, "I wasn't too fucked up but I ended up taking care of Jim and some of our other Marines in the hospital so I couldn't make it back."

I smile at the guys and answer, "Well, it's good to have you back but you missed all the fun, including me just removing a bomb from inside my chest."

Matt asks, "Was that the first or the second explosion we heard?"

Inga answers...

Two huge men who must work for Jennifer (from the way they talk) run up. One of them asks about the explosions so I inform them, "That was the second explosion and created the crater beside the gurney."

The other one asks, "Well what the hell was the first explosion?"

I look down, begin to cry and walk away from the group. It should have been me and not Byron who was killed in the first explosion. I hear Maria answer as I leave...

I can't believe how we're wasting time again! Matt and Jim are flapping their lips about the explosions, Inga begins to cry and then leaves so I decide it's up to me to tell them and get things back on track. I answer, "The first explosion was a rigged port-a-potty that detonated and killed Byron. Now instead of standing around wasting time you need to find Linus because he's putting a team together to find Ben."

Matt and Jim exchange looks and Matt says, "The hell with finding Ben, we need to find the fucker who blew up Byron."

They take off as I look at my Princess Boss and say, "Well, since you removed the bomb, how about if we take you to the medical plane and get you taken care of."

Jens begins to complain again, "Maria, I'm fine and need to help find Ben."

Like hell she's going looking for Ben - in her condition she would just slow them up. I order my Princess Boss, "Jens, listen to me! We were lucky you were able to remove the bomb without killing yourself, but we can't be sure without a total body CAT scan that he didn't plant something else inside of you."

Jens gives me a very concerned look and asks...

Maria shocks me by saying something that floors me! Something about the bastard Mike putting some other device inside of me so I ask, "Maria, what sort of thing are you concerned about?"

Maria motions to Liz and they begin to wheel the gurney toward the medical plane as Maria answers, "Jens, I have been thinking that if Mike planted a bomb inside you, what's to keep him from also putting some sort of tracking device inside you? Besides we need to get the doctors to sew up your side again."

I smile at Maria and tease, "Hell, just slap on some petroleum jelly, a bandage and wrap duct tape on it and I will be fine." I can tell Maria sure as hell doesn't appreciate my joke when she...

I'm tired of my Princess Boss giving me shit about the hole in her side - even more tired of stitching it up myself. So after she insults me again, I smack her ass (which still has cactus needles in it) causing Jens to about jump off the gurney, holler like crazy and complain, "Maria what in the hell did you spank my ass for?"

I laugh and explain, "Well, if you don't want your side fixed, then how about these cactus needles? You sure as hell don't want to leave any of them in your ass to get infected."

Jens continues to complain, "Hell, just slap some duct tape on my rear then it will pull all of them out at once instead of the slow fricken torture you were putting me through."

I mime an evil laugh and answer, "What fun would that be..."

Present – Stacy – Going after Ben

I can't fucking believe it, that stupid bear has really caused problems for me yet again. I ordered him to get into the truck but I guess he thought he was human because instead of getting into the back of the truck where I point, he ambles up to the passenger door, hooks his claws into the door, promptly rips it right off the truck, drops it on the ground and then starts to yowl.

The sheriff yells, "What the hell! Your bear just destroyed my truck! He's a menace to society! We have a policy for taking care of bears like that."

I see the sheriff fumbling for his gun and I yell at Wojtek, "Get the hell out of here - he's going to shoot you!" This time the stupid bear understands me and takes off running into the trees.

With the sheriff distracted trying to draw his gun, I have a short phone conversation with Samantha.

The sheriff finally gets his gun out of the holster but Wojtek is long gone. I smile at him and tease, "Gee Barney, I guess you must not have to pull your gun very often."

He gives me a dirty look and states, "My name's Jim not Barney."

I continue with the insults, "Well you sure looked like Barney Fife trying to get your gun out of your holster. Let me show you how it's done." I quickly pull one of the revolvers Ben gave me out of my holster, spin it twice and slip it back into the holster.

He glares at me and changes the subject, "Don't worry, the damage to my truck will be added to all of your existing charges and I plan on getting a team together to hunt down that dangerous bear of yours and kill him."

He's pissed already so sensing I had nothing to lose, I continue teasing, "I guess you can't take me in because it wouldn't be safe for me to ride in the cab of your truck without a door."

I sure as hell didn't like it when he takes my gun belt, puts the handcuff on me and orders, "Don't worry about your safety, you're riding in the back of the truck. Now get your ass in there."

I begin to try to get into the back of the truck when something even worse happens...

Present – Samantha – in search of news

My phone rings, I answer it and figure out that Stacy is being arrested by someone. Then I hear a heck of a noise, like someone is being killed and yell into my phone, "Stacy are you okay?"

Stacy softly answers, "Sam it's good to hear from you, I'm not okay and I might need your help."

I question, "Stacy what's going on?"

Stacy tells me all that's happened so I know she's in serious trouble and I hope that I can help. My next question is, "Where are you located."

Stacy tells me, "Sam, I'm part way up highway 24 headed out of town."

I reply, "Let me find someone to drive me to where your location."

Stacy says, "I will leave my phone on until you arrive because I want someone as a witness."

I continue monitoring the call and hear what sounds like a big fight is happening. I hurry and begin talking to the Marines in the camp and finally find one that will take me to Stacy's location...

Present – Jack, Masha and Ivan - at the Medical Plane

The doctor tells us the bad fucking news about Byron being killed in the same damn port-a-potty that I worked on while Masha begins to cry, shakes her head and falls to the floor. I fight the hell out of the nurses and say, "I'm fine but something has happened to my wife."

One of them turns around, sees her on the floor, rushes over to her, checks her and says, "I think she fainted, is anything wrong with her?"

I continue to struggle, trying to get off the damn gurney and answer, "She's pregnant."

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