Chapters 29, 30, and 31

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Chapter 29

December 11, 2000

I shoved the hand full of gauze pads against Preacher's shoulder and applied pressure.

"Hold on buddy, it went through and through, we just need to get the bleeding stopped."

Preacher's pain was evident in the film of sweat on his forehead, his breathing short and shallow. Wrapping his shoulder tightly with tape, I was relieved when I saw that it had seemed to slow the flow.

Luckily for both of us, Preacher had passed out from the pain of the alcohol when I poured it over his wound. That had allowed me to remove his coat and cut off his shirt without him feeling any additional pain.

An additional stroke of luck was the bullet going clear through the shoulder. As long as I could get the bleeding stopped and keep the wound clean, he should be ok until we got him to a hospital.

If we could get him to a hospital!

Covering him with several blankets, I went to check on the heating unit I had found and started earlier. I could see by the condensation showing at the bottom of the tank that we were about to run out of propane.

Dammit I whispered, angry at getting my friend into this...Angry at getting myself into this!

What was this anyway?

I had been mulling it over since my mind had snapped back to consciousness. Who would take all of the trouble to gas us on a plane, and dump us here in this apparently remote hut?

Looking at my surroundings, I sensed that it was some sort of scientific outpost. And since our original destination had been above the Arctic Circle, I could only assume that this was used to study some facet of the arctic environment...in the summertime!

Although it looked to be well-constructed and insulated, it was apparently not suitable to the environment we now found ourselves in...the arctic winter.

Feeling a chill, I reached down and picked up the parka I had discarded when I had been working on Preacher. Sinking my hands deep into the pockets for warmth, my right hand bumped into the phone...as well as the piece of paper I had shoved in there earlier.

Pulling out the now crumpled paper, I spread it out and read the neat, block lettering.

You will need to step outside to use this. Use speed dial 1.

Pulling the hood over my head, I walked out of the shack and onto the barren, snow-covered plateau outside. Distractedly, I realized that it was close to the first day of winter...the shortest day of the year.

But there had probably been no sun here today...we were already in the depths of arctic winter here.

Pulling the phone out of the parka's pocket, I noticed it was a satellite phone. I had never used one of those before. Unfolding the antenna, I powered it up and waited for it to find a satellite when I heard a beep.

Looking down at the device, it told me that there was a picture message coming in. Clicking on the icon, the screen filled with the image of Abby, looking back over her shoulder toward the camera. It would appear that she was acting as some sort of server at some establishment, but that wasn't the worst part of the picture.

The picture had been taken through what appeared to be the scope of a rifle...the crosshairs converging on her heart!

Punching the speed dial, I waited anxiously for someone to pick up, holding the phone to my ear, I could barely hear the ring tone over the biting wind beating at my face.

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