Chapters 32, 33, and 34

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Chapter 32

December 11. 2000

I stood on the plateau facing the weather, letting the biting wind blow stinging specks of ice and snow into my face. I needed the pain at that moment...I needed something to remind me I was still alive.

I had just gotten off of the phone with the Russian man, and had been told that we were being held for an additional ransom. When that ransom had been paid, they would release us and reunite us with Abby.

The only problem was...I didn't believe him.

They had already lied once when they hadn't released the girl for the money we brought on the plane.

Now we were supposed to hang tight until someone else ponied up even more money to be rescued?

"Shit!" I shouted frustratingly as I turned to make my way back to the shack. I had to check on Preacher, as well as see if I could find a flashlight.

The man had also said that the phone was blocked to any other numbers than his, but invited me to call him anytime! He had imparted that knowledge with a hearty laugh of course.

Before the man who called himself Ivan had hung up however, he had added that he had stashed some supplies for us to use one mile to the west.

Of course, he had supplemented, if you don't claim them soon, they will be buried under a meter of snow.

Entering the shack, I went immediately to Preacher to check on him.

He looked like hell!

Pale as the moon, some of the sweat on his face was starting to freeze. My heart pounded in my chest at the sight of him. He had lost a lot of blood, a reality that I had apparently stopped by the looks of his bandage, but what else could I do?

Rubbing my hand on my forehead, I tried searching my memory for any useful information that I might have picked up over the years.

He needed more warmth.

I moved across the room and picked up the portable heater, moving it closer to his location. I also knew I needed to get him off of the cold, concrete floor.

But how?

One would think there would be some sort of bed available in a building like this, but I couldn't find any. Maybe they had brought cots with them when they came and took them back with them when they left.

There were however, plenty of what we used to call space blankets...thin but supposedly highly insulated sheets made of a stiff plastic material.

Suddenly I remembered something I had seen outside. Rushing back out into the frigid blackness, I waited a moment to let my eyes acclimate to the darkness. Luckily, the stars overhead were enough to give off a small glow to the area.

Scanning the vicinity, my eyes finally caught sight of what I was after.

Pallets!

Frozen together, I had to kick them apart, freeing four of them before I started dragging them back to the building. Once I had them inside I started stacking them next to Preacher. Stacking two close to his head, I placed the other two by his feet. Finding four more blankets, I laid them over the pallets.

Now for the hard part!

"Hey buddy, I'm going to try and move you onto these pallets," I mumbled to Preacher, "Hopefully without hurting you."

Straddling his head and on my knees, I snaked my arms around his shoulders and through his arm pits...and heaved.

Barely moving his weight off of the floor, I slid him over a few inches only before I had to let him down.

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