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Rated: 18+ · Prose · Contest Entry · #1952466
Day 11 Nature entry for the Baker's Dozen Contest.
         Birthdays can be overrated anyways, Bailey thought as he rounded the next twist in the trail.  He knew his buddies had organized a big shindig and he was only too glad not to be there.  Course, being here was not so fabulous either. 



         The rain had started about an hour ago and he was drenched to the bone.  Moving as quickly as he could along the slick trail was the only thing keeping him remotely warm.  That and knowing Kate was out here.  She had taken off a few days before and had not made radio contact at her designated time that morning.  Ariel had kicked up a fuss and sent him after her.

         "You are the only one who can find her."  She'd prodded and pushed.  At the time he had barely had his eyes open, having just got in a few hours earlier from another rescue over on Dale's Mountain. 

         "Could be her radio batteries are dead."  He mumbled back.

         "Get up."  Ariel had bellowed.  "You know damn well she would have taken extra... besides I can feel that something is not right."

         He'd gotten up.  He knew trusting Ariel's instincts were a good bet. 

         "Fine.  I'm up; now get out so I can get ready."

         She had glared at him like he hadn't meant it, but when he went to shift the sheets and she saw a flash of skin and she knew she needed to move.  He was up alright. 



         Now he was 40, 000 feet up and trekking the trail that the jeep could not maneuver.  She'd been heading for Wilder's Peak.  Last communication said she had made it to Wilder's Old Shack.  It would be a good place to hole up.  He'd start there. 

         What had happened to her grazed his nerves.  Kate was careful, had been born to these mountains as he had, but it was not the best time of year to be heading out alone.  Why she had, he wasn't certain, but he was bound and determined to find out.



         The rain pelted at him.  The wind drove him on.  The sky, dark from the storm, lit up eerily and thunder rumbled along the mountain pass, then crashed about around him.  He could swear the mountain shook beneath him.  If Kate wasn't dead he'd kill her himself.



         When he reached the shack he found it deserted.  Looking about, he saw recent signs of life, but something didn't sit right.  He could tell Kate had been there, but she'd not been alone.  Further exploration revealed...blood.  A bloody handprint.  His own blood froze. 

         She hadn't been alone and she had probably stumbled on to someone; someone who didn't want to be found. 

Instinctively, Bailey reached for his gun and pressed it securely against his leg.  He may be needing this for more than just scaring off animals or taking down a bear. 

         

         The storm had started to peter out.  It was only drizzling now.  Bailey opened the door of the shack and stood listening.  Over the hiss of rain he could hear the wolves gearing up their chorus.  He steeled himself.  Hunkering down he headed for the cliffs.



         He hadn’t gone too far along when he heard voices.

         “Get up, Bitch.  Move your ass.  I only grazed, ya.  Besides if you’d just done what I asked....”

         Bailey could feel his blood boil.  It shifted him into action.  Climbing into the underbrush he made his way around behind them.  He made sure he positioned himself so that he could grab Kate and get her away to safety.  From his perch, he could make out a burly looking guy.  He could see what looked like a gun pressed into Kate’s side.

         “You are just one big complication I just can’t have.”  He heard the man say.

         “Pushing me is not going to look like an accident.”  She told him, “Especially if you shoot me first.”

         “Bitch.”  The man yelled and wacked at her head with the gun.  She staggered but managed to stay on the trail.  The force of his hit had thrust her off his hope for course.  Her eyes lifted and Bailey could swear she saw him.  She smiled, then with an agility he had always admired, she dove down for cover. 

         It was his turn to act.  Striking out he caught the man unaware, setting him off balance.  He spun to see what had hit him, lifted his gun and as he tried to aim, teetered, stumbled and fell backward; over the cliff. 

         Without missing a beat, Bailey shifted back and grabbed Kate up into his arms.

         She clung to him trembling, then the sobs racked her body.  In sobbed gasps she said, “I have never been more happy to see you.”

         “Likewise.”  Was all he managed before he picked her up and carried her back to the shack. 



Word Count = 808.

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