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Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Rising - Chapter 7: Seeking Shelter

Doctor Owen called Jane to tell her and Skinner to return to the helicopter. They hadn’t ventured far so it didn’t take them long to get back. The air was cold but I was certain the temperature dropped by a few degrees as they arrived. They didn’t look pleased to see me.

‘How do you feel, Tom?’ Jane asked when she saw me.

‘Okay. Not as bad as I did after the treatment yesterday.’

‘Good for you. Now, do you want to tell us why we’re here?’

I was taken aback by how cold Jane was with me. Just the day before she had been very warm toward me and we had worked well together. However, that was yesterday and this was now. The faint metallic taste in my mouth reminded me that things had changed.

Even though I’d been out for a few hours, I realised that we were still in crisis mode. The Brotherhood were almost certainly already looking for us. No one else had taken a break from worrying about our position. I had been out cold without a worry in the world.

‘My partner has a cabin at the lake. I’m sure he’ll let us stay there as long as we want. There are hundreds of holiday homes up there so it should give us some time to work out what we’re going to do before The Brotherhood find us.’

Jane weighed up my proposal. The look on her face told me she thought it might be a good idea but she tried her best to hide it from me.

‘Well, it’s the best idea we’ve had yet,’ was her less-than-enthusiastic appraisal.

I picked my mobile phone out of my pocket and called Dave’s number. He answered almost immediately.

‘Hey partner,’ he said in his perpetually upbeat tone, ‘you’re on the news.’

‘I know,’ I said, brushing his comment aside but wondering just how bad the report about me was. ‘I need your help.’

‘What do you need from me? I’ll do what I can but I’m still on holiday, Tom.’

‘Good. I was hoping you’d say that. I need to ask you a huge favour.’

‘Sounds ominous. What can I do?’

‘I’m at the lake with some people who have been helping me with this case. I need you to put us up for a few hours while we work out what we’re going to do next.’

‘What, you’re here now?’

‘We’re only a mile or two away from the cabins. We can be with you in about half an hour.’

‘I don’t know what to say, Tom. You’re not giving me much of a choice, are you?’

I didn’t know what to say either.

‘Anyway,’ he sighed, ‘thanks for calling me first.’

‘Thanks, Dave. I owe you one. You should send your family home.’

‘Are you in danger?’

‘Yes. We’ll be as quick as we can.’

‘See you in half an hour. We’re in cabin sixty-six, but give me a chance to break the news to she-who-must-be-obeyed.’

I hung up and Jane snatched the phone out of my hand.

‘Hey, what are you doing?’ I asked.

‘The Brotherhood will use our phones to track us down. We have to keep the doctor’s phone with us in case Doctor Forrest calls again but we have to throw the rest of them away. Get everything out of the helicopter; we have to get rid of it as well. We can be certain it’s being tracked.’

‘How are we going to get rid of this helicopter? It’s huge,’ said Doctor Owen, ‘We can’t blow it up. Everyone will see the smoke from miles away.’

After keeping quiet, Skinner decided to pipe up. ‘I know what to do,’ he said, ‘Let’s empty it first and I’ll get rid of it.’

We pulled all of the metal boxes out of the helicopter and piled them up on the grass. Skinner then got into the cockpit and fired up the engine.

‘Stand back,’ he shouted to us before the whirring rotors became too loud to hear his voice.

The gunship rose into the air. Skinner floated it over our heads and hovered high above the water level of the lake. The door opened and I witnessed a sight I never thought I’d dream of seeing in my entire life.

Skinner jumped out of the open door and flew towards us, narrowly avoiding being sliced to death by the spinning rotor blades as the helicopter dropped out of the sky and plunged into the lake. An almighty splash was accompanied by the creak of metal as the huge helicopter sunk into the water. Waves were sent flowing from the centre of the lake and washed up on the shore just behind Skinner’s feet as they hit the ground. The water bubbled as the gunship disappeared from view.

‘Right,’ he said as we stood wide-eyed and open-mouthed, ‘We can’t stand around looking at the view. We’d better get moving.’

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