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Submitted by Steven ODell on 9 July 2007 - 12:09am.

Chapter 23

The police car had been easily hidden in the underbrush along the old mining road. Ted had only to drive it between the trees that loomed overhead and then gather the plentiful growth that had ceased to be green many a year before. He had no problem waiting for his chance to try again. When it was right he would do so. Let the police scour the hills for him. They were not likely to find him in all the area afforded him to hide. He knew that food was likely to be a problem, but he had been hungry before and could stand it again. What was more important—revenge or food? Right now, revenge. He found himself wishing there had been some way to totally and quietly incapacitate the two officers he had overpowered. They would only join the search again. At least he was not being hunted as a cop killer, but if it came to that he would do whatever was necessary. He monitored the radio and waited patiently.

It was still early in the morning of the second day after his attack on the cabin. According to the radio, the mountains were inundated with searchers, but they were searching the wrong areas. They were either too close or too far from the cabin. It was obvious to him that they had insufficient personnel to cover the entire region systematically as they should. Once he overheard someone ask facetiously what the penalty was for misplacing a squad car. The guilty party was reprimanded and told there was to be no unnecessary chatter.

Officer Dalton was talking again with the 911 Operator who had helped trace Ron’s cell phone a few days earlier. “Alright, but if you hear any more from him, I want to know immediately. Thanks. Uh-huh, ‘bye.”

Dalton turned to Hunter again. “Look, how do you expect us to protect anyone when they go traipsing off into the woods like that? He went after them once without hesitation. What makes you think that he won’t do that again?”

“Maybe Ron just didn’t have much faith in your men. After all, he did have a bad first impression. Maybe that left a nasty taste in his mouth, y’think?”

Dalton was not amused. He glared at Hunter with unmistakable animosity. “You may think that’s funny, but if your friend thinks he can handle the situation better than those who are trained professionals, then he may be taking a very dangerous risk with both of their lives. I want to know as soon as you hear anything from them; got it?” It was more a command than a request and Hunter knew it.

“Yeah… right!” The answer was short and curt, almost spat rather than spoken.

Jonathan interrupted. “Officer Dalton, I’d like to help settle this in anyway I can. You got any computers in those cars of yours?”

He stared at Jonathan momentarily and then spoke stonily to seemingly no one in particular, “I’ll check back later.” With that, Officer Dalton turned to leave.

Hunter shook his head in disbelief and sighed loudly through pursed lips. “He doesn’t get it and never will.”

Mose was unmoved by the exchange. “Reminds me of some of the officers we saw in the service. Most of them just thought we were a number—Army property. Ron was different. He treated us like people with feelings and interests of our own. He wasn’t very popular with the other officers, but he never let it influence his behavior toward us by so much as a single inch. Good man, your cousin.”

“Thanks, Mose. I can see why he likes you, too.” Mose just smiled gratefully in silence.

They had rested a lot since they had set up camp at the second falls. Denise found that her feet were not hurting as badly as she had expected they would. Considering how much ground she had covered and that there was no infection apparent, she was pleased.

“I think the pain has been lessened by the amount of endorphins your body has had to produce for you. It had no choice but to comply with the need,” Ron offered.

“They are already starting to heal well beyond what I would have expected. If we need to move on, let’s do it. I’m ready.”

“Good, there is something I would like to show you.”

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