Blair entered the lower level from the back door just as the lights
went out. He froze for a moment, listening. He had been sure Jim would already
know what he was doing, and half-expected to find him down here, uncovering the
stash he felt certain was tucked away in Emily's coffin. When the lights went
off, he almost called out for Jim, but changed his mind. He stayed still for another
minute, then hearing no one, he moved forward, carefully picking his way through
the crates and boxes, until he came to the new coffin at the far end of the room.
It was just outside the freezer, and Blair was certain Emily wasn't inside. They
would have waited until it was time to leave before transferring her into the
new, cherrywood coffin that Kenny Pritchard had so graciously purchased for her.
Once there, he hesitated for a second, then lifted the lid. He didn't realize
his eyes were closed at first. What if she was inside? But she
wasn't. Blair opened his eyes, straining to see in the gloom of the basement.
The sky suddenly opened up, sending rain down with such force, it startled him.
He nearly dropped the lid back down and had to recover himself for a second. Then
he saw it, wet against the silk of the padding. Reaching down, he ran his fingers
over the water there, pulling up some sand as he reached further down behind the
"Damn him." Blair whispered, feeling the cold metal underneath
the cushion. He was about to pull out the object when a movement out of the corner
of his eye caught his attention. Before he could turn around, he felt a strange
pressure against his abdomen, followed immediately by a searing pain that spread
across his right side. He cried out with the pain and felt someone push him away,
up against the coffin. Blair fell, landing on his side, and cried out again as
a second, more intense stabbing pain doubled him over. There was a knife on the
floor in front of him. A kitchen knife covered in blood. His blood. Someone moved
past him then and he faintly heard the door open, then slam shut with a clap of
Everything stopped then. There was no more rain, no more thunder.
Emily, the island, everything disappeared as he lay there. There was nothing left
but the pain, and something warm that was oozing out between his fingers. Blair
wanted to scream, but he couldn't. His teeth were so tightly clenched he thought
they would break. He clutched at his side and tried to roll over, tried to make
the pain stop in any way he could. But it wouldn't stop. His initial shock had
given way to full-blown agony as he lay there, unable to move, unable to cry out.
He wasn't even sure if he was breathing, until the coughing began. God, Jim
please! Make it stop! Where was he? Where was Amy? Oh God, was she a part
of this too? Were they all in on it?
Blair couldn't think. Each time he took
a breath, the pain grew worse. It was filling his mind until there was nothing
left but the agony piercing his side, and the blood he could feel slipping between
his fingers. He didn't notice the hand that was pulling at his own, the arm that
came under his head, holding him. He didn't hear the shouting at first, or the
quiet insistence that he move his hand until what felt like months later.
Blair come on! Easy now, it's okay. Let me see."
The voice was there,
beside his ear, and it was followed by a hand, pulling at the one he was clutching
his side with. He didn't want to move his hand. He was sure if he did, the pain
would get worse. He was sure his hand was the only thing holding himself together.
But the fingers were there, slowly, gently, prying his away.
it's okay Blair. I need some help down here!"
The hand had completely
pried Blair's fingers away, and now replaced his own hand in pressing against
the wound. Blair cried out in pain as the pressure increased, pushing at the hand
that was causing the pain, trying to make it go away.
"Hang on Chief,
it's okay. Just keep breathing."
But he couldn't breathe. The hand was
pressing the life out of him and he couldn't move it away. Another wave of agony
hit and he tensed against it, bringing his head up and crying out again. "God,
it hurts!" Was that out loud? He didn't remember unclenching his jaw.
know, I know. Just hang on partner. Keep breathing. Over here!"
finally forced his eyes open, trying to focus through the tears that had been
escaping through the corners of his tightly-closed eyes. Jim was there. It was
his hand pressing into Blair's side. His arm holding his head off the ground.
Someone else was there now, dropping to the floor beside him.
bring the emergency kit! Hurry!."
Blair cried out in pain again as another
wave hit, leaning back into the arm that was keeping his head from striking the
floor. "Jim, it hurts! God it hurts!" Make it stop! I swear
I won't do this again, just make it stop!
"Hang on buddy, it's okay,
just hang on." Jim's hand was no longer pressing into his side. It had been
replaced by another, smaller hand. He closed his eyes again to ward off the pain
that continued to attack in waves. Jim's arm shifted and he felt his shoulders
rise up off the cold floor, then his head was pressed back, and he could feel
Jim sitting behind him, holding him down against his legs. There was more movement
around him, but he couldn't focus through the tears and stopped trying. The agony
struck again, and he tensed up, feeling two hands press into his shoulders, holding
him down. God, was it ever going to top? Something pricked his arm, and
he realized then that it had been held out, and the sleeve was being pushed back
"We've got to get him upstairs, he's losing too much blood."
"Take his legs."
"Amy, keep your eyes open for the others."
"Get that flashlight on the stairs."
Blair felt arms lifting him,
and the hand on his side moved, easing its pressure. The voices were coming and
going, and he couldn't focus on any one of them anymore. Where was Jim? Someone
was still holding his head, who was it? The waves of pain were still there, still
hitting, but they didn't send him into agony quite so much anymore. He was still
feeling it, still feeling the searing pain that threatened to send him into unconsciousness,
but he no longer had the strength to fight it, or the voice to scream against
it. The hands were still on him, but now they seemed to be holding him down, pushing
him into something softer than the basement floor. He tried to open his eyes,
but they wouldn't obey.
"Help me get this sweater off."
Jim. Someone was there, easing his sweater up and over his head, but it wasn't
Jim. Why couldn't he open his eyes? He tried to ask, but his mouth was disobeying
"Hang on Chief, you'll be okay. Just hang in there."
was Jim. He was still there, wherever there was. He couldn't remember. Blair couldn't
remember what had happened. Why was he lying down? Why couldn't he open his eyes
or get up? Something brushed his side and a wave of pain hit, reminding him exactly
what had happened. He cried out, and was surprised to hear his own voice that
"It's deep. Open that cabinet over there, right behind you. There's
another vial of Morphine on the top shelf. Do you know how to do it?"
"Okay, give him ten more units. I'm going to have to get this
cleaned up so I can close it. I only hope he hasn't lost too much blood already."
Too much blood? How much was too much? Blair felt another prick on his arm,
then someone rubbed it and placed it back against his side. He was beginning to
feel a strange sensation of detachment, and he wanted to ask why, but his mouth
wouldn't open. Why was he able to cry out, but not form a question?
that should keep him still for a few minutes. Can you hold this down while I scrub
Blair felt one hand replace the other as the pressure was still being
applied. Pressure that was pushing against the pain as it welled up each time
he inhaled. He reached down again and tried to move the hand away.
in there buddy. Just try to relax, don't fight it."
Don't fight what?
Why couldn't he speak? He could hear well enough, so he couldn't be asleep. And
the pain was still there, pressing at his mind, so he couldn't be dreaming. A
hand took his and held it, keeping him from pushing away the hand that was pressing
down on him.
"I'm going to localize the area. Keep him as still as you
Blair sensed movement around him, then felt hands change places.
Someone was at his head again, holding his shoulders while the other hands poked
and probed around his side. He tried to pull away, to turn away from the hands,
but he was being held down, and he didn't have the strength to fight it.
It's a deep cut, but I think I can get it closed up. Hand me that tray."
Blair heard metal hitting metal, felt fingers pressing into his side, and hands
still holding him down, but they were all beginning to melt. Every touch, every
sensation was coming through layers of fog now. He could hear the voices, and
the clanging of small metal tools, but his side felt as though it was miles away,
and the waves of pain were duller. He felt himself relax slightly and the hands
on his shoulders moved, one to his arm, the other to rest on his forehead.
got the bleeders. Looks like it was all muscle, no organs got cut."
about the blood loss?"
"I'm not sure yet. We'll check his pressure
after I get him sewn up. Do you know his type, just in case?"
what? He was feeling better now, surely there was nothing wrong?
no sign of anyone out there. We've got the doors locked up. Shouldn't we turn
on the generator?"
"No. It's better they can't see in. And I don't
want anyone going outside. You two stay close."
"And bring those
lights over here, it's getting darker."
"How is he?"
think he'll make it. There, that should hold him. Jim, hand me that roll of gauze,
there on the shelf."
Blair tried again to open his eyes, but they wouldn't
move. He could hear Clive and Amy just a few feet away, and Jim was talking to
them. At least that meant they were safe, and Amy wasn't one of them. He couldn't
really remember what was going on, only that Emily was dead, and Jim came up with
him. And something about murder. But everything was beginning to slip away. Someone
was holding him up now, while hands wrapped around and around his stomach, pulling
something tight against his side. He wanted to complain, but he still couldn't
open his eyes to see who he should complain to.
"He needs to rest."
"I'm going to need the three of you to stay close. Keep the doors locked."
Blair felt the hands move as he was laid back down, then Jim's voice began
to get farther away. He thought he must be drifting off, until he heard Clive
just as clearly as before.
"What are you going to do?"
need to get out there, see if I can find those three before they get off the island."
No, Jim, don't go outside. Wait for me.
"I need you three
to stay put, and take care of him."
Wait, Jim, I'm your partner. Why
can't I open my eyes? Blair tried to take a deep breath so he could call
to Jim, but the bandages around his stomach made that too hard.
be back as soon as I can, but in the meantime, keep those doors locked, and stay
away from the windows."
The rest of the voices began to move away then,
and everything started to fade with the pain that was finally beginning to abate.
Blair concentrated on breathing, trying to find a way to fill his lungs without
pressing against the bandaging too much, but each effort brought back the pain
he had waited for so long to be free of. The pain was coming in waves again, and
he tried to find a rhythm that would allow him to inhale between spasms. Someone
placed a hand on his forehead and he heard a voice moaning softly.
Chief. Take it easy."
"Jim?" Blair's eyes finally opened and
he could see Jim sitting beside him, looking down. Hadn't he just left?
"Jim, where..." He had to stop and take another breath, trying to add
volume to his voice. "What happened?" He finally managed.
lost 'em partner. But not for long." Jim was sitting on a chair beside the
bed, pushing Blair's hair away from his face. "Just take it easy. You gave
us all quite a scare this time."
Blair closed his eyes for a moment, trying
to remember what was going on, and figure out how long ago it was. He didn't remember
falling asleep, but there was sweat coating the back of his neck. He opened his
eyes again and Jim was still there, watching him. The room was dark, except for
a propane lamp on the counter. He glanced around, recognizing the small aid room
Katie maintained. It was still night, and the power must still be off.
happening?" His voice was weak, but Jim could hear him well enough, he knew.
"They got off the island, but the storm is really taking off out there."
Jim reached behind him for a moment and turned back with a damp cloth in his hand.
"They had their stash in the coffin, but managed to take most of it out before
you got down there. They destroyed the generator, and got out on the emergency
boat." Jim placed the cloth on Blair's forehead and he closed his eyes for
a moment, grateful for the cool touch on his sweat-covered head.
lost?" he asked, opening his eyes again. God, there was Jim, taking care
of him again. Even after he screwed up.
Jim shook his head, smiling a little.
"No, Chief. We didn't lose. We're all alive, you're going to be fine, and
we'll get them before they get very far. Their perfect plan didn't work out, so
they're improving now. We'll get them."
"Hey, how's our patient?"
Blair and Jim both looked up as Katie stepped inside the small room, looking
from Jim to Blair.
"I think he's gonna pull through." Blair tried
to raise his head and Jim pushed him down, resettling the cold compress. "If
he can survive himself, he can survive anything."
Katie smiled, shaking
her head. "Typical. Jim, I've got those lobster boiling, you should eat something.
From what Amy tells me, you nearly drowned getting them. We got a pot boiling
on the old wood stove, go and get some."
Jim looked back at Blair and
gave his arm a squeeze. "I'll be right out here. Just stay put."
nodded, rolling his eyes a little. "I'm not going anywhere," he said,
then had to clench his teeth against a wave of pain that stabbed at his side.
"That's for sure." Katie said, quickly trading places with Jim. "Go
on." She waved Jim out the door and turned back to Blair. "He's been
sitting here for hours." She checked the compress, then removed it and Blair
heard water running. "He's right you know, you really did give us all a scare."
"Sorry." Blair replied. He wanted to say more, but his side was hurting
"I know, it hurts." Katie put the compress back on his
head and held it there. "The supply plane was due out a week ago. I didn't
realize we were nearly out of morphine." She paused, thinking. "I suppose
that's another thing I wasn't paying attention to."
Blair understood what she meant. Katie was never one to run out of anything. But
she was also very trusting by nature, as Blair used to be, and didn't lock up
"I suppose so. I'll never understand what made him do this.
What made any of them do this."
"Greed, no doubt." Jim had returned
and stood in the doorway, fingering something. "I think enough of these little
gems would turn any spoiled, failing student into a murderer."
"But he had everything." Blair didn't understand, Kenny Pritchard was
from a very wealthy family. "What are they?"
Jim held out the piece
of metal he was fingering. "Nothing. That's the Legend."
Ow! God!" Blair had unconscious tried to sit up when he heard that, now the
searing pain shooting through his gut was more than enough to send him back down.
Both Jim and Katie pushing him back was unnecessary.
Jim was leaning over him then, both hands on his shoulders. Blair pressed his
head against the pillow, closing his eyes tightly until the pain was reduced to
a manageable level. "Are you sure there's nothing in there that can knock
him out and save us the headache?"
Blair opened his eyes and glared at
Jim, who was looking at Katie. "I'm fine," he lied, trying to stop breathing
so deeply. What a stupid thing to do! Now Jim was going to get mad.
got the cuffs here Chief. I'll get them if I have to." Jim's voice was stern,
but Blair could see the concern in his eyes as they scanned his.
fine," he repeated. He wasn't, not yet anyway, but he was more upset at Jim's
reaction. He'd been enough trouble already. Going down to the basement without
getting Jim first had been stupid, he knew that. He was waiting for the lecture
about playing hero, but he figured that would come later. "I'm fine,"
he repeated, finally able to breath again without gritting his teeth.
where he was, sitting on the edge of the bed, but he finally removed his hands
from Blair's shoulders. "Clive explained it to me this morning." He
lifted the gold coin again, holding it in front of him. "That ship was one
of three identical ships sent up to Alaska to bring back gold that had already
been melted down into these Spanish coins. But only one ship was filled. The other
two were used as decoys during the trip down."
Blair nodded, remembering
the story. "Yeah, and all three were brought in through the inside passage.
But the other two were found."
"Right. Found empty. So the assumption
was that this ship contained the gold." He fingered the coin, looking from
Blair to Katie, then back.
"Rumor had it, before they even came into the
islands, the ships made a landing farther up the coast during a storm, and the
gold was secretly unloaded, fooling even the captains of the ships by reloading
fakes," she said, reaching out for the coin. "If Kenny was half the
student Emily was, he would have recognized a fake when he saw one."
reached up and took the coin, fingering it slowly. "But why kill her?"
he asked, handing the offending piece back to Jim. "If she examined them,
she'd know they were fake."
Jim shrugged, putting the coin back into his
shirt pocket. "Maybe she didn't get the chance. I'm guessing she didn't know
what they were planning. Then when she found out, or they told her, she went against
them. Obviously the others thought the coins were real and worth killing for."
He paused, glancing at Blair. "Either her death provided them with a perfect
way to transport the coins, or..."
"Or that was their plan all along."
Blair pressed his head back into the pillow, shutting his eyes tightly against
that possibility, and what it had meant for Emily. He felt Jim's hand on his arm,
then heard Katie get up and quietly leave the room. He opened his eyes again.
"I suppose they expected no problem getting the University to send someone
out here to collect her and not ask questions." They expected Blair to come
out, sit around for a day or two feeling sorry for himself, then fly back with
Emily, and their gold, to the States? And Jim, what had Jim expected? No,
don't do that. Jim deserves better. Blair hadn't realized he was rubbing
Jim's shoulders until he was halfway back to the center. He was surprised at first
that Jim hadn't said something. But, if he hadn't liked it, he would have said.
He still wasn't sure when it was okay, and when it wasn't, so he tended to think
it just never was. Blair wasn't sure how he'd react if Jim ever got truly mad
at him. And he didn't want to find out. If he never reached out, he'd never have
to worry about pulling back a bloody stump.
"Hey Chief, I promise you,
we'll get them."
Would that be enough? Emily was killed, then both she
and Blair were used. For what? For a trunk full of gold covered lead? What would
be enough to make up for that? "What do we do now?"
wait. The sun should be up soon, and Tim was due out first thing. He'll try to
call first, and when he realizes the phones are out, he'll be here."
nodded, closing his eyes again. Lying still like that was doing much to calm his
breathing, which in turn was easing the pain in his side. He was so tired now,
he could feel himself settling, feel the tension ease out of his back. Jim was
still there, Kenny was gone. At least for now. Jim would take care of it. He always