Jim waited until he was sure Blair was asleep, then he quietly stepped
out of the room and walked over to where the others were gathered around the wood
burning stove at the far end of the kitchen.
"How's Blair?" Amy looked
up as he joined them.
"Asleep." Jim replied, accepting the cup of
coffee Katie handed him. "Finally."
"The sun's coming up."
Clive stepped away from the window and sat down next to his wife, pulling his
ever present pipe from his sweater pocket. "That storm was pretty nasty.
I wonder if they made it?"
Jim raised his eyebrows as he sipped the hot
coffee. "I don't know. The boat had to have been pretty heavily loaded with
the lead. Where would they go?"
"Well, the nearest island is around
this side, straight north from here about twenty minutes by motor boat in calm
water. If they made it there, they'd have to cross that island to reach a town,
and then charter a boat or plane."
Jim nodded, picturing the island they
were on and as much of the surrounding waters as he could recall. He had heard
the sound of the outboard pulling away from the shore as he was making his way
to the utility shed that night. Heard the four voices shouting at each other above
the storm. There had been a large wooden crate beside the shed, and Jim recognized
it as matching the ones he had seen still inside the wreck. The size and shape
matched the marks he had seen on the sea floor. They must have pulled their loot
out of the water, and around to the far side of the island, then tried to hide
it in the coffin, until they were found out. He new then that the rest of them
would be safe enough until the morning, when he could go after Kenny and the others
with no fear of Blair, Amy, or the Hathaways being attacked back in the center.
After finding the generator destroyed, he had entertained notions of circling
around the island, following the voices as they came back around the rocks, and
trying to catch them, but one look at the raging seas had changed his mind. He
could barely make out the small craft as they rounded a corner and went out of
sight, heading back towards the pier, then out across the channel. He couldn't
stop them now, and he was needed back at the center. He wasn't going to leave
Blair, not yet. But they would be caught. And they would pay, not only for the
death of Emily, but for the attack on Blair.
Jim had heard the struggles downstairs,
and had just realized what was happening when the thunder struck deafening inside
his head. The pain had sent him reeling into the staircase and he had struggled
to keep from falling while he forced himself to descend. The pain had just become
bearable when he heard the door slam shut and another clap of thunder added to
the pounding in his head. That's when he'd spotted Blair, on the ground, clutching
his side. For one instant, Jim had thought his partner was dead. There was blood
everywhere, and he wouldn't open his eyes. Then, to be unable to ease the pain
due to the missing drugs in Katie's medical station, Jim had felt so helpless.
He knew how badly such a wound hurt. There were a lot of things Jim knew, that
he never wanted Blair to know. His heart hadn't stopped racing until...Until five
He heard the plane then. "I think the cavalry just arrived."
When the others looked at him questioningly, Jim pointed up. "I hear a plane.
Must be Inspector Phillips. You three stay here, I'll be right back." Jim
left them wondering at his ability to hear a plane they still couldn't pick out
and put on a coat, quickly closing the door behind him. By the time he was halfway
down the steps to the pier he could see the float plane approaching. As he reached
the end of the dock Tim was opening the door.
"Ellison, what the hell's
going on out here?" He stepped out of the plane and shut the door, motioning
for the pilot to shut off the engine. "I've been trying to phone out here
"We had a little problem. I need to borrow your pilot."
"What? What's going on?"
Jim hurried to explain the past two days,
including the escape the night before of the three students in a heavily loaded
Zodiac. "If they made it anywhere, it would be the next island."
was shaking his head. "I don't know, Jim, that's a long shot. Those seas
were really swelling last night."
"I know, but they've killed one
girl, and they tried to kill my partner. We have to take a look while they're
still close enough."
"Listen, let me contact the locals and get them
to search the island. It's a Canadian matter anyway Jim. No offense, but you've
been through enough already, don't you think?"
Jim reluctantly agreed,
and waited while his friend used the plane's radio to call the island's Constable.
While he was on the radio, the pilot began to unload crates and boxes from the
cargo hold. Jim recognized the station's logo on the boxes.
the station's supplies?"
"Yes," the pilot replied, taking out
the last of the boxes. "Their regular pilot had a heart attack a few days
ago, died in the hanger. No one found him until yesterday. I guess no one realized
why they couldn't contact him. I've got deliveries here for all the private islands."
"Okay Jim, they've got patrols heading out. If those kids made it anywhere,
they'll be found." Jim nodded, glancing out over the now calm seas. "Come
on, give me a hand with these. Did he tell you about the supply pilot?"
You sure it was a heart attack?"
"Geez Ellison, is everything a mystery
Jim laughed as he lifted a box, stacking it on top of the one
Tim was already holding. "You sound like my partner," he said, lifting
two more of the crates. "Come on, there's something in here he needs."
They returned with the supplies, and Jim let Clive fill Tim in on the happenings,
giving him a more colorful description than Jim had. He followed Katie in to where
Blair was still sleeping and helped her quietly administer enough morphine to
keep him that way for the rest of the morning. Once done, Katie returned to the
kitchen to sort through the rest of the supplies. Jim stayed behind, watching
his partner for several minutes, reassuring himself that Blair was breathing,
alive. What would have happened if he hadn't come out here with him? As soon as
the thought formed itself, Jim knew it was ridiculous. There was never a question
as to whether or not he would have come. Of course he would. Blair was counting
on him, and one of these days, he'd learn that he could. He always could. And,
he was going to get another back rub out of him soon.
Blair slowly made his way across the room, with Jim's help, and lowered himself
into the couch facing the windows. Clive was there, standing beside the couch,
pulling on his pipe, while Katie fussed and fidgeted almost as much as Jim had
been doing for the past three days.
"Guys, guys, I'm okay. Relax."
Blair tried to wave everyone off as he sat down, but neither would leave. Katie
insisted he put a blanket over his legs, and Jim just stood there, keeping an
eye on him.
"I wouldn't count on either of them relaxing for another week
or so, Blair." Clive said, smiling at them all. "They've not only been
fussing over you, but they spend their days up here, gossiping about you."
"What?! Jim, you said you were fishing."
"Did I?" Jim
was smiling now, looking innocent as he glanced from Katie back to Blair. "Well,
I suppose it was fishing of a sort." Blair rolled his eyes and Jim laughed.
"Relax, Sandburg. We just traded a few stories, nothing more."
huh." Blair said, looking to Clive for confirmation. "That's just great."
One of these days, Jim would know as much about him as he did about Jim. That
must mean something. But what?
Katie and Jim exchanged looks and Blair tried
to pretend he didn't notice the smiles they traded. He was about to say more when
they heard the door slam downstairs and footsteps hurrying up the stairs.
you won't believe this!" Amy was rushing forward, a tape in her hand. "I
was just working on Igor, and I found them."
Blair's smile was replaced
with a cold feeling in the pit of his stomach. "You found them?"
just nodded, handing Jim the tape she was holding while she held her other hand
over her stomach, looking a little pale. Blair could see her hands were shaking
as she looked from Jim, to Clive, then to Blair. Jim crossed the room and put
the tape in the machine Clive was setting up for him, then moved it closer so
they could all see from the couch. Blair watched as Igor approached the wreck,
vaguely noting the clear picture, now that he was working properly, and had no
magnets to distort the film. As the camera approached the bow and moved up to
clear the timbers, they could all see the spreading mound of glittering metal,
newly piled across the decking. Igor approached, moving down towards the pile
of lead coins, and focused his lens. Blair could see, as they all could, the hand
poking out from underneath the pile. Igor moved farther on, and more hands could
be seen, then a leg, and another. The cold feeling in Blair's stomach slowly changed
to one of detached numbness. He glanced at Jim and could see the muscle in his
jaw clenching as he watched the film.
"My God." Katie whispered.
Blair returned his gaze to the screen, and saw Kenny's face fill the video.
Igor backed up, and they could all see the lead coins filling the man's pockets,
weighing him down.
"I guess they didn't make it after all." Jim said,
shutting off the tape. He stepped over to the couch as Katie stood and walked
to her husband and shaking her head sadly. Amy was still standing there, behind
them all, looking like she wanted to be sick. "Is it enough?" he asked,
looking down at Blair.
He shook his head, looking at Jim for a minute before
answering. "No. Not nearly enough."