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August 14 2012 18:45:02.
Today Thursday 23 May 2013 00:05:49
She was actually a
help, because it was so much easier to have two sets of eyes and ears.
After thirty minutes of hard running we finally hit a road. It was a
single carriage way potholed and no more than three or four meters wide. I
paralleled it to the right, running through the trees about ten meters to
its side. We hadn't gone far when I heard a vehicle. We stopped, got down,
and I rested on my elbows and knees to keep myself out of the mud and
preserve body warmth. It was approaching fast from behind us, engine roaring
and tires splashing on wet tarmac.
A blue and white appeared and sped past, its roof-mounted red and blue
light bar flashing brighter than was normal in daylight because of the cloud
cover. The police would have things squared away by now; they were probably
placing a cordon around the whole area. They'd then either wait for us to
emerge, or come in and flush us out.
The moment the cruiser disappeared from view we got up and started
moving. The wind had strengthened and I could see waves of heavier rain
coming in ahead. After twenty minutes of running through deeply rutted,
puddled ground we came to a large open area, a perfect square of about five
acres cut out of the forest, with a white cattle fence around the perimeter.
Sitting in the middle, and approached by a driveway from the road, was a
two-story ranch house built of wooden slats, with a pitched roof, tiled with
gray slates. A square extension had been added onto the far end, and I could
see an open garage at ground level. Inside were a pickup truck, two other
cars and a small powerboat on a trailer. The building and two of the three
vehicles looked as if they'd seen better days.
There was no approach to the garage that avoided open ground. I guessed
there would be windows on every side of the house, to take advantage of the
views. Six or seven horses were loose in the field, but there was no
evidence of dogs and the house itself seemed quiet enough. Maybe everybody
was still tucked up in bed.
"You stay here," I whispered to Sarah.
"I'm going to go and get a wagon. When you see me drive out, move up to
"Why aren't I coming over with you?" She sounded suspicious, as if she
thought I'd get in a vehicle and just leave her stranded. If only she knew.
She was in no position to question my decisions, but I answered.
"Number one, it's quieter if I go on my own I know what I'm doing, you
don't. Number two, I don't want you killing anybody else. And number three,
you have no choice. I have your documents in here." I half turned to show
her the bag on my back.
"You want me to help you, you wait here."
The plot of land was as flat and green as a pool table, not a single
fold in the ground. Checking the road for vehicles and the sky for helis, I
set off across grass that was about three inches high and full of moisture,
running but trying to keep as low as possible. I didn't know why, because it
didn't make me any less visible, but it just seemed the natural thing to do.
I was leaving a clear track in my wake through the wet grass, but I couldn't
do anything about that.
I kept looking at the windows for movement. As I got closer I could see
that the upstairs curtains were drawn. I wondered if Mr. and Mrs. Redneck
were sitting in bed watching the news about last night's events down the
road. For sure, there'd be more news crews at the lake by now than there
Reaching the house, I bent down below a side window with open curtains.
In this weather there would have been a light on if people were up and
about, and there wasn't, but even so I didn't chance looking inside. I held
it there for a few seconds and listened. Nothing. Now that I was close up to
them I could see that the slats weren't wood at all, but aluminium painted
to look that way, and the roof was just felt, masquerading as tiles.
I moved around to the opposite side of the house, toward the garage
extension, making sure that I kept low to avoid the windows.
I shook my head to get the rain out of my face. There were no wet tire
marks on the garage floor or rain on the wagons. There had been no movement
since at least last night.
The first thing to do was check whether any of the vehicles were
alarmed. I couldn't see any warning signs, flashing LEDs, or other
An alarm would probably have cost more than the two cars anyway.