Another Ten Seconds
Chapter 17: Doug's Wish Fulfilled
by Jeff Rand
"Grandpa! Grandpa, wake up! We just had an invader at Cow Camp, but Mr. Oatley killed him. John Howey came back from the future and attacked Charles Powell while he slept in his igloo. Mr. Oatley recognized Howey and fought to protect us. He was real hideous and old, even older than Mr. Oatley."
"Doug, I think its time you went to bed. The games are over."
"No, seriously there is a dead body at Cow Camp. You need to get up. Everyone needs to be there."
"Good. Why don't you just put it outside? The cold will protect it until morning."
Roger Horn had always been a light sleeper and was more than irritated at the latest charade from his grandson. He was not about to interrupt his brief rest just to find out he'd been tricked. The past two days had taken their toll with even the most durable Winter Campers. As if John's drowning hadn't been enough, the group suffered another frightening experience resulting from Dave Milon's accident just a few hours ago. If some stranger had been killed, so be it. He did not believe for one instant that John Howey came back from the future. He knew John was dead and no mechanical contrivance could make it otherwise.
Word spread quickly and most of the Winter Campers converged upon Cow Camp, with some notable exceptions. Mr. Oatley and the witnesses were outside the igloo belonging to Adam Pezet and Mick Belmont. The body remained inside. The others gathered around to get the full story. Dr. Bob was among the last to arrive.
"Dr. Bob, I think you might want to confirm our supposition of death," said Mick, as if observing a deadly knife fight was a regular activity.
Bob Hartwig crawled into the igloo. A few minutes later he returned to face the group. "The man is dead," he proclaimed. "Unfortunately, it is too late for first aid, and it doesn't look like anyone attempted to stop the bleeding at all!"
"Bob, if I might clarify the situation. I have extensive medical knowledge, perhaps more than you realize. It was one of those situations where any first aid would be useless. The blade had pierced his heart, which as you know is certain death," said Mick.
Lou Pezet and Tim Hunt held most of the group far enough back so as not to engage in the conversation. It was bad enough to have another death at Winter Camp, let alone involve the youth in the grisly details. Ron Donohue and Mark Bollman being the most elder Winter Campers present joined the discussion at the scene of the crime.
Ron spoke, "I think it is time to call the police."
"Agreed," said Mark. "We don't want to look like we've got something to hide."
"I have already done so with my satcom," retorted Belmont. "My chief concern is to protect Winter Camp and I made the right contact to be sure the matter is handled properly."
"Well that sounds ok, I guess, but we want to be sure we have the story straight. It would be harmful to tell the authorities any falsehood," said Ron.
"It is for that reason that I suggest that the group return to the BC Building. We have four eyewitnesses, besides Mr. Oatley, and we should not involve anyone else in the matter. We spoke briefly and I am confident that Charles and Christopher will be credible witnesses. Both will verify that it was an act of self-defense. Of course Adam was present, but I advise him not to provide too much information, lest he be connected with the weapon. It is best that he not have to explain why he had a machete in the igloo. I will verify the boys' version of the events. As to Mr. Oatley, he is somewhat distraught over it. I believe the authorities will quickly understand, however, that he is beyond reproach."
"It sounds like you have thought this through," said Mark, with a slight tone of admiration.
Ron was still concerned, but decided not to press the issue. Instead he ushered the campers away from the immediate area. His attempts to follow Mick's suggestion and move the group to the BC Building were less than successful. Instead he settled for the large igloo on the hill just west of Cow Camp. This structure had been constructed such that the entire group could gather for the Eskimo Breakfast, still hours away. Perhaps they would eat a bit early.
Two police officers drove a four-wheel drive utility vehicle past Beaver Lake up the hill towards Cow Camp. They made the turn from Ranch Road without error and drove right to the center of the campsite. With almost perfect timing, Mick Belmont greeted them.
"Welcome to Winter Camp. Sorry to have to meet you under these circumstances. The body is in the igloo."
The officers entered the igloo with their flashlights, while the assembled witnesses remained outside. In spite of Mick's suggestion that those not involved leave the immediate area, Dr. Bob and Dave Oakley remained, reasoning that they might have some expertise to offer. First the police officers questioned Charles and Christopher. Then they spent a few minutes with Adam and Mick. Their discussion with Mr. Oatley lasted all of 90 seconds. Oakley and Hartwig were not questioned at all.
Perhaps it was a bit of curiosity, but Ron Donohue and Mark Bollman agreed that one of them should return to the accident and monitor the situation. Mark volunteered and returned to the small igloo, as the police officers were pulling the body through the entrance tunnel. While he had to keep his distance, Mark had a brief glimpse at the man's face before the officers loaded the body into the back of their vehicle. Mark thought the face looked oddly familiar.
Their work being done in less than a jiffy, the officers left Cow Camp with the body of the stranger.
"Odd," said Dave Oakley as he turned to Dr. Bob. "In all my years as an undertaker, I've never heard of a body being removed by anything but an ambulance. Don't they need to take him to the hospital."
"Not always," said Dr. Bob. "If there is a physician present to sign a death certificate, a hospital visit isn't necessary. However, in this case neither officer approached me for that purpose."
"Odd indeed," said Mark Bollman, overhearing the brief exchange.
The group gathered in the large igloo, somewhat subdued from the latest mishap, although most were now eager to proceed with the Eskimo Breakfast.
Realizing that it was only 4:30 a.m. Winter Camp Time, Ron spoke, "Last time I had breakfast this early at Winter Camp, I was the victim of the Early Morning Time Shift prank. As before I would like to go back to bed and wake up with none of this really happening."
"Unfortunately old friend, it is all real," said the senior Steve Clark. "Indeed Winter Camp has had a great many years without serious mishap, but I think we are strong enough to accept it now."
With the body having been removed and police business concluded, the witness party proceeded to join the others. Mick Belmont entered the igloo, somewhat dismayed that the group refused to heed his instructions to return to the Beaver Creek Building. In fact, caribou sausage was already frying on the griddle that was tucked away in the cooking alcove of this massive snow and ice structure.
Belmont said sternly, "I thought I gave instructions for everyone to go to Beaver Creek!"
"It's a boy run organization," retorted the younger Steve Clark, in the usual manner of a youth who thinks he is in charge. In reality most of the senior power base was either not present or preoccupied with other matters.
While Mark Bollman and Ron Donohue, the two most senior members present, glanced at each other, it was Dave Oakley who interjected, "I think it is quite appropriate that we proceed with our morning program. It will not inhibit our efforts to sort out the recent events."
The preparation of breakfast proceeded and most campers were content to engage in conversation amongst small groups of peers, as they waited.
Mark Bollman tapped Mick on the shoulder, "Might we converse a bit outside?" Ron joined the two just outside the igloo.
"Mick, you know that I have always had great respect for you, but I don't think you're telling us the full story. I think you know the dead man," said Mark.
"Mark, of all people I thought you understood me," said Mick.
"Just tell us what you know. We're not making accusations that you have done something wrong. We just need to know the truth," said Ron.
"Very well. I assure you that I have the interests of Winter Camp in mind. I was not involved in the Order of the Arrow when I became interested in Winter Camp. It was when I stumbled upon Winter Camp through the Internet, that I developed an attraction to it. Reading of its history and activities, I found myself drawn to join the experience. This, I think you know, and I was not the first to follow this path."
"What you don't know is the reason I was searching the Internet. It was actually because of Mr. Oatley. When I searched the Net for his name, I found Winter Camp. Here I realized was the perfect opportunity to reveal my cryogenic project. In what other place could you imagine a gathering of such intellect that could understand the concept and accept the results? Aside from my work, I assure you I have given heart and soul to Winter Camp."
Mark responded, "I accept you explanation. It makes perfect sense, but it does not explain the invader at Cow Camp. In some manner, he was quite familiar."
"I do not know the dead man who called himself Dr. Goodman. What I do know is that he was here with a mission that threatened Mr. Oatley. I wish I could elaborate on the details, but suffice it to say that there are others involved to offer protection and I would worry no more about it."
"If I get your message, this was not handled as a normal police case," said Ron.
"I made the right contacts to have the matter dealt with both legally and in the best interests of Winter Camp. I regret that I can not be any more forthright, but I pledge that I will never do anything to jeopardize this Winter Camp." Mick turned to go back into the igloo.
Mark and Ron did not press the issue any further, but satisfaction of their curiosity would have to be put on hold for now. The challenge would be how to discuss the issue with the other senior campers. Mick's explanation might not completely satisfy the others and they could pursue it further, even to the detriment of themselves or Winter Camp. The two were about to discuss a strategy, when Doug Wilson and Roger Horn approached. Neither had been present for any of the early morning activities.
"I understand John Howey came back from the future and tried to kill Mr. Oatley," said Roger, in a joking manner.
"Well, I think that's a story concocted from our over-exuberant youth," said Mark.
"We thought as much. But why are you outside the large igloo?" said Roger.
"Unfortunately, we did have another death. An invader entered Cow Camp and fought Mr. Oatley. Mr. Oatley defended himself and killed the attacker," said Ron.
"What?" said Douglas.
"I think Mick will explain it all," said Mark, trying to avoid the issue for the moment.
Seeing the lighted igloo, Doug wasted no time and entered the dome to find Mick. Inside he found almost the entire group waiting for breakfast. Peering towards the cooking alcove he noticed Jack Conroy and Randy Tarandus cooking the caribou sausage. Mr. Oatley stood near the cooks right next to the waste can. Doug observed Jack and Randy lift the griddle to remove some of the grease. The boys tilted the griddle too far, and Doug could see that hot caribou grease was about to spill. "Quick Harold, the bucket! They're going to dump it!" he shouted.
Breakfast proceeded and Mick directed the Winter Campers to the Beaver Creek Building where he would "debrief" the entire group.
"Gentlemen, I have heard various stories about our recent visitor, which are largely untrue. It is to give you the facts and set your minds at ease that I offer my insights.
The dead man, who called himself Dr. Goodman, came here to kill Mr. Oatley. Thankfully two sharp witted youth, Charles and Christopher, recognized the threat and directed him to me. Unfortunately, before we had chance to subdue him, Mr. Oatley stumbled into our igloo. At once, Goodman recognized his target and proceeded to attack Mr. Oatley. Certainly he would have killed Mr. Oatley had it not been for Adam's preparedness. Mr. Oatley was able to secure Adam's weapon to defend himself and remove the threat, resulting in death to Dr. Goodman. I assure you all that the body has been removed and the police have taken care of the matter. It will be of no more concern at Winter Camp."
"That's fine, but it shakes me up a bit to have a potential killer visit Winter Camp. Why is Mr. Oatley so silent on the subject? Aren't we putting ourselves at risk by his very presence?" said Tom Ray.
"I remind you that we are a very fortunate group. The presence of Mr. Oatley at Winter Camp represents a scientific breakthrough yet to be revealed to the rest of the world. I believe that Dr. Goodman or whatever his real name, did not want this made public, as it has profound implications. Please understand that it is my sincere belief that the authorities will offer us protection in order that we may proceed with Winter Camp as planned.
The Winter Campers sat silent. Typically they were true to the tenth point of the Scout Law. Now they shared a quiet sense of fear, though none would admit it publicly.
A nagging question still plagued Mark Bollman and he had gone to the Winter Camp museum in search of an answer. He returned and approached Ron Donohue with a $50 piece of Winter Camp currency.
The silence broke with the sound of the outside door opening. All heads turned hoping to see the return of Steve Donohue and Jeff Rand with good news regarding Dave Milon. Instead a very tall and slender man entered the room. He wore a leather motorcycle jacket and knit cap. A scarf covered his neck. His eyes were hidden with dark glasses and only a small patch of extremely pale facial flesh was exposed. Except that he was absent a helmet, he looked all the part of a storm trooper from some science fiction flick. Standing just inside the doorway, fully dressed, the man faced the group.
"Hello. I'm detective Amikas from the FBI," said the stranger.
"Perhaps you have some ID," said Belmont, representing the group.
"Indeed I do. Please, I ask everyone to remain in this room," said the detective, reaching for a pocket.
"Hold it!" came a shout from the side of the room. Dave Woods stood with a 44 Magnum pointed in the direction of the stranger.
"Please be careful," said the detective, cautiously raising his hands. "I assure you I was not reaching for a weapon. Now I understand your caution, but interfering with a federal officer is a serious offense."
"Why don't you examine my badge?" continued the officer, nodding in the direction of Alex Howey. He continued to keep his hands raised, hoping to avoid any action that would appear aggressive.
Alex moved toward the stranger and removed the badge from his jacket pocket. Coincidentally the stranger had chosen the one from the group with the most experience and knowledge in law enforcement. Alex quickly identified the badge as genuine. "It's real," he said.
"Now if you might be so kind as to lower your gun, we'll press the matter no further," said the agent, as he lowered his hands.
"Sorry. We can't be too careful after what happened. It's registered," retorted Woods.
"I'm sure it is Da..," said the agent, catching himself midstream. "Now I've come here to investigate a stabbing."
"Detective Amikas, I believe you'll find that the matter has been settled," interjected Mick Belmont.
"I think you might want to call Mr. Ling at the NSA in Washington."
"I might, if indeed there was a Mr. Ling at the National Security Agency. However, we both know that is not the case. Perhaps you and I might discuss this later, but first I have other business."
Belmont was about to speak, but thought better of it. He knew that there was no Mr. Ling, but also was certain that Detective Amikas had no connection with the FBI. He would choose his moment to act; the future of Winter Camp depended upon it.
Amikas turned in the direction of Harold Oatley, "Mister, normally I would question you, as to your involvement. However, it will be a waste of our time. I regret that the real Harold Oatley has been dead for 42 years."
A series of sighs emanated from the group. Alan Wilson grabbed his head at the onset of severe headache.
Detective Amikas determined to proceed, "Gentlemen, the man you killed, Dr. Goodman was here to deliver a very important message."
As Amikas was about to continue, the fire alarm rang, startling the entire group with deafening sound. Like the others it caught the detective by surprise and he failed to notice Belmont's move towards Dave Woods.
Momentarily the shot could be heard above the alarm, as the detective fell to the floor. Blood spurted from a wound in his chest. He gasped for air and tried to speak above the noise. "Project Orion! Remember Project Orion!" he bellowed with all his strength.
The second shot blew a hole in the side of his pale face. Another early morning visitor was dead.
The group stood stunned for a few a moments, everyone visibly shaken. The shooting was a terrifying experience for young and old alike, and everyone realized the idyllic setting that once defined Winter Camp would never be the same. The body lay face up in a pool of blood.
Eventually, Adam Pezet attended to the alarm, successfully silencing it without regard to a potential fire.
Dave Woods broke the silence saying, "I really didn't think the gun was loaded."
Dr. Bob Hartwig proceeded to examine the body accompanied by Mark Bollman and Ron Donohue. "Strange," he said, as he peeled away the scarf which protected the detective's neck from the bloody mess on the left side of his face. "He has the palest skin I've ever seen."
Ron proceeded to remove the dark glasses, which had been broken and were covered with blood. The left side of the face was a mess of loose flesh and bone, but the right side remained intact. The glasses had protected the right eye from the blood the obscured much the exposed flesh. Ron gasped when he saw the eye. It was not real; rather it held the image of a stylized Indian reminiscent of the Order of the Arrow logo of decades past.
Mark, too, saw the eye before he handed Ron the piece of Winter Camp currency engraved with a drawing of the founder of the Order of the Arrow, Dr. E. Urner Goodman.
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