As the evening delved into dusk, the warmth of the spring day quickly dissipated. Although his clothing had dried by now, Jake’s entire body was racked by chills. He’d been moving fast for a couple hours in a westerly direction, ready at a moment’s notice to seek cover from the helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles that flew overhead. He’d noticed a lull lately. He was not so naïve to think that the authorities would give up looking for him.
Bugs tormented the former Special Operations soldier as he trudged wearily through a marshy area. Jake estimated that he was somewhere between Lac Du Bois and Porcupine Meadows Provincial Park. In others words, in the middle of freakin’ nowhere. The last conversation he’d had with Nicole continued to haunt his mind. If she and Arielle were killed, he would track down and mete out retribution all those responsible. He tried his best to cling to the hope that she was alive. And when the time was right, he’d find his way back into Kamloops to rescue both of them from the clutches of those vile monsters.
Jake moved up a rugged hill. He gripped the handle of the Beretta. All nature of dangerous wildlife was lurking out here, including the odd Timber Rattlesnake. Jake caught his breath as he reached the crest of the hill. He hated to admit it, but he was plumb tuckered out. The first thing his tired eyes noticed was a fallen Spruce tree. In survival school, he’d received intensive training in the utilization of natural shelters. He had no tools on him save for a survival knife.
Nightfall would soon be upon the land and he needed shelter-as crude as it may be. Jake zipped open his canvas ‘bug-out’ bag. He reached inside for the plastic bag containing a variety of protein bars. He took out a large one with four-hundred calories in it. Since making his break into the forbidding wilderness of central British Columbia, Jake estimated that he had easily burned four thousand calories. He desperately needed to replenish his system. He devoured the chocolate chip cookie dough bar. It tasted good.
Unbeknownst to Sarah Jane Pearce and Mallory Hutchinson, life as they had known it this morning had changed forever. The two close friends, who were in their mid-twenties, were alarmed at the volume of air traffic in the skies throughout the day. Rumors circulated that Russian forces had flown over the Arctic and were preparing a land invasion of North America. It was crazy living in a constant state of war. Sarah Jane and Mallory were second-year law students at Thompson Rivers University and shared an apartment. Before commencing a summer internship as clerks with a law firm in downtown Kamloops, the young women had decided to spend a couple of days hiking and camping in the vast wilderness surrounding the city.
Though they were worlds apart culturally and politically, Sarah Jane and Mallory had hit it off since the first day of law school. Sarah Jane, her hair in dreadlocks and always wearing her signature reggae hat and army jacket, was the product of a liberal-progressive family in Vancouver. On her backpack were sewn various logos including one with the symbols of all of the world’s religions saying COEXIST, No More Blood for Oil, Women’s Right are Human Rights and Give Peace a Chance.
Mallory, on the other hand, was born and raised in a conservative Lutheran family in Calgary. Her father worked as an oilfield executive. Her mother was a housewife who home schooled the couple’s six children. Upon graduation, Sarah Jane intended to enter a career doing environmental law for non-profit organizations. Mallory wasn’t sure what her career path would be just yet.
The two had been hiking for most of the day and were exhausted. Mallory stopped and sat down on a large fallen tree.
“Sarah Jane, we’re going to have to stop for the night.”
They had found themselves in a large open area.
“I think we should go on a just little further,” Sarah Jane stated as she put her backpack down. “Nightfall will soon be upon us. We will have to set up camp.”