Kevin, Calvin and Neil had been hiding out from the authoritarian society building up around them since late February. It was a good-sized cabin situated close to a sparkling lake in the isolation of the Thompson-Nicola region’s Bonaparte Plateau. The cabin, constructed of two-by-fours and chipboard and insulated with heavy sheets of Styrofoam, was but a tiny dot in the midst of an endless expanse of forest. Outside of the cabin was a roughly-built shed where two all-terrain vehicles were stored.
The three avid outdoorsmen had driven to the mountains in a Ford Explorer that was parked in the woods at the end of a logging road almost a quarter of a kilometer away from the cabin. They had become quite accustomed to roughing it out in the bush. Their days were spent hunting wild game and fishing for salmon, trout and mackerel. In the yard was a large pile of wood and freshly-caught salmon that hung from a rack ready to be smoked later. The interior of the cabin featured a main area that served as the kitchen/dining room/living room, two small bedrooms and a loft at each end.
Jake, Sarah Jane and Mallory sat with Kevin at the wooden table in the centre of the main area. They sipped strong black coffee from tin mugs. Calvin and Neil had just finished pan-frying a batch of pancakes that had wild blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and even nuts in them. The rebels piled pancakes onto their plates and began to eat. Mallory said a silent prayer to herself.
Jake and the two young women he’d befriended the previous evening dug ravenously into the delightfully-tasting food. It was the first meal any of them had had in close to twenty-four hours.
“So, Kevin,” Jake said between bites. “You say you’re from the Lower Mainland?”
“I lived in Abbottsford up until a few months ago,” Kevin stated. “After getting out of the army, I moved in with my brother, Bob, and his wife, Charlene. They both work-used to work-for the provincial government. Calvin is their only child.”
“So where are they now?” Mallory asked as she took a sip of her coffee. “Your brother and sister-in-law, I meant to say.”
“Far away from North America. Exactly where I have no idea. Bout’ six months ago, they saw the writing on the wall. Decided to pull the proverbial pin. Bob and Charlene had pooled all of their life savings-he’s quite a bit older than I am. They purchased a small yacht and sailed out of Vancouver. Figured they could ride out the storm on some deserted tropical island. Calvin wanted to stay behind.”
Jake looked over at Neil.
“So Neil, what do you have to say?”
“There isn’t much to say really. I grew up on a reserve in the Fraser Valley,” Neil replied in a quiet voice. “Katzie First Nation.”
“Yeah, Calvin and Neil have been good friends since high school,” Kevin stated as he took a drink of coffee. “Played hockey and baseball together. Anyway, it was a difficult decision leaving our world behind. But it had to happen. I can just imagine what those poor folks in Kamloops must be going through right now. Jake, you mentioned something about your fiancé. As I understand it, she was taken.”
“I believe so. Nicole called me around two yesterday afternoon.” Jake breathed heavily as he recounted the traumatic incident. “Last thing I heard was a bunch of those goons bursting in the door of her house. There was screaming, panic…I don’t know what happened after that.”
The three outdoorsmen listened to the intriguing story.
“Jake, how were you able to get away without being killed?” Kevin asked.
“I live in Batchelor Heights. When a group of those storm troopers took over my street, I drove like hell into Lac Du Bois Provincial Park and managed to escape. Not before sending two of them to the grave I must add.”
The atmosphere in the quaint cabin went from being suddenly relaxed to very tense. Kevin, Calvin and Neil looked upon their guests with circumspection.
“You shot two NAP officers?!” Kevin’s thick eyebrows rose in fury.
“That would explain all of those helicopters buzzing around the mountains late into last night,” Calvin said with derision. “Uncle Kevin, I knew we were asking for trouble bringing these people here.”
Sarah Jane countered, quickly coming aboard the arrogant smartass.
“Don’t lump us in here. Mallory and I ran into this cowboy by accident. You have no right painting us all with the same brush.” Then Sarah Jane lowered her tone of voice and smiled at Jake. “And if it wasn’t for Jake, we most likely wouldn’t be sitting at your table right now.”
“That would be so unfortunate,” Calvin said jeeringly.
“Go fuck yourself,” Sarah Jane shot back scornfully.
Kevin glanced over at his nephew with a sombre expression.
“Calvin, I’ve heard enough out of your mouth for one day.”
“Kevin, we cannot allow them to say with us,” Neil said adamantly. “If government forces find our cabin, we’re all dead.”
“I only did what I had to do to survive,” Jake said with slight fervor in his voice. “Anybody with any desire not to live under tyranny would have done the same thing.”
“He is right,” Kevin stated. “Jake, you’ll have to excuse my nephew. He often allows his hotheadedness to get the better of him.” Kevin moved his eyes from Jake to Mallory and Sarah Jane. “As long as you all are willing to work hard, you’re no burden on us by staying here. Actually Jake, come to think about it, there is a reason you and your lady friends came into our lives. I’m not an overly religious man, but I do believe in both a higher power and fate. You’re welcome to sleep in the loft located at the left end of the cabin. Mallory and Sarah Jane, the right one is all yours. It isn’t fancy but comfortable enough for sleeping. As you can see, we have an outhouse in the woods out there. Now let’s get this breakfast finished. We have a lot of work to do today.”