“Could be someone heard there might be gold, minerals some sort of treasure out this way. From what you said, that is a distinct possibility.”
“Yes, but why now? I haven’t noticed any other broken branches twigs or campfires to suggest anyone has been here recently. They won’t dare draw attention with fire, it would lead directly to their location which means they’ve been existing on other rations and food. They are knowledgeable enough to leave nothing behind, to be careful.”
“I’m nervous, excited, scared. A whole boatload of emotions crawling through me right now,” June admitted.
“We’ll continue as long as we can, then we camp. No fire tonight. Too close, they could catch a whiff. Not willing to take that chance. If necessary, we’ll huddle together.”
“Got it!” The look on June’s face reflected all the emotions she’s spoken of, and more, perhaps some she wasn’t even aware of as yet.
Nigel was playing out every eventuality in his mind; all the possible outcomes considerations and responses. Knowing his men as he did, their response times, their adherence to instruction, he knew he could count on them completely. The only contingency he couldn’t prepare for was that of the perps.
June was another fly in the ointment since he couldn’t predict her reactions. He could only pray she’d follow the protocol he’d set out, precisely. When it came to loved ones and family, the heart could rule the head and it was a distinct possibility he had to consider. It was time for that discussion he’d been putting off.
They employed their flashlights to move around the makeshift camp, grabbing bars nuts and raisins for a meal.
Laying his flashlight between them, he laid out the scenario(s) and each outcome. Although seasoned hikers, Roland and Jackson had never been in a hostage situation so he couldn’t count on their reactions but he hoped reason and logic would sustain them when crunch time came.
When he’d finished his clear and concise explanations he asked, “Where are you with all this, June?”
“First and foremost, scared.” She paused then added, “I’m scared I might do the wrong thing, and someone will get hurt.”
“This situation is not on you, June, nor is it of your making. It’s on the men responsible. Keep that in the foreground of your mind no matter what happens. You are part of the team, June. You know what we know. Hopefully, Roland and Jackson will respond accordingly. Only time will tell, but knowledge is power, and in this case, the power to protect.”
“Your instructions were abundantly clear, and I understand them, I can envision them in my mind. I get that split-second timing is going to be essential. I’ll follow your lead, Nigel. I don’t want to make a mistake that could harm them.”
“Don’t forget yourself in this scenario, June. I’m trying to protect you too.”