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  • Discovery at Little Hog Island

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    Chapter 5, part 5 (30)

    *

    Dana yanked desperately at the zipper. She pulled, tugged and fought. She released the air in her lungs a little at a time, clenching her teeth to avoid taking a breath of water.

    At last the zipper moved an inch or two. She stuck her fingers and then her hands into the hole and pulled the zipper apart.

    Finally the door opened. She dove through and up, broke the surface, gasped for air, and turned to help pull the door opening over Ross. They stood in the icy water, sputtered and coughed and stared around the rocks and shoreline for signs of their assailant. They saw no one and no sign of anything that might hint toward a perpetrator. Nothing.

    They dragged the soaked tent and bedding up onto the first set of rocks, and stood naked and shivering among the heap looking again toward shore. The bikes were both lying on their sides and the contents of Dana’s bags had been scattered across the site.

    “Glenn is going too far with his animosity,” Dana said, as they dragged the tent and its contents through the rocky shallows and up onto solid ground. “We could have been hurt, or killed. The bikes might be damaged.”

    “I’m not sure that was Glenn,” Ross said.

    “Then who?”

    “Well, it could be Glenn. Or it could be Dorothy and Yllsa. Or Willie and Simon. Or it could be Byron. Or someone else. Amy? Garrett? Or a stranger. Things like that happen.”

    “Byron, why? Amy? Garrett? I’m confused.”

    “We don’t know what the motivation was. The may not have intended us harm. It may have been a joke. Or, not. Dorothy is clearly jealous of you.”

    “How could someone so pretty and slender and young-looking and in such good shape and so talented be jealous of me?”

    “You’re pretty and talented, too?”

    “Not as pretty as she is!!”

    “I think you are. You’re pretty to me.”

    “It happened so fast. Dorothy or Yllsa might not be strong enough to haul us both down there so quickly. I think whoever dragged us into the water could have killed us. We could have drowned. I don’t think it was a joke. If it was, it wasn’t funny.”

    “Maybe they didn’t realize the zipper would stick and just imagined us being cold and surprised. Byron can be a practical joker, for example. He never means any harm. His jokes can be annoying."

    "This is a lot worse than annoying," Dana said, through tight lips.

    "Let’s check the bikes. Make sure nothing was stolen. Good thing it’s such a warm night, or we’d be getting hypothermia!”

    Ross picked up the bikes and examined them. Dana picked up her belongings. She had taken them out of her tiny motorcycle tent to make room for Ross, and now she was glad she had, or everything would have been soaked, including her cameras, computer, and research notes. Nothing seemed to be missing.

    She put on dry clothes, and gave Ross one of her largest T-shirts and a pair of sweatpants. They went to a 24-hour laundromat--Dana was amazed they had such a think in so small a town--and washed all the wet clothes, sleeping bag and tent. They dried everything but the tent. Ross suggested they hang it up to dry at the campsite and that they go to a motel for the night, his treat.

    By the time they got to the motel, it was after midnight and they had to ring the bell and wake the night clerk. Dana wanted to hash things out, but she was too tired. She put her head on Ross’s shoulder and fell instantly to sleep.

    She dreamed a dark person whose shadowed face she couldn’t see chased her through night woods and wanted to kill her. She woke up screaming, and Ross stroked her hair and her back until she drifted off again.

    *

    In the morning, big colorful bruises had bloomed on their backs and hips. Abrasions decorated their elbows and knees.

    When they went back to the campsite, the tent was gone.


    *


    Image: Mine (collage)

    Links to the serial sections of the novel hopeful Discovery at Little Hog Island that have been written and published on Cowbird so far: links
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