Saturday, May 9, 2009

Chapter One

Liam smoothly touched the plane down and taxied it toward the hanger. Another perfect landing. Sighing, he relaxed against the unforgiving fabric of the pilot's seat. Austin pushed his head into the cockpit. "Scott wants to know if that bump was turbulence or a landing."


"He wants to know who to blame for the coffee spill on the floor when and if you find it."

Suddenly Austin's dark head disappeared. Echoes of chuckles followed. Liam rolled his eyes and started to climb out of the cockpit.

Of the three young men, Austin was the stocky one. He has an air of strength about him. Strong common sense and an easy going attitude dominated his personality. As well as being the leader of the group, he could give one the impression of a graceful bear. Big and strong, yet affectionate, he easily won others trust. He had thick, black hair and deep, enchanting dark eyes that sparkle when he joked around.

Scott jumped easily out of the plane and shook his longish, brown hair out of his grey eyes. Thin and lanky, his walk in perfect control, he swung out the baggage and carried it to a corner of the hanger.

Liam began checking the plane and settling everything into its place. His dusty blonde hair, badly in need of a haircut, kept falling in front of his sea colored eyes. An absentminded look was in his eyes, as it was often lately, as he quickly finished pulling out the climbing gear.

"Where is this mountain we are supposed to climb?" Scott asked as he shouldered his bags.

"I don't know. Hey, Liam where is this mountain?" Austin called across the hanger to where Liam was pulling his bag out of the plane.

"What?" he answered.

"Mountain, climb, Wake up." Scott made the shape of a mountain with his hands and almost dropped the cooler on Austin's toes.

"Oh, the mountain is about five miles east of here," Liam answered as he stuffed one of his books back in the pocket of his suitcase.

"Liam, what are you thinking about?" Austin asked looking a bit worried at Liam's lack of enthusiasm.

"Do you remember those girls we knew in High School?" Liam asked as he walked with them.

"Yeah, there were Claudia, and Kathy and . . . what's-her-name." Austin's eyes got a faraway look to them. "I would like to see Claudia again. We promised to get back together after college. But I haven't heard from her for quite awhile."

"What do you mean Kathy? There were Claudia and Kristy and . . . Great! I can't remember her name either." Scott looked at Liam out of the corner of his eye. "Do you remember, Liam?"

"Yes, I remember. Her name was Dawn,"

Both boys looked at Liam trying to see anything in his face that might give him away. They had been doing this every time a former girl friend's name came up. This time they were rewarded with a slight dimming of the eyes.

"Come on Romeo," Scott nudged Liam playfully. "We have a mountain to climb."


The small jeep wound its way slowly through the mountains. Inside Dawn reached for her once hot mug of strawberry tea. This was her favorite time of day, sunrise, the beautiful colors and the peaceful silence.

Briefly, she checked her mirror to see if the other girls were still asleep. Claudia lay in the middle seat with her head on Kristy's lap. From the look on her face she was dreaming of someone special. It would be a pity to wake her up in a few minutes.

Claudia's willful temperament and strong ideas were well hidden under her pretty face. Her dark brown hair, always in perfect order, was a nice frame for her dark, golden brown eyes. As the years had passed, she had slimmed out and learned to smile more.

Kristy had a no nonsense look about her pretty blue eyes. Now her light brown hair fell across her pillow as she slept. She was still catching up on some lost sleep from studying for midterms. Always energetic, she usually ran circles around Claudia, but lately she had been quieter.

Dawn's friendly and nice outlook usually brightened everyone around her. She had long blonde hair that she always kept pulled back away from her face and hazel eyes that hid behind her glasses. Right now her eyes had less sparkle than usual because she was tired from driving all night.


Austin clung to the rock face about ten feet above Scott. Resting, he looked up at the sky above him. The wind had picked up in the last hour. There were clouds gathering, and the light was quickly disappearing. "Maybe we should look for some shelter," He called down to Scott. "It looks like a storm coming up."

"I'll ask Liam," Scott called back. Turning to look over his shoulder he spotted Liam hanging five feet below him. "Hey, is there any place we can hole up for a while. There's a storm coming up and it is getting pretty bitter."

"There is a lodge about three miles from the place where we reach the road." Liam called up to them as he reached for his next hand hold. Scott passed the message up to Austin, and then they lapsed into a silence interrupted only by heavy breathing and an occasional cough.

Austin and Scott reached the top first and were waiting for Liam when Austin turned to Scott. "Have you noticed Liam lately?" Austin asked softly.

"Yeah, he is too quiet." Scott pulled his coat closer. "It seems like he has no interests other than books and his plane. I had to practically beg him to come on this trip. Maybe it is that girl Dawn."

Austin just shrugged before leaning over to help Liam over the lip of the drop. Silent again, they headed toward the road with Liam in the lead.

Austin was cold, but he quit thinking about it after stepping out into the open because it only made it worse. The snow hit his face like needles of ice. As it thickened, they could hardly see the road that they were following. All that Austin was aware of was the howling of the wind and the ice forming on his gloves.


Squinting, Claudia peered into the blinding snow. She could hardly see three feet ahead. Kristy squinted at the road map trying to find the right mountain, let alone the right road.

"How are you supposed to read one of these?" Kristy asked.

"I think you are holding it upside down," Claudia said without looking away from the road.

"Then you read it," frustrated Kristy shoved the map way from her face and looked out at the road.

"I can't, I'm driving," Claudia replied.

"I wish Scott was here," Kristy spouted out after a few seconds of silence.

"Scott who?" Claudia asked. "Where did this Scott come from? I don't remember a Scott coming up in conversation lately."

"That is because I just thought of him out of the blue," Kristy looked thoughtful. "Remember in high school, when I wouldn't shut up that one time and he threatened to kiss me."

"Yeah, I remember that. It was before you liked him and that wasn't a good threat anymore." Suddenly Claudia frowned. "Do you see something up there?"

"I don't know. It is really snowing now and hard to see. Maybe we should wake up Dawn," Kristy suggested. "She'll know what to do."

"First I think we should find out who or what it is."

Slowing she pulled over to what she thought was the side of the road, next to the figures. Kristy slowly rolled down the window yelled out to them. "Hello?"

One of the hikers came over to the car ahead of the other two.

"Scott?" Kristy turn white and her mouth dropped open.

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