Twins of Prey
Chapter 5 Flows
Sitting by the raging fire with the two bodies for fuel, the twins began to inventory the hunter’s pack that was left in the orchard. Plenty of canned food rations, fruit, trail mix and powdered eggs, all of which was quickly burned.
Tomek and Drake survived on their After 5. Stay Alive mantra to the extreme. This included not scavenging others’ meal supplies. Drake was happy to find knives, both big and small as well as their matching sheaths. He was particularly fond of the wood-handled six-inch Rapala fillet knife in the pack, knowing that cleaning fish would now be much easier. The rest of the pack contained an assortment of money, deer tags and ammunition.
Also in the pack was a yellow satellite cellular phone. The twins were aware of phones and the general capabilities they possessed. Uncle had been in the woods so long before the day he found the twins even he was uneducated about the overall technological power of the small cellular devices.
“This is cool,” Tomek said while pushing random buttons on the unit and finding amusement in the different tones it produced. “We should keep it”
“First a gun and now a phone thingy? Really, Tomek?”
Drake was not exactly thrilled about the idea of keeping either item, but he knew what battles to pick and choose when dealing with his brother.
“The rifle we should keep, just in case that bear cub is around again,” Drake said, pointing to Tomek’s backside.
Two years ago Tomek had a nasty encounter with a bear cub and Drake relentlessly found pleasure in bringing it up as often as he could. Tomek had landed the cub in a leg hold trap meant for a fox and was trying to release the cub and set it free when he got a nice claw swipe across his ass cheek. Of course Tomek was too proud to let his brother care for his butt wounds, leaving him with an infection that would heal, but not without leaving quite the scar.
“At least the scar isn’t on my face there, ear boy,” Tomek snapped back.
“Damn it. Good point, “Drake thought to himself, as to not give Tomek any credit for the quick retort.
“If I ever see that bear again I am going to get this rifle out and shoot him in the ass!” Tomek quipped as both boys laughed.
It was the first time they had smiled together since Uncle’s death. Tomek soon grew bored with the yellow beeping cell phone and tossed it into the river.
“Time to crush some bones,” Tomek said with a sigh. It was the first time Drake heard his brother speak negatively regarding any process of the killing of the hunters. Of course he figured it was more about the fact that they now had some actual work to do.
The scorched bones were pulled from the fire pit and placed one by one onto a large, flat riverside boulder they often referred to as the whale rock due to its shape and how it emerged from the water line. Not that either boy had ever seen a whale, but Uncle explained the way the breached the water in order to breath from their blow holes. Drake as a child had drawn a face on it with a piece of sodium limestone mixed with crushed mulberries. Uncle sternly made him stand in the chest deep 40-degree water the next day to wash it off. A cold lesson learned.
The boys took turns dropping the heaviest rocks they could find onto the bones, piece by piece. Breaking them up into unrecognizable flakes and tossing them into the river. With one rib bone left, Tomek stopped his brother.
“This one is mine,” Tomek said, picking up the black and grey charcoal-covered rib. “My trophy.”
Drake rolled his eyes, knowing that Tomek was always the one who cared about antlers on a deer or the size of a fish. He guessed this kill was no different. Tomek had to have his trophy.
The next morning they awoke and enjoyed their pancake griddle breakfast with some blueberries that they had collected back in the late summer. It was a quiet September morning with the perfect amount of crispness in the air. The summer months were ending and the last fly hatch of the year was about to happen, meaning the day would be spent trout fishing and smoking the meat to preserve it for the bitter winter months ahead.
The next few weeks the twins spent nearly every minute of the day together. The schedule of separating tasks was dropped and both agreed upon what the day’s activities would be. This time of the year the twins were much like a bear before hibernation, gathering food and putting on fat for the long sleep ahead. The corn was to be picked as well as the last of the other summer vegetables. This included canning what was to be saved. The orchards were full of fruit that was picked and enjoyed by both equally.
Hundreds of pounds of apples were stored in the underground cellar. The cool temperature underground kept the stash from spoiling. A fresh crisp apple could be had on a cold January day. It was always one of the few bright spots during the dreary days of winter. Fresh apples and corn were also the best winter baits for their deer pit traps. Multiple deer every year fell into the pits attempting to feast on the small bounty of apples the twins had laid out for them on top of the false fern-covered floor surrounding the main garden.
So life went on quietly and peacefully with no hunters, intruders or even many flyovers, which was unusual. They had figured that eventually a search party would have come looking for the two “lost” hunters. Having worked out their back story if someone came to their camp, both could easily deny any knowledge of the hunters. Both boys planned on helping in the search efforts if need be in order to cast away any light that may draw suspicions their way. It was a peaceful winter. They figured the daily snowfalls and ice rain mix had kept the search parties away from their section of woods. Not a single hunter, trapper or even plane was seen in their area until spring and that’s the way they liked it.
The snow came quickly and heavily that year. By the end of November they were completely buried in more than three feet. December came and went. The only reminder of Uncle’s death was the fried bluegill fillets they dined on that night. It was his favorite meal. Soon they began to hear the daily cracking of the ice floes in the river. Only the first eight-foot portion of each side of the 60-foot-wide waterway froze solid enough to support the boys’ weight. Tomek and Drake could always count on open water and cold fishing if need be.
Spring came just as it did every year with the breaking up of the river ice. It was quite a powerful and magical thing to see. Every ice chunk that came from upstream would eventually pile up into huge ice jams along the front of their bend in the river. The jams would stick around every year for about a week and then slowly make their way downstream. Leaving behind plenty of fresh gouges in the riverbank and shorelines, much like a glacier carving out an entire continent. The ice floes were so heavy this year that the path of the river had changed and now the whale rock was completely underwater. The ice floes would also leave items behind that the boys found useful. Logs for building or burning, random eating utensils, hand tools, fishing rods and even camp stoves often would wash down stream and not make it past their bend.
The river often had a way of bringing them what they needed in terms of food and supplies. It also disposed of what they didn’t need, such as the bones of a hunter or two. It was what they did not need that would soon matter to them the most. Many months after the fact and thirteen miles downriver in Pine Run, a small lumber mill town, what they thought they did not need showed up on top on an ice floe.
A child playing on the ice floes that had come ashore had grabbed it having no idea exactly what it was and took it right to her father. The girl’s father, being the local sheriff, knew exactly what it was and had a good idea on who it might have belonged to. The sheriff’s notions were confirmed the minute he read the label on the back: Property of the United States Department of Justice.
Tomek had no clue that the waterproof satellite phone would have made it this far. He had no clue the batteries would have survived through the winter in the river. There was no way for either Tomek or Drake to know that the hunters were the sons of a high-ranking government official. There was no way for them to know that the hunters were promising college star athletes. Most of all, Tomek could not have known that the phone tracked its coordinates via GPS.
The hunters’ disappearance was a national news story. Both from a political standpoint with a powerful father, as well as on the athletic front. Multiple rescue parties were dispatched. Only they were 15 miles to the west of the where the hunters took their last breaths. The snow and ice conditions of the following winter had stopped the search parties from getting any closer. With the discovery of the phone and its data now downloaded, the parties could resume their search efforts utilizing the GPS tracking software. This in effect would put them in the twins’ orchard. The track would continue down the hill and then into the river. It was out of pure luck that Tomek never took the phone directly to the cabin.
Not only did the phone give insight to the last known locations of the lost hunters, there also were four photos saved to its internal memory card. The sheriff, an outdoorsman himself, knew the hunters could not have survived that hard of a winter, but he still was shocked as he flipped through the stored images. The first picture featured the hunters together in their camp and then a picture of the dead buck lying below on the river bed.
The sheriff then looked in horror at the third image, which clearly showed hunter number one’s naked body in a pile of brush with an arrow through his head and chest. The sheriff now knew that the government official’s sons were not just “lost.”
The last photograph on the memory card confirmed his suspicions. The same sheriff who had investigated the disappearance of two three-year-old twins 13 years ago was now looking at the picture of a 16-year-old dark skinned wild-eyed killer. Tomek had given them his face without even knowing it. The twins were about to get some company.
Stay tuned till next week for the next chapter from the Twins of Prey by W.C. Hoffman. Want to buy the entire book now?