clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Insecure Wednesday ...Yeaaaa!

Today is the monthly Insecure Writer's Support Group posting ... and boy are my arms tired.

Be sure and check out all the insecure writers here.

I've been pretty insecure lately myself - as the seven of you reading this blog know. I'm launching the Big Work and its been a hard thing to do again.

I wasn't sure I wanted to work on another long form work. I was happy with my short stories. I had a blast just working in the short form for the last year.

Yet, when the idea takes hold, there is nothing for it.

I've been murdering these past few weeks. It's good for my story. I'm beginning to see mayhem everywhere. I'm getting back in the groove.

To that end:

Today, a story of two men on a fishing vacation in Canada who simply disappeared from their fly-in camp hit the local papers. I couldn't resist filling in the details. A boat was found on shore out of gas and full of the pair's gear. What happened?

There's the official report: one fell in the water, the other fell in helping the first, they lost the boat, they drowned. As the guide hired by the RCMP says "the wilderness ate 'em."  No bodies but no other evidence.

I have a different take being intimately familiar with the Lund boats, the circumstances of life in a remote fly-in camp, the people one meets in the far north.

Let's say they ran out of gas. They put the boat ashore. They tried to hoof it back to the cabin - and in the Canadian outback that's not hike along the shoreline at your local reservoir. Let's say they set off with shirtsleeves, a pair of beers, and the thought they'd be at the cabin in a couple hours. The shoreline gets rough. They scramble. They decide to "cut across" a point. They're in the woods and make a slight turn. A half-hour later, they make another.

I've been 300 meters into the forest, disorientated, and concerned. Everything looks like everything else. There's no tracking my path back to where I was (you'll have to trust me on this ... there's no backtracking for a normal Joe from the suburbs). I had a compass. Let's say our pair doesn't.

Stay with the boat. The outfitter says stay with the boat. It's big and silver. We'll see it. You - you're little and brown. In the woods, we'll never see you. Stay with the boat.

They didn't. Wilderness ate them.

Oh, it's not the first mistake. Maybe not the second. The third mistake is the one that kills you. Sounds soft compared to life in an agent's slush pile, doesn't it?

My favorite idea about what happened is that the pair were playing poker at the main lodge. They took some guys for money. They took a pilot for a couple grand. The pilot wasn't supposed to be playing with the guests ... but he's a degenerate gambler. He's not driving 747's to London for a reason, folks. So - he's into the pair for a couple grand.

He's on the hook. He's got five days to pay - when the pair are airlifted back tot he main lodge on departure day. If he doesn't pay, the pair tell the outfitter and its his job. First rule: don't cost me any guests.

The pilot doesn't have many chances left at a paying ticket and this is a pretty good deal. He thinks.

On a fly-in lake, the bush pilot is God. No one knows where he is when the plane lifts off. No one is quite sure where he's going. They know where he's supposed to go ...but does he go there? Does he go there straight away?

Let's have him set down on Dead Buddy Lake. The pair are on the water and he drops in on them. It's their ride so they come over. Unscheduled drop-in mid-morning in the far end of the lake?  Of course they motor to the plane.

He's got his bear gun - a 454 Casull (completely illegal handgun. Hand-cannon is more like it. A favorite of pilots in the brush for bear-stopping ability.) He draws down on the pair. Get out of the boat - he tells them. Into the water. He's not kidding.

They get in the water.

Push off the boat - he says. Get off the boat or I blow your brains out now. One way - you've got a chance. Against the pistol you've none at all. I don't even have to be that accurate. I hit you in the arm I take it right off and you bleed out in about six minutes if you stay afloat.

Push off from the boat. They do.

He turned the friction up on the tiller arm. He twists the grip slowly and the boat wanders off in a lazy circle. Catch it - he says, and I'll pay you.  

He gets back in the plane. They swim for it as the big prop turns over. The younger of the pair actually gets to the float as the foam is kicked up from the fat aluminum pod pushing though the water. He can't hang on. There's no good handhold. His body pulls hard on his grip and he sags off. His nails break against the rivets.

The plane makes a quick lift and flys out low over the trees. The older of the pair is having trouble treading water. He's struggling at three minutes.

The younger looks for the boat - now 400 meters away motoring twice as fast at idle as he could ever swim. The bank is twice that far. The water is fifty-eight degrees. He's out of shape. The old guy goes under just a little and sputters. He's wearing his boots laced tightly.

The wilderness swallows them. The boat bumps the shore. Four hours later the tank runs dry and it's silent on Dead Buddy Lake for a long four days more. When the plane comes back, no one is at the cabin to greet it.

So ... I se dead people. I see them everywhere. I'm putting them in the long form.

I know you're writing. I hope you remember to stay with the boat. I'm certain you know not to take your bush pilot for more than just beer stakes at poker.

Never poke a bear. Never cross a bush pilot. You're not quite sure what either one will do if pushed.

Alaska Chick's interview with Terry Overly (and Terry isn't the type to kill you in the bush. I know the difference.) Interview here.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I see dead people too. :)

I like your what-if scenarios, too. Being eaten by the wilderness is not on my to-do list. I'll stay with my boat, now that I know!

M Pax said...

We say 'don't poke the bear' about one of my cats. :)

I live on the cusp of wilderness and realize I'm no match for it. I think it's smart to realize you don't know much when it comes to stuff like that.

Nigel G Mitchell said...

Story seeds are everywhere. That's a good one, all right.

jack welling said...

Wow - great to see everyone stopping by. I love Insecure Wednesday because I go visiting then, too.

E- I saw your vacation pics. You went somewhere the wilderness eats you. Some day I'll have to tell you about Leopard trouble.

M Pax - thanks for stopping by. I try and stay out of Barney's for the same reason. Of course, my job is to pay and so a little mauling comes my way.

Nigel - great to see you ! Thanks for the Scribophile recommendation!