Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Evangeline (Part Twenty Seven)

Michael Kent looked at his watch and prayed that they had found the place in time. Using the clues Stacy had given him, Michael had been able to find the bunker on an old county survey dated 1949. Someone had been expecting Russia to drop a bomb.

Now, surrounded by a full S.W.A.T. team and a few dozen state police, ATF agents, and FBI, it was easy to see why it had been difficult to spot from the air. Sheltered by a thick grove of pine trees, the tiny shed that covered the bunker would not have stood out as an anomaly, especially with a thick blanket of snow on the roof.

The S.W.A.T. team slowly tightened the circle around the shed. Michael motioned for the captain in charge to move in. Suddenly, the quiet forest exploded with the shouts of the men on the S.W.A.T. team, “FBI! Put your hands in the air!” as they descended the wooden steps of the bunker in a rush of body armor and assault rifles.

For a long moment, Michael’s heart was gripped with fear. What would they find? He thought about Stacy and how if it hadn’t been for her –

“Agent Kent,” someone shouted over the radio, “Get down here right away. The area has been secured.” Then another voice crackled through the state police two-way urging someone to, “Call an ambulance” and his heart sank.

He made his way down the wooden steps. There, lying on her back on the floor was Prissy Montgomery. Her neck was badly bruised, and she was unconscious, but she was alive. One of the S.W.A.T. team members had taken off his goose down jacket and covered her as the room was like a walk-in refrigerator.

Michael began to look around. It appeared as though someone had recently pressure-washed the walls. They were perfectly white like freshly poured concrete. There was nothing else in the room. No furniture. No food. No Evangeline. No Tucker. Nothing. Not a speck of dust or a bit of debris or a strand of hair. The room had been sterilized.

Michael reached for his cell phone and hit the re-dial button. He had promised Stacy he would call when they had breached the bunker.

Stacy answered without saying hello. “She’s gone Michael. It’s over.” Michael felt the stress of the last few days suddenly overpower him. His knees grew weak and he sat down on the floor to keep from falling. He had failed. One girl alive. One girl dead. That’s the way it would end after all. Stacy was never wrong. If she said she was gone, then Evangeline Goodman was most certainly gone. And when Stacy said “gone,” she meant “dead.”

“Michael,” said Stacy gently. “I’m coming down there. I will be there tomorrow. I will help you find the body. I will help you.”

Michael closed his eyes and remembered her face and suddenly all he wanted was her arms around him.


Anonymous said...

Do gone and dead mean the same thing?

Itsa Mystery said...

Depends on where you've "gone."

If you've gone to Barnes & Noble for a grande latte and a copy of the National Enquirer, then gone does not mean dead.

If you've gone to heaven (or hell) by way of the county morgue, then gone means dead.

Then there is the example of being "gone" from a person's life - you may be alive, but it feels like you're dead to the person you have left behind.

Hope this clears things up. Gone but not forgotten.