Broken Bits(2)

By: Kel O Connor


Kit pulled a well-worn topography map out of the side pocket of her pack and studied it. There should be a clearing up on the left – that had to be where the helicopter would touch down. If it was a rescue operation, she was trained and could help. Adrenaline flowed through her veins and she laughed. Finally, a distraction!

Stowing the map in a pocket, she scrambled to find her first aid kit.

“Stupid!” she mumbled under her breath. “You are an idiot for throwing your shit around!”

Finally, she spied it lying beside her discarded sweatshirt. Despite the cool temperature, she’d gotten overheated as she’d began to break camp. She tossed the first aid kit and whatever supplies that were nearby into her backpack and threw it on.

She strode forward, hopping over a slender tree that had fallen across the path. Her hiking boots left marks where yesterday’s rain had puddled in the dirt. Once on the nearby trail, she orientated herself and set off. A chuckle escaped her as she trotted down the trail as fast as she could manage without having the pack throw off her balance.

Luckily, the trail was smooth here, with few rocks or tree roots. The closer she came to the clearing, the louder the helicopter noise became. Peering around a thick tree trunk, Kit lowered her head so that the bill of her cap blocked most of the dirt blowing past her. From here, she had a good view of a meadow filled with plump bushes that were beginning to bud. The morning fog collected around the edges, leaving the field easy to see. There was no stranded hiker. No human was waiting for her help among the tall grass. Damn it.

The sound of the rotors was almost deafening this close. More debris flew by as she watched the helicopter descending. Something wasn’t right. The helicopter…there were no rescue agency markings on the outside. The expensive looking machine was all black and shiny like the forewings of a beetle. The sun reflected off the windows so she could not see how many people were inside. Goosebumps rose on her arms as the theme to The Twilight Zone played in her head.

“Oh shit!” She ducked behind a tree in order to avoid being slapped by a stray branch that whizzed past.

Whether it was her over-active imagination or not, she wanted to remain hidden now. Pain stung her palm and she loosened her grip on the knotty tree trunk. She peeked back around to see the helicopter hovering about twenty feet off the ground. Thankfully, it was also now facing away from her. Her eyes narrowed as she noticed that even the tail lacked any identifying numbers.

Not a good sign, Kit thought, and then watched in horror as a body tumbled out of the opened door. It landed in the meadow with a thump, and the helicopter flew away.

Kit froze as the noise faded away with it. What the hell? Was that a dead body? If not, he was certainly injured after that fall. She moved out from behind the tree, keeping an eye on the spot where the body had fallen. The tall grasses swayed in the light breeze but were undisturbed by any other movement.

Even though her heart was about to burst out of her chest, she knew she had to at least find out if he was still alive. True, the person could be dangerous, but there was no way she could just leave.

She slipped off the backpack and pulled a small canister of pepper spray out of the side pocket. There was also a coil of tent rope there. Pulling it out, she thought, better to be prepared.

Quietly, she picked her way through the thick grass and briars toward the lump of black clothing. There was still no movement. Luckily, the body had landed where there were no bushes or rocks, just dense grass that was almost emerald in color. Their wild smell tickled the inside of Kit’s nose as she sucked in air, trying not to hyperventilate.

Please don’t be dead, Kit chanted in her head. Although, if he were a “bad guy,” it might be better if he were dead. While her background working with children meant that Kit was well-trained in first aid and CPR, she was not equipped for anything worse. Like a coma or internal bleeding. Since the only way to call for help was to shoot off a flare that would surely alert whoever had been in that helicopter, she did not think that idea was wise.

As she got closer, Kit saw that the person was indeed a man. He was lying on his back, his head facing away from her. He wore black cargo pants, black boots, and a black jacket. His hair was short, straight and also dark. She didn’t see any traces of gray in his hair and guessed he was probably in his late-twenties, early-thirties – close to her own age.