Standing Up by Chris James    Standing Up
by Chris James
Chapter Four

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Standing Up by Chris James
    Sexual Situations
    Rated Mature 18+
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Tim was looking forward to this surveillance mission, and not just because he would be spending more time with BD. All he knew about the boy was that he was smart, attractive and under a death threat. What could possibly go wrong with a relationship like that?

Last night he had lain awake for hours in his bedroom in Bill's apartment. This was his home now, a place unlike any other. Those early adolescent sexual fantasies about Bill had died soon after he entered Providence, and for good reason. The school was just too real and challenging to support such ignorant and childish thoughts.

The challenges had led to responsibility and a place of leadership, Grant saw to that. Every day at Providence had kicked ass and sometimes Tim had wanted to give up. But those were the early days when he didn't think he could handle it. He was a far different person now.

Lying there in his new bed Tim had felt the excitement drain from his system. What he thought would be this new and fantastic life of freedom was sure to be boring, and then he met BD. The boy was a little older, although age wasn't an issue between them. But it was as if BD was on autopilot and waiting to see what tomorrow would bring. Tim could empathize with that, he had been there before.

Their first conversations had been trivial, but now they would share a room and would have to talk in a little more depth. So far BD had not asked about Tim's crime or incarceration. Wasn't he the least bit curious?

Andy's son Mitch seemed like a nice kid with a normal life. At fifteen Tim's life had been far from normal so perhaps he was a little envious of the boy. Having a gay father didn't seem to faze Mitch at all. If anything he was proud of the man and Tim could relate to that.

But now the men had gone off to the airport and the boys had decided to hang out in Andy's room. BD was back on his laptop, hooked up to the internet by the hotel's Wi-Fi. Mitch was reading a book while Tim channel surfed the cable television stations. TV was something from the past since they had seen little of it at Providence.

"Are you actually watching the commercials?" Mitch asked.

Tim nodded. "Yeah…I can't believe all the crap these companies are trying to sell the viewers."

"You were pretty cloistered in that school, weren't you?"

BD snorted. "Cloistered is probably the wrong usage of the word, Mitch. I don't think those boys got down on their knees to pray."

"There was very little shared sex if that's what you're thinking," Tim said. "But there was a lot of personal exploration under the sheets at night. Most times everyone was just too damn tired to play any games."

BD closed his laptop. "How did you handle all that pressure, it must have been frightening?"

"Perhaps at first," Tim said. "Every new boy came in with fear, or at least unreasonable expectations of what would be asked of him. I don't think I was any different when I started. But the program was so strict and demanding all day, every day. You quickly learned that Grant treated us all equally and no one was allowed to step out of bounds."

"That sounds scary enough," Mitch said. "What kind of demands are you talking about?"

"Physical, mental…emotional. Failure was not an option. If your body was weak they exercised it until you were strong. There was a lot of outdoor activity, but if you weren't strong enough to climb with a backpack then you spent more time in the gym.

"I discovered myself the first time I climbed a three hundred foot cliff and stood at the top looking down at what I had just accomplished. It was a high better than any drug. I used to be afraid of heights, but I was more afraid of failure. That climb changed everything."

"Damn," BD said. "I still don't like heights."

"Then don't look down," Mitch said.

"Yeah, like that's possible. So I guess it was academically hard as well."

"It was," Tim said. "Bill is going to take me to get my GED in a few weeks. Then maybe I'll enroll at the junior college once I figure out what I want to study."

BD pointed at his laptop. "IT is a good place to start. Almost every job requires some computer technology these days."

"So I guess you don't want to be a preacher," Mitch said.

"No, not at all. I mean there are some genuinely good Christian people out there, but there are also too many like my father. You can't base your entire life on one book."

"I thought about joining the military," Tim said. "I could handle the discipline but I don't like the idea of fighting in a war."

"Killing is not the answer," BD said. "Andy told us what happened to you and under the circumstances I think you did what you had to do."

"It still wasn't right…I should never have been put in that position. But I had a good lawyer who is now my father, so I guess things turned out well enough. So, Mitch, tell us a little more about Boze."

"Well, he's tall, really, really tall…"

And he certainly was Tim decided when they met. Boze had gentle eyes and a quick mind which told Tim the man's demeanor could change in an instant if necessary. The guy Rick looked like he could carry a heavy load for miles and come up smiling.

The van was parked in a space right opposite the patio doors to Boze's room so they could keep an eye on the equipment. They all gathered in the room so Boze and Rick could be introduced, but first Boze grabbed Mitch in a bear hug.

"Uncle Boze ... you're crushing me," Mitch squawked.

"I missed you ... it's been what…two years? My, have you grown up."

Boze shook hands with Tim and BD, giving the boys an assessment. Andy had said both were going to come on this little scouting excursion and that had worried him. But they looked fit enough, and Tim looked strong enough to keep up with Rick.

"I think we need to meet after dinner," Boze said. "We have some equipment to show you and we'll have to discuss the details. I brought some maps of the area which are much clearer than what you can see online. We can plot the way in there tonight and leave first thing in the morning."

They met for dinner at six and Bill watched the display of familiarity between Boze, Andy and Mitch. Tim sat beside him but was listening to the conversation between Rick and BD. Ed was looking at the list of militia members on his tablet, something Matt had sent them only an hour before.

"What are you seeing?" Bill asked.

"The names mean little to me, but I'm comparing the jobs these guys have and where they live. Almost all of them live north of Castle Rock or west of Denver. That's a pretty conservative part of the state as you well know. But you don't always equate conservative politics with militia."

"What kind of work do they do outside the militia?"

"A variety of things. A gun store owner or two, there's even a doctor and a lawyer," Ed said.

"Hey, lawyers can be kooks, too. No more preachers or cops?" Bill asked.

"I only see the two cops Matt told us about earlier, and no other preachers," Ed said. "Perhaps Tilden doesn't like any competition. But here's an odd job, one of these guys works as a manager for the Victor Gold Mine up in the mountains."

"Victor? BD told us the Tilden family had something to do with the town, but hell, that's on the other side of Pike's Peak. That's pretty far away, so why is he consorting with these guys?"

"Maybe he met them in church. Tilden's cathedral must be the focal point for these men otherwise they don't have a lot in common. Ideology must bind them together and the ideals behind a militia are pretty radical. Still, something about these guys bothers me. What are they after?"

"Kidnapping this girl just to lure BD back is radical enough but they didn't flinch at doing that," Bill said. "I still think we're looking at a multi-faceted organization. The inner circle must be run by this Joab character. I would bet the others are just low level followers."

"I guess we'll find out soon enough," Ed said. "So you still worried about Tim coming along?"

"He'd go anywhere with you, but of course I worry," Bill said. "He finds BD attractive, and now seems fascinated by Rick and all that technology. You'll have your hands full."

Boze pulled out several topographic maps when they returned to his room after dinner. The most prominent feature in the park area was the Cherry Creek watershed. The water had collected in the depression beneath the cliffs and the lake was formed by a dam at the far end. By the scale on the map the Dunlop property was just over four hundred yards away to the west across that water.

The rock formations atop the cliffs would give them a good vantage point and provide concealment. Boze expressed concern that they didn't know what kind of security observation these militia guys maintained. But the lake was their weakness so there must be something.

A quarter mile behind the cliffs was an open area of scrub land and a service road that traversed the park. The satellite image showed several stretches of the road were straight and out in the open. But most of it followed the terrain and curved around rock formations and small areas of pine growth.

"I only need fifty feet of clear space to launch the plane, but three times that to land it," Rick said.

"How long do you need for a good visual sweep of the area?" Ed asked.

"The Shadow can stay up all day long if necessary. It will relay the images back to us in real time so I can steer it wherever we need it to go."

"I was thinking about someone seeing the plane overhead."

"At a thousand feet it's pretty invisible," Rick said. "We could always go infrared at night if you want. I have a homing beacon to use in landing after dark."

"We really can't stay there overnight," Boze said. "I think all we need is a daytime assessment."

"So you need a line of sight view of the property to fly the plane?" BD asked.

"No, it will give me visual images and the GPS readout," Rick said. "We'll record all those things and then analyze them later. I'd like the line of sight so we can sweep the property for defense electronics. We have a thermal imaging system with long range capabilities. It's like a telescope that can see through walls and detect heat signatures inside a building.

"We'll use the Shadow to find the buildings and then the TIS to see what's in them. The device is infrared sensitive as well so if they have any security measures set up around the property we ought to be able to spot them."

"Wow, then what do you need us for?" Tim asked.

Rick smiled. "It all gets pretty heavy so we need strong backs."

They would have to carry the equipment about eight miles from the highway to the base of the cliffs, and then haul it up. Boze ran a marking pen across the map and wrote down the compass headings they would need to follow. Tim could see the elevation marks along the cliffs and the numbers said they were only about thirty feet high. An easy climb providing there were solid footholds.

Rick nodded as he watched Tim trace out a route with his finger. "The two of us will take the ropes up and then we can dead haul the equipment to the top. After that it only looks like a few hundred yards to the rocks above the lake."

"Agreed," Boze said. "We'll get settled in and concealed first thing. Then we can make a sweep of the property across the lake before we send up the Shadow. We might get the information and images we need in just a few hours, then we can hike back out."

"Will any of this tell us that Monica is in there?" BD asked.

"We'll do our best," Boze said. "If the property was less populated I could send in a BOLT, but if they found it the game would be over."

"What's a BOLT?" Tim asked.

"A listening device…very sensitive, very secret. You illuminate a place close to the target with a laser beam and then a mortar fires the BOLT projectile which is really a self-guided rocket. It senses the laser and drops out of the sky right on the spot.

"The body buries itself in the ground and leaves an omnidirectional microphone and the antenna sticking up about two feet. The electronics let the receivers sweep the area and lock on to any sound. It's black and textured to look like a tree branch, but it won't fool anyone who happens to see it come down."

"And you got all these toys from?" Tim asked.

"It's a business venture," Boze said. "I have a contract to field test these things from various companies and evaluate them for several branches of the government. Of course they don't want me to break or lose them so we will have to be careful. Otherwise, this is just a field test, I write a report and they pay me."

"You mean you're already being paid for doing all this?" BD asked.

"Sure ... did you think I was going to send you a bill? Our work doesn't come cheap."

"But it is valuable…thank you," BD said.

Rick went back out to the van and brought in a small case which he set on the table. He looked around the room and then zeroed in on Mitch.

"I have something for you to do," Rick said. He opened the case and pulled out a laptop. "This will download the imaging data from the Shadow. It is not a real time monitor since maintaining a communications link for that long would be a security breach. But I'll be sending burst transmissions which will be recorded here."

"It's a laptop. I can do that," Mitch said, but he looked pleased to have some part in all of this.

They sorted through everything and Rick made up packs for each of them to carry. He entrusted Tim with the Shadow equipment while they would each have rations, water and the climbing gear. It was around ten o'clock when Boze called a halt and suggested they each turn in for the night. Wake up call would be at four-thirty in the morning.

BD and Tim went back to their room, used the bathroom and crawled into their beds. It would be hard to sleep with the excitement of this upcoming mission. But they each lay in bed quietly staring at the ceiling until Tim spoke.

"How long has your father been involved with this militia?"

"I don't know," BD said. "It was like they just appeared out of nowhere. The church has never been much of a focus in my life so I don't really know when they started showing up at the services. As for the compound out at the lake that must have taken some time to build.

"But like most kids I could only go there when my parents did and it seems like we stayed away for a good long while, long enough for the militia to move in. I didn't see that fence until a few years ago, but when I asked my father about it he said I should just stay away, it was none of my business."

"So he's never explained any of that to you?"

"No, he's not the explaining kind. Look, he's always been big on discipline…that spare the rod and spoil the child kind of thought. My brothers and I all took beatings when we were younger, only they knuckled under to my father's wacky religious philosophy and I didn't.

"He beat me until one day I yanked the switch out of his hand and broke it. That scared him and he never touched me again because he knew…well, he knew I was big enough to end his miserable life. I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that."

Tim nodded. "That's okay, my situation was different. You made the better choice by running away, I couldn't do that. So you've never met any of these militia guys?"

"I don't know," BD said. "My father has all kinds of people in and out of his offices at the cathedral, sometimes we would get visitors out at the mansion. But I was living in town most of the year with Mom because I was in school.

"Once I learned to drive I could go out to the mansion, they didn't stop me, but there was little to do out there and all my friends were in town. As I said before, I'm not sure my father is in charge of this militia…he doesn't seem like the type to go for all this military stuff since he was never in the service. It's all pretty strange."

"So it was this Joab guy who told your father you were gay. How did he find out?"

"I'm sure they hacked my email and looked at the history on my laptop. They hacked Perkins' website numerous times with denial of service attacks. Someone in the militia must have a pretty sophisticated knowledge of the technology to be able to do all this.

"I've wiped my hard drive several times in the past year, and you know I store sensitive stuff online. I want to find that bastard and smash his equipment. I wouldn't mind smashing his face either. But they have probably known about Monica for quite some time, but who would expect this?"

"I hope she's all right," Tim said.

"That's what we need to find out…tomorrow if possible. Am I really gonna have to climb that cliff?" BD asked.

"You will, but we'll make a harness and pull you up if necessary. Don't worry about it, Rick and I know what we're doing."

"I'm counting on it."

Tim wasn't really sure when he drifted off to sleep, but it seemed like only a short time later when Bill knocked on their door.

"It's four-thirty," Bill said through the door. "Everyone else is up and moving."

Tim opened the door. "We'll be right there."

Bill smiled. "Did you sleep?"

"Yeah. Let me wake BD."

"We have some breakfast in Boze's room. Hurry up."

Tim shut the door and saw BD sitting up in bed.

"Time to go?" He asked. "Are you going to shower?"

"Not if we're going out in the wild. The smell of soap attracts bugs, and predatory animals can smell you a half mile away."

"Makes sense," BD said.

They dressed and walked down the hall to Boze's room. There was coffee and breakfast sandwiches on the table. It seems Rick had walked down to the all night diner on the corner.

"Eat up and we'll go," Boze said.

Bill and Mitch would remain in the room while Andy drove the van to drop them off before he returned. Then he would wait for a phone call and come back to pick them up.

"It should take us about three hours to get in place," Boze said. "That will give us half the day to make the observations. I guess we'd be back to the road by six, but we'll call."

"Just be careful," Bill said.

"Always," Boze said. "We have a half million dollars' worth of equipment here, but the people are more valuable."

Ed tossed his empty coffee cup in the trash and the others followed suit. Tim judged his pack weighed about forty pounds, not bad. It would only get lighter as he drank his water ration. But he was carrying the Shadows and he couldn't wait to see them in operation.

Grant had mentioned that the forest service and the fire fighters were about to get equipped with drone technology. Flying above a fire with a bird's eye view could provide valuable information. Tim smiled. Wouldn't he just love to be able to tell Grant about the Shadow, but it was probably still top secret.

Andy went out to get the van in place and they each picked up their packs. BD hefted his and nodded. Tim had noticed the boy wasn't a slacker and that would make him a good team member. It remained to be seen how easy this little hike would be.

Bill and Mitch stood on the small concrete patio and watched them load up, and then the van was gone.

"So ... are you going back to bed?" Bill asked.

"Hell no ... is there any more of that coffee?"

About eight-thirty Andy returned with the van and gave them a report.

"It was barely light when I dropped them off on the side of the road and within a minute they disappeared into the trees. The highway was deserted except for a few work trucks, but no one saw us. Nothing else to tell…all we can do now is wait."

Boze led the way, following the compass headings written on his map and comparing it to the small GPS unit in his hand. Tim had used a magnetic compass in his field work and figured that Boze was just addicted to his toys, unless the batteries ran out.

The ground was rocky and since there was no trail to follow they had to be careful where they stepped. A sprained ankle would damage the whole venture. The packs were heavy but Rick had stored the goods inside with care and the pack frames kept the load off their spines. It took them over an hour with only one ten minute break to hike through the scrub growth of brush and pines before they reached the creek.

It was late spring and as yet the volume of water from the mountains was still pretty heavy.

"We're in the park now," Boze said. "Let's keep our eyes open for other hikers on those main trails off to our left."

Now there was a trail to follow along the edge of the creek and then in the near distance Tim could see the cliff formations on the other side of the water. He hadn't given much thought to crossing the creek, but the rest of the day would be miserable if their boots and socks were wet. The creek meandered along the rising rock formations, following a channel cut in the rocky soil.

About three hours into their hike they came to a place where the creek spread out and was only a foot deep. This would be the likely crossing point which was made easier because the park had built a foot bridge.

"I didn't know this was here," Ed said.

"It's not on the topo map," Rick said. "But I did see something on the Google image and was hoping it was a bridge. We lucked out."

The bridge was only twenty feet long and built of natural materials, but it led them to the base of the cliffs. Over time the erosion of the cliff face had deposited a good deal of the soft sedimentary rock along the base. The occasional rock slide would make it impossible to follow the cliff for any great distance so Rick though they ought to go up right there.

"We better do this fast," BD said. "There isn't any climbing allowed in the park."

"We know this," Boze said. "Either we climb or it's a long hike to get around the cliffs. How long do you think it will take us, Rick?"

"Less than thirty minutes, I would think. What about you, Tim?"

But Tim was already free climbing the wall with a coil of rope around his right shoulder. His toes seemed to find impossible places to fit and raise his body. They all watched as he traversed the face and was over the top in about ten minutes. He dropped the rope and Rick was on top with him a few minutes later.

With two ropes in play they had all the equipment and personnel hauled up in less than fifteen minutes. Boze clapped Tim on the back and smiled.

"You'd make a good ranger, young man. Now let's get out of here before someone sees us."

The ground up here was harder to traverse. Large sheets of the sandy rock were strewn about and nature had chosen the clear areas between them to grown pines.

"This is rattlesnake country," Tim said.

"Spare me the details," Ed said. "Just sing out if you see one."

"What else lives out here?" BD asked.

"Coyotes, fox, mountain lions and a few bears," Tim said. "But they can't reach the water from up here so they'll probably be down below us."

"Thank goodness for that," Ed said. "How far to the lake?"

"About a hundred yards so don't walk off the cliff," Boze said. "In fact, let's approach carefully. A man standing up here will be seen clear across the water."

"I'll scout ahead," Tim said.

Boze smiled. "You do that."

Tim took off his pack and disappeared between the trees.

"I like that boy," Boze said. "This is his kind of environment."

"He learned it all from scratch at that Providence place, and according to Bill he excelled," Ed said. "But he's always been good at whatever he chooses to do."

Tim was back in five minutes. "It's only about a hundred feet to where the trees thin out, we'll have to be careful. But there are some rock formations near here where we can set up an observation post."

"Lead on," Boze said.

The tree line did indeed shrink into flat open space closer to the edge of the cliffs. Tim led them among the trees until they came to a formation of rocks surrounded by pines.

"Good shade, a protected view of the lake, this looks like it," Boze said.

"That service road ought to be about a twenty minute hike straight back that way," Rick said, pointing through the pines.

"We'll set up in the small gap between the trees and the rocks," Boze said. "That ought to give us an unobstructed view of the property across the lake. But let's do a little recon first to see how isolated we are."

Boze dug in his pack and came up with a two pairs of binoculars. One look told him the sun was behind them so he handed one to Ed and the other to BD.

"The sun is behind us so there won't be any glint off the lenses to give you away. Just stay close to the ground and crawl through those trees until you can see the lake. Maybe you'll see some movement over there, maybe not.

"BD is familiar with the layout so maybe he'll recognize something new and different if he sees it. If they're smart then perhaps you won't see a thing, but we have to look. You do that while we scout the flanks and the rear approaches."

BD scooted right under the trees and Ed lay down to follow.

"If you hear a rattle just move away slowly," Tim said with a grin.

"Funny boy," Ed said. "Just let me do my job."

Tim and Rick took the rear while Boze started off along the rim of the cliffs to the right. The left was secured by the cliffs they had climbed, but it would be a bitch if there was a trail around the lake where someone could approach without being seen.

Rick and Tim found no trails to their rear, just more scrub growth and rock. But after a short hike they discovered the service road. The surface was in poor shape and Rick did not look pleased.

"You can't land here, can you?" Tim said.

"I'll try. Hell, I could cut the engine and glide into a pine tree to bring it down if I have to. Risky stuff, but we'll make do with a bumpy landing."

"How about take off?"

"That's the easy part, all I have to do is throw it in the air," Rick said.

"Cool, just like a glider."

"Yes, just like a one hundred thousand dollar glider."

"You're kidding," Tim said.

"Nope. Can you imagine our government ever spending a reasonable amount on any piece of military hardware? This is space technology and I'm surprised it's so cheap."

They went back to the observation point and found Ed and BD still under the trees. Boze was unpacking the thermal imaging device and laying out the pieces. Rick opened the case that held the two Shadow aircraft and Tim watched.

"Why two?" He asked.

"I would feel like a damn fool if we came all the way out here and one of them failed to work or crashed. Redundancy is the rule but for all that money they always seem to work very well."

The planes were packed in foam and covered in a canvas bag with a strap. Rick pulled out a black box about sixteen inches square and a battery pack. He screwed in an antenna and added the joystick to the control surface before he opened the back and hooked up the battery. It looked just like a large video game controller.

"You take the control box and I'll carry the plane," Rick said.

"You off?" Boze asked.

"Yeah. Give me thirty minutes and I'll be in the air."

Tim followed Rick back through the brush towards the road.

"I'm sorry to keep asking all these questions, but how can you see where the plane is when it's flying?"

"Once we power up the control box you'll get the answer," Rick said. "That little video screen shows the view from the onboard camera. There's a readout that gives direction, aircraft pitch and altitude. Once I launch it will fly to about five hundred feet and start to circle until I take manual control. Piece of cake."

And that's exactly how it happened. It took Rick only a few minutes to unfold the wings and snap the tail together at the end of a slender fuselage. The bulk of the plane was directly under the wings. The camera was in a housing surrounded by servo motors that controlled the flight characteristics. Rick could even zoom in the focus of the lens if he wanted.

The launch was simple enough. Rick toggled a few switches, centered the joy stick and then started the small turbine engine. The propeller at the front made noise but it was no louder than a hair dryer. Rick drew back his arm and threw the plane like it was a forward pass. The turbine immediately spun up to full speed and the plane took flight, slowly climbing for altitude.

"Wow, that's impressive," Tim said.

"They aren't fast but they do the trick."

They watched the plane fly away and then bank around on a return course. With every minute in the air it climbed higher until Tim could barely see it against the sky.

"You lose sight of it yet?" Rick asked.

"Pretty much. If you didn't know it was there it would be almost invisible."

Rick held up the control box and Tim could see the video image of the ground from the plane. It returned over the launch point before it began to circle.

"There we are," Rick said, pointing at two figures standing on the ground below. "You know, the military already has larger Shadows in use, this is just a prototype to test the thermoelectrics. The big guys can hit eight thousand feet and see for almost five miles to mark a target."

"They carry weapons?"

"Not that I know of, these are strictly for surveillance. This little plane fits in a backpack so you can see why it's so valuable in the field. Okay, let's go back to the observation point."

Rick slung the control box over his shoulder and they started the hike back. Rick suddenly stopped when they were about a hundred feet from the road. Without a word he pulled a small green box out of his pack and set it at the base of a tree.

"And that is?" Tim asked.

"Motion sensor…just to make sure we aren't disturbed by anyone coming from this direction."

Boze had the thermal imaging system in place and smiled when they returned.

"She's up," Rick said. "Any luck down here?"

"No movement through the binoculars, but there are some fuzzy images way back in the trees, might be some buildings in there. I'm about to fire up the scope."

Ed and BD had crawled out from under the trees and were holding bottles of water. BD handed his to Tim who took a mouthful.

"Nothing over there?" Tim asked.

"Couldn't see anything clearly, but it might be camouflaged," BD said.

"The scope will show us," Rick said as Boze powered up the device.

The monitor screen was attached to the tripod and they all sat in the shade and watched as Boze remotely panned the far shore. Then he toggled a switch on the tube and the image changed. The trees looked ghostly, the image in black and white until suddenly there was a dull gray image in the trees.

"That's a man standing back in the trees," Boze said. "All this would be brighter after dark, but it still works." He zoomed in the scope and the image became larger. Another flip of the switch and they had a clearer image of a man standing behind what looked like a wooden barricade with something in front of his face. There was a flash of light and Boze clucked his tongue.

"Damn fool, the lens on his binoculars just flashed in the sun and gave away his position. Unfortunately he's looking this way."

"Do you think he's seen us?" BD asked.

"I hope not, but let's get on with this surveillance sweep. Give us a view from the Shadow."

"I'll take it up to thousand feet," Rick said.

The view on the monitor changed dramatically as Rick guided the Shadow higher and turned it towards the lake. From the ground there was no way to recognize the plane, except maybe it looked like a bird way up in the sky.

Rick turned on a few switches as the Shadow flew across the lake below and headed over the Dunlop property. The view through the lens was very clear, and detailed enough to pick out some structures buried in the woods among the pines.

"That's the barn and two of the sheds, but they look different" BD said.

"Different how?" Boze asked.

Rick circled the Shadow for another pass and BD stared at the screen.

"They look more solid now. They were pretty run down when I saw them a few years ago. Maybe they were rebuilt?"

"Or strengthened. What is that sticking out the back?" Rick asked and zoomed in the optics on the Shadow's camera.

"It looks like a dog run, a wire enclosure," Boze said. "Something is in it…they probably have guard dogs."

BD leaned forward and almost yelled. "That's no guard dog, that's Monica."

On to Chapter Five

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