Chapter 4

Molly splashed cold water on her face, trying not to look at her puffy eyes in the mirror. She put on a pot of coffee out of habit and now felt somewhat more composed as she sat holding the steaming cup. She knew she should call Gaf's family but had hoped to have something to say besides 'Hi, guess what? Your father, brother, grandpa, uncle fell down a hole and no body can find him; they went down there and looked but he wasn't in there, just some ole rattlesnake - oh and I dreamed that he was dead, too. And you'll never guess what else, the sheriff thinks I did him in - no shit, really, he thinks I just bopped him on his little head and made him disappear.'

"Get a grip, woman!" Molly said and stood up, deciding to go for a brisk walk. As she went out of the door, she turned and got her fanny pack - "I better take this with me," she mumbled, "can't be too careful out there now days". She smiled as she wondered how many old people there were that carried a loaded .38 special with an extra box of shells in those funny looking little purses. 'Why had we traveled north this early?' Molly thought. In February the weather was still pretty unpredictable and the older they got, the worse the cold felt in their 'old bones'. It had just been one of those spur-of-the-moment decisions after seeing one of those shows on TV about aliens and ghosts that were so popular now.

"Where was that place we heard about in Nevada? You know, the one where there's supposed to be so much UFO activity." Gaf had asked her that evening. Molly remembered saying, "I think the name of it was Rachel, I think it's near Alamo where my sister used to live."

They were enthusiastic as they found it on the map. "Let's leave in the morning," said Gaf, "it'll be fun, besides you could use a little break, m'dear."

Molly suddenly felt very tired and old. Totally absorbed in her thoughts as she walked, she hadn't noticed that it was getting dark. She turned around and walked back home as complete darkness descended. Entering her trailer she shivered, put away the pack and pistol, and lit the heater. "The heater from hell," Gaf had called the 3 brick ceramic heater they had purchased last year in Quartzsite. He couldn't handle the cold weather any more. She found it hard to believe that he had spent most of his adult life in northern Montana. Molly fixed some hot tea and put a pot of soup on the stove. Waiting for the soup and tea seemed to make her anxious. She decided to repair a few pictures that had bounced off the wall in their travels.

'Putting the proper wire and hooks on the wall would make a big difference,' she thought as she busied herself with the task. After a search of the junk drawer she found a spool of thin wire and a small needle nose plier. The simple activity of twisting the wire on the eye hooks of the picture frame seemed to help in dealing with her anxiety. "Don should be arriving any time now.," she said aloud. As if speaking words of magic, Don's truck appeared in the dim lights of the cafe. At that same moment, the sound of the lid bouncing on the pot startled her. Not having a convenient place to lay the wire and plier she shoved them into her pocket and raced to turn off the burner, but was too late, the soup was spilling over onto the stove. "Damn it," she swore softly, as she grabbed some pads and moved the pot to the table. There was a loud knocking at the door.

Now, intent on wiping the hot soup off the stove, she called out, "Come in, Don, don't break the door down.," and then glanced up to see a total stranger.

"Oh, I thought you were someone else. Can I help you with something?," she stammered. Wiping her hands on a cloth, she glanced nervously out the window and saw that Don's truck was empty.

"Why, no ma'am, but I can help you." Lamar answered with a sneer.

Molly knew immediately, that standing in her doorway, was a very dangerous man. " What have you done with Don?" she asked, trying to keep the fear out of her voice.

" Don said to tell you he's sorry he couldn't make it, he got tied up. He is, however, in the area." Lamar couldn't help smiling at his little joke. "And I've come to assist you on toward a better life, a kind of baptism."

Molly watched in horror as this giant spoke; all the while, cleaning his fingernails with a huge hunting knife.

"Are you ready, my dear?"

As he approached her, she grabbed the pan of hot soup and threw it in his face. Startled, Lamar backed up a step and Molly, taking quick advantage of his imbalance, shoved his chest with all her strength. Lamar tipped over onto the couch and screamed, "you bitch!," as Molly ran past him. Tripping over a chair, she pushed open the door and fell out of the trailer. With more energy than she thought possible, she jumped up and ran, toward the nearest house.

" Please, somebody help me," Molly cried, pounding her fists on the door. The door opened a crack and the face of a woman peered out at her suspiciously. "Let me in, call 911, there's a man trying to kill me!"

Molly pleaded.

Hope recognized the woman standing before her.

Everyone in the town was sure that she was lying; that she had murdered that sweet old man for his insurance money. Hope and her friends thought that she was getting away with it, too. As she looked out the door at the peaceful, starlit night, Hope answered, "It's probably your guilty conscience, coming to get you!" and slammed the door in Molly's face.

Stunned, Molly turned and looked in the direction of her trailer and saw him standing in the doorway. She knew she didn't have time to try another house. Besides, there weren't very many houses and she couldn't risk being turned away again. She ran around the back of the house and into the desert, desperately looking for a place to hide.

Ignoring his pain, Lamar stood up and observed Molly's efforts. "This is going to be more entertaining than I thought," he said with a grin as he watched her run off into the darkness. He reached down and picked up the cloth that Molly had dropped, using it to wipe away the remains of the chicken soup.

Casually, he left the trailer,

walked over to Don's truck and examined the items he always carried. Pulling out an infrared scope, he attached it, along with a silencer, to his weapon.

The cold night air of the desert convinced him to put on a heavier jacket. Looking up at the stars, he thought how beautiful they were and said, "A nice evening for a stroll in the desert."

Molly couldn't breathe, her lungs felt like they were on fire. She collapsed under a large bush. Her heart was beating so hard she thought it would jump right out of her chest. Trying to get control of her panic, she took a few deep breaths and tried to let them out slowly. She was sure that her gasping and wheezing could be heard a mile away. Molly had difficulty in accepting the cruelty demonstrated by Hope. She wondered, 'If I can't get help here, what can I do?'

As her normal breathing pattern returned, she became aware of the cold. Her hands, burned by the hot pan were hurting and blisters were forming. The reality of her position hit her hard. The only way she could possibly get away was in the safety of daylight. To do that she would have to run all night. She knew that he was just waiting for her to get exhausted. Fear and physical exhaustion would wear her down rapidly. Then the kill would come. The thought suddenly occurred to her that the running itself seem to increase the fear. If she could just stop running, she'd be able to think more clearly. She wondered 'what would Gaf do?' He often talked of Indian Medicine and the lessons to learn, but who could remember them now?

As she bolted into another run, a jack rabbit raced out ahead of her. 'You don't have to run from me,' she thought. She stopped dead in her tracks and hid behind some rocks. "The rabbit," she whispered into the night. "I'm the rabbit! My ability to think has become paralyzed with fear."

Quietly now, she remembered some of the animals, the stories written about their characteristics and the lessons they could teach. Reaching into her center she called on the Great Spirit and asked for assistance. She specifically requested any animal spirits that wished to join her. A distant sound distracted her from her journey; she listened for a moment. She had her answer, the sound she heard was a howling pack of Coyotes. "Yes, Coyote, the Trickster. Is it possible that I can trick my enemy?" As she spoke, she saw an image of herself sneaking up behind him. Now she knew that it was necessary to stop being the rabbit, and become The Coyote. She looked around and seeing or hearing nothing, she allowed the coyote spirit to guide her actions.

Stooping into a crouch, she quietly and swiftly retraced her steps. With renewed strength and confidence she searched for her attacker. Crouched behind a large thicket of cactus, she peered into the desert night. It didn't take long for Lamar to come strolling into sight. A large pistol dangled from his right hand. The scope mounted on top of it was nearly as big as the pistol itself. When she saw him, she was again, awed by his size and also by the size of the weapon. 'What now, she thought, 'Unless he were lying down, It would take more than a Coyote to stop him.' Molly watched intently as he raised his gun and quickly turned towards her. Her heart thundered in her chest and sweat ran in rivers in every crevice of her body. She gulped air, trying to quell the bile that rose from her stomach. But to her amazement he swung past her and in following his aim she saw the target. Another rabbit had jumped from the cactus next to her an ran wildly across the desert. Then it simply fell over. There was no sound of gun fire, and she knew that it was much too dark for anyone to hit a moving target with no light. 'The scope,' she thought, 'it must be infrared'. Then in a mock gesture of respect he bowed in her direction. He knew she was watching and had killed the rabbit to heighten her terror and prolong the game.

Lamar laughed out loud as he sauntered away from his prey. With great effort, she remained silent and waited for Lamar to walk out of sight. Molly knew he had killed the rabbit as a sick demonstration of his prowess and the message that he could kill her whenever he chose.

'Its a game he wants,' she thought. 'Then if I'm to die, it will be the best game he ever played.' Sitting on the cold desert ground and looking up at the stars she said aloud to the Great Spirit, "I thank the spirit of the rabbit for sacrificing it's life that I may know the power of this enemy. He can see through the dark. If I cannot hide from him what can I do? Is my death the only answer?" Again, the coyotes called to her. A sudden movement just under the cactus caught her attention. A large spider was busily working on its web. Molly knew the lesson of spider is to create, but without getting caught in the web of one's own illusion.

The blood pulsing in her veins seemed to warm her as she watched the spider diligently preparing the trap it wove across the cactus. "I see the lesson, little teacher, but how do I spin a web?" Molly moved toward the spider for a closer inspection of the web. She winced in pain as the sharp end of a roll of wire in her pocket poked through her clothing and pierced the skin. "Ouch," she yelled, thinking she had crawled over some cactus. Then with the clarity of a bright summer morning the illusion of being a victim dissipated. The image of her attacker tripping over wire flooded her mind.

With stealth and determination, she crawled like the spider across the unforgiving ground. Paying no attention to the sharp rocks or the cactus spines tearing her flesh, she inched forward. The sound of Lamar whistling an old tune slowly drifted across the desert. Shadowy images of 'Mack the Knife' emptied like untreated sewage into her consciousness.

Lamar was confident in his skill with weapons, but knew that his real advantage was his ability to instill fear. It paralyzed the victim. He often wondered if the people he killed ever appreciated the difficulty he had in developing such creative strategies for their death. 'This baptism is a little different than most,' he thought. 'But the night is wearing on and I've got a lot of chores at home.' The thoughts of home and his wife and children was a satisfying stream of delight and anticipation. He decided to end the game. "It's time," he called to Molly. He listened and waited for the inevitable signal they always sent.

Sometimes it was only a whimper, but it was always there. And now, this one called to him with the song of her body scraping the desert floor. He turned quickly and walked briskly towards her. He searched through the scope for his quarry, but could not see her. Looking at his watch he estimated the time it would take him to get home. If he hurried, he could be home in time to have breakfast with his children. He quickened his pace and moved in for the kill. The sounds of rocks scrapping along the ground and the cracking of dry desert cactus gave him a detailed map of her location. 'A noisy one,' he thought.

To his delight and amusement Molly suddenly appeared in view. However, it was nearly instantaneous and she seemed to melt back into the night. He now moved much faster towards his prey and again, her teasing image jumped into view and then vanished behind a large outcrop of desert rock. Breaking into a run he lunged after her. The twists and turns through the alleys of rocks and gulleys reminded him of city streets. He could now see her clearly darting in and out of the rock passages, but not long enough to take aim. His excitement mounting, he was ready for the kill. With one hard lunge, he ran forward and nearly slammed into a rock wall as the passage turned sharply to his right. He pushed himself off the wall with his left hand, raced into the narrow passage and fell forward into the waiting arms of a large cactus. The spines tore into his face and the trip wire held his ankle firmly in place. The old woman exploded from the cover of darkness and without hesitation crushed Lamar's skull with a large rock.

The sight of blood and brains oozing from his skull was more than she could handle. As her stomach retched and poured out its contents, she fell to her knees. When the heaving finally subsided, she stood up, wiped her mouth on her shirt sleeve and ran back towards the illusion of safety. She never saw the two shadows that slipped into the gulley behind her.

.........................

Yawing widely, Sandy said, "If it's only 5 miles to Warm Springs I guess I can drive a little longer without falling asleep."

" Not to change the subject, but," Juniper interjected, "I still don't know what time it is."

Sandy flipped on the radio and said, "Let's see if we can find a station break on the radio, the clock in this old car hasn't worked in years." Two talk show hosts were discussing the president's recent trip to China.

"Can you believe that windbag? He reminds me...". Sandy stopped in mid sentence, with her mouth hanging open.

"What's wrong?," asked Juniper.

It took Sandy a few seconds to respond to Juniper.

"You really don't know, do you?"

" Know what? You just stopped talking. Know what?," Juniper repeated impatiently.

" Think about it, Juniper, didn't we just go through this? About 10 miles back?"

Now with a look of utter amazement, Juniper's eyes were wide as saucers as her thoughts of the previous conversation heaved into her consciousness. "My God!," she shouted, "You're right, they were talking about the President's wife, you had said the same thing about the time and the radio, we've just been through this."

"Hank, don't you think we have had this conversation before, or at least very similar?," Sandy nudged Hank.

" Yea, I've listened to this same conversation about 4 times in the past 50 miles. I thought you guys were kidding around." Hank answered dryly.

" Get real, Hank, why would we do something so stupid?"

" Uh, I don't know, but the sign says to make a left turn for Rachel. This must be Warm Springs, pull over to the side."

The headlights shown brightly on an old building that appeared to be closed. "I wanted to get the tank filled here, but I don't see any pumps.," Sandy said as they got out of the car and looked around. Hank picked up his flashlight and shone it around. There was a darkened phone booth, an old shed and what appeared to be an old corral marked with stones. The whole area was ominously silent. It appeared that Warm Springs had been abandoned for a very long time.

" Well, this must be the old part of Warm Springs," Juniper said, "The map listed it as a town, not a building and a telephone booth. Maybe there's something ahead."

They quickly piled back into the car and drove towards Tonopah. However after a few miles they concluded that there was no other part of Warm Springs.

Tonopah was 50 miles west and Rachel 50 miles South.

" Do we have enough gas to get to Rachel?," asked Juniper.

"Probably," said Sandy.

Looking totally disgusted, Juniper said, "Well that answer sure makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Can't you do any better than 'Probably'?

Just look at the gas gauge. You should have some idea about how far we can get."

" I would if the gas gauge worked. In town I never worry about it because there's a gas station on nearly every street corner. Sorry, its the best I can do. We can't stay here, so let's make a pit stop at Warm Springs and then head for Rachel."

Sandy turned the car and drove back to Warm Springs. In the black night with no lights the old Warm Springs cafe did not look very inviting. The broken bottles

shining in the headlights convinced Sandy to just park on the road, rather than risk blowing a tire by parking in the front yard of the cafe. Getting out of the car Sandy said, "I'll just go behind the building. Even if there was a working toilet in that place I don't think I'd want to go in."

They all had full bladders, but Juniper was reluctant to get out of the car. "I can wait till we get to Rachel."

" Suit yourself, but I can't."

Sandy and Hank walked around the back of the cafe.

Waiting for their return, Juniper munched on another Twix bar. Although the night was nearly pitch black Juniper attempted to primp her hair in the rear view mirror. Not seeing her reflection she opened the glove box to search for a flashlight. All she found was a pack of matches. Undaunted, she attempted to adjust her hair while holding a lit match.

Although the matches kept burning her fingers, she was determined to maintain some sense of social civility, even in such primitive circumstances. The headlights of a car suddenly appeared in the mirror. At the same time, she could see a string of motorcycle headlights coming from the direction of Wendover.

" Strange" she muttered to herself.

"Not a soul was on this road while we were driving. Now that everyone has to go to the bathroom, we get company." Juniper had images of squatting behind a bush with every headlight in Nevada shinning on her.

The car Juniper had been watching in the rear view mirror now came screeching into the front yard of the cafe. Two men quickly jumped out and raced towards Juniper. Juniper was too stunned to do anything. She just sat there and watched the scene unfold. Not yet sure if this was their target one of the men yanked open the car door and grabbed her by the hair, while the other man checked the photo ID. It was too dark to make a positive identification. Holding her by her hair they dragged her towards the headlights, making sure they had the right woman. When she was identified, they both drew their guns.

Juniper's screams of terror, pierced through the cold night air as Hank and Sandy came running from behind the cafe and threw themselves on top of the two men. In that same moment seven Harley's pulled into the front yard. The two men quickly knocked Hank and Sandy to the ground. Just as they were about to shoot Juniper and their attackers, the bikers jumped into the fight causing them to miss. However, one of the bullets fired at Juniper did skim the side of her head. Now, no longer screaming, Juniper huddled on the ground clutching her head and moaning. The blood squeezed through her fingers and trickled to the barren ground. Both men were finally subdued by the bikers and their weapons taken.

Sandy quickly ran to Juniper while the bikers and Hank tried to sort out the damage and keep the two attackers under restraint. The men were bound with duct tape that Sandy kept in the car for emergency radiator hose wrapping, a constant problem with the old blue bomber.

Sandy gently lifted Juniper to a sitting position and tore off a piece of her blouse to wipe the tears and blood from Junipers face. Holding her in her arms she tried to soothe Juniper's pain and terror.

" You guys are in real big trouble," the agent said, as they were searched by two of the bikers and their wallets were taken.

"You better undo us right this minute, or else. Are you all deaf?"

Mort, tired of listening to the agent's ranting kicked him in the head and beat him senseless as the other agent looked on with a closed mouth. Mort turned to the other agent and said, "Do you think we're deaf, too, asshole?"

The agent simply stared at the ground without responding. He knew these bikers were likely to kill him, he saw no reason to push it.

Sandy looked up as one of the bikers approached and asked her, "Who the hell are you and what are you doin' out here?"

Very frightened and now clinging to Juniper, Sandy said, "We were on our way to Rachel. We stopped here because I had to go to the bathroom."

Pointing to Juniper, Sal asked, "What do these government assholes want with her?"

" Government agents? I don't know what you're talking about."

Sal looked up at the sky and then slowly shaking his head replied, "Don't give me that crap, there must be drugs or money involved if the government wants her." Looking down at Sandy, he said, "You're not going to make this easy, are you?"

Hank could see the situation the women were in, but was restrained by the others when he tried to go to them. Tearfully, Sandy tried to convince Sal that none of them knew anything about any drugs or money, they were simply trying to get to Rachel to get Juniper's purse back. However, before she could finish the story, she was abruptly yanked to her feet. Juniper rolled off her lap, still in shock.

Sal was smart enough to know that anyone involved in drug trafficking would likely be bargaining with him by now, not rambling; both these women were obviously in shock.

However, the question remained. Why were these government agents after them? Sal decided to find out. Dragging Sandy over to where the agents were tied, he shouted, "If you and your friend want to live to see the daylight, you'll tell me why you're after these people."

The agent had been well trained and knew that he might have to sacrifice his life in order to protect state secrets. Having heard the conversation between Sal and Sandy, he said, "Look, Buddy, what's happening here has nothing to with drugs or money, it's a matter of national security, and if you're smart you'll just untie us, head on down the road, and leave us to our business. If you go any further we'll come after you, and if you kill us the government will track you down like dogs, either way you'll all lose."

" Hey Sal, he may be right. There is some kind of secret government base around here.," Jake "the snake," said," Maybe we should get the hell out of here. Besides, there's no money or drugs here, what's in it for us?"

Sal quickly responded, "These guys wanted this lady real bad. Whatever the reason, it probably don't matter now. I think they'll come after us, no matter what we do. If these guys stay alive, we'll be running forever.

There's really only two choices left and both are bad. We either kill them and get the hell out of here or we run with these other people. Shit happens, I guess we should never have stopped, but we did, so what's in it for us right now is saving our asses. You got any better ideas?"

Remembering her days of constant physical abuse by a brutal husband, Jennie quickly drew her knife and lunged for the agent that had pulled Juniper out of the car by her hair. Sal was very familiar with Jennie's temperament and had anticipated her reaction. He deftly disarmed her and pushed her to the ground, then turning to the agent, he said, "this just means you don't die right now. Maybe I'll let Jennie kill you later."

These bikers had traveled in and out of each other's lives for several years. Each knew the hardships the others had suffered. This had brought them together in a way that most loners never experience. There was an unspoken understanding and unconditional acceptance of each other. It was only a matter of minutes before they all understood the logic of Sal's argument. They were each wanted by the law for a wide variety of felonies including murder. Even if this was a mistake, they couldn't risk exposure.

Meanwhile, Hank walked over to Sandy and hugged her for a moment. They walked over to Juniper, helped her up and Sandy shouted in the general direction of the group, "We'll just be on our way now, thanks for your help."

"You won't get far with the government chasing you, Are you sure you don't know what they want from her?," Jennie asked, gesturing toward Juniper.

Sandy replied as she and Hank helped Juniper into the back seat, "It's got to be a mistake. The only thing Juniper has ever been wanted for is her looks, this woman has never even gotten a parking ticket."

Jennie walked over to the car and said," Government agents don't make mistakes like this. Juniper must have something they want pretty badly, even if she's pure as the driven snow. They had no intention of taking prisoners, they would have killed you, too".

Juniper, feeling somewhat recovered, rolled down the car window and said, "The only thing that might be of interest to any one would be the computer codes I carry, but I can't believe the government would be interested in those." Remembering the company she was in, she added, "They're just key codes to transfer funds within the bank, not to personal accounts or anything like that. Why would they want to kill me? Besides, the government just doesn't kill people. There are laws, you know."

" Are you living in the real world, girl?," Jennie asked

Sandy said, "Well, I don't know what to do right now, except get Juniper some help."

Sal jumped in and said, "If you take her to Tonopah, for sure you're going to get picked up or shot. Your best bet right now it to head for Rachel, get gas and a bandaid, and then run like hell."

Hank said, "Even if we go to Rachel, what about these two guys that tried to kill us? Won't they be a problem?"

Sal answered, "They're only a problem as long as they're alive. Since we jumped into this they'll be after us too."

Juniper, listening to the conversation from the open car window realized what Sal was suggesting. Horrified, she said, "You can't murder them! I'll turn myself in, this is just a mistake!"

Sandy disagreed, "This may not be a mistake, the simplest way to find out is to go to Rachel and talk to the sheriff. You're right about Tonopah. We would be arrested with out even knowing why. Going to Rachel at least we'll be able to explain to the sheriff and he can protect us."

Jennie said, "And what are you going to do if he simply draws his gun and arrests you? From what I saw, those two agents were after blood, which means that the sheriff would probably turn you over to the government."

" I think they're right, Juniper," Hank advised. "This may be a mistake, but we could all get killed in trying to prove it.

Maybe we should go to Rachel and Sandy and me could nose around in the morning. With this much activity somebody has got to know what's going on."

Sal said, "Why don't we all go to Rachel.

We'll take these two jerks along as insurance."

Sal motioned to Eddie and Bert and suggested," Take the agents car and ditch it about 20 miles towards Wendover. One of you hide your bike behind the cafe and the other can follow the car. When you pick up the bike, I want you guys to wait at least an hour before you follow us to Rachel. I'm not sure what we'll find there, so don't come barging in, things could get dangerous and we might need you to bail us out."

" Ok, now," Sal turned to the three friends, "Hank, can you drive a bike?"

"Uh, not really, but Sandy can."

"Sure, I can drive it. Why?"

" You and Hank are going to take my bike.

Juniper will drive the car and I'll ride shotgun. Those two assholes will ride in the back."

.........................

Don really had to go to the bathroom and his head hurt. He had no idea how long he had been riding in the back of what he guessed was a panel van. They had given him a sedative before they left. A shot in the arm to keep him quiet for awhile. He had immediately gone out like a light. He was still gaged and could not call out to his captives. Twisting and turning on the cold metal floor of the van he banged his feet against the side wall. His bladder had now become painful and he tried desperately to maintain his dignity. But eventually the sharp bouncing of the ride won and he lost control. The smell of urine filled the van.

"Jesus Christ," one of the agents swore. "The asshole pissed all over himself."

"The gate is just ahead," the other agent announced.

"Well, he'll just have to lie in it for a few hours while we check in."

"You just want to leave him in the van?"

" What the hell else are we going to do with him? Our orders are to bring him here and wait for a plane coming from Denver. Except for a few guards the only ones here are those little gray bastards they keep for pets. I'm telling you Charlie, this job gets weirder everyday. I'll be glad to get home. This place gives me the creeps."

" What do they want him for?," asked Charlie. "

It's got something to do with an old man and his wife, here in Rachel," answered Bob. "Our little gray friends took the old man and the bosses in Washington don't want any tracks left. So we do a group baptism on everybody connected to him."

" Why are they keeping this guy alive?"

" The dickheads in Washington think it he might have some information about why the aliens picked the old man for their experiment; whatever the hell that is. Anyway, the old lady has been questioned by the local sheriff and she doesn't know a thing. In fact, the sheriff thinks she murdered the old man. It's obvious from the records that she don't know shit about what's going on. That leaves this asshole. If he can't tell them anything then he'll get to visit with Lamar."

" Come on,"said Bob. "Let's get some coffee. There's always a pot on in the front office."

The SSQ agents drove to the front gate and showed the guard, Andy, their clearance pass. The road from the front gate was pitch black. Charlie said, "You'd think they could at least put in some lights around here. How the hell can you see?"

" They can't have any real light," answered Bob, "because this place doesn't exist. At least that's what they tell congress. As far as anybody outside of SSQ is concerned, this place is used only to store military hardware. And the congressman that does come here for special committee assignment was hand picked by SSQ headquarters. They figure he's the dumbest and wouldn't really do any investigating that would lead to anything. They make a big deal of showing him around the grounds, letting him see only what they want him to see. Then they take him back and feed him lunch while they tell jokes about all the UFO crap that is supposed to be here. Only he don't know that the real area 51 is about 1,000 feet under the ground."

Don could hear the entire conversation, but the incident of wetting his pants left him bereft of any interest in his circumstances. He gradually slipped into a prisoner syndrome and knew his death was imminent. The stench from the urine soaked clothing pushed him over the edge of despair. He simply lay there motionless and waited for the inevitable. His self respect and everything he cherished drifted on the gaging fumes of the ammonia saturated air.

Although Charlie had never been to area 51, Bob was an old hand. He had no problem in finding the front office which was actually about 3 miles from the front gate. Typical military planning he told Charlie as they pulled up to the front office. Once inside Bob introduced Charlie to the NCO at the front desk and then made their way to the coffee pot. The plane was expected around midnight. Yelling to the backs of the agents as they went in pursuit of the coffee, the sergeant said, "Hey Bob, my orders say there is supposed to be a prisoner. Where the hell is he?"

" Oh no problem," answered Bob. "He decided to stay in the van. Said he didn't like the smell of military bases." The sergeant watched as the two agents doubled over in laughter at some weird private joke. No one saw the dark shadow watching and listening from the side of the building.