When Paths Cross, Part 9 by Everybodycrys (everybodycrys@yahoo.com)

I know this is heading in a different direction then people thought, but that's okay. I hope everyone who’s reading this enjoys it anyway. Its just after reading all the wonderful stories on the archive, I was yearning for something with a little more action. Don’t worry Nick and Matt’s relationship will be heating up. I know it sound strange where they are, but stranger things have happened.

Disclaimer - If you are under 18 or are offended by material of a homosexual nature then please do not read this and leave this site. Also this is a work of complete fiction and doesn’t mean to imply the sexual orientation of any of the characters real or imagined.

now part 9....

Nick, Matt, and A.J. walked with Drew and Julie back to their camp. After hearing their story they invited them back to talk with Brian. A.J. also thought it best to stay as in as big of group as possible considering the upcoming rescue and the possible dangers that lied ahead. They arrived at camp to find Brain tending to the fire. Kenny was wrapped up in a blanket asleep near the fire. Brian looked up as they approached. He saw the two extra people and jumped up smiling, thinking their rescuers had arrived.

“Thank god!” He said. Drew and Julie walked up and introduced themselves.

“I’m Drew and this is my girlfriend Julie, we’re hikers not rescuers.”They told him reluctentlt. Brian stopped smiling when he heard this.

“Well then, you must know the way out, We can’t be that far from a road or something” He said. Drew looked over at A.J. and then at the ground.

A.J. took over, “Brian lets sit down, this is something you need to hear.” They all took a seat around the fire. Julie started.

“Two weeks ago, Drew and I were approached by a man who said he was a representative of some environmental society. He told us they were planning a trip into this national park to record signs of human impact on this region. We’ve been working with groups like this for a couple years and didn’t think it was strange. We agreed and a couple days later we were flown into the area by helicopter with about three other environmentalist. During the trip we were introduced to a man named Russell Sefile. He was the leader of the group and started to fill us in on what we would be doing. Right then it started sounding wrong.”

Brian interrupted, “What do you mean by that?”

Drew took over, “Well he tried to sound all official about objectives and stuff, but he was obviously ignorant about the environment. I started getting nervous so I asked him who was financing the trip. He got all huffy and upset, he wouldn’t tell us just saying that it wasn’t our business and to keep my shut. This pretty much blew any cover he had. We all demanded to be taken back to the airport. He refused and soon we landed a few miles from here. We refused to get off the helicopter, hoping he would just give in and then we could go back. But that's when he lost it...” He stopped unsure of how to continue.

“What did he do?” Brian asked, fearing the worst.

Julie started crying softly and buried her head in Drew’s shoulder. Drew breathed for a second and then went on, “That bastard pulled out a handgun and shot the person closest to the door. In cold blood, without a warning or anything. I have never seen anything so horrible. We all climbed out and the copter took off. The pilot was one of his people and never said anything. He stood there walking around us for what seemed like hours just pointing the gun at us and talking to himself. This guy was insane. Eventually he calmed down and threw each of us a backpack. He told us that we could go and walk back to civilization. We thought it was too good to be true, but we grabbed the packs and took off. We walked in a group for a hour when all the packs started beeping. We open them up and found alarm clocks that had been set and a note. Each note said the same thing, that we were the game and he was the hunter. We had as much time as we wanted to get out of the forest but he was going to be hunting us the entire way. We decided to split up into three groups , the reasoning being that he could follow only one of us so at least the rest of us would get far enough away so we could get away before he could find us. We haven’t seen anyone for a week, but without a map or compass I think we’re just walking in circles. He’s still out there. Two nights ago we heard gun shots coming from the south.”

Brian took this all in. He was shocked that someone could actually do that to someone. “So, what do we do?” He asked. Everyone was silent, just staring at the fire, contemplating the situation. Matt spoke up.

“Well, If he’s still in the area then its for sure that he heard the plane come down. I assume he’s gonna come check it out.”

“Not necessarily,” Brian said, “ He could be high tailing it out of here, expecting the area to fill up with rescue workers and search parties.”

Julie looked up, “I don’t think so, he knows we know his name, he’s not going to leave us out here to turn him in. He was so insane and full of himself. He’s a real nut case.”

“Well in that case, we need to make ourselves as scarce as possible.” Nick said, “I say we get as far away from here as possible.”

A.J. disagreed, “We can’t leave the plane, their going to be coming for us and if we’re not here, then we’re screwed.”

“But we just can’t sit here waiting to be hunted down.” Matt said, then he pointed to the sky, “And it looks like its gonna be a bad night.” They all looked up to see that their wasn’t a single star to be seen.It was a huge heavy cloud cover and the wind had been picking up steadily.

Brian took charge, “Well first off we deal with the storm, we need to get somewhere as dry as possible. We have a couple blankets, but thats about it. Do you guys have anything?”

“We have a couple of larger sleeping bags, a little food, some water, and a big tarp. We could string the tarp out to use as a covering. Julie and me could share a bag. You guys are welcome to the other one.” Drew said, and Julie nodded in agreement. Brian stood up and looked around.

“Lets find somewhere out of the wind as quickly as possible, we won’t light a fire. That should keep us pretty safe till morning. Hopefully by then, the search patrols will be here.” He said optimistically. They all stood up, A.J. and Matt headed back with Drew to collect the rest of their things from the other camp and make sure their fire was out. Nick started kicking dirt on their fire to put it out. Brian bent over Kenny and gently shook him.

“Kenny, “ He said softly, “Kenny, you need to wake up, we have to move.” Kenny opened his eyes and sat up.

“Are they here? are we saved?” He asked. Brian shook his head and helped him up. “No, there's a storm coming and we have to get somewhere dryer.” Kenny nodded. Brian wrapped the blanket around his shoulders and together the four of them walked over to the other camp to meet the others. Soon they were able to find a small grove that seemed to be as out of the wind as they could get. Drew, A.J. , and Brian quickly did their best to tie up the tarp. Drew had discovered some fishing line in the pack and this had helped a lot. Soon the tarp was up and they all huddled under it. Just in time as it started to rain.

“Damn”, Brian said, “could this day get any worse?” He looked around. Drew and Julie had already climbed into their bag. “Okay, here.” He handed the other bag to Nick, “You guys are just getting over being sick, these bags are better then the blankets so you and Matt take it.” Nick didn’t look happy about it but he took the bag. Kenny sat back against a tree wrapped in his blanket. He hadn’t said a word since Brian woke him up. Nick felt really bad for him, he couldn’t even begin to imagine what he must be going through. He motioned to Matt and they climbed into the bag lying down next to Kenny. He continued to ignore them but soon they felt him shift a bit closer taking comfort in the presence of other people. Brian and A.J. sat next to each other wrapped in the last blanket. trying to stay as warm as possible. Julie suddenly let out a little scream. The rest of the group jump expecting the worst.

“What is it?” A.J. asked. looking into the darkness expecting to see a man with a gun running at them.

They all looked over at Julie as she started laughing. “I’m so sorry.” she said. “I was lying here thinking when it suddenly dawned on me who you guys were.”

They all relaxed a bit, “I mean with all that's happened I never expected to be trapped in the wilderness with the backstreet boys.” she said still laughing. Everyone laughed breaking the tension. They all laid back down, trying to find a comfortable position to get some sleep. Nick and Matt laid in the sleepingbag chest to chest looking at each other. Holding each other close. Matt leaned forward and gently kissed Nick. Nick smiled but drew back a little.

“We have to be careful.” He said, indicating Kenny who was lying right next to them. Matt grunted, and rolled onto his back. Nick pulled the bag over their heads and laid his head on Matt’s chest. He laid there thoroughly enjoying the feeling of Matt breathing as his chest rose and fell. Soon everyone was asleep. The rain continued to fall all night and the wind speed picked up, but the spot they had found kept them reasonably protected and they stayed relatively dry. The night passed with out any further incidents.

Nick woke up to someone gently shaking him. He looked up to find A.J. crouched above him. Matt was still asleep.

“What's wrong?” He asked.

“Nothings wrong, every ones gonna be getting up soon and we need to talk about the day. I woke you up first so you guys could be up and not putting any ideas in our “guest” heads” He said indicating the comfy way Nick and Matt were laying with each other. Nick smiled and gave Matt a little shake to wake him up. Not getting any response he looked around to make sure no one was watching, then he leaned up and gave Matt a long kiss that moved from his lips down to his neck. Matt smiled and opened his eyes.

“Well, what a wake up call.” He said. He sat up and pulled Nick into another quick kiss. Nick just sat back and enjoyed the feeling of him in his mouth, but Matt knew how careful they had to be and pulled back.

“We’ll find some alone time once we’re out of here.” He promised.

Everyone was up soon and packing the bags and blankets. Drew handed out some granola bars for breakfast and he able to locate a extra shirt for A.J. so he wouldn’t freeze without a fire. They ate in relative silence as they each tried to wake up completely. A.J. broke the silence.

“I have a idea, I been thinking and I figure if they’re tracking the plane it might be better if we try and find our way down to that lake and be as close to it as possible. That also might keep this Russell guy away if we’re together by the lake when the search parties come.”

Drew thought about it, “ That's pretty good except for one thing.” He indicated the storm that was still going on outside, “ I know you guys are famous and all but there’s not going to be much in the air today and it will take some time for people to hike in. How do we keep alive until then?”

“We stay together and watch each others backs, hopefully he’ll stay away with a larger group.” Brian said. They all agreed and set out to move. They took down the tarp trying to save as much of the fishing line as they could. Nick thought it would be a good idea to walk back to the cliff to get their bearings. They collected their stuff and made their way back. They stood on the ridge looking down at the lake.

“You guys know how to get down there.” Brian asked.

Drew pointed along the ridge, “If we head in that direction there’s a way, its a little steep. I saw it the other day.”

A.J. grunted, “Lets be real careful, everything is gonna be slippery, last thing we need is a broken leg.” They headed down walking in a line. After a couple hours walking they made it safely down and started picking their way around the lake. Drew and A.J. walked ahead keeping watch as the rest brought up the rear. Nick took the opportunity to walk with Kenny to see how he was doing.

“Hey Kenny, how are you holding up?” He asked.

Kenny gave him a look, “ I’m fine, I’m just a little sick of the rain...and I can’t wait to get out of the fucking woods.”

“I hear you, I’m beginning to think I’ll never be warm again.” Nick said with a smile.

Kenny turned to look at him, “Well you certainly looked cozy last night.” He said, and then walked away from Nick who stood there in shock. Matt walked up to Nick and put a hand on his shoulder.

“What's wrong?” he asked.

“Kenny knows” Nick answered.

“Knows what?”

“He knows about us.” Nick said with a urgency. Matt felt his stomach churn. ‘How could he know?’

“We were so careful, are you sure?”

“I’m pretty sure, we gotta talk to him later. to make sure he’s okay with it, or things could get real bad when we get rescued.”

“We’ll talk to him later, lets go catch up with the others. This place is really in the open I don’t feel safe here.” Nick agreed and they ran to catch up.

The group reached the far side of the lake where they decided to set up camp. Julie helped Matt set the tarp back up so they would have a dry place to stay. Brian and Nick tried to find anything dry enough to start a fire with. They walked around for a hour and came back with a hand full of sticks. They all sat under the tarp huddling to keep warm. There wasn’t as much protection from the wind down here. They were in sort of a valley and it was acting like a wind tunnel. They stayed there for the rest of the morning trying to start a fire. As the afternoon approached, the wind let up a little and the rain stopped for a while.

Brian was ecstatic, “This is great, now they’ll send in the helicopters. Its only a matter of time and we’ll be back home, dry and safe.” Everyone smiled from the thought except Kenny who suddenly stood and ran into the forest by himself. Brian watched him in confusion.

“What was that about?”

A.J. stood up, “you think I should go after him?”

Brian nodded, “Yeah, I’ll go with you.” They took off in the direction that Kenny had disappeared in. They searched, calling out his name for a hour but received no response. They decided to return to the camp hoping he had already returned. They got back to found out that they hadn’t seen him yet. Drew was working on a makeshift fishing pole to catch some fish from the lake. Brian had no intention of eating anything from that lake knowing what was sitting at the bottom, but he didn’t say anything to Drew about it. They sat down next to Matt and Nick who were in deep conversation about something. They saw Brian and stopped to ask about their search.

“You guys find him?” Nick asked

Brian shook his head no. A.J. took a swig from a canteen, “We didn’t see anything, but I’m going out to look again.”

“Why don’t we go to. Nick and I can look with you guys. Two teams will cover more ground.” Matt offered.

Brian didn’t like that, “No, I'd prefer you and Nick stay here. We don’t know where that Russell guy is and we don’t want you running into him.”

Nick was irritated, “so, you think I’m some kid that needs protecting. Damn Brian I'm a adult. I don’t need you or Kevin mothering me all the time.” He stood up and grabbed Matt’s hand pulling him after him, “We’ll be out looking, we’ll be back before dark.”

Brian swore, “Damn him.” He looked at A.J. who was smiling at him. “What's your problem?”

“Is it ‘Damn him’ for going or is it because you know he’s right.” A.J. said

“Shut up.” Brian answered, but A.J. could tell he didn’t mean it like that. He stood up and helped Brian up.

“Come on, lets go find Kenny.” They walked over and let Drew and Julie know what was up. Then they went into the forest calling out his name. They walked up a small stream that fed into the lake. Brian kept listening hoping to hear the sound of helicopters, but nothing had come yet. He stopped for a second to wipe the sweat from his forehead. The storm was finally breaking and he could even make out a occasional spot of blue sky mixed in with the clouds. A.J. walked up next to him and motioned for him to be quiet. He pointed in front of them. Brian suddenly afraid looked ahead expecting to see the dreaded hunter, but was relieved when he saw what A.J. was pointing at. There about a hundred yards away was Kenny sitting on a rock by the stream. He was rocking back and forth and crying into his hands. Brian started walking towards him but A.J. held him back.

“Bri,” he whispered, “let me talk to him.” Brian nodded and let A.J. approach him. He stood back next to a tree waiting. A.J. walked up and took a seat next to Kenny on the rock. If Kenny noticed him he didn’t let on. A.J. put a hand on his shoulder.

“You wanna talk?”

Kenny looked up at him, “No, leave me alone.” he tried to stand up to walk away but A.J. grabbed his arm and sat him back down.

“Look, I’m here to help. This is not a safe place and you scared us with your disappearing act. care to explain?”

Kenny started crying softly, “ I couldn’t sit there listening to them talk about being rescued.”

“Don’t you wanna get rescued?” A.J. asked surprised.

“Yeah, but its not going to end there. I...I lost my grandfather.”

A.J. knew the pain he was going through, “Its okay, we’ll get you back with your family, you won’t have to be alon....”

“There is no one else!” Kenny yelled. A.J.was silent, confused by the outburst. Kenny continued, “I wasn’t just on vacation with him, I was going to live with him. He is...he was the only family I had left. My parents died a month ago in a car crash. He came to California to pick me up....and now...I have nothing.” He started crying again, shaking from the emotional trauma. A.J. didn’t know what to say. He just sat there holding him in his arms.

Brian watched as they talked, he was about to approach them when he heard Nick and Matt calling out Kenny’s name. He walked towards them and met them further down the stream. He told them that they found him and A.J. was with him now.

“Is he okay?” Nick asked

“I think so, Why don’t you guys head back and we’ll meet you there.” They nodded in agreement and started walking back towards camp. Brian walked back up to see how A.J. was doing.

Matt and Nick had been walking together for a few minutes when they spotted some deer drinking from the stream. Matt hushed Nick to be quiet and they stood there watching them. Soon however the wind shifted and the animals picked up their scent. The larger buck snorted in their direction. The deer left and walked back into the forest. Nick smiled, laughed and then took off after them. The deer heard the commotion and took off as fast as they could. Nick yelped and started chasing them, laughing all the way. Matt ran after him surprised by his behavior. He finally caught up to Nick who was lying on the forest floor laughing, barely able to breath.

Matt smiled, “What was that?”

Nick sat up with a huge goofy grin on his face, “Every time I see some show like that on T.V. with nature and deer and crap like that I want to do that. Just start screaming and acting crazy to spoil the moment. I know I’m evil but T.V. does that to you I hear.”

“Where did they go you demon?” Matt asked, laughing at the way Nick had acted.

Nick pointed, “that way”

Matt walked a few feet and stopped short, there in front of him was a huge prairie. There wasn’t any deer in sight, but he could see the game trail that they used. The prairie was a football field long and filled with wild flowers. They started walking towards the center. The grass was green and thick, coming up to their knees. The scent from the flowers was almost overwhelming.

“Oh my god, its so beautiful.” He said. Nick nodded in agreement. He turned to look at Nick, smiled and leaned in. Nick thought he was going to kiss him and closed his eyes. Suddenly he found him self falling on his butt. He looked up to see Matt laughing at him.

“How was that for spoiling the moment?” He said. Nick smiled and lunged for him. He tackled Matt and they rolled in a heap through the grass. Nick smiled and stood up. that's when he noticed the pain that Matt was in. His smile faded as he remembered Matt’s shoulder injury.

“I am so sorry. god I didn’t remember.” He said, tears form at his eyes. Matt saw this and got up as quickly as he could. He gently brushed aside the tears.

“Shhhh, don’t start crying, I’m okay. really...” Nick relaxed a bit, still upset that he had hurt him. He made Matt sit down so he could check the injury. He unwrapped the bandage to get a good look. The cut still didn’t look good, but there wasn’t any new blood. he bandaged it up again and took a seat next to him on the ground.

“God I hope someone comes soon, that's gonna get worse if we don’t get it looked at soon.

“It’ll be okay, its not that bad.” Matt said trying to get Nick to relax. He reached over and gave him a small kiss. “As far as I can tell, we’re alone.”

Nick smiled and returned the kiss. They sat in the grass kissing each other passionately. Matt explored Nicks mouth with his tongue and then moved to his neck. Nick gasped a little and slowly ran his hands up Matt’s back under his shirt. Matt slid forward and slowly lowered Nick to the ground on his back. They continued to kiss as Nick undid the buttons on the front of Matt’s shirt. He reached up and pulled the shirt back over his shoulders pinning his arms to his side. He smiled at the site of the smooth muscular chest in front of him. He relaxed his grip and finished removing the shirt. Matt smiled and laid down on Nick, continuing to kiss him around the neck and shoulders. Nick slowly shifted his weight and rolled them over so Matt was now on his back and Nick was sitting on top. He smiled and leaned in. He kissed him starting at the forehead and then started working his way down. He moved to his lips and then down his neck. Matt pulled on Nicks shirt and Nick stopped only long enough for Matt to pull in up over his head. Matt was awed by the smooth skin and the well defined chest. He ran his hands over Nicks abs as Nick continue to make his way down. He started again at the neck and gave small little kisses as he moved down over Matt’s chest. Matt laid back and enjoyed the feeling as Nick started giving him little kisses on his stomach. He slid his hand up Nicks side causing Nick to shudder a bit from the sensation. He then pulled him up to him face to face. He smiled.

“You are beautiful” He said, and then shifted his weight, much as Nick has done before so Nick was once again lying on his back. Matt leaned over and trapped Nicks arms above his head. Nick struggled only slightly but smiled up at Matt. Matt climbed on top. They could feel their crotch's rubbing together sending waves of pure ecstasy through them. This scared Matt a little when he thought about it and he could see that Nick was a little uneasy. He laid on his side next to Nick. He took a deep breath.

“Are you okay if we don’t go any further? I’m still getting use to all of this I guess.”

Nick gave him a small embarrassed smile, “yeah I was just about to ask you the same thing.” They smiled and laid there holding each other, continuing to kiss and explore each others bodies with their hands, making sure to keep it comfortable.

At the edge of the prairie stood a man in his early forties, watching the two lovers through his binoculars. ‘Interesting’ , he thought, reaching over to pick up his rifle, ‘This certainly adds a new factor to the equation’ He grabbed his rifle and slipped back into the forest heading for the trail of smoke he had spotted near the lake. he made his way to the lake hoping to bag his last two kills before something happened to spoil his fun.

Brian, A.J., and Kenny walked back towards camp in relative silence. Kenny was okay, but the fact that he was now alone in the world hovered above them like the storm had before. A.J. didn’t know what to say to him, everything he thought sounded stupid and cheesy. Brian still in the dark about their conversation walked along silently looking around keeping a watchful eye on their surroundings. Looking ahead he saw the lake about a half mile ahead of them. He was glad to see camp as it was just starting to get darker. He had hoped they would have heard something by now, but as Drew said this was a big place and it could take a while. Suddenly something ran out of the bushes and slammed right into him. They fell backwards into the stream. A.J. let out a short yell, thinking Brian was under attack, until he saw Nick jump out of the bushes, and he saw who had ran into Brian.

Brian opened his eyes to see Matt lying on top of him.

“You think you could get off me.” he said. Matt gave him a embarrassed look and scrambled up, offering his hand to help Brian up.

“Sorry, we were running back to camp cause it was starting to get dark and I guess I wasn’t looking.”

A.J. laughed, “What is it with you and running into us in stream beds.” Matt thought about it and smiled.

“Fate, I guess.” apparently Nick found this very funny because he was rolling. Brian gave him a dirty look.

“Stop it weenie, where were you guys? I thought you guys headed back a while ago.” Nick stopped laughing and looked sheepishly at Matt.

“Nick was chasing some deer.” Matt said not quite telling the whole story. Kenny watched all of this. He knew more but wasn’t sure who else did, so he stayed quiet.

Brian looked back and forth between the two of them, giving them both the evil eye. Then he smiled, “What am I going to do with you two?” The group started back towards camp in a much better mood then they had been since this whole ordeal had started. They got back to camp just as the sun was setting. Brian was a bit disturbed to find that there was no fire going anymore, in fact Drew and Julie didn’t seem to be around at all.

“I hope they didn’t go out looking for us?” He said gathering some wood for the fire. Nick helped out while A.J. and Kenny went to look down by the lake for them. Matt looked through the packs to see if there was any food left. He found a can of beans and some more granola bars.

“Not much, but it will have to do.” He said out loud, as he looked for something to open the can with. He was interrupted when a loud beeping started behind him. Jumping into a fighting stance he glared into the darkness trying to spot where it was coming from. Nick and Brian ran over to join him. The sound continued for a few minutes and then stopped. Brian lit up a small torch with A.J.’s lighter and they walked over to check things out. Nick yelled out as he held up a alarm clock with a paper tied to it. They ran over as he ripped the paper off and held it up to the light to read it. Nick started, “To whom it may concern..” He was suddenly interrupted when A.J. and Kenny started yelling down by the lake. They forgot about the letter and ran down to the lake as quickly as they could in the dark. They ran up to find A.J. and Kenny standing on the shore, when they got there A.J. started pointing out into the water.

“Look, there's something out there.” Brian squinted and was able to make out a couple of dark objects floating about forty feet out. Nick took the stick from Brian and waded out about ten feet, but couldn’t make out what they were. The objects drifted a bit closer so he waded out further until he up to his chest in the freezing water.

“Nick, come back. that waters cold and it could be dangerous.” Matt yelled out. Nick looked over his shoulder and reached out one last time to try to grab the closest one. He felt his foot slip and he ended up falling right into it. He gasped as his head plunged under, but he got his footing. luckily the torch hadn’t gone under and was still lit. he looked down and froze. He tried to but couldn’t make his feet move. Right in front of him was Julie, floating face up in the lake. Her entire face was covered in blood. The scent of death reached him and instantly he fell backwards and started scrambling for the shore, screaming the entire way. Brian heard him and started in to meet him followed by Matt. They reached Nick and helped him out. He was still screaming the entire way. Brian kept asking what happened as Matt pulled him into a hug trying to get him to calm down. He took in a deep breath, filling his lungs with the smell of Matt, trying to get the image of what he had seen out of his mind. He looked up at Matt’s concerned face, feeling safer in his arms.

“Nick, come on , what is it?”

“Nick swallowed, “Its Julie.” The rest of the group gasped and looked out at the lake again.

“Are you sure?” Kenny asked. Nick nodded, there was no way to mistake that. Brian quickly pulled the paper from before and lit up the lighter. He read outloud.

“To whom it may concern. Welcome to the game..I must say I was surprised to find more game but the more the merrier. because your new you have twenty minutes before I start, and by the way. I’m watching you now. Good Luck -Russell”

No one spoke, glancing around into the darkness. Brian whispered, “ We have to go, and now.”

“But what about the search parties?” A.J. asked. Nick shot him a look.

“A.J. If we stay here, there won’t be any reason for the search party.” he said. They all ran up to the camp. Everyone started grabbing stuff and shoving it into the packs. Matt was trying to get the tarp down when he thought he heard something. He froze and listened. He hushed everyone else to be quiet.

“Matt, we don’t have time for...” Kenny started. But Matt waved his hand frantically to get him to shut up. There it was, the most beautiful sound he had ever heard. A rhythmic thumping which as it grew louder, everyone picked up and recognized as a helicopter.

“Yes!!” A.J. shouted and hugged Brian who was standing next him.

“Where’s it coming from?” Nick yelled, looking around trying to spot it. Matt turned in circles trying pinpoint the direction, but the sound seemed to come from everywhere.

“Its the mountains,” Brian said, “the sounds bouncing.” Suddenly the bark of the tree right next to Brian's head exploded. Every one hit the ground as a second shot rang out.

“Shit!, we can’t signal while that asshole is out there.” A.J. yelled. Nick thought for a second, and the motioned to Brian

“There's a big field about a mile from here, We have to run for it.”

Brian thought, “Well we have to get out of here.” He motioned to the others and let them know what was up. They waited a few moments until the shooting stopped and then crawled slowly towards the stream. On a signal they got up and started sprinting up the stream. Shots rang out the instant they started running. They didn’t stop until they were a good mile away from the lake. Nick tried to get his bearings as the rest of them leaned on trees breathing hard.

“This way, this is where we saw the deer.” He said and started into the forest. Matt wasn’t so sure but followed along with the rest of them, but Nick had a uncanny sense of direction and they soon stepped out into the prairie. Brian knew they had to move quickly, the helicopter was getting louder and Russell wouldn’t be far behind. He started throwing orders out.

“Sir, we have to go back. We’re not going to find anything in the dark.”

Kevin sighed, he had hoped they’d see something, a signal fire, anything. He had paid the pilot to keep them out longer after they had been radioed and told to return the base. Earlier in the day Kevin, Howie and much of their families had been transported to a temporary base in the area where the search was being conducted from. He had been livid when they told him that the beacon that they would normally use to located the plane wasn’t being picked up. They were led to a waiting room that he honestly believed was designed to drive them crazy. Full of bright colors and oudated magazines. Howie and him had lasted a hour before running out and started begging to be allowed to help with the search. The men in charge weren’t happy about it, but after Kevin had called in every favor he had in the industry, they agreed to let Kevin and Howie ride along with one of the helicopters. They figured it was the safest place for them.

Howie looked out at the darkened landscape below them, as much as he hated to admit it he was starting to fear the worst. He didn’t want to say it out loud to Kevin, but he didn’t think they would ever see them again.

“Sir, did you hear me? We have to turn back.” The pilot said. Kevin slowly nodded accepting that they wouldn’t be able find them tonight. The pilot started making a wide turn. Kevin sat back in defeat, silently beat himself up. Suddenly, Howie started screaming and jumping in his seat.

“There, there. a fire” He screamed. Kevin looked out the window and saw numerous lights from torches being waved. His heart skipped a beat ‘could it be them?’ He called up to the pilot, drawing his attention to the lights. He nodded and turned the copter towards them. He brought the copter down until they hovering above the torches.

Brian screamed in joy as they spotted the lights from the helicopter headed in their direction.”Its working, Yes!!!!!” They kept waving as the helicopter came up and started hovering above them. They kept waving as a search light suddenly blinded them.

In the copter, Kevin laughed as he recognized his friends below him. They were all there, Brian, Nick, A.J., and Matt. There was another person who he didn’t recognize but assumed was another passenger.

A.J. saw the pilot wave them back, apparently he was going to try to land. He pulled on Kenny’s arm indicated to him to get back. Together they all ran back giving the pilot plenty of room.

“You can land here?” Howie asked surprised that the pilot would try it in the dark. He nodded. “Yeah, it looks pretty safe, and I think your friend would hurt me if I tried to leave.” He said, as Kevin smiled from the back. He carefully maneuvered the helicopter until they felt a slight bump as the skids touched the ground. Kevin quickly slid open the door to the copter and jumped out. Brian saw him and let out a yelp. He waved to the other guys.

“Come on guys, lets go!!” He started running for the copters with the others behind him. Kevin grabbed Brian as soon as he was within reached and pulled him into a tight hug.

“I thought I’d never see you guys again.” He said releasing him. Howie jumped out and joined in the reunion. A.J. was happy to see them but he knew Russell was still out there. He freaked when he saw that the pilot was powering down the engines.

“No!” he screamed jumping into the cabin and running up to the pilot, “Start the engines, we have to get out of here, NOW!” He was intense enough that the pilot thou confused nodded and started flipping switches. Kevin looked up at A.J. thoroughly confused. Brian grabbed his arm pulling him into the bird.

“We’ll explain on the way, but we have to move now.” He said. Everyone started piling in when suddenly a shot rang out. Brian ducked his head and heard someone scream. He looked up to see Kenny laying on the ground near the copter. He was screaming in pain and he could see blood seeping through his shirt at the shoulder. ‘Damn it’ he thought. Kevin looked around in confusion, this had gone from a simple rescue to a damn war scene. He jumped into the copter as Brian jumped out. Brian ran over to Kenny and picked him up in his arms as a second shot rang out. The bullet bounce off the side of the helicopter.

“What the hell was that!?!?” The pilot yelled. Brian ran up and handed Kenny up to Kevin who was there waiting, and then jumped in. Matt slammed the door shut and Nick yelled for him to go. The pilot took off, probably setting a speed record as he narrowly missed some trees and headed for the base. Matt and Nick crouched in the back holding each other ecstatic at being rescued but worried about Kenny. Kevin looked down at the injured teenager on the ground, confused and worried.

“Brian, what was that? and who is this?” He asked.

Brian looked up from where he was putting pressure on Kenny’s wound, “Kevin, your not going to believe this.”

Okay, I know its gotten weirder and weirder, I don’t know what to say except it was sort of writing itself. Also my apologies if the scene between Nick and Matt seemed sort of wimpy, I’m not used to writing like that and it was my first time (evil grin). But now that their out of the woods, (another evil grin) things will progress . Please feel free to tell me what you think. Remember this is part 9 of 12 for this part of the story. You can email me at everybodycrys@yahoo.com.