Rebecca slept soundly inside the tent. She was dreaming of humming birds with propellers on their beak as they buzzed from flower to flower. The buzzing increased in intensity until she woke up. Sitting straight up in bed Rebecca strained her ears to the noise of the buzzing. It sounded much like that of Mac's Jenny except it sounded as if there were a fleet of them.
Rebecca was about to awaken her father when the noise suddenly stopped dead. The buzzing vanished as if it had never been. Rebecca returned to bed shaking her head. Could she have dreamt the noise?
The next morning Rebecca arose, the sun was already up and the air in the tent was starting to become stifling hot. Her father had obviously been up for some time by the smell of breakfast cooking outside. The smell of scrambled eggs, bacon, and coffee wafted into the tent. Rebecca's stomach growled in anticipation. She quickly dressed into some khaki shorts and a light shirt and joined her father outside.
Hugo was sitting on a crate sipping at his coffee in a tin cup. He was looking up at the cave dwelling above him lost in thought. A pan of eggs and bacon sat on another crate next to him and the pot of coffee percolated on the small campfire.
"Good morning, dad," Rebecca greeted as she helped herself to the food.
"Ah, good morning," Hugo quickly turned to meet his daughter's eyes with a smile on his face. "After breakfast I thought today I'd show you around the dwelling up there," the archaeologist motioned towards the Anasazi abode with his cup of coffee.
"That'd be great," Rebecca replied excitedly. The previous day they spent in camp looking at the artifacts that Hugo had retrieved from the ruins. Though they were incredibly intriguing, Rebecca was itching to see the actual site from which they came.
"Do you think Mac will be here today?" Rebecca asked. "He did say he'd have your package here by then."
"Don't worry," Dr. Strong chuckled. "Mac knows his way around this camp. He has actually spent a couple of days up there helping me dig. So I'm sure that if we aren't in camp he'll join us up at the pueblo."
Dan listened to the radio gravely. His contact in Denver said that Mac had left the airfield hours ago. However, Mac should have returned by now. It was way past noon and the delivery went off without a hitch. The Jenny had been in top form when Mac took off yesterday for Denver. What could be keeping him?
Dan had known Mac since they served together in the Great War. Even then, Dan was the crew chief for Mac's Sopwith Camel. Dan took great pride in the fact that Mac's aircraft never left the airfield with a fault; the return however was always a different story.
After the war, the two began their own express courier service with the Jenny and this airfield. Business was very good. Everyone appeared to need something expedited somewhere. Trains sometimes were not fast enough or did not have a route where the delivery needed to be.
Prohibition had become a boon to their trade as well. The smuggling a crate or two of some beer or tequila from Mexico to some resort in the area proved very profitable. However, Mac was always careful to smuggle very little and to pay off the right officials. Being too greedy attracted the wrong attention. That is the attention of either the law or the mafia.
Dan set the headset down on the table. He dreamed of the day when radios became small enough to fit in aircraft. Regardless, the only thing Dan could do now was to wait and worry.
The late afternoon sun filtered into the cave dwelling. The buildings of the Anasazi were remarkable. The pueblos were made of adobe and the cave in which they were nestled tended to offer some relief from the blazing desert sun. Rebecca was having the time of her life.
"Now look here," Dr. Strong pointed to a pit in the floor of one of the pueblos. "This is where I found the map. You can see the Spaniard's artifacts I retrieved." The archaeologist now pointed to a rusted conquistador helmet and a broken matchlock musket sitting next to the lantern that was illuminating the interior.
Rebecca picked up the helmet and looked it over. She had seen pictures of them in paintings. She could now see in her mind the conquistadors wearing them on their heads with polished breastplates on their chest while sitting atop a horse. It is no wonder that the Incas and the Aztecs held these men in awe.
"That my dear is a Combed Morion helmet. It is commonly associated with the conquistadores though they by no means were the only ones to adopt that helmet," Hugo lectured.
Rebecca had not seen her father so lively since her mother died. She smiled at her father as he continued to lecture her on the history of the artifact that was now in her hands.
"In fact, the English pikemen commonly used the morion helmet until the mid 1500s. Edward IV ..." Hugo stopped suddenly and looked around.
"What is it, father?" Rebecca asked as her father strained to hear something.
"Quiet, dear, I believe I heard something," he whispered.
Outside the pueblo, the sound of small rocks tumbling off the side of the cliff intruded into the room. Hugo reached into his satchel by his feet and pulled out a Colt .45 Peacemaker. Rebecca gave a small gasp as she saw her father cock the hammer back.
Hugo put is finger to his lips and sternly looked towards his daughter. "Quiet, it is probably just Mac, but you can't tell nowadays what sort of person you'll come across here in the desert.
"Just stay here and lay low. I'm going to check it out," Dr. Strong said as he left the small room.
Rebecca pulled herself back further into the room listening to her father slowly walk around the cavern. The tension was almost unbearable. She could not remember ever being so frightened in her life. Rebecca had never seen her father use a gun. She did not even think until now that her father had one.
The seconds turned into hours, Rebecca could no longer hear the footsteps of her father or the mysterious interloper outside. The only sounds that reached her ears were the thump-thumps of her own rapidly pounding heart.
Then a muffled thud followed by winded groan escaping from a man's lips reached her ears. She could hear the sound of some feet scrabbling across the cave's floor.
"Father!" Rebecca cried without thinking of the danger she could be in. She started to rush out of the pueblo and ran right into the chest of a large man in the doorway. The brute shoved Rebecca backwards who fell ingloriously on her bottom near the pit.
"Gunter, I believe ve have anozer vun een heah," the large man said in a thick German accent.
A smaller man walked up next to the brute in the doorway. Looked Rebecca over in the light afforded by the small lantern in the room.
"Ja, ja," Gunter replied, "Johann said ve only need zee professor. Kill her."
Rebecca sat there frozen stiff as the two German men stood over her discussing her fate. She could not get her mind to act. Horror had her completely paralyzed.
The larger man pulled a Luger out of his holster on his side. Smiling he pointed the gun at Rebecca.
"Sorry, Fraulein," was all the smaller man said to Rebecca as she closed her eyes and started sobbing.
Rebecca heard the sound of the large man cocking the pistol over the two Germen thugs' chuckling and her own sobbing. Any second now, she knew that she would hear the sound of the blast followed shortly by her own death. She wondered if she would feel any pain.
Rebecca tensed up in anticipation. She screwed shut her eyes even harder. She clenched her fists into a death grip by her side. She violently flinched when she heard the double pistol report explode into the small room.Posted by deg at May 24, 2006 6:05 PM