She heard an angry coughing sound, followed by what sounded like a scream from the canyon below. Hers? It seemed nothing of this Earth. Then the pressure on her throat came back, this time with a searing heat, and she hit at the hard stiffness as she became dreamy until, finally, she was only stroking the stiff hairs with her fingertips, as if tracing a lover's skin in the dark.
'What was his name?'
She couldn't remember, though his face had come back. She saw him clearly. Then he receded, like she was looking at his image through the wrong end of a telescope.
"Wyatt?" The word formed on her lips. She felt happy to have remembered his name. There was a pulsing of light behind her eyelids as her headlamp flickered rapidly and went out.
She opened her eyes to the engulfing blackness. No, that wasn't her world anymore. She closed her eyes to try to find him again, and as she did, she felt the fluttering against her throat stop as the bird took flight.
AT ONE WITH EAGLES
Sean groped for the phone vibrating on the nightstand. It was Sam Meslik, the outfitter Sean worked for, guiding fly fishermen being one of his several jobs that kept the wolves at bay.
"Sam," he said. No hellos. There never were.
"You know where the hunting rigs park up Johnny Gulch Road?"
"I know it. I was up that way last night."
"A little to the south. Long story."
"Well, ah . . . you can tell me about that later. I'm up here now and there's blood in the snow."
"It's elk season."
"Yeah, well, I don't think this is elk blood."
"You want to elaborate?"
"There's blood in the fucking
snow. Meet me at the trailhead. Bring your fiancée." He clicked off.
Sean reached across the sleeping Siamese cat and snoring Aussie shepherd to rub Martha Ettinger's shoulder.
"It's four in the morning," Martha said.
• • •
IT WAS FIVE and change when the headlights of Martha's Cherokee shone on Meslik's three-quarter-ton parked at the trailhead. No other rigs, just an old Airstream trailer that must have been hauled in before the first heavy snowfall and wouldn't be going anywhere until the weather changed.
Sam clambered out of his truck. "I had one all but roped to a tree. This ruined my hunt," he said.
"You did the right thing by calling," Martha said. "I didn't think you'd get reception here."
"Smaller state every day. Won't be long before a man can't take a piss without using his free hand to answer his phone. Actually, I had to drive about a mile to pick up a bar. Last day of the fucking season, too. And I'm being a Boy Scout."
"You're becoming a contributing member of society despite yourself."
This excerpt ends on page 14 of the hardcover edition.
Monday we begin the book Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March.