Episode 81 - Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future

After a short flight from Buffalo to Denver, I met up with Susan and Roy in Belvedere just as we had planned. Susan rented a Volvo station wagon earlier that morning and Roy had brought a duffle bag full of goodies. With no time to waste, we headed towards Arcadia at midday taking Interstate 25. Outgoing traffic from Arcadia was still pretty heavy, while incoming traffic was nonexistent. In fact we drove the whole extent of our trip by ourselves on the highway. One hundred and forty miles later we reached Interstate 70 were we finally started seeing some roadblocks and military personnel. We had no idea what we were getting into. My phone calls to Sgt. Palmer were never returned and the military kept the whole operation under wraps, away from the media. It sort of made sense to evacuate an entire town because of a gas leak, but the whole County? Something was shifty. We drove another 6 miles and attempted exiting the highway, only to be stopped by the military a few yards down the exit. A Private from the 3rd Squadron, 61st Calvary Regiment approached our vehicle. - Sir, this is a designated disaster area. I’m going to ask you to turn around. Where are you heading anyway? - the Private asked me. Without hesitating I replied: I’m Corporal John Harris. We’re heading to the Mulberry Ridge State Park, Capt. Macalister is expecting us. This is Dr. Susan Walker and this back here is Private Roy Uchena - I finished speaking, looking straight into his eyes. The soldier looked back inside the car and peeked at the trunk. He then asked us for our IDs. Since I wasn’t really lying about our identities, but about Macalister expecting us, showing our IDs was not a problem. Thankfully, because of my higher rank, the soldier let us through the roadblock without any more questions. We followed a paved road towards the mountains for about 10 miles. At one intersection fire blazed from an open pipe. It was perhaps a sign that the gas leakage was true or a trick set up by the military to make the operation more believable. We ignored the flames and headed to downtown Arcadia. It was about 3 in the afternoon when we arrived at St. Joseph’s Square. Usually full of pedestrians, the place looked like a ghost town. We drove passed Arcadia’s historical buildings and headed for the tourist shops at Pearl St. There was no one around. We stopped for few minutes, stretched our legs and confirmed that Arcadia was completely deserted. We kept driving through town till we reached Arcadia’s Water Plant just at the outskirts of the pine tree forest. A few minutes later we arrived at a closed off dirt road, which used to be part of the old logging road. - Alright, boys and girls! This is it! The road trip is over - I said sarcastically. I got out of the car, followed by Roy and Susan. Roy went straight for the trunk and propped it open. I grabbed Roy’s duffle bag and examined some of the “goodies’ he had brought us: ammunition, first-aid pouches, MREs and the works. Roy ducked inside the car and pulled out a shot gun. Then he passed me an AK-47, just like my old one. - Well, it’s a little bit older than yours, but the guy I got it from told me you should have no problems - Roy assured me. I grabbed the rifle and loaded it with a new magazine. Susan, who had been watching us for a while then complained: - You don’t expect me to go out there empty handed, do you? - Without saying a word, Roy ducked inside the car again and pulled out a crossbow out of the trunk. - Sorry, this is the best I could do in short notice - said Roy after passing the weapon to Susan. - Well, it ought to do! - said Susan while inspecting the crossbow. We finished gathering our gear, Susan changed her shoes. We were finally ready. Then, Roy turned to me and said: - I couldn’t thank you enough for having me here, John. Thank you for trusting me again…- He loaded a round through the shot gun’s ejection port and continued: - I won’t let you down, I promise! - And with those words we headed into the woods, hoping to finally put an end to Ivanov’s mischievous dealings.

by Corporal John Harris, June 21, 2007