To piece it all together was a true puzzle. The main component that was off was Zach himself. Zach was the wild card in any deck no matter the situation. It was always off to another adventure, another city, another situation and woman. It was enough to give her a headache and had on more than one occasion.
Normally there was a clue of what misadventure he was currently on. Instead there was a dry case here. Talk of people going missing, research on local folklore and he was gone.
Zara was naturally worried when her brother was gone longer than expected, all without word to her. They were still closer than siblings their age.
Taking the moment to take in the scenic and lovely town of White Horse, she dug through the impossibly deep pockets. Oh, the diner, that was the place. It was down the street to make it easier.
Entering, Zara ignored the looks she received. She stood out, she might as well be wearing a parka. That must have been him, most wilderness people had that weathered, devil may care look.
Easily sitting across from him, she had to admit, he was impressive looking. "Are you Jasper?" She asked curiously. She hoped she was right, she wanted to find her brother soon.
Carefully, and with a gloved hand, Jasper Wierson turns the page in a photo album. Lazily he gazes as the pictures, all containing a gruesome scene. Pausing to study one, he smiles to himself. A young girl, no bigger than twelve stands next to a gutted deer. Her pink flower dotted dress is smeared in blood and her skin is stained red. Her thin childish lips are pulled into the biggest grin her doll face can handle. Beside her, holding the severed deer head toward the camera and showing off the girl’s prize, her mother shares the same face. Absently Jasper wipes a single tear from his cheek before snapping the book shut. Around him the ‘mom-n-pop’ diner patrons glance up. To them Jasper appeared to be an unshaven survivalist. The smell of the earth clung to him and his appearance. Wearing a wide brimmed hat festooned with fishing hooks, he looked like he’d barrowed the outfit from his grandfather. On the floor by his feet was an old hunting bag, waterproof, and in need of a new zipper. As gently as he could he unzips the front portion of the backpack and slides the album inside, protecting the normal human populace from seeing it. Swaying her hips in an attention getting way the older waitress appears with his coffee and eggs. She flashes the heavily muscled survivalist her best “come and get me” smile before sliding the fresh coffee onto the black and white checkered table. Politely he pushes the syrup out of her way and then pulls his napkin free from his silverware.
“Where ya from hon’?” She questions, her accent is from a place teeming with churches and drowning in holy water. A place where cows are the state tree and chickens are the state flower. Keeping his eyes down at the clean, he answers her lowly and without looking at her.
“The mountains.” His answer is simple and she gets the message quickly. Placing his eggs with a side of bacon in front of him she continues her questioning.
“Do you have a cabin there?” He shakes his head before picking up his fork to cut into the yellow of the eggs.
“I own a house on the water, it’s only a little thing.” Politely Jasper nods when he notices she had finished talking.
“Do you have a girl?” The woman with the hairspray bun refuses to give up easily. The mention of a girl in his life causes him to fade away to a long-forgotten memory.
“Yes.” He answers simply. The word is a half lie, but the waitress doesn’t know. Finally, the cougar gets the hint and wanders away, bidding him to enjoy his meal with hurt pride. Behind the window a few young waitresses giggle and mock the overly friendly woman. Jasper still loved Elizabeth, he always would even though she had lied to him and cheated him. It was the death of their daughter Abbey they had killed him and caused him to drink. Jasper still considered that year the worst year of his life. Quietly Jasper crunches his bacon and pulls on his eggs, watching the yellow seep out of them like blood.
This trip down to the valley was prompted by a young girl’s need to find her brother. All he knew is that they were identical twins and no one else would take her. The locals are afraid of the mountains, wolves are said to be judge and jury up there, hikers went missing constantly. Shoving another forkful of egg into his mouth, Jasper wished that humans would stay in their little wood houses and leave the forest to the monsters.
"It's been two weeks! I can't just do nothing!" Zara said in frustration, her voice rising much more than mom would care fore. Today, she didn't care, it wasn't as if she lived here anymore. "Two weeks since he was supposed to come back and he's not back yet. It may be the Yukon but he's still really good at what he does."
"Knowing Zach he decided to have some fun with a local for a while longer. You know...fishing and the such...maybe he went to a city to visit," Teresa summarized contently.
"No, mom, I know...and I'm going to see what happened," Zara answered in determination. Granted she didn't love the outdoors as much as Zach. She had her camera and usually got good shots when he had the patience to drag her with.
It only took a week to gather the money, sources and whatnot. In Whitehorse she found a guide that would lead her to the region where she needed to be. The plan was simple in her mind. Find out where he would generally be, see if he was alive , then bring him back.
It took one commercial airline from Portland, then a smaller one to White Horse. From there it was a half hour drive. By the time she arrived, she was already cold, and slightly grumpy from how long it had taken.
"Now where was I supposed to meet this guy?" Zara asked herself, taking out the paper. It was supposed to be at some hotel. Not that there were a lot to chose from, it looked like there was three here and only one counted.
Zara was tall for a woman reaching 5'8", though was willowy with soft curves. It was difficult to tell with the heavy coat and warm pants, dark brown hair placed back. It was obvious she wasn't from here by her shivering.
Finding the right hotel, she waited impatiently. Oddly she was fifteen minutes early.
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