Without surprise, the moon had come out to claim the spot of its daytime counterpart. It was presently full, pale, and distant in the murky sky. However, its light was lost in the tops of spruce trees that completely shadowed off the Audi. Scarr had parked it on a loose-grit gradient, off a road shoulder where a patch of trees and bush offered natural coverage.
Reaching his gloved hand, Scarr opened the glove compartment, and with a second push of his finger, the secret weapon cache dropped down into view from inside the compartment. Scarr retrieved the silencer from the cache and closed it. Then he closed the glove compartment.
Etel looked at him as he screwed the silencer onto the Eagle. There was no expression on his face, only a complex coldness that she was only starting to get used to. Even though she hadn’t asked him why he was looking for Jeter in the first place, there was no guessing now as to what he was planning to do once he found him. He was going to kill Jeter, she thought to herself. And she realized that, she didn’t experience any rise in temperature or any alarm in her feelings. To a great degree she was assisting his killing endeavor. And she was doing so willingly.
But did Jeter deserve to die? Or what had he done to deserve it? Maybe in different circumstances those unanswered questions would have needled her conscience. But she didn’t care to know at the moment. She really didn’t.
As Scarr opened the door to step out, she caught herself saying, “Be careful––”
In response, he looked at her and said, “Wait here.”
He got out and banged the door closed. Her gaze followed him through the window as the darkness of the woods swallowed him at once.
Shortly after leaving the Audi, Scarr came across a stone footbridge spanning a stagnant body of water. The sheen of the water vaguely outlined the bank, and the individual rocks and pebbles bedding upon it. Scarr went past the footbridge and followed a natural path cut in the undergrowth. Tall shady trees loomed everywhere from side to side. Scarr could only see a half dozen at a time, for the dark all around him was formless and thickly layered. About one fifth of the things that reached his line of sight could be seen distinctly. So he had to use his other senses wherever his eyes failed him.
Up in the horizon atop the silhouette of trees, a lazy fog was licking at the starless sky. It seemed the sky was particularly unforgiving tonight, like a man-killing animal on the hunt. With the Eagle brooding in his hand, Scarr kept hawking through the broadleaf woodland, drifting off the path at some point only to circle back to it further ahead at a mound.
It was after he slid down a little grassy slope that he became aware of some slithering noise reacting to the noise of his steps. He then scanned his surrounding very intensively. He couldn’t see a thing, except the odd stubby shapes of trees, and the dense bushes sprouting up above their roots. The noise came again, not quick, not slow, but almost leisurely. Scarr looked down at the ground. He made out the outline of something there. But that something slithered along and blended with the bush.
A snake… Scarr realized.
It had a triangular-shaped head, with a stout body, and a short tail. An edge of moonlight had revealed keeled scales covering it. There were probably more of those snakes around here. What family did they belong to? Scarr knew those reptiles were a secretive and timid bunch. So as long as he kept away from them, they were going to keep away from him. And at any rate, he had the Eagle on his side.
Scarr went on ahead, plowing through the darkness a hundred more yards, and came out of the grove of trees to a natural clearing. In the middle of the clearing was an A-framed cabin. And it was surrounded by aspen trees that were scattered all over the place.
The cabin was built out of rough-cut lumber, and it stood atop a patio that served as the foundation’s support. It had an asphalt-shingled roof with gable ends. And some windows were presently closed from the inside, while others were opened. A rustic walkway doubling as a deck ran around it to the back.
The cabin was presently lighted, and grey smoke was airily flowing from a ventilation conduit running up along the outside wall to the roof. The body of water Scarr had left behind at the bridge seemed to be running nearby. And the air was clogged with a scent of bleach, probably because the stream was more profuse in this part of the woods.