They tried to hide in plain sight.
Their plan would have worked had they been anywhere other than Cross.
Then again, they really couldn’t be anywhere other than Cross.
Word reached me that a trio of men and a pair of dogs were camping out on Fox Island on Blood Lake.
No one stayed on Fox Island.
The ghost there didn’t appreciate visitors, as she so readily told me when she delivered the news. She was an old Abenaki woman who had died a year after I was born, and she didn’t want anyone on her land, let alone someone who wasn’t even from the damned town. She didn’t mind dogs too much. People, though, she could do without.
I couldn’t fault her on that.
I promised the ghost I’d take care of her unwelcomed visitors, and by midmorning, I was kitted out and ready to go. The island was heavily wooded, so rather than haul the Spenser around, I brought the Colts and my knife. I hoped the dogs would be sensible and mind their business.
When I reached the lake, I took a canoe and paddled for Fox Island, which was closer than most. Soon enough, I landed, listening for the telltale signs of intruders.
I didn’t have to listen long.
The men were arguing in Russian, complaining and bickering about the lack of food.
I drew both Colts as I made my way towards their camp, picking my way through the underbrush and the deadfall. I finally caught sight of them, armed with sporting guns and sitting with the dogs. The men had managed to discard their uniforms, but they were soldiers through and through.
As I brought up the Colts, the wind shifted, and both dogs raised their snouts.
It was the smallest of gestures, but it was one the soldiers didn’t miss.
The men scrambled, and the fight was on.
I managed to kill one of the men before he followed his companions into the woods, and the dogs howled as they scattered.
A shotgun roared, and a solid slug tore into the tree above me.
I took cover, holstered my Colts, and drew the Bowie knife.
In silence, I moved through the forest, listening to the men breathe.
I found them behind a large tree, eyes forward, searching for me, never realizing I was behind them.
They died without a sound.