Rescue Alaska is a warm yet fast moving mystery series with a light paranormal twist. Harmony Carson, a search and rescue volunteer, has a unique gift which she often considers a curse. She is able to 'see' the individuals she is meant to rescue, and more often than not, she can feel their fear and their pain as well. As her gifts develop she begins to connect not only with those she is destined to rescue but those she is destined to stop as well.
Release date: March 22, 2022
Publisher: Kathi Daley Books
Print pages: 159
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The rutted dirt path narrowed as it wove its way across the barren landscape peppered with shrubs that grew along a wide glacier-fed river. It was early summer, creating a cycle of almost never-ending light, which allowed him to make the journey late into the evening. As he approached the small cabin, he began to hum. His appetite for the kill intensified with each nightly visit. He knew that he only had a bit longer to wait until this leg of his journey was complete, and he would be free to move on. He paused at the front door of the cabin. It was small and weathered and hadn’t been lived in for at least a decade. He wanted to savor the anticipation that sent his heart racing as he swung the door open and witnessed the look of terror in the man’s eyes. Oh, how he loved the sweet taste of the power he knew would only be had once the man surrendered completely. Setting the tray of food and water he carried on a nearby table, he smiled at the man and spoke. “It won’t be long now. A few more days and this will all be over.” With that, he turned, exited the cabin, locked the door behind him, and retraced his steps back down the same path he’d just traveled.
I woke with a start. My heart pounded as I remembered with absolute clarity the rage and pain the man trapped in the windowless room was feeling. I can’t say that I specifically knew what the man might be experiencing, but the look of total surrender in his eyes seemed to tell it all.
I rolled over and turned my bedside light on. My golden retriever, Honey, lifted her head, but when she noticed me opening the drawer of the bedside table, pulling my journal and a pen out, she lowered her head and went back to sleep. I’d been having similar dreams for months, although the physical location, as well as the identity of the captive being held in the locked room, seemed to have changed. I wasn’t sure what happened to the hostages once their time was up. I assumed they were killed, allowing the man who’d brought the food the freedom to move on to a new hostage and a change of venue.
This week, the captive in my dreams was the third victim I’d witnessed. The first victim, a woman with red hair, who’d been locked in a warehouse in the middle of what appeared to be a large city, had first shown up in my dreams three months ago. I’d dreamt of the woman three times, observing her through the eyes of the individual with the food. I wasn’t sure how much time had actually passed between the three visits, but my sense was that the woman had been held for at least two weeks, perhaps longer.
Eventually, she was replaced by a man who was being held in a shed near a lake. After six visits to the man in the shed in my dreams, which spanned fifteen days in real-time, this hostage had been replaced by the man I’d visited tonight. This was my fifth dream involving this particular captive. I’d first dreamt of him thirteen days ago. Based on the previous pattern, I knew that the man in the locked room would be replaced by someone new within the next few days. The man with the food never seemed to keep those he held for more than three weeks. As far as I could tell,
the actual duration of the captivity was closer to two weeks, but since the timelines seemed varied, it was hard to pin down an exact duration.
Tonight’s dream felt different, I wrote in my journal. I was able not only to witness the scene that unfolded through the eyes of the man with the food, but I was also able to feel what he felt as he delivered the food. I feel sure these visitations have been visions rather than dreams. I know in my heart that the man in the room is being held hostage and needs my help, but so far, I’ve been unable to see anything that will help me to find him.
I set the journal on my lap and tried to create a clear picture in my mind of everything I’d just witnessed. Back when these strange and disturbing dreams began, I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to them, but as time went by, I began to wonder if perhaps the dreams weren’t more than dreams. If they were visions, it wouldn’t be the first time this sort of thing had happened. I had a unique ability that allowed me to connect mentally with specific individuals, and this past year, that gift seemed to have grown and expanded, allowing me to connect with those individuals during my dream state. After several dreams about the same woman in the locked warehouse three months ago, I decided to fill my friend, Police Chief Hank Houston, in on things. Houston had conducted a missing persons search, but no one fitting the description of the woman in my dreams showed up in either Alaska or the Western United States.
Not long after Houston began looking for the woman in my dreams, she’d been replaced by a man locked in the shed near the lake. If I was experiencing a connection with the man or woman who imprisoned these individuals, he seemed to have moved from one location and one victim to another every few weeks. Based on the landscapes I’d briefly been able to view, I had no idea which city the warehouse had been located in or which lake the shed had been situated near. Based on the landscape from tonight’s dream, I was going to go out on a limb and say the man with the food had found his way to Alaska.
Once I’d written down every single detail I could remember, I put the journal back in the drawer, turned the light off, and attempted to go back to sleep. I knew that obsessing over the individuals I dreamed about was only going to make me ill, so I tried to compartmentalize as Houston had suggested. I wanted very much to help those who guest-starred in my dreams, but after months of trying, I really hadn’t gotten anywhere. I’d looked at photos until I was cross-eyed from trying to identify the city where the warehouse from the first set of dreams was located but had never been able to narrow it down beyond an industrial area with similar warehouses as far as the eye could see.
The shed on the lake had been even harder to identify. There were just too many lakes in the world to settle on a location. But the landscape in the dreams I’d been most recently having felt familiar. Maybe if I really focused, I’d be able to recognize a landmark and figure out where the man in the cabin was being held.
Honey must have sensed my restlessness since she scooted her way up from the bottom of my bed. She laid her head on the pillow next to me. I found comfort in her warm breath on my face. I loved all my dogs, and each seemed to serve a unique purpose, but Honey was the dog most in tune with my feelings. She was the one who seemed to know when I needed a warm hug and did her doggy best to provide one.
As I drifted off to sleep, I thought about the three victims I’d caught glimpses of so far. I wondered if they were the only three victims of the individual I seemed connected with or if there
had been others whose captivity I simply hadn’t tuned in to witness. I hoped the victim list had been limited to three, although even three was too many when I saw the terror these individuals were subjected to. I found it sort of odd that Houston hadn’t been able to locate any of the victims through missing persons reports. I had been able to come up with fairly good descriptions, although for all I knew, the hostages hadn’t even been kept in this country.
I forced my mind to focus on other things as I struggled to return to sleep. It was spring in Alaska, and the disappearance of snow and the arrival of spring flowers accompanied the arrival of long days and short nights. Perhaps I’d take the dogs on a hike up to the meadow. The lake would be lovely at this time of the year. I’d need to watch for hungry grizzlies venturing out from their long slumber. Bears and dogs didn’t really mix, so I felt relatively safe when I had my pack of seven to keep me company. Oh, and I needed to call my dear friend, Chloe. She’d left three messages suggesting that I stop by the diner she ran so we could catch up. She’d been hinting around that she had something interesting to share. Chloe and I had known each other for a long time, and I had to admit that I really should take the time to nurture that relationship even if I was busy with aspects of my life that didn’t involve her.
Just as I was drifting off, I swore I heard my wolf hybrid, Denali, growl. I supposed it might have been a snort. He did tend to snore at times, and if there was any real danger, he’d be making a lot more racket than a gentle growl. Still, given the fact that the man in my dreams seemed to have found his way to Alaska, I supposed it might behoove me to pay extra attention to my surroundings until I was sure the man with the deep and raspy voice had moved on.
The following morning, the dogs made it clear that they still wanted their walk even if I hadn’t gotten much sleep. I considered a short walk, but then I remembered my idea to head to the lake, so I picked up my cranky cat, Moose, gave him a quick cuddle, and then headed to the bathroom to wash up and dress. Pulling on a dark gray t-shirt, a black zip-up sweatshirt, a pair of old jeans, and my oldest running shoes, I called the dogs, grabbed my rifle, and set off toward the lake. As he always did, my search and rescue dog, Yukon, took a position in the front of the pack with my wolf hybrid, Denali. Shia, an energetic young husky, along with my two retired sled dogs, Juneau and Kodi, settled into the middle of the pack while I slowly walked behind so my three-legged dog, Lucky, could keep up. I supposed Honey could have hung with the dogs in the middle of the pack, but she preferred to walk right next to Lucky and me, which is where she tended to settle in once she’d expended a bit of energy.
As I knew it would be, the walk up to the lake was gorgeous. Wildflowers in every color of the rainbow had begun to paint the landscape. The winters in my area were long, and the snow got so deep that there were times I’d wonder if we’d ever see the ground again, but then the long days of spring and early summer would come along and turn the landscape into a magical fairyland.
Once we reached the lake, I turned around, calling the dogs in front of me to return to my side. There were times I’d let the dogs swim for a while before heading back to my cabin, but I actually had a lot to get done before I was supposed to show up for my volunteer shift at the Rescue Animal Shelter.
After we returned to the cabin, I gave the dogs food and freshened their water, cleaned Moose’s cat box, refilled his dishes, and then headed out to the barn. I’d just fed the rabbits and was starting to clean the stall of my blind mule, Homer, when the cell phone in my pocket rang. I pulled my phone out and looked at the caller ID. It was Serena Walters, the one and only full-time employee of the shelter I’d founded, my good friend and action superstar, Harley Medford, had paid for, and Serena and her volunteers ran.
I answered, and she responded. “Hey, Harm. I know you hadn’t planned to come in until later, but Ed is supposed to cover the desk today while I teach a training class, but he hasn’t shown up. I have nine dogs and owners scheduled to arrive in less than an hour, and I’d hate to cancel the class. I hoped you could come in early.
I looked down at my filthy clothes and agreed to come in as soon as I could shower and change. After showering, I decided to let my long curly hair dry naturally rather than taking the time to dry and style it. I grabbed my purse and headed out the door. The class Serena was planning to teach had just started when I arrived, so I poked my head in the door of the training room to let the hardworking woman know I was there, and then I headed to the front desk to speak to the man who’d brought in a litter of puppies to drop off. By the time I’d settled the pups, following my lecture about the importance of spaying and neutering dogs and cats, the contractors who were working on the addition of a wild animal wing to our existing structure had arrived. I’d just gotten them settled when the man who’d paid for the whole thing walked in through the front door.
“Harley!” I screeched as he sauntered into the main lobby of the animal shelter. “I wasn’t expecting you until next week.”
He smiled. “And here I thought you wore that sunny yellow sweater just for me.”
I hugged the man who meant so much to me. “Sorry. I really had no idea you’d be home today, but I’m glad that you are, and I’m glad I just happened to be wearing my new sweater. Did your movie wrap early?”
Harley nodded. “It did wrap early, and I couldn’t wait to get home.” He turned and held his arm out toward a tall, dark-haired woman who entered the room, walked up, and then stood next to him.
“Harmony Carson,” Harley began. “I’d like to introduce you to Brittany Hartland. Brittany worked on the movie I just wrapped, and when she mentioned that she’d always wanted to visit Alaska, I invited her to come home with me and check the place out.”
Interesting. “I’m happy to meet you,” I said. “Are you an actress?”
“Writer. I worked as part of the team that adapted the novel into a screenplay.”
I had to admit that surprised me, although I wasn’t sure why I’d just assumed that someone who looked like Brittany would be in front of the camera. “Wow. That’s awesome. I hope you enjoy your time in Alaska.”
She grinned. Brittney’s smile seemed genuine and not contrived, which made me like her more than I thought I would. “I’m really excited to be here. It’s always been one of my dreams to come to Alaska, and Harley has been so sweet letting me stay in one of his guest rooms. I can’t wait to have a chance to really look around.”
“Rescue is a small town, so there isn’t a lot to see, but if you like hiking, this is the place to be.” I turned toward Harley. “I have a shift at Neverland tonight. The two of you should come by. I can introduce Brittany to the gang.”
Brittany raised a brow. “Neverland?”
“It’s a bar that also serves as a local eatery,” I explained. “I work at Neverland part-time. The food is excellent, and the locals all hang out there, so it’s a good place to go to meet everyone.”
She looked at Harley. “What do you think?”
He shrugged. “Sounds good to me. I’ve been missing Sarge’s home cooking.”
“I work between five and ten tonight, so come by any time between those hours, and I’ll make sure you get a good table overlooking the lake.”
Harley agreed to my idea and then asked about the expansion we were in the middle of.
“The wild animal cages are coming along just fine. The contractor you hired seems to know what he’s doing, and so far, he’s sent at least three men to work on our project every weekday, although the same men don’t always show up. If you want to see how everything is going, we can walk back there.”
“I’d like that,” Harley said.
Harley followed me, and Brittany followed him as we walked through the main lobby into a hallway that joined the domestic animal side of the shelter and the wild animal rehabilitation facility we were adding to the property.
“Harley Medford, this is Steve Pierson, Doug Tanner, and Victor Bell. The team from Summit Contracting has made real progress.”
“I can see that,” Harley said, holding out his hand and greeting each man.
“Mickey said to do a good job for you, so we’re giving it our all,” Steve said.
Mickey Greenbelt was the owner of Summit Contracting and the man Harley had spoken to before leaving Alaska to film his most recent movie.
“Are we still on track to have the cages and enclosures ready by the first snow?” Harley asked.
Steve nodded. “It’s barely June, and we have a good start. I see no reason why we won’t be finished by mid-September. Maybe sooner.”
“That’s wonderful,” Harley said.
Brittany hadn’t said a word, but I could see that all three men were having a hard time not staring at the strikingly beautiful woman.
“We should go if we’re going to be on time to pick the car up that you rented for me,” Brittany said to Harley after he’d settled into a conversation with the three men from Summit about the movie he’d just wrapped up.
He glanced at his watch. “Yeah, I guess we should go.” He looked at me. “Is Serena around?”
“She’s doing a training class,” I answered. “I’m sure she won’t mind if you stick your head in and say hi.”
“I think I’ll do that.”
I followed Harley as he made his way back to the training room, which was located on the domestic animal side of the shelter. Serena was just wrapping up a class with five women, four men, and nine dogs when Harley and I walked in. She screeched in greeting and then hurried across the room to hug our benefactor much the way I had when I’d first seen him.
“You’re back early,” she said.
“Where’s Brando?” Brando was Harley’s dog.
“He’s at home. Brittany and I have some errands to take care of in town, so I left him to nap.” “Brittany?” Serena asked.
Harley stepped aside and then waved his out-of-town guest over. “Serena, this is Brittany.”
Serena’s smile faded a bit. “I’m happy to meet you.”
I felt so bad for Serena since I knew she had it bad for Harley, which was tough because I was pretty sure that Harley wasn’t the settling down sort. I also knew that settling down was something Serena was most definitely interested in.
“So, do you run this place?” Brittany asked.
Serena nodded. “With the help of Harley, Harmony, and a dozen volunteers. Are you visiting our area?”
“Brittany worked on the movie I just wrapped,” Harley answered in Brittany’s stead. “When I mentioned that I had a home in Alaska, she mentioned that she’d always wanted to visit Alaska, so I invited her to come and stay with me for a bit.”
“Wow. That’s really wonderful,” Serena said through a smile that I was sure was forced. “So, so wonderful,” she unnecessarily added. “And how long are you staying?”
Brittany smiled at Harley. “I’m not sure. I guess we’ll just see how things go.”
“Harley and Brittany were just leaving, so I’ll walk them out and then come back to check on your class,” I said, giving Serena a way out of this conversation before she broke into tears.
Serena smiled at me. “Thanks. I guess I should get back.” She turned to Brittany. “It was good to meet you.” She then looked directly at Harley. “Maybe I’ll call you later. I have a few things I’d like to discuss with you.”
“We’re going to dinner at Neverland if you want to come with us,” Harley said.
Serena glanced at me. I offered her a glance of support. “No,” she said. “I have a lot of paperwork to get through, so I think I’ll just stay late and work on that. But maybe you could call me when you get home, and I’ll catch you up.”
“Okay,” Harley said, grabbing Brittany by the hand. “I’ll call you after dinner.”
Once Harley and Brittany left, I headed to the office Serena and I shared. I didn’t have a lot of time to spend at the shelter today since I had a shift at Neverland and needed to get home to get cleaned up before I headed back into town, but since I liked to have a presence, I tried to show up for at least a few hours most days of the week.
“So, what do you make of Brittany?” Serena asked me half an hour later after she’d joined me in the office following her training class.
“I’m not sure,” I honestly answered. “The woman is gorgeous and probably just the sort of woman a high-profile action star would date, but Harley made the whole thing sound very casual. I didn’t pick up on intimacy of any sort when we were talking earlier. I really just met the woman and can’t say for sure, but I won’t be surprised if it turns out the two are just friends.”
“He invited the woman to come home with him,” Serena pointed out.
“He did, but Harley is a nice guy. I can totally see him inviting the woman to Alaska for a visit once he found out that she really wanted to see this part of the country even if intimacy wasn’t involved. And he’s had other beautiful women stay with him in the past. This certainly isn’t the first time he brought someone from his Hollywood life into his Alaska life.”
Serena sat down on the chair across the desk from where I was sitting. “Yeah, I guess. Even if this woman is more of a girlfriend than a friend-friend, I’m not in a position to have a problem with it. Harley and I are just friends, the same way you and Harley are just friends. I guess he has a right to date whomever he chooses.”
“He does,” I agreed. “And, as we’ve discussed in the past, Harley isn’t a full-time resident of Alaska. I know you really like him, but unless you’re willing to spend half your time in LA, I really think any sort of relationship you might think you want to have with him beyond simple friendship will likely just lead to heartbreak.”
She blew out a breath. “I know, and I’ve been thinking about that. A lot, actually. The truth of the matter is that for a guy like Harley, I might actually be willing to do the nomad thing.”
I supposed if Serena was being honest with herself about that, a relationship with Harley could work, but not only did he have homes in both Alaska and LA, but he traveled all over the world when filming. Serena seemed to be more of a homebody. She loved the animals she worked with and the friends she’d made since moving to Rescue. I honestly didn’t think that she’d be as happy living Harley’s lifestyle as she thought she might be. At least not in the long run.
“I need to get home,” I said. “I have a shift at Neverland later, and I still need to finish cleaning the barn and then clean myself up. I plan to be in tomorrow. Probably around eight. If that changes, I’ll let you know; otherwise, I’ll see you then.”
As I made my way through town toward the remote little cabin where I lived, I thought about the complicated lives many of my friends seemed to live. Life in Alaska wasn’t easy. It demanded a lot of you, and the reality was that it was rare for most who came from out of the area to stay. Those who did stay seemed to be in it for life. I know that for me, it was Harley’s nomadic lifestyle that helped me to decide not to pursue something romantic with the gorgeous action star. It hadn’t been an easy decision since Harley and I had a history, and I actually did think we’d be good together in every other way, but Rescue was my home. It was where I wanted to be. Maybe Serena would be happy gallivanting around the world with Harley, but deep inside, I sort of doubted that to be the case.
After I arrived home, I changed out of my pretty yellow sweater, took the dogs for a quick run, and then began cleaning the barn where I’d left off after Serena had called this morning. Keeping up with the feeding and cleanup of so many animals was almost a full-time job in and of itself, but before the shelter I’d always dreamed of had become a reality, I personally adopted as many strays as needed adopting in order to ensure that all the animals that came into my orbit had a safe and loving place to live. In addition to Homer and the rabbits, who had settled in for the long haul, my barn had previously been home to a baby moose, a bear cub, coyote pups, and even a pair of lynx. Actually, the old barn had been home to the wild animals I now hoped to house in the new wing of the shelter. The barn currently on my property had been built from the ground up after the old barn was destroyed in a fire.
I’d just finished in the barn and was headed back to the house when my cell phone rang. This time it was Houston.
“Hey, Houston,” I answered.
“I need your help.” He seemed to get right to the point. “Oh? What’s up?”
“I have a missing woman. At this point, I have every reason to believe she’s been kidnapped. I’m hoping that you might be able to connect with her. I really have no idea what happened to this young mother, and any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated.”
“I’m happy to help,” I said. “Where are you?”
“The market in town.”
“Okay. I just finished cleaning the barn, so I’ll need to change, but I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
I quickly headed back to the cabin. I washed my hands, pulled on some clean jeans and a clean sweatshirt, then I called my search and rescue dog, Yukon, to come with me in the event the kidnapping turned into a search of some sort. As I drove toward town, I called my brother-in-law, Jake Cartwright, the owner of Neverland, to let him know I’d likely be late to work if I showed up at all. I filled Jake in on the situation and suggested he alert the search and rescue team and have them on standby since they might be needed, depending on how things worked out.
When I arrived at the market the woman had gone missing from, I found Houston, along with his two deputies and a young man holding a toddler, standing near a white sedan.
“So, what’s the situation?” I asked.
Houston began to explain. “Rose Bidwell got off work about an hour ago. She picked her two- year-old son, Hunter, up at the daycare center. A clerk remembers Rose coming in with Hunter and buying five or six items. It seems that Rose put the groceries in the back seat then strapped in her son. No one knows what happened next. Another shopper heard Hunter crying approximately fifteen minutes after Rose checked out. She decided to check it out and found Hunter alone in thecar. Rose was nowhere to be found.”
“So someone likely grabbed Rose after she strapped the toddler into the car but before she was able to walk around the car and get in.”
“That’s the way it appears,” Houston said. “We’ve looked around the area but didn’t find anything that would indicate what happened to the woman. We’ve also been unable to find anyone who remembers seeing anything.”
I looked toward the man holding the toddler. “I take it that’s Rose’s husband.”
Houston nodded. “Jeff Bidwell. He arrived home just a few minutes before we called him asking about his wife.”
The man looked to be in shock, which given the situation, I understood.
“I hoped that if you were able to connect with Rose, you might be able to give us a starting point,” Houston continued. “To be honest, at this point, all I can assume is that she was pulled into a vehicle and is long gone.”
I glanced at the man with the toddler one more time. “I can try. I can’t promise anything, but if she’s still alive, then maybe. Do you have a photo of the woman? A visual will help.”
Houston handed me a photo of a dark-haired woman with long curly hair much like mine. She looked to be about my age and build, and to be honest, I found the similarity somewhat haunting.
I decided to sit in my Jeep while I tried to connect. I needed a quiet place to work without a lot of distractions. Houston knew the drill and slid into the Jeep next to me. I focused on the photo,
closed my eyes, and waited for a vision to appear. I’d first discovered that I could connect psychically with those I was meant to save while trying to save my sister, who was lost in a snowstorm when I was seventeen. I’d been unsuccessful on that day, and my sister had died, but my gift had been kindled, and I’d saved quite a few people since then.
“Okay, I think I have her,” I said. “She’s walking along a river. The trail is narrow and muddy, making it difficult for her to navigate.”
“Is she alone?” Houston asked.
“No. There’s someone walking behind the woman, but I can’t see who it is. The woman is scared and very aware of the presence behind her.”
“Can you make out any landmarks?” Houston asked. “We need to figure out where to search.”
I tightened my eyes and deepened my focus. Connecting with others always caused horrendous headaches, as well as heightened senses, a state I was just now learning to control. “There’s a lake.” I paused. “The woman has stopped walking. She still hasn’t turned around, but her heart rate is off the charts. I think whatever is going to happen is going to happen here in this spot.”
“Which lake, Harm?”
I tried to find a landmark, but since my line of vision was through the eyes of the victim, I could only see what she could see. Eventually, I had it. “Granite Lake. They’re at Granite Lake.”
Houston jumped into action. He instructed Yukon and me to climb into his four-wheel-drive truck, where his search and rescue dog, Kojak, was waiting for us. Houston then instructed his two deputies to follow in the SUV they’d arrived in. He instructed the man with the toddler to go home and wait for a call. The woman’s husband seemed reluctant to leave at first, but Houston could be very forceful when he needed to be, and eventually, the man strapped the toddler into his car and took off down the highway. I called Jake and suggested that he meet us at the trailhead. His search and rescue dog, Sitka, was more experienced than either my dog, Yukon, or Houston’s dog, Kojak, were and would come in handy should a search be required. Jake assured me that he’d head to the trailhead with Sitka and a fellow search and rescue team member, Jordan Fairchild. Not only was Jordan a member of the team and Jake’s girlfriend, but she was a doctor as well. I informed Houston that Jake was on his way. He was actually starting out closer to our destination, so it was likely he’d beat us there.
Once we’d all arrived at the trailhead, we headed toward the lake. The lake itself was about two miles from the trailhead, but we were motivated to get there quickly, so it took less than half an hour. As we approached the body of water, I began looking for a sign that the woman and her kidnapper were still in the area. I didn’t see anyone, but we’d been feeding the scent of a sweater we’d grabbed from the woman’s car to the dogs, who had picked the trail up right away. I wasn’t sure where the woman was now, but I felt confident that she’d come this way.
Once we reached the lake, the dogs headed around the shoreline in a clockwise direction. Things slowed a bit as it appeared that the woman and her captor might have walked in the water for at least part of the time. It was almost an hour since we’d left the trailhead when I heard the chopper overhead. I looked up to see that search and rescue team member, Dani Mathews, had brought her bird to help in the search.
“Dani to Jake,” she said over the walkie-talkie.
“Go for Jake,” he responded.
“I have Wyatt with me. He has the glasses, and he said he sees what looks to be someone wearing a red jacket crouched down in the underbrush on the north side of the lake.”
“We’ll check it out,” Jake said. “Do you see only the one figure?”
“Ten-four. I’ll take another look and let you know if I can identify a second individual.”
By the time we made it all the way around to the northernmost end of the lake, ninety minutes had passed since we’d met at the trailhead. Dani found a meadow to land in, and she and Wyatt were making their way toward us on foot when Houston, Jake, Jordan, and I arrived with the three dogs.
“I think that’s Rose,” I said, once I got close enough to see the woman sitting on the ground surrounded by the search and rescue dogs who’d run ahead. I picked up my pace, hoping I wouldn’t be too late. Jake arrived at the woman sitting on the ground first, followed by Houston, Houston’s men, and then me. Jordan arrived just as Dani and Wyatt made their way to the location from the meadow where they’d left the bird.
“I’m Police Chief Hank Houston,” Houston said. “Are you Rose Bidwell?”
“I am.” The woman sobbed. “My baby. How is my baby?”
“Your little boy is fine. He’s with your husband,” Houston said as Jake untied the ropes around her wrists and ankles.
The woman looked at me. “Are you Harmony?” I nodded, “I am.”
“I have a message for you.”
I raised a brow. “For me?”
She took a shuddering breath. “The man who took me from the market and then dragged me out here said that you’d be coming for me and that when you arrived, I was to tell you the following.” She took another deep breath. “He said to tell you that he really liked the yellow sweater you wore today, and he hoped you’d add more color to your otherwise drab wardrobe.”
“Yellow sweater?” Wyatt asked. “You have a gray sweatshirt on.”
“I was wearing a yellow sweater this morning. Go on. What else did the man say?”
“He said that you can find some of the answers you’re seeking at this location.” She pulled her red jacket off to reveal a set of coordinates that had been written in ink on her arm. “He also said that he has enjoyed spending time with you and looks forward to the time you will spend with him this evening.”
I gasped. “The man who took you must be the same man I’ve been connecting with during my sleep for the past three months.” I looked at the woman. “What did he look like?”
“He had a ski mask on, so I couldn’t see his face or hair. His eyes were dark. Brown, I think. He was wearing blue jeans, a blue denim jacket over a white t-shirt, and work boots. Brown.”
“How tall was he?” Houston asked.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess around six feet. The man didn’t seem particularly tall or short, but I can’t say with any degree of certainty how tall he actually was.”
“How about his voice?” I asked. “Was it deep? High? Did he have an accent?”
She paused and then answered. “Deep. Sort of raspy. Almost as if he had a cold. No accent that I noticed.”
That was exactly the voice I remembered hearing during my dreams. If I had to guess, I say either the man was a heavy smoker, or he’d had a throat injury at some point.
“Did the guy say anything about the captive he has at the isolated cabin?” I asked as Jake helped the woman to her feet while Jordan made sure she wasn’t injured.
“He didn’t say anything about a captive. Do you think he has someone else?”
I answered that I had reason to believe that he might.
Jordan asked the woman if she felt okay now that she was on her feet. She wanted to know if she felt lightheaded or dizzy. The woman assured us that she was fine but that her ordeal had been taxing, and she really just wanted to go home. Dani offered to take her in the chopper, but Houston wasn’t done with his interview. Once the woman assured him that she’d told me everything she’d been instructed to, Dani took Rose, Jordan, and Houston back to town in the chopper, while Jake, Wyatt, Houston’s men, the dogs, and I hiked back to the trailhead where we’d left the vehicles.
“That was weird about the sweater,” Jake said as we made the hike back.
“I wore a yellow sweater this morning, so the man must have been stalking me. Or perhaps stalking is too strong a word. Maybe he simply ran into me at some point and noticed the sweater.”
“Where did you go when you were wearing the sweater?”
“Just the shelter.” I thought back to everyone who’d been at the shelter that morning, but no one stood out as being the likely kidnapper. The idea that someone who was at the shelter might actually be the man I’d been dreaming about for three months sent a chill down my spine.
“What was that part about seeing you tonight?” Wyatt asked.
I’d shared my dreams with Houston and Jake but no one else, so I began to explain. “About three months ago, I had a series of dreams about someone, a male, I think, who had been holding a woman captive in a warehouse. I visited this scene in my dreams three times before I thought it might be more than a dream. As you know, I’ve experienced connections in my dream state a few times in the recent past, and after three nights of having the exact same dream, I began to suspect that was what was going on. I told Houston what I’d seen, and he asked me to describe the woman who was being held captive. He was never able to find a match in missing persons reports.”
“And the kidnapper?” Wyatt asked.
“I witnessed the scene through his eyes, so I never saw his face. I still haven’t. I have heard his voice a few times. Deep and raspy.” I realized that no one I’d spoken to at the shelter that morning had a deep and raspy voice, so the man who kidnapped Rose couldn’t have been anyone I’d talked to. Maybe someone from the dog training class? There were four men, and I only recognized two of them. I’d have to call and ask Serena once we got close enough to town to have cell service.
“And three months later, you’re still having this dream?” Wyatt asked.
I nodded. “Things have changed. After a couple weeks, the captive of the man I’ve been connecting with changed. Victim number one was a woman, and victim number two was a man. The location where the captive was being held changed as well. The first victim, the woman I witnessed as a captive, was held in a warehouse, but the second victim, the man I spent time with, had been held in a shed near a lake. Most recently, I’ve noticed that the captive is another man. A different man. He seems to be locked in a cabin located in an isolated area.”
“Do you think you’ll find the cabin at the location corresponding to the GPS coordinates the kidnapper wrote on Rose’s arm?”
“I’m not sure, but I certainly hope so.” My sense was that the first two victims I’d noticed in the warehouse and the shed were probably dead. I remembered the man in my dreams telling his captives that it wouldn’t be much longer. I just hoped that we’d be able to find the captive in the cabin before it was too late.
Houston called me just as we’d returned to the vehicles. He told me that he was at the airstrip and that Jordan had taken Rose to the hospital to be checked out. He asked me to pick him up, after which time he assured me that we’d go in search of whatever we might find at the coordinates our kidnapper had left for me.
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