Author Notes: A continuation of my earlier post in this challenge 'Spirits Within'.
Cold and wet used to be my world. Cold and dry is now my world and has been for the last six months.
I never thought I would still be here, you know. I thought I'd be here a couple of weeks and then move on down south, to Peru maybe. Somehow, though, after cleaning out the cabin I'd rented, and I defy even Jim to find any dirt after I'd finished, I cooked a meal and sat there listening to the absolute silence except for the wood popping in the stove. It soothed me, and for the first time in weeks I felt at peace with the world.
Once a month I go to Bear Creek, a small outpost, population thirty six, five miles away to stock up on diesel for the generator and food supplies. I have a meal at the only store/café/bar in town, catch up on the news and collect any mail that may have arrived for me.
Every two weeks Constable Newnham, the district RCMP drops by to check that everything's okay with me. He normally stays for an hour to shoot the breeze and warm up then he's off on his rounds again.
What do I do to keep myself busy? You ask. Well, I chop wood and an old guy whose name was Beaver Jones showed me how to ice fish. No, seriously, that was his name. So, in between catching fish Simon would kill for, and wielding an axe to take out my frustrations on innocent bits of wood, there hasn't been much for me to do. Except write.
The laptop was one of the essentials I brought with me, and for about a month it sat in the corner of the room. Then one day I got it out and fired it up. Luckily it still had some juice left in the battery but I started up the generator and got it charging again, then went through all of my files. I'd already printed and removed everything relating to sentinels; Simon had all that, but I'd forgotten about the other dissertation that I'd started; the one about closed societies.
It drew me in and before I knew it the light had gone and my stomach was protesting. I lit the oil lamps and shut off the generator; I didn't want the diesel to run out. As I turned to stoke the fire I noticed the wolf and the jaguar lying sprawled out on my bed. Now the jaguar I could understand, I often saw him lying by the fire as if to keep warm. My wolf didn't normally come in from the cold; he often roamed around while I fished. Maybe they were trying to tell me something.
So, here I am, six months down the line and waiting for a letter from my dissertation committee confirming that I was now Dr Blair Sandburg. I'd reapplied to Rainer and with a supporting letter from Simon and the Chief of Police I'd had my change of subject accepted. The fact that I was thousands of miles away helped, I think. I emailed them my chapters as I finished them, again from Bear Creek as I didn't have a phone line, and finally I was finished.
It was an experience defending via a phone line with all of the residents of Bear Creek in attendance and when I was finished I got a standing ovation. I think I qualified as one of them that day and the celebration went on until the early hours of the morning.
Ah, here comes Ben with the mail. This is it, my official letter. Oh look, one from Megan and another from Simon. I think I'll wait on those two, I know the folks here want to see my letter so I'll open that now.
The jaguar's prowling but the wolf is calm. I have a feeling something's about to happen that will mean the end of my sojourn here. Maybe it's time. Time to move on again.
I open Megan's letter first.
Or should I say Dr Sandburg? Simon told us and everyone sends their congratulations. Including Jim.
I debated for a long time before deciding that you deserve to know; Jim and Julia are no longer an item. She moved out about three weeks ago after Jim hosted our last poker night.
You'll probably be annoyed with us, but we didn't really make any effort to get to know her. Our closed society closed ranks on her and you know Jim Ellison, he didn't know how to make it easier for her; that was your role.
It's never been easy to tell what Jim's thinking but I really think he's missing you. His senses are still normal, from what I can tell, and we've closed quite a few tough cases recently, so although we haven't had that edge it hasn't made that much of a difference. I realise now what a good detective he really is and the senses just enhanced that ability.
What I'm trying to say here, Blair, is that you need to come home. We miss you.
I sat there for a long time, hope warring with caution in my breast. Should I stay or should I go? Oh great, now I had The Clash song going through my mind.
Movement from my bed caught my attention and I looked across the room. The jaguar was uncoiling itself and padding towards me. It stopped in front of me and butted its head against the hand still holding Simons unopened letter.
Wow, this was the first time it had taken corporeal form. I tentatively stroked its head and rubbed its ears. It let out a rumbling purr and licked the inside of my wrist, then moved away towards the door. It looked back once and then ran through the door, disappearing from sight. My wolf howled and sprang off the bed after it, also disappearing through the door.
They were gone, and I somehow knew they wouldn't be back. In a daze I finally opened Simons letter.
Get your scrawny ass back here.
I smiled; it looked like a unanimous decision. I was going home.
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