Ray woke up, aware of softer sheets, the wrong kind of
light, smell, taste… he opened his eyes abruptly.
sat up and pulled the sheets more firmly around his naked
body, even though he knew it was ridiculous. The house was
empty, he could feel it. The sunlight was still and
gentle, there was the dull echoing of a tap dripping, and
no Fraser. No Fraser in the shower, in the kitchen making
tea, tuning in the radio, talking to Dief, singing sea
shanties or whatever. None of the sounds Ray had gotten
looked at the digital clock, flashing nine-oh-five, and
swore. He was late for work.
he dragged himself out of bed, there was a knock at the
front door and Ray tripped as he tried to pull on his
joggers, trying not to remember taking them off. He fell
against the lamp on Fraser’s bedside table, and it
crashed to the floor. Stumbling into the living room, Ray
pulled the front door open, shivering as a cold wind blew
inside. There were deep black-yellow clouds behind the
mountains in the distance and that was never good.
stood on the doorstep, ever-present camera bag slung over
her shoulder, sunglasses and sunny smile in place.
she said breezily, pushing past Ray into the living room.
She immediately tucked her sunglasses into her pocket and
threw her bag down onto the sofa, rooting around for
battery packs and pulling out the dreaded microphone.
sighed. “Hey, mind if I, uh, get dressed?” he asked,
scratching his stomach lazily. He wondered if she’d seen
Fraser today, and if he could find out without being
into his bedroom, he pulled out jeans and a sweater,
what’s happening in town?” he ultra-casually shouted
through, pulling a t-shirt over his head.
much,” answered Carla distractedly.
grimaced. Fat lot of good she was. “How’s the film
she said cheerily. Ray rolled his eyes and sat on his bed
to pull on his socks.
there’s a note on the fridge from Fraser,” Carla
called out suddenly. “Want me to read it to you?”
Ray jumped up, pulling on his jeans and falling through
the door to the hallway.
Carla read, “Sorry
to leave so precipitously this morning, -
‘precipitously’? Is he serious?! - Sorry
to leave so precipitously but Thompson stopped by to
report some alleged trouble out past Shingal’s Cave and
I thought it wise to investigate immediately—”
dashed into the living room as she got to the last part of
a more personal note, I feel that we should discuss what
happened last night. I cannot say that it came as a shock
after the incident in the car, but—” her voice had
taken on a decidedly intrigued tone.
snatched the note from her hand and stuffed it into his
pocket, “Hey, thanks, I’ll read the rest later.”
grinned at him and raised an eyebrow. “Last night?” He
scowled, rubbing self-consciously at the slight beard-burn
on his cheeks, and she shrugged and raised her hands in
surrender. “Ok, fine. Let’s get you miked up.”
wasn’t nervous. Really.
wasn’t nervous through breakfast, he wasn’t nervous
through driving to town, he wasn’t nervous through
picking up supplies at the grocery store and he certainly
wasn’t nervous while walking past the detachment.
did seem pretty quiet in there. He wondered if he should
go inside and ask how this morning had gone, what the
skinny was with the whole Shingal’s Cave thing. Then he
imagined trying to have a civilised conversation with
Fraser, while a camera was pointed at them, and probably
with Thompson standing over Fraser’s shoulder, and his
stomach sort of folded in on itself.
so maybe not.
wind was tearing up from the west angrily; bellowing
through the eaves of the garage, making the corrugated
iron roof creak. The clouds had been creeping steadily
towards town all morning until it was no longer sunny and
calm, but dark and louring, the buildings tinged yellow
with the threat of storm.
about half eleven a light snow began to fall and quickly
escalated into a heavy, suffocating flurry. They had the
lamps on in the garage, and Ray worked with difficulty
through the dim light without his glasses, which he'd left
on his bedside table.
memory of Fraser – soft, hot-cheeked; his weight and his
panting breaths brushing the hair around Ray’s ear –
kept interrupting Ray. He kept breaking off in the middle
of sentences, forgetting what he was doing, and twice
Carla caught him standing in the middle of the garage with
a distant look on his face.
she eventually said at just after two. “That’s it,
we’re heading over to Fraser’s place.”
Ray said, grumpily. “Hey, I have work to do, you know. I
can’t just step out whenever you feel like it.”
Ray, give us all a break.”
called Mikey from his office. “Get the hell out of here
until you can do your job.”
Ray yelled to Mikey as Carla hustled him out of the door.
“Jeez— ow! That’s one hell of a grip you’ve got
up and hustle,” she said.
fought their way along the street, snow catching their
eyelashes and tucking itself into the necks of their
coats. The wind threw itself at them, slapping them round
the face with their collars, and pushing them towards the
detachment. Even the weather was against him, Ray decided
with a scowl.
they finally made it to the door of the post, Ray was
still grumbling. “Look, I don’t know what the big deal
is, Carla. I see Frase every day. I’ll see him tonight!
What the hell—”
swung the door open and stepped into the hallway. As he
shut the door his voice faded with the heavy silence that
settled around them. “Frase?” Ray called tentatively,
walking along the hallway towards the shadows at the back.
was still silence. No tapping of computer keys, no low hum
of computers, no voices.
Nothing. Ray knocked on Fraser’s door and then
opened it slowly, irrationally hoping that they were
playing some ridiculous Mountie-humour practical joke and
hiding behind the door.
office was empty. It was cold and bare, minus Fraser’s
coat or teacup or any sign that Fraser had been there at
all today. The wind rattled the window-pane suddenly,
furiously, making them both jump.
turned to face Carla. “Where are Susan and Steve
over at the Brookmeyer place. Karen’s gone into labour,
Susan wanted me to cover you just in case anything
happened…” she said. She sounded uncertain and kept
her voice low.
they aren’t with Fraser?”
you see Fraser before you came to the house?”
Ray said, exhaling. “Ok, mystery man, where the hell are
you?” Ray walked over to the desk and sat down in
Fraser’s chair. “Fraser’s note said Shingal’s
cave, right? So that’s, what? A thirty minute drive?”
Carla nodded, fiddling with the camera. “Ok, so he said
just beyond, which maybe means forty minutes, max, right?
That’s an hour twenty each way, twenty minutes going
over the crime scene, moose trail, whatever, one hour
forty altogether. That means that he should have been back
here by eleven at the very latest. It’s now—” he
checked his watch, “Two fifteen.”
maybe they got involved with something, you know, prime
evidence, and got distracted.” Carla said, filming the
shook his head once, sharply. “You don’t know Fraser,
Fraser doesn’t get distracted. Concentration’s like
his middle name.”
maybe they got caught in the weather and decided to wait
wouldn’t. He knows it can always get worse - he’d come
home if he could.” Ray sifted through the papers on
Fraser’s desk. “We should go out there. See what we
can find,” he said, looking out the window. Snow was
piling heavily onto the slender window-ledge.
isn’t too bad,” he reassured her, but he didn’t
sound convincing. Ray frowned, looking down at the mess of
papers in front of him. He picked up a torn-open envelope.
“If Fraser hasn’t been here all morning,” he said
slowly, “then why has his mail been opened?”
lowered the camera slightly. “Maybe Thompson came in and
opened the post this morning.”
why leave it scattered all over like this. Why not tidy it
up like a good little Mountie?”
maybe he’s a naughty little Mountie.”
grinned briefly. “Ok then, say it wasn’t Fraser or
Thompson that opened this mail. Say it was someone else.
Someone looking for something.” He looked up suddenly.
“Maybe it was someone looking for evidence. Or looking
to hide it. Fraser was expecting those photos of that
Donen guy.” He started frantically sorting through the
papers, ditching envelopes and flyers and platinum credit
card offers until the desk had been swept clean. Carla
carefully kept the camera trained on him.
he said, frowning.
you wouldn’t just leave it out there,” Carla scoffed.
“What is this, Murder
She Wrote? Any good criminal hides the evidence.”
scowled. “Yeah. Right. Or takes it with them. Or lures
the only two policemen in town away from the evidence,
kills them, and ditches the bodies in the worst snow storm
we’ve seen for months.” He stood up, his face washed
of all colour. “Shit, Carla. We have to find them.”
they reached the cave, they ducked underneath the low hang
of rock briefly, slight shelter from the storm.
bellowed Ray, more to be heard over the storm than for
said Carla from underneath her tightly-zipped-up hood. She
looked like Kenny. “I can’t get this fucking rain
cover on.” She was struggling to put a baby anorak over
the camera, fitting its little arm over the microphone.
you give that thing a rest!” Ray snapped.
buddy, I’m way more scared of Susan than I am of you,”
Ray started pacing, “Shit, fuck, what the hell would
Fraser do now? C’mon dumbass, think. You’re in the
middle of nowhere, storms a-blowing, you’ve got one mad
camera operator, a gun and no glasses.”
stepped out of the cave and was nearly blown over by the
force of the wind, blinded by the snow gusting into his
face. He staggered over to the closest tree, desperately
looking round for any sign that Fraser had even been here
against the tree, he looked carefully around, trying to
focus. He scanned the branches of the trees, the snowy
ground, the rock-face, urgently trying to remember all the
shit Fraser had taught him on the adventure.
it was no use. He could tell you how to camouflage
yourself, which plants were poisonous, hell, even what
type of cover to use to construct a shelter, but he
couldn’t do that magical tracking thing Fraser was
Ray considered tasting something randomly off the ground
to see if he could get any, uh, vibes off it or whatever
it was Fraser did. Then it occurred to him that when
Fraser had been here, it wouldn’t have been snowing. He
could try digging… but where the hell was he supposed to
sighed and leant his head back against the tree in defeat.
Shit. Just when Fraser probably needed him most, he could
do nothing to help. He was worse than useless. He was,
he thought in disgust.
lifted his head, absently swiping at the dampness the tree
had left on his scalp. His hand came away red. What
the fuck? He turned round and touched the dark, glossy
bark again. But it wasn’t glossy, he realised. It was
wet. With blood.
almost gagged, and put his other hand to his mouth to
still the impulse. All he could think was That
might be Fraser’s blood there. Fraser’s
blood. Oh God.
he said quietly. “Ok. That’s ok, it’s not
necessarily Fraser’s. And even if it is, a little bit of
blood doesn’t mean that he’s, you know, not all right.
So we just need to figure out which direction—”
he suddenly heard Carla shout, and he looked up. She
wasn’t in the mouth of the cave any longer. He pulled
out his gun and carefully approached the opening in the
rock-face, gun held at the ready.
Carla was just standing towards the back of the cave,
looking down at Donen’s pile of clothing. Then, as Ray
drew near, he realised that it wasn’t clothes he could
see. It was Dief.
he gasped out, and broke into a run, kneeling down on the
hard ground. There was blood everywhere, it looked like
he’d been cracked on the head. There was, however, a
pulse, and Ray breathed a little easier when he realised
Dief was probably just unconscious. He seemed to be
breathing steadily too.
seriously bad has happened. We have to find Fraser, and
get them both to the hospital. Er, and vet.” he said,
looking up at Carla.
kidding,” she said. “Wait, Fraser’s hurt? Where is
don’t know, but there’s blood on the tree out
Ray shook his head. “Human-height.” He took off his
coat and tucked it around Dief, feeling the wind slice
through his relatively thin shirt.
now?” Carla asked.
shivering, thought about the smear of blood out on the
tree. “We follow the yellow brick road,” he said. Then
groaned at how… gay that had sounded.
stood up and walked to the mouth of the cave, then made a
mad dash to the relative shelter of the tree. Carla dashed
out of the cave after him, still struggling with the
little coat, shouting, “Hey, wait up!”
looked around for any more blood, then finally saw a spot
at the base of a tree deeper into the woods. Thank God for
the snow, he thought.
he said, running in the direction the second smear seemed
to indicate they’d gone in. Okay, so he was relying
pretty heavily on his instincts, but what else could he
led them deeper and deeper into the forest, higher up into
the hills, where there was more snow cover, but fewer
paths that humans could use. He knew there was a tourist
nature trail thing around here somewhere, but had no idea
where. If they could meet up with that it would make the
going easier, but might lead them away from wherever
Fraser and Thompson had been taken.
kept finding spots of blood, and his fingers had gone numb
from the cold. Out of breath and shivering, he paused,
absently rubbing his hands against his wet shirtsleeves,
trying to get some friction. He looked around carefully.
Carla said as she breathlessly caught up, leaning against
a tree for support. “I had no idea this would turn into
the Blair Witch.” She held the camera up, “Twenty
minutes of running through trees does not make good TV.”
ignored her and knelt down, digging into the snow again.
More blood. He pulled his hand away quickly, not wanting
to touch it.
must be getting closer, the blood was easier to spot each
time. He had started to suspect that Fraser was leaving
him a trail to follow on purpose: it was dotted on
branches; leaves; anywhere there was snow, but that was
sheltered enough from the storm so it wouldn’t be
covered over. Heh, just call him Hansel and Gretel. Or
whichever was the guy, anyway.
there was so much blood. Ray hoped desperately that it
wasn’t Fraser who was bleeding, and scrambled to his
feet, not allowing himself to feel breathless or tired or
the stitch in his side.
just wait here then!” called Carla as he took off, then
swore and followed him, hiking the camera up onto her
they lost the trail.
for breath, Carla and Ray collapsed against a tree, the
snow whirling around them, slanting through the foliage
and turning them around. Ray had no idea which direction
they had come from, and had no idea how he was going to
find his way back to the cave to help Dief. After he found
Fraser. Which was going to be any minute now.
was starting to feel sicker and sicker, and the
half-nervous, half-satisfied feeling from last night had
forced himself to stand up straight, clutching his side
and heaving for breath.
lost,” said Carla.
not,” growled Ray. “We just need to go… that way.”
He chose a direction at random and set off.
sky was turning inky and dim; even through the storm
clouds Ray could tell it would be dark soon. He had no
idea how long they’d been running around these woods. He
prayed for just a little bit of luck.
as Ray stumbled through the snow, over a little stone
ridge he saw a small clearing ahead, and beyond that an
ominous crevice in the rock.
clicked into place, and he realised where he was suddenly
– they must have rejoined the tourist trail somewhere
along the way. Fraser had once, in a fit of hearty vigour,
tried to make Ray go hiking. Ray had gone along until
they’d reached this point, drawing the line at crossing
a bridge that looked as though it would be safer to try
and make the big scary jump.
scrubbed his eyes with his cold wet hands, and through the
swirling snow he saw two red figures. Huffing out a breath
of relief he started sharply down the little slope of
trees towards the clearing, and Carla followed slowly,
working the camera like always.
figures became clearer as Ray ran, strongly aware that
Donen could be anywhere nearby. At any minute he expected
a maniac brandishing a gun – and possibly naked as well,
who knew? – to step out from the shadows. He needed to
get Fraser home, quickly.
stomach tightened as the snow flurries cleared
momentarily, and Ray realised that Fraser and Thompson
were already half-way along that old decaying rope-bridge.
It also looked like Fraser was leaning on Thompson.
the hell were they going away from town when one of them
was injured, ray wondered. Unless there was cover nearby.
But they’d walked away from the cave, which was also
stepped out of the protection of the trees and walked
towards the bridge, carefully scanning the area behind
him. He couldn’t see anyone suspicious looking – he
couldn’t see anyone at all except Carla, lurking by a
tree, camera, trained on him. He motioned to her to stay
tried to think the way Fraser would, about tracks and
stuff. He was pretty sure that he could only make out two
sets of footprints. Maybe Donen had attacked at the cave,
and they’d been forced to flee into the woods. He rolled
his eyes: “flee” – what a Fraser word.
made it to the rope bridge and looked up to see how far
across Fraser and Thompson were. He tried to think what
Fraser would do now. He considered pulling out his gun –
ok, Fraser wouldn’t do that ‘cause if Fraser were him
then, like him, Fraser wouldn’t have a permit for this
gun, so he put it away and, just in case Donen did jump
out at him, took out a small knife that Fraser had given
him for chopping wood or… something.
stepped cautiously onto the bridge and it swayed slightly,
causing Ray to clutch at the thick post deeply embedded in
the ground. The movement made Thompson turn around, and he
spotted Ray and paused, glancing at Fraser. Thompson
whispered something to Fraser and seemed to prop him
against the side of the bridge. Ray frowned – that
wasn’t safe, for God’s sake. Fraser looked like he was
out of it, lifting one hand to his head fuzzily.
almost ran over to him, but Thompson was walking carefully
along the bridge, gripping its sides and blocking the way.
Kowalski, thank God,” said Thompson, and Ray relaxed
slightly. Thompson looked pale and worried as he
approached. “We were chasing Donen but he appears to
have eluded us, and the Inspector is injured.” Ray could
hear his footsteps on the wooden planks as he drew closer.
“I’m afraid that I’m a little turned around.” He
looked up at the sky, a whirling mass of snow.
don’t worry,” said Ray, frowning slightly; who the
hell let these morons into the RCMP. “You need to go
back that—” he turned to gesture in the right
direction, and as he did Thompson pulled back his left arm
and punched him, snatching the knife out of his hand with
Thompson said, as Ray sprawled back into the snow. “But
I got a plan.”