They were awakened by gunfire, but no one was sure where it was coming from.
Pavel whispered to Sue, “I’m going to try to make it to Volchuk’s tent, he has a radio. You stay here.” Then he moved off slithering on the ground towards that part of camp. Sue was happy to stay in the slight hollow where she was as she felt relatively safe from gunfire. There were no more shots as Pavel left. Time went by. By now, Pavel should be with Volchuk and Mr. Butterfly thought Sue.
Sue began to think. They had no cell phones. Volchuk had a two-way radio to call for help and that was it. They had never considered that they would need such a thing out here unless they needed an air ambulance if someone was gravely injured. Hopefully he was calling for help now.
Suddenly she heard a noise close by and saw booted feet right next to her. Looking up, there was the muzzle of a rifle pointing right at her. She froze and thought she would feel a sudden pain and die soon. But it was not to be. The bearded man gestured for her to be silent and jerked her to her feet and forced her to march away with him over the closest rise of a small hill.
Pavel had reached Volchuk and Mr. Butterfly’s tent where they were hunkered down too. Volchuk was speaking in hushed urgent Icelandic over the radio to someone about their situation. Mr. Butterfly asked immediately about Sue and Pavel answered that she was fine, hiding in a hollow by her tent. After a few minutes, Volchuk said that help would take a few hours to arrive and they were instructed to lay low until then. Pavel said that he would go back and check on Sue.
So he slithered back to check on her. When he got there, she was gone! Since he had heard no shots, he just full out ran back to Vochuk and Mr. Butterfly screaming, “Sue is gone!”
“What?” said Mr. Butterfly. “What do you mean gone?”
“I mean nowhere to be found! Not where I left her. GONE!” Pavel thought about this for a moment and then told Volchuk, “Radio this update in that one of our party has been abducted and is missing.”
Volchuk complied immediately. But after he had done so and heard the reply, said, “That does not seem to impact their time table.”
Mr. Butterfly said, “We must find her ourselves and rescue her.”
Then he stood and started calling, “SUE! SUE! WHERE ARE YOU?”
“She is over here.” Came an answer from the top of a hill from a bearded man holding a rifle and a tied up Sue. “If you want her back unharmed you must stop work and all leave this place immediately.”
The three men turned to look at the situation and then discuss it amongst themselves. Pavel said, “If we get close enough, Volchuk should go for the rifle, Mr. Butterfly should grab Dr. Fairview, and I will grab the gunman. Agreed?”
Everyone agreed to this hastily forged but brilliant plan.
“We agree to your terms. May we come closer to discuss our plans for leaving with you?” said Pavel.
“No. Start packing your tents now.” was the answer.
So the three men turned and began to break camp. Eventually, the bearded man came closer to watch and he dragged a reluctant Sue with him. Time passed and the day got hotter. Pavel offered the bearded man some water to drink. When the bearded man approached he put the muzzle of his rifle right on the middle of Pavel’s chest and reached for the water with his left hand. Pavel brushed the muzzle to the side saying, “Excuse me, I am trying to be nice here, the least you could do is be polite and not threaten my life.” The Bearded man did not notice Volchuk come up behind him to his right where the rifle was resting on his arm or Mr. Butterfly close in on his left where Sue was. But they were both in position if Pavel made his move.
Pavel’s move was a blinding blur it was so fast. As soon as he was clear of the rifle, he had handed the canteen to the bearded man with his right hand and hit him with his left so fast, it was amazing that a shot even got off from the rifle at all, much less, grazed Pavel’s left shoulder. But, the bearded man was on the ground with Pavel on top of him and Volchuk had yanked away and held his rifle and Mr. Butterfly grabbed and held Sue. It was all over in an instant.
Volchuk held the rifle on the bearded man who surrendered immediately and had a nasty shiner forming on his right eye. Mr. Butterfly hastily untied Sue. Pavel used the ropes from Sue to secure the bearded man’s hands behind his back while blood ran down his left arm. Sue hugged Mr. Butterfly and thanked all the men for her rescue. Then she went to look for the emergency medical supplies kit so that she could doctor Pavel’s wounded shoulder. She found the kit and ran back out to Pavel.
Pavel took his shirt off and the graze was across his deltoid muscle, right about where one gets vaccinated. It was a good clean wound, so she put some antiseptic cream on it and a bandage. “You were so brave Pavel. You even spilt your blood for
That is when the cavalry showed up. The Icelandic Police arrived, about four in number, to take control of the situation. Lead Officer Ađalsteinn introduced himself as commander of the scene to Pavel. Pavel handed over our prisoner and introduced all of us by name. We were all asked to provide our papers and passports which we did. We were quickly cleared as harmless researchers and Officer Ađalsteinn made his apologies on behalf of the Government of Iceland. We were told that violence of this kind was extremely rare in
The camp was a wreck and had to be put right. The whole day was a wash. It was way too late to go out and do surveys. We barely had time enough to set the camp back up before dinner. So that is what we did. During this time, I had a chance to talk to Mr. Butterfly.
“Oh Sue! I am so glad that you are okay! I was so worried when we discovered you were missing this morning and shots were ringing out. Actually I was scared shitless.” said Mr. Butterfly.
“You? How about me? Abducted at gun point by a crazy man who did not speak. It was terrifying. I thought each moment would be my last! I am so glad to be safe and sound now with you guys again.”
They hugged again. Mr. Butterfly continued, “You should know, that Pavel came up with the plan to rescue you and we all could see it was the only way to go and agreed without discussion. He took the lead on the negotiation, as you saw. I have heard that all those Russians have to go to the military and have experience with guns too. I think he did a fantastic job, and well, we did get you rescued.”
“What are you saying?”
“Even though I think he treated you callously and unforgivably, and that he’s a bastard, there may be hope for the guy. I thought you should know who did what is all.”
“Oh. Thanks. So you are saying he is some kind of hero?”
“Don’t push it.”
Sue just laughed.
After straightening up the camp the four of them were hot and dirty and got into the hot spring to clean off and soak. Pavel had to be careful not to get his gun graze wet, so Sue helped him to hold his arm aloft while he dunked his head in the water quickly. All were glad to unwind and rest after an extremely stressful day.
That night at dinner a special beverage was served to celebrate: Reyka Vodka. The only vodka distilled in
So the toasts began and after each one, everyone chugged a shot. Lastly it was Sue’s turn.
Shakily as she was feeling the effects of the alcohol, she stood by the camp fire and said, “I propose a toast to Pavel for creating a brilliant plan to save my life in an instant and then for having the genius to carrying it out during the course of the day. To Pavel, my hero!”
All eyes turned to Pavel with glasses raised. A pained groan emitted from Pavel’s belly and he ran from the fire to his tent. Everyone just looked at each other not knowing what was going on. Sue looked around to what to do and decided that she should follow Pavel to see what was wrong. She excused herself and everyone understood.
She could hear Pavel’s irregular breathing from outside his tent. He was very upset about something, but what? “Pavel, it is me. May I come in?” There was no answer. So Sue went in anyhow. She sat next to Pavel’s face down prone figure and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Oh god! I just hate myself!” he tried to say in between shaky breaths.
“Oh no Pavel. There is no reason to hate yourself.” soothed Sue. “You saved my life today.”
“I, I am just like that lunatic that held you hostage at gun point today!” Then he sat up suddenly and looked at Sue with frantic eyes. “I just want to hurt women. I wanted to hurt you. I did hurt you. No one was there to stop me. I still want to hurt you. Oh my god! Forgive me.” Then he fell over again and resumed his upset and shaky breathing.
Sue calmly stroked his shoulder again. She leaned down and kissed his stubbly cheek. “I forgive you Pavel. I already knew this about you. It doesn’t change that you are my hero today.”
“Could you possibly trust me enough to let me come to your tent tonight? Please give me another chance. I will behave. I promise.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I don’t want to be bored.” She smiled and they both laughed.