Anders's Angel:Heroes for Hire, Book 16(12)

By: Dale Mayer

“That doesn’t mean that’s when he should have put out the alert. It’s quite possible this has been brewing for a while. You know as well as I do that whoever gets here first gets the upper hand.”

“That’s a depressing thought.” Harrison took the left turn into town. “I think we’ll stop at the clothing store first and see what they have for supplies. While I’m here, I’m picking up a few more groceries for tonight and for traveling.”

“Just make sure there’s lots of coffee.”

“You can carry an extra pound?”

“Absolutely. And I’ll make sure I drink it all,” Anders said.

Harrison had a good laugh at that. “We’re all coffee lovers. And I’m pretty sure every damn one of us would carry an extra pound to make sure we had it at the end of the day.”

“I know. That’s just one of the few things we’re seriously addicted to.”

They walked into the sporting goods store and realized the front half was regular clothing. The back half was ice-climbing gear. They zeroed in on the rear of the store. As they stood there studying what was available, a man walked over and asked if he could help. He spoke in an interesting Swedish dialect. Harrison looked at him, grinned and said, “How is your English?”

“Very good, sir. Is there anything I can help you find?”

“We’re heading up to the ice cabins. We’re looking for some better socks.”

The man walked over to a far wall and brought out a selection of wool socks. “These are rated the best,” he said, pushing one pack toward them. “They are wool, so they will stay warm, even if they’re soaked.” He pointed to another section. “And, if you’re worrying about your feet, then you have to make sure your hands are equally well protected.” He pulled gloves off the other sideboard. “And most people forget about their face. It’s pretty easy to get frostbite without even realizing it.” He glanced at the two of them, assessing them carefully. “You both have experience in this weather, correct?”

Both men nodded.

With relief the man said, “Good. I really hate to see novices head up the mountain. The storms can come in and suck you up there for a couple days, and it’s never a pretty sight when we have to go out and find missing people.”

“Are you on one of the rescue teams?”

He puffed out his chest. “Yes. My family has been part of the search and rescue here locally for over forty years.”

After that, the men fell into a discussion on the merits of each of the different selections among the socks and gloves. Finally they chose several pairs of socks and gloves each. Happy with the sale on both sides, the two men walked back out to the street.

“It’s sunny down here,” Harrison said. “But then you look up toward the glacier, and it’s just black.”

“I know,” Anders said. He walked alongside his buddy. “We never did ask the clerk if any other strangers were in town.”

Harrison stopped, looked back and frowned. “Maybe we should?”

They walked back into the store, only to find no sign of the man who had helped them. Anders walked to the front counter and asked the female clerk, “The gentleman who was assisting us, where has he gone?”

She smiled and said, “He’s in the back. Probably getting more stock. Just stick your head around and call for him if you’d like.”

She had customers. He could see she didn’t want to leave the store to go find him. Motioning at Harrison, the two walked to the back. But rather than sticking their heads around and calling out, they walked into the back and took a look. Hearing voices off to the right, Anders strode in that direction. And then he froze. He could hear the clerk speaking.

“That’s two more now. I told you something’s going on.”

“Four strangers? Four Americans?”

“Yes, I told you that. Six strangers now, counting the first two foreigners yesterday. I don’t understand what it’s all about, but you can bet it’s not good.”

Anders frowned and held up a hand to stop Harrison. They could hear the two men continuing their discussion.