The Mystery Unfolds
A ball of fire raged some 200 yards away from his cabin. The wind was whipping fire red embers around like a devil twister and as they rose above toward the night sky they were being extinguished by the heavy rains.
Lightning would momentarily light up the sky and through the fog and rain he thought the fire was coming from a twin-engine plane. It appeared to have broken in half and was spewing out its fuel to feed the raging fire. It apparently had failed to make it over the ridge and crashed directly into the clearing on his property. As it lay there burning, melting the planes aluminum skin, it was slowly sinking deeper into the crater it had made upon impact. The fire was so intense, he could feel the heat on his face from where he stood on the porch of his cabin.
His immediate thought about whether he should call the authorities lasted about two seconds. He left ‘authority’ behind when he parted ways with civilization. Anyway, he surmised, no one needed to be called now since there was a storm raging and rescuers would never make it up the mountain road, nor fly in by medicopter.
But what to do?
After an hour or so, the torrential rains dampened the area enough so that the fire seemed to be burning itself out not causing any brush fires near his cabin. The fog accompanying the heavy rain was acting as a retardant on the smoking remnants. He knew that was a good sign, as the woods were thick with high tinder brush growth, which had developed during the hot and arid summer.
He grabbed his rain coat and flashlight then cautiously approached the now smoldering debris, as the strongest part storm seemed to move toward the upper part of the mountain.
He stood there in a tempered state of wonderment trying to take it all in as to what had just happened. He wondered if the plane had been hit by lightning and then took a nose dive into the area right adjacent to the large trees, which surrounded his property.
LW got close enough to inspect the remains of the plane and then became nauseous as he saw just ashes where the pilots would have been sitting in the cockpit. The bodies were burnt-to-a-crisp and totally unrecognizable.
But then through the mist he noticed a third body, which must have been thrown away from the wreckage and was now laying motionless on the grassy area still strapped into the plane’s passenger seat.
The sight was sickening to say the least. Two fried corpses were sitting only 200 yards from his cabin and another body lying away from the main section of the plane. Nothing in his life experiences, even his Marine tours, had prepared him for the decisions he was about to make.
Should he wait until morning to find out what happened or not? He thought about going back to his cabin for the night, as his inspection of the wreckage found no other passengers in the cargo hold of the downed plane.
There was nothing he could do for anyone in the plane, and it was too dark and stormy to check for anything else. But then he heard moans from the person strapped in the passenger seat, which had been torn loose from the plane upon impact.
He rushed over to it, and the partially clothed body was that of a woman knocked unconscious in the crash. LW took his rain coat off and slowly covered her with it being careful not to move her. Her moans continued and as he began to loosen the strap in the seat noticed her hands and feet were bound with plastic handcuffs. He carefully unbuckled her and put his arms under her limp body and carried her to the cabin’s porch. He laid her down on the chaise lounge and went into the cabin to fetch a knife, blanket and first aid kit.
The woman remained motionless as he tried to revive her with no success. She appeared not to have any broken bones but did have a number of abrasions and contusions about her arms, upper body, and face resulting from being thrown out of the plane. He removed her remaining clothes and began cleaning the wounds as best he could on the exposed areas.
She lay motionless as he finished bandaging her and then carried her inside placing her on the bed in the guestroom. He sat for a while, watching to see if she moved, but she still appeared to be knocked out.
How ironic he thought, his first guest was an unconscious woman who was a survivor of a horrendous plane crash.
He didn’t sleep very well that stormy July night, tossing and turning like a wet blanket in a washing machine. After finally getting to sleep, he awoke at the crack of dawn and quickly arose to check on his guest.
She was no longer moaning and appeared to be sleeping peacefully. He quietly left the room and peered out of the window. He was hoping it was just a bad dream, but there in the distance he saw the pieces of a downed plane strewn about the area.
It was no dream.
Questions raced through Lone Wolf’s mind as he went outside to inspect the crash site. ”What now? What to do with a crashed and burned plane? Who were the two dead men in the plane and would the authorities be checking and coming to his quiet corner of the world? And who in the hell was the woman passenger? Why was she being held captive?”
There wasn’t any obvious way to camouflage the remains of the aircraft although since it was near to some damaged trees, he could cut them and have them fall on the plane. From the air, it would then look as if some trees damaged in a storm had fallen down.
Lone Wolf knew about this type of plane because one of his trading specialties was in airlines. He knew the industry inside and out and identified the plane as a ‘de Havilland A CC-115 Buffalo’. This particular model of the de Havilland was used primarily for transport and was built in the mid-1960s.
But what was it transporting? His immediate concern however was what to do with the pilot’s bodies and the woman? He then pondered, “Was there any way to determine who the hell they were….and where they were coming from and headed.”
Obviously there would be people on both ends of this aborted trip who would want answers to what happened to them.
And what about the cargo? Later he would check to see if anything was left of whatever was being transported in this mid-sized plane.
So LW went back into the cabin to check on his guest. She wasn’t yet awake but seemed to be breathing normally.
He made his usual breakfast trying to stick to a certain routine he adopted back when he was in civilization and didn’t want to forgo it because of what just happened. With his mind racing he just stared at the food and couldn’t eat anything.
Still early in the morning with the sun rising slowly over the eastern ridge of mountains, which were miles away, LW started to develop his plan. He began to come to grips with the immediate problem of what to do with the remains.
Pulling together his supplies; gloves, chain saw, and heavy plastic bags, he headed out toward the disaster scene. His first order of business was to try and determine who these unfortunate people were who lost their lives the night before. It wasn’t going to be easy, as the bodies were burned to ashes including any ID’s. Then he found that all the plane’s identification papers, route maps and flight plans were all burned in the fire.
It was gruesome business, cutting the fire proof straps and scrapping the ashes from the cockpit, which had been torn open during the crash landing. He placed each of the remains in the black plastic bags and put them aside.
If that horrifying experience wasn’t enough to shake LW what he discovered next was mind-boggling.
Scattered in the cargo part of the plane were shinny metal suitcases, some still seemingly in good shape, save for some dents and burn marks
Others Some of them were partially opened and some of the contents had partially spilled out. LW stood motionless for a moment and then exclaimed, “What……the…..hell?”