Zero Node
Chapter 20: “Steve’s Revival”

by Jeff Rand

ATS Explained

One of the recommendations for an HDA (hike disguised as an activity) was to conduct a salmon trek. Such an activity would push campers to the limit as they worked to get back to the starting point. The character of Tom Ray described in the chapter endures this experience as he gives his all to return to Winter Camp. However, unlike the sockeye salmon who must return to their birthplace where they will die, Tom makes it to the Beaver Creek Cabin and is nursed back to health.

Jeff Rand
December 21, 2019

Need a refresher? Here's the Another Ten Seconds chapter

Leu heard a low voice, "Turn around and don't move." Although he experienced many dangerous moments since leaving Michigan years earlier, never did he have such a frightening encounter. Leu did as he was told without saying a word.

From behind, a hand suddenly grabbed Leu's right wrist, as he was overcome in a state of panic. Then he felt something being wrapped around his wrist, but it wasn't rope. Next, he felt the same wrapping on his left wrist. Then his arms were pulled together and cinched tightly behind his back. He could feel pain in his hands. Then a hand grabbed his shoulder and led him away from the lighthouse. The person remained behind him, and Leu dared not turn around to see his captor.

The others waited for Leu to return to the hole they had cut through the door. Five minutes passed, and his father became quite concerned that he had not returned. Leu was prone to wander, often inspired to explore his surroundings. Even as a young child, he enjoyed hiking. On occasion, Michaela would call him Leu H., which she said was short for Louis Hiker Rein. However, Leu would not go very far, given that his companions were still trapped in the lighthouse.

Ethan stuck his head through the hole and called, "Leu." There was no response. He shouted, "Leu, where are you?"

When there was no response to the second calling, the others shared Ethan's concern. Steve and Keith moved to the two slits in the wall and joined in the shouting. Fifteen more minutes passed, and there was no sign of Leu.

Ethan grew more concerned and called to Michaela, "Do you think that you can fit through the hole?"

Michaela moved to the door and attempted to escape from the chamber. She twisted her shoulders to fit through the small opening. She made some progress before being wedged in the hole. "Dad, I am stuck," she cried.

Keith sprang to her rescue and turned her as if he were trying to tighten a screw. His plan to turn her through the hole failed when she became hopelessly stuck. He twisted her the other way and pulled hard to extract her. Michaela was bruised and bleeding when she was freed from the hole. Not wasting any time to be concerned for her wounds, she called again to her father, "Where's the tool to make the hole bigger? We have to get out and find Leu."

Efforts to enlarge the hole continued through the night. Despite their diminished capacities from lack of nourishment, the four lighthouse occupants worked at a frenzied pace. It was well past sunrise before Michaela was ready to try again to escape from the chamber. She poked her head into the hole and was able to slither through the opening as far as her hips before she became wedged again. She lifted her head to survey the situation.

Standing before the door was Leu with two escorts. She could not see their faces, as they were covered with sacks. Yet they were quite tall and thin. They may have had weapons pointed at Leu; she could not be sure.

"You better get back in," said Leu. "They have guns."

"Dad, pull me back," shouted Michaela.

"Is there a problem?" responded Keith.

"Just do it!"

Keith pulled his daughter back into the lighthouse chamber after her second failed escape attempt. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"Leu is out there," she responded.

"That's good news!" interjected Ethan. "Perhaps he found something to help us escape."

"I'm afraid he did not find some thing but found two some ones. And they do not look like they will help us escape. They have guns."

"Who are they?" asked Ethan.

"I don't know. Their heads were covered."

"No!" cried Ethan.

All heads in the lighthouse turned to the hole as Leu peered inside and crawled through the enlarged hole to join his companions.

"Are you OK?" asked Ethan.

"I'm alright. They gave me food and water. I have some for everyone now." Leu pulled a sack through the hole. The sack was filled with tubes.

"These look like the food tubes we had at Winter Camp XLIII," said Steve.

Leu responded, "I don't know what you ate at Winter Camp 43, but these are indeed food tubes. I just don't know what kind."

"Who are the men with guns? What do they want? Did they hurt you? Did they say anything?" asked Ethan.

"I don't know who they are. I never saw their faces, but they did not really hurt me other than tying me to a tree near the south end of the island. However, they gave me a bowl of water and some food. I know there are at least three of them, but there might be more. I am not sure if they were men or women. They were talking but I could not hear what they were saying until one came up to me and said that they were taking me back to the lighthouse and I better not try to escape. I still could not be sure if it was a man or woman."

"I think we should eat this food before we figure out what to do," said Keith.

"K2, don't you think it might be poisoned?" asked Steve.

Keith responded, "Either way we're doomed. I'll take my chances."

The starving prisoners proceeded to inhale the contents of the food tubes, while they heard a commotion outside. Not sure what their captors were doing, they continued to enjoy the first real meal they had in over a week. As they were finishing their repast, they heard a loud noise and all heads turned to the hole that had been cut through the door. Hopes that the door would be opened and they be set free were extinguished when a new rod became visible effectively cutting the hole in half. Their means of escape no longer existed.

"We will find another way," said Ethan with a most hopeful attitude. "Afterall, they did finally feed us."

Ethan's remarks found some truth when five pouches of water were pushed through the lower half-hole into the chamber. "Thank you," he yelled.

The prisoners hoped they could come to some understanding with their jailers, but there was no response and no further signs of activity outside the lighthouse. After the tense night of Leu's escape and capture, they decided to spend the remainder of the day resting.

The next morning, there were more food tubes and water pouches pushed through the small opening. "Can we talk?" shouted Ethan. There was no response.

Being the tallest occupant, Keith probed the ceiling looking for another means of escape. Eventually he found a section composed of brick rather than solid concrete. There he used his crude tool to dig into the mortar joints. He could not reach above his head very long. Michaela relieved him when she sat on Steve's shoulders to attack the mortar. Progress was slow, but they lighthouse prisoners remained dedicated to the attempt.

On the third day, there was no more food and water. However, Leu found a note on the ledge of the opening. It read, "Return the pouches." Leu and Ethan dutifully pushed the food tubes and water pouches through the hole with the hope that they would be replenished.

More food and water found its way to the lighthouse on the fourth day, but there was still no response to pleas for some conversation with the captors. Keith continued the efforts to break through the ceiling, but the progress of removing the mortar was impossibly slow. Their one crude tool was wearing out.

A food supply dump continued on the fifth day and Ethan thought he could hear voices in the distance. Keith discontinued digging into the mortar and there was no one else willing to pursue the effort with the remnant tool.

Ethan always stayed close to the small opening in the door. He heard the voices again, but this time he believed he could make out some words, "We need to return to the infinite wisdom." Ethan's plea to their captors again went unanswered.

Ethan told the others of the message he heard. Steve became intrigued and said it had some meaning to Winter Camp. He just could not remember the details.

The following day when Ethan announced that it was now Sunday again, Steve asked if he could lead the religious service. This surprised the others, but Ethan graciously accepted the request.

Steve began to speak, "You know I have not been overly religious, but am nominally Catholic. I have heard of nuns praying the rosary and repeating it over and over again for more than an hour. I have a prayer that I would like to offer in the same vain."

"Continue," said Ethan, but he moved to be near the door to monitor the activities of the captors should they return.

Steve proceeded with the prayer, speaking loudly, "Dear Lord, help us with your infinite wisdom to find the right path to take. We know that this infinite wisdom will help us to be servants to thee."

Steve continued repeating the prayer ten more times. Then ten more and on.

As Steve repeated the prayer, Ethan sensed the approach of the captors. He turned his ear to the outside. "They know about the infinite wisdom," Ethan heard one say. Then there was a response, "We must call the Infinite Wisdom and show him the tub with their notes and messages."

Ethan did not interrupt Steve who continued repeating the prayer. After several minutes, Ethan heard noises at the door. Steve may have heard the same but did not stop praying until the door to the lighthouse swung open for the first time in two weeks.

There was a young man looking in without hiding his face. "Hello. My name is Wilbur Noonan," he said. "And I will take you to the Infinite Wisdom."

End of Part II

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