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Author's Chapter Notes:
Back to Brian at the van.
"Faith" is a fine invention
When Gentlemen can see—
But Microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.

"Faith" is a fine invention by Emily Dickinson


~ 21 ~




Brian tried not to panic. He was one to never really get overly anxious very often which was kind of funny since his whole family was prone to over react to things. He figured it had something to do with being so sick as a child, but his approach had always been to just leave everything in God’s hands and no matter what, it would all be okay. His faith had gotten him through so many things this should have been no different, yet for some reason it felt different.

That was a thought which had unsettled Brian even more than the actual events occurring. When he was stuck in the car, trying to wiggle himself free but failing miserably, he was mad at God for putting him into this situation. Through AJ’s cries and Kevin’s moans, he managed to keep a level head and pray that he would find a way out of this mess but after the first few hours he started to lose his faith, something he hadn’t done since high school.

His junior year was tough for him. It’s not something he even talked about much to anyone; in fact the only other person who knew this story was his wife. He hadn’t even shared it with Nick, not even in the middle of the night when they were much younger and would tell each other their deepest, darkest secrets. This is one he always kept to himself because he was too embarrassed to admit the consequences of what made him lose his faith.

In the fall of that year two things were happening simultaneously. The first were his parents. They just weren’t getting along at all. Almost every night he would fall asleep to the sound of them arguing. It wasn’t something he was used to hearing. Up until that time, he had barely heard them raise their voices to each other at all. They tried their hardest to hide the fact they were having problems from their youngest son. Painting smiles on their faces at the dinner table and talking about casual things like the weather, politics and sports.

The second thing was a kid named Jake. He appeared out of nowhere in around mid-October and decided immediately that Brian made a great target for bullying. He would accidentally run into him in the halls and knock his books down, or trip him when he would move past the much bigger kid’s desk. Brian was shocked by this. It actually took him some time before he realized these weren’t accidents but intentional. Jake would whisper things like “loser!” and “midget” to him whenever he passed by and then laugh about it. He couldn’t understand why. He had done nothing to this kid at all.

After being picked on all day at school, he’d come home to his parents acting like everything was normal and then sit in his room and listen to them quietly argue all night long. That became his life for most of the year. By March, he had decided he no longer wanted to go to church. What was the use? It’s not like God cared about him. If God cared so much then why was he being put through this hell?

His parents wouldn’t let him skip church so instead he would go and roll his eyes as the sermon was given. He had officially lost his faith, but then in April, Kevin called. At that point he had made a promise to God that he would no longer doubt the divine plan the Lord had for him. Eventually his parents got over their problems and he never saw or heard about Jake again.

When Kevin finally managed to get into the van and set him free, his faith was temporarily restored. He felt better about things, until Nick showed up. As he argued with his cousin about what to do concerning his best friend, he once again felt a new anger towards God. How could he let this happen right after making him feel like they were going to make it? How would a loving God show him a kid who he cared about so much, only to pull him away again at the hands of a lunatic? An embodiment of the bully he had known such a long time ago times ten. That’s when he started to blame himself. Maybe it was his fault for thinking the worst of Nick and Howie while he was stuck in the van. While he was thinking they were just looking for help half assed as they talked on the phone and chatted, they were actually in real trouble, much worse than his trouble.

And now this, wolves right outside their van. Maybe this was some kind of test, but if it was he was failing because no matter how much he tried to depend on his faith, he already knew it wouldn’t work for him. Time for praying and having faith was over. The only way they were going to make it through was by defending themselves.

So, he looked at his cousin and calmly asked, “What should we do?”

Kevin was just sitting there not saying much. Brian knew he was going through his own doubts too, maybe not the same type of internal struggle with God, but he could tell just by looking at his cousin’s face, his faith was all but gone.

“I think the two of you need to get out of here before they get any closer.”

“Didn’t you just go on and on about this test we have to pass?”

“Enough time’s gone by AJ. I am pretty sure they left by now.”

“We’re not just leaving you in here.” Brian said as he looked around the van for anything they might be able to use as a weapon.

“I think you have to. Guys, let’s face facts here. I am not going to be able to get up that hill and you both won’t be able to carry me. You need to leave right now.”

Brian looked at AJ, before coming down hard on his cousin, “So, you’re telling us to just leave you here to fend for yourself against a hungry pack of wolves is that it?” He paused and made sure to lock eyes with his older cousin who only stared back.  “Well it’s not going to happen! I already abandoned one of the people I love; I’m not doing the same to you. If you want to die, you’re going to have to try to figure out another way to do it because leaving you to the wolves will not be it brother, I’m sorry!”

He looked over at AJ, just to make sure they were on the same page, “I’m with Rok. There’s no way we’re just leaving you here dude, so we best come up with a plan B and fast.”

Kevin looked positively pissed but Brian didn’t care. There was no way he was going to let his cousin sacrifice himself. He didn’t want to have to explain to Kris and the kids why her husband died. “Well we just kind of left him and hoped for the best. Sorry about that!” Yeah, wasn’t going to happen. It was bad enough he’d have to let Leigh and Lauren know they had just let Nick help them and go without so much as a struggle or anything.

“You’re both making a huge mistake.” Kevin said as a few more tears streamed down his face. “I will never forgive myself if you both get hurt just because you didn’t leave me here.”

“And what do you think we’d feel like if you died because we left YOU here? It goes both ways, Kevin.”

“Can we argue about guilt later guys? We really need to figure out how to keep those furry motherfuckers out of here!”

Brian crawled towards the back of the van where the seats were already half down. “Maybe we can move these to the front and create some kind of fort.” He tried tugging on one but of course it was firmly in place. “Maybe if you try with me AJ, we can knock it loose or something.” He used both hands this time but still nothing happened.

AJ crawled by his side and pulled along with him but it was no use, those seats were going nowhere. They were able to pull the cushions off as well as the head rests. They had no idea what they were going to do with those things but for now, they were at least a start.

“Maybe if we just toss our extra food out there it’ll distract them.” AJ looked in the bag and was quick to empty the contents. There really wasn’t all that much left except some Chips and a bag of cookies.

“I think that would only make them hungrier.” Kevin said turning his body around and trying to look out the little bit of window he was sitting next to. “I can’t see them but I hear them.”

Brian heard them too. They were in the clearing now. Of course he had to make sure, so he once again moved towards the windshield and peered out. They were close enough that he could make out the glow of their eyes. “AJ, come out here and help me grab some rocks!” He said as he jumped out of the van and started grabbing as many rocks as he could find around the van. AJ was doing the same, stopping every few seconds to make sure the wolves were not coming any closer.

“Rok, they’re moving!” AJ said in a panicked voice as Brian turned around to see that the eyes were making their way closer to the van now.

They both ran inside the van and hid behind the front seats. A wave of fear hit Brian at that point so strongly that he dry heaved right where he was sitting. He was pretty sure that if those wolves entered that van the last thing he would do before being eaten alive would be pee his pants. He looked over at AJ who was shaking and then at Kevin who seemed to have an oddly calm yet intense look on his face.

“Maybe they won’t bother us.” He said hopefully. “If we pelt them with the rocks as soon as they try to enter, maybe that’ll be enough to scare them away.”  

“We have to at least hope that’s the case.” AJ said as he held onto four huge rocks, ready to throw if the need arose.

The worst part was not knowing what was going on outside. Brian realized that it was too risky at this point to take a peek out there because if they were close, the last thing he wanted to do was attract their attention.

“Guys what about the blankets?” Kevin said as if suddenly coming to life. “Maybe if we drape the blankets over the windshield they won’t try to come in here. I mean wolves usually don’t bother people’s campsites, right?”

“It’s worth a shot.” Brian said as he grabbed the blankets that Nick had brought them and headed back to the windshield. He positioned himself by the driver’s seat and AJ stood where the passenger seat was and together they held one of the blankets over the windshield. “We don’t have anything to use to keep it in place.” He looked around him to see if there was anything to help and figured out the visor would do the job. They secured one blanket as best as they could using the two visors, and then secured the bottom with rocks. It definitely wasn’t something that would prevent a wolf from coming inside but maybe it was enough to mask that there was an inside to come in to.

They decided to add a second blanket just as another layer of protection and then when they were finished they made their way back over to Kevin who was once again trying to look out the window.

“They’re close.”

“How close?” AJ moved right next to Kevin, holding one of the headrests in his hands.

“Too close. I think I can hear them out there, listen.” All three sat in complete silence and Kevin was right. Grunting sounds seemed to be coming directly from outside.

Brian grabbed one of the flashlights and held it against his chest. They decided to leave them on, hoping the light might scare the wolves away. He heard one of them jump onto the hood of the van and sniff around. The glow of their silhouette made it seem like they were watching an eerie cartoon.

AJ kept whispering “Oh my God oh my God oh my God…” over and over again while Brian and Kevin just quietly sat there staring at the shadow as it sniffed and then started to scratch at the blanket. It was soon joined by at least three others. They weren’t really trying to get in but they were curious.

Brian just sat there feeling helpless, overwhelmed and pretty sure he was going to die. Not only die but die painfully. Surely being eaten alive wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience. Maybe they wouldn’t kill them. Maybe it would just be an attack. A few bites here or there. He actually found himself trying to figure out what he would let the wolves gnaw on. If he kicked at them, they’d go for his legs, if he hit them, they’d go for his arms. At that point it became a choice of which limbs he could do without. Just as he was about to wonder what it felt like to be torn apart from the neck he heard a gunshot. All the boys stooped down low as another one went off. This time the wolves scattered off of the van. A third and final shot was heard which made the wolves run off, howling as they went.

It took a few moments for Brian to process what had happened. He was so ready to die at the hands of a wolf when suddenly they were no longer there. “I think we’ve been saved!” AJ said as a hesitant question.

Brian looked over at his cousin who was also letting what had just happened sink in. “Hello!” Kevin yelled out after a moment’s pause. “We need help in here!”

Relief overcame Brian as he saw a silhouette of a man now standing by the blankets. God had come through after all. That was until the blanket was ripped down and there was the man who had kidnapped Nick and Howie, with rifle in his hand. “Good thing I have three bullets left.” He said smiling at them.



Chapter End Notes:
I'll be back with another update tomorrow!