Unlocking Eden's Gate
Unlocking Eden's Gate
Dr. TRIMMON KNOX, a young genetic scientist, and his mother, REBECCA, discover the root peptide responsible for repairing and regrowing organs and limbs. Trimm's father, DANIEL dubs it "Eden's Gate" because it removes death as a limit on evil and will release a plague of everlasting life. When Rebecca is murdered in a bombing, Trimm thinks the bombing was meant for him. Trimm steals Eden's Gate and disappears into the Holy Cross Wilderness. The FBI pursues him. Trimm is discovered by JIM PRESTON. Trimm saves Preston's life and evades capture but loses two fingers. Trimm reluctantly uses Eden's Gate on his injury. His dad and his sixteen-year-old sister, OLIVIA, are kidnapped. SIMON SINGH is behind the bombing and the kidnapping and demands the research. Trimm must return to the mine where he hid Eden's Gate. Singh confronts Trimm and forces Trimm to lead him to Eden's Gate. Singh shoots Trimm. Trimm wakes and crawls the quarter mile out and follows Singh. Trimm catches Singh and must kill him. Trimm destroys Eden's Gate. He rushes to locate Olivia and Daniel. Dying of wounds Eden's Gate would have healed, Daniel absolves Trimm.0
Crime / Suspense / Mystery / Thriller
Eugene C Scott (United States)
Shards of mid-afternoon light cut through the thick pine canopy, etching Dr. Trimmon Knox into the alpine shadows. He stood like crumbling granite above the fallow colored doe he arrowed thirty minutes ago. Wispy clouds shredded themselves on the mountain peak above him. Current shivered up his spine. Trimm sensed something, though he hated giving omens credence. That was the territory of his sixteen-year-old sister, Olivia, and his father.
Sweat streaked his sun-chapped face. The sight of the doe's delicate, still body ushered back specters only tough-mindedness could banish. Today he lacked the strength.
"The energy required to flee equals that to stay and fight," his dead mother whispered one of her many aphorisms into his spent brain.
Trimm nodded mute agreement. He had run and hidden in the Holy Cross Wilderness for six months now and was exhausted, though not physically. Living in the wild toned his body as tight and responsive as it had been in his teens in the height of competing as a gymnast. It was his mind, and his spirit, if such a thing existed, worn thin as smoke. Or maybe at twenty-nine, the plight of the prodigy had finally caught him. He was losing his mind.
"Enough," he told himself, his omens, and his mother's ghost. The young scientist dropped to his knees, prayer-like before the doe, hunting knife flashing. The late August heat would ruin the meat even at this altitude. And the longer he stayed in the open the more likely was discovery. His senses continued to jangle.
He focused on the dead cervine and measured it in his head. It would yield about forty pounds of venison and would last him six to eight weeks. He lifted his ball cap and his dark cabled hair sprang out.
"Three or four more this size, or one elk, and I should be able to survive the winter." He paused, waiting for affirmation, pulling at his beard. "Sure, I'll have enough protein. Survival is more than meat," he said, not noticing the habit he had developed of talking and arguing with himself.
The hermit eyed the intricate camouflage design on his tattered shirt and pants. Any unwanted eye--animal or human--would have slid over him. But it was thin disguise. Trimm harrumphed. Self-escape eluded him. He suspected his camo did not fool God either. Even a nonexistent one.
He skinned the doe quickly, constantly surveying his surroundings. To the south New York Mountain climbed to 12,550 feet in the measureless Colorado sky, her peak muscled with talus rocks.
"Look to the mountains," Trimm said in his hoarse hunter whisper. The familiar words lit a fire in his throat. Wilderness isolation had not cleansed nor released him. Solitude only further convinced him he was as guilty of his mother's death and his brother's maiming as if he'd detonated the bomb himself. Trimm inhaled a ragged sheet of alpine air, trapped it in his lungs to the count of five and then exhaled.
"Life sacrifices for life," he said, cutting between joint and marrow. He no longer believed this circle of life crap. The researcher wore doubt like a thermal base layer. Hidden protection. If you didn't believe in anything, hope could not catch you from behind. Blind belief killed reason and people. The scientist gone hermit slammed his fist into the bare ribcage of the deer and ran through his breathing routine again, expelling his guilt.
Movement flicked in his periphery. He stopped cutting, inhaled, held. A Mountain Chickadee darted from twig to branch. Two more flashed up the hill like circus performers and swung by chittering. He scoured the area and returned to skinning and quartering. A thin, high mountain silence grappled with the snick, snick of his knife.
A gray-headed Stellar's Jay slashed like a piece of dirty sky through a sunlit opening to his right. Every move in the wild carried a warning. If the huge cougar he read sign of as he followed the dying doe up the incline scented fresh venison, she wouldn't waste time chasing down rabbits. He quickened his butchering, expertly skinning back more hide. Her maroon, fat-marbled muscles shone. The doe's delicate, narrow nose looked pet-like. Trimm's conscious tremored.
Severing the left hind quarter, Trimm shoved the grocery in his backpack. He slowly combed the sun-cut pines and brush around him, sensing, sniffing, squinting. A slight, hot thermal rose, swimming toward the peak. He caught the aroma of moldering pine, animal-like, in his flaring nostrils. He shifted to the front quarter. With no buffer--the Internet, white noise, fluorescent lights, walls, cars, crap--Trimm's nerves became hyperactive sensors. The wilderness had scoured him, woken him, his body now a super-sensitive instrument, picking up the very vibrations in the attenuated atmosphere.
A branch snapped like a gunshot north and down the slope. Trimm froze. The clunk, clunk, clunk of heavy footsteps vibrated. He scented horse, pipe smoke, and coffee.
"Damn," he mouthed, sheathing his knife. "A cougar I could deal with." A flourish of movement, flicking through the scraggly branched evergreens about one hundred meters down caught his eye. The poacher yanked his binoculars up. A man riding a diminutive white and black Appaloosa picked his way through the trees, climbing toward Trimm. His sanctuary was breached. The horseman was no recreational rider. Had the FBI found him? Trimm could not decipher the patches on the hat or khaki uniform at this distance.
The rider moved deliberately, following the blood trail. Trimm cast about for an escape. The surrounding firs were not dense enough to hide him and timberline was a mere seventy meters above, offering no cover. He spotted a fallen pine and a wall of thick willows fifty meters up and to his left. "It'll have to do," he said, his anger flaring.
Trimm snatched his pack and compound bow and ghosted up the hill. The clunk of the horse's hooves drew nearer. He reached the dense willows, sheltering a scanty spring. The mud smelled fresh and clean.
He hid behind the root ball of the fallen fir. Two roots rose above him like the arms of a priest in frozen benediction. Or a criminal in surrender. The trickle of water sang false peace. Trimm found a window and peered through.
A Colorado Division of Wildlife agent appeared, leaning over the left side of his saddle. Trimm sighed. He had left no clues even his family much less the FBI could follow. Now he had been discovered by chance. The agent cocked-back his cowboy hat and revealed a bone white forehead. He worried a graying handlebar mustache over his mouth. The officer rode loose as if he and horse were old friends. In his hand dangled the arrow Trimm shot the doe with. The arrow Trimm failed to find.
"Crap." Trimm's hands became ice as adrenaline surged through him. His brain rifled through solutions and ejected each like spent cartridges. Run, no cover. Bluff, no alibi. Sweat drizzled on his face and into his beard. Kill him. No, his only choice was to stay hidden and hope. Hope? Shit.
The intruder was some thirty years Trimm's senior, presumably near sixty. The short, broad bowling ball of a man rode up on the carcass and shook his head in disgust. He dismounted. Trimm pointed his quickening breath down into the earth as if the man might hear or see it. The agent fished out a cell phone and photographed the scene.
With the spent arrow and pictures, Trimm theorized it wouldn't be long before the feds too would be alerted. The fugitive nocked an arrow.
Trimm had abandoned the mysticism of his father's Greek Orthodox faith which argued human value from the existence of a God-breathed soul. He could locate no such thing nestled among the cells he viewed under his microscope. But could he take a human life by the same justification as the deer? Survival? No. The issue wasn't only his survival, nor avoiding arrest for poaching. Trimm's research, what his dad labeled Eden's Gate, was dangerous. Those seeking Eden's Gate had already taken his mother's life.
The warden spiraled out from the kill site and soon found the fugitive's tracks.
"Who is this guy?" Trimm paraphrased Butch Cassidy.
The agent stopped about halfway to Trimm. He leaned his shoulder against an aspen with bear claw marks in the bark, removed his hat, and wiped his big head. He was balding but a crown of kinky gray hair remained. Trimm admired that he had not succumbed to the trend of shaving his head.
"I've found the remains of your other kills."
The unexpected monologue rocked Trimm. The words rang in his ears.
The man continued, "They were well-hidden. Not well enough." He chuckled. "All small does. You're no trophy hunter." He laughed and dodged behind the pale aspen, making himself a poor target.
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