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For now, Virgil had done all he could do. His emotions pestered him, fighting their way into his consciousness and screaming to be heard. His knowledge and expertise with life and death held his emotions at bay, thrusting fact and probability into his mind. The epic struggle of heart and mind collided and his head began to ache. The adrenaline in his system surged and he began to shake. And suddenly, as he stood there and made every attempt to control the flood of emotions, the landscape became eerily silent and calm. He was aware of only the slow and rasping breath of his friend and his own, quickened respirations. An indistinguishable sound began to grow, its mystery surrounding the two men at the camp. Virgil stood in the night air, straining to comprehend the acoustic invasion. Matt laid nestled in the sleeping bag, vulnerable to the whim of death. The non-synchronistic cadence of their breathing becoming washed out with a guttural thud.
Thud, thud, thud, thud…
The sound became more intense, but muffled. It reverberated softly, as if Virgil could feel the sound in his chest versus hear it with his ears. It wavered, and then disappeared. The wind kicked up slightly, and became the only sound Virgil could hear. Frustrated, he looked down at his friend. Matt could not feel the sound as Virgil had, could not distinguish it from anything else. He had slipped into unconsciousness, almost looking peaceful lying on the ground. He could not help Virgil figure out the noise. He was alone, his body fighting for survival. The wind stalled, and the sound returned. Virgil took a few steps forward, and cocked his head to one side, hoping it would help him define the strange sound.
Thud, thud, thud, thud…
Fury struck Virgil like a charging bull. He could not explain it. The adrenaline in his system went into overload, the battle between his emotions and his experience hitting a crescendo. The intensity welled up inside of him made him warm, almost hot. He could feel his face become flush with blood, his eyes had dried and become clear. His heart rate had evened out, and his breathing had become less labored. He stared into the darkness, his ears tracking the echoing vibration of the sound. Moments ago his body was trembling, struggling to process the hurricane of energy and adrenaline. Now, he stood calm, his hands steady. A wicked finality washed over him, a sudden assuredness. For the first time in his life, Virgil was intent on taking the life of another man. He was already plotting the necessary steps to complete his task, the death unquestionably premeditated. He had once dedicated his life to the protection of life, and was now determined to take one. Regardless of the consequences.
Virgil stood in the darkness of the Andes Mountains, staring into the void before him, listening to the sound of a helicopter reverberate around him. He knew that Eisenhower Fox had just escaped, the echo of his departure bouncing up the canyons to taunt him. He assumed the girls had led him to the Huey, most likely bound and threatened. It almost didn’t matter. The man had done so much damage already, and more would not change his fate. Virgil Ryan took a deep breath, closed his eyes and said a silent prayer, asking for forgiveness for the wrath he was about to unleash.