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The Dog Who Ate the Elephant, written by Edward J. Coburn, is a story of murder and mayhelm.

Adam is assigned the interview of Donovan Arnold, a rich eccentric who owns his own private zoo. Arrangements had already been made for the interview. Unfortunately, when Adam arrived, he found Donovan dead and the zoo animals released into the wild, including three elephants. Then it was up to Adam to solve the mystery of who killed Donovan and why. Perhaps it was the animal activists who claimed it was cruel to keep so many endangered species captive. Or could it have been one of the descendants of the miners killed when his father ignored safety regulations in the coal mine he owned? As Adam and the sheriff investigate they uncover additional suspects. Of course, Adam will have to rely on Bagel’s help to solve this perplexing mystery.

Here, read the first five chapters of The Dog Who Ate the Elephant. Then, if you like the book, you can order the ebook in Kindle format at Amazon.com .




Chapter 1

     Adam and Marti were beginning to wake on Saturday morning, when Adam heard a distinctive sound to which he’d become accustomed: the sound of the Boggle shaker box hitting the floor. Adam turned over. When Marti stirred, he turned back over. “Did you hear it too, Sweetheart?”
     Marti looked him straight in the eye. “If you mean the Boggle box hitting the floor, then yes, I did.” She glanced at the clock and groaned. “It’s only seven forty-five. Couldn’t he have waited awhile longer?”
     Marti Blossom, Adam Martin Swope’s girlfriend, was speaking of Adam’s dog Bagel’s propensity for upsetting the Boggle shaker box and pulling out a series of dice. He then turned the dice over with his paws and nose until the chosen letters could be formed into an anagram of a word that generally helped solve some mystery in which Adam was involved.
     “I wonder what Bagel could be trying to tell us now. We’ve been having a relatively quiet time the last few weeks.”
     “After you healed, of course.” Adam had been shot while confronting a killer who had been trying to find a lost gold mine for which Adam had also been hunting. The surprise was Adam spent only a single night in the hospital. The following weekend Adam, Marti, and Livinia, Marty’s great-aunt, and two other people went hunting for the gold mine.
     “All right, let’s not get into that. I’m fine.”
     Marti started to mention only sheer luck prevented Adam from being seriously hurt, but thought better of it. They’d had that discussion many times over the last few months because this wasn’t the first time Adam had been hurt trying to help the sheriff solve a murder.
     “Breakfast first, or should we play Boggle with Bagel?” she asked.
     “I think I’ll let you choose, because you’re also going to be making breakfast. At least, I assume you are. Omelets?”
     “If that’s what you want. I’m more than willing to make you an omelet, unless you’d like fancier fare at Stella’s Breakfast Bistro.”
     Adam had to choose his words carefully. He didn’t want to upset Marti, but he really didn’t feel like going out for breakfast. “I’ll leave that choice up to you as well. We can go out if you’d like, or we can stay in. If you don’t feel like making omelets, I can fry us up some ham and eggs.”
     “Now you wait a minute. You make it sound as if I’m not willing to make you an omelet. You and I both know that’s not true. I love making you omelets.”
     Adam smiled, knowing his ploy had worked. Marti saw his smile and swatted at his arm playfully. “You tricked me.”
     “I cannot tell a lie—that indeed was my idea. I have to admit I really don’t feel like going out for breakfast. However, if you want to, we can.”
     She smiled back at him, glancing at the clock on the wall again. “It’s almost eight, and I really don’t feel like going out either. But, as you gave me my choice, I vote for playing Boggle with Bagel first.”
     “That’s all right with me.” Adam got out of bed and put on his bathrobe, which he kept thrown over the back of one of the chairs in his large bedroom.
     “In a minute.” Marti headed for the bathroom.
     “I’ll get some pads and pencils then.”
     “You do that. I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
     Adam went down the hall to the office, where he picked up two pads of paper and two pencils. Then he continued down the hallway to the living room. He smiled at Bagel sitting in front of his selected dice. “What do you have for us today, boy?”
     Bagel was a miniature beagle Adam had inherited from his mother when her reoccurrence of cancer took her life almost nine months earlier. Upon hearing Adam’s voice, Bagel got up and trotted over to settle next to his companion, another miniature beagle named Butter, who lay in her accustomed spot near the end of the couch. Butter had been rescued from the Mason Jar restaurant, where the customers had been in the habit of feeding her their leftover butter. He’d talked the manager of the restaurant into letting him take Butter and as agreed, he’d put her on a diet so she would become healthier. He wanted to breed Bagel and Butter in the hopes that Bagel’s progeny would inherit his abilities. In addition to Boggle, Bagel played another game called colors where Bagel could pick a toy of a named color from his large collection.
     Adam had barely finished writing the letters on the top of each of the pads when Marti came into the living room. The letters were I, P, H, K, E, and S. He handed her one of the pads and pencils.
     “Four or more letters as usual?”
     He nodded. “Do we want to time it?”
     Marti shook her head while settling on the end of the couch next to where Bagel and Butter lay. “Why don’t we simply make as many words as we can? These look like a pretty tough collection of letters.”
     “I thought so, too, and I agree. Let’s get to it.”
     Marti nodded and began writing down words she’d already seen. It only took a few minutes before both of them had found all the words they could. When Marti handed Adam her pad, he wrote down the two words she’d found that he hadn’t. Together they’d found HIKE, HIKES, SHEIK, PIKE, PIKES, SPIKE, SKIP, HIPS, SHIP, and PIES.
     “Well, well, well,” Adam said. “Maybe Bagel thinks he needs some exercise.”
     Marti turned to him. “I presume you’re talking about HIKE.”
     “Indeed I am. I don’t really see anything else that makes any reasonable sense, unless you think that Bagel is saying we need to go to the Mason Jar for some coconut cherry PIE.”
     “I doubt that’s it, but it’s a heck of an idea. We haven’t had any for quite a while. But, I’d have to agree, the only word I see that makes any sense is hike.”
     “Pie does sound good, but I think I’d still vote for omelets this morning.”
     She smiled. “Is that a hint?”
     “Only a bit, and only if you’re ready.”
     “I think I can manage to rustle up a couple of omelets.” She glanced at the dice on the floor. “While I do that, why don’t you pick up the dice? Otherwise, one of us might forget and step on them when we come back into the living room.”
     “I can do that.” He got up from the couch and helped her up. He hugged her and gave her a brief kiss.
     “You can do better than that.”
     “I can, but you know what that might lead to. Right now, I’m hungry…for food, that is.” He winked.
     “Okay, you’ve convinced me.” She gave his arm an affectionate squeeze as she moved toward the kitchen.
     

Chapter 2

     While Marti busied herself in the kitchen, Adam picked up the Boggle dice, put them in the shaker box, and put the box back on the low shelf, leaving it within Bagel’s reach.
     He looked over at the two dogs lying side by side. “All right you guys, time to go out.” Bagel immediately got up while Butter needed a bit more coaxing. “You, too, Butter.” He gave her a few seconds to get up on her own but then leaned over, pulling her up gently by her collar. “Let’s go.” He walked through the kitchen, through the mud room, through the door to the porch with both dogs on his heels. They both scooted out the doggie door into the huge, tree-lined backyard as Adam picked up their food and water dishes. By the time he’d dished their food and filled the water dish in the mud room, the dogs were back on the porch so he put their bowls in their accustomed places on the porch. He watched until they finished eating. Though the dogs had been together for quite some time now, he still wasn’t completely sure he trusted Butter not to try to sneak some of Bagel’s food as Butter was still on half-ration.
     Adam let the dogs in and wandered over to sit at the kitchen table. Shortly, he heard the Boggle shaker box hit the floor again. “I guess Bagel has more to tell us.” He looked at Marti as she flipped the omelets in the frying pan. The teakettle started to scream in preparation for the mint tea they frequently had with breakfast.
     “We’ll have to wait until after breakfast this time. The omelets are almost finished.”
     “I agree.” He got up, put tea bags in two mugs, filled the mugs, and set them on the table.
     After they’d eaten, they put their dishes in the sink. Adam put his arm around her shoulder and together they strolled into the living room. Adam dropped his arm to allow Marti to retrieve the pads and pencils, one set of which she handed him. She wrote Bagel’s chosen letters on the top of her pad while Adam did likewise. This time the letters were L, O, P, R, T, and S.
     Adam joined Marti on the couch, nodded, and they both began. After a couple of minutes, Adam looked at Marti. “Yes, I’m through, too.” She gave him her pad. He wrote the three words she’d found that he hadn’t on his pad. Together they’d found PLOTS, PORTS, SPORT, STROP, PLOT, PORT, POST, POTS, PROS, SLOP, SPOT, STOP, TOPS, LOST, LOTS, ROTS, SLOT, and SORT. Adam tilted the list so Marti could see it as well.
     “Maybe Bagel changed his mind about going on a hike,” Marti said.
     Adam didn’t catch the meaning behind this interpretation. “What?”
     “STOP,” she said.
     “Oh, I get it, but I really doubt that’s it. Perhaps he wants to play with the flying disk in the backyard and doesn’t know how to spell it.”
     Now it was Marti’s turn to say, “What?”
     Adam smiled. “SPORT.”
     “Okay, I get it. But somehow, I don’t think that’s it either. I think most of the words can be eliminated as basically nonsense, but I do see one that might make sense in context with the word we found earlier.”
     This time Adam did know what Marti was implying. “You mean hike and now, I presume, you mean LOST as in LOST HIKEr.”
     “I think that makes as much sense as anything else, don’t you?”
     “Yeah, I guess so. Maybe there’s a lost hiker somewhere. Should we call the sheriff?”
     “I guess it wouldn’t hurt. As it was Bagel’s idea, if we interpreted his messages correctly, and there is someone lost, perhaps Bagel might be able to help the sheriff and us find that person.”
     “Could be.” Adam walked to the table beside the garage door, picked up his cell phone, and speed dialed the sheriff’s office.
     “Good morning, Patty,” Adam said to the receptionist. “Is the sheriff in?”
     “Ram, so nice to talk to you. Is there a problem?”
     “I certainly hope not, but I do have a question to ask the sheriff. Is he in?”
     “He’s lecturing a high school student who was brought in drunk earlier this morning. I’ll see if he wants to pause for a minute to talk to you.”
     “Ram,” Sheriff Daniel Stibbens said, picking up the phone, “what can I do for you?”
     “Do you remember I told you how Bagel separates Boggle dice out to pass messages on to us?”
     “How could I ever forget such an unbelievable thing? Why do you ask?”
     “Bagel has done it twice this morning and we think he’s trying to tell us there’s a lost hiker. Has anybody been reported missing?”
     “Not that I’ve been told. Let me ask Patty if anyone has called in. I’ll need to put you on hold for a second.”
     “Go right ahead.” Adam suddenly heard elevator music on the phone.
     Daniel was back in a few seconds. “No. Patty says no one has called in. I also asked Eugene and George, who haven’t heard anything either.” Eugene and George were Daniel’s deputies.
     Adam shook his head at Marti. “All right, Chief. We might have misunderstood the message Bagel gave us, but please get back to me if someone does call in.”
     “Surely, but I do hope your dog is wrong this time.”
     “We hope so as well. See you.”
     Adam turned to Marti as Bagel dropped a red, rubber alligator toy at her feet. “Did I miss you telling him to get red?”
     “I didn’t. He did it all on his own. Let’s see what happens if…Bagel, yellow.”
     Bagel immediately went to his pile of toys, bringing back another red toy.
     “You don’t suppose—”
     “Red Valley again?” Adam interrupted. Bagel had once before pointed the way to a small valley known to the locals as Red Valley, though it didn’t have an official name. “I don’t know. Let’s try again. Bagel, blue.”
     Bagel glanced up at Adam as if to say “How many times do I have to tell you,” but nosed another red toy out of the pile, dropping it with the others he’d retrieved.
     “I guess that’s a pretty strong indication,” Adam said.
     “I’d have to agree. Shall we get dressed and go hiking to see what we can find?”
     Adam looked thoughtful for a moment. “We don’t have anything else lined up for the day so I don’t see why not. I’m sure we could use the exercise anyway.”
     “Well, I sure could.” Marti patted her flat stomach, which Adam knew didn’t contain an ounce of fat.
     

Chapter 3

     Adam and Marti took Bagel with them to the Monongahela National Forest, stopping at the parking lot nearest to the entrance to Red Valley. Though Adam knew Bagel wouldn’t run away and would come when called, he still thought it prudent to start out with Bagel on his leash. All the snow had been gone from the forest floor for several weeks now, but Adam and Marti were still bundled against the chill. They also wore hiking boots in case the trail Bagel wanted to follow became rough in spots.
     Bagel did lead them unerringly to Red Valley as expected. When they’d gone part way up the valley, Bagel pulled to the left to begin climbing the relatively mild mountainous slope. As they followed Bagel farther up the slope, the area became more and more rock-strewn. They walked beside several steep cliffs where the rocky hillside had broken away centuries earlier and some more recently. After another hundred yards, Bagel slowed and then stopped, staring over the edge of the cliff. Adam and Marti started to move closer but pulled up quickly, deciding the rocky edge was unstable.
     Bagel continued to stare even when Adam attempted to pull him back from the edge.
     Adam looked at Bagel but couldn’t see beyond him to whatever drew his attention. “What is it, boy? Do you see something?”
     Not only didn’t Bagel allow Adam to pull him away, he even took two further tentative steps toward the edge.
     Adam turned to Marti. “There must be something there.”
     “I think you’re right. Bagel isn’t usually so insistent. But we’d better not get any closer to the edge; it doesn’t look safe.” She took a step back.
     “Agreed.” Adam looked to the right and left. “Hold the leash, Sweetheart. I’ll go a little farther on and see if the edge is more stable or if I can at least see down to what Bagel is staring at.”
     Marti took the leash. “All right, but you be careful.”
     “Rest assured I will.” He carefully moved to their right, not getting any closer to the edge until he could be sure it was safe. Then he inched forward until he could, in fact, see what Bagel had discovered.
     At the bottom of the cliff of about fifty feet sprawled a body. “There’s someone at the bottom of the cliff. I think he’s hurt. He’s not moving and I can see some blood. At least I think it’s blood.” He cupped his hands and called, “Hello down there. Are you hurt?” He received no response.
     Adam looked at Marti. “I’m going on a bit farther to see if I can find an easier way down. It seems to be rather steep here.”
     A look of concern crossed Marti’s face. She harbored an understandable concern for Adam and his seeming fondness of dangerous situations, but she was also concerned for the person at the bottom of the cliff. “Do you want me to come with you in case I can help?”
     Adam thought for a second before shaking his head. “No. I think I’d rather you stay there to help guide me in case I have trouble knowing where to go when I reach the bottom.”
     Marti nodded. “Whatever you say. I’ll guide you as well as I can but I’m not moving any closer to the edge.”
     “Please don’t. As you pointed out, it isn’t very safe. I’ll call out if I need guidance.” With that, Adam turned, going farther along while getting only as close to the cliff as seemed prudent. Finally he reached a point where the edge seemed to be more stable. He got down on all fours to peer over the edge. He looked to the left and could see Bagel and Marti, but the injured party was no longer visible. He reflected that his decision to have Marti stay where she was might have been the wisest thing he could’ve done. Though, realistically, all he needed to do is stick close to the cliff face after he got down. That way he would be sure to run into the body.
     Looking to the right, he couldn’t see the end of the cliff face. It seemed to go on and on. He thought he’d better find a way down soon, if possible. He couldn’t know how badly injured the person was nor how long whoever it was had been awaiting rescue. Looking from side to side on the face of the cliff, he saw a number of rather large outcroppings to the right and slightly below his current position. The cliff didn’t seem to be quite as high there. He hoped by carefully climbing from one outcropping to another, he could reach the bottom unscathed.
     “Marti,” he pointed, “I think I can climb down here. It’s a bit closer to the base of the cliff face and there are some rocks upon which to climb. Please stay where you are so I can use you as a beacon to the position of the body as I can’t see it anymore.”
     “Will do, Sweetheart. You be careful climbing down.”
     “Don’t worry, I will.” He moved to the right, getting down carefully and dangling his feet over the nearest boulder. He gently scooted forward until his feet were only a few inches above a reasonably flat portion, and then jumped down, leaning back lest he overbalance and fall forward. Turning to the right, he moved forward a foot or two and then jumped to the next outcropping a few feet below. Next, he had to squeeze between the rock he’d just been on and the one he was currently on to reach the rock below. Fortunately, he could squeeze through a small space between them. He lay on his stomach, feeling his way to the rock below. He couldn’t stand up but was able to inch his way out onto this boulder and pivot his body in order to face the front of the rock. He was on the last platform available, but now only, he judged, fifteen feet above the ground. With no hesitation, he found a few cracks in the boulder, inching his way over the semi-rounded front on his stomach. He continued until nothing was left on which to hang and then dropped the last ten or so feet. He landed on the downhill slope and, try as he might, couldn’t help overbalancing. He ended up on his back. Luckily, there were only loosely scattered rocks so he managed to miss them all as he fell.
     

Chapter 4

     Adam lay there for only a second or two gathering his wits before getting on his feet to move toward the body.
     Marti caught her breath when she saw him drop off the boulder and sprawl on the ground but breathed easier when she saw him get to his feet with seeming ease. “Are you alright?”
     “Not to worry. I simply overbalanced when I hit the ground. I’m fine.”
     Adam picked his way along the rock-strewn cliff face. He spotted the body when he got within twenty feet. He hurried over to the body as quickly as the loose footing allowed. He glanced down at the young man lying at his feet. Adam saw he’d hit his head on a rock but the wound had long since stopped bleeding. He also noticed the man’s left leg lying at an odd angle. He knew the leg had to be broken. “Hello,” Adam said but the young man didn’t stir. Adam felt for a pulse in his neck and was pleased to discover it was strong and steady. “He hit his head and I think he has a broken leg,” Adam hollered up at Marti. “But his pulse is strong so I think he’ll be okay. He has on some kind of jogging stuff and tennis shoes rather than hiking equipment. That’s probably why he fell.”
     “Who is he? Is he still bleeding?”
     “He’s not anyone I know. I don’t recognize him. And no, he’s not bleeding anymore. The blood is dried so I don’t think he’s been bleeding for a while. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of blood so I don’t think he bled long. However, because of how he fell, I don’t think I’d better move him. He might have neck or back injuries. I’m going to call the sheriff to see what he wants us to do.”
     “That sounds like a good idea to me.”
     “Ram,” the sheriff said when he answered the phone, “what can I do for you?”
     “You remember when I called you this morning and asked you if anybody reported a lost hiker?”
     “Indeed I do,” Daniel said.
     “Well, we thought we’d let Bagel lead us and guess what? We found an injured guy at the bottom of the cliff on the mountain to the left of Red Valley. I don’t know what the mountain is called.”
     “That’s all right. I know where you’re talking about. Who is it?”
     “I don’t know. I don’t recognize him and he’s not conscious.”
     “Can you tell what happened?”
     “All I can do is guess. I think he must have gotten too close to the edge of the cliff and fallen. He hit his head on a rock. He’s out cold, and I think his leg is broken. He does seem to have a strong pulse, though.”
     “I’ll send Eugene and George to help you, and I’ll also send the Canary Flight.” The Canary Flight was a helicopter rescue unit dispatched from the Canary Corners hospital. As one would suspect, the helicopter was painted bright yellow.
     “What do George and Eugene know about first aid? I don’t think he should be moved if he hit his head on a rock. He might have injured more than his head. Besides, as I mentioned, I think he has a broken leg.”
     “They both know first aid, but you make a good point. I’ll have them take an EMT with them. We certainly wouldn’t want to hurt the hiker any more than he already is.”
     “Okay, we’ll be waiting for them.”
     “I’ll have them come up from below, so they don’t have to worry about climbing down the cliff face.”
     “Good idea. I found a reasonably easy way to get down the face, but there’s no reason they should have to do that.”
     “Okay, stay where you are. If George and Eugene can’t find you for some reason or another, I’ll have them call you and you can guide them.”
     “Will do.” Adam looked up to where he knew Marti stood even though he couldn’t see her. “The sheriff is sending George, Eugene, and an EMT. He’s also going to call in the Canary Flight.”
     “That sounds like a good idea to me. I’m sure it’d be best to get him to the emergency room as quickly as possible.”
     “I’m sure that’s what the sheriff thought as well.”
     “Is there anything you can do for him while we’re waiting?”
     “I don’t know what that would be. I know a little bit of first aid, but because he’s not bleeding anymore, there isn’t anything I can do for his head wound and, as I said before, I don’t think it prudent to move him. As for his broken leg, I think I’ll leave it to the EMT to decide what to do about that.”
     “All right, I was merely curious.”
     “No problem, but for now, I think I’ll find some place to sit.” He wandered over to a few larger rocks.
     “How are you planning to get back up here?” Marti asked.
     He glanced from right to left along the cliff face. “I don’t know that I am. Perhaps it might be better for you to go back to Red Valley and walk along the base of the cliff so you can join me down here, as long as you’re careful. I really don’t like the idea of you out hiking by yourself. That’s how our friend here got into trouble. But I think it might be easier for us to leave together from down here. Naturally, if you don’t like that idea, we can wait until this is all over and then walk to Red Valley at the same time.”
     “We don’t know how long it’ll be before George and Eugene get here, so I think I’ll go ahead and walk back so I can join you down there. Don’t worry, I’ll be careful. I’ll move away from the cliff face so there’s no possibility I might fall.”
     “That sounds like a plan. I’ll see you when you get here.”
     “Okay, see you in a few.”
     Adam heard Marti and Bagel move away. About twenty minutes later, he heard his name being called. “I’m here,” he shouted in the direction where he thought the others were.
     

Chapter 5

     Eugene, George, and a man Adam didn’t know came up the hill. The stranger had a badge clipped to his shirt, giving his name as John. He carried what looked to be a medical bag of some kind. Adam knew John had to be the EMT. He was proved correct as John immediately knelt down beside the prone figure, took out a stethoscope, and listened to the young man’s heart. He looked up at Eugene and nodded. “A strong pulse. I think he’ll be okay, but I don’t like the looks of his head wound.” He pointed at the young man’s head. “And,” he pointed at his leg, “unless I miss my guess, his leg is broken.”
     George glanced at the young man, looked at where John pointed and then looked directly at John. “I trust you don’t know him.”
     “No,” John said. “I don’t. And, based on the question, I presume you don’t either.”
     “No, I don’t, but his face does seem familiar.” George looked thoughtful for a minute. “I can’t place him right now. Maybe it’ll come to me later.” He looked from Adam to Eugene. “How about you two?”
     “I don’t recognize him,” they both said, almost in unison.
     George looked again at John. “What do you want to do?”
     “I think we’d better call in the Canary Flight.” John looked up at George. “It’s already on standby, waiting to hear from me as to if it’s needed or not, and it’s definitely needed.” He pulled out a small radio transmitter that looked a lot like a cell phone and called the Canary Flight. He explained where they were and said he’d guide them to their exact location when they got close. He also told them to be sure to bring a backboard as there was the possibility of a back injury.
     “Well, I think introductions are in order.” Eugene pointed at Adam. “Ram, this is John, and, John, this is Ram, a reporter for the Tweet.”
     John glanced at Adam briefly and then back down at the young man. “You don’t have to tell me who Ram is. I’ve been reading his column ever since he came to Canary Corners. My favorite was the one about the Undress Inn. I’d always wondered how it got that name.”
     John took out some smelling salts, broke the capsule, and waved it under the young man’s nose to no avail. “He seems to be out pretty deep. He may have a concussion.” He glanced to the top of the cliff. “Which isn’t surprising considering how far he fell.”
     Adam looked close at the prone figure’s left hand. “I presume the missing finger doesn’t have anything to do with the fall?”
     John looked at the hand before shaking his head. “No. His finger’s been missing for a long time. It’s long since healed.”
     Eugene carefully looked for some identification on the body while John checked the body for any other injuries. Eugene found a wallet and held up the driver’s license for all to see. “According to his license, his name is Christopher Palomer. The license says he’s from Charleston. Ring any bells with anyone?”
     They all shook their heads.
     John took a portable splint out of his kit. He carefully arranged and splinted Christopher’s leg. He glanced up. “This is only temporary to hold the leg immobile until we can get him to the hospital where they can X-ray and properly set the leg.”
     John’s radio crackled to life and they heard the faint sounds of a helicopter overhead. “Yes,” John said into the radio, “we hear you. You’re a bit east of where we are.” In a few seconds, the helicopter appeared immediately overhead. “Send down the backboard. Then you can send the basket.”
     Shortly, the helicopter lowered a backboard to hold Christopher immobile. John reached up, pulling the backboard beside the prone body. He released the harness so the helicopter personnel could lower the basket next. “I’m going to need some help getting him onto the backboard. It’ll probably be best if we all do it together.” He told each of the other three where to stand and gave brief instructions how they were to lift the body. He pulled a neck brace out of his kit and placed it around Christopher’s neck, fastening it with the Velcro straps. He stayed where he was in order to be in the best position to support the spine. “Okay,” John said, glancing at the other three in turn, “lift on three like I told you.”
     They all nodded and John counted. On three, they all lifted Christopher’s body onto the backboard, Eugene carefully moving the broken leg into place. John fastened straps around his body. A few seconds later, the basket appeared above them and John explained how they were to lift the backboard into place. It took only another few seconds to affix the backboard onto the basket to John’s satisfaction. A final check of the helicopter cable and John told the helicopter to raise the basket.
     The basket went up slowly, but when it was near the top of the cliff, a sudden gust of wind blew the basket against the cliff, knocking free several small boulders. The last thing Adam heard was John calling, “Look out!” before one of the boulders hit him on the head and his world went black.