by EJ Pellham-Stewart
Sequel to "For All the Gods Departed." Part of the CHRONICLES OF JUDGMENT.
Janra kept a firm grip on her camera equipment as the land rover barrelled along the strip of border highway.
Emery Hopkins, inquiring reporter for the Los Angeles Times drove exactly like he wrote--fast, disciplined, and never skirting any bumps. It had made him an award winning correspondent, but it wasn't doing much for Janny's expensive lens attachments.
It was good to be back at work though--even if the best assignment offered had been to come out here to Honduras, and snap pictures for British World News. The News was interested in 'alerting' its readers to the escalating war between this country and neighbouring Nicaragua. Privately, Janny didn't think it'd shake the folks back home up all that much. The English had a remarkable facility for tuning out unpleasant facts of life.
As for her, she was simply happy that now, for the first time in over a year, she could look ahead to the future without cringing. For too long it had been simply the struggle to put one foot in front of the other and keep breathing.
"It's quiet, for a war zone," she shouted at Emery.
He nodded not taking his eyes off the road. "Yes -- I wonder, Davis said there was a lot of action up this way. Must be their day off."
"Must be." She lifted her camera bag to stop the buckle from digging into her thigh, and settled back to enjoy the hot Central American sunlight.
The rocket was launched with an accuracy that would have done credit to the best of the British Army. Graceful and deadly it shot along, a slight whining sound the only indication of its passage through the air. It hit the road in front of the speeding land rover with precision and exploded. The rover flew into the air, hung there suspended, then flipped over and crashed to the ground. Two bodies lay twisted at weird angles in the dust.
NICARAGUA DENIES ROLE IN KILLING JOURNALISTS
by: Peter Davis, British World News Staff Writer
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras--A Honduran army helicopter flew the bodies of two slain journalists to Tegucigalpa for shipment home, as the Nicaraguan government rejected the charge that its soldiers killed the reporters Tuesday as they drove along the Honduran side of the embattled border.
Emery Hopkins, 56, of the Los Angeles Times, and Janra Cowley, 26, a free lance photographer on assignment for British World News, were the first journalists killed in the expanding war in southern Honduras. Government sources insist that the pair were killed by rockets launched by Sandinista insurgents. Both the American and British governments reject the claim, and a statement issued in London late Tuesday evening placed the blame square on Nicaraguan soldiers. A State Department communique has strongly protested this "unwarranted and vicious attack on civilians in Honduran Territory."
Miss Cowley's body was flown to London yesterday on a commercial airliner. According to British Consul Sarah Hemmings, Miss Cowley will be buried at an undisclosed location, as per the sealed instructions left with her legal representative in England. The Honduras assignment was Miss Cowley's first after a year of self-imposed retirement following the death of her father, George Cowley, former controller of Criminal Intelligence 5.
Hopkins' body was still being held in Tegucigalpa today, pending the arrival of his wife from Los Angeles. A 30 year veteran reporter for the L.A. Times, Mr. Hopkins was recently awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his series on the war in Afghanistan.
Murphy stood in the grey, English twilight, and tried to ignore the heavy quiet that wound around him like a blanket. A small black cat sat neatly at his feet, an expression of unblinking dignity on its whiskered face. Winston ignored Murphy, his attention was tuned to listening for other things.
In front of them were four graves, manicured headstones side by side, nearly identical. Murph stared at the newest of the lot, but he didn't see the flowers he'd placed on the mound. His mind saw Janny laughing for the first time in months, striding off to board a plane, eager to get back to work...
Winston now deigned to eye Murphy; the cat sensed the sadness of his human companion. He briefly wished for speech, if only to assure him that everything was alright, and if he wanted the comforting presence of his friends he was looking in entirely the wrong place...
Abruptly, Winston's attention was caught and held by the sound of a familiar step. The cat looked up, eyes narrowed, and a peculiar, wholly feline look of satisfaction crossed its face. They hadn't left him behind, after all. Good. He stood, and stretched, pausing to wind himself around Murphy's legs by way of thanks for the human's care over the past month; then, for once in his life obedient when called, bounded off into the shadows.
Laughing, Janra scooped Winston into her arms. Here we are cat--did you think you'd been forgotten?? He meowed eloquently in response, looking at her smugly. Forget him....Impossible... Time to go, kitten, she added.
"Hey, Cat!" Murphy was calling, wondering what the wretched animal had taken off after this time. He called and searched for over an hour, but no trace of Winston turned up. Finally, he gave up; it was dark and cold and he'd far rather be home than in this place..
Janra watched Murphy give a final bellow for Winston, then shrug, and begin heading for his car. Poor Murphy--it would have been nice to be able to put him out of his misery by explaining, but that was impossible. It'd been a big enough risk, coming back for the cat. Anyway, it was better, in the long run, that he didn't realise....
Winston batted her with an impatient paw. Were they going to stay here???
No you silly cat, we're not.
But she watched until Murphy's car had disappeared before giving into the impatient cat.
Oh all right. She turned and began walking. Winston was right--no point in keeping the others waiting.
The Cemetery was left to itself, empty--at least temporarily--of all its ghosts...
-- THE END --