VANISHED IN THE ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE IN ALASKA – PART 1

I thought of this story when I read an article about THE ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE.  The details about it were much more than I remembered or possibly knew.  But anyway, this story came from it.  Enjoy the story.

photo by David Mark

 Who sneaks into The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and disappears?

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is not a place for those who hate nature.  But if you are a nature buff who enjoys exploring all that nature has to offer, The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is for you.  It can feel as if you are isolated from the world.  You can commune with nature in its rawest form.  But you cannot let this sacred land distract you.  You still have to pay close attention to your surroundings.  Not only the wild animals. 

There are possibilities you will meet different people.  Some are there for the same reasons you are, to commune with nature.  Others may simply want to experience the sheer beauty of The Refuge.  Then some will have secret reasons for entering The Refuge and not being seen.     

PART 1

A Beautiful Piece Of Hell

FBI AGENT CARL DAVIS stepped off the helicopter and looked around.  The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), he thought.  Its attraction was lost on him.  Nothing but nature as far as the eye could see.  It was one of the few times he wished the brochures’ descriptions of a place were wrong.

“Why in the hell am I here?” he whispered to himself.

Rhetorically questioning himself did not change anything.  He knew why he was there.  The answer was simple.  The higher-ups sent him.  No one in the federal or Alaska State government wanted to hear about a possible disappearance in the largest and wildest publicly owned land in the United States.  If someone was missing, he had better damn well find them.   

Davis had had the helicopter land fifty meters away from where he needed to be.  He would walk the rest of the way.  He gave the pilot a thumbs-up and started walking.  The pilot waved at him and prepared to wait.

The way the wind was kicking around and the added wind from the helicopter’s blades would help distort the crime scene.  If it was a crime scene.  Regardless, he did not want to blow away any evidence.  The strong cold wind forced him backward. 

“Damn it,” he said.  He regained his balance before slipping down a slight embankment.  “This nature stuff stinks.” 

He reached into his pocket and took out a folded sheet of paper.  It was a cheat sheet he created inside his hotel room. He was not sure who was waiting for him up ahead.  If it was someone from one of the native communities, it would help to know about the place.  The residents of this area were probably like other neighborhoods.  The more he knew about them, maybe the more the locals would talk with him.

He scanned the sheet and mumbled to himself.

Alaska was home to two-thirds of all the land in the National Park System.  That is 54 million acres of wilderness.  It was easy to get lost in The ANWR.  It consists of 19,287,722 acres.  It is the largest wildlife refuge in the country.  Four times the size of Yellowstone Park and just slightly smaller than Switzerland.

A person could get lost out here, he thought. 

Estimates of 1,200 to 1,500 visitors trek through the remote area every year. 

Why? He thought sarcastically.  This place was so remote your options are to walk in through Dalton Highway or take a bush plane in. Then he read the bottom of the paper.  An asterisk was at the front of the paragraph.       

* As scenic as the park is, you still need to pay attention.  Grizzly bears and Polar bears roam the area.  Grizzly bears and pregnant female Polar bears hibernate during the winter months.  The male Polar bears do not.  They remain active.

He looked around.  Bears?  Man-eating bears.  “That’s great,” he whispered.

He walked faster to the scene.

If you enjoyed Part 1 of this story, pass it along to a friend and follow me on my blog

I’ll see you tomorrow.

I have a few new short stories coming out.  I’ll let you know about them soon.

Take care.

Thanks.

Stephen Wallace          


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