The Trooper pulled in behind Sheppard and left the engine running. He sat there for what seemed like an eternity. Sheppard’s grip of the gun tightened as he waited for the officer to get out and approach his car. Finally the door swung open and the Trooper got out and slowly meandered up to where Sheppard sat. He was tall and muscular with thin pursed lips and features tanned and complex yet hidden behind the dark abyss of the twin orbs of his sunglasses and the brimmed hat of a highway patrolman. His walk was confident and deliberate in its relaxed pace, surely to intimidate the suspect. It was working. Sheppard felt his anxiety reach a fevered peak.
Play it cool Shep. This might be nothing. It couldn’t be them yet. Just going too fast.
Sheppard pulled his hand from the bag and lowered the window as the officer came to the side. “Yes, Officer, what seems to be the trouble?”
The Trooper’s voice was low and gravelly. “Do you know how fast you were going?”
Speeding, that’s all. Just let him give you a ticket. “No, I guess my mind was focused on other things. I’m sorry.”
“Licence and registration please.”
“Of course Officer.”
But they’ll know Shep. They’re already looking for you. They’re tied into the grid. They’ll find out where you are. Once they get the satellite images you’re done.
“Is there a reason you have no plates on this vehicle Sir?”
Shit the plates! I didn’t put them back on when I left the motel. Grab the gun Shep! Shoot him!
Sheppard thought quickly. “Yes Officer. Some kids must have taken them when I was staying in Butte. Or at least that’s what I think happened. Must be some new thing like collecting hood ornaments. Remember that?....”
“Step out of the vehicle slowly. Keep both hands where I can see them.” The trooper had placed his hand on his holster and unsnapped the release.
Too late. Now I’ll be dead before I can get a shot off. “By all means Officer.” Sheppard unbuckled his seatbelt, trying to keep his cool. He slowly opened the door and got out. He handed his info to the Trooper.
“It’s against the law to drive an unplated vehicle Sir. Why didn’t you take care of it in Butte?”
“I didn’t realize the plates were gone until I stopped last night in Columbia Falls. I guess that’s why all those trucker’s were blasting their horns at me. I was going to take care of it when I got to Martin City, but you pulled me over first.”
“Martin City is in the other direction Sir. You’re headed for Glacier National Park.”
“I am? I guess it’s evident I’m not from around here. I'm not exactly a genius when it comes to sense of dirrection.”
The Trooper remained stoic. “Stay here Sir, while I check this out and don’t get back into the vehicle.” He returned to his patrol car and spent some time on the radio occasionally glancing up and looking in Sheppard’s direction. Each second was agonizing and it was time he didn’t have to spare.
The Officer appeared to be talking quickly now as if new information had just reached his ears. This man isn’t who he seems. He’s a dangerous fugitive wanted by Federal B.I. dead or alive. Approach with extreme caution. The Trooper gazed at Sheppard from the patrol car through the impenetrable deep of his shades. His brow furrowed as if contemplating his next move. He suddenly got out and walked briskly toward Sheppard.
Here it comes, Shep. He’s going to do what you couldn’t. Put one in your brain pan and say it was in self defence.
The Trooper was almost on him now. Close enough to finish him off execution style. Command him to his knees and jam the cold barrel into his crown. One squeeze and his gray matter would explode into his throat with shattered fragments of skull.
“Normally I would impound the car,” The Trooper said. “But it’s your lucky day.” He handed a ticket for speeding to Sheppard. “Take care of the plates in Martin City, buy yourself a GPS and slow it down Sir.”
“Yes Officer. Thank you.”
The Trooper hustled back to his car. He sped off with the siren blaring in the direction of Coram. Something must have happened that had him leave in a hell of a hurry, but what?
Sheppard watched as he pulled from sight then tossed the ticket on the ground and climbed back into the car and drove after him. Inside he knew.
So it’s begun...Project Eden.....I’m too late.