The path to the Camel’s Hump was about a metre wide, grey gravel covered with detritus from the forest. Already the sun was high enough that its golden light would catch him every so often in the eyes as he ran east. He slowed down. No point in rushing. The Killer wouldn’t escape now. There was no easy way off the Hump except back the way he’d come. The forests were very thick and dense here, where the rainfall was high. Often it might be sunny in the lowlands but the peaks would be shrouded in cloud and the forest would be dripping in a Scotch mist. The regrowth after the Ash Wednesday fires hadn’t been thinned, and passage through this part of the forest was difficult. In other places some of the original forest had survived the bushfires, and there the way through the trees was easier. And the whole north face of the Camel’s Hump was precipitous cliffs and badlands where lava pipes rose in vertical columns out of the mountain.
Colin didn’t want to be attacked while he was temporarily blinded by the sun. Reinforcements were on the way—he didn’t need to fling himself into an ambush. He slowed down to give himself more time to look ahead. He heard sirens in the distance, and approaching rapidly, the staccato whack-whack-whack of the police chopper. Behind him he could hear the thudding footsteps of Jeff Sorrenti, who’d obviously had the briefest of discussions with Cody and Luigi.
The path switched back to head west. At least the sun is out of my eyes, he thought. He was getting puffed. It was a steepish ascent. I’m not as young as I used to be, he reflected as he panted up the slope. Or as fit. I must start jogging again. I’ve let it slip.
The pathway was levelling off. They had reached the summit. He could see the Killer, running through the forest towards the edge of the cliff face. Suddenly he realised what the Killer was going to do.
He couldn’t shout to him, because he had no breath left. All he could do was pant out, “Don’t do it!” He doubted that the other man even heard him. The Killer scrambled up the last heap of boulders before the cliff edge. He turned to look back at Colin. Colin stopped, and again said, “Don’t do it. Come down. Be sensible.”
The Killer’s face was completely blank, as if there was no mind or intelligence left in him, a mask over whatever he was thinking. Still he didn’t move.