Title:             Lost
Author:         Rhonda Dossett
Character:     CJ and Toby unless the other characters 
                     take over.
Rating:         PG13
Summary:       CJ and Toby's plane crashes in the Andes.
Spoilers:        Minor possible spoilers up to and
                     including "Indians in the Lobby"
Disclaimers:     The normal disclaimers apply.  The characters
                       are not mine and never will be.
Feedback:       Greatly appreciated at

Note: This story is centered around a plane crash.  No
terrorist activity is involved and it is not meant to represent
any current events.  But readers who are particularly sensitive
to mentions of plane crashes might want to give this story a

She was so cold.

Slowly, as CJ regained consciousness, she remembered the crash.  The night before
flashed in her mind like a disjointed slide show complete with sound effects.

CJ heard the desperate pilot trying to radio for help and getting no response. 
She heard the words "mechanical difficulties" and "loss of power."

She saw the Andes all around them, then a single mountain immediately ahead, and
then the rushing trees.

The loud screeching sounds of ripping metal still echo in her ears.

She remembered the plane tumbling, then nothing until the cold nudged her awake.

Opening her eyes she looked around the crumpled interior of the small plane. 
Early morning light was seeping into the interior, illuminating the disaster inside. 
Half of the plane's cabin had been ripped away.  The right side was gone.

Looking toward the front of the plane, she saw that the windshield was also gone. 
Snow was blowing inside coating the scattered luggage and debris.  The pilot was
slumped in his seat. His neck was at an impossible angle.  The copilot was gone
along with the other half of the plane.

The plane was tilted on its remaining side.

Wiping blood from her eyes and releasing her seat belt, CJ crawled upward to the
aisle avoiding the sharp edges of twisted metal.

Last night Toby had been sitting across from her typing on his laptop, complaining
about being sent on the advance trip.  Now there was nothing but air and snow where
his seat had been.

Shouting into the frigid void, she called for him. 

Only the wind returned her words.


Toby had been sitting absolutely still for hours waiting for daybreak.  The first rays
of light confirmed what he had only suspected before.  He was one wrong move away from
certain death.

It was ironic that someone who hated nature and being outdoors as much as he did, had
ended up in this situation.

The good news was that he was alive and still strapped in his airplane seat.  The bad
news was that his seat was dangling from a tree limb, about 30 feet above the snow and
rock covered ground below.

He didn't seem to be hurt but he couldn't remember ever being this cold before. 
Moisture from his breath had frozen on his beard and his hands and feet felt numb. 

During the night he had pulled his woolen neck scarf from his neck and wrapped it around
the top of his head and ears.  But he was still freezing since his sports jacket offered
little protection from the icy winds that continued to rock him back and forth.

He'd had a lot of time to think during the bitter night hours and he'd decided that his
current situation was all President Bartlet's fault.  Normally he would never have been
sent on an advance trip.  The Administration had numerous lower level lackeys who would
jump at the chance to check out a foreign locale and the arrangements for a Presidential

Looking down at the ground below him, he thought maybe he should avoid using, or even
thinking, the phrase "jump at the chance." 

The plain fact was the President was punishing him.  Toby wasn't sure what CJ had done
to deserve this trip, but he knew why he was here.  In a heated discussion last week,
he had accused the President of being too willing to buy into the latest environmental
cause (rainforest preservation) at the expense of business and the campaign.

In response, the President decreed that Toby obviously needed more first hand information
about environmental issues, and in particular rainforest preservation. The next thing he
knew, he and CJ and about a half dozen Secret Service agents, were at Reagan National
boarding a plane to South America.

Five plane changes and two days later he ended up here.  Swinging from a limb.  And from
the looks of the all the snow and rocks around him, no where close to a rainforest.  So
much for gaining first hand information.

Now he was absolutely certain that he hated the great outdoors.


She was still cold but it was bearable since she had added a few layers.  Rummaging through
some of the luggage strewn about the cabin, CJ found a pair of men's hiking boots and heavy
socks.  The boots were a little large, but with the socks they weren't a bad fit.  A couple
of men's shirts and her own leather jacket completed her outfit.  While buttoning up one of
the shirts, she spared a moment to wonder whose clothes she was borrowing and if she'd ever
get to thank them. 

There was no sign yet of the other passengers.  Except for the pilot still sitting in the
remains of the cock pit, she was alone.  When the plane had taken off from Quito, Ecuador
there were 10 people on board including the pilots.  Surely, there was someone else alive. 
There had to be.

Trying not to think of the most realistic possibilities, CJ busied herself gathering some
supplies.  In the back of her mind she had already decided to set off on foot looking for
other survivors, looking for Toby.

She found an emergency kit packed in a nylon duffle bag stowed near the pilot.  It contained
a variety of items including: first aid supplies, flares, bottled water, water-proof matches,
nylon rope, a flashlight and batteries, a couple of solar reflective blankets, a GPS unit, a
compass, maps, etc.

There was another bag strapped in the overhead bin.  It contained more water, several metal
pots with lids and wire handles, more matches, a folding knife, several spoons, two metal
cups, an assortment of dried food packets, tea bags, and energy bars. 

CJ stuffed her purse into the food bag and slipped on her sunglasses.

Grabbing both bags, she slung the strap of one over her right shoulder and held the other
in her left hand. 

Climbing out of the plane CJ surveyed her surroundings.  The remains of the plane was resting
on a barren slope of about 30 degrees.  The plane's slide had been halted by several
Volkswagen sized boulders.  About a foot of snow covered the ground.

Up slope from plane the area was populated with tall trees and more boulders.  In the distance
she could see the end of the tree line, endless snow covered peaks and the areas too high in
elevation for anything to grow.

Turning around she looked past the plane, down the slope.  Nothing but snow, trees, rocks,
more rocks, and one broken plane wing.

Taking the broken plane wing as a sign, she headed down the mountain.


Getting down the slope wasn't as easy as it looked, CJ thought after sliding down much of
the last 100 feet on her bottom.  Standing up, she brushed the snow off again and picked
up her bags.  Briefly she thought about leaving one them or at least lightening the weight
of the bags.  But she was afraid of discarding anything until she had a better idea of how
long she might be stranded.

She had walked a couple of miles when she started seeing debris from the plane.  Insulation
and sheet metal decorated the scattered shrubs and hung from the trees like tinsel.

Up ahead she saw part of the plane. Dropping the bags, she ran closer.

Partially covered by snow and sandwiched between two boulders, she found the right side of
the cockpit complete with strapped in co-pilot.  For a moment, just a moment, she thought
he might be alive.  From a distance he appeared to be unhurt.  He looked like he was just
sitting there waiting for instructions from the pilot.

Standing next to him, she saw the bluish skin tone and the fist-sized indentation on the
left side of his skull.  He was dead.

Maybe they all were dead.

Suddenly she dropped to her knees, shaking.

All the fear that she had been keeping at bay rushed at her.  Everything she had been denying
or avoiding thinking about crowded into her mind.  The pilot and co-pilot were dead.  The rest
of the passengers were missing, probably dead.  Toby was probably dead.  She was going to die. 
Die on this mountainside in some unidentified country all alone.

"Oh, God, please help me!" she screamed.

"You'll have to wait in line, I asked first," Toby answered from above.


Looking up, CJ scanned the trees.  With some trepidation she called out, "Toby?"

"Well it's not God," a familiar, sarcastic voice replied.

Taking off her sunglasses and walking around the immediate area, she failed to locate him. 
"Where the hell are you?"

"I'm closer to heaven.  Look up.  Up," he directed.

"Where?" she questioned in a puzzled voice, looking up into the trees.

Gritting his teeth, he instructed her, "Higher - look higher."

Tilting her head back, she finally located his lofty perch.   "Oh  -  my  -  God."

In a deceptively calm voice Toby answered, "I thought we already covered that."

Ignoring his words, she continued to walk in a circle below him, while looking up.
She opened and closed her mouth several times but no words came out.

"Watch where you're walking, you're going to fall over something!" he warned just as she
tripped over a piece of metal.

Kneeling on the frozen ground, she just looked at him.

Shading her eyes with one hand, CJ finally found her voice again.  "What are you doing
up there?" she asked, wringing her hands.

"Bird watching.  What do you think I'm doing?" he grumbled.

Angrily scrambling to her feet, she yelled at him. "Toby get down from there, right now!"

Frowning at her, he stated the obvious, "I would love to but I'm still working on a plan
whereby I not only get down, but survive the journey."

"Can't you just, I don't know, just release the seat belt, grab a limb, and climb down the
tree?" she asked hopefully.

Toby in a sarcastic tone answered, "First you thought I was God, now you think I'm a monkey?
Did you hit your head in the crash?"

Her eyes filled with tears at his words.  "For your information I did.  See?  Look here,"
she demanded pushing up her bangs, exposing the bloody cut on her forehead.

"Uh, CJ, I can't see that well from here.  Maybe I could check out your injuries later?"
he gently asked, finally starting to show a little concern at her uneven responses.  "Right
now maybe you could help me figure out how to get down.  Okay?"

Nodding her head, she swiped her eyes and stared at the airplane seat caught in the tree limbs. 
"What do you need? Besides a ladder I mean."

Looking at the large limb above his head, he reflected, "Well a rope would be a big help."

"Wait here," she ordered, running back up the slope and out of his sight.

Grimacing, he shook his head.  "Where does she think I'm going?"


The rope missed his hand again.

A dozen or more throws and she hadn't even come close, CJ wearily considered.

"Unless you get it up here, I'm never going to be able to climb down.  You're going to have
to throw it higher,"  Toby yelled down.

"Sure thing, Rapunzel," she muttered.

"What?  I didn't hear you."

"I said this isn't going to work, the rope is too light," CJ replied.

Frowning, he considered the problem.  "Okay, then tie some kind of weight to one end."

"Like what?"

"Something about the same size and weight as a baseball," Toby suggested.

Looking through the bags at her feet, CJ failed to find anything that she thought would
work.  The flashlight was a possibility, but she was afraid she would break it.  Plus, she
didn't have a clue as to how she would attach it to the nylon rope.

"Try a rock," Toby yelled.

CJ looked up at him and asked, "How do I attach the rope?"

"Do I have to think of everything?"

"I would think you would have a higher degree of motivation, since you're the one stuck
in a tree.  So, yes."

"Put a sock in it."

"I beg your pardon."

"I said put it in a sock.  Put the rock in a sock and tie the sock to the rope."

"That actually might work," she said, sitting down and beginning to unlace one boot.

"Will you hurry up? I can't sit in this position for much longer.  My butt's numb."

She thought that he had certainly been a pain in hers.  "Give me a minute to put my boot
back on.  I'm not going to stand here barefooted in the snow."

Tying the rock-filled sock to the rope only took a few seconds.

CJ cocked her arm back and threw it towards Toby's outstretched hand.

"Ball one," Toby heckled.

"Shut up, and let me concentrate."

Gathering up the sock and rope again, she prepared to give it another try.

"It would help if you didn't throw like a girl," Toby commented.

"You sorry son of a *****."  She leaned back and threw the rock as hard as she could.

He caught it with one hand and grinned.

Leo's office ~ Day 1

The plane Toby and CJ were traveling in was 12 hours overdue at Arequipa, Peru.

Leo hung up the phone and pulled off his glasses.  Rubbing his eyes, he leaned back
in his chair.

With a weary sigh, he got up and walked to the door on his right, the one that led to
the Oval Office.

He dreaded delivering the message he had just received from the State Department. 
Two of the President's Senior Staff, three Secret Service Agents, and three employees
from the Travel Office were missing somewhere in the Andes, presumed dead.

It wasn't that long ago that it had been his job to go into the Oval Office and tell
the President that his personal secretary was dead.

Now it was his job to tell the President that his Communications Director and Press Secretary
were presumed dead.

He was beginning to believe that most of the time his job sucked.

Andes Mountain Range ~ Day 1

"Tilt your head up a little more," Toby insisted.

Sitting on a rock, CJ had her eyes closed and one hand held her bangs off her forehead.

Toby was leaning over her, cleaning the blood and dirt off her face.

"Ouch, that stings," she complained, as Toby applied an antiseptic to the ragged cut on
her head.  

"Do you want me to blow on it?" he asked.

Her eyes popped open, "What?"

Holding her chin with one hand and the iodine with another, he smiled, "That's something
my mother always said.  If you blow on it, it's not supposed to hurt so bad."

With a skeptical look on her face, she asked, "Does that really work?"

Putting a bandage on her cut, he confided, "It always made me feel better."

AI think I'm going to need a little more than that before I feel better."

Putting away the first aid supplies in the bag, he raised his eyebrows and gave her
a questioning look.

"Oh you know, the basics: a hot bath, a change of clothes, a hot meal, and a cab ride home.

Picking up both bags, he promised to work on her list if she led him back to the main crash

Standing up, she quipped, "You do realize that it's all up hill from here?"

Andes Mountain Range ~ Day 1, late afternoon

The jagged half shell of the plane was still lodged against the boulders on the sloped area.
Once again Toby was sitting in an airline seat.  This time it was on the ground, or close
enough.  He sat in the pilot's seat of the wreaked plane, tinkering with the radio. 

Earlier he and CJ had carried the dead pilot out of the plane and placed him alongside the
bodies of the two Secret Service agents they had found about 100 feet from the wreckage.
Toby was hoping that he could get the plane's radio working so they wouldn't have to deal
with the problem of finding a more permanent resting place for the casualties.  

Toby had spent the last hour working on the radio without success.  His prayer for some,
as yet unrealized, electrical engineering skill had remained unanswered.

Intermittently, he was able to hear some static on the receiver but most of the time,
the radio seemed to be without power.  He had tried transmitting a Mayday call, but he
was fairly certain no message was getting out. 

CJ was pouring over maps, sitting near a campfire about 20 feet from the plane. They had
worried about building the fire, what with jet fuel and the risk of explosions.  Then they
had realized that the fuel tanks weren't with this part of the wreckage.

Toby shook his head, thinking that was probably the only reason CJ was alive. 

Getting up from the seat, he jumped down from the plane.  Stretching, he rubbed his
lower back.  It would probably be years, if ever, before he was comfortable sitting
in a chair for long periods of time. By his calculations, he had been stuck, immobile,
in that airline seat in what he now thought of as "his tree" for over 9 hours.  By the
time he climbed down that nylon rope, he could hardly walk.

The two mile trek back to the main plane wreckage, all up hill as CJ had warned, had
worked most of the kinks out.  Now he just felt like he had been in a bad car wreck.
Every bone in his body ached.  He wondered if there was a medical term for total body

"Hey, any luck with the radio?" CJ asked, noticing his descent from the cockpit.

Putting his hands in his pants pockets and walking closer to the fire, he shrugged,
"Nothing so far."

She nodded and pushed up her glasses.

"How are you doing?  Have you figured out where we are?" he asked, looking down at the
map spread on the ground in front of her.

"Not exactly," tapping her right index finger against a spot north of Lima, CJ explained.
"Based on the time we left Quito and the time of the crash plus the pilot's flight plan,
I think we're in the Cordillera Blanca mountains, probably in the Huascaran National Park."

Sitting down beside her, Toby asked, "Are you kidding? That's great.  How big is this park?
How many acres?"

Glancing at his face and then quickly back down at the map, she softly answered.  
"I don't know how many acres, but it's about 100 miles in length."

He sighed and put his hand on hers, squeezing tight.

Looking into his eyes, she resolutely nodded.

Andes Mountain Range ~ Day 1, late night

"Toby, Toby are you awake?" CJ whispered.

The sun had set several hours before and the temperature was steadily dropping.
Each wrapped in a solar blanket, they were lying in a half circle around the fire. 
The tops of their heads were almost touching.



"Are you asleep?"

"What do you think?"

"Sorry.  I just . . ."

"What's wrong?"

"I'm cold."

"Do you want to get back in the plane?"

"No, I think it's colder in there.  All that metal, it's like a refrigerator."

"Okay, I'll put some more wood on the fire."


"You're welcome."




"Did you hear something?"

"No.  Why?"

"I thought I heard something."

"It's just the wind."

"I read in one of those guide books that there are jaguars in Peru."

"Just in the rainforest  -  I think.  Go to sleep."



"Now what?"

"I'm still cold."

"I don't think a bigger fire will help, we couldn't get as close to it."

"Would you . . . would you just hold me?"

"Okay, but I get to lie next to the fire."

"Oh you . . ."

"Ouch, what was that for?"

"Some gentleman you are, I'm already freezing.  Why do I have to be on the outside."

"Hey, I cooked tonight."

"Yeah, but it was gummy."

"It was oatmeal, what do you expect?"

"What?  Miss Julia Child never covered oatmeal in those cooking shows you like?"

"Come here, you can be on the fire side."



"Yes, CJ?"

"Do you think they know we're missing?"

"I'm sure Leo got a call when our plane was late.  They're probably organizing a search."

"Do you think they believe we're dead?"

"Go to sleep."




"Thank you."

"For what?"

"Not dying in the crash."

"You're welcome, now shut up."

US Military Aircraft - Day 2, pre-dawn hours

Josh reread the same State Department reports he had already read so many times
he'd committed them to memory.  Five wrinkled pages of information could be summarized
in a few lines.  The chartered plane with the White House advance team had left Quito,
Ecuador at 6:30 pm local time headed for Lima, Peru.  The plane was due to arrive at
9:45 pm local time.  It never made it.  No distress calls.  No radar information. 
No emergency transponder signals detected.  Just, nothing.

Folding the reports in half, he placed them in the outside pocket of the backpack that
was stuffed under the seat in front of him. 

"Don't you think you should try to get some sleep?  We won't be in Caracas for another
two hours."

Josh glanced over at Sam who was sitting in the adjacent seat.  "I've never been able to
sleep on planes."

"You don't have any trouble sleeping on Air Force One," Sam joked.

"I don't think of Air Force One as a plane, it's more like a moving office."
With an wry smile, he added, "I can sleep in an office, no problem."

Leaning back against the seat and crossing his arms over his chest, Sam asked, "Do you
think Toby and CJ are sleeping?"

Ignoring Sam's question, Josh asked one of his own.  "Tell me something.  How did you
talk Leo into letting you go with me?  Last I heard he was adamant about keeping at
least one member of the Senior Staff in the West Wing."

Opening a bottle of water, he took a sip while he waited for Sam's answer.

Looking out the window into the dark sky, Sam calmly replied, "I resigned."
"What?" asked a startled Josh, sputtering water on both him and Sam.

Eyes flashing, Sam declared, "There was no way I was staying in D.C.  No way I was
staying out of this.  I gave him my letter of resignation and started making my own
flight arrangements."

Josh, wanting the rest of the story inquired, "And?"

Sam, wiping water off his shirt, shrugged, "And, I think the President told Leo to let
me go with you, because a few minutes later Charlie handed my letter back to me along with
a travel authorization package."

Pulling out the ragged, and now damp, State Department reports again, Josh smiled at Sam
and said, "Well, I'm glad you're here.  Since I don't speak Spanish, you could be useful."

Punching Sam's shoulder, he added, "I also need someone to carry my bags."

Sam just looked out the window, fingering a small pink rubber ball.

Leo's Office - Day 2, morning

"Is there any news?"

Leo looked up from the work on his desk and started to stand.

The President waved him down and then seated himself on Leo's couch.

"Is there any news?" he impatiently asked again.

"No, not yet.  Josh and Sam made it to Caracas a couple of hours ago, and they caught
a commercial flight to Quito." 

Looking at his watch, Leo added, "They should be arriving there any time now."

"What about the State Department?  What are they doing?"

Leo got up and walked over to an arm chair next to the couch.

Sitting, he answered, "Tom Calaway, our Ambassador is working with the Peruvian government. 
They're starting an aerial search today for the plane."

Leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, the President looked down at the floor and
reluctantly asked, "Do you think they're alive, Leo?"

"Until we have some evidence . . .," Leo started to answer, but stopped himself when
he saw the expression on the President's face.

"No," Leo gruffly confided. "I don't think they are."

Andes Mountain Range ~ Day 2

Toby and CJ were sitting near the camp fire, drinking weak tea out of metal cups and
contemplating their situation.

"Do you think it's warmer today?" CJ asked.

Toby nodded.  "Yeah, I think it's above freezing, some of the snow is starting to melt.
I forgot it's almost summer here."

Stretching her legs out toward the fire, she questioned, "Should we be doing something?"

"Like what?"

"I don't know.  Maybe walking down the mountain.  It would be warmer, the farther down we go.
If we just kept heading west, we would get to the Pacific ocean."  Of course it might take
awhile, she thought to herself.

"We should stay with the plane.  There's a better chance of us being found if we stay with
the plane," he confidently asserted.

She laughed.  "Just how many plane crashes have you been in, Toby?"

His eyes twinkled.  "One too many."

Sobering, she pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs. 
"I think we need to consider what to do if no one finds us right away.  How long do we wait?
Our food won't last more than a week."

In response, Toby got to his feet and started pacing.  Rubbing the top of his head, he
muttered, "I don't know."

"What?" she asked in mock surprise.  "Toby Zeigler is saying he doesn't know something? 
Now I'm sure I'm dreaming."

Resting her chin on her knees, she softly added, "Maybe this whole episode is just a bad

Looking down at the top of her bent head, he muttered, "Yours or mine?  Cause I've gotta
say that I usually have better dreams than this, especially when you're in them."

Popping her head up in astonishment, she stared at him.  "Are you flirting with me? 
Because if you are, you need more practice and your timing sucks."

"Hey, it's your dream."  Smiling he stuck his hands in his pockets and walked over to the

Lima, Peru - Day 2, early afternoon

Backpacks and duffle bags were piled around them. After their flight from Quito,
Sam and Josh had exchanged their business suits for jeans and t-shirts.  Hiking boots
and insulated jackets completed their attire. 

During their flight from Quito, Ecuador to Lima, Peru, they had practically hung their
heads out the windows, looking for something, anything.  The State Department's best
information put the crash site somewhere in the mountains between the two cities.

Both of them knew that their plane was flying at too high an altitude for them to see
much of anything but the general physical features of the landscape.  But it turned out
that they saw even less than that.  All they saw were clouds.

Now, they were standing in the Lima Airport talking with the US Ambassador to Peru,
Tom Calaway. 

Several State Department employees were working nearby with Peruvian Custom Agents,
completing the necessary paperwork and cutting the obligatory red tape.

Red tape knew no national boundaries, Sam observed.  He was only half listening to
Ambassador Callaway's reiteration of the same information that his office had sent
to the White House the day before.

Pulling his attention from the Custom Agents, Sam noticed Josh starting to lose patience
and decided it was time to intervene.

"Mr. Ambassador, thank you for your comprehensive briefing.  It has been invaluable,
just like your earlier reports." Actually exactly like his earlier reports, Sam thought.
"Right now, we need to know about the aerial search.  How's it going?" 

It took another five minutes before Sam was able to pull out the information they were
looking for.  The search had started and stopped all within a few hours.  Calaway apologized
profusely, but relayed his inability to control the weather or force the Peruvian pilots
to endanger their lives.

Josh only caught the words "search stopped" before he was on his cell phone to Leo.

Andes Mountain Range ~ Day 2, early afternoon

The rain was a driving force to be reckoned with, only they had very little means to
combat it.

Huddling in the half shell of the plane, CJ and Toby were being soaked by the torrential
rainfall.  There was only enough of the plane's roof left to keep out the rain that fell
vertically.  The problem was most of the rain seemed to be blowing horizontally.

Holding a torn piece of the plane's metal skin in front of them to deflect some of the rain,
Toby yelled something inaudible.  

Although CJ was sitting next to him, she couldn't make out his words above the roar of the
winds and the noise from the pelting rain.  She thought that it was amazing how loud rain
hitting metal sounded.

"What did you say?" she shouted in his ear.

Shouting back he replied, "I don't like being on this slope with all this rain coming down.
I don't think it's safe."

"Why? What more do you think is going to happen to us?" she frantically asked.

At that moment the plane shifted to the right, and started a slow pivot around the boulder
anchoring it on the slope.  Before either of them could react, the plane was sliding down
the mountain on a river of mud.

Leo's Office - Day 2, evening

"Mr. Secretary, the President is going to want to know what his options are?  What can I
tell him?"  Leo demanded.

He was standing behind his desk with the phone receiver to his ear.  The urge to pace was
almost uncontrollable but the phone cord wouldn't cooperate.

Twice in the last half hour, Margaret had rushed into his office at the sound of a crash
only to find the telephone, various files, and maps scattered on the floor.  Yelling into
the receiver, he had walked too far and had dragged the phone base and the all the items
in its path off the desk surface.

Now, with the phone cord keeping him tethered like a guard dog on a short chain and the
Secretary of State droning on about why nothing more could be done until the weather in
the Andes cleared, Leo felt his rage building and any remaining patience disappearing.

"That's not good enough and you know it," he shouted.  "If you can't come up with some way
to start a search for our people in the next couple of hours, the President is going to find
someone who can."

Slamming the phone receiver down in the cradle, he looked at it for a few seconds, then
in frustration picked up the whole unit and tossed it across the room, knocking a lamp to
the floor.

Predictably at the sound of the crash, Margaret popped her head in the door.  Frowning, she
looked at him and then at the mess on the floor.  Without saying a word, she disappeared back
into her office for a moment.

Returning, she walked into the room and handed him a cell phone and a fresh cup of coffee.

Andes Mountain Range -  Day 2, evening

Like the ball in a pinball machine, the remains of the plane's cabin spun, slipped, and
bumped its way down the mountainside. 

Each time the plane hit a boulder, more of it broke off.  By the time it washed up against
a dense stand of trees, there was very little of it left.  It no longer even resembled a
plane, just a large mud coated tin can.  The two occupants of the tin can lay unconscious,
half buried in mud

Darkness fell and the torrent of rain continued to beat at the plane.  Jammed against the
trees, the plane acted as a partial dam. Flowing mud and debris from the slope began piling
up against the metal, slowly raising the water level.

Andes Mountain Range -  Day 2, late night

Toby struggled to push CJ up on top of the battered metal plane.  The swirling water pulled
at them and her long body fought him at every turn.

The rain had slowed but the water around them kept rising.  Runoff from the slope was
accumulating.  The plane was being filled with water and mud.

He had regained consciousness a few minutes before, spitting water and raking mud from
his face.

With consciousness came a rush of fear.  Toby had felt like he was being buried alive. 
The plane's cabin was dark and except for his head and shoulders, he had been enveloped
in mud and water.

Thrashing around the remains of the cabin, he had blindly searched for her.  He had
called out for her, but got no response.  Seconds had seemed more like hours until he
had accidentally brushed against her icy hand.

She was dead weight in his arms as he tried to maneuver her onto the roof of the plane. 
Finally with one last shove, he managed to get most of her body out of the water and
balanced on the slick metal.

Checking once more that she was still breathing, he dropped back into the frigid, muddy

Again he searched the plane's cabin.  This time he searched for the two duffle bags that
contained the means to their survival.  The loss of those bags would kill them as surely
as the water.

Guest Room, American Embassy, Lima  -  Day 2, late night

Hanging up the telephone, Josh uttered another epithet.  He was running out of new ones
to use.

"I don't know how the hell we're going to find them, if we can't use airplanes or
helicopters."  He sighed and slumped into the arm chair next to the bed.

The guest bedroom in the American Embassy was large by any standards.  White stucco walls
and dark, highly polished hardwood floors only increased the sense of space.  The teak and
black iron furniture did little to fill it.  A second very similar room was next door
connected by a shared bathroom. 

The current occupant of that bathroom turned off the water in the sink.  Sam, with a towel
across his shoulders, had been listening to Josh while attempting to shave.  Every time Josh
yelled, he managed to cut himself.  After the third small cut, he put down his razor and used
one end of the towel to wipe his face. 

Holding onto the doorframe into Josh's room, he responded, "The rain is coming down so hard,
the pilots can't even see the mountains, much less avoid crashing into them.  We have to wait. 
The weather reports are predicting some clearing by noon tomorrow.  Calaway says that the
Peruvian government promises to have search planes in the air as soon as the rains slacks off
and the visibility gets better."

Slumped in the upholstered chair with his legs stretched out in front of him, Josh impatiently
asked, "What if that's too late for Toby and CJ?  What if they don't have until tomorrow?"

Tossing down the towel, Sam angrily stalked over to him.

"Listen to me.  If we had any idea of where to start looking, I'd be the first one to say
let's go, damn the planes, damn the rain.  We could go in by jeep or pack mule, or . . . 
I don't know what!"

Walking over to the window, he continued with less emotion, "Maybe hike in.   But Josh,
there's over 800 miles of mountain range out there.  It would be foolish to start with a
ground search under these conditions."

Arguing more with himself now, Sam added, "No, the aerial search is our best hope, even if
we have to wait until tomorrow.  Even if we have to wait until next week."

Failing to rub the exhaustion off his face, Josh responded by bounding up from the chair
and resuming his pacing.

Sam maintained his sentry watch at the window.

Andes Mountain Range -  Day 3, dawn

With exhausted eyes, he watched the dawn break through the trees.  Lowering his eyes to
the scene around him, Toby admitted a grudging admiration for Noah.   Noah's whole world
had been destroyed by water and he had avoided giving in to despair.

Of course Noah had gotten fair warning of the flood and time to build an ark, Toby reminded
God in a silent prayer.  He'd had no warning, no signs that he understood, that their already
perilous grip on survival would be tested in such a way.

One really wet, miserable night and Toby was drowning in despair.  He had found the duffle
bags with the emergency supplies.  But as yet he hadn't found the courage to look inside
and discover how much had been destroyed by the bags' submersion in mud and water.

Returning his thoughts to Noah, Toby again compared their situations.  Noah was responsible
for saving a large number of people and animals.  Toby was just responsible for one life
beyond his own.  And he hadn't done a very good job.

His arms ached from cradling her unconscious body.  CJ hadn't stirred since he pulled her
out of the plane.  He didn't know how badly she was injured.  But, she was breathing.
He clung to that fact as he had throughout the night.

Bowing his head, Toby recited a prayer.

Looking upwards into the clearing skies, he added a postscript.  "If you're sending help,
please consider sending it sooner rather than later."

Guest Room, American Embassy, Lima  -  Day 3, dawn

The ringing of the telephone woke him.  In his fumbled search for the receiver, he knocked
several items off the bedside table, including his watch

"Yeah," he answered, not quite awake.

Listening to the caller, Josh nodded at a fully dressed Sam who had opened the connecting
door to their rooms.

"What?  Nancy say that again please," Josh motioned for Sam to get him something to write on.

Sam pulled a spiral notebook from his pocket along with a pen.  He handed both to an excited

"Okay, I've got it.  Are you sure this is correct?" he asked. 


"Okay, I'll thank Leo too."

"Yeah, I know, classified.  Got it."

"Hey, Nancy?"

"I think I love you."

Hanging up and standing, Josh smiled at Sam.  "Leo came through.  He called Nancy McNally
after he gave up on the Secretary of State.  Nancy got a hold of some classified land-sat
photos taken early yesterday morning of the area between here and Quito.  She's had people
 going over them with magnifying glasses all night."

Bouncing on the balls of his feet, Josh continued, "One of her analysts found part of
a plane."

Lima Airport - Day 3, mid-morning

A dozen pilots were standing in a fog shrouded hanger in the Lima Airport.  Each was
being given a search grid to fly.  Josh had passed on a set of coordinates to General Guzman,
the Peruvian general who was in charge of the aerial search operations.

Although the general raised his eyebrows at Josh's possession of such information, he knew
better than to ask its source.  He merely assigned a pilot to search the indicated area.

Josh and Sam were planning on flying with him.

After answering a few questions from the pilots, General Guzman, an imposing figure in
his mid sixties, walked over to the hanger entrance where Josh and Sam were waiting.

"Gentlemen, everything is ready.  Now, we wait for the fog to clear."

Both Sam and Josh turned and looked towards the rising sun.

Andes Mountain Range - Day 3, mid-morning

The fog was starting to burn off and the temperature was rising.

Toby slowly pulled himself back up on top of the plane.  He had tested the water depths
around the plane and found a high area where they could walk out without having to swim.
Relatively dry ground was just a 100 yards away.  His plan was to carry the duffle bags
out first and then CJ.

Earlier he had managed to wrap her in one of the solar blankets.  Washing some of the mud
off her, he had discovered a new head injury.  A lump the size of egg was on the back of
her head.  He suspected this was the cause of her unconsciousness.  Every so often, he
would call her name and try to rouse her.  So far she had not responded, but he kept trying.

Now, he decided that it was time to abandon ship.  Talking out loud to CJ, he told her
that he was taking the supplies to high ground and that he would be back in a few minutes
for her.

Slipping back into the murky water, he warned her not to wander off while he was gone.

As he waded off into the distance, she opened her eyes.

Oval Office -  Day 3,  noon

The sounds of a ticking clock and breathing were the only noises in the Oval Office.

Leo sat on one striped couch with his hands loosely clasped.

With his arms crossed, the President sat facing him on the matching couch.

Neither looked at the other.

Both looked at the telephone sitting on the coffee table positioned between them.

Neither spoke.

Every few minutes Leo looked at his watch.

Both waited.

Andes Mountain Range - Day 3,  noon

Watching Toby drape wet clothes over various tree limbs and large rocks, CJ smiled. 
Half reclined against the duffle bags, she was laying on one solar blanket and wearing
the other.  Every  so often she dozed off, but watching Toby do laundry on the river bank
was interesting enough to keep her awake most of the time.

She couldn't get over the change from the Alpine type vegetation of yesterday to the
tropical species surrounding her today.

Having read a guide book on Peru before leaving D.C., she knew that the Andes Mountain Range
bordered areas of much lower elevations, areas with tropical rainforest climates.  She just
wasn't prepared for this sudden of a change.  She had a suspicion that they'd traveled quite
a distance from the original crash site during yesterday's "airplane" raft ride.  

The day had been full of surprises.  When she'd regained consciousness, she'd been completely
disoriented.  Finding herself covered with mud and lying on top of the plane instead of inside
it, was startling to say the least.  If her head hadn't been pounding, she'd felt like she
might have been able to figure out what had happened

Carefully, she'd sat up and looked around.  If she hadn't seen Toby in the distance,
trudging about in the water carrying the duffle bags on his shoulders, she would have

Concentrating took too much effort though, so she had hardly spared him a thought as to
what he was doing. She had just closed her eyes and waited for his eventual return.

Now that she was sort of clean, relatively warm, and had her headache under control,
CJ was in the mood to wonder how Toby was handling all this "nature."

For someone who claimed to hate the great outdoors as much as he did, he seemed to be
doing just fine.  Building campfires, gathering wood, boiling water, and now doing laundry,
his latent "Boy Scout" instincts appeared to be kicking in.

Suddenly sitting up, she looked closely at what he'd started doing.  Grimacing she thought
that beating her lace underwear against a rock was taking the "back to nature" theme too far.

"Toby," she yelled.  "You have to use the delicate cycle."

Search Helicopter,  Andes Mountain Range  -   Day 3,  mid-afternoon

The large Huey was hovering over a rocky barren area, midway up a mountain slope. 
Inside the helicopter the noise of the rotor blades made conversation difficult,
especially since the microphones in the secondhand crash helmets didn't work.
Sam was in the copilot seat.  Josh was strapped in immediately behind the Peruvian pilot.
Both were searching the ground for signs of the crash site.

"Are you sure we are at the right coordinates?" Josh yelled.

The pilot nodded his head in an affirmative manner and pointed to the area immediately below.

"Set the helicopter down.  I want to look around."  Sam shouted.

With a puzzled expression on his face, the pilot carefully maneuvered one landing skid
onto the loose soil.  After warning them to avoid the tail rotor, he motioned for Sam and
Josh to jump out.

Walking a couple of hundred feet from the noisy aircraft, Sam stopped and pulled out a
small GPS unit.  After checking for satellite coverage, he inputted the coordinates Nancy
had given them.  They were standing within 50 feet of the location pinpointed by the NSA

Using binoculars provided by General Guzman, they scoured the area searching for some sign
of the missing plane. 

Nothing.  There was just nothing there to be seen.

Squatting down and picking up a handful of wet soil, Sam said, "I think we should bring
in a team and search this area by foot."

"Why?  There's nothing here," a disappointed Josh replied, kicking a few small rocks down
the slope.

"There's nothing here now.  But didn't you tell me the land-sat photos were taken yesterday
morning before the rains?" 

Josh nodded, saying, "So?"

Standing up, Sam speculated, "It looks like this area's had a slide.  Maybe something was
here before it rained."

Before they could discuss it further, the engines of the helicopter suddenly revved up and
they turned their heads toward the aircraft. 

Seeing the pilot was waving to them, they took off at a trot up the slope.

The pilot was smiling.  "Senors, one of our pilots has found the plane.  Get in and I'll
take you to it."

Andes Mountain Range  -  Day 3, mid-afternoon

Neither Sam nor Josh spoke during the short ride to the crash site.

The Huey made fast work of traveling the five or so miles from the area they had been

The crash site was located at a much higher elevation.  Snow still covered the rocky
ground here.

Approaching the area from the west, they  could see the broken tail section and
scattered debris.  As the helicopter got closer, they could also see multiple blue
rubber body bags stretched out on the glistening snow.  They were obviously filled.

While circling the site in preparation for landing, the pilot pointed out the deep
crevice located about 150 feet from the debris field.  The ravine looked like knife
wound in the terrain.  It was about 20 feet across in width, about a half mile in length,
and from above, appeared to be bottomless.

General Guzman met them as they slowly disembarked from the helicopter.  The sense of
urgency that had driven them to haste during the past few days was gone.

Getting out of the plane, Josh felt like he was having trouble making his lungs work. 
His feet didn't want to move and his hands felt numb.  Just from looking at the expression
on the General's face, he knew the news was bad.

At a signal from the General, the noise of the rotor blades stopped.  The half dozen
rescue workers already on site stopped their efforts and waited quietly.

"Mr. Lyman, Mr. Seaborn," the General held out both hands with his palms up. "I am so
sorry to have to inform you that we have found the missing charter plane and there do
not appear to be any survivors."

Josh glanced toward the blue body bags and his face blanched.

The General yelled something in Spanish to some nearby soldiers while grabbing Josh's arm. 
Immediately several Peruvian soldiers appeared to support Josh over to a nearby helicopter
set up as a temporary first aid station.

Sam watched the events unfold, but seemed paralyzed to act.  He watched the medics strap
a blood pressure cuff on Josh, and then an oxygen mask.

He wanted to go to Josh's aid but couldn't seem to move.  It was almost like he was outside
his body watching a scene that didn't involve him.

Finally the General's words penetrated his frozen state.

"What did you say?" Sam asked, focusing on the General's face.

"We found a total of four bodies.  Three male bodies and one body too badly burned to be
identified in the field," the General repeated.

"I just see part of the plane.  Where's the cockpit?  Where's the rest of the cabin?"

The General pointed towards the crevice.  "I'm sorry.  We think the rest of the plane and
the other passengers are probably in there."

Sam turned his shocked face toward the drop off.  "It's like they fell off the edge of the

Andes Mountain Range  -  Day 3, mid-afternoon


CJ looked up from her study of the soggy maps laid out in front of her.

Toby handed her a tin cup filled with soup from the pot hanging over the fire. 

"Careful, it's hot," he warned.

Sitting down next to her with his own cup, he asked about her headache.

"I still know it's there," she joked.  At his serious look she added, "I'm okay."

Pointing to a spot on the map in front of her, she told him where she thought their
"raft" ride had brought them.

"Absolutely, the wrong direction," she complained.  "Now, if we want to go west to the
Pacific, we have to climb back up the mountain."

Taking a sip of soup, she frowned and then coughed.

"What kind of soup is this?" she sputtered.

"Rehydrated, sun dried, flood water soaked, commercially dried beef broth with a touch of
wild garlic," he answered in a matter-of-fact voice.

Rolling her eyes at him, she quipped, "Next time use less garlic."

Taking a sip from his own cup, he looked down at the brown liquid.

Puzzled he took another sip, rolling the liquid in his mouth.

Shaking his head, he declared, "No, it's not the garlic.  It's kind of gritty.  I probably
shouldn't have spread the mix out on a rock to dry."

"This isn't the same rock you did laundry with is it?" CJ asked looking down into her own cup.

"Sure, it's a multipurpose rock."

Wrinkling her noise, she answered, "I thought I recognized a special wet-sock aroma."

Lima Hospital - Day 3, evening
One side of a telephone conversation.

"Yes, Sir."

"I'm feeling much better."

"Yes, I talked to Leo after I got to the hospital."

"I'm not sure they are dead."

"I know what Ambassador Calaway thinks and what General Guzman believes."

"I don't know what to think."

"Sam's not ready to give up either, but I don't see any other possibilities."

"No, really, I'm fine.  They just stuck me in here for observation."

"The doctors said altitude sickness."


"Yeah, but they only did all those tests after they saw the scar on my chest."


"I know.  But I feel fine now."

"No, she doesn't need to call my doctors."

"I'm sure."

"Probably tomorrow."

"Thank you for calling, Mr. President."

"Yeah, Sam's here.  Just a minute."


"Yes, Sir."

"I'm fine, Sir."

"Yes, while we were at the crash site."

"Two of them were from the Travel Office, and the other one was Secret Service."

"Yes, I did."

"They were right, I couldn't tell anything.  The body was too badly burned."

"Yes, that's right.  The coroner said it was a man."

"Yeah, I guess."

"No, I don't think it was Toby."

"Nothing really specific,  I just don't think it was him."

"DNA tests after we get home is the only way or maybe dental records."

"No, he was telling you the truth.  They're going to discharge him tomorrow."

"I guess we'll start home afterwards, if Josh feels up to it."

"I know, but I still feel like we should be doing something.  Not just leaving them."

"No, I don't think anyone will be able to look down there.  It's too narrow for a
helicopter and too deep to climb down."


"I understand."

"I know, I just wish it had turned out differently."

"Thank you."

"I will."


Ucayali River  -  Day  4,  morning

"How are you doing?" CJ asked.

"I've got a blister on my heel, and I swear something is crawling down my back."

"So, other than that, you're fine?"


The two were hiking along the river=s edge, gambling that following the river would
guide them to other people.

CJ was carrying one duffle bag over her shoulder and Toby had the other.

Their already limited clothing choices were further depleted during what Toby, to
CJ's amusement,  continued to refer to as "The Great Flood."  Only the clothes they
were wearing at the time were saved.

Currently, CJ was dressed in hiking boots, black jeans and one of the men's shirts she
had confiscated from the plane.  Stuffed in one of the bags was a couple of her "layering"
shirts and her leather jacket.

Toby had on his complete wardrobe:  chinos, knit shirt, sports jacket, and a pair of
wingtips that were giving him fits.

"Do you want to stop for a few minutes?" she asked.

Grumbling he answered, "No, I want to stop for a few days, but I'll settle for 20 minutes."

"Okay, let's look for a clear area where we can sit down."

The river area was a study in green.  Green water, green trees, green vines, and green
moss. Toby even claimed they were developing a green hue.

CJ really hoped he was wrong.  Green was definitely not her best color.

Walking around a tree shrouded bend, CJ called out to him that she had found a good spot.

By the time he caught up with her, she had changed her mind.

The snake she was in a staring contest with was green.  Big and green with oval black spots.
It was about 12 feet long and about a foot in diameter.

Most of the snake's body was draped around a tree limb near the water's edge.  The rest of
it was hanging about four feet from CJ's face.

Neither the snake nor CJ was moving. 

Even though he'd usually bet on her in any fight, whether her opponent was man or beast,
he didn't like the odds here.  The snake out weighed her by at least a hundred pounds
and he didn't think her rapier like wit was going to be an effective weapon.

Grabbing the waistband of her jeans, he yanked her backwards as far and as fast as he could. 

Neither stopped for breath until they had put about a half mile between the them and
the snake. 

"What the hell was that?" CJ, having found her voice at last, was visibly shaking, but
still upright.

Toby, breathing heavily, was bent over at the waist with his hands on his knees.

"It was an Giant Anaconda," he confidently asserted, looking up at her.

Seeing the skeptical expression on her face, he confided, "During my childhood, in
addition to watching PBS programming, I also watched Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.
The master of ceremonies was a old guy named Marlin Perkins.  He always had his
right-hand man, Jim Fowler stuffing some snake or animal in a burlap sack while
Marlin watched.  Anaconda wrestling was Jim's specialty.  I always thought Jim should
have got a better agent."

"Mutual of Omaha?" she asked.

"Yeah, they sold insurance," he grinned.  "Can you believe it?" 

Ucayali River  -  Day  4,  afternoon

"Is this the last of the water?" CJ asked, looking at the unopened liter bottle.

Toby, repacking the duffle bags, replied, "No, but we only have two more bottles
besides that one.  We're almost out of food too."

After the snake encounter, CJ was a little nervous about overhanging tree limbs and vines.
So they were taking a break in a small clearing on a rocky ledge, a few feet above the
slowly moving river.

"I guess we're going to have to start boiling river water," she reflected with a frown.

Eyeing the murky green liquid flowing below them, Toby stated, "I don't think we could
possibly boil this stuff long enough to kill everything living in it."

Taking out the first aid kit, Toby took off his right shoe and slowly pealed off his mud
encrusted sock.  He had several broken blisters the size of a half dollars on his heel. 
His foot had bleed at some point and now the dried blood had stuck the heel of the sock
to the open wounds.

CJ took one look at his foot and promptly slapped the back of his head.

"Ouch, what did you do that for?" he yelped.

"I'm trying to knock some sense into you.  Why did you wait so long to take care of that?"

"If you'll recall, we were a little busy earlier."  Toby poured a small amount of the
bottled water on the sock to loosen it.

Gritting his teeth, he slowly and very carefully started pulling the fabric away from
the wounds.

"You big baby!"  Rolling her eyes, CJ reached over and violently ripped the sock off his foot.

His scream echoed down the river, startling a large flock of birds from a nearby tree.

Lima Airport - Day 4,  afternoon

They were sitting on hard plastic chairs at Gate 12.  Josh was holding his ticket and
slapping his leg with a  rolled  magazine.  Sam was pretending to read a paperback novel.  


"Sam, they're calling our flight." Josh stood and picked up his carry-on bag. 

Sam looked up at him and pleaded, "I don't want to do this.  I don't want to leave them here."

Josh shook his head.  They had been having this same discussion over and over. 

"They're beyond our help, Sam.  Somehow we have to let them go."

Putting his hand on Sam's shoulder, he whispered, voice cracking, "CJ and Toby are gone. 
We have find a way to accept that fact."

Shrugging off Josh's hand, Sam grabbed his bag and headed for the gate door. 
Handing his ticket to the flight attendant, he stalked down the ramp to the plane.

Sighing, Josh followed, stopping to glance out the floor-to-ceiling windows lining
the gate area.  He could see the snow topped Andes in the distance.

Raising his right hand, he touched his fingers to the glass.

Staring at the mountains, he softly uttered the word "Goodbye" and boarded the plane for home.

Ucayali River  -  Day 5, morning

The sun had been up for about an hour.

They had been up most of the night.  Howler monkeys had decided to weigh in on Toby and
CJ's argument.  Their racket in addition to the mosquitoes had made sleep impossible.

"I said I was sorry, what more do you want?"

Sitting near the campfire, Toby ignored her words and continued changing the bandages
on his foot.

Wincing when she got a look at the open sores, she walked over and sat down beside him.

"Do you want some help?" she asked, absent-mindedly picking up a bottle of iodine.

Glaring at her, he grabbed the bottle and announced that she had helped him enough. 

Without looking at the label, Toby proceeded to pour a small amount of the brownish
liquid on his heel.

Once again his screams frightened away the wildlife, including, ironically, the Howler

Suddenly there was absolute silence. 

CJ, hiding a smile, asked, "Would you like me to blow on it?"

Ucayali River  -  Day 5, afternoon

The jungle vegetation fought them at every turn, but the mosquitoes and biting flies
found them utterly fascinating. 

CJ and Toby had been hiking in silence for hours in the heat and humidity.

Well, Toby was hiking in silence.  CJ kept up a running commentary.

"Toby, you have to speak to me sooner or later," CJ called back over her shoulder as
she jumped over a log.

"I mean, really, how is the iodine my fault?" she asked, managing to walk and harangue
him at the same time.

She was getting used to him not answering her, although it was extremely annoying.

Pushing aside some low hanging vines, "Okay, maybe I shouldn't have yanked off your
sock yesterday.  But how was I to know how bad you'd let the blisters get?"

Silence was the only reply she got.

"Toby, this is ridiculous." CJ stopped and turned around to face him.  Hands on her hips,
she was ready for a showdown.

Her opponent wasn't there.

He wasn't behind her.   He wasn't even within her sight.  

"Toby," she shouted for him.  "Where are you?"

Panicking, she backtracked, continuing to call for him.

CJ had gone about 100 feet when she saw him, wading in the murky river.

He was reaching under some overhanging limbs which were dipping into the green water.

Exasperated, she made her way down slope to the river's edge.

"What are you doing? she asked, slapping at the flying bugs trying to enter her mouth
and nose."

"Getting us a ride out of here," Toby barked, answering her for the first time that day.

CJ watched as he pulled a small dugout canoe towards the bank.

As he waded in the waist deep water back towards her, Toby was grinning, which was a
scary sight, even in the best of times.

But it was the movement in the water behind him that had her screaming.

Ucayali River  -  Day 5, afternoon

Smoothly gliding through the calm, green-hued water, the ten foot long black caiman
appeared to be heading straight for him.

CJ could see the top of the creature's head and its unblinking eyes as it approached
Toby from behind.

She screamed at him to get out of the water.

He looked at her like she had finally snapped, finally lost her mind.  Instead of
quickly moving toward her, Toby stopped, prepared to give her a piece of his mind.
He opened his mouth to do just that when she yelled "Crocodile!"

Turning he looked back and saw nothing.

Raising his eyebrows, he shook his head and resumed pushing the canoe to the bank.

Practically jumping up and down, CJ begged him to hurry.

She had seen the crocodile dive just before Toby turned.  Any moment she expected to
see Toby pulled beneath the surface of the water.

Toby calmly waded out of the river, pulling the canoe halfway out of the water.

"What are you carrying on about now?" he gruffly complained.

CJ, her face beet red, and almost hysterical with fear and frustration, took hold of
his arm and forcibly turned him to face the river.

Near the overhanging limbs, where he had found the canoe, two very large crocodiles
were placidly floating.

For the first time Toby understood what the term "weak kneed" meant as his legs suddenly
refused to support him.

He sat down on the river bank and tried to slow down his pounding heart. 

CJ sat down beside him and lightly punched him on his shoulder.

"What?" he softly asked.

"Next time, listen to me," she said only half joking.

Regaining some color in his face, he commented that if she would talk less,
he'd listen more.  "Then really important information wouldn't get lost in a
mountain of irrelevant chatter."

Narrowing her eyes, she proceeded to itemize all the times that he should have
istened to her but didn't, and regretted it later.  The name Ann Stark came up
several times.

Toby rubbed the back of his neck and watched the crocodiles.

Two pairs of reptilian eyes stared back at him with, what Toby could have sworn,
was amusement.

Ucayali River  -  Day 5, sunset

It had been one long day in a series of long days, Toby reflected. 

They had tried out the canoe and found it only had minor leaks.  It was definitely
sea worthy or maybe the term was "river worthy."  Anyway it didn't sink when they
got in it.

By the time they carried the canoe overland for a mile (CJ had absolutely refused
to get on board near the crocodiles), launched it, and figured out how to go forward
instead of in circles, it was getting dark.

They found a place to camp about 3 miles down the river from where they'd put in. 
It was a fairly open area, and most importantly it was flat.

Toby had learned a lot during this forced trek through the mountains and jungle. 
Most of what he had learned was through trial and error, mostly error.  Like everything
else in life, it was the mistakes you lived through that taught you the most.  One of his
biggest mistakes was insisting that they camp near the remnants of the plane.

Sure in general it was a sound idea.  He had watched enough movies to know that you're
not supposed to go wandering off.  The ones that wander off never come back.  It's a rule,
you're supposed to stay with the plane.  Everyone knows that.

But, no one ever warned him about the fine print of that rule.  You know the footnote at
the very bottom of the page in the "How to Survive a Plane Crash Manuel."  The part that
said if the plane is on a steep slope and the heavens dump about 10 inches of water in
two minutes, you might want to "get the hell away from the plane."

So, while drinking a cup of weak tea and sitting beside their evening campfire at their
very flat campsite, Toby contemplated what he had learned and tried to anticipate all
the possible things that could go wrong tomorrow. 

He really wished he had his notebook and a pen.  He was in the mood to write a list. 
"Toby's list for Plane Crash Victims - The Andes Version."  Chuckling to himself, he
made a mental list instead.

# 1       Consider your environment when deciding to stay with the plane.
# 2      When traveling, don't wear wingtip shoes. (Toby decided that
           this rule would be in bold print.)
# 3      Socks are important, don't wear synthetic ones.
# 4      To paraphrase Martha Stewart, ropes are good things, especially when stuck in a tree.
# 5      Knowing how to catch a baseball can be a survival skill.
# 6      Always travel with someone who can repair radios.
# 7      If you sleep by a campfire, only one side stays warm.
# 8      Oatmeal cooked over a campfire is not better than at home.
# 9      Always carry insect repellant.
#10    Beware low hanging limbs.  There's always something crawling on them or swimming under them.                              
#11   And most importantly if you have to crash in the wilderness, hope your   
          best friend is with you, even if she is picky about her underwear.

Of course, Toby considered, eleven items was a strange number for a list.  It should be
ten or twelve, an even dozen. 

Staring into the fire, he decided to keep the list open.  He probably still had a few
things to learn and they weren't home yet.

Oval Office -  Day 6, 10:00 am
Sam's Point of View

Ron Butterfield met us at the airport.  His face was expressionless.

I think it's called a "lack of affect."

Maybe that's something they train Secret Service Agents how to do.

I wish I knew how to do that.

He gave us a ride to the White House or perhaps he was escorting us.  I don't remember
him asking us where we wanted to go.

I look at him and I remember looking at those dead Secret Service Agents in Peru. 
We brought them back with us.  Their coffins were in the luggage bay of the plane.

I wonder what he sees when he looks at me.  Does he see a failure?

When I look in a mirror, that's what I see.

Charlie ushered us into the Oval Office. 

Now, Charlie is someone who almost has that technique down, the "lack of affect." 
But his eyes give him away.

I could drown in the sadness pooled in his eyes. 

What does he see in my eyes?

I can tell he pities me.  I don't want to be an object of pity.

Pitiful, full of pity.  Words are my life and I don't like that one.

The President was sitting at his desk finishing up a telephone call to the Secretary of State.  He barely looked at me.

Leo was sitting on one of the striped couches.  He stood up as we entered the room.

He regarded us with timeworn eyes, resigned eyes.  I know he's disappointed in me.

He shook Josh's hand and then held his hand out to me.

I hesitated for a moment but then I shook it.

It's not that I didn't want to shake his hand.  I just didn't know what it signified.

Was it just a greeting or was it more a gesture of forgiveness? 

Was he giving us his approval for the actions we had taken?

Or, were we making a pact to share the guilt.  The guilt of being here without them,
coming back without them.

The guilt of failing.  Failing Toby.  Failing CJ.  Failing ourselves.

Before I never felt like I really fit in here, though I tried.

I tried to be what they wanted me to be.  I don't know if I can do that again.

I'm not sure I'm ready to be a member of this club. 

Oval Office -  Day 6, 10:00 am
Josh's Point of View

Ron Butterfield met us at the airport.  He was there to thank us for bringing home
his agents.

He didn't say much.  But I felt his support.

I think maybe the Secret Service weeds out everyone but the strong silent types.

I wish I was that strong.

He gave us a ride to the White House.  He knew that we would want to go there first.

I look at him and I remember Rosslyn.  I remember him protecting the President. 
I remember him trying to protect us all.

I wonder if he knows how much I respect him, the job he does.

I wish I could have done my job better.  I wish I could have brought them all home with us.

Charlie ushered us into the Oval Office. 

He has seen so much since he came to work for the President.  When I first met him,
I could tell he had seen more tragedy than most for his age.  Now his eyes are filled
with it.

What does he see in my eyes?

Does he see a survivor?  That's how I try to see myself.

The President was sitting at his desk finishing up a telephone call to the
Secretary of State.  He barely looked at me.

Leo was sitting on one of the striped couches.  He stood up as we entered the room.

His eyes spoke volumes to me.  If he could have lessened the burden of our pain and
grief, he would have.

He shook my hand and then held his hand out to Sam.

It was strange.  Sam hesitated for a moment but then shook Leo's hand.

Something is wrong with him, more than just Toby and CJ's deaths.

I know Sam feels bad about not finding them.  But for some reason he feels guilty about
being alive. 

Maybe if I hadn't gotten sick while we were in Peru, I could have helped Sam deal with it.
Found him some closure, somewhere, somehow.

I think Leo wanted to hug us, but he's not one for overt signs of affection.  Because he's
been a part of my life for so long, I could tell how glad he was to have us home.

It's going to be hard.  CJ and Toby were the heart and soul of this administration. 
Somehow we have to fill the void.  

We have to stick together.

Ucayali River  -  Day 6, mid-morning

"CJ, we have to get some kind of rhythm going here or there's going to be an accident."

"Toby, I hate to break it to you, but you have no rhythm.  And since you have no rhythm,
I can't match it."

In response he grumbled something and resumed his frenetic paddling.

"For God's sake Toby, watch where you're swinging that thing."

Only by ducking did she manage to avoid being hit with his oar.  But her luck didn't extend
to avoiding a drenching by the resulting splash.

Hearing her cussing a blue streak behind him, Toby turned and looked at her soaked clothing.

"Okay, let's just stop and regroup.  I need to catch my breath anyway," he grudgingly

"Have you ever paddled a canoe before?" she yelled, wringing river water out of her shirt.

Resting the crude oar across his lap, Toby calmly answered, "No, but I went sailing with
Sam once."

Thinking about his statement, she narrowed her eyes and asked, "Was that the time he fell
overboard and almost drowned?"

"Yes," he replied, but then quickly added, "My being on board had nothing to do with the

Rolling her eyes, she asked, "Is that the story you're sticking with?"

Putting his oar back in the water, he slowly resumed paddling.  "Since there's no one is
here to contradict it, yes.  That's my story."

"Uh huh," she mumbled, glaring at his back, and sticking her own
oar in the water.

Ucayali River  -  Day 6,  noon

"So, how do you like the fish?" Toby asked, handing her another piece, straight off the fire.

Licking her fingers, CJ took another bite of the fish he had cleaned and cooked over their
small camp fire.  "I have to admit it's really good.  You're an excellent cook, Toby."

"I'm not a bad fisherman either," he proclaimed with a proud smile.

Wryly, she countered, "I don't think it counts when you accidentally flip the fish in
the canoe with your oar."

Reflecting further on it, she chewed another bite of fish and added, "It could be
argued that, in fact, I'm the one who caught the fish since it ended up sliding down
the front of my shirt."

"Hey, what can I tell you?  I've got perfect aim."

Ucayali River  -  Day 6, mid-afternoon

The rock lined waterfall was an incredible sight and totally unexpected.

Paddling around a bend in the river, it suddenly appeared before them, an elegant
structure that no human landscaper had a hand in creating.

Cascading 50 feet down the hillside, the crystal clear water flowed over multiple rock
ledges into one small pool, then discharged over a ledge, and dropped 10 feet into a
second pool before flowing over a rock overhang and finally entering the river.

"Oh, Toby, just look at that," CJ sighed.  "Have you ever seen anything more beautiful?"

Toby's answer was to paddle toward the riverbank at a point just up stream from the
falling water.

Ucayali River  -  Day 6, late afternoon

"How long are you planning on staying in there?" he asked, looking up from where he
was laying out freshly washed clothing to dry.

"Until I feel clean again," she replied, dunking her head under the flowing water.

It hadn't taken them long to make use of the relatively clean water, which was also
thankfully free of large wildlife.

They had decided to use the water in the upper pool for drinking and the lower pool
for bathing and laundry.

So far CJ had been doing all the bathing and Toby had been doing all the laundry.

He had been planning on waiting his turn to bathe, but it was becoming apparent that
if he wanted to get cleaned up before dark, he would have to join her in the pool.

Wearing his previously white, now dingy gray undershirt and briefs, he dived into the
cool, and very clear water.

Surfacing near the falls, he opened his eyes to find her treading water right in front
of him.

"Hi," she said with an amused expression.

"Uh, hi," he muttered, keeping his eyes trained on her face.

"Do you usually take a bath with your underwear on?"

Blushing, "Only when bathing with co-workers."

"Is that all we are to each other?  Co-workers?"

"No, we're more than that," Toby admitted.

Turning he swam to the opposite side of the pool, where it was shallow enough for him
to stand.

Facing her, he mumbled, "I don't think this is the time or place to get into this

To his obvious dismay, she swam over to him.  Her bare arms and shoulders captured his

When she stood, his attention shifted lower.

The water hid very little.



"What were you saying?"


Putting her hand on his chin, she raised his head so that his eyes were on her face
instead of the rest of her anatomy.

"Some speech writer you are," she said before kissing him.

National Security Advisor's Office -  Day 7, morning

Sitting across from Nancy McNally, Sam leaned forward in his chair.  "I want to see
those land-sat photos of the plane wreckage in Peru."

Rocking slightly in her high backed executive chair, the National Security Advisor stared
at him.  He looked terrible, like he hadn't slept in days.  Shadows ringed his eyes and
he badly needed a shave.

Nancy placed her elbows on the chair arms, and pressed her hands together, tenting
her fingers. 

Trying to discern his intent, she replied, "The photos are classified.  You know that."

"I need to see the photos," he said stressing the word "need."  His eyes pleaded for her
to understand.

Pursing her lips, she considered his request for a few moments.

Afraid she was about to deny him access to the intelligence, he added, "Please, I have
to know what was in the photos and why we didn't find anything at those coordinates."

Coldly she asked, "Does it really matter?  You found the plane somewhere else. 
You found bodies."

"We found part of the plane," he said a little too loudly, clenching his fists.

Nancy could tell his emotions were about to get away from him.  Recalling her earlier
conversation with Leo, she now understood why he was so worried about Sam.

Catching himself, he blinked away unshed tears.  He quietly explained, "We found only
part of the plane, only some of the bodies.  We didn't find Toby or CJ."

Softening her expression, Nancy relented.  "I'll have the photos brought here. 
You can't copy them or take them out of this office."

"I understand."  Giving her a weak smile, Sam pressed his luck.  "Can I meet with
the analyst who spotted the plane?"

Slapping a file down on her desk, she glared at him.

"Anything else I can get you, while I'm at it?"  Nancy said in a sarcastic voice.
"Maybe I could have a pizza delivered for you too."

Grinning broadly now, Sam joked, "That would be great.  Have them hold the anchovies,

Narrowing her eyes, she stiffened and leaned forward in her chair.

Picking up the telephone receiver, Nancy starting dialing, "Just so you know, that
cute little boy act doesn't work with me."

While she waited for someone on the other end of the phone line to answer, she continued,
"Leo already told me to give you whatever you wanted.  Although, I doubt he meant pizza."

Ucayali River  -  Day 7, morning

Rolling over, she reached for him.  Her hand touched only solar blanket and air.

"Toby," she called out, opening her eyes and staring at the empty spot where he
had been sleeping next to her.

Sitting up, CJ wrapped one of the blankets sarong style around her.

The early morning air was chilly, almost cold. 

Turning towards the campfire, she saw him.

Toby was fully dressed and bent over the small campfire.  He was trying to coax flames
from the smoldering embers of last night's fire.

CJ smiled thinking of the parallels between their feelings for each other and that campfire. 

Last night she had coaxed the smoldering embers to flames, despite Toby's attempts to
keep the fire banked.

Watching him carefully add small pieces of wood to the tiny flames, she realized patience
was the key with the campfire and with Toby.

Of course patience wasn't really her forte, so she walked over to him and knelt by the

Smiling at him, she leaned over and blew on the embers. 

Leo's Office - Day 7, afternoon


"Mar-garet," Leo yelled, yanking open his office door and stalking into the outer office. 

Standing by his missing secretary's desk, he bellowed again.


Impatiently slapping his leg with a folded document in his right hand, Leo took off down
the hall toward Josh's office.

"Donna, have you seen Margaret?" he asked as he caught sight of Josh's assistant standing
by a filing cabinet.

"No."  She smiled.  "I mean of course I've seen her, just not recently.   Not in the last
few minutes, anyway," she nervously rambled, appearing to study the papers in her hands.

"Let me rephrase my question," he curtly announced, pinning her in place with his steely gaze.

Like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming 18 wheeler truck, Donna looked at him,
her eyes widening.  She swallowed hard.

"Do you know where Margaret is?"  Raising his hand in the universal gesture meaning stop,
he added, "And before you answer that, remember that I'm the White House Chief of Staff
and hold your employment in my hands."

Glancing around her, seeing no rescue in sight and no viable escape routes, Donna sighed.

Looking at her wrist watch, she confessed, "Right now Margaret is probably on her way back
from Reagan National."

"And why did she go to Reagan National?" Leo quietly asked, going in for the kill.

Stuttering a little and taking a couple of steps backward, Donna anxiously replied,
"She took Sam to the airport.  He's going back to Peru."


Shuffling some files, she answered, "Well, I think Ginger rode with her."

"I don't mean Margaret, and you know it.  Did Sam go back to Peru alone?"

"Uh, no." Stalling for time, her mind raced for a way out

"Well?" he demanded, arms crossed.

"Well, what?" she answered, opening a file drawer.

Closing the space between them, Leo leaned over and spoke directly in her ear.

"Donna, do you have any idea how close I am here to shooting the messenger?" he growled.

Grasping at straws or in this instance files and looking down into the open file drawer,
she asked, "Would it help if I said that I was just following orders?"

"Donna," he warned, clenching his jaw.

Wringing her hands, she looked into face and said, "Josh went with him."

Lima Airport  -  Day 8

Sam and Josh disembarked from the private jet. 

Walking into the Lima Airport terminal, Josh spotted General Guzman's aide
waiting for them.

Nudging Sam, Josh jerked his head in the direction of the military aide. "I have a
feeling Leo's been on the telephone."

"Yeah, and I hope the worst thing that's going to happen is us being fired.  You don't
think we're about to be arrested do you?" Sam joked with a weak smile.

"Nah, I don't think Leo's influence would stretch that far."  Pausing for a beat,
Josh added, "Probably."

Shouldering their hastily packed bags, Josh and Sam walked towards the Peruvian General's
Aide de Camp, Lieutenant Jose Muyo.  

"Senors, welcome back to Peru.  General Guzman has put me at your disposal for the duration
of your trip."

"Thank you," Sam replied, shaking the Lieutenant's outstretched hand.

Josh, shaking the Lieutenant's hand, asked, "How did General Guzman know we were coming?"

The Lieutenant with a reverent tone that expressed his admiration, replied,
"President Bartlet called him, personally, to ask for his assistance with
your mission."

Quickly looking at each other, Josh and Sam smiled with relief.

Turning back to the Peruvian Lieutenant, Sam asserted, "Yep, that's right, we're here on
a mission for President Bartlet."

Flinching a little at Sam's lie, Josh slapped the Lieutenant on the shoulder and asked,
"Can you help us get a helicopter and a guide?  We have some wild geese to hunt down."

"Wild geese?"  the confused Lieutenant asked, looking from Josh's face to Sam's.

Sam frowned at Josh.  He leaned close to Lieutenant Muyo and whispered, "That's just the
code name for the mission."

"Ah," he nodded with understanding.  "Follow me.  I'll get you a helicopter and
Operation Wild Geese can get started."

Ucayali River  - Day 8, noon

"Toby, do you think the current's getting stronger?" she asked.

"Yeah, good thing we don't have to paddle against it."

Toby was in the front of the dugout canoe and CJ was seated behind him. 
They are tried it the other way, but with Toby's sometime erratic oar action,
CJ insisted on having him where she could see him.

Ever since they left the waterfall, the Ucayali River seemed to be narrowing and the
current was getting stronger.  No longer did it seem like they were traveling on a
placid lake or farm pond.  The river water was on the move and they were along for
the ride.

The canoe was picking up speed and they covered more distance in the last few hours
than they had in all the previous days combined.  A natural worrier, Toby had been
uneasy about the changing river conditions.  He wondered what price they might have
to pay for this speed.

Seeing a good place to stop for their mid-day break, Toby tried to steer for the
river bank.  It was a major effort, and for a second he wasn't sure they were going
to be able to reach the shore.

Finally, dragging the canoe up on the sand bar, Toby paused to look down river. 
Edgy, he felt like something was about to happen.

Picking up the duffle bags he walked toward the campfire, CJ had gotten started. 

Sitting down on a nearby rock, Toby unpacked the last of their dried food, while
CJ put water on to boil.

Fingering the last soup packet, he looked once more toward the river.  He wished
he knew what was waiting for them around the next bend  -  good or bad.

Search Helicopter,  Andes Mountain Range  -  Day 8, noon

The Huey helicopter pilot found a landing spot about a half mile from the spot on
the mountain side where the NSA photos had shown pieces of a crashed plane.

Josh, Sam, Lieutenant Muyo, and a Peruvian tracker hopped out, leaving the pilot
with the aircraft.

Each shouldered a small backpack and carried a two-way radio.  If they got
separated, the hope was that they would be able to communicate with each other
and the pilot.

Josh looked at Sam and prayed that this search of the mountainside, gave him some
closure, if nothing else.

Of course, Josh secretly hoped that they might find CJ and Toby alive, well,
and royally pissed at being kept waiting.  But he didn't have much faith in
that scenario working out.

No, Josh thought, this search was for Sam, for Sam's peace of mind.

When an excited Sam had rushed into his office yesterday and told him of his meeting
with Nancy and the NSA analyst, Josh had tried to understand the significance of what
the NSA land-sat photos showed.

Sam kept saying that the photos showed the pieces of the front part, the cockpit,
of a plane at these coordinates on the morning after the crash. 

Josh had reminded him that they had been to the area and they found no evidence of
any plane, no plane pieces, no anything.

But Sam refused to listen to him.  He was determined to go back to Peru and there
was no stopping him.

Josh never considered letting him go alone. 

So, here they were, once more.  As his friend, Josh could do little to help Sam with
his grief.  But he would give him this final search.  This time they weren't leaving
until Sam was convinced. 

Ucayali River  - Day 8,  2:00 pm

"Don't you think it's time we got this show on the road?" CJ asked.

Toby was sitting near the campfire, studying the tattered maps from the plane. 
Looking at him from her perch on a nearby boulder, she reflected that he was
looking as tattered as the maps. 

Toby's eyes had dark hollows beneath them and he seemed to have shrank in size during
the time since the crash.  The top of his head was sunburned.   His forearms were covered
with insect bites and he wouldn't let her look at his foot, but from his constant limp,
she was afraid it was infected.

His clothing hadn't faired any better.  Both knees were ripped out of his chinos and
his knit shirt had been stretched into a shape that was twice as wide as it was long.
Apparently the knit didn't hold up any better than her lace underwear with their primitive
laundry methods.

Chuckling to herself, she wondered if she looked as bad as he did.  Lord, she hoped not.
She was actually glad she had no mirror. 

Turning her mind back to the matter at hand, she puzzled over why Toby seemed reluctant
to get packed up and back on the river.  Normally he was the one nagging her to hurry up.
Now, with their meager lunch long over, he didn't seem to want to leave.

Walking around the fire and sitting down next to him, she asked again, "What's wrong? 
Are you sick?"

Looking up at her, he seemed about to say something and then changed his mind.


"I'm fine."  He got to his feet and leaned over to pick up the maps.  "You're right,
it's time to get going."

Folding the maps, he stuffed them into one of the duffel bags.  "Okay, let's pack up
and get this fire put out."

He took off towards the canoe with one of the bags.

CJ shook her head and poured river water on the campfire.  She knew he would only talk
to her when he was ready.  Until then she would watch and wait.  She'd had a lot of
experience doing that.

Andes Mountain Range -  Day 8,  2:00 pm

They had been walking downhill for the last two hours.  The only one who seemed to be
finding anything was the tracker.  He wasn't sharing his findings though.

Sam had tried talking with the man, but he didn't respond and seemed annoyed by the

Lieutenant Muyo explained that the man was a Aguaruna Indian and he wasn't too fond of
any human outside his tribe.  Apparently he blamed his tribe's problems and the loss of
their way of life on the Peruvian government's land development policies and the West's
insatiable need for oil and lumber.

Sam had asked the logical question.  If he hated the government why was he working for
them as a tracker? 

In a matter of fact manner, Lieutenant Muyo had replied, "Money of course.  Principles
won't feed his children."

Sam was pondering the irony of that statement, when they found the bodies.

Andes Mountain Range -  Day 8,  3:00 pm

As they walked down the slope into the trees, they didn't need the tracker to tell them
that death was near.  Their noses told them.

The smell was indescribable.  It got worse as they walked closer to the source.  
Finally Josh and Sam stopped all forward progress when they saw someone's legs
sticking out from under a shrub.

The tracker walked over to the area to investigate.  He said something to Lieutenant Muyo
in a language they didn't understand.

Josh and Sam stared at Lieutenant Muyo and asked for a translation of the tracker's words.

Grimacing, Lieutenant answered, "He said that the bodies washed down the slope during last
week's rains."

"Bodies, plural?" Josh asked, with a sick look on his face.

Lieutenant Muyo moved over to stand near the tracker.  They had a whispered conversation,
with the tracker pointing up the slope they had just walked down.

The tracker walked farther into the trees and disappeared.

Lieutenant Muyo returned to the location where Josh and Sam were standing.

At their questioning looks, the Lieutenant coughed and then spoke, "There are four bodies,
over there.  The decomposition is advanced but they appear to be male.  One of them is
wearing a pilot's uniform."

Josh slumped to the ground and sat with his head on his bent knees.

Sam stalked over to the low brush and looked at the bodies.  In a few seconds, he returned
to Josh.  Kneeling down beside him, he said, "I recognized one of them.  He was Secret Service. 
I don't know about the other two, probably Travel Office staff.  The fourth one has on a Captain's uniform."

Josh raised his head, tears in his eyes,  and looked into Sam's face.  "God,
Sam  -  I can't - I can't  believe it.   Maybe - just maybe  - Toby and CJ are
alive.   Do you think they're alive?"

Sam nodded and grabbed Josh's shoulder.  Looking up at Lieutenant Muyo, he inquired
as to where the tracker went. 

Lieutenant Muyo hesitated and then stated, "He needed to check something out. 
He'll be right back."

Before Sam could ask what was going on, the tracker returned.

Since all three were staring at him, he spoke in halting English, "There are five bodies. 
One further in the trees, still tied in airplane chair."

At their look of dismay, he added, "Two walked away, a man and a woman."

Ucayali River  - Day 8, 3:00 pm

The river's current was getting stronger and large rocks were rising up from its depths
as though to slow its progress.  The rocks failed.

Toby was trying to navigate between the rocks and get the canoe to the shore.  
He wasn't making much progress. 

"Is this what you were worrying about?"  CJ shouted, dodging his oar and trying to hang
on to her own.

"Yeah," he answered, keeping his attention focused on the churning river.

"If you knew it was going to get this rough, why didn't you say something?"

"I didn't know, I just had a feeling," he explained.  Fighting to keep the canoe from
turning crosswise, he shouted, "Could we discuss this later?"

Before she could respond, they heard the roar.

Looking up ahead, CJ screamed, "Oh, God save us."

Andes Mountain Range -  Day 8,  3:10 pm

Still sitting on the ground, Josh and Sam processed his words.  Hardly daring to believe
that at least CJ had survived the crash.  Maybe Toby too, if he wasn't the fifth body.

"Does he know which way they went?" Josh directed his words towards the tracker, but
looked at Lieutenant Muyo for his answer.

The Lieutenant walked over to the tracker and held a very involved conversation in the
tracker's native language. 

Josh looked at Sam and quipped, "Kind of feels like we're at one of those foreign films,
Donna likes."

Sam, continuing to watch the two Peruvians, replied, "Yeah, but without the subtitles."

The Lieutenant motioned for Josh and Sam to join them.  Getting to their feet, the two
walked the short distance.

Lieutenant Muyo said, "He thinks they headed back up the slope before the rain."

As they turned to look in the direction they had come from, Lieutenant Muyo continued,
"But he says something big came down later, after the rain, probably what was left of
the cockpit.   He sees the slide marks and wants to follow the track."

Confused, Josh and Sam stared at the Lieutenant.  Sam asked, "So they went up the hill
and then came back down?  Is that it?"

Nodding, the Lieutenant, replied, "The tracker thinks they survived the rains and headed
towards the river.  He wants to track them on foot, but he thinks we should fly out and
search the river from the air."

Josh looked at Sam, his eyes full of indecision and guilt. "I don't think we should
leave this time.  I think we should stay with the tracker."

Sam started to respond but was interrupted by the Lieutenant.  "Please do not be offended,
but he can go faster on his own.  Plus, your friends have had almost a week's head start. 
If they're still alive we may locate them with the helicopter, if we fly the river's path."

Considering the options, Sam started pacing.  Looking at Josh, he made a decision.

"Call for the helicopter to pick us up.  But before we leave, I want to look at the other

Lieutenant Muyo said something to the tracker and he nodded.  He motioned for Sam to follow

Watching them walk into the trees, Lieutenant Muyo pulled out his two-way radio and made
a call to the Huey pilot.

Ucayali River -   Day 8,  3:20 pm

The rapids tossed their canoe back and forth, while they struggled for control.

"Try to head for the bank on your right," Toby yelled over his shoulder.

Wet with spray and exhausted by their efforts, CJ and Toby were frantically paddling,
trying to escape the powerful current that was directing their canoe toward the waterfall

From what they could see, the massive waterfall was guarded by huge boulders whose mission
seemed to be to smash any creature or structure which ventured near.   Of course should
they manage to slip past the sentries, they would surely die in their downward journey to
the bottom of the falls.

Toby knew that the little dugout canoe had no chance of surviving a collision with one
of the numerous boulders.

It also appeared that despite their best efforts, they would not be able to get out of the
current's pull.  With each minute they were being drawn closer to the point of no return.

"Toby," CJ shouted.  "We're not going to make it to the river bank.  Maybe we should get
out of the canoe."

Before he could consider her suggestion, the canoe turned sideways.  Sticking out his oar
to prevent a collision with a boulder, the oar snapped into two pieces.  The canoe struck
the boulder and immediately fell apart. 

Reaching out his hand, Toby managed to grab her arm as they were tossed into the churning

Ucayali River, down stream  -   Day 8,  3:20 pm

The Huey had swung south after picking up Josh, Sam and Lieutenant Muyo.  Circling several
tree covered hills, the pilot turned the helicopter east toward the Ucayali river.

They flew over dense tropical vegetation which would have taken days to traverse by foot,
but only took a few minutes to cross by air.

Turning north the pilot began following the winding river upstream.  His passengers
started their visual search for survivors.

Looking down into the green water below, Sam remarked, "Did you know that some historians
think Atlantis was in the Andes?"

"Uh, what does that have to do with anything?" Josh asked, already getting a headache
from staring at the moving landscape.

Never taking his eyes from the river, Sam responded, "The Mayan word for water is alt,
and the Incan word for copper is antis.  Plato described Atlantis as having both water
and copper."

Josh looked at Sam and started to say something.  Changing his mind, he paused and then
quoted one of Toby's favorite phrases,  "Sam, there's something really freakish about you."

Sam smiled, remembering for a moment, the relief he had experienced when he had verified
that the fifth body was not Toby.  He truly believed that Toby was alive and would say
those very words to him again.

The pilot yelled something at the Lieutenant.  Leaning forward, Josh asked what was
going on. 

Lieutenant Muyo said that the tracker had radioed that he had found where the two people
he was tracking had gotten into a canoe.  Toby and CJ were traveling on the river.

The tracker was turning back. They would pick him up on their way home.  Hopefully they
would have Toby and CJ with them when they made that return trip.

Ucayali River -   Day 8,  3:30 pm

"Hold on.  Just hold on." Toby pleaded.

They were clutching at the boulder nearest the drop off point.  The river pulled at
them trying to loosen their tenuous hold on the wet, slimy rock.

After the canoe had broken up, they were tossed against the nearest boulder. 
Holding on to it, Toby had managed to wedge his foot between two large adjacent
rocks.  With his foot acting as an anchor, he had managed to squeeze CJ in between
him and the boulder.  But he didn't know how long he could keep his foot in place. 
The water pressure was incredible.

CJ clawed at the slippery boulder she was laying against. She wasn't really holding
with her arms, just her fingers.

The water kept pushing her away from the rock and then Toby would push her back. 
She had the fleeting thought that she was literally caught between a rock and a
hard place.

"Toby," she yelled over her shoulder.


"Next time you have a premonition, share it."

"Are you still complaining about that?  Get over it, will you."

"I'm just saying, that for future reference, you shouldn't keep information to yourself.
You know I don't like getting blind sided with things."

"I didn't have any information to share.  It was just a . . . I can't believe I'm arguing
with you about this now."

"Well, if not now, when?"

Hearing a different sound, he shushed her.

"What, even now you don't want to talk?" she nagged.

"Shut up, I think I hear something."

"I don't know how you can hear anything with this roaring around us."

"Please, just for a minute - be quiet."

Looking toward the falls, Toby heard the helicopter, before he saw it.  When he did,
it was as though the helicopter rose from the depths of the water.

A few seconds later his mind processed the fact that the helicopter had been down at
the bottom of the falls and had risen straight up to appear in his line of sight.

Toby waved one arm at the aircraft, but almost lost his hold on CJ.  He could feel his
shoe slipping, damn wingtips.

Toby swore to himself that if he survived this, he would never wear another pair of
wingtips.  They had been nothing but trouble the whole time he was on this trip.

CJ, with her face smashed against the boulder, didn't see the helicopter.  But, she
did hear it when it hovered over them. 

"Toby, please tell me that's a helicopter and not a giant mutant bee come to carry
us off," she joked.

Laughing, he yelled in her ear, "You're in luck.  I think it's our ride home."

Ucayali River -   Day 8,  3:30 pm

Lieutenant Muyo spotted them first.  

They had traveled several miles up river without seeing anything.  Coming up on the
waterfall, they had hovered near the bottom looking at what appeared to be the pieces
of a smashed dugout canoe.

Josh's heart had leapt into his throat.  He looked at Sam who averted his eyes from
the floating debris.  The pilot took the helicopter up so that they could turn around
and search for the bodies that had to be at the bottom of the river.

When the helicopter rose to the top of the falls, Lieutenant Muyo shouted something
in Spanish and pointed.

Looking in the direction the Lieutenant was pointing, Sam and Josh saw a man in the
water clinging to a rock.  The man raised his arm, but quickly lowered it back to
the rock.

Josh directed the pilot to get closer.  As the Huey approached the man, Sam whispered
Toby's name.

It was a very wet and bedraggled Toby, but Toby nonetheless, clinging to that rock. 
Circling, they saw CJ jammed between Toby and the boulder.

Lieutenant Muyo took over.  He left the co-pilot's seat and rummaged in the back for
a rescue cable and harness.  It took a couple of tries, and CJ almost slipped the harness,
but in about 10 minutes the pilot had two more passengers on board.

As they circled the waterfall one last time, two wingtip shoes came flying out.

Lima Hospital - Day 8,  7:30 pm
Sam's Point of View

I know I probably have what CJ always calls my "goofy grin" on my face.  But I can't
help it.  For the first time in a long time I, Sam Seaborn, made a difference.

I'm sitting on the couch in the hospital waiting room watching Josh try to negotiate
an international collect call to Leo.  He's starting to get frustrated, but I can't
stop smiling.

Ever so often, he looks at me as if he was trying figure out what was going through
my mind that's so funny.  Maybe Josh thinks that I've finally lost my mind.

But I don't care what anybody thinks, I just want to savor this moment of success. 
It's been a long time coming.  Life is good.

Glancing back at Josh, I can see that he has finally gotten through.  I imagine that
Leo is going to be pretty angry with us for going back to Peru without his permission. 
But that old adage is still true, "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission."

I'm sure Leo is going to forgive us considering what we're were bringing him back
as souvenirs.

Josh has started waving his arms in all directions and talking a mile a minute, so
I assume he's begun telling Leo the details of the search and rescue.  Yep, now look
who has a goofy grin on his face.

Josh sees me watching him and gives me a "thumbs up." 

Guess that means we still have jobs.  Wonder if Leo will reimburse us for the plane
tickets?  That would probably be too much to hope for, although I might get CJ to ask
him.  Yeah, that would work.  Like I said, life is good.

Lima Hospital - Day 8, 7:30 pm
Josh's Point of View

God, I hate making long distance calls.  I usually have Donna do it.

Okay, I going to talk with one more telephone operator and if that doesn't work,
I'm going to walk outside and offer an exclusive to the first reporter who can get
Leo on his cell phone.

Of course judging from the number of reporters outside, Leo's probably already heard
the news.  The press was waiting for us when the helicopter landed at the hospital
helo-pad.  I guess our pilot made a little extra cash on that deal.  Hey, what the
hell, he deserves it.

I can hear the connection being made and the White House operator speaking.  I gave
her the code name and she accepts my collect call.

The next voice I hear is Margaret's.  She says the rescue is all over the news and
Leo's waiting for my call.  I thank her for her help in our getaway, but she just
said she was happy I thought to ask her.

While I'm waiting for Leo to come on the line, I look over at Sam.  He's wearing this
goofy grin and looks happy for the first time in a long time.   For awhile I thought I
had lost him as well as Toby and CJ.  It's good to see him like this.

Leo comes on the line and congratulates me on our successful rescue operation. 
He doesn't sound mad about us going awol but I'm sure we haven't heard the last
about that.  I tell him about the tracker and the bodies.  I explain about finding
the canoe and the rapids.  And, then I describe the rescue at the waterfall.  As I
hear myself telling this story to Leo, I realize this is just the first of the many
times I'll tell this story in my lifetime.

Smiling, I look over toward Sam again and give him a thumbs up.   Life is good sometimes.

Lima Hospital - Day 8,  7:30 pm
CJ's Point of View

I hope they didn't get any photographs.  I should have realized that there would be
press when the helicopter landed.  Where was my head?  One week and I lose my edge. 

Several very important looking doctors have examined me and they seemed disappointed
not to find something wrong.  I showed them the cut on my forehead, but they discounted
that as being not worthy of their interest pretty quickly.

They had the nurse take a lot of blood, so I guess there's still hope that I'm harboring
some exotic parasite or tropical disease.  I sense President Bartlet's hand in this.
I don't think these particular doctors have seen a regular patient in a long time. 
Oh, well, they'll get over it, I suppose. 

I have bigger problems to deal with anyway.  Josh threw his coat over my head when we
got out of the helicopter, but I'll have to give the press a statement soon. I have to
find some clothes and some makeup.

Walking into the private bathroom, I examine myself in the mirror.  I wonder if
President Bartlet would get my hairdresser down here if I asked?

I look longingly at the shower but I know better than to try it.  The nurse said I had
to wait four hours before I could shower again.

I've been in there three times already. She shut off the water to get me out the last time.
I don't know if I'll ever feel clean again, but I know I'll never take hot water for granted

I can hear the nurse coming, so I run out of the bathroom and hop back into bed. 
She promised to bring me something other than jello to eat.  Pizza would be good or
baked chicken.

What I really want is to go home.  But I don't want to fly.  I wonder if trains run all
the way from here to the United States?  I'll have to ask Sam.  He knows that kind of stuff.

The nurse comes in and proudly hands me a tray.  Lifting the metal cover, I discover a
big bowl of pudding.  Well, at least it's chocolate.

Lima Hospital - Day 8, 7:30 pm
Toby's Point of View

I think I missed being able to write the most of anything.  Sam promised to get me a
laptop tomorrow, but tonight I'm just glad to have pen and paper in my hand again.

The doctors have me hooked up to an intravenous drip so they can flood antibiotics
into my system.  They assured me that my foot would heal in a few days if I stayed
off of it.  I don't think that will be a problem.  I've done all the walking I want
to for a long while.

Staring at the blank page in front of me, I tap my pen against it.  One, two, three
taps, now I'm ready to write.

Ever since I was a young boy, I followed this ritual. My grandmother told me that
three taps unlocked the secrets of a blank page.  I believed it then.  Now I do it
more out of habit than superstition.

What shall I write?  Do I write about the hardships of the last week?  Or, do I write
about the moments in between?

The moments where I accomplished physical things beyond my abilities.  The moments where
I discovered new pleasures and joys.  Or maybe I'll just write about living and how
important each moment really is.

Yes, I'll write about living each moment as if it was your last. 

Then maybe I'll work on that Andes Survival Book.

The end.