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Fires of a False Allah



Fires of a False Allah


by Brian G. Angevine


©2010 Brian G. Angevine




Game Warden, Randy Waters finds himself as the last line of defense against terrorists who set many fires across Colorado. The fires begin during a season of drought and require much manpower to handle the blazes. This is exactly the plan by the terrorists, to occupy so many people that defenses are relaxed in other places.

When the FBI realizes that extremists are setting the fires they bring in teams from the coast to counter the threat. These teams manage to capture a few men, but the final team of fire starters is headed to southern Colorado near Trinidad. A hunch leads Randy Waters to the right place to stop the terrorists, but he hesitates to shoot them in cold blood. A chase results in apprehension of one suspect and the injury of several highway patrol troopers.

At night, Randy chases the remaining suspect into the woods where they have a duel to the death in the darkness.

This is the third in a series of stories featuring Randy Waters.


Chapter 1



The extremely dry woods west of Trinidad, Colorado in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains seemed ready for rain, but none came this summer. Instead the Southwest winds gained force and desiccated the already brittle trees. Colorado Game Warden Randy Waters worried about his animals. He always considered them his animals although they belonged to the public, but his job was to protect those animals while still accepting the fact that they may be legally harvested by hunters in the fall. He enjoyed elk steaks on a cold winter evening and always took at least one animal each year, but he was not a trophy hunter. While a huge rack of elk antlers surely was impressive the meat of an elk cow was superior in taste. He knew it took no greater skill or manly power to shoot a bull elk with a high-powered rifle than it did to kill a cow. Still there were many who equated testosterone with massive antlers.

Randy drove slowly up highway 12, the Highway of Legends and scanned the scrub brush in the lower elevations. He saw more animals than most drivers because he knew what to look for and where to look. There was a raccoon sneaking into a homeowner’s field of sweet corn. It took a lot of water to grow that corn and most people up here just didn’t have access to that much water. So these folks either had an exceptional well or hauled water to their crop. A little ways up the road he spotted a black bear running from another garden. That gardener had strung an electric fence all around his plot and the bear must have gotten a little jolt to send him running. Randy hoped the bear found food someplace that did not disturb the residents. Part of his job was to move problem bears to another location. That meant trapping them and moving them many miles away from their home base. Randy knew that was pretty much a death sentence. The new bear would have to fight his way into the community of animals already there in spite of not knowing the territory. There was not much chance he would survive and every chance that he would find his way back to his home territory sooner or later. The ear tagged bears had to be shot when they were repeat offenders.

Many of the starving animals moved from the high country this summer to lower elevations in an attempt to find food. The trouble was that the low country was caught in the same drought conditions and there was no food available. Randy drove on up toward Stonewall, a tiny hamlet nestled tight against the towering volcanic dike that emanated from Wahatoya or the Spanish Peaks. Over 400 such dikes made the landscape here in Las Animas and Huerfano counties very unique. The twin Spanish Peaks stood tall at over 13,000 feet and set apart from the rest of the Sangre de Cristo range. They served as a landmark for centuries of travelers and could be seen from far out on the plains, almost as far as the more famous Pikes Peak a hundred miles to the North.

Randy pulled into the small restaurant and store a few yards from the imposing stone wall and strolled in. “Hey Randy,” the clerk shouted. “What’s happenin?” Everyone knew Randy and most tried to curry his favor in case they ever ran afoul of a game law, but Randy played no favorites while still being friendly to all the locals. He tread a fine line on friendship and the law but almost never felt any conflict between the two. He could arrest an offender, fine him and take away his illegal game, but then greet him with a smile the next time he saw him. Oh, there were a few who really pushed him and threatened him. They felt some kind of entitlement to the game and sometimes plotted to hunt out of season, but most of them knew they couldn’t get away with it for long and waited until the season rolled around. A rifle shot echoed for miles in these mountains and someone would be sure to hear it. Then the offender had to find a way to drive down the highway with a truck full of meat without anyone seeing him. That was a tough go.

Randy carried a forty caliber Glock on his hip and a .303 rifle in a gun case behind the seat. Ten power binoculars brought the distant into clear focus when steadied on a walking staff. For special instances a range finder telescope mounted on a tripod and connected to a camera could take stills or movies of violations in progress. Even night vision scopes helped in the chase of poachers. Global Positioning Satellite devices pinpointed locations and assisted tracking, but Randy still had to get out and walk and he enjoyed hiking in his forest, his mountains, looking out for his animals.


Chapter 2

A group of six men met in a hotel room in old Denver. The area was not especially blighted because the residents still took care of their houses and beautiful green lawns. Denver was unique because of the cool season lawns. They were lush and fine bladed and when they received enough water and care they were gorgeous, but the price was in water. Water was piped over and through the mountains from a series of dams on the western slope of the Rockies. Without those dams Denver would soon wither into dust and decay. Many ecologists decried the penchant for green lawns in the arid west. These six men did not care about the lawns. Where they came from nobody had lawns. Most people where they came from had only mud-walled huts to live in, and many did not have even that. Many of those mud-walled huts had been destroyed over and over by fighters from the old Soviet Union and now America--or NATO as politicians liked to point out, but America was the Great Satan that wanted to alter their way of life.

The massive water impoundments were of interest to the men, but the protection level for those dams had increased greatly in the past few years. So their planning was of a different nature that could prove to be just as deadly and disruptive as blowing up a massive dam or poisoning the water.

They wore western clothing to try to fit in without drawing attention, but their heavy beards and dark skin accompanied by the proud nose of their tribesmen gave them away. Their eyes were different too. The fierce intensity and so-called thousand yard stare of the battle hardened warrior was off-putting. Anyone meeting them face-to-face and gazing into their eyes would be warned off immediately by what they saw there.

“Our plan is to disrupt the West and occupy so many men in the battle that other prominent targets will be left undefended,” Akhmed told the others. “We don’t need much to do that and the country is ripe for an attack. We will spread havoc and confusion over such a large area that chaos will result, and we will be under very little risk of capture.”

“I care not for my life,” replied one fanatic. “I gladly give up my life for the cause and only hope to take many infidels with me.”

Akhmed swung his head toward the speaker. “I admire your dedication, Rasmun, but it is not necessary to be a martyr just yet. Our cause will be better served using a little caution and restraint in order to spread the chaos wider. If you act aggressive you will be martyred too soon and miss an opportunity.”

The others looked at each other and nodded. None of them were afraid of death, yet staying alive for the cause was just as important as going out is a blaze of glory.

“Now, here is what we need to do.” Akhmed distributed a list of supplies to be bought to each of the other five members of the cell. He opened a satchel full of American money and distributed a stack of bills to each man. “Each of you will buy a small amount of each item at stores all over the city. Don’t attract attention by buying large amounts or too many of the items at one store. An unlimited supply exists at a variety of stores so it is not necessary to make large buys.

“Another problem is using too large bills, which is why I have given you tens and twenties and a large amount of one dollar bills. Clerks are trained to check the bills to see if they are counterfeit. They will crumple them like this,” he demonstrated the motion. “And they might mark them with a special pen or hold them up to the light. This is normal and you should not even take notice of it. They are also supposed to track large buys of certain items known to be used in explosives or drug manufacture. Most of these items should elicit no concern on the part of the store clerks. Large cash buys are also noted. Make sure you spend only a hundred dollars or so at each store.”

The men who knew little about the money discussed the bills with others who knew the currency. Then they practiced speaking in English the few phrases they might need. “Most of the time shoppers say nothing to the clerks or store people, but it is not unusual to be approached by a store employee to ask if they can help you find something. Just shake your head, like this.”

“You may notice someone watching you. For one thing you have a look that terrifies Americans. We will have to shave in spite of our customs, and we will hide our eyes behind sunglasses. We will wear jeans and T-shirts and cut our long hair leaving our turbans behind. It is a small sacrifice to achieve out goals. Now, get some rest and eat some food and tomorrow we will begin.”


Chapter 3


Smoke rose above the pines in a soft spiral at first and then became more dense as the fire spread into the underbrush. Soon a small fire crept near the ground from one dry branch to another and gambel oaks or buck brush began to ignite. The dry oak leaves shot the fire upward and lower branches of pines lit up.

A passing motorist saw the fledgling fire and tried to call 911 on his cell phone but the service was unavailable at this spot in Clear Creek Canyon. So he had to drive clear to the junction with I-70 at the bottom of Floyd Hill. He ran into the first business and yelled, “There’s a forest fire in the canyon!”

The alarm went out to the fire department in Idaho Springs and a fire truck soon roared down the canyon trailed by the fire chief. The fire was in a very steep section and was difficult to get to but had obviously started near the highway and spread from there.

“Probably some careless smoker,” the chief fumed. “When will people learn?”

The fire spread up Centennial Cone so the truck backtracked to Douglas Mountain Road and headed up the steep incline. There were many expensive houses back here and they needed to be protected. A call was sent to the Golden fire department for help although the blaze was still not too big. The tank truck drove slowly along the jeep trails that passed as roads on the back side of Centennial Cone and found the fire advancing up the hillside. A suppressing fan of water beat down the advancing flames nearby but did not stop the spread to the sides.

The chief called for another tanker and called in Central City to help out. The fire was not big yet and was not threatening buildings but he didn’t want it to get any bigger.

On the way down from Central City a fire truck driver noticed another column of smoke and diverted to handle that flare up. It too had started near the highway and was spreading uphill. A resident who lived in a fancy mansion far above Floyd Hill noticed another column of smoke near Idaho Springs and called that in. This day started almost out of control and would only get worse.

Fire Chief Bolden, from Idaho Springs went back to where the fire started. He got out of his truck and inspected the site looking for a cigarette butt. Instead he found that the fire had started about 10 yards up the slope and spread all directions. He carefully ascended the steep grade to what had been a large patch of tall dry grass near some buck brush. To his surprise he found a burned out highway flare like those used by truckers. Few motorists carried those anymore, but they were a requirement for long distance trucks.

“I found the source of the fire,” Bolden radioed to his base. “It is obvious that it was intentionally set. A highway flare was tossed up the steep embankment into some dry grass. That didn’t get there by accident!”

He decided to drive up toward Central City to look at the other fire. It was only about two miles away and was burning up Smith Hill Gulch. The Smith Hill Road had confined its spread to the North, but it was roaring on up the mountain with the Central City bunch fighting it. A few feet from the road Bolden found another highway flare that had started that fire.

“Folks, we have a situation here. The Smith Hill Gulch fire was started by a highway flare. Someone is causing some problems on purpose.” The dispatcher in Idaho Springs sent out a bulletin to all State law enforcement agencies to be on a lookout for someone tossing flares into the forest.

About that time another flare hit the tall grass near Wideawake at the border between the Arapaho National Forest and the Roosevelt National Forest. The mountains were even more rugged here but luckily there were few dwellings. Just outside of Rollinsville another fire blazed and a few minutes later one near Nederland. Now the dwellings were thick and rural fire departments were scrambling to contain the blazes before they did real damage.

The beautiful alpine country west of Boulder was called Little Switzerland and many of the buildings carried the Swiss architectural theme throughout. Little Switzerland was beginning to burn and there were not enough firefighters and equipment to handle the multiple blazes. All the investigators reported the same ignition source, highway flares tossed from the road.

Sheriffs, highway patrol, local police and the forest service were now on high alert. It was obvious that the person starting the fires was heading roughly north along two-lane highways. The next likely target might be Ward along Highway 72, the Peak to Peak highway. Ironically the mountain near Ward was known as Burnt Mountain. If the perpetrator was on 72 there were few places he could go. The Boulder County sheriff told his deputy to head west on highway 7 from Lyons, and then he notified the Larimer County sheriff to send someone south on highway 7 from Estes Park. He trailed the fire-starter along highway 72.

The deputy from Lyons and the Boulder County sheriff arrived at the junction of 7 and 72 about the same time and the sheriff had to report another fire near Ward. Neither had seen any other vehicles so it was assumed that the arsonist was heading toward Estes Park.

“He’s gotta be heading your way,” the sheriff told his counterpart in Estes Park. We’re comin’ north on 7 to pinch him. Lights and sirens.”

The Larimer County sheriff saw a car approaching him, saw it slow a little and then a flare was launched from the window. The car accelerated past him and he screeched a U-turn and hit the siren and lights.

“I’ve got him!” he radioed. “It’s a tan Ford Taurus with two guys in it. I just saw them toss a flare up here. Cut him off at Estes.”

The three law officers raced down the twisting road trying to catch up with the tan car, but the car made it into Estes Park before anyone could cut him off and disappeared on a side street. They thought they had him now because there were few streets and the sheriff and his deputies knew them very well. They posted on deputy at the South end of Estes and another at the highway junction at the Stanley Hotel. The Boulder County sheriff took 7 on north to 36 and east to the Fish Creek Road to block that exit. The Larimer sheriff and the local police began to comb the neighborhood blocked off by the others.

Within minutes the tan Ford was spotted in front of a house. Nobody was inside and there was a flare smoldering on the backseat. It had failed to ignite the car so the law officer opened the door, tossed the flare out and used his fire extinguisher to put out the seat cushion. A local officer was coming down the street from the other direction and blared his horn as he saw two men sprinting across a yard heading east. He radioed his location and jumped out of his car to give chase. Sheriff Cortez from Larimer spoke into his shoulder mike that he was on foot too, and that the house in front of him was on fire. Law officers descended on the area to blanket it and search for the offenders. An investigative unit was dispatched to check the car. “Be careful boys, it may be rigged to explode.”

Several officers arrived at Fish Creek Road on foot from different routes. They all stood there puffing and panting while they tried to summon up a report. None of them saw the suspects during their run except for that brief glimpse.

“There were two [puff, puff) guys. (puff) They ran from that house they set on fire and headed toward Fish Creek. (puff, puff) They were wearing turbans and those (puff) pajamas or whatever. They didn’t have beards though.”

“Are you saying they were Muslims?”

“I don’t know what their religion is, sir. All I saw was what they were wearing.”

“Damn!” Cortez shouted. “What are terrorists doing up here?”

A deputy scuffed a shoe on the ground and said, “We don’t know they are terrorists, sir.”

“Okay, okay. You political correct assholes. They were dressed like Afghans weren’t they?”

“It sure looked like it to me.”

“But no beards?”

“No beards.”

“I thought they all wore beards,” Cortez mumbled. “I know, I know. Don’t tell me. ‘They’ (he crooked his fingers in the air for quotes) don’t all look alike, but it sounds to me like we got a situation here.” He got on his shoulder mike and gave a report. “Two  male suspects dressed in tribal Afghan clothes deliberately set a number of fires using highway flares. They disappeared to the east of Estes Park. We will canvass the neighborhood and we need to start a horse and foot patrol up the mountain. Get a chopper up here right away, and watch out, they might be armed and dangerous.”


Chapter 4

These two men were accustomed to steep mountains from their homeland in Afghanistan. Lean and muscular they were in good condition to carry out this kind of mission. The more nourishing food they had been eating in the past month during their travel to Colorado had honed their bodies to a new level of strength. Now they climbed through the forest with ease as they made their way almost straight up the mountain. They soon crossed a trail at Hermit Park and tossed a flare into the underbrush there. They followed the trail for a ways but then faded back into the forest.

Another trail appeared between Pierson Mountain and Kenny Mountain. They turned west on that trail and knew they would soon intersect the highway they had just traveled. Voices carried up the trail to them so they stepped off into the forest again. They hid as a man and woman walked past wearing small day packs. The couple paused as they saw the smoke ahead and talked about it.

“Oh, oh. Looks like a fire off that way,” the man said.

“Sure does. Will the cell phone work up here? Maybe we should report it,” the female said.

The man put his pack on the ground and took out his phone and turned it on. The woman thought she heard a noise and turned just in time to scream as the terrorist slammed into her. She fell on her back and his curved knife with the jeweled handle severed her head. The man jumped up and tried to get his sheath knife out but the horror of his wife’s head rolling toward him in the trail froze him in place. He was hit from behind by the other Afghan and his throat was slit leaving his head lolling on his neck bones.

The terrorists smashed the cell phone and grabbed the backpacks. They needed the supplies and didn’t want anyone to notify the authorities. Another flare lit up the underbrush and they headed west again.


Chapter 5


Randy Waters heard the radio reports clear down at the southern end of the state in Trinidad. It sounded like there was a hell of a mess going on up north. He wondered if level two law officers like him would be called in to help up there, but there should be plenty of law officers in Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver, all those places, he thought. He went back to his paperwork but could not shake the image of guys going around torching the woods on purpose.

The FBI was called in and everyone in the state was put on alert. When the fire on Trail 1007 was put out two bodies were found, obviously murdered.

“They have a day start on us,” the FBI man in charge said. “We know they are on foot right now but we don’t know where. We need to get choppers up right away and cover this area. Send out an alert to everyone to stay off the trails and send rangers up to campgrounds to empty them.”

The suspects were known to be armed and dangerous and were now wanted for murder as well as arson. Tracking dogs were brought in but they had no real scent to key on. These trails were well-used by residents of Estes Park and tourists alike. So for now the dogs were useless.

On day two of the spot fires most of them were under control but a report came in from Georgetown that a fire had started near Silver Plume along I-70. The signature was the same, a flare tossed up a steep hill in a patch of grass and scrubby pines. The dispatcher said it looked like it had been smoldering all night and just blossomed into a fire.

Suddenly fires were reported near Arapahoe Basin ski area, then Keystone and Ophir Mountain near Frisco. It quickly became obvious that the two men spotted near Estes Park were not alone. The call went out statewide to watch for men who appeared to be Afghani in rental cars on secondary highways and roads.

Fire crews were stretched thin already. Calls were put out to other states and federal agencies to provide help. The FBI called in counterterrorist groups from the East and west coasts and military units were dispatched from Fort Carson in Colorado Springs and Buckley Air National Guard Base in Denver.

“We don’t know how big this group is,” FBI special agent in charge, Hansford, said. “It looks like they are organized and working in groups of two. The car abandoned in Estes Park was rented in Denver two days ago, but not by anyone suspicious looking. The rental agent said they looked like Mexican Americans to her. They were clean shaven and wore western clothes, jeans and T-shirts.”

FBI agents checked stores in Denver that sold highway flares. There were hundreds of them, and yes, each store had sold a few flares to a clean-shaven man wearing jeans. Clerks thought they were long-distance truckers replenishing their stocks. Each store also sold some small item like a screwdriver or wrench or box of nails along with the flares. Some included a battery, another some electrical wire, another some kerosene and a lantern. None of the purchases were big and all were paid in cash.

“I would say they have been planning this for a while,” special agent Hansford said. “They knew what to get and how to avoid attracting attention. Some of the store personnel noticed them because of their dark skin and hooked noses but most of them said nothing and did not appear agitated.”

Surveillance camera footage began to be analyzed at the FBI office in Denver. Five different men were identified and tracking their movements began in earnest. None arrived by airplane as near as could be determined, but their movements around Denver were being tracked by analysts putting in long hours looking at videos. It was hard work because they blended in so well. Now if they had been wearing beards or turbans it would have gone much quicker.

No trace of the fugitives at Estes Park was found. They could be anyplace in a huge area, most of it trackless and wilderness. Heat seeking helicopters flew a grid all night and found plenty of heat signatures, but most of them were animals. At one point a chopper saw two human shapes walking together heading west toward Rocky Mountain National Park. An attack chopper roared in and landed in a clearing as a swat team jumped out and ran toward the two men.

“Get your hands up and hit the ground,” the team leader yelled. “Move and you die!”

The team swarmed forward and handcuffed the men. The terrified father and his teenage son were starting an early morning hike up into the park and were planning on doing a little fishing. It was supposed to be a great day for the two but ended up with them being hustled out of the woods in cuffs and rushed off to a police station. The FBI released them a few hours later with an apology delivered a little red-faced.


Chapter 6


Akhmed listened to the car radio as he drove south on I-25. The reports were all over the air about the attacks by fire in the North part of the state. Law officers specializing in terrorist activities were converging on Denver to hunt down the cell. Akhmed smiled and translated the news for his companion.

“Our plan is taking shape very well. Our brothers heading across the border from Canada and Mexico should have easy travel to their destinations. With the concentration of law resources here in Colorado the West and east coasts will be ripe for harvest.”

As he drove he saw highway patrol cars streaking north on I-25 and sheriff patrols were beginning to set up at county lines. It was time to turn off the Interstate highway and disappear on the back roads of Colorado. He headed west on Cheyenne Boulevard out of Colorado Springs and made for the Gold Camp Road. He had his personal SUV to drive and shifted it into four-wheel drive as he ascended the incredibly twisted Gold Camp Road. They pulled off at a turnout for anglers in Cheyenne Canyon Park and donned their headdresses, pants and tunics. His companion remarked that he was glad to be allowed to do battle in his own clothing. Both of them had already started letting their beards grow back and the two-day stubble was thick and dark.

Their plan of attack was different from the others. Because they would be on narrow, twisting roads for much of their journey they did not want their fires to start right away. They had rigged boxes with jars of kerosene inside. A candle was lit and the box closed up except for air holes in the sides. The candle burned clean enough to avoid visible smoke. When the candle burned down it would light the wick of a kerosene jar and a firecracker fuse to an M-80 firecracker. The M-80 would go off and shatter the jar of kerosene which would spread and ignite the box and anything nearby. The candles were long enough to last about an hour.

            The first box was placed at the junction of Cheyenne Canyon and Gold Camp roads at an