Cabin Fever by David Edgerley Gates, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine September / October 2017
Deputy Hector Moody's truck breaks down in the Montana wilderness. A storm is coming. His day goes from bad to worse when he takes shelter in an old cabin, and encounters two escaped convicts. Then lightning strikes, and the forest fire erupts. Author Gates does a terrific job of making these events seem plausible. The tension builds as firefighters converge on the forest fire, while a SWAT team hunts for both Deputy Moody and the convicts.
Gates breaks one of the rules of short story writing, and does it well. The common advice is to not switch point of view in a short story. This is true, unless you are a skilled storyteller. Cabin Fever is told from multiple points of view. One character is Deputy Moody's girlfriend, Doctor Katie Faraday, who sets up a clinic to treat the firefighters for minor injuries and smoke inhalation.
"Hector's over in the Gallatin," she told him. "Ranch hands at the Two Forks called in suspicious rustling activity."
The ranchers ran cattle on federal land, under permit. The cows ranged fairly wide, and sometimes you lost track.
"Well, we've got a thing," Frank Child said.
Katie knew what cops meant by a "thing." It didn't usually presage good news.
There is a lot going on in this story, told with edge-of-your-seat intensity.
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