Nguyen moved ahead of me, as we departed the perfect overhanging concrete bunker-style encampment the others would be preparing behind us. The mild wind, rushing water of the nearby river, and the mud sand under our feet would all be pushed into the background once we returned, either with or without Jurgens in hand. The rain came down, pushing at our backs, when it pressed down in sheets, and then suddenly stopped for a few seconds to merely blow past the sides of our bodies, like a fine garden hose spray.
It was going to take longer than a few hours, even if Jurgens had been overwhelmed by the strengthening current of the storm-driven river water or died of hypothermia because, over time, the human body could not take immersion in cold water, even if that water, as the Bong Song next to us, was only running at about sixty-five or so degrees. The distance we had to cover, back and forth in the night was great. Another factor was the storm. I considered the time and hypothermia factors after we were a full half hour into our difficult traverse through the night. The stronger the rain, the quicker it would gather and flow down the streams from high up in the mountains that fed the river. Although the temperature of the air had to be in the nineties, the water was growing colder because it was taking less time to get to the bottom of the valley. Nguyen stopped abruptly, pointed at the sandy mud at his feet, and then slunk down into a native squat. I joined him immediately, wondering why we’d paused. I knew it wasn’t because of the darkness, because Nguyen moved in the night almost like he did in the day. His night vision had to be incredible, compared to my own.