Pack leaped up cursing his stupidity. This wasn’t the test he had in mind. He sprinted over the benches never taking his eyes off Kanata as he ran along the rink wall. He ignored the mothers shouting at him as he bullied past their kids. Helplessly, he witnessed Kanata at the far end of the rink hauled off and carried through a grey steel entrance. Seconds later he skidded to a stop outside a door marked, “Employees Only,” his heart hammering the inside of his chest. His mind flooded with disordered shouting.
     Pack tried to clear his head by shaking it side to side in a hopeless and meaningless gesture. He realized that he had to focus and stilled his head. He had to focus if he ever wanted to see Kanata again. See her alive. He put his hand on the doorknob, hesitated a moment then slipped through the doorway. A harsh light from huge fixtures hanging from the ceiling filled the spacious service bay. Pack scanned the workbench that ran along the wall. Dircsin stood nonchalantly reclining against a tall, red, multi-drawer tool chest. An open drawer jutted out in its mid-section.
     “You’re pretty quick, boy.”
     A muffled sound pulled Pack’s eyes from Dircsin. Kanata stood balanced on her skates, her wrists handcuffed to the rearview mirror of a Zamboni ice resurfacing machine. A strip of grey duct tape covered her mouth.
     “I suggest you turn around and leave the way you came in, boy.”
     Pack stared at Dircsin. Fear made his hands tremble, then disgust rushed through him as the word coward echoed through his head.
     Pack, focus on your needs.
     “Codford, he’ll kill me,” Pack shouted in a panic.
     Pack, focus on my voice.
     “Name ain’t Codford, kid. And you’re right. I’ll kill you if you go to making trouble for me. Now turn around and leave while you still can. No harm will come to your friend here. I just need to babysit her for a couple of days.” Dircsin lifted a shiny, hefty wrench handle from the tool chest.
     He’s not ready, Codford. Leave the girl for the police to save.
     “There’s no time,” Pack moaned.
     Silence, Benjamin! Pack, concentrate on your will. Focus!
     “You’re right about that too. Time’s running out.” Dircsin's eyes bore in on Pack as he tapped his open palm with the wrench. Without warning Dircsin slammed the steel handle into the tool box pounding in a fist-size dent with a thunderous bang.
     A thousand souls lurched within Pack’s consciousness igniting a chaotic clamoring of their advice and instructions. Pack felt a rage to rush into action pulsing in a hot current and this nearly sent him storming toward Dircsin in what he knew would be a mad, suicidal effort. Dircsin strode forward, a sick grin spreading on his face.
     Pack stepped back. A chorus of the cowardice of past ancestors loudly pressed upon him. Run, save us from death! Take us from here! Run, save us from death! Surprise pierced through the chaos as Pack realized that not all his past fathers were bold men.
     Isn’t that great, candidate? an unknown voice quipped, lowlife criminals and cowards are hanging throughout the family tree. Just what a hero needs! A burst of laughter popped from Pack. He swatted aside the chickenhearted whimpering.
     “You think this is funny?” Dircsin snarled.