"How do we know...?"
"That it was him?" Pete stooped, picking up one of the smaller rocks to show me. There was paint in the long scratch across it. Paint the color of Trev's bike.
He squatted, examining the ground closely before standing again, his eyes moving back and forth slowly over the area between where we were and the river. Then he walked a few yards further down and stopped, beckoning me to join him.
"I think, I'm fairly certain, that he didn't go into the river. Obviously I'm no expert but that looks like blood to me."
I would have laughed if I hadn't felt so panicky. He of all people would know blood when he saw it—well him and Vik. What he said was blood was on a plant in the shade of one of the trees, well protected from view and the weather. The ground was dampish, as it had been all along the edge of the river. He knelt down on one knee, searching for something and nodded.
"A footprint, going that way." He pointed towards the access road that joined the highway. "It could be his, someone who found him, or nobody's in particular. But if I had to make a guess, from the depth of it, we can eliminate him. I'd be more inclined to think someone found him and carried him from here to their vehicle."
"Which means he could be anywhere out there." I swept my hand out, encompassing the area this side of the highway. "Or...or somewhere else entirely."
"Unfortunately, yes. Come on." He headed towards the road, watching the ground as he did. "There's another one, same shoe, just as deep." When we arrived at the edge of the road he paused and then smiled slightly. "See there? What does that tell you?"
I felt like a student taking a final exam as I looked at the footprint at the edge of the road. He waited patiently as he watched me.
"It's pointed away from the highway for one." Biting my lip I thought about that. "Wait... All right. If someone had a car here, or a truck, and they did have Trev, he must have opened the door to put him inside and a car door opens this way," I mimed it, "meaning the car had to be facing west, also away from the highway."
"Very good, Del. So, in theory, Trev went straight when the highway curved here to accommodate the side road and ended up down there. From where the blood was, I'd say he managed to get that far before he passed out. Then someone either saw him, or his bike, and came down to check things out, picked him up, and carried him to their car. Since the car was facing in that direction, the person had come off of the highway, heading west. I'm not sure how much that narrows our search but at least we have a starting point now."