Saturday, May 29, 2010

“In Ravenscrag’s Shadow” – Chapter 5

In Ravenscrag’s Shadow

Davis L. Bigelow
Copyright 2010

Chapter 5

The sounds of Lille’s laughter filled Glen’s consciousness. It was intoxicating! Like a skilfully played harp, it both thrilled and amazed him. Smiling, Glen entered their dimly lit bedroom. His red-haired wife stood near the bed, shimmying into her most elegant evening gown. “Hey.” She said, her green eyes twinkling with life, “You’re just in time to zip me up.”
“If I must.” He flirted.
“You must.” She said musically. Glen walked over to Lille, but instead of zipping her up, he gently kissed the back of her neck. She squirmed from the tickle and giggled a little. Below his adoring gaze, her soft shoulders were covered in freckles. Glen kissed a few of them. “Ok, ok,” She protested, sounding only a little convincing. “It doesn’t feel like any zipping is going on back there.”
Glen breathed in the scent of her skin one last time before locating the zipper slide. It meshed the teeth together easily. “How many times had he performed this duty?” He had lost count, but one day he would count all those cute freckles!
Lille spun to face him. She looked both radiant and stunning. Tiny wrinkles were beginning to frame the corners of her pretty smile, betraying her age, but that mattered little to him. She was his and he was hers. There was nothing more to it than that. Glen gazed deeply into her emerald eyes. How he loved this delicate creature. Her lips were painted a deep shade of red. Her cheeks expressed a touch of blush. Glen leaned in and kissed her ever so gently. He was careful not to disturb the shiny lipstick. “I love you.” He breathed and held her tight, warm in her embrace. Then, just like that, she was gone, lost in the haze of slumber. As the delightful image faded into black, Lille laughed again.
As Glen was drawn into consciousness, Lille’s laughter sounded stranger and stranger. The sound seemed to reach into his dreams and demand an audience. Finally, his eyes snapped open. “What is that noise?” His mind strained to determine the answer to the unspoken question. His whole body still hurt, but at least he was moderately warm! As quietly as he could, Glen pealed the crinkly Mylar from covering his head. Alert now, he strained to listen. The night was calm and nothing moved. “I must have been hearing things.” He thought, a cynical smile flitting across his lips. Slowly, he pulled the emergency blanket back over his head, but stopped. There it was again.
In the inky darkness, high above him, tiny rocks cascaded down the mountainside, tinkling over ledges and down crevasses. He lay still and listened to the rockslide. In his dream, the sound must have reminded him of his Lille. Unbidden, a lump rose to his throat. “Would he live to see her again?” He longed for one more look into those green eyes. One more touch of her hand on his. One more kiss goodbye. If he abandoned Stan, he would probably make it out alive. Glen sighed. Was he willing to desert his friend? “No. I will not leave Big C here.” Determination flooded his tired mind. He would not leave Stan to certain death even if it cost him his own life. Glen clenched his teeth together, flaring the muscles in his cheeks. “We’ll leave this nightmare together or not at all!”
All through the long night, tiny rockslides disturbed the alpine air. Stan was awake more than he was asleep. His broken leg throbbed mercilessly. Several times, he tried to move into a more comfortable position, but none could be found. Perhaps his attempts only made the discomfort worse? Perhaps his leg hadn’t finished swelling? He needed sleep but it would not come. In the still air, his thoughts played and replayed images of Alida. They had been together for such a long time, and he loved her with all his heart. She had become part of his own soul. “Dear Lord?” He silently prayed, “I’m sorry I spoke unkindly to my sweetheart.” Tears welled up and spilled down the big man’s dirty cheeks. “Please help me to survive this ordeal so I can apologize to her in person.” A sob threatened to rock Stan’s broken body, but he successfully held the urge at bay. “I’m not ready to leave her.” Fear and desperation pulsed in the big man’s veins. If there was ever a time to make a deal with the Lord, it was now. Stan squeezed his eyes shut tightly. “I promise... that if you allow me to live, I’ll be a better husband to Alida.” The prayer was sincere, but perhaps the Lord had other plans for him? “Perhaps death is inevitable.” More tears flowed. “My injuries are so severe! I could very well die before anyone can rescue me!”
Radiating from his broken leg, another tidal wave of pain swept thought his consciousness. Stan clenched his teeth to fight the overwhelming urge to cry out. Glen was his only hope of survival and he couldn’t interrupt his sleep – at least not if he could help it. Finally, the flood of pain subsided, leaving the big man’s mind tingling with a bitter aftertaste. He thought of his friend who lay next to him. Glen’s sleep sounded intermittent, his breathing erratic one minute and calm the next. He knew Glen would not leave him. “Perhaps that choice would cause Glen’s death too?” Like thick billowing smoke from a dying fire, despair began to choke Stan. Things were terribly complicated and the big man liked simplicity. He felt so powerless! His head hurt. It was painful to breathe. “I can’t even crawl!” As the ominous minutes of darkness marched onward, a pleading prayer hung on Stan’s dry lips. Finally the big man’s thoughts gave way and he faded into a fitful sleep.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"In Ravenscrag’s Shadow" - Chapter 4

In Ravenscrag’s Shadow

Davis L. Bigelow
Copyright 2010

Chapter 4

Stan watched as Glen methodically checked him over for injuries, gently poking here and tentatively prodding there. “Why did diagnoses have to hurt so much?” The big man’s unspoken thought swirled in his mind. Stan sighed carefully, closing his eyes. Right now, distress and discomfort were all he knew! The pain wasn’t too bad when he wasn’t breathing in or out, but even the slightest movement of his lungs produced unwanted twinges of shooting agony. He longed for that blissful state he had been in only minutes before, just before his eyelids had opened to the dim, scarlet-coloured sky. The reddish glow was quickly morphing into purple. “How am I?” He wheezed, not certain if he really wanted to know. Glen was a competent, first-aider and Stan would not question his conclusions.

“It looks like you have three broken ribs… but that’s the good news. You also have a broken femur.” Came Glen’s calm reply. “You have a nasty gash on the head too, but it has stopped bleeding on its own.” The small man paused a moment to let the sobering news sink in. “Other than that,” he unsuccessfully tried to lighten the sombre mood, “I think you’re just bruised up a bit.”

The big man shut his eyes. His brow furrowed deeply. The news was worse than he feared! “People died from broken femurs.” Glen’s voice interrupted his depressing thoughts.
“You wouldn’t be so bad if my leg hadn’t landed on you.” He confessed. “I’m sorry. At least it looks like a clean break… And the skin isn’t broken… I’m surprised that neither one of us broke an arm.”

Stan opened his eyes again and stared quietly at his sober friend. The big man’s breathing was ragged. He thought of his wife. He thought of sunshine and the laughter of his grandchildren. He heard the unkind words he had spoken to Alida just before he and Glen had left the campsite. Unbidden tears pricked at the corners of his eyes.

High above the bruised and broken hikers, the silhouetted slopes of Ravenscrag Mountain stood out black against the deep purple of the sky. In the profound silence, Glen pulled up his pant leg to examine one of his own wounds. Stan lay still, but sorted through his final memories before he had lost consciousness. “If he hadn’t slipped off the ledge in the first place, Glen wouldn’t have had to grab his hand and neither of them would have fallen.” He drew a laboured breath and spoke. Glen looked up and listened. “It’s not… your fault.” Stan reassured. “It was my… idea to have a… look at that… cave.” Without thinking, the big man tried to raise a hand and point to a spot a few hundred feet past the crumbled ledge. “Ow!” He gasped and returned the hand to its resting place on the rocks. His arm might not be broken, but it was probably the same colour as the purple sky. Glen resumed his self-examination, wincing from the invasion, but remaining thoughtful while Stan drew in another breath. “Can we… survive the night… without our packs?”
Glen’s thoughts spun quickly away from the pity party he was beginning to host for himself. There would be time to feel bad later. The cut above his severely sprained ankle had already clotted and his head wound seemed stable. He needed a tensor bandage, a crutch and maybe even a cast, but right now, they had to stay alive. “I have a couple of emergency blankets in my fanny pack.” He blurted, his alert mind instantly circling the survival problem in search of a good solution.

“I have a… little water… in my right… back pocket.” Stan volunteered. “I hope… it didn’t get… punctured from… the fall.” Glen finished unbuckling his fanny pack and moved to locate the water bottle. Stan winced a little as Glen it pulled free.

Glen unscrewed the lid and peered inside. The night was nearly upon them, but he could still see a little. “It’s still full.” He stated. “Here, let me give you some.” Stan opened his mouth while Glen carefully poured in a bit of the precious liquid. Other than the small flask, the nearest water was in their backpacks, some six hundred yards away. “This isn’t going to last very long.” Glen mourned, “But it’s much better than nothing!”

Stan swallowed. “That’s good… for now.” He rasped. “You have… a little too.” Glen complied, but took only a small swallow. Considering Stan’s injuries, Glen knew he would get to a water source long before his friend did.

“I have my compass, some matches, a little trail mix, a couple of energy bars and two space blankets.” Glen enumerated. “You’re probably hungry, but if we eat any of this food, we’ll just need more water.”

“You’re probably… right.” Stan concluded. “I’d rather be… hungry than… thirsty.”

“Yeah, me too. And besides, if we eat anything now, our head trauma may cause us to throw up anyway”


A few minutes of crawling around accomplished much. First, Glen unwrapped the silver, Mylar emergency blankets and spread them out. He placed stones along the outside edges of their makeshift coverings and pulled the noisy Mylar over them to trap their body heat. The two men had been friends for a long time, but sharing the same bed felt awkward to both. Tonight, however, survival would have to take precedence. Inwardly, each man knew the terrifying truth. They would probably not live to see dawn without the warmth of the other’s body.

As the two men huddled together, the night deepened. One by one, the stars came out to play, but the thickening clouds obscured the rising crescent moon. Painful minutes dragged by. The discomfort from their soft flesh poured over rugged mountain aggregate was inescapable. Finally, Stan whispered into the darkness. “Are you… still awake?”


“Nice campsite… we have here.” In spite of a rock digging into Glen’s shoulder, he cracked a wry smile and chuckled. Ironically, they had anticipated this journey for many long months and now all they wanted was to be home. Stan spoke again, solemn now. “In the morning… you need to go… to our packs… and bring back… some things.”

“That’s what I was thinking too.” Glen replied.

“We need water… or we’ll both… die.” Stan paused to draw an agonizing breath. The reality of their situation was bleak at best! “You go… to our packs… and get our… water. My cell phone… is in the top… pouch… but it probably… won’t work… unless you climb… High Tor.” Glen listened attentively. “If you can’t… call for help… then cut four poles… to make a… travois. There is enough… rope in my pack… to lash the frame… but I don’t know… what to use… for the middle part.”

The air went quiet as the two men considered a solution. Finally Glen spoke. “I bet we could use the tent. You know, stretch it over the frame, like a hammock.”

“That would… probably work.” Stan rasped approvingly. “I have the… first aid kit too.” He went on. “It isn’t much… but at least we… won’t die from… an infected cut.”

Glen cracked another smile, and added to the much-needed comic relief. “I suppose if we get eaten by a bear, at least our meat won’t make him sick.” For the first time since falling, Stan wanted to laugh, but suppressed the urge that promised only a generous portion of pain. It was good to smile though.

Glen grew serious once more. “Speaking of bears, I’ll bring back the pepper spray too… We might be stuck out here on this giant pile of crumbled rocks, but a hungry bear won’t let that stop him.”

“That’s true.”

“Maybe my ankle will feel better in morning.” Glen hoped. “It is going to be murder to cross all these rocks using only one leg.” His thoughts were disheartening. “And we must be at least five kilometres from the truck.” He added bitterly.

“You’ll make it.”

There was silence for a few moments before Stan spoke again, “We should… have a prayer… and then get… some sleep… if we can.” In the darkness, Glen nodded his agreement.

“I’ll offer it.” Glen volunteered.

Tears rolled down both men’s cheeks as Glen thoughtfully pled to God for their fragile lives. It would be four more very long days before anyone else but God knew of their precarious plight! A few moments of tenderly spoken words concluded the heartfelt prayer. For several emotion-choked moments, neither man spoke. Then, Glen’s whisper broke the alpine stillness.

“Good night Big C.”

“Good night… Glen.”

Saturday, May 15, 2010

In Ravenscrag's Shadow - Chapter 3

In Ravenscrag’s Shadow

Davis L. Bigelow
Copyright 2010

Chapter 3

The silence was oppressive in the bedroom where he lay. Glen fought to open his eyes. Every square inch of his body ached. His head throbbed. It seemed strange, but from somewhere in the blackness he could hear Stan moaning. “It’s just an awful nightmare.” Glen told himself. “You just need to wake up.”

“Glen?” Lille's sweet voice called out softly to him. “Glen, wake up.” From somewhere in the blackness of sleep, Glen stirred. His eyes finally fluttered open. Directly above him, blurred, pink clouds punctuated the darkening sky. He was definitely not in his bedroom! The sun was making a spectacular exit, but the air was still warm. Glen’s head felt as though a high-speed freight train were running through it. His face was cool. His breathing was even. Beneath his motionless body the ground felt hard and lumpy. He was certainly not cradled in the comfort of his bed!

Glen raised a hand, intent on rubbing his eyes, but was surprised at how tired his arm was. Every molecule in his body hurt! Then, all in a rush, it came back to him. The ledge, the struggle, the fall, the pain, the blackness! He tied to lift his head. “Big C?” Glen cried out, breathing harder. He managed to turn his head. Right beside him lay Stan’s familiar mug. But it was not that familiar! “Uuuuh!” Just inches away, Stan’s placid face was turned towards Glen’s shocked one. The big man’s eyes were shut. Dried blood covered too much of Stan’s large head!

Reality took a moment longer to register in Glen’s brain. They had fallen together, but not exactly. Glen could feel his right leg lying on part of Stan. He must have landed on top of the big man. “Was Stan breathing? Was he alive? How long had they been laying there?” No detectable movement betrayed respiration. Still too tired to move, the smaller man’s gaze fixed on the larger man’s throat, hoping to detect a pulse. As the slightest flicker of life registered on the lean throat, Glen breathed a sigh of relief.

With effort, Glen peered towards his feet. Everything was blurry, but he could see that his leg lay squarely across Stan’s left thigh. “That can’t be good.” He tried to blink away the blurriness in his vision. It was then he realized that his glasses were missing. Pain erupted in a dozen places as he struggled to rise. His left ankle filled with fire. “Aaaah! That hurts!” He cried out under his breath. Glen gritted his teeth. The light was failing and without his glasses he would be virtually blind. Even with his glasses on the twilight would pose a major problem! “It’ll be dark in thirty minutes!” Panic gained the upper hand. Pain flared violently as Glen’s torso gained altitude. Grunting, Glen dragged his good leg off of Stan and turned over onto his knees. His left leg burned in protest! His head spun. The Scotsman ran his fingers over his thinning hair. Dry, crusty blood flaked off his bald spot. “Oh no!” he muttered, staring down at the few flakes still clinging to his fingers. Things were very bad indeed!

Squinting hard, Glen scanned the area immediately around his uncomfortable resting place. He spotted his hiking hat. It lay only a few feet away. All around him, jagged rocks, large and small, blended together to form a thick layer several feet thick and hundreds of yards in length and width. If the glasses had tumbled down a crack, he might never find them.

“Oh God!” Glen cried out, agony punctuating in his voice as he prayed aloud. “I beg you to help me to find my glasses.” The tough Scotsman paused in his prayer, emotion ripping at his throat. He was acquainted with his God, and considered a moment before his next words. Tears welled up in his eyes. “Thank Thee that Stan and I are yet alive… Please help Stan to remain alive too… Help me to find my glasses so I can better help myself and him.” The prayer was short, but sincere. Considering the waning daylight, it seemed plenty wordy. With the prayer concluded, now it was time for action. The Lord wasn’t going to reach out and just hand him his lost spectacles.

For several agonizing seconds, Glen poured over the ragged rock heap, searching through the blurred haze of nearsightedness. He peered up at the obscure, crumbled ledge, trying to estimate where inertia would have sent the thin wire frames and the two precious bits of polished glass. Then, at last, his eyes caught a faint gleam. Extending his fingers carefully, he might have been caressing a rose petal, but his very life could hang on the outcome of this venture. He desperately needed to be able to see. His fingertips were shredded from the fall, and he winced as thumb and forefinger closed on a piece of cool metal.

A degree of relief washed over him as the bent spectacles brought his nightmare into crisp focus. “Heavenly Father?” Glen again spoke from his heart. “Thank Thee for Thy help.”

Exhausted, but grateful, Glen looked around. “I’m in trouble! We’re in trouble!” It was getting dark! Stan lay unconscious and possibly on the brink of death! They both had multiple injuries and perhaps concussions too. Their backpacks were at least six hundred yards away, and they had no source of manmade light! As alert now as he had been for several hours, Glen crawled over the sharp rocks, wincing with every move. His damaged ankle would not bear any weight, but at least he could do the three-limb crawl.

“Big C?” He called out, the hoarse whisper reaching into the silence of the barren landscape. Stan’s bloodied face remained placid. “Stan!” Glen called out with more gusto, shaking the big man’s shoulder. Stan stirred slightly. His eyelids struggled to open.

"Ooooh!" the big man moaned. In spite of their bleak situation, Glen McPherson grinned. At least his friend was alive and semi-conscious.
"Are you okay?"

Stan Calderbank was still shaking off the cobwebs of coma, but managed a reply anyway. "I don't know." His answer was muttered and breathy.

“Where do you hurt?"


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Muse

I just read an great article in LDS Living. Here is my response to it:

A great article Emily!! Thank you. It is humorous for me to consider the differences between Mother's Day and Father's Day, as well as between men & women, but as a man (married for the past 28 years - to the same woman), I think women belong on a pedestal - especially mothers. I have no idea what it is like to go down into the valley of the shadow of death to deliver a child, but mothers do. I think there are other reasons for extreme praise too, but I also think that this one reason is enough to ensure that mothers today and tomorrow will get the gratitude they so unselfishly deserve. I say, “God bless mothers. And God bless all the men and boys out there who treat mothers and all women and all girls with the utmost respect and courtesy that I think they deserve – and that is a lot.” As I guy I really don’t care if I receive fanfare, but I sure think the ladies of the world deserve it!
Davis Bigelow

Saturday, May 8, 2010

"In Ravenscrag's Shadow" - Chapter 2

In Ravenscrag’s Shadow

Davis L. Bigelow
Copyright 2010

Chapter 2
Lille McPherson smiled in the half-light of their tent trailer. A tangle of auburn hair flirted with her eyelashes as she stared across the pillow at her husband. Glen reached out his fingertips and lovingly caressed her face. Lille was a pretty woman, smart and full of life. If she had one fault, it was that she adored Glen too much. He moved close and kissed her gently. Her warm breath caressed his cheek as he pulled away. The enamoured Scotsman paused and looked deeply into her eyes. Green and sparking in the muted morning light, Glen saw eternity as she met his gaze. After 25 years of marriage, she still stirred butterflies in his stomach - and it still amazed him.
Lille abandoned the softness of her pillow and nestled her head in the warmth of Glen’s solid shoulder. As he gently stroked her hair, Lille whispered. "We should get going. Big C and Alida will be wondering where we are."
Glen smirked. "We could make them wonder...”
"Hmmm" Lille played along. "You wouldn't want to make them come looking for us would you?"
"Maybe?" Glen teased, running his fingers over her shoulder.
"You'll just have to wait until you come back". Lille whispered, pulling herself up to look down on him.
Red hair spilled across Glen's cheeks as Lille's lips touched his. He ran his fingers through her soft tresses as promise and passion passed between them. Eyes closed, lips lingering for one final brush of intimacy, "I love you", Glen whispered.
"I love you too." Came her tender reply.
Five minutes later found Glen and Lille dressed and emerging through the door of their tent trailer to greet the dawn. Their secluded campsite, on the shores of Midnight Lake, was bathed in the brilliant light of morning. A quick glance around revealed that everything in their campsite was as they had left it the night before. Across the lake, the Mistawasis mountain range glowed in the summer dawn and reflected peacefully in the lake’s silky water. An attractive blend of deciduous and coniferous trees adorned of the far side of the secluded lake and climbed the sharply rising slopes beyond. The sight was breathtaking. Glen breathed in the sweet scents of nature, spiced with the delicate aroma of innumerable pine trees. The morning was perfect! He had dreamed of this day for a very long time and now it was finally here.
Through the evergreen boughs Glen caught sight of Stan and Alida Calderbank. They were already up and scurrying about the neighbouring campsite. Considering the fun and adventure they were about to have, Stan’s deep voice sounded rather frustrated. Glen shot a quick glance at Alida’s scowl, but waved warmly anyway. “Hey Big C! I’ll be ready in just a few more minutes.” Stan returned the wave, but immediately went back to attending his overstuffed backpack. Glen could see several pieces of Stan’s gear littered about the picnic table awaiting their turn to be crammed in. “Mama ain’t happy this morning!” Glen shook his head and spun on his heel, muttering to the air. “I’d better check my pack too.”
Then, without warning, time seemed to rush foreword, scene melting into scene. One minute Glen was loading his pack into the bed of Stan’s black pickup, and then he was again gazing into Lille’s green eyes. “Be careful.” Her sweet voice whispered into his ear, her warmth close. “Come back to me safe and sound.” Her soft lips brushed his as the scene faded.
Then, abruptly, Stan’s dust coated black truck was bouncing down Fairlight Road. “Good grief!” Stan was at the wheel of the lurching vehicle, grimacing. The big man swerved back and forth across the entire roadway to avoid the proliferation of potholes and giant stones. Beside him, Glen gawked and hung on. A securely fastened seatbelt comforted Glen’s shoulder but the seat beneath him threatened to propel the small man right through the roof.
Suddenly a weather beaten road sign appeared through the dusty windshield. “Yarbo Rd,” it stated, pointing a worn arrow to indicate a deeply rutted excuse for a road curving off into the evergreens and disappearing from view. Glen gazed down the rutted cart track. The Mistawasis Mountains towered above the coniferous trees. An azure sky back dropped the rugged peaks. Stan cranked the steering wheel and the truck followed the protesting tires. Glen’s head and body jostled violently.
Then, without warning, the scene melted again. Glen looked around, trying to orient himself. All was quiet, except for the babbling of a nearby creek, and the chirps of a few unseen birds. The day was bright and calm. The summer sun was warm on his face. His favourite hiking hat shaded his eyes. A calm alpine lake shimmered at the base of the hill on which he stood, framed by a mammoth glacier and several snow-topped mountain peaks. A white waterfall, just out of earshot, frothed down jagged rocks as it descended from the lake to feed a meandering, but wide creek that flowed towards him until it winked out of sight in a proliferation of thick evergreens and tangled bushes. It was as if Glen stood gazing upon a gigantic photograph – except things were moving.
Glen puzzled a bit at the unfamiliarity of it all. Suddenly, he felt a bit thirsty. Actually, now that he thought about it, he felt very heavy too. Something was digging into both his shoulders. Glen glanced down. Thick, padded straps ran across the front of his shoulders while a wide web belt striped across his waist. He was wearing his backpack, and it was all buckled into place. “Strange?” He muttered to himself and looked downwards even further. Pressed into the soft dirt under him, his familiar hiking boots were laced firmly to his feet. Still bewildered, Glen turned.
Behind him, Stan Calderbank was leaning over the hood of his truck. “At last, a familiar face” Glen muttered. A bit relieved, Glen shambled over to his good friend. The big man looked up for a second before resuming his former position. A large topographical map was spread out on the smooth black hood of the truck. Although not perfectly flat, the hood created a moderately clean makeshift table. Instinctively, Glen began to match the horizon with the map’s markings. Stan was better than him at a lot of things, but when it came to topographical maps, Glen had a gift.
Several silent seconds passed. “That’s Lady Lake,” Glen blurted, pointing with a finger. “And that’s Skull Creek.” Glen scanned both map and horizon again. “We’re on Wynyard Hill… and…” He pointed to a mighty, snow-capped cathedral of a peak. “That mountain over there is High Tor, the highest mountain in the Lajord Range…” Confidence breathed its way into Glen’s mind and his heart took courage. He pointed westward, “Behind Lady Lake are the Mistawasis Mountains”. He knew where he was, but new thoughts now plagued him. “Why was he here? How did he come to be standing on this spot of ground?” He’d been riding in the truck a moment before. And before that… Lillie had been in his arms. Lillie...
Stan’s untried voice broke in as he pointed northward to where the Mistawasis and Lajord Mountain ranges seemed to touch each other, “That is Green Canyon and above it… there… is Ravenscrag Mountain.”
Glen’s eyes followed his friend’s lead and in that instant he knew why he was there. They were going through Green Canyon to explore the picturesque lakes on the other side! They had been planning this trip for over two years and now they were finally going! The lurching truck ride had gotten them there. Their wives waited for them at their Midnight Lake campsites.”Yes!” Finally Glen’s eyes found Stan’s. The big man was staring at him with a quizzical expression. “Well Big C?” Glen piped up. “What are we waiting for? Let’s head out.” A broad grin split Stan’s face and he began to gather up the map.
The two adventurers gave the truck one final notice look before showing it their backs. A two hundred foot descent, spread out over a quarter of a mile led to the creek marking the beginning of their wonderful journey!
Then, without warning, the scene melted again. Sounds of clumping boots gave way to chilled feet, bare and sloshing through icy water. “Aaaaaah!” The small man moaned. The day was warm, but Glen’s feet and ankles were nearly numb. The rushing water was over a foot in depth. He scanned the horizon, again trying to orient himself. Instantly, Glen spotted the white waterfall spilling frigid water out of Lady Lake.
“Sure glad my lady’s a lot warmer than that one!” Stan remarked, indicating the glacier fed lake. “Of course this morning, she was pretty cool.” The big man added quickly. Glen glanced again at the beautiful waterfall but it faded, the scene melting before his eyes. Glen tired to reply, but he felt too thirsty. His brain reeled. He was sloshing through pure mountain water and yet he wasn’t stopping to drink. What was happening? Why wasn’t he stopping?
Glen blinked as he scanned the sky. The sun was intense and perspiration wicked into Glen’s Kroy-wool hiking shirt, making his back feel sticky. Glen’s heart pounded blood through the veins at his throat. His breathing was laboured. He was still thirsty. The panting Scotsman looked at the ground. A red, overstuffed pack sat near his feet, propped up against a thick-trunked evergreen tree. The pack was his. To Glen’s right and left, towering peaks rose into the deep blue sky, attempting to touch the few white cottony clouds that lazily hung there. The two men stood in a narrow canyon filled with a few trees on one side and a mountainside of fallen rocks on the other. Suddenly Stan was laughing and pointing at something. The sweating Scotsman followed Stan’s finger, still wondering what new situation he was somehow part of. Things were definitely not making complete sense.
“Do you see it?” The big man asked. “Right above that giant rock?” Looking across a barren field of randomly strewn, jagged boulders, Glen noted a black gash on the side of mountain. The mountain’s near vertical slope rose sharply out of the more or less level field at its feet. “Let’s go have a look.” Stan said, beginning to move and sounding very much like a school boy at an amusement park. “I bet we can find a way up there.” Glen grinned at the challenge and began to follow his large friend. Then the scene faded once again.
Glen felt nothing but cool air on his face and a burning thirst in his gut. He groped for the long, flexible tube that he knew was clipped onto his backpack’s shoulder strap. Where was it? He had over a litre of water in his pack and the tube let him drink from it at will. Then, Glen felt something strange in his hand. It was warm and fleshy and seemed to be holding him tightly. Yes, it was pulling him downward! In fact, it was impossibly heavy!
Glen shook his head, but it refused to clear. “What’s happening?” He tried to speak, but his parched lips refused to part. Suddenly, searing pain racked his body. All his muscles were on fire! His arms and legs were quivering uncontrollably from the awful strain! A pounding heart threatened to blow right out of his chest! Glen tried to calm himself. He knew his mind would cope if he just willed it to. “Why can’t I just relax?” Glen soundlessly screamed. Overhead, the sun blared in the sky, blinding him. “Why isn’t my hat shielding my eyes?” Suddenly, something tightened onto his other hand. From out of the light, he heard Stan’s voice, deep and intense. The words made no sense at all. “What on earth is happening to me?”
“Ok Glen!” Stan boomed. “One big pull! One… two… three!”
Glen felt a mighty force tear at his arms. Then, his feet pushed into nothingness! “What?” Glen fell, but why? The sensation was terrifying! “What’s happening to me?” The question began to form again, but the breath was suddenly knocked out of him. A new pain spread upwards from his tailbone. His crazy, senseless world seemed to enter a time warp and everything moved in slow motion. Suddenly, Glen was young again, careening the down basement stairs of his childhood home and accidentally knocking over the old fire extinguisher. It had been one of those big extinguishers that you turned upside down to activate. Once more, Glen tasted the frustration of foam shooting everywhere. He had been powerless then! Even righting the large tank had not stopped the nightmare of discharging foam. There he stood; a small boy crying desperately for the extinguisher to stop, but it would not. Then, the boyhood scene of powerlessness was ripped away by a new sensation. Glen was falling again! He heard himself cry out.
Down he plummeted! Pain seared the back of his head! From somewhere in the dark pit he was careening into, he heard Stan cry out in desperation. Then, just as abruptly as it had begun, everything stopped. Sound and sense was completely swallowed up by the pit’s inky blackness. Then, there was nothing.