Davis L. Bigelow
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?"