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Adventure Drama Fiction

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

“Are you there God? It’s me, Wayne”, said in a strained voice. “I know we haven’t talked much lately, but I’m going to need some help with this one”. Huddled between some large boulders half stuck in the hillside, he recalls the events leading to this moment. “I can’t believe this happened?” he thought to himself again. It’s been three days now, three days alone, three days hungry, and even worse, three days cold. Wayne hated the cold.  

Being a Veteran Army Combat Paratrooper, Wayne spent many cold nights sleeping in the woods against his will, but he didn’t mind it much. When Wayne was younger he joined the Army specifically to do things just like that, like a “Boy Scouts for Men” or something.

Parachute training, machine guns, survival training and ultimately deploying to combat, Wayne saw his fair share of adventure, but the part he hated most was doing any of it in the cold. The cold makes everything five times more difficult and more miserable than it really should be, but here Wayne finds himself in the cold yet again, but this time under prepared.

Taking a small drink of melted snow water out of his travel thermos, Wayne goes over his survival priorities again in his head for what seems to be the 10th time. 

1) First Aid “Check, Wrist is wrapped and swelling seems to be going down”. 

2) Shelter/Fire “Check…kind of, Plastic Tarp is kind of keeping the rain off, but this little fire isn’t quite cutting it with the current temp and this lighter isn’t going to last forever”. 

3) Signaling "Check, I have the flare, reflective fabric panel in my bag ready to go in case I see anybody.

4) Water "Check, I’ve been drinking as much as I can and I’m always looking for more, also remember to check urine color next time I go pee”.  

5) Food “No food on hand and nothing in the belly for 2 days now” as it dawned on him that he would soon need to leave on foot to find help. 

Looking around “Fort Suck” as Wayne now called it, he takes inventory of everything acquired over the past few days following the event leading him to this point. There was a pile of wood he'd picked up along the way, a metal coffee pot used to melt snow to drink, a pile of clothes and three (not so thick) blankets that he found in an old abandoned trailer that somebody must have used to hunt occasionally. He debated hard on staying in the hunting trailer when we came across it, and maybe he should have, but he didn’t expect to be this far away from civilization.  

Next, Wayne goes over what he knows regarding his location. “I know I’m heading south, the sun's position barely tells me that during the dawn and dusk hours with this heavy overcast/snow. We went down about an hour into the flight heading towards Fort Nelson in British Columbia Canada from Calgary.”   

Not being too keen on Canadian geography, Wayne decided to head south where he knew the population is most dense in Canada so he could get back to his home in the considerably warmer United States. 

Being light out now, probably around nine am, Wayne starts packing what few items he has for his trek away from Fort Suck. “Man, I wish Mr. Thompson would have survived, his knowledge and company would have been a major help here.” Mr. Thompson was the pilot that Wayne had commissioned to fly up to Fort Nelson. “$150/hr for a three hour flight wasn’t that bad considering being so close to the holidays and the fact I’m the only passenger. Wayne didn’t know a bunch about planes despite the fact he used to jump out of them. All he knew is that plane was the smallest plane he’s ever flown in.  

“I’m not even sure he’s dead.” Wayne whispered, remembering how little he could see after waking up with the snow storm flying around and nearly freezing already. There just wasn’t any time he could waste to look for Mr. Thompson without finding shelter and taking care of himself first. God knows he yelled for him.. Everything was just too white..too cold.  

There weren't too many items lying around after the plane seemed to disintegrate after it first clipped the top of the dense pine trees. After making sure to bring the coffee can in case he needs to boil more water, he dawns as much clothes as he can, while still leaving layers so the air between his clothes and skin can work as an insulator. “Can’t be too tight, must have layers” he said to himself.   

Wrapping two blankets around him like a poncho he takes a mental picture of Fort Suck and thinks “I hope I make it home to tell everyone about this, they’ll get a kick out of it” and with a deep breath Wayne takes off, taking note of the branch he laid down earlier to mark what direction South was, he heads that direction. 

Wayne was an optimist by nature and rarely let things get him down, however what he observes when his line of sight cleared the hilltop dampened his mood more than he hoped. “Dammit!” he says to himself while looking at what seems to be a rocky maze of snow, hills and trees with no man made features that he can see.  

“Guess it’s time to put on my big boy pants.” he jokingly says with false motivation to keep his mind off the fact that this trek may very well be his last. He looks at the sky and determines it’s about 10am and is glad he has so many hours left to move on foot before having to look for shelter or make one. 

Entering the treeline the atmosphere changes, and the mood shifts as the dense pine trees start to surround him. Walking for the next hour or two Wayne just focuses on keeping moving and tries to observe as much as he can during the sporadic snowfall.   

“So much for hunting big game in Fort Nelson… Big game hunting was something that Wayne never had time to do but always wanted to, he’d finally saved up enough and decided to take time off work to do some of the things he always wanted before getting too old to do it. “The states have plenty of hunting, what was I thinking of going to Canada”

(Grrrrrrrr)…his stomach makes a loud noise and is suddenly reminded of how many calories he’s used in the past three days and just how hungry he really is. “No time to think of that right now, not like I have a choice. I’d rather be hungry instead of freezing to death.” 

At what he believes is around noon, he stops near a creek with running water and before filling his thermos, walks upstream about 500 meters or so to make sure there aren't any animal carcasses or other things that might contaminate the water. “The last thing I need is severe stomach pain or sickness that will sap what little energy I have left.”. Seeing the creek was clear, he fills his thermos and sits for a moment and distracts his urgent thoughts with the winter beauty that is the Canadian wilderness this time of year. Wayne was always a romantic at heart and tried to appreciate moments like this, even if the situation was dire.  

Feeling a bit more rested now, he gets up to leave and get his body temp back up. Instead of heading directly south like he planned, he remembered his father telling him when he was younger “If you’re ever lost in the woods, find a creek, and head down stream. The stream will eventually lead to man made structures/bridges or at least a larger body of water where people are usually found near”. “I wish he was here now.” Wayne thinks to himself. It’s been about 10 years since Wayne's father passed away with his mother following 3 years later.  

Even with no parents, no siblings, no wife, and no children Wayne never felt alone. He had a great job, great friends, and a lady that he’s been working up the courage to ask out. “If I make it out of this alive I’m calling her for sure” he thought to himself. The idea of missing out on the good things in life by freezing to death in the woods boosts Wayne's motivation and he starts to move just a little quicker. 

Lost in thought and focus Wayne continues following the creek downstream. Looking at fallen trees and big boulders, the occasional small animal and searching for any sign of human life, suddenly he hears “POP, POP POP” off in the distance. Wayne stops and freezes right where he stands. “I know that sound…gunfire! I think a hunter is nearby!” he thinks to himself. “POP, POP, POP, POP,” the noise sounds again in the distance. This time, it sounded different, like it was a different caliber of gun shooting. The sounds continue for another 30 seconds going back and forth until silence. “These are not hunting gunshots…maybe they’re just target practicing” he thought to himself. Taking note of the direction of the noise he starts in that direction. “They couldn't be more than half a mile away”. The dense trees and terrain wouldn’t allow gunfire noise that loud to travel far. Excited about the possibility of being rescued, Wayne picks up a slight jog. “At this pace I should get to that area in about 15 minutes or so.  

Getting closer to whatever he heard, Wayne starts to smell smoke. “That’s not wood smoke, there’s hints of rubber and plastic”. Wayne slows his pace to a careful walk. What he refers to as his “spidey senses” were beginning to heighten and over time he has learned to trust these feelings.

Seeing a clearing ahead and now being able to see the black smoke rising, he moves to the edge of the treeline to observe what exactly is going on. Wishing he had binoculars, Wayne sees a small makeshift cabin with two vehicles, one of them on fire. 

Looking and listening for a moment for any sign of people he hears someone speak, “Hey Tim, is he dead?”. “Hell yeah he’s dead. That’s what you get old man! Should have just let us take what we wanted and maybe you wouldn’t be dead”. Not believing what he’s hearing, Wayne remembers that a lot of humans are terrible people and his bad luck just turned worse. If they see him, they will probably kill him too.   

Thinking about his options, Wayne realizes the small cabin ahead likely doesn’t have a phone and the only vehicle that isn’t on fire might be his only chance of getting out of here alive without freezing or starving to death. “Why did you kill him you asshole?!” yells a woman's voice, surprising Wayne. “You’re lucky I didn't kill you too. I told you your father wouldn’t be able to keep you from me. You’re my wife, and in a sense, my property, now shut up while we pack up. Sobbing loudly the woman kneels next to her father.   

Wayne takes a mental inventory of everything he knows right now. “These are bad men who just apparently committed murder, they are taking a woman against her will, and if I don’t get on that vehicle out of here, I’m likely good as dead.” “Yes I could just leave and find the road that is surely nearby, but what kind of man would I be to abandon a woman in need like this”. Not thinking he would have to do this sort of thing again, Wayne snaps back into his combat mindset. “There’s only two of them,at least two guns, maybe three guns. If I can get my hands on one of them I should be able to subdue them.”  

They are inside packing and they don’t look to be in a hurry, he thought. The vehicle not on fire is parked close to the wood-line about 15 feet from the front door. “Maybe I can deflate the tire on the side of the vehicle closer to the treeline, that will delay them leaving and maybe present another opportunity instead of risking my neck unnecessarily”.

Hearing the men curse aloud inside while rifling through whatever is in the cabin, Wayne slowly moves toward the tire of the truck. Not wanting to permanently disable the vehicle he unscrews the valve cap on the tire and starts to slowly bleed the tire of air, being careful not to let the whooshing of air come out too fast and loud. Once the tire is completely flat, he places the cap back on the valve and moves back into the treeline.  

After waiting for another 10 minutes the men come out, this time Wayne has a better view of them. One man, about 6’2”, with a dark beard and flannel jacket holds a box full of items from the cabin. Another man, about 5’9”, comes out with a rifle in one hand and the woman in the other, pulling her along. “You better not try anything stupid he said to her.”. She just stared at the body of her father on the ground with tears falling down her face.   

The man in the flannel looks at the tire and says, “Crap!The tire’s flat.”. “Are you freaking kidding me?” says the man with the gun. “I hope your dead dad has a tire pump around here..don’t move.” The woman just stands there,staring at her father. “Common Tim, help me look around.” 

Wayne moves to get into eye-shot of the woman to let her know he’s there to help, but before he gets into position he sees her move to where her fathers rifle lays on the ground and picks it up in anger. “Oh no, she’s going to try and shoot them herself”. It’s not that Wayne didn’t think she could do it, but the chances she had as much training behind a gun as he did was slim. “Psst! Hey!” Wayne loudly whispers in her direction. She stops and turns around to see Wayne in the treeline waving his arm with his finger in front of his lips to be quiet. Pointing at the gun and making a motion to put it down behind the truck nearest to him Wayne urges her to hurry. 

She quickly throws the hunting rifle as close to the woods as she could, but it makes a loud noise as it hits the ground and she hurries back to where she was before the men went inside. Coming out of the cabin, her husband says “I thought I told you not to move!”. She just stares at him and doesn’t say a word. The man looks around and says “Where is his gun?”. She doesn’t reply.   

Moving toward her with his gun pointed at her head he says “Dammit woman, I’m going to give you until the count of three to tell me or I’m going to blast you..” Still the woman says nothing, staring directly down the barrel of his rifle. One…Two….BAM! A shot is fired. And the man drops his gun with blood immediately pouring out of his chest. Startled, the woman jumps. “Run!” said Wayne holding the smoking rifle up from behind the truck. 

Immediately after the first shot, the man in the flannel jacket comes out of the cabin. “What’s going on out here” he says, gun raised. Right as he sees the other man on the ground in a pool of blood he knew he was next. BAM! Another shot is fired from Wayne behind the truck and the man falls back. Attempting to aim his gun at Wayne the man struggles to get the weapon up and Wayne fires again, this time the man stops moving completely.  

“Lady! I think we’re safe now. Please come out.” Wayne said in the direction he thought she was. Out walks the woman slowly, still apprehensive at the situation. “You can trust me,” Wayne reassured her. She hurries over, not to Wayne, but instead back to her father. Crying while holding her father she says “Thank you for stopping them”. “No problem ma’am, I just did what any decent man would do, I wish I was here sooner”. “Where did you come from?” she asks, “We’re 20 miles from the nearest town.” Walking over to her he says “Well believe it or not, I’ve been stranded here in the forest for three… um… three days and… um, I think I need to sit down..” Wayne collapses on the ground.  

Waking up disoriented and not knowing where he is, Wayne looks around and finds he’s sitting in a hospital bed. “What happened?” he said aloud. A nurse to his right said “Well from what I heard you saved a woman from being kidnapped and apparently you were a passenger of that plane that went down about 30 miles from here earlier in the week. You’re quite the sensation on the news right now”. Wayne could see a group of reporters and police waiting just outside of his room. “Is she alright, the woman?” he said to the nurse. “Yes, she’s just fine, she actually saved you too. If she didn’t get you here to the hospital as soon as she did, you might not have made it.”  

Gathering his thoughts and emotions Wayne looks out the window and says “Thank you God, thanks an awful lot.”

February 11, 2022 17:23

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