Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Break (02/06/06)
TITLE: Lucky Break
By Gini Branch
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The slate gray clouds rolled in from the west, heavy with precipitation.
“Rain, and lots of it.”, Ned muttered under his breath. “Nothing here, anyway.”, he said, still muttering. He slung his rifle across his back and climbed out of the blind. His holster flopped loosely as he tramped down the hillside toward his truck.
He’d hiked this trail many times, but a root just to the side went unseen until it caught his foot. Ned yelped as his ankle rotated painfully with in his boot. He fell, landing against his pistol. A white hot sensation ripped through his thigh. Stunned, Ned reached for his leg. A trickle of blood oozed from a quarter inch purple hole in his skin.
He shed his rifle, unhitched his gun belt, and rummaged through his backpack for his cell phone. As he dialed, he searched for something to use for a bandage. Although he wasn’t bleeding badly, he knew it had to be stopped. A voice asked what he needed. Ned started to explain when the voice said, “I can’t hear you, you’re breaking up.” He ended the call and tried again. No answer. “Blast! Only time I need the thing and it doesn’t work.” He drew his arm back, tensed the muscles like a pitcher, but relaxed again. “Maybe later.”, he thought refocusing on his predicament. He’d had survival training in his military days. He knew what to do. He could manage.
“Got to get to the truck.” Ned picked up his rifle and bandoleered his gun belt around his chest. He tried to stand, but his leg and ankle forbid it.
“Great. How far to the truck?”, he thought. Ned glanced up at the clouds.
“Aww. Come on, give me a break. Just another few minutes. Could you hold off that long, anyway?”, he pleaded to an unseen deity. He unrolled his poncho and slid its hood over his head. The wind had started. The cold, November rain would be on its heels, and Ned knew he had to move.
He tried the phone once more. Nothing, no bars showing on the signal indicator. The vision of an old cell phone commercial materialized in his mind, and Ned snorted. “Fine time to remember that.”, he thought.
Ned examined his leg; the bleeding had nearly stopped, but a new sensation, numbness, alarmed him. Had the bleeding continued inside his leg cutting off circulation? He tried to stand again and fell back. His ankle still had feeling. He’d nearly forgotten his ankle.
The rain arrived. Large, cold drops at first, then a heavy, soaking rain. Ned wrapped his poncho more tightly around himself. “I’ve got to get to the truck, and there’s only one way that’s going to happen.” He leaned forward on his arms, pulled his uninjured leg under him and started to crawl, dragging his wounded leg.
Now three legged, Ned inched his way down the trail. The rain continued to pound his back. Ned’s body tired quickly. “Got to get there, just a little further.” He recognized the terrain. “The truck’s just around that next bend.”. He dragged his body forward. “A little more, just around the bend. Left arm, move! Right arm, move!”, he said ordering his limbs to function.
Ned’s poncho had protected his back, but everything else was now soaked and cold. He slipped, landed face down in the mud, and cursed at his unseen deity. The numbness had progressed farther, but not to the ankle. Each movement reminded him of that.
Ned spotted his truck another two hundred yards down the trail. “Come on, you lazy oaf. Do it!”. Ned chided his aching body, all the while silently conversing with his deity about his situation.
What seemed like hours later, he finally hoisted his body into his truck, pulling with his shoulders, pushing with his good leg. He tried his phone, still no signal. Another impolite exchange with his unseen deity occurred, after which he pressed the emergency call button on the overhead console of his truck, started the engine, and waited for his rescuers.
“Lucky your truck had that new gizmo on it. You might’ve not done so good out here, alone and all.”, the ambulance driver said.
“Lucky.”, Ned repeated. “Yeah, lucky break for me.”
“No thanks to you.”, he muttered to his unseen deity.
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