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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: White (10/29/09)

TITLE: Surviving the Arctic Wilderness
By Lollie Hofer


Reaching his insulated gloves out in front of him to reduce some of the impact, Ryan fell onto the icy tundra. Using a snow mound for leverage, he slowly pulled himself up. Finding it impossible for his wobbly legs to hold him, he went face down onto the frozen ice once again. Curling into a fetal position, Ryan willed death to come quickly.

"This isn't exactly how I planned for the expedition to pan out," he said right before losing consciousness.

Ryan was part of a scientific expedition studying a group of polar bears which had been tagged two years earlier. A blizzard had blown in and the whiteout conditions separated Ryan from the rest of his team.

Ryan's eyes flew wide open at the sound of the growling animal. He wasn't for sure how long he had been unconscious, but knew it couldn't have been too long since he didn't freeze to death.

Ryan rolled onto his knees, quietly looking from behind the mound where he had fallen. Even in the dark Ryan could see white fur moving in his direction. A lumbering polar bear was approximately fifty feet in front of him. Quickly lowering himself, he used the snow mound as a shield between himself and the bear. Making himself as small as possible, he leaned into the snow curling up again into the fetal position.

"Well, if this isn't just dandy!" Ryan said under his breath. "No polar bears in sight until now."

The polar bear passed within ten feet of where Ryan was hunkering down. Ryan's heart pounded, his breathing labored. As hard as he tried he couldn't seem to calm the panic which was rising from his gut. He figured his fear alone would give him away.

"Lord, have mercy! I'm not ready to meet You so please don't let the bear eat me now," he cried.

Expecting to be raw cuisine for the bear, Ryan was surprised when the animal kept running past him. Once the bear was gone, Ryan laid there for a couple minutes before deciding his foe was safe enough a distance away for him to get up. Ryan knew he had to find shelter quickly as he had already been out in the elements too long.

"Looks like I owe You one, Big Guy. Thanks for saving me," he said while brushing packed snow off of his parka and snow pants.

Looking about, Ryan realized there was nothing but white for as far as he could see. In the dark the whiteness of the Arctic had an eerie glow to it. "This would actually be pretty if I weren't so blasted lost," Ryan complained.

It began snowing again. "Good grief, can it get any worse?"

Leaning down to keep the ice pellets from stinging his face, Ryan started walking in no particular direction. He figured lost was lost, therefore, it really didn't matter which way he went.

After several minutes of staggering around in the dark and going nowhere, Ryan began praying, "Lord, I know You and I aren't the best of friends. Get me out of this mess and You'll have all my devotion, that's for sure."

Screaming as he tumbled down an unexpected hill of ice, Ryan was once more on the frozen tundra. Rolling onto his stomach he found himself looking at the opening of an igloo.

"Okay, Lord, I owe you another one," Ryan said while crawling through the igloo's tunnel.

Groping around in the darkness, he was able to find some matches and a stone lamp. "Thank God for Inuit hunters and their igloos," he sighed while lighting the seal oil he knew would be in the lamp.

Completely exhausted from his treacherous journey, Ryan laid down to sleep before deciding his next move. His dreams, full of the heroes' welcome he would receive after being rescued, were comforting. He made the rounds of all the major television networks spouting off how he survived the Arctic wilderness. Folks loved his stories about how he outwitted a blizzard and polar bear using nothing but his brains and his brawn.

In his dreams a reporter confronted Ryan, "Don't you think God should receive some of the credit for your safe return to civilization?"

"God? Actually, I believe I'm responsible for my own destiny and salvation," he smugly answered.

Sleeping soundly while dreaming of his heroic deeds, Ryan couldn't hear the momma polar bear and her cubs waiting patiently outside the igloo for their dinner.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Carol Penhorwood 11/07/09
Very well written! Good job!
Barbara Lynn Culler11/09/09
Great ending! "Pride goeth before a fall!"
Jan Ackerson 11/11/09
Lots of suspense, and what's more white than a polar bear in a blizzard?

It felt more "tell" than "show" to me in several places.

That last image is a real kicker!