Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: FEAST (07/12/18)
- TITLE: Food, Glorious Food
By Cassandra Leighton
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Liam stepped cautiously on the uneven, moss-covered rocks, then leaned out over the swiftly flowing creek to fill an empty bottle. With no matches for a campfire, the night promised to be even more uncomfortable if his clothes got wet.
“Thanks, mate.” Trent leaned back to take the pressure off his splinted leg and gulped the icy water.
“Now, sir,” Liam stood erect with hands poised like a waiter taking an order, “on the specials board we have sirloin steak – possum or rabbit – served with delicious field mushrooms.”
Trent smirked. “Possum. Yum.”
“Or there are fresh yabbies and wild rice with blackberry coulis.”
“Gee, I didn’t know you ran such an up-market establishment, Liam.”
“Well, the good news is that everything on the menu is probably out there, somewhere.” Liam gestured to the thousands of hectares of virgin bush surrounding them.
“But the bad news is we have to catch it ourselves?” Trent asked. “Go for it. Don’t mind me if I sit this one out.”
Liam’s good-natured banter didn’t ease the guilt Trent felt. Initially, his clumsiness had landed them in this mess, but then he realised his greater mistake: not checking in with friends to let them know where he planned to go or when he expected to return. With no phone coverage throughout these remote mountains, it could be days before they were even missed. Monday was a public holiday, so everyone might assume they’d planned a three-day hike, not one.
Unfortunately, Liam had been in charge of the food. His idea of emergency supplies amounted to a few extra muesli bars thrown in on top of the day’s lunch – a couple of ham sandwiches and an apple each – all devoured hours ago. At least he’d remembered to pack the first-aid kit. Of course, no thought had been given to sleeping bags.
Somehow, Trent made it through the night with some agonised tossing and turning, though nothing as simple and quick as that action suggested. No matter how unwell he felt, he knew he owed his survival to Liam. Despite gashing his hands quite badly on the tough stalks, Liam had ripped up an enormous pile of bracken fern. They huddled together in their ‘nest’, covering themselves with another layer of ferns. It proved to be scratchy, dusty and downright irritating, but it held some of the icy air at bay. Praise the Lord for resourceful friends.
“How’s the leg?” Liam flicked bracken fragments from his hair and stretched in the early light.
“My head aches but the leg doesn’t seem to be throbbing as much. Couple more Paracetamol capsules should help.” Trent didn’t like taking tablets on an empty stomach but didn’t have much choice. Of course, that stray thought led to a smorgasbord of what-ifs for their absent breakfast. Unable to help himself, he voiced the thoughts aloud. “I could really go for a huge bowl of steaming, hot porridge.”
That earned him a grumpy look.
“I’ll give you a hundred dollars if you can find some yabbies in the creek.” Trent’s stomach seemed to be jumping up and down like a puppy begging for treats. He wished he could persuade it to roll over and play dead.
Liam laughed. “Are you desperate enough to eat the yabbies raw?”
Trent scowled. He had a strong suspicion that yabbies could only be found in rivers and dams of a certain depth, not fast flowing mountain streams.
By the second day, every part of Trent’s body ached. He couldn’t believe his stomach occupied his thoughts as much as his throbbing leg. Much of the second, sleepless night was spent in prayer.
At first light, distant voices echoing through the gorge heralded the answer to those prayers.
After checking Trent’s leg, one of the Search and Rescue officers apologised for only having dry crackers to offer the boys. Liam and Trent pounced on the small handful of biscuits like feral animals.
“Mmmm,” Trent moaned in delight. “Don’t apologise. This is a feast.”
Proverbs 27:7 (NIV) He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.”
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