Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Right and Left (07/31/14)
- TITLE: I Wonder What Happened to Luke
By Dave Walker
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It all started within the overshadowing majesty of Table Mountain. The morning glowed with the crispness of rain-washed air and a new sun that danced through the oaks of Newlands and washed the historic cricket ground with golden green.
Luke and I were about to work out on the field when he glanced up at the craggy edge of Table Mountain. It seemed to be mocking, challenging us with its aloof grandeur. "I dare you!" it seemed to say.
I followed Luke's glance.
"Let's do it." We sealed it with a high five and tore to the start at Platteklip gorge.
There are frequent warnings to be well prepared for a climb up the mountain, but we were young and indestructible. Besides, the sun was smiling in a cloudless bed of powder blue.
The wind caressed our sweating bodies cooling them and gusting playfully. Then its mood became vindictive, as sudden buffets made us stagger on the steep path.
"C'mon. We're getting there." Luke was ahead, clambering over boulders.
"Are you sure this is right?" It was difficult to make out the path beyond the boulders.
Luke cupped his hand to his ear. "What?"
"I think the path goes left after the boulders."
"I know where I'm going. Been here before." Luke veered to the right and I followed.
Soon we were thrashing through virgin bush, backtracking from precipices, sliding down crumbling, stony surfaces, grabbing gnarled protea bushes, trying to head upwards. That's when the mist tumbled over us, licking my face and arms wetly. The hairs on my arm rose, catching the droplets like dew on a spider's web; the damp air mingled with the scent of flowers and disturbed undergrowth. Like a white mantle, the mist blocked our view and muffled all sound save for the howling wind. Abstractly, I wondered if it would be our shroud.
From ahead I heard a sudden scramble and cursing, the scrabble of someone slipping, the rattle of falling boulders, a sickening thud, a loud crack and a howl of pain. I crawled slowly forward and found myself looking down a precipice into the white fog. Luke must be down there.
"Luke, are you alright?"
Silence. I called and called. The mist gulped my words, muffling them.
What to do? With no visibility and a steep drop I couldn't rescue my friend. I could only hope someone would come looking for us.
For the first time in my life, I prayed. As an arctic darkness fell, the mist lifted and I prayed for the life of my friend. My joints ached, my teeth chattered and my bones froze. I prayed for myself. Icy blood moved sluggishly through my veins, cooling my brain till deathly sleep was overwhelming. I prayed.
<i>"God, don't let me die. Don't let Luke die. Have mercy." </i>
The sky lightened with the promise of day as I floated into oblivion -- and into a deliciously warm hospital bed.
"Well, look who's opening his eyes. After two days. Welcome back." Smiling brown eyes looked down at me from a nurses' uniform. My hands and feet were bandaged, but I was alive.
"It's a miracle Mountain Rescue found you."
"Luke. What about Luke?"
The smiling eyes nodded reassuringly. "Look in the bed next to you."
I thought that experience would have linked us together for life -- I lost the tips of my fingers and toes to frostbite and Luke walks with a limp -- but it didn't.
Luke, unconscious from the moment he fell, took his rescue for granted. For him it was business as usual, but unlike the mountain experience, I didn't follow. As he went left, I went right.
I had prayed. I know God is the reason we're both alive. I want to find the God who was there. The gods I've tried so far are either too distant or vindictive -- not the kind to hear the cry of a frightened, frozen young man who never gave Him a thought before.
But I've heard about a God who rescues the needy, who, like a Shepherd, goes looking for His lost sheep and bears them on His shoulders back to the fold. I think I'll try Jesus.
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