Personal log of Kowalski, Roger
The next morning had good and bad news. The good news were, that Skylar had managed to survive the coldness without any harm. The bad news was, that she had taken Dans blanket for that which left us with a dead body. Or if what was left of him wasn’t dead he was as good as. Marks foot had recovered over the night, thanks to Richards care, but this was vastly overshadowed.
“I can take his shoes”, Mark said plainly, which make Richard just punch his fist into Mark’s face. Skylar just stared at the almost frozen body of her comrade. “I didn’t do that, I didn’t do that”, she repeated and was just shaking like a junkie with a shot for a day. We found out the three had joined over night. Dan must have been oblivious to the cold and simply got under-cooled. “We sit here for at least an other day or I have to let him die. And even if I try to get him up again, I don’t know if there will be any freezing in his feet or hands that will make him unable for transportation or walking anyway. But we can’t just leave him here. If it’s turning worse, he might even get pneumonia from this.”
“Okay, you two”, and he was looking at me and Babsie, “you seem to be able to get to the shelter and call for help. You got our GPS coordinates. If you manage to call for help, they come and get us out of here. Dirk, you know some first aid?” I nodded. “Not much, but as a police officer we were trained for some first response.” “Okay. You and Terry have the best shot. I don’t let anyone try it alone. And you make a fine team. Our lives are in your hands. Do you think you can make it?”
We looked at each other. “Sure”, Babsie said. “Not so sure”, I said, “but I think we have a good chance.” “Okay. These snow shoes, you make one for Dirk here, too, When you are ready, you go. I leave the rations for you, because you will have the most exhausting task. Just do me a favor and don’t die, will you?” “Okay”, Babsie nodded. “The way you showed us is it?” “Yes.” “Good. Then we get started.” “I can try to reach you through your commlinks directly, but after a kilometer or so it won’t be possible.” “I understand”, and nodded. “If you don’t manage to get Dan up, you follow?” “Yes. But I think I can safe his life. Still we have a chance. Mark is knocked out for a moment and I don’t think he should go with his broken shoes any further. Skylar is in shock and is of no help neither. It depends on you two.”
Babsie had the snow shoes ready in no time, after she had fiddled around with her first pair yesterday, so we took off before the clock was striking eight. We were leaving this broad trace in the snow and only turned once to wave good bye to our team mates. “Fucking idiots”, Babsie said after a while. “Richard should had left them there rotting.” I didn’t argue but knew I would have made the same decision if I had responsibility for the team.
At noon we reached the stony ravine at which bottom the white water of the creek was roaring. We stopped for a short meal, then went upstream, searching for that rocky place where the ravine was very narrow so we might be able to cross. To go down and try to cross the water itself was looking impossible for the rain and snow had let it swollen to some dangerous mountain torrent.
We followed the river for the better part of an other hour, until Babsie, who went in front showed to a cliff. “Over there! It must be the overhanging cliff Richard described.”
Something was howling. It was sounding very much nearer than it had before. “Fuck”, Babsie whispered. “Can I have a gun?” “Nope.” “Fuck you.” We tried to hide a moment behind a tree but we didn’t see any animal. So finally we went forward. Below us the thundering of that torrent and where there wasn’t any snow the crystal of ice was covering the rocks. The howling was coming from somewhere behind and when I turned to take a look, I slipped.
“Watch out!”, Babsie screamed but I had already slipped over the edge and in the last moment I got a hold on a low hanging branch. It cracked under my weight. “Hold on!” Babsie let go her backpack and jumped down the slope into the ravine to help me. “Hold!”
The artifical muscles in my arm were closing my fist like a vise around the branch and I struggled with the feet to get a grip. Which failed. Another crack of the branch and I slipped a scary bit down, then I stopped, hanging there. “I can’t reach you!” She screamed. “Can you hold for a second?” “I can hold, but the branch is giving in!” “Just stay there! Don’t fucking move! You fucking not leave me out here alone, will you?” “I try!”
A moment I was hanging. “Babs?!” She didn’t answer. “Babs!”, the branch cracked and just in the moment it broke a rope was falling down. “Grab the rope! Grab the rope!” But the branch was breaking, I started to fall. But somehow my reflexes kicked in and my fist clenched without me noticing what had happened. It stopped the fall but I could feel a hot pain from my left hand. “Fuck!” “Did you get the rope?” “I have it!” “Can you pull yourself up?” “I’ll try! But it’s fucking slippery on these rocks.”
“Tie your backpack to the rope!”, she yelled. “Come up without, pull it up afterwards!” I slipped for half a meter down, but managed to stop the fall again. “Fuck!” “Let go the fucking backpack! Fuck that backpack!” “No!”
“Fucking pinhead! Just wait, will you!?” “I can hold for some minutes.” “Don’t slip! I try something!” After a minute haning something started to pull me up. It was very slow. “Is it working?”, she yelled. “I’m coming up!” “Good! Just hold tight!” A minute later I climbed over the edge, she was five meters down the road, pulling the rope, which she had used to improvise a pulley." When I came up, she lost balance and fell to her booty. “Yay”, she said, but it looked like she didn’t have much air left. “There you have your fucking backpack.” “Good job.” “Yeah. You’re fat old man. We have to do something about your sports.”
We took a break to catch our breaths. “You have still the fucking snow shoes on?” She stared at my feet. “That’s stupid. No wonder that you didn’t get grip to climb up.” I hadn’t noticed in battling against gravity. “Shit.”
“We now use a path a bit away from the edge”, she suggested. “Jep.” After a minute or so just staring down the ravine I said, “thanks for saving my life.” “No sweat”, she waved off. But it didn’t look like. “Where did you learn this pulley-thing? How did you do that?” “Knots. It’s not difficult.” “Yes. But how did you learn that? Who showed you?” She didn’t answer. After a while she just said: “Girls secret. Need to know basis.”
I smiled, then we went on until we were standing on that cliff. “Okay?” The other side was maybe five or six meters away. “We can’t jump, can we?” “No way.” I thought about it. “Maybe if we cut a tree or something…” She shook her head. “That’s taking too long. The light is already fading a bit.”
“Okay, We could try a rope-bridge. Get a rope on the other side, and I am light as a feather, I could get myself hand over hand to the other side.” Too dangerous. “Fuck it. We can fasten it on trees.” “But we need a hook to get it fast on the other side. Do you have a throwing hook?” “No”, she sulked. “Maybe we cut one of wood?” “It would break if you put too much weight on it. Doesn’t work.” “So, we need a tree?” “Tree is looking like a good idea.” “Fine. We have a rope-saw in our pack.” “We have?” “Yep. Checked it.” “Okay, let’s do it.” “But it will take too much time. We camp here for tonight.” “Okay”, I agreed. “Babs?” “Yes?” “You’re doing a fine job.” She shrugged. “I try to make myself useful. That’s all.”
It took a lot of time to cut a tree that was large enough to carry us over the with nothing but a rope-saw. We had to look for a tree up the slope and carried it down. In the end it was too dark to try to get over and we camped on this side of the ravine and to try to cross tomorrow. Firewood was a by-product of cutting a tree as most of the needed branches to make it comfortable.
At the end of the day we were lying under the blankets with our camping mats below and some branches to get us away from the snow, covered by a primitive tent by the tarps against the wind we just watched the fire. “Hey”, she started a conversation. “Yep?” “Say, this whole thing here.” “Shoot.” “Is this part of this P.I. job?” I laughed. “No. Usually not.” “Good.” “You don’t like it?” "No it’s not that I don’t like it, she said and made her comfortable in my arms. “I just think it’s fucking dangerous. And we don’t live long if we have to do it every day.” “That’s right.” “Sooo…” “Yes?” “What do you think about these geeks?” “What do you mean? If they survive? I think that’s on us.” “No. I mean their project. This womb shit.” “I don’t know. Scary.” “Don’t you say.”
She was getting her arm out of the bivouac to put an other wood into the fire and to stirr it up a bit. “I like it.” “What?” “This adventure. Even if it’s fucking dangerous. I really love this shit. But I think it’s too dangerous. Romantic.” I gasped. “Romantic?” “Yeah. Not like romantic with candle light and fucking and shit.” “I see.” “Like we make a good team.” I snorted. “We can thank Miss Simpson for this team-building trip when we’re back.” “Don’t bust this thing, don’t you?”, and she hit me in the ribs with her elbow. “I’m serious. I for long haven’t felt so useful. I think I have just saved someones life. That’s a fucking great feeling, you know? I can’t remember I was feeling like today forever.” “Okay. You did really great. But would you now please shut the fuck up and take a nap?” “Okay. Night.”
I almost had dozed off, when she asked again: “This here. Isn’t that the true thing? I mean the geeks with their womb and fuck. They just suck. Skylar has almost killed Dan tonight. This sucks. Is that the future? That everybody just is thinking of himself and how he could make the world better for him, feel better, ascend or shit? And what we do here is the past? When two people are not thinking about their personal gain, just try to survive as a team?” “Maybe, but can we just sleep now?” “I’m just asking, ya know? Is the future just the place where you take the boots of your comrade, when he snuffs?” “Could you please just shut up?” “Okay. Night.” “Don’t do that.” She giggled and moved again. Then I could hear her breath deepening. And I lay awoke for some time.
Was that the future? And wouldn’t the world be a better place without it?