I run to the edge, but it’s too late. “Travis, call 911 NOW!!!” He is only 15 feet away, but his response is muffled by the beat of my heart pounding in my ears. How did this happen? Chris was always so careful. He taught me everything I know about climbing.
I yell down, hoping he grabbed something, that it happened like it does in the movies, that somehow he survived, but there is no response.
I look at the rope, still tied to the tree, but I can’t make myself grab it to repel down after him. I just keep seeing him fall, over and over, like a video on repeat. I head for the trail. I can probably make it in less than two minutes if I run.
We are in the middle of nowhere, a place Chris found a while back and decided to show us for the first time. Abandoned, solitary, unlikely to see people. That was how he described it. It sounded amazing. Exactly the type of retreat from the world that I was needing. But now, it might be his death sentence. I got so mixed up on our way that I wouldn’t even be able to tell the emergency team how to get here. Thankfully, Travis has a better sense of direction than I do. I am so grateful he decided to come with us at the last minute.
It’s steep and rocky, overgrown with trees and covered with vines. I have to slow down several times to avoid tripping or being smacked with a branch. Sometimes I am not even sure I am on the trail. I just know I need to go down, down to where my friend is lying in the mud, hopefully still alive. One foot in front of the other. I can do this.
Its a good thing I took a first aid/CPR class last semester. It was a random elective, but I felt like it might come in useful since I worked at a daycare. I guess I get to find out now. I continue to yell as I run, my voice coming out hoarse and raspy as my breath fails me.
Then I hear him. His voice sounds weaker than normal, but he is alive!!! I run faster, hoping, praying that he is somehow okay. I reach the bottom and see him sprawled on his back, leg twisted out to the side, blood everywhere. Oh, the blood. It makes me nauseated, but I know what I need to do.
I start talking to him, and breathe a little easier as he responds. He is still thinking logically. I can probably thank his firefighter training for that. I walk over as he struggles to sit up. “Try not to move. Travis is calling 911. They should be here shortly.”
“TRAVIS, TRAVIS, CAN YOU HEAR ME??? HE’S OKAY!!! CHRIS IS ALIVE!!!”
I hear Travis let out a celebratory yell, then he calls down “I don’t have any cell service. I’m going to run up to the road to call. Take care of him, Shannon!”
I stabilize his head and wrap him in my jacket. The chilly fall air sweeps over my sweaty arms and makes me shiver. As he starts to shake, I realize he is probably going into shock. I try to assess the damage. There is no doubt his legs are broken. One is twisted out at a 90 degree angle in the wrong direction, the other looks like it was put on backward. I realize the blood is primarily coming from his hand. I know he keeps a clean cloth in his cargo pocket for emergencies, so I slowly reach down to grab it, trying my best not to move him in the meantime. I press down where it is bleeding and when I remove the cloth, I can see bone. My stomach turns as I realize his fingers look like little squiggles going every which way.
It doesn’t take long before his body shuts down from the pain and he passes out. Every minute feels like an hour. I wish the medical professionals would show up. I hope that I am doing the right thing keeping him still and warm. It feels surreal. I am surrounded by one of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen, holding a friend that I admire more than anything, and just hoping and praying he will make it through.
I just need him to Survive.
Prompt provided by the Daily Post.