The Ravine


He stopped. His hand went to the whistle around his neck, the cold steel provided a feeling of warmth and safety under his clammy hands. There had definitely been a rustle in the bushes in front, being tired, it was conceivable that his eyes were playing tricks on him, but he was sure he had seen a bear.

He took a few deep breathes and kept as still as possible, as he considered his options; Only a few yards to his left was a small ravine, maybe a twenty or thirty foot drop until the river. A hundred yards or so to his right was dense forest which he knew from discussions with the locals, wasn’t ideal for walking through, let alone trying to make a mad escape from an angry bear. And behind, well, that was going back. It was getting late and his next safe camping spot was another hour or so walk forward, another four hours walk in retreat. Although the day had been pleasant, the sky showed the tell tale signs of an oncoming storm, it was imperative he made it to the safety of the log cabin at the next stop.

He looked around for a high enough point to retreat to and climb upon accidentally spooking the bear, but there was nothing that the bear wouldn’t also find easy to climb. So really, his sense of adventure gave him little choice; blow the whistle to alert the bear of his presence, and hope that it would withdraw, allowing him to safely proceed forward on his chosen route.

He took a deep breathe, puckered his lips, and held the whistle to them. Silence, except for the slight rattle of a small bearing inside the steel chamber. Moments fluttered by, and then he blew.

The trees erupted at the sound of the shrill instrument of warning piercing the silence. Birds took flight, startled by the unusual sound. The bushes in front moved slightly and then exploded as the large cat like animal leapt toward him, teeth the size of elephant tusks protruding from its snarling mouth. Jack ran. Left.

At the moment he realised the error in his chosen direction of escape, his foot got stuck in a hole. Maybe just a hole, maybe the opening of a burrow for some small furry creature, it mattered little as he tumbled over twisting his ankle and started to roll the short distance to the ravine. His momentum carried him down the slight hill, the pain on his face masked by the anguish of his impending trip over the edge of the ravine.

As his body lurched over the edge his face caught an outgrowing branch, ripping through his flesh, and adding to the pain of a probable broken ankle.

His flight to the river was only marginally punctuated by hammering against a few outcropping rocks. He hit the floor, managed a small turn of his head, and then passed out with the last thing his eyes saw was his backpack hanging from the offending tree protruding from the side of the ravine.

Jack woke to the sound of rain, felt it on his face, and tasted it as it mingled with the blood from the wound on his face. He managed a small glance around, taking in the short distance between himself and the river, not to mention the crocodiles on the far bank, but there was little he could do about it as he once again passed out.

His second waking was brought about by the muddy river lapping at his face, invading his nose, and covering his mouth. He forgot the pain in his face, ankle, and side as he pulled himself upright and stumbled to the edge of the ravine.

The night had drawn in, the clear cold dark sky doing its best to highlight the millions of stars. The storm has passed over and could be seen in the distance which Jack considered south. But the extent of how much water had been dropped in the hours that he had been unconscious could be witnessed in the rapidly rising river. Jack had to get out of here quickly, had to find a dry safe place to sleep, and had to do it while racked with pain from his fall.

He remembered his rucksack and looked up. From here the ravine wall looked closer to fifty feet and his bag was near the top. It was too steep to climb so the bag was forever lost to him. He had no choice, again, he was going to have to move forward, this time with nothing but cold wet clothes and pain to keep him company. It was going to be a long night.  

Written Without Prejudice
written without prejudice
Stories to go to bed with
stories to go to bed with

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