The sound came from the woods. A scream, someone in pain. Marcus looked up from his book and immediately put on his coat and boots. Mittens, hat and scarf went on as he walked through the door. He tossed the old horse blanket in the back of the truck and started to head down the drive. The voice called again for help and he pulled over the truck. It must be coming from the creek bed near the ravine. Who the hell would be stupid enough to be down there this time of year.
Marcus grabbed the blanket and tossed it over his shoulder. Then he pulled the snow shoes out from behind the bench seat in the truck and put them on before heading off the road and into the woods.
A short 5 minutes later, he crested the ridge of the ravine. Giant disturbances in the snow on the other side gave him an idea of what had happened.
Someone had been jumping down the hill in the deep snow, like a skiier doing a mogul run. Based on the broken branches about a third of the way down, it was clear that he (it was almost certainly going to be a he, and almost certainly going to be a young “he”, Marcus knew) had lost control of his descent and would be found somewhere below.
“I’m coming,” Marcus cried out. “I need you to tell me if you can move.”
Whimpers met him from below. Marcus swore a bit and worked his way down the ridge as safely as he was able.
“Tell me if you can move your arms and legs.” he said again, then remembered his voice was deep and sounded like someone who had been interrupted in his reading of Jack London to tend to an idiot in the woods who had fallen down.
“My name is Marcus, I’m here to help. What is your name?”
“J-j-j-jessica.” came the reply.
“Huh, 95 years on the planet and surprises abound,” he thought.
“Okay, Jessica. Can you move your arms and legs?”
“I can move my arms, but one of my legs is stuck,” she said. Then she whimpered again with the pain.
“Does it hurt?” He asked.
“What?! Are you crazy, of course it hurts, I f-fell down the hill after being ch-chased by wolves.”
“I’m sorry, what? No, never mind. we have more important things to get to. Where are you?”
“I’m in the s-stream.
“on the ice?” He asked.
“Well, part of me. I think I must’ve knocked a tree loose when I fell because the trunk is on me.”
Jesus, that was bad. Being wet, even in February could be a death sentence with no appeal in minutes. Okay, I’m working my way over. Just then, he rounded the corner. Sure enough, it was a teenage girl half submerged in the water and pinned under a tree. He looked around and found what he needed.
“Okay, the good news is, you probably didn’t break your back or you wouldn’t be able to feel your legs. The bad news is that the hypothermia will still kill you quickly if you don’t do exactly as I say. Do you understand?”
“Yessir.” She looked small, cold and wet. What was her name? Jessica. Right. Jessica.
Taking a 10 food section of ash, he found a gap to wedge it under the trunk of a tree and used an exposed rock by the shore to lever the trunk off of the girl. Marcus realized how little he was used to talking this much. When was the last time he’d said this many sentences to someone? 10, 15 years ago? Well, no matter; he had more to say before the evening was over.
“Okay, on the count of three, I’ll lift the tree and you move back as far toward shore as you can, okay. One, Two… Damn.” He noticed the snowshoes tangled in the branches of the tree. “One second.” Marcus walked around the tree and saw the buckle was bent. Damned metal thing. He removed his mitts and whipped his knife out of his belt and one motion and started to cut through the nylon strap. She screamed once or twice as he finished each cut, but the work was over in less than a minute.
“Okay, on the count of three one, two, three.” Marcus lifted the tree using the smaller branch as a lever and Jessica scooted out of reach so it could come back down.
“Alright, first things first. We need to get you back to the truck. Can you walk?”
“n-nnnn” she shook her head.
Damn. Mumbling was already setting in. This wasn’t good. What they needed was fire, and fast.