Terra Mortis II: The Gathering

Chapter 8

By Dwayne MacInnes

Brady was starting to nod off when he jerked his head back to fight off sleep. His helmet hit the back of the tree and was knocked off his head. Brady picked up his helmet and noticed that his back was against a flat surface. As the thought that trees are usually round slowly registered in Brady�s sluggish brain, Brady came completely to his senses. He jumped to his feet and looked at his "tree". It wasn�t a tree at all, but instead a leg to an old Ranger fire lookout.

Brady could see the steps of the stairs rising up in front of him. He knew that he could not possibly carry both himself and Nori up the 20-foot tall edifice. Brady pulled off his backpack and fished around until he found some rope. He tied one end of the rope under Nori's arms. With that accomplished, Brady put his backpack over his shoulders and started to ascend the stairs as quickly as his frozen limbs could carry him. Every time he passed a support beam, he would have to pass the rope along the outside of the beam in order to keep the rope on the outside of edge of the tower.

Time was now the only factor that mattered to Brady. The climb up the tower seemed to take forever. Only the thought of Nori quickly dying kept Brady going. Sweat was starting to pour out of Brady. He would have to be quick or the sweat itself would freeze and kill him just as sure as the hypothermia was killing Nori.

At last, Brady reached the platform that housed the lookout building itself. Then Brady started to haul Nori�s semiconscious form up the side of the tower. He pulled the rope hand over hand as quickly as he could. Brady�s arms were burning from the exertion, but he had to keep at it or lose Nori if it wasn�t already too late.

Brady saw Nori�s slumping head poke itself up over the edge. Brady tied off the rope, grabbed Nori under her arms, and dragged her up onto the platform. Brady quickly assessed Nori�s condition. She was barely conscious; her ramblings were becoming more infrequent. A quick search of the platform revealed that they were just outside the door to the square house. The door was locked and refused to budge. It looked to be a deadbolt.

Fear and hopelessness started to consume Brady. In an explosive burst of anger, Brady tried to kick-in the door. The door shot open in a shower of wood splinters. The interior was completely dark. The shutters had been lowered over windows for winter.

Brady dragged Nori into the interior of the building. Just getting out of the wind was a great relief. Brady pulled out his compact sleeping bag and unrolled it. He then took off Nori�s gear and stuffed her into the sleeping bag. She would need to get some sugar and heat or she would die.

Brady pulled out a candle from his backpack and lit it. The candlelight lit up the interior. There was a table in the center of the 14x14 foot room, a couple of wooden chairs and very little else. Brady shut the door and pulled a chair in front of it to keep it closed. The interior was barely warmer than the outside temperature, but they were out of the wind and therefore they were warmer.

Brady rummaged through his backpack looking for some sort of candy. He doubted he had any seeing as to how that was a pretty rare commodity. Cans of food were being stacked on the table next to the candle as Brady searched his backpack for any kind of candy. One can rolled over the edge and onto the floor. Brady picked it up and noticed that it was a can of Bartlett pears.

Brady pulled out his Swiss Army knife and opened the can. He poured the sugary liquid into a metal cup from his mess kit. After heating it over the candle, Brady ran over to Nori and started to pour the warm liquid down her throat. Brady prayed that she wouldn�t try to inhale while he was pouring the liquid. Nori instinctively swallowed the fluid without mishap.

Brady then emptied the rest of the contents of the can into his mess kit and grabbed the candle off the table. Brady placed the can next to the sleeping bag and carefully inserted the candle. Brady was hoping that the slight heat from the candle would warm up the can and help warm the interior of the lookout station. The can would also help keep the candle from burning down the wooden structure.

With the first stage accomplished, Brady had to work on warming up the uncontrollably shivering Nori. Brady stripped off Nori�s clothes. He looked over her hands and feet for signs of frostbite. Other than being slightly red, they appeared to be fine. Brady started to rub them briskly to return their circulation. Then Brady stripped himself down and climbed into the sleeping bag with Nori. Her skin was literally as cold as ice as Brady�s bare skin came in contact with hers.

"God, she�s going to kill me in the morning," thought Brady.

Brady started to vigorously rub Nori to warm her up. After five minutes of rubbing to get the circulation flowing, Brady stopped from pure exhaustion. He laid himself back down and let the sleep he staved off finally take him completely.

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This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on November 9, 2005 5:46 PM.

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