Any ideas what is next for Peter and Gwen? Please do poll and leave comments! Did anyone catch Spider-man references?
Groggy, Peter wakes up around midday, and decides he can have some sheep to get protein. Peter checks on his wound and finds it no worse, but not better either. He tests how strong his is, and he is not ready to stand, but can crawl on all fours.
I lay there with nothing to do or entertain me but a spider. The spider crawled slowly, like I did, but with more . . . confidence? It didn’t know the exact terrain, but the spider knew it could compensate for any misstep. I wish I could be like that, okay with not knowing the exact future, but knowing I can handle it.
The delicate tentacles sprawl out in every direction, searching, searching, searching. The digits feel their way along the rough, yet smooth surface. They try to control everything that is in their reach, and have no variables not accounted for. But the dip in the surface is not accounted for and the fingers fall.
The spider crawls along side the mountain ledge next to me, but the inlet is too hard for the spider to hold on to and it falls. We, humans, think we’re so much better because we’re bigger. But there is so many lessons to be learned from the these tiny species. We’re all just trying to survive, and we crush them just because we can. It feels like I’m the spider and I’m being crushed from trying to survive.
Peter goes and finds the soldiers and his friend. He moves more quickly than yesterday, but still slowly. The soldiers didn’t have much on them, other than weapons and canteens, but Peter gladly took the water. He makes many trips back and forth from the soldiers in various area and back to the camp, taking the water, weapons, and their clothing.
Peter bear crawls over to his friend, Bernard, one last time and dragged him as best he can to the rock pile and starts to bury him in the rocks. After an hour of heavy lifting, Peter is tired and his stomach hurts, so he takes a nap – which turns into his night sleep – by his friend’s grave.
Peter stirs at just before dawn. His back hurt from laying on the rocks. Peter bear crawled over the rock pile and to the camp just as the sun was coming out, record time for him. He ate a breakfast of dried fruits and goat. Peter checked his wound and it was getting better, but not fast as he hoped. With nothing else to do, he took another nap; hoping the wound would heal better if he slept and conserve energy.
He aroused sometime during the night.
I wonder if the soldier’s commander will come looking for his soldiers? If he does, I’m done for. But the commander doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to worry about a few men in search of a scientist. He said for the soldiers to contact him, if they found the scientist. Of course! The radios! I have to find the radios! But the refugees didn’t have any radios with them. But none the less, it’s something I should have.
Peter searches around the two tents, but finds no sign of a radio. He doesn’t want to go out during the dark to try and find it on the soldiers bodies. Deciding there is nothing he can do until morning, Peter finishes his sleep.
In the morning, Peter searches and finds a radio. All day he tries to figure out if he can contact anyone to let them know that he is alive, but there is no luck. He listens to the talk of the soldiers, but no useful information is passed on.
Peter tries his strength at standing, and though it still has a slight more pain than when he’s crawling, it durable.
It’s been six or seven or days since the fight. By now the refugees have found routine in their schedule of the cave. They wouldn’t come out of the cave, until the time we agreed for of four to five weeks. Looks like it’s up to me to find them. I’ll stay here for maybe two or three more days to gather my strength, and then I’ll start to head my way up to the cave. It will probably be five or six days at a medium pace with how I’m healing. A week or a bit more at a slow pace, which will most likely be. I need to pack for a least ten to twelve days. Good thing the soldiers eat a lot, and I don’t.
Days pass which are filled with gathering any other food he can find, and strengthening himself. Peter favors his stomach, but still working at it as much as he can without hurting himself. Peter listens to the radio, which the only useful informative is that now all the refugees who stayed at the camp, are now dead. All his friends . . . are dead.
I lay on my back just looking up at the magnificent stars above me. I think of the old saying of ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.’ I’m becoming stronger, but there is something missing. Something totally wrong, I almost feel dead inside. This everlasting hurt taking over me. I feel the saying should be changed to: ‘what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, but what if it kills you partly?’ I’m alive and surviving – becoming stronger, but I’m dead inside. I doing exactly what I told Gwendalyn not to do. I’m surviving, but it’s so hard to strive to thrive – to LIVE. I’m just so tired at having to work to . . . to try? It was so easy with Gwendalyn at my side, but now? I’m dead inside, and there is no way to cut it out. I have to survive while being dead. But what is it like to die? Am I truly dead? Or does it just feel like it?
I have to have hope. I’m leading a path to inspire others. That was one of my reasons to do this, so I have to even if I’m not all the way dead. But how do you fight the death of reality? I need to hope again. I have to inspire hope.
Finally after three or four days of getting prepared, Peter believed he was ready. He started out in early morning, just as the sun was coming up. Peter could faintly see the outline of the path and rocks ahead of him, but it was enough because the beginning path he knew well. Peter had to become a spider. He walked slowly, but didn’t crawl anymore, which was good for his hands were beginning to heal from the days of crawling and being raw open flesh from the hard rocks. Every hour to a hour and a half, Peter would take five minute breaks to drink some water and chart out his next path up the mountain. Peter’s days were long and tiresome, but he knew he would be with the refugees, his new family, soon.
Peter rounded the cliff, ready for the next long leg of his hike, when he saw the cave.
I’m going to see my Gwendalyn! She won’t have to live without me, and –
“Gwen . . . Gwen . . . Gwen, it’s Peter. Gwen? Gwen! Gwen, what happened in here? Gwen!”
It’s like when you’ve been crying and you take a washcloth and get it wet with warm water. You fold the washcloth into the size of covering your eyes, and press the warm water into your eyes. The water seeps in and makes the redness and puffiness go away. The warm water feels good against your itchy eyes, and you take deep calming breaths. You turn the washcloth over and new warmth enters. Slowly, you take away the washcloth, but still keep your eyes closed. You open them, but because of the pressure against them, everything is blurry for a couple seconds. The fuzziness of what you’re seeing matches how fuzzy you feel in your brain. You lean against the counter of the sink, and blink a few times to clear your vision.
That is how Peter felt and saw things when he woke up and turned to see his best friend’s dead eyes staring back at him. Peter blinked a few times to focus and sees the morning flies crawling all over his friend’s face and in Bernard’s mouth. Peter felt like he was going to throw up. When he leaned forward to try, he felt the unimaginable pain in his stomach.
He laid back down and tried to figure out how he survived. He looked over at his friend and by the limited knowledge of how bodies decay, he guessed it must have been two days since the fight. How could he have survived?
The human body can only live without water for three days, and I haven’t had any in two, and especially being wounded. Why am I still alive? There is no logically response, but: though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. God has taken care for me. I need to find the others. First, I need to take care of my wound.
Peter looks over at his friend. Bernard’s eyes are still open.
How can his eyes still have emotion, when he is not alive? They are so . . . sad. So desolate. His brow is knitted together in pain and of sorrow. He is dead, and I live.
Peter reaches over and gently closes Bernard’s eyes. Peter shoos away the flies from his friend. Peter tears Bernard’s shirt into making a gauze for his stomach. But before putting it on he has to take the bullet out.
The squishiness of his flesh and searching for the small hard bullet was almost all Peter could do. He found it, but it was a disgusting task, when all he wanted to do was sleep. Peter wrapped himself as best as he could and decided he need to crawl over to the other side of the rock pile to find food from the soldier’s camp. He slowly and painfully crawled over the rocks, with the sharp rocks jutting into his hurt stomach. He guessed it took almost an hour to make it down to the other side of the rock pile. And when he got there, the soldier’s encampment was another 500 hundred feet. Peter looked around for any source of water, and just about twenty feet more there was a small puddle.
But it hasn’t rained for days, well at least my clothes are not wet.
Painfully, he makes it over to the dirty puddle. He laps up the water like a dog, until the last drop. He wants to rest, but he doesn’t trust himself not to fall asleep, so he keeps on going.
Two hours pass and just 100 more feet. Peter starts to scope out where he wants to go first. He decides he needs water the most and then food, then medical. Peter crawls into one of the soldier’s tents and finds an extra canteen. Peter drinks half of it, not knowing where his next water might come from. Peter permits himself to sleep.
Peter awakens, and guesses it must be just before evening, by how much sunlight there is. He’s thirsty again, but only takes two small sips from the canteen. Peter looks at wound in his stomach, and it looks like it’s getting worse. He looks around for some alcohol to disinfect it and to ease the pain. He finds some in the far corner, no way the soldiers would go anywhere without their booze.
He pours some on his wound and it smarts real bad, and takes a swig. Blah! First time he’s ever tasted alcohol, and it’s nasty! At the refugee camp, alcohol is illegal and he has lived there ever since he had turned twenty.
Peter goes over to the other tent and finds a medium amount of food. There is bread, cheese, goat, milk, sheep, and dried fruits. Peter eats a little bread, not wanting to overwhelm his stomach for not eating for so long.
Once he finished his meal, Peter find the first aid kit and properly bandages and stitches his bullet wound. Feeling happy that he completed all that was on his list, Peter eats a little more bread and water, and falls asleep.
Peter gives a silent prayer, and looks over at Bernard. They each grab a rock and take a deep breath. Undisturbing the rocks around them, they move to the side of the mountain – more hidden in shadow. Bernard gives Peter a worried look because they don’t even have a knife, but the soldiers have guns. Peter tries to look reassuring a much as he can, but inside he’s scare, too.
I’m not afraid to die, I’m afraid my death will mean nothing. I’m afraid of the pain. I’m afraid for the world I’m leaving behind. I’m afraid for the people I’m leaving behind. I’m afraid for the acts I’m about to commit. I’m afraid that I’m not skilled enough. I’m afraid that I’m not in control of the situation. I’m afraid.
The first two soldiers comes over with their gun slung over their shoulder, not ready for a fight. Bernard throw a rock at the soldier’s head, closest to him, and the soldier tumbles down the rocks and almost to the edge of the mountain side. Peter, then, throws his rock at the other soldier, who falls down on the other side of the rock pile towards the other soldiers. Bernard runs up to the next two soldiers who are checking on the soldier who Peter just hit. Bernard punches the soldier with such force that the soldier is knocked backward, but not before the soldier can unload a couple bullets into the air. One of the bullets graze Bernard’s calf, and he falls back on to the side of the mountain where he originally came from. Peter drags Bernard out of the way, and to the stockpile of rock they have so that he can throw them and favor his leg. Peter runs dangerously into the line of fire over to the soldier who Bernard hit with a rock the first time, and grabs his gun. Peter takes the safety off and pulls the hammer back.
Am I ready to do this? Am I willing to do this? I need to do this.
Peter aims at the soldier on the other side of the rocks. Peter pulls the trigger. Peter kills for the first time.
The soldier falls. The soldier falls close enough to Bernard for Bernard to scoot over and grab one of the grenades on the soldier. He takes the pin out and throws it over the rock pile.
If there were five originally, and I . . . killed one, then there must be four, but a damaged four; because that wasn’t a strong enough grenade to kill someone at that distance.
Peter looks at the soldier who he grabbed the gun from and tried to memorize his face. Then, he pushed the soldier, as well as he could from his belly, over the side of the cliff.
Only three more, but we’re still out numbered.
Bernard grabs the soldier’s gun next to him and belly crawls up the rock pile, using his arms more than legs to push himself. Just before exposing himself to the other side, he shoots. There is a scream of pain, but no thud. Bernard looks back at Peter, giving him the signal to come up, but as he does, Peter sees an outline of one of the soldiers peeking over and shoots Bernard in the shoulder.
“WATCHOUTBERNARD!!!!!” Peter screams, but it’s too late, and the bullet hits. But he’s not dead, but in no way to fight.
Bernard. I thought I would be the first one seriously wounded, but Bernard?! Bernard. Strategic, I have to think strategic. There is three left, but one is wounded. I have to make it up to where Bernard is if I want to make a good shot, but it’s hard to aim here in the dark.
Peter crawls on all fours over to the cover of the side of the mountain. He tries to listen to the soldiers on the other side, but he can only hear his heart pounding in his ears. The fear in him almost takes over, but the sense of duty overcomes. The dust kicks up and enters his throat, and he has to cough. But being the trained killers the soldiers are that’s all they need to estimate where to shoot. Bernard hears the shifting in the movement of the soldiers and takes out one of the grenades he took from the soldiers. He pulls the pin and throws the grenade over. The soldier shot at Peter. But Bernard musters all his strength he can to leap up, take a kill shot on a soldier, and all the while take the final bullet for his friend.
Bernard is dead. He gave his future for mine.
Two soldiers left. One wounded, the other not.
Peter goes into an all out rage, not caring if he is covered or not. He runs up the rock pile shooting aimlessly, trying to hit one of the soldiers. But instead he gets hit in the stomach. Blown backward by the force, he falls next to Bernard’s dead body.
The soldier, thinking him for dead, begins to comes over to check on his prize. Peter waits and listens to the soldier slowly climbing over the rocks. When the soldier comes close enough, Peter pulls his trigger and kills for the second time.
One wounded soldier is left, but Peter suddenly doesn’t care and sleep seems like the most logically option. So Peter sleeps.
Morning comes, yet the soldiers do not. The birds sing, and the crickets grow quiet. The stars fade, and the sun shines. All is well for those who are not in peril.
“A slice o’ bread and a cup of water for each of us,” says Bernard, moving over to where the food is stored.
“I can’t help but think, what if they could have gotten all right without us being here? I mean, the soldiers haven’t come yet, and they would almost up to the cave by now. What if . . . I don’t know!” Peter takes a sip of water, and a bite of bread slowly, savoring it.
“We didn’t know how far behind the soldier were, but no matter what the case is, I think we will be worth it,” Bernard says sighing.
“But what if they died in the rockslide, and we are waiting here for nothing. We wait and wait until the food runs out, and die of hungry waiting the non-existent enemy,” questions Peter.
“What if, Peter. The soldiers are strong and they survive through almost anything. They will come and . . . they will come.”
The friends recount memories of the years of friendship. They laugh. They play I Spy, but the object always ends up being a rock of some sort. They look at the few clouds passing by and imagine what they are. The two friends simply hang out, waiting to fight to their deaths.
They hear the crunch of boots.
They are in silence except for the inhale and exhale between their lips.
They listen to the voice of their enemies.
Their enemies rest from the journey up the steep incline of the mountain.
They hear the shink of the soldiers shovels against the hard rock.
“This will ne’er work! There is no way we can lift this rock out o’ the way. Too heavy and take too long,” one the soldiers informed his commander.
“Aww, just send a scout party over it. We don’t even know if the scientist is with ‘em, or if the refugees survived this rockslide. “
Scientist? What scientist, and what do they want with him? If they send over a scout party, there would be more soldiers still. How many are there?
“Come on, Marconi, just let the boys rest a bit. And we only know the scientist’s daughter was even in the refugee camp, who’s ta say he was. I say we should just give up lookin’ for him and head back ta the village.”
“Okay, we’ll compromise. Send a scout party of four or five over, and the rest of us will head back. If the scientist is there, then radio. If not then, go a little ways. If there is no sign of anyone being there, job well done. Just remember when ye guys head home without us, there are bandits in the mountains. The big group will head out in a hour. Scouts get some rest, then go over when ye feel like it.”
“Thank you, Sir.”
The boots crunch away.
Couldn’t have gone any better. Now we wait. But what the guy said about the scientist’s daughter? I remember Gwendalyn telling me about the ‘holy’ air that her father had about his scientific work, and how he was so mean. But is Gwendalyn the daughter of this scientist dude? And what do they want with him? I’ve never met Gwen’s father, but he seems to be pretty mean guy to his patients in the name of science; just what the soldiers need. So the soldiers aren’t after the refugee’s, but Gwendalyn to find her father. All the more reason to protect her.
The hustle and bustle of the soldier camp moving out follows.
An hour, maybe two, passes with silence between the two boys. Bernard reaches over to the food quietly for their last meal. Their eat quietly, listening to the scouts that seem to be resting.
One rouses and says to another, “Do ye think we should’ve just gone over when we gotten here, Watson?”
“Yer so silly ta think that the scientist might actually be over there, Stacy! We’ve just doin’ this ta say we did it. The daughter might be over there, but I’m betting she doesn’t know anythin’. Ye silly, silly Stacy.”
A half hour passes slowly, with Peter and Bernard tense and ready for action. By now the sky is darkened with dusk of on coming night.
“Okay guys, lets mosey. Get yer guns and head over, two at a time, and I’ll take the rear.”
Here they come.