Thursday, April 25, 2019

The River

     Riku felt himself slipping and locked eyes with Cierra as he reached for her. Their fingertips touched briefly, then he was falling backwards. He fell for what seemed like an eternity before his breath was taken away by the icy cold of the river.

     When he surfaced again, gasping for air, he couldn't see Cierra on the cliffs above him.  The fast moving river had already carried him a half a mile downriver from where he fell.  He tried to relax and float on his back in the middle of the river as it carried him away, knowing that if he fought the current he would exhaust himself and be less likely to survive.

     Heavy with water, his backpack began to pull him under, and reluctantly Riku took it off his back. He tried to hold onto it, knowing that should he be able to reach the riverbank, his survival could depend on his gear within it.  But it became harder and harder to hold onto it without being pulled under the water as he was swept into the deeper part of the river.  Finally he was forced to let it go.

     He tried to watch for an eddy pool near some rocks that would be easier to swim to, but before he could turn so that his feet were facing downstream, his head hit a rock just under the surface and he was knocked unconscious.
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     Kermode watched as the dark shape swirled in the eddy pool closer and closer to him.  What was this thing?  It was scaring away the salmon, and he was very hungry.

     He batted at it, moving it out of the pool and closer to the rapids. The shape moved and groaned.  Kermode jumped back, startled.  Perhaps it would be best if he fished elsewhere, especially since the salmon had also been startled away.  Upriver might be best until the thing moved farther away.

     He lumbered up the edge of the river, looking over his should occasionally as the thing drifted into the rapids again and downriver.
      Riku vaguely felt hands pulling on him, dragging him to the riverbank.  As he was pulled to dry land pain from his legs and left arm shot through his body and he screamed before passing out again.
     The next time he woke, it was dark and while he sensed he was in some kind of bed wrapped in a thick blanket, he didn't have any idea where he was.  He tried to call out, but only a hoarse whisper came out.  He tried to move, but his legs felt like they were strapped down, and when he moved his arm to push himself up, the pain came in waves and he lost consciousness.
     The sunlight streaming into the room hurt his eyes beneath his lids, and he tried to turn his face away from the light.  A rough hand grabbed his chin and pulled him back again, forcing his lips open, and he tasted a foul liquid being forced down his throat.  He choked and coughed, and the pain in his chest from what was probably a cracked rib or two took his breath away.

     He heard voices, but couldn't understand what they were saying, and he tried to fight off the person holding his head still with his one arm that didn't hurt.  Another pair of hands grabbed his arm and restrained him.  More of the foul liquid was forced down his throat again, and as he struggled against the hands holding him down, the room and light faded away again.


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