Cut 900

Reads: 89  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A retired doctor moves to Northern Canada and finds himself unwittingly practicing his craft with the aboriginal people he meets there.

Submitted: October 11, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 11, 2016

A A A

A A A


I’ve always loved my job as a surgeon, but I’m an old man now, and in the operating room my hands shake and the nurses look at me with expressions of mixed concern and pity. For years I was sure they wished I’d take the hint and retire, but I knew my time was up when, during my last procedure, laser sharpened scalpel in hand, I became dizzy and nearly blacked out. That would have been a pretty sight, face first into a patients open chest cavity. Instead the knife clattered to the floor when my grip on it went slack and I had to fight with all my strength, desperately gripping the cushions of the operating table just to remain standing.

“I can’t understand it,” I tell them later, which was a lie. I was seated in a conference room with a group of my superiors. Some have clipboards and suggest I take some tests. I’ve completed my own diagnosis already and I know what I have. An untreatable form of old age.
“I’m healthy as horse,” I tell them. “I jog all the time…”  I didn’t want to get fired then. Like I said I liked my job, but they knew I wasn’t getting any younger, and all the exercise in the world won’t halt the hands of time completely. Two weeks later I’m told that I’m past the usual retirement age for my profession and cordially asked to quit. I figure it’s time anyway, and I suppose it’s for the best. If I can’t perform my trade safely, I’m not much good to anyone. My only regret is never reaching my nine hundredth operation. Close, but no cigar as they say. I became a surgeon later in my career after running a family practice for decades. I enjoy new challenges, and nine hundred was my number. I’ve no idea why, but a man’s gotta have goals they say, and I stuck around past my prime to try and see if I could hit it, like a pro baseball slugger trying to reach the 500 homerun club before they retire his jersey.
So I’ve decided I want to head north. Take a trip to the Arctic Circle. No Florida sun for me. The busy city is no place for an old man with shaky hands, and I want to see a part of the world I’ve never seen before. I’ll venture to the most inhospitable places on earth before I die. I’ve decided I won’t spend the rest of my days here, withering away alone. I’ve read that in the Inuit culture, it’s customary for the elderly to give themselves back to the elements. They drift away on ice flows when their time is done. Sounds like a respectable way to go to me.
 I pack a few things from my apartment into a suitcase, though I don’t have much that’ll be of any use in an Arctic climate. I know I’ll need to get completely outfitted when I get there. In a drawer, still in its box I remove a stainless steel divers watch that I wore in the navy when I used to do a bit of recreational diving. I bought it during a stopover in Barbados, and it had cost a pretty penny then. They don’t allow wrist watches in the OR, so I stopped wearing it years ago. Two shakes starts it running again. I strap in on and look to see what else I can find. My old field surgeon’s kit. A tough old dark green steel box with a big red medical cross painted on it.  Never did get a chance to use it in the Navy. It’s still fully stocked, complete with unopened packs of scalpel blades, scalpel handle, and various vials of anesthetic, bandages, thread, needles and other tools. I’m not sure why but I put it aside to take with me.  One suitcase, one military field surgeon’s kit, one wrist watch. I figure I’m ready to go.
 In the morning I leave my apartment in a taxi and head to the airport. I’ve booked a flight to Calgary where I’ll stop over for a night before taking another plane in the morning into the Yukon. I sit at the hotel bar and drink late into the night, trying to think about what I’ll do next, what my plan is. In the end, I decide I really don’t have one.
During the flight I look down at snowcapped mountains and wonder what it would be like to live down there in the Ice and snow. I’d like to try and make it to Alert, Nunavut, the world’s Northern most settlement. Not a settlement really, more of a scientific and military outpost surrounded by a landscape frozen, barren and empty. Summer is almost over, and I can’t imagine how cold it must get there. I think of my ex-wife and son, and debate again the logic of what I’m doing. I raise my right hand to take another look. Yep, it still has its uncontrollable gentle shake.
  The plane lands on a small strip of runway, and when I step out I realize I’m not prepared for this climate. I take a taxi to an outdoor shop and buy a down filled winter jacket, a pair of expensive gloves and a hat. I intend to buy more later, but I figure I’ve enough clothes for now. About that I was wrong.After I drop my luggage off at the hotel, I take a walk downtown in the chilly air along the Yukon River. The little town is beautiful and I explore until I find a bar so I can continue my little drinking binge. On a stool seated in front of the bartender, I’m on my third whiskey when a man in a heavy fur parka sits next to me. He orders a beer and we ignore each other for a while. After some time, he glances over and eyes my expensive new jacket and cowboy boots.
 “Where you from?” he asks. His accent is mild. Native, I guess. I won’t know until later it’s Inuit.
 “Down south,” I say. “America.”
 “Ah,” he replies. As if that explains a lot.
 “What’re you doing up here?”
 “Traveling,” I say. “Wanted to see the North before I die.” I give him a half drunk laugh, and the man gives me an odd look before going back to his beer.
 The bartender addresses him as Imnek, and asks if he wants another drink. I tell the bartender I got it, and order one for myself as well. I find I actually want someone to talk to, even if it is a man of very few words.
 Imnek thanks me for the drink. “What’s your name?”
 “Doctor,” I say, realizing I’m drunker than I thought. “At least that’s what people used to call me.”
 “What kind of doctor?”
 “Family medicine, turned surgeon. And you?”
 Imnek takes a long pull on his beer. “Hunting guide,” he says. “I could take you out you know, whatever you want. Deer, seal, moose. Even bear.”
 I think about this for a while. “As it happens Imnek,” I say, “I want to go further north.”
 “If you want to see the North, I can take you. We’ll pass through some of the villages I know. They’ll be glad to see you. You’ll need some equipment though. And a gun.” He drains the rest of his beer. “A Surgeon,” he says. “There are a few people I know that would like to meet you.”
In response to this I say nothing. Most people who find out I’m a doctor think they have a need to see me. An injury they want looked at or an illness they want to discuss. I’m not against seeing a patient again, but I’ll make it clear to them not to get used to it. I remember my field kit and wonder again why I brought it.
 We finish our drinks and make arrangements to meet at the outfitters in the morning. I need more gear, Imnek tells me again, then we’ll start our journey.
We’re at the same outfitters I purchased my jacket, hat and gloves earlier when the owner arrives to unlock the door. He seems unsurprised to see me again. Once inside, Imnek points at a bolt action rifle, an expensive hunting knife with a black blade of high carbon steel, winter boots, thermal pants, and tells me I need to buy them all.
“Ok, no problem,” I say, “Except I don’t have my gun license.” He shakes his head and says not to worry about it. He tells me the rifle is a necessity, just in case, and hands it to me.
 I leave my cowboy boots in the hotel room and walk around on the carpeted floor in my new winter hiking boots. The suitcase has been replaced by a large back pack with a metal frame and sleeping bag. I get a call on my cellphone, Imnek is waiting for me downstairs. I sling the rifle over my shoulder pick up the surgeon’s kit, the heavy pack, and head out. Imnek loads everything into the cab of an old pickup truck. He handles the field kit almost reverently, placing it gently onto the floor and wrapping it in a heavy blanket. He says we’ll take his truck as far as we can, then switch it for a snowmobile. I slide in next to him on the bench seat and ask him where we’re going. He says we’re going to a community where they need a doctor.
 Damn, I think, should have seen this coming.
 After some time I say, “Look, I’m retired. I don’t practice medicine anymore.”
 He throws me a sideways glance as we bound along on the rough road.
 “You can teach.” He says.
 “I didn’t come out here to teach.”
 “Doesn’t matter” He says. “We need you.”
 We drive for several hours and stop to spend the night in Dawson City. It’s named a city but Imnek tells me the population is around eight or nine hundred. The scenery is breathtaking. Another village lost in time on the Yukon River. It was once a prosperous mining town, but now, against a rugged mountain backdrop, are clusters of ramshackle houses and the corpses of rusted mining machinery.
We set out again the next morning and head across the provincial border into the North West Territories. Imnek tells me we’re headed to a town called Inuvik, and there we’ll have to leave the truck behind and continue on snowmobile. The idea is exciting, but I’m apprehensive. Imnek says it’s the only way, and not to worry, that I’ll eventually get used to the cold.
“Inuvik is the end of the line, the gravel road goes no further,” he says, “and winter has started.”
 We drone along in the truck and the rhythmic bouncing on worn springs makes me sleepy.
“We’ll be meeting the others soon,” he says, startling me from an uncomfortable nap slouched against the passenger side door. “Together we’ll travel East and North.”
 “What others?”
 “Two others will journey with us, to learn from you.”
I don’t like the sound of this but say nothing. If he thinks I’m going to teach him and his friends medicine he’s wrong. That’s not why I came here, but for now I’m getting a free tour and I actually like his company. I’ll meet his group, speak to them and see what they want, then decide what to do. We drive until the sun goes down, but I don’t mind the long bumpy ride anymore. I’m fully awake and the scenery keeps me riveted to the window. The landscape is beautiful in a desolate, hostile way. Untouched by man and deadly except to those that know how to survive.
 At night we arrive at another inn, old and falling into disrepair, but the bar area is warm and inviting. We take a table, and I’m on my third beer when the door is opened by a man followed by a petite woman. They’re dressed in furs and smile at me when they push back the hoods of their parkas. Imnek stands and is greeted warmly. They speak together in a language I cannot understand, but the woman quickly switches to English. She turns to me and I see that her face is young. Both of the newcomers appear to be hunters or guides like Imnek. The girl fixes her large, dark eyes on me for a long time and Imnek introduces us.
 “This is Ahana.” He says. “She is our medicine woman, our doctor.” I reach out and shake her hand. 
 “You know how to do operations?” she asks me.
 “Yes I do.”
 “Then you must come with us,” she says. “You must show me.”
 “I didn’t come here to do that, Ahana” I tell her. I hesitate. “I came here for…adventure.”
 “You’ll have adventure,” Imnek says. “Tomorrow you’ll come with us.” The finality of the statement ends the discussion and I go back to my drink. They’ll give me adventure, of that I have no doubt.
 We’re up early again the next morning and begin packing. Imnek dumps several boxes of shells onto my bed along with empty clips. I know how to use a rifle, but haven’t fired a weapon since basic training which is where my medical career started.
 “What’s all this for?” I ask.
 “Bear,” he says. “And hunting seal. Wolf if we see one.” Imnek wears a large smile, and I think he’s trying to scare me.  “Have you shot before?”
“It’s been awhile.” I say.
 He nods and says nothing else, but watches me carefully as I fill the cartridges. He sees the field kit lying on the bed.
 “Can you get more of these?” he asks. 
 “Maybe, but I’m not sure from where,” I say. “I got that one in the army.”
 I meet the others outside and they’re seated on their snowmobiles, waiting for us. I can see the machines are loaded down with equipment. There is an extra one, a rental, waiting for me.
 “We’ll take the ice road to Tuktoyaktuk,” Ahana says. “There is a women there ready to give birth.”
 “Are you going to deliver the baby?” I ask.
 She doesn’t answer, instead starts the engine of her snowmobile. 
Imnek helps me make check my gear and make sure everything is secured. He tells me to keep the rifle ready.
“In case we see something worth shooting,” he says as he hands me a helmet. It’s started to snow, but the temperature hasn’t dropped much yet. I’ve never been on a snowmobile before but I quickly get the hang of it. On the ice road I see nothing but an endless expanse of white. Occasionally we’re hit by a blast of wind that rocks the machine on its suspension and I pull my coat tighter. I’m thankful for the clothing Imnek made me purchase, and wonder what possessed me to come out here at all.
 After hours of riding, just before nightfall, we arrive at a cluster of homes known as Tuk. The group drives toward a house at the outskirts of town. I can see a thick trail of chimney smoke through the falling snow. The place looks warm and inviting after spending the day on the trail. We stop our snowmobiles in the front yard, and Ahana goes to the front door. Immediately I can hear the moans of a woman in labor. Ahana disappears inside the house. I hand my riffle to Imnek and walk to the back of the sled. Some instinct tells me I’ll need the field surgeon’s kit.
 The little house is candle lit and smells of rubbing alcohol and wood smoke. Once my eyes adjust to the lighting, I walk to a bedroom and see a small woman with a large belly lying on a handmade bed.
“The baby won’t come out,” Ahana says. I can see that the woman in labor is in intense pain.
Jesus, she needs a C Section.
My mind races through the requirements of preforming the operation here with almost no equipment. I have no way of sucking the fluid from the baby’s lungs and I don’t know if I have the right anesthetic for this procedure. I look and Ahana and she stares back at me with large dark eyes. I notice how her long straight black hair seems to glisten in the flickering candlelight. I open the medical kit to see what I have. Examining the bottles, I look closely at one of ephedrine and one of morphine, the liquids cloudy from age. I hope they’re still effective. I know I’ll have to do a spinal freeze, and my hands shake as I make up the syringe. I’ve never done this type of block before, but in the military, they teach you that in the field, you have to make do with what you have. I’ll just have to experiment to find out what works.
“We may not be able to remove enough mucus from the baby’s respiratory tract,” I tell Ahana. She nods and removes a manual breather from her own pack. She’ll use it as a suction pump to try and clear the baby’s airway. Neither of us know if it will work. A man brings a plastic wash basin of hot water. He has a worried, strained look on his face. I guess that he must be the father.
The woman quiets after I give her the injection, turned on her side and directly into her lower spine. I touch her belly and hips with an alcohol swab and she shakes her head when Ahana asks her if she feels anything. Imnek and Tomkin bring the father out into the kitchen to drink strong tea and wait.
With the scalpel I begin a horizontal incision, then complete the vertical one. I’ve heard the procedure described as having the feeling of being unzipped. The woman says nothing as Ahana wipes away the blood from the incisions.
 My eight hundredth eightieth operation. Suddenly, the baby kicks and my patient screams, trying to sit up. Ahana forces her back down. The anesthesia may not have worked as well as I’d thought. I can see her force herself to lay back down and stay still. These people are tough. 
I can see that the amniotic sac is already broken, and the placenta drained. I remove the small child from the abdomen and cut the umbilical cord. Ahana is ready with the respiratory pump, but I’m relieved to see the baby coughing and puking fluid on his own until he begins crying loudly. The baby boy seems fine, and I have completed my first Cesarean. I begin stitching shut the abdomen and Ahana shows the baby to the mother who beings weeping gently. I go into the kitchen and take a seat with the other men. The father squeezes my hand as he gets up to check on his wife and newborn. Imnek pours me a glass of whisky. The sensation I feel is indescribable. Adrenaline and euphoria. I had forgotten how much I loved this job. 
 Ahana steps out of the room and looks at Imnek, who gives her a look in return as if to say “I told you.”
 The next morning a large crowd has gathered at the home to see the baby and to see us off. They give us a precious gift of gasoline, and Tomkin refills the snowmobiles from a large orange metal drum with a rusty pump. Today we’ll continue North and East. “Another community awaits us,” Ahana says. My guides don’t explain much to me, and for now I am content to follow.
I’m enjoying the view of the landscape and the ride on the snowmobile when we break out of the thick woods onto a barren, frozen lake. My snow machine is at the back of the line, allowing the riders in front to clear a path. It’d been working well up until now. The combined weight of the three machines in front splits the newly frozen ice. I don’t notice anything is wrong until it’s too late. A narrow, black hole opens in the ice before me and my snowmobile skips across several feet of water before slamming into the edge of ice at the other side and stopping dead. As my snowmobile sinks into the slush, I feel cold water closing over my feet, then my legs as I try to think of what to do. I jump off, but my heavy clothes weigh me down, and there’s nowhere to go. I peel off my helmet just as icy water closes over my head.
 The cold shocks my body and I can feel my heart flying in fear. I try to swim but my water soaked clothing weighs me down and I begin to sink. Looking around in the murky darkness, I see the beam of the snowmobile’s headlight as it disappears into the blackness below. Rays of sunlight stab through the hole in the ice above me, casting a rainbow of color through the greenish water. The eerie stillness is surprisingly calming.
 This is it then is guess, this is how I die.
I glance around my underwater world and allow myself to go deeper when I’m grabbed from behind in an iron grip and yanked upwards. I try once to shake him off, but I know it’s no use, he’s too strong, and I’m an old man. My head breaks the surface and I emerge with a half-naked Imnek who reaches for Tomkins’s outstretched hand. Together they pull me roughly up onto the ice. Imnek carries me to his snowmobile, and motions to the tree line. “Go,” he says. “I’ll walk out after you.” To Tomkin he says, “Follow him out and get a fire started.” Shaking badly, I glance back before I pull away in time to see Imnek disappear beneath the ice.
He’s gone back for the surgical kit. He’ll die before he’ll leave it at the bottom of the lake.
The next few hours newly define cold for me. I shiver uncontrollably as Tomkin and Ahana nurse a fire from a fledgling flutter to a roaring blaze. They strip me naked and put me in a sleeping bag where I shiver as I stare into the orange light. Imnek arrives some time later, naked from the waist up, and drops a dripping wet backpack and the steel surgical kit into the snow. He glares at me angrily while he changes into dry clothes in front of the fire. He shakes from the chill the same as I do, but he doesn’t seem to notice.
“Do you want to die?” he says harshly. “Is that why you came here?”
I say nothing at first, my teeth are chattering too hard to speak.
“Back home I’m finished,” I manage to say finally.
He stares into the fire. “Here you are not finished. We need you.”
He places a sleeping roll in front of the fire and sits down as Tomkin removes a kettle of boiling water from a wrought iron pothook suspended over the fire. He’s brewed a strong tea, which he pours into a metal cup and passes to me. I drink it and look at the others who watch the fire in silence. I know they lament the loss of the snowmobile, and the rifle. Tomkin works on trying to dry my clothes.
“We must leave soon,” Ahana says after some time. “The Doctor rides with me now. We have to hurry.” They help me dress in clothes smoky and warm from the fire and distribute my recovered gear among the remaining snow machines. The going is uncomfortably cold for me now, but I’m glad to be dry.
 We continue our journey and before long, darkness descends on out little group. Bright headlights cut through the night to reveal barren tundra on either side of a frozen road. I look up at the star dotted sky and see the ghostly multi colored waves of the Northern Lights ripple in blue and green over our heads. The spectacle is haunting and beautiful. Ahana yells to me over the roar of engine.
“They say it is the dance of animal spirits.” I can see the smile in her eyes through the visor of her helmet.
 We arrive at a cluster of Inuit homes constructed of sod and logs. Imnek calls it a Trappers Brood. The scent of wood smoke and its promise of warmth hastens our unpacking of the sleds. Ahana carries her pack to the door of the largest cabin and I follow her. Together we step into a world of welcome heat, but I know immediately something is wrong.
 A man lies on an old army cot in the corner of the cabin. He moans as a woman watching over him dabs his forehead with a damp cloth. Another man is cooking something that smells delicious in a black cauldron over the fire. There’s a bucket next to the bed. The patient has been vomiting and holds his hand over his abdomen. A woman seats us at a small wooden table and food is served while our host tries to explain the sick man’s symptoms. Ahana translates.
 “His pain is in the abdominal area, around the belly button.” she says, motioning with her hands around her own stomach. “She says the pain has been intensifying for the last few days, now he cannot get up.”
Appendicitis I would guess. Or stomach cancer. No way to know for sure unless we cut him open.
“We’ll have to operate right away.” I tell her. “Appendicitis is my guess. If the appendix bursts out here, he’ll die.”
 We have to put him under, and the only breathing apparatus we have is the pump mask. We finish our meals in silence, listening to the moaning of the man on the cot. He looks young and strong, like most of the people that live in the far north. He’ll survive if my diagnosis is right and I don’t botch the operation. I look at my hand holding the spoon full of stew. It shakes gently. I drop into the bowl, push my chair back and stand up. I’m ready to get to work.
 I open the surgical kit and go through the different vials. Ketamine is the only general anesthetic I have. Hydrochloric salt. It’s so crude it’s sometimes used as a recreational drug. It’ll put the patient into a catatonic state, and sometimes causes hallucinations, but it’s a good choice for emergency surgery, allowing the patient a good percentage of breathing ability while unconscious. I draw what I guess is the correct amount into a syringe and mix it with saline solution. When I’m finished, I place the readied needle on the kitchen table. Ahana and one of the other woman strip the man’s shirt off and swab his abdomen with alcohol. Ahana removes plastic surgical drapes from her own pack and tape them to the man’s skin. I approach the bed and the man opens his eyes. He looks at me pleadingly as I lift his arm and tie a rubber tourniquet around his arm tight enough to lift a vein.
Junkie style, I think as I insert the needle and depress the plunger, he settles back and closes his eyes again, seemingly resigned to accept whatever fate is about to befall him.
 When I’m reasonably sure the man is fully sedated, I make a three inch incision in the lower right hand side of his abdomen.
Number eight hundred eighty nine I think as I watch the shiny blade part the man’s flesh. When I push apart the abdominal muscle, Ahana leans over the incision with an LED pen light and I try to locate the appendix. I’ve preformed this procedure before, and I’m able to locate the organ quickly. The appendix is still intact, red and swollen. Ahana watches the man’s breathing carefully and holds the light steadily.
 “There it is,” I say, pointing with a trembling hand. “It needs to be sutured at the large intestine and clamped, then cut so that nothing spills out. She hands me a needle driver and a threaded needle that I use to sew a tight suture. I clamp the swollen appendix so none of the infected material can spill into the stomach cavity, cut it off and lift it out. One of men opens the door of the old iron fireplace, and I step over tossing it inside. I wash the area of the cut with saline solution and remove the water with a hose attached to the pump improvised by Tomkin. We’re finished, and now I can only pray that the man recovers.  I instruct Ahana to sew the abdomen shut as I sit down in my chair at the table. Imnek hands me a cup of tea, and I wait for the man on the cot to wake up. The others in the room thank me in a language I cannot understand, and Imnek tells me they have a bed for Ahana and I in one of the shacks. Ahana looks up from her work at this, then down again, saying nothing. At this point I don’t care where I sleep, or with whom. I’m exhausted.
 The next day we eat a quick breakfast and prepare to head out again. The man we operated on appears to be recovering quickly, and when Imnek opens the front door it seems as though the entire population of the little community has come to see us off. They arrive with food and whatever supplies they can afford to give us. We wave goodbye as we pull away on our snowmobiles, headed northeast as before. The day is clear and cold, and few hours into our trip Tomkin, who’s on the lead sled, raises his hand for us to stop. We need to refuel from the gas tank strapped to the back rack of his machine. I get off my snowmobile to stretch, and see a dark figure approach us from a stand of trees in the distance.
 “It is a wolf,” Tomkin says gravely, gas can in hand. “It’s separated from the rest of the pack, probably alone and starving.” The wolf takes a few more steps towards us and stops. Imnek raises his rifle, and sights the animal in. The wolf stands his ground, but comes no further. Imnek lowers the weapon. We get back on our snowmobile and continue, the wolf watching our departure.
 My next operation is an amputation preformed on the frost bitten foot of a young boy who had gotten lost in a snow storm while out trapping. He had the misfortune of stepping through the ice of a frozen stream and one foot had gotten wet. I use an old bone saw the tribe has used for generations for amputating frost bitten limbs, toes and fingers. They plead with me to try to save the foot with some sort of modern medicine, but I tell Imnek to explain to them that the foot cannot be saved. Tomkin selects a block from the family’s supply of firewood. A woman I assume is the mother weeps as Tomkin begins whittling a prosthetic foot.
Eight hundred Ninety, I think as I begins sawing. The boy is doped on high grade morphine. I can’t risk using the unpredictable hydrochloric salt on a child. He lies under a blanket and moans as blood drips onto the floor of the igloo. The Inuit people are tough, even their children.
We spend the rest of a brutally cold winter traveling north through Nunavut toward Alert. Alert is a military outpost, the northern most permanently habituated settlement in the world.
In an igloo on a frozen glacier I attempt to remove a cracked and decayed wisdom tooth protruding darkly from the gum of an old lady under heavy sedation. The gums are swollen and will need to be cut away before I can grip the tooth and pull it out. A whittled piece of wood of Tomkins design holds her mouth open.
Number Nine hundred, I think as I make the incision. Truly I never thought I would make it this far. I become dizzy as I complete the incision and the world swims before my eyes. Ahana grips my wrist with bone crushing force and pulls the scalpel away from the woman’s face. I slump to the fur covered ice floor and Imnek picks me up like a child and moves me aside. When I come to a few minutes later, Ahana has already removed the tooth with the pliers from my kit and is stitching the incision closed. I lie on a seal pelt and watch her when Imnek suddenly steps over me.
“How do you feel?” He asks.
“I’m fine I think.”
He nods and Tomkin arrives with a sleeping bag.
“Rest in this,” he says. I slide myself inside the cocoon like sleeping bag and close my eyes while the others work quietly around me. The rest of the family prepare food over a propane stove, and wait for the old woman to wake up. I drift off to sleep, wondering if my tiny group is deciding my fate.
The next morning the others are quiet as we load the snowmobiles. I go to get on, but Imnek shakes his head.
“Do you still wish to go on, Doctor? We have learned much, and can continue on our own if you still wish to surrender yourself to the elements.”
I look out across the empty glacier. In my gloves I clench my hands into fists, they have strength left in them yet, I know.
“I would like to continue, God will take me in his own time.” I say.
“Of course, it will always be an honor to have you with us. We continue north to Alert to resupply.”
Imnek turns his back to me and I follow him past the qamutik, the Inuit sled that we now pull to carry our supplies, and take a seat behind Ahana. In the twilight of the morning we continue on, following the shimmer in the sky, the dancing of the animal spirits.
 


© Copyright 2017 Dominic Wilcott. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:

More Literary Fiction Short Stories

Booksie 2017-2018 Short Story Contest

Booksie Popular Content

Other Content by Dominic Wilcott

Days of Fall

Book / Literary Fiction

The Painter

Short Story / Romance

Cut 900

Short Story / Literary Fiction

Popular Tags