The California Adventure

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic


What started out as a simple camping trip in the Sierra Nevadas, turned into their most terrifying and thrilling weekend ever...

Submitted: March 13, 2018

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Submitted: March 13, 2018

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Entry One

The sun rose over the mist covered forests of the Sierra Nevadas of California. Rolling out of my sleeping bag, I stretched as I made my way to my supply bag. Pulling out my portable stove, I shivered in the cool morning air. After heating up a small pot of water, I slowly poured the steaming liquid into my MRE. I warmed my hands over the steam emanating from within the silver pouch. I looked over at my new wife, Olivia, who was still asleep in her sleeping bag next to mine. I smiled and crouched down next to her. Shaking her awake, she sat up slowly and smiled at me. I held up an MRE and in front her nose and she followed me over to the table where we sat to eat in the comfortable quiet of the forest. I looked up into the deep green foliage. The air smelled fresh and there was a peaceful breeze blowing lazily through the trees. I leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. She giggled and kissed me back. Rubbing my hands together I blew into them to warm them up, “This has been a perfect weekend for a weekend camping trip.”

She took a deep breath and ran a hand through her hair the way that always looked so beautiful to me, “Yes it is,” she said.

By the time that we had finished breakfast, the mist had already started to burn off and the day had started to warm up. After packing up my dew covered sleeping bag, I wiped the moisture from my hands on my jeans. I snuck up behind Olivia and poked her in her side. Squealing, she fell backwards into my arms. I grabbed her tight around the waist and hugged her close, smelling the faint scent of the leaves we had laid in last night in her hair. She tried to get away but to no avail, I held her close. Catching sight of the leaf pile we had made last night, I picked her up and jumped into the damp leaves. Laughing, she threw leaves a me. I, in turn, threw leaves back. A leaf had stuck in her hair so I reached up and gently pulled it out and caressed her face, feeling her smooth skin under my hand. Putting an arm around her, I studied the leaf in my hand. It was a maple by the look of it with veins running all through it.  I held it up to the light and admired how the light passed through the translucent membrane of the leaf.

Olivia looked with me as I admired the beauty and pristine elegance of nature.  When we stood up, she suddenly froze and stared at something over my shoulder. Freezing too, I heard a deep snuff from whatever was behind me. Trying not to rustle the wet leaves under my boots, I turned slowly towards the source of the sound…

Entry Two

The morning mist still clung to some of the trees which only added to the feeling of fear that was gnawing at my insides. I stared in horror at the bear that was rummaging through our things. When it turned towards us, I could see a little bit of white froth lining the edge of its terrifyingly large mouth. I could smell the rank stench of raw meat wafting with the breeze that only minutes before had brought fresh air to my lungs. I almost laughed at that fact but the stomach eating fear overwhelmed that feeling quickly. It slowly stumbled towards us and barred its teeth at us. Grabbing Olivia’s hand, I slowly backed away from the bear. Too late I felt the dry twig beneath my boot. With a loud snap, the twig broke and startled the bear from its silence.

Springing up on its hind legs, it released a deafening bellow that startled all the birds and animals from their hiding places. I then pulled Olivia with me as we ran from the crazed beast. I saw a cluster of ragged and broken rocks up ahead. Steering towards them, I dove behind a large boulder with Olivia following close behind. As I pushed my back against the rough boulder, I could feel the cold moisture on the rock seeping into my clothes.

I pulled Olivia close to me as I heard the labored breathing of the bear. Olivia trembled under my tight embrace. We waited until we couldn’t hear the bear’s breath any more. Holding my breath, I stood up slightly and look around for any sign of the bear. Nothing.

I crouched next to Olivia and brushed a wisp of dew covered hair out of her face, “Hey, we’re safe. It’s gone.” I leaned in and kissed her.

My feet rustled in the leaves as I helped her up. She was still shocked so she leaned on me for support. I tried to head back the way we came but I didn’t recognize anything that we passed. When I realized that it wasn’t my own breathing that I was hearing, I froze. I could feel Olivia trembling as a twig snapped behind us. I picked her up in my arms and tried to run for it. I had only taken a few short steps toward the dappled shade of the trees when I felt a searing pain in my shoulder. I collapsed on the ground, trying to protect Olivia. The bear locked its jaws around my right ankle and pulled. I screamed through clenched teeth as its teeth sunk into the soft flesh around my foot and contacted with bone. Holding onto Olivia’s hand I tried to pull back but the pain itself was about enough to make me black out. Steeling her resolve, she grabbed a stick and hit the bear on the head. Momentarily loosening its vice grip on my ankle, it swung a huge paw and hit her to the ground. Crawling towards her, I screamed her name and cursed at the bear. I could see the blood trickling like a small river down the side of her head and soak into her hair. She groaned and then lay still. I grabbed a rock and threw it at the bear as it approached her unconscious figure. The rock hit it on the shoulder, making it turn towards the source of the nuisance that was me. I tried to scramble away but in one quick move, it latched onto my leg again and began dragging me away. My face hit a tree as it swung me around. I muffed a yell as the metallic taste of blood filled my mouth. I tried to pull back but each time I did, unbearable pain shot up my leg in little webs of fire. I tried to focus on the figure of Olivia laying in the cold leaves in the high Californian forests as my vision slowly turned to black…

Entry Three

 

I woke with a start with wet leaves stuck against my face. I tried to get up and pain shot through my right leg. I groaned and looked down at my foot. My jeans were tattered and dried blood had stuck my bits of shredded jeans to my leg so that each time I moved, it peeled off of my leg. Just to get it over with I yanked my pant leg up so it all ripped off at once. Trying to muffle my scream, I grabbed a handful of leaves in either hand and clenched until the pain subsided. With tears running down my cheeks, moistening the dried blood there, I sat up and put my back against a tree. Examining my leg, I shivered. Both from the cold and also the five or six puncture wounds that oozed fresh blood down my leg. I turned my face away and tried to think of something else. Anything else.

My body suddenly filled with panic as I realized that Olivia wasn’t next to me. I looked around frantically, fearing the worst, when I remembered that she had been left back where the bear had attacked. I grabbed onto the rough bark of the tree to pull myself up. I winced as I started to apply weight to my right leg. Nearly collapsing from the pain that roared up my leg into my head, I fell back against the tree. I slid down the trunk of the tree and slowly felt my leg where the terrible bite was. I winced again, but there didn’t seem to be anything broken. It only seemed to be torn muscle and maybe a ligament. I laughed to myself, Only.

Once again getting up, I didn’t care how much the bark dug into my hands, I was determined to stand and walk. I rose and gritted my teeth as I took one painful step forward. Then two. Then three. With each step, I thought about Olivia and her beautiful smiling face as I hugged her. I imagined burying my face in her hair and smelling that faint leaf scent again. Just once more.

I quickly lost track of how long I stumbled through the trees. After living down on the coast for most of life and only coming up to the mountains a few times a year, I started to get light-headed from the thinner air. I leaned against a pine tree that seemed to stretch up forever and ever into far away sky. The smell of pine needles and sap filtered down through the trees on lazy breeze. That breeze only caused me to remember how just the day before, I had had Olivia next to me as that breeze blew through our camp. I slid down the tree and curled up at the base of that massive pine. I screamed up towards the sky as I cried, not believing that any of this was happening. I wished more than anything for this to be a dream so that when I woke up, I would still have Olivia in the sleeping bag next to mine.

The only thing that forced me to get up was the thought of Olivia all alone in the forest. Lost and frightened. I focused on her face and pushed my way through the thick undergrowth. Stopping to catch my breath, I took a long, deep breath of the fresh mountain air. I put both hands on the tree in front of my and hung my head between my arms. I watched as a single tear, which had been squeezed out of my by pure exhaustion and desperation, ran from the corner of my eye to the tip of my nose and fell onto the pine needles below. Only then did I notice the indention of a footprint in the soft ground. I crouched down as best I could and examined it. It looked fresh! I looked around and sure enough, there was a few others that I could make out.

I followed the tracks through the trees towards the setting sun in the distance. As I travelled I started to notice that the dense foliage had begun to thin out into sparse bushes and patches of tall grass. The trees had started to thin as well. Leaning against a tree, I looked up towards the sky again. I scowled. Something was wrong. The sky didn't quite look right. I realized what it was as soon as the smell hit me: smoke!

The scent of burning wood and a slight hint of roasting meat led me to a clearing in the trees in which stood a small little hunters cabin that also seemed to double as a rest stop for hikers. Hobbling towards the door, I leaned on the railing on the porch to catch my breath. Also, I was terrified that I would find out that my wife had been killed by that bear. I rose my fist and slowly rapped my knuckles on the hard oak door. I heard footsteps coming towards the door, then a heavy bolt being lifted. The door opened a crack and showed an old man. Taking in my bloodied face and torn up ankle without even a second glance, he opened the door the rest of the way, “I think there’s something you should see.”

I looked at him with perplexed hopefulness, “What is it?” I hadn’t realized how raspy my voice was until I tried talking.

Just then someone behind the man said my name and my heart did a quadruple back flip. The man stepped back to reveal Olivia. Her face lit up in a beaming smile so bright that I could almost feel the warmth then she ran and hugged me and kissed me. I kissed her back just as my leg gave out and we both ended up on the hard floor, laughing. Then all at once she realized that I was still bleeding and in pain.

She got the old man to get some bandages and salve and just as she was about to get up, I grabbed her hand pulled her back down next to me, “You’re not going anywhere gorgeous. I already lost you once this weekend and that’s one too many for my lifetime.”

I pulled her in for a kiss, tasting the residual hints of roasted chicken on her lips and smelling the quiet scent of leaves in her hair that I feared I would never smell again. I swore I would never lose her ever again and that this moment would never end. I pulled back and smiled sheepishly when the old man cleared his throat uncomfortably. I looked at my leg as he bandaged it. Even though it hurt like the devil, and every time he moved it sent waves of fire up my leg, I realized that if Olivia and I hadn't come on this trip, we may never have been as close as we were after that. I may never be able to walk well again, but I knew that at least Olivia would always be there next to me.

I hugged her tightly and took a deep sigh of contentment and whispered just three words in her ear, “I love you.”

 


© Copyright 2018 Alta Roma. All rights reserved.

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