Hunger Pains

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
What happens when two men are trapped in the frozen tundra of Alaska, completely aware that no help is coming? What will one man do to survive? And what thoughts may run through his mind as he starves and waits to die a slow and painful death? Desperation will cancel out reason, but in a most unexpected turn as sanity is pushed beyond its limitations. This will not end the way you think it will...

Submitted: August 27, 2013

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Submitted: August 27, 2013

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Hunger Pains

Greg Burdon

Copyright Greg Burdon 2012

 

Food is scarce in the frozen tundra of the Alaskan wilderness. If you’re lucky, you can find something worth-while to consume, to keep your strength. Other times, when you’re not so lucky, you have to force down whatever you can find that will keep you alive.

Anything.

It was supposed to be a weekend away for us, something fun to take our minds off of our dreary work lives. What could have been better for a couple of outdoorsy types like us? We were hiking through the mountains, on our way to the ranger’s cabin to check-in, as all experienced hikers know they must do in order for people to know where you are at all times. If we were late to check-in, there would be an immediate search party. It’s just safer that way.

But a storm blew in out of nowhere, with no warning and no shelter in sight. Alex and I ran, engulfed within a shroud of bleak, white snow swirling around us. Completely turned around and with no idea of where we were, we stumbled across shelter; a small opening to a cave in the side of a mountain, almost completely hidden from sight. We scrambled in through the entrance and found ourselves inside a surprisingly large cavern, the walls and ceiling completely carved out of crystalline ice, the shimmering blue reflecting the light of our torches. But our appreciation of the beauty of the cavern was short-lived, because as we huddled for warmth around a small fire we had made, over the howling blizzard outside, we heard a tremendous crash. We quickly determined that the entrance to the cavern, our only exit, was blocked. It had been covered by snow, an avalanche off the side of the mountain we were now trapped beneath. Our cavern, which was once our salvation, was now our cage.

For weeks the two of us have been trapped inside the cavern, encased by a wall of snow and ice, cut off from civilization. The worst part of it was that no one knew where we were, what with us having wandered off our predetermined path in the middle of the storm. Knowing that fact made us hauntingly aware of another fact; no one would ever find us. There was no hope of rescue.

There is a frozen pond in our cavern, which we had been fortunate enough to catch some fish from during the first week of our icy imprisonment, after we managed to cut a hole through the ice with our tools. But eventually, the fish stopped biting and we grew hungry once more.

My friend and travel companion attempted to find food deeper within the cavern. I, too, searched in vain. We found nothing. So for the longest time, we starved.

The hunger was all we had in the end. Our fire kept us warm, our lanterns provided us with light, we had a supply of water by melting ice and snow, but it was food which constantly eluded us. Until, glorious day, I found food!

Alex would be proud of me! He is not here to enjoy the meal I have put together right now, but I know that he will be very thankful for his crippling hunger to end at last. If only we had had this available to us sooner. We had given up hope on the ice-hole serving us any purpose any longer and knew we would surely die, but once I accepted that there were no more fish coming our way, an idea dawned on me and it resulted in this glorious feast!

Alex will love this. The meat crackling over the small fire, the intoxicating aroma that fills the air, the juicy flavour on my tongue, all of it tantalised the senses and brought saliva flooding into my mouth. I am truly amazed at how satisfying this is. It won’t be long until I am full and simply cannot eat another bite, but for the moment, I plan on enjoying every single morsel that enters my mouth, savouring every second of delectable delight that passes over my lips, that explodes with flavour in my mouth and finds itself a satisfying resting place in my stomach. If only Alex and I had thought of this sooner.

Alex will be so happy. He’ll thank me fervently when next we speak. I know he will.

I almost want to eat every scrap of what lies before me. It is far too much for me to eat on my own, but it is so marvellous, so amazing.

I turn my head and look to my left. I see Alex staring at me, his mouth open and his eyes wide at the sight of the meal I have laid out before us. I smiled at him.

"Care for a bite?" I ask him playfully.

I know Alex will enjoy this.

Alex continues to stare, silent. His face has changed from the usual pink and subtle blue to white as the snow around us and then quickly became a sickly green.

“What have you done?” he whispers.

I frown. He does not seem pleased with the fact that I have found us food. That I have succeeded in keeping us alive a little bit longer.

“I found food,” I explain, as though explaining something to a child. Obviously his hunger has crippled his comprehension. He didn’t understand. “Sit with me, eat. It tastes amazing!”

Alex stares at the food before us. He watches as I raise the hunk of meat I have over the fire on a stick and lift it to my mouth. His mouth drops open as he watches me take a bite. I smile at him, the juice seeping through my lips and running down my chin.

Alex suddenly turns away and dry-heaves over the rocks. However, he vomits only air, as his stomach has been empty for days. He heaves and convulses inexplicably. I want to go to his side to help him, but I stay by my meal.

“Alex, what’s wrong?” I ask.

“You...” Alex gasps. “You...”

“You need to eat,” I insist. “You’re sick with hunger.”

“You... You’ve eaten your LEGS!” Alex screams.

I look down. He is right, of course. The stumps of my legs now sit limply in the snow, cut off from just above the knees. I look back up at him. He seems horrified. But he is only weak with hunger, I know this. Had he more strength, he would see the logic behind my decision. I grin at him, to show that it is all okay. When he continues to look horrified, I begin to laugh. I laugh, deep from my belly, throwing my head back and clutching at my sides, my laugh growing louder and louder until the noise fills the cavern and echoes all around us. Alex falls to his knees beside me.

“Alex,” I say, stifling my fit of giggles. “You are so hungry. You need to eat. Here.”

I hold out the stick with the meat on it. The meat of my legs. I feel light-headed, but attribute it to the satisfaction of the meal. It was surprisingly tasty. Actually, it was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten. I want Alex to experience the joy I feel. I push the meat closer to him. I feel sleepy, oh, so sleepy. It must be because of the hearty meal. Yes, that must be it. I can feel my eyes growing heavy and the icy walls around me sliding in and out of focus. But Alex needs to eat, too. Before I can sleep, I need to make him eat. He needs it. He’ll enjoy it.

“Eat.”

Alex stares at the food. He looks back at me. His eyes dart back to the meat. I smile encouragingly. “Go on.” My voice is quiet, so soft. So tired...

Alex slowly reaches out, his hand trembling. He says quietly, “Maybe just a little. I’m so hungry.”

I know Alex will enjoy this.

 


© Copyright 2018 GPBurdon. All rights reserved.

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