The waiting game

  July 2008 »
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Mark sighed slightly as he sat up on his elbow to look at David. It was plain to see that a dream had just been banished by the question. He groaned something that was supposed to mean "yes?"

David hardly noticed but immediately finished his thought. "Where are we?"

"Somewhere in the..." His voice trailed off as recognition began to return and his eyes widened.

The sky was beginning to brighten with the coming of a new day and there were several dozen stars still visible. They were laying next to a gaping hole, but instead of the rocky floor they were on soft, bare dirt. The entire area looked as though it had been stripped recently. Not too far away sat a lake. The sounds of fishermen beginning their day from the opposite shore could just be heard above the lapping of the water. Tree-covered hills completely surrounding the lake, and in place of the various jungle noises created by insects and mammals were the songs of birds greeting a new day.

It took a few minutes for Mark to gather his thoughts before he spoke, and when he did his voice was calm. "This definitely is not where we fell asleep."

"Yeah, I was noticing that." David had shifted to one knee and was scanning the trees in an effort to locate the pranksters.

"Have you noticed that the stars are different? I don't recognize any of them."

"The stars look different in the morning than at night anyway. I figure somebody had knock-out gas and is playing us."

"No, no, that's no good. Why would this pit be here?"

"That's survival training 101. You can use a few feet of dirt between you and a river to filter your water for you."

Mark wasn't listening though. He was absorbed in his thoughts again. "Did it have anything to do with that dream?" he wondered.

David looked confused for a moment. There was too much evidence to allow him to think it was a grand joke perpetrated by some rogue wanderer in the night. Now that he thought about it, the trees looked different as well. "Do you think that was real? I mean, you were drawn in too?"

Both moved closer and peered into the yawning pit next to them. It was as black as the previous one had been originally. "I don't think we're going back this way. It's a bit deep."

"You were thinking about jumping in? You're losing it, Mark."

"That's not exactly what I was thinking, but how else will we get back?"

At any other time David would have asked why Mark wasn't considering his lack of sanity, but for now he just sighed with resignation and said, "I don't know. I think I want a good, stout stick and some food before trying to figure it out."

This brought a slight smile to Mark's face. "You and your stomach. We'll eat our way out of trouble yet."

"It's what most cultures in the world do! Why should ours be any different? Besides, we're guys. We aren't in immediate danger. We need time to think things through."

With a soft laugh, Mark asked, "And another walking stick? You don't trust your blow darts or stun gun?"

"The stun gun is for snake bites and blow darts aren't that great for defense. You know I don't trust them."

And as strange as it might seem, this settled their course of action. They still had a couple weeks before they were expected back and this entire hike had been about having an adventure. Now they had one. They knew they would have to return to the lake, so some rope was taken out of their packs and used to hang their backpacks from a high branch just inside the tree line. The colors would be hard to see if somebody did happen to walk through the area. They then set out to find a good walkingstick or two and some food.

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