Lost on a Mountain, Second Place Youth Division
By Benjamin Callister
I heard the sound of the school bell ringing. It was the second week of school and I was still getting depressed about summer being over. Harrison,my home town, was fun, but it was kind of small and a long distance from any big cities so it was difficult to find stuff to do. I was feeling like there was more that I could have done in the time I had, maybe go biking more or gone camping a few more times before summer was ended. I look back at that now and I would have been glad to never go camping again if I could have avoided what happened that day.
I began the three-mile walk back home, arguably the best part of the day only because on the way back to my house was a creamery shop which sold one of the greatest caramel flavored ice creams in the world. I went there every other day to buy some for me and my little brother.
I loved the old-fashioned way it looked with the red-and-white stripes on the outside and the way you could smell chocolate being made in the back for the homemade ice cream. I had gotten to know the owner, a man named Aaron Frantz. When I went inside I couldn’t see any of his employees . There was only a small bag with my name on it on top of the freezer. I grabbed it and put six dollars behind the counter. He would know where it came from. Inside were two small cartons of ice cream. I grabbed one of the cartons out. I began eating it, savoring every bite. Then I heard the sound of a very loud car coming in, and I saw it streaking down the road at about fifty miles per hours. It stopped barely in time to not hit the curb. It was a black pickup and it looked about 10 years old. Two guys jumped out, they both wore masks, and had guns in their hands. It took me a few seconds to figure out what was happening, seconds which I didn’t have at this point. As quickly as I could I jumped behind the counter and out of sight inside one of the cupboards. A few seconds later I heard the door slam open and I heard their loud voices.
“Check in the back room to see if anyone is there. I’ll start grabbing the money.”
I heard the second voice. “I still don’t understand why we had to come so far as a place likes Harrison”
“We’ve gone over this already. Nobody will suspect it’s us and we will be far off.”
“Do we really want to do this? I mean we could find another way to pay it off”.
First voice again: “Listen, we talked about this; if we don’t get that money quickly we won’t have a chance repay it. You know what Donovan will do to us.”
That brought a jolt to me. Donovan was the owner of one of the biggest casinos in Idaho. There had been some speculation that he was part of a criminal ring, but no proof.
The second voice started talking again: “Fine, but the moment we pay I’m out of this job.”
“Okay with me.”
I heard footsteps going past me and through the employee only door. Then I heard the sound of the cash register being opened and money being grabbed, then the sound of footsteps again.
“There was just one guy in the bathroom, we can be finished before he comes out, but we got to go quickly.”
“Okay, while I’m grabbing the money you look through all the cabinets and see if you can find anything else we can grab.”
I realized that I was in trouble. I could only hope they didn’t notice me. I started to move farther back trying to squeeze between the wall and the boxes of stuff next to me. Then all of a sudden everything next to me fell down. I heard a loud gasp from both of them, and the cupboard opened wide and with a gun pointed right at me.
“Oh, no. What do we do?”
“We take him. If he knows about Donovan, then we can’t let him go. Grab him and we’ll bring up one of the mountains and deal with him there.”
They grabbed me and I started yelling and kicking. I got a good hit right in the chin of one of them and he released me for a second just enough time to start running. I got about three feet when a shot blew up the glass in front of me. I dropped to the ground.
I heard the voice of the first guy behind me. “Next one hits.”
I just sat there and waited for them to come and get me. I felt the tug of strong arms grabbing my shoulders and then what I guessed was the barrel of a gun on my back. He brought out some duct tape and began to wrap it around my hands and a single piece on my mouth. When he finished I got in the bed of the pickup. I saw Aaron running out of the employees only door, obviously hearing the shot.
Aaron sprinted outside and the driver of the truck hit the gas pedal. I sat there watching the shop disappear in the distance I heard sirens in the distance, most likely called in by Aaron. They all sounded too far off to be any use. A continuing sense of dread filled me as they continued north of Harrison.
There were many hills and mountains that overlook the small Idahoan town, and I figured we where going up one of them. We went I could tell that we were still on highway 97 next to the lake. We passed the camp Easton boy scout camp and then we changed direction and we directly went straight into the woods so that the lake was behind me. Eventually it got dark and when the headlights came on there was only one on, which was not just illegal, but just plain stupid in the mountains when there was usually animals trying to cross the street. And when they turned a corner, almost like magic, a massive moose appeared right in the middle of the street.
The thing about hitting a moose is it is not the same as hitting a deer. If you hit a deer the deer will probably die and the car will get a large dent in it,sometimes breaking the car. moose are the opposite. The car will probably not be used again and the moose will often be able to walk away.
So when the car hit the moose it was chaos. One moment I was in the truck the next I was flying. I flew ten feet in the air and, luckily, hit the soft ground of the forest. What happened to the men and the moose is unknown. I lay there unconscious, but unhurt. When I awoke I was in a haze and confused about where I was. I was lucky to have only minor injuries. Anything else and I would have died from the challenges ahead. I looked over myself. I attempted to focus. I collapsed again. I knew I couldn’t fall asleep here. I stumbled over to a fallen tree; its branches provided a sort of shelter under them. I climbed underneath of them and fell asleep.
I woke up and wondered why I had such a horrible sleep. I looked around. I realized what happened and decided to find my way back. I couldn’t tell how far off from town I was. The truck ride had felt like hours, but that could be all perspective. I had heard of people that had thought they were going down the mountain but really we’re just going on a different trail going farther into it. My first goal was to find out where I was so I knew which the right way was. I began to look for any tree that I could climb, but most of them around me had the lowest branches ten feet tall. I decided to keep walking on the road until I could find a tree to climb. I walked down the road that looked like it was declining. I looked up and saw a tall tree with low branches. I began climbing it and when I reached the tallest I thought I could go without falling I looked. And saw nothing. This was the only tree to be found for miles. I got down and started traveling down the road. I looked up the road and could see a large grizzly bear about a hundred yards away. I had spent enough time In the woods to know not to go near a bear. I decided to give it a wide berth. I walked off the road and onto the forest next to it. I walked until I couldn’t see the bear Then I heard a twig snap and heard shuffling. I backed away as quickly as possible, but stopped once I saw what was making the noise.it was two small bear cubs wrestling with each other. I walked up to them to look closer and then stopped. I had a nagging thought. I remembered something about not going near bear cubs. They didn’t look dangerous but I stayed away from them just to be safe. I began to go down the road when one of the cubs saw him it wandered over closer. The other cub started coming over as well. I walked over curiously to them and pet their heads. They made some noise and I couldn’t help feeling that they were adorable. How could anyone say that they were dangerous?
I started talking to them. “Hey little guys, where’s your momma?” Suddenly, as if in a movie, I saw her, a massive grizzly bear running at full speed straight at me. I suddenly remembered why we were taught not to go near a bear cub. It was not the cubs themselves that were dangerous; it was the thing that protected them. I only had seconds before the bear was right on top of me. I turned and ran as fast as possible away. I saw the bear behind me quickly gaining ground. I knew that if I didn’t do something quick I would die. I saw the edge of the road and beyond that a second edge with an unknown distance to fall off. It was uncertain, but with the bear was certain death. I ran thinking to try to roll down the mountain, something I heard before. I was a few feet away from the edge. I thought about turning around, but I could hear the bear behind me now. I jumped and as I did so felt the bear grab my shirt, it missed my skin, but in doing so it caused me to get all tangled up and fall uncontrolled. I felt my head hit a tree and then some rocks. I couldn’t tell which way was up. I made it to the bottom and for the second time in two days, I went unconscious.
I woke up with a headache so bad I assumed I was dying. I had never felt that much pain before in my life. I sat there for countless hours before I was able to think enough to realize that I had to get up and start moving before something like the bear came down the slope or something worse. I began to stand up and then fell back down again after another wave of pain hit me. I tried it again slowly got up again and started walking. It took me at least a minute before I realized that I had no idea where I was going. I decided to think for a second and get my bearings. I needed to get off this mountain. I needed water, which I realized was part of the headache problem. I also realized that a headache had overshadowed my hunger. Now that the pain of the concussion had died down I felt the full force of the hunger bearing down on me. I also realized that I couldn’t get very far in my condition so I began looking for something to help me walk. I remember my dad talking about how I couldn’t walk as well and so I used a hiking stick to help, so I began looking for a stick. I eventually found one that had a curve in the end that I could use as a handle. I began walking the same direction that I had gone on the road. I decided not to go back up the slope to the road just in case the bear was up there or anywhere close to it because another fall like the one yesterday would probably be fatal. After a few minutes of walking, I found what looked like a dried stream bed and I realized that I had a choice to make, a deadly choice. I could continue walking and go back on the road and hope that somebody could drive down at some point, or I could go get water. The problem that was that even if I got found it was likely that even if somebody found me I could die of dehydration before I got back. I had to get water, even if it meant I might miss a car. I followed the stream bed down ways until eventually, it turned hard and rocky, and then slippery, forcing me to walk beside the stream. Eventually, it turned into a small creek, but I decided that to wait until it got a little bigger. Eventually, it started getting bigger until I made it into some tall grass. I followed alongside it until I made it to what was and always will be the most beautiful sight that I had ever seen. A small lake that had been hidden from view by the tree and the grass, but that not what had given me so much joy. Over to right a few hundred feet away was a large group of kids, all in Boy Scout uniforms next to a cabin surrounded by green tents. They all sat around a fire. On the other side of them was a road where it looked like many other boys had been. They all turned when they saw me, and I shuffled in with whatever energy I could still muster and said: “Can I get a ride?”