Mists of Time

As the mists swirled around them they joined hands and staggered forwards....or was it backwards?


13. Setting Up Camp

Paul and Terry went over to their bivvy and with a renewed vigour set about covering the thatch on the top and sides. They’d been spooked by the appearance of the iphone in the ground. Paul had put it back down next to the fireplace and he couldn’t help thinking that there was something familiar about the phone.  

Sarah, Sinead and Mai went around the sides of the site collecting fallen timber. The find had spooked them too and they weren’t going to step too far in an already darkening wood. There was plenty of rotten timber lying around. This area wasn’t visited much Mai thought. The other two girls were silently collecting small stuff, whilst Mai was concentrating on larger pieces.   

Mai could see Tom by the fireplace. She saw that he’d already got a lot of smaller twigs and branches by the side of him. He was kneeling by them looking into the ground. He seemed to be in deep thought and was concentrating on the phone that was on the ground by the side of him. He seemed reluctant to pick it up.  

She went across the glade. He looked up at her as she  came into his view. He looked up at her as she approached. He smiled, he always did that every time he saw her. There was something about Mai, something about the way she talked, about the way she looked that left him at times with a feeling of a deep pit in his stomach. He used to shrug it off but lately he wondered if it was really love he was feeling. 

‘Hi Mai, oh good you’ve got some really good pieces there’ He saw she smiled at this compliment. ‘ Do you know how to light a fire ?’  

‘No, never lit one, will you show me?’ Mai answered sinking down to sit beside him. 

‘No problem’ he said smiling, ‘hope you’re a better pupil than those four’ indicating to the others.  

‘They couldn’t light a fire to save their lives’ he said with a slight laugh.  

Tom got a small purse like object out of his pocket.  

‘What’s that ?’ she asked.  

‘Ah well, that would be telling’ he said, ‘It’s a mini survival kit. I always carry it with me. That way I’ve always got something to light fires with me. He pulled out a small piece of cotton wool and a small metal rod connected by a chain to a flat looking bit of metal.  

What’s that’, she asked indicating the rod with her fingers  

Tom handed it to her. She weighed it up and down. It felt quite heavy in her hand. She could now see that the metal rod was gouged away in places.  

‘It’s a firesteel for creating sparks’ he said retrieving it from her, ’here let me show you how it works’  

He held the rod at the top in his right hand and the flat piece of metal in the other.   

‘All I have to do is run this piece of metal down the rod and sparks come out.’ He demonstrated how it was done and she was amazed at the amount of sparks that were produced.  

‘That’s magic, can I have a go’ she asked. He passed the rod over to her. She tried to emulate what he’d done but this time no sparks came out of the end of the rod.  

‘Have I broke it’ she asked looking up to him.  

‘No’, he smiled ‘try holding the metal the other way around so the arrow is pointing down.  

She looked down and saw that on the flat piece of metal was an arrow and the words this way. Embarrassingly she looked up and said ‘Oh, that’ll teach me to read’  

They both laughed knowing how Mai loved to read. 

She ran the metal down the steel and sparks appeared. She did it a couple more times.  

‘Wow that’s so good’ she exclaimed, ‘I thought you’d rub two sticks together or use a match’  

Lol’, Tom laughed, ‘you can make a fire by rubbing two sticks together, but it takes a lot of effort and time, it’s a lot easier doing it this way.’  

Mai watched him. He was definitely more confident in the scouting setting than he was at school. He seemed very assured and more in control here.  

He teased the cotton wool with his fingers until it had tripled in size. He caught the curious look on her face.  

‘That’s so there’s air in the wool and it’ll light easier,’ he explained.  

He placed the cotton wool into the fire pit and explained ‘Now I get some very small, dry twigs and put them in sort of a pyramid over the top of the cotton wool.  

You have to use very dead wood for this he said demonstrating how easily the twig could snap between his two fingers, ‘do you want to light it ?’  

‘Me’, she said, ‘are you sure I can?’  

‘Yes just do what you just did’, he said  

She put the firesteel next to the cotton wool and ran the metal down it. Sparks came off the end. The cotton wool burst into flame and in a moment the fire took hold of the smaller sticks.  

‘Wow, she exclaimed excitedly, ‘I did it. She watched as the twigs burnt. She watched as just as quickly the fire was going, it died down.  

‘Oh, it’s out now,’ she said stupidly.   

Tom laughed. It was good to get one up on Mai, however he saw that she was as disappointed in not succeeding as she had at the chess game.  

That’s what usually happens,’ he said indicating the others, ‘they do the same’  

Tom rapidly repeated the process and starting to add more wood. In about 5 minutes the fire was going well and attracted the attention of the others. 


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