No seriously, I’m dying. I’m in the middle of god-knows-where, under a blazing hot sun for countless hours with no water. Yes, I’m kicking myself for drinking it all in the first few hours of my journey and again for not stopping at the cactus I saw about an hour ago to try and get some water from it. Conveniently, I remembered that cactus' store a lot of water to keep itself alive during the day. But that thought only occurred to me once the figure of the desert plant had long disappeared.
I’m slowly going insane.
I’ve started talking to myself, great. At least I’m not answering back…that’s a good sign.
“Yeah well, that is one of the first signs of crazy, answering yourself” I said out loud. Shit. I answered myself. I shook my thoughts out of my head and looked at the land ahead. It was as bare and as hot as it had been about ten hours ago. The desert was empty, hot and a pain in my ass. I patted my pocket and felt the hardness of wood and the smoothness of metal. I had on me nothing but a small hunting knife, one you would usually use to skin fish with. Besides the knife the only thing I had was the clothes on my back.
“Pfft, what good will jean shorts, an old red tank top and a torn button up t-shirt do me?” I said. I answered myself by shaking my head. Nothing. It won’t help me at all. The clothing did little to protect me from the harsh sun. I was fair-skinned and could feel heat radiating off of me as the sun burned my skin. Even my hair which was held back by a feeble elastic band felt like I could fry and egg on it.
My legs ached, lactic acid burning in my muscles, willing my body to stop and take a break. But I knew if I stopped, I wouldn’t start again. I looked ahead once again. A few hundred yards ahead of me was a haggard looking tree that cast about a body’s length of shade. A few hundred yards to the right of the tree was a great rock face that looked like it had been butchered by a butter knife; the top of the rock had many harsh divots and gouges. But the rock was tall and cast a massive shadow on the land beside it. My head yearned for the massive rock but my body needed shade fast. I turned in the direction of the tree and made my way towards it.
I realized my mistake too late. Lying under the tree in the shade were a pack of mountain cougars. Their nap in the shade was cut short when they saw my half dead body standing before them, so easy to kill. They circled me, seizing up their prey.
“Well if I have to go, I’d rather go fighting” I said to myself. I drew the knife from my pocket and braced myself for battle.
A large female cougar raced towards me, her mouth twisted in a snarl that showed all her teeth. I raised my knife and managed to slit a part of her chest as she raced towards me. She retreated to the tree but the rest of the pack converged on me. I saw the teeth before I felt them. I had managed to cut a few more cougars but one attacked me from behind, clenching his teeth into my exposed calf muscle. I fell to one knee while still swinging my knife. I was determined to take as many of them with me.
Too soon the claws and teeth of the cougars was too much for my body to handle. I fell to the ground, feeling the weight of their bodies on my chest. I closed my eyes and prepared to die.
Suddenly I heard two, no three, now four gunshots echo through the barren desert. The weight of the cougars didn’t leave my body, but increased. I felt the warm rush of blood on my chest and face. Is it mine? Was I shot?
“Hey! I think it’s still alive! Call Ian and Kyle and get them over here to help!” I heard a voice exclaim. It was male, I reflected. I kept my eyes closed, trying to prolong the male from seeing them and giving away my position. Once they saw my eyes, it would all be over. I’ll be dead before sundown.
The last thing I felt was the weight on my chest being lifted and strong arms pick me off the ground before I fell into deep, black, nothingness.