An Event at a Waterfall

Two young men on an adventure of their lives

Jack clung to the remnants of the raft as it carried him toward the waterfalls directly ahead. He could hear the thunderous sound of the fast-moving water as it cascaded down the 200-foot drop into an abyss.

In his terror things seemed to slow down as he remembered the raft hitting an underwater snag that threw him and Harold into the churning waters. The raft broke into sections under the mighty flow that dashed it into several protruding boulders. Harold disappeared in the swift current. Jack was able to hold on to a small section of the raft and desperately tried to paddle towards the high bank. The current was too strong. Through the frothy water ahead he saw trees growing along the rough edge of the cliff overlooking the view below. If he could grab one, he had a chance. A small chance. But better than nothing. Then the tree was in his path, splitting the powerful flow and he screamed while lunging for the trunk.

The day had started out ominously when Harold burnt their last fish to a crisp destroying breakfast. The had to settle for their last slivers of beef jerky. The trip had taken longer than they thought it would and they started running out of supplies three days ago. They were lost. Harold had the only compass and he managed to lose it in the river days ago. They got diverted from the river they had charted out and were on another river leading to an unknown destination. Both men were aware of the giant waterfalls in this part of the country and had plotted their course accordingly to avoid them.

Jack held onto the tree trunk for dear life.

He dared not look over his shoulder. The sight could unnerve him and sap his courage and strength. His head was pounding in tandem with the deafening roar of the water. The tree’s slimy bark was peeling away as he grabbed onto it for dear life. Summoning up his last reserves he clawed his way up the trunk and reached the first limb where he was able to wedge his body into the crook between it and the trunk. His heartbeat slowed down as he realized he survived. He was going to make it. Someone would see him stuck in the tree when they came searching for Harold and him. They both told their parents where they were going – they even gave them a map – and how long they would be gone. When they didn’t return a search party would surely come looking.

Two days passed and Jack was still on the tree. That made it nearly a week beyond their estimate. What was taking the searchers so long? He was hungry and exhausted.

When he woke up, he was being carried on a stretcher towards a waiting ambulance. He was saved! He kept thanking his rescuers and telling them about Harold. It was so good to see his parents and sisters greeting him as he was loaded onto the ambulance. Poor Harold he thought. Then he saw his girlfriend Abby who leaned over and kissed him on the cheek.

When the search party finally discovered Jack’s body in the tree one of the men noted the smile on his dead pasty white face.

-30-

Author: Dave Stancliff

Retired newspaper editor/publisher, veteran, freelance writer, blogger. Married 47 years (8/31/74). Independent thinker. A sense of humor. Defender of truth. Give my poems, essays and short stories a read. I look forward to feedback. Write on!

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