Here are just a few of the story highlights:
. . .
Something, stepped on my foot!
There are times in life when something very old within us, something primal, takes over. Something from a time when we, our species, cowered in the darkness, no houses, no tools, with only our meager wits and heightened awareness to keep us from becoming a meal for some larger, fiercer predator. This was one of those times for me.
I didn’t jump. I didn’t suddenly look.
I very slowly tilted my gaze toward the sensation of pressure.
There, on the foot of my sleeping bag, standing in a crouched position ready to pounce, was a mountain lion!!
. . .
…and always there was the gentle lift and drop of the waves. In a stressful world it was always quiet, relaxing, and peaceful.
That is, until it wasn’t.
On one terrifying occasion, fate had something else in mind. It started out fairly normal… Debbie, Jim and myself decided to hang back in the dingy. We had been back there, with the tow rope at full length for about fifteen minutes, just relaxing into the rhythm of the swells, when it seemed as though the sea next to us began to rise up, piling up upon itself, and, with a roar of rushing water, a strange dorsal fin rose out of the water, about six feet off our port side. The fin was attached to the biggest back I’d ever seen on a fish. It was nearly twice the length of the Panic, and that was just the part sticking out of the water. It appeared to be that the biggest damned shark anyone had ever seen was scoping us out for dinner!
There was panic on the Panic!
. . .
“What the …!!”
I had sudden vertigo, a sinking feeling!
Looking around it became suddenly obvious that the tracks I was following had led me, not through a meadow, but across an extension of the lake! A small bay!
I was back on ICE!!
Everything happened both fast and in slow motion. I was through the ice and into the freezing water! And, just as quickly, I hit the bottom of the lake bed. If this had happened to me now, my head would probably have been above water, but, at my height at that youthful age, it was up to my nose! Good thing it wasn’t any deeper, but not good enough for me to get out!
A great deal goes through a person’s head at a time like this.
“This is a funny way to die.”
“Why didn’t the ice break for that other guy?”
“Why did it break for me?”
. . .
I guess I’d missed my chance at a lot of things. I had never kissed a girl. Not really anyway. And I was just getting to the age that I was starting to want to! And making love! What was that all about? I had never even been loved! By anyone! Ever! I would sure have liked to have known what that was like.
Oh well …
. . .
…The bear stopped at the edge of the forest and seemed to hesitate. It paced back and forth there, at the clearing’s edge, all the while looking straight at us! There was a flash and another loud clap of thunder, and that seemed to make up the bear’s mind. Without another moments pause it left the trees and charged straight at us running full out!
. . .
..Then, as quickly as it had begun, the storm was over. The sun shone brightly on the raindrops still clinging to the needles and leaves of the trees, turning them into a million prismatic diamonds, bedazzling all who beheld them. An aura of peace and calm fell over the little valley.
. . .
…It had occurred to me that when last I had been on the ground, an hour and a half or so before, the ground seemed pretty hard. Flying about, high up in the nice soft air was, so to speak, a breeze. However, pointing this all too fragile aircraft, carrying us three all too mortal beings within it, at that all too hard and solid ground, shall we say, gave all too inexperienced me somewhat of a pause.
You might ask, “Did I argue, did I beg, did I plead”? Yes, trust me, yes, all to no avail. B would give me some verbal direction, but no more. He said he wouldn’t touch the controls, and he was true to his word.
. . .
…Throughout my life I have had the dubious opportunity to face death head-on in literally dozens of different ways. I have actually been dead four times, so far. Getting there can be a bit distressing, however, once achieved, I’ve found that being dead is a lovely experience that I highly recommend everyone try at least once.
One does not have to actually die to have faced death. In point of fact if you do manage to die you haven’t just faced death, you’ve succeeded. No, one only needs to be involved in an experience, the most probable outcome of which is death, and have an awareness of this.
. . .
When I looked at it, three things about it surprised me. One; it didn’t bother me to see it. Two; it didn’t bleed very much for such a large hole, just a thin trickle. And three; it didn’t hardly hurt at all… Also, despite the obvious damage it seemed to work just fine. Curious. In fact, the whole thing wouldn’t have been all that upsetting except for one thing … We were still on the rock. To get back to shore, we had to swim through about two hundred feet of what appeared to be water infested with hungry sharks, and I was trailing blood…