Mark Ethridge’s Picture Choice: Two
Title: I See Angry People (Part 4)
I don’t know how many days I walked before I found the fence, but I did eventually find a fence. On my side of the fence was the forest, the wilderness. Everything was wild, natural. Then, there was the fence, and next a thirty foot wide strip of cleared land. Nothing but short grasses, no trees, bushes, rocks. Nothing. Along the top of the fence was razor wire. Someone had put the fence there, and made it to keep others outside.
To the north and south, the fence ran as far as I could see. “North it is.” As I walked I noticed places where the brush and trees inside the fence got thinner, as if they’d been cleared. After several miles, I came across a shack inside the fence. It sat at the edge of the 30 foot wide clearing, and someone lived in it, that was obvious. I spotted an outhouse further back in the trees. There was also a gate in the fence, across the clearing from the shack.
“Big fence for something,” I continued north another few miles, and came across another shack. This kept up throughout the rest of the day, until I reached where the fence turned westward. As the sun was low to the horizon, I decided it was time to rest, made my way into the trees on my side of the fence, and set up my tent.
Gunshots woke me, and not just a few gunshots. It sounded like a mini war, a pitched battle. I grabbed my bow, quiver and arrows, and headed toward the sound. When I reached the fence I saw a man with an assault rifle inside the fence. He was shooting the hell out of the trees on my side of the fence, and screaming about how no one was getting past him while he still breathed.
Hidden in the trees, I watched as he emptied the gun’s clip into the trees. He seemed to shoot at anything that moved, even limbs in the breeze. He pulled out another clip, reloaded, and cut loose again.
And he shot straight at the trees I was hiding among.
The only thing I could do was hug the ground and pray. My right arm lit up, like I’d been branded, and I bit my tongue hard enough to draw blood to keep from screaming. I’d never been shot before, but I knew the guy with the gun had managed to hit me.
He reloaded a second time, moved past me, and shot more holes in the trees.
I shifted, rolled on my back, sat up, and stared at a nasty gash across the top of my arm, half way between my elbow and shoulder. Blood, my blood, soaked my sleeve, and shirt, and dripped from my elbow as it flowed toward my wrist. With a bit of effort, and a lot of pain, I got to my feet, and returned to my campsite, where I opened my pack, pulled out some rope, and put a makeshift tourniquet on my arm to slow down the bleeding, and give me a chance to see how badly I been shot.
“Well. I’m haven’t bled to death, so I don’t think he hit an artery.” It struck me as funny the things I thought of as I examined my arm. “Pain is a good thing,” I probed my wound with my fingers. Yes, it hurt like hell, like chewing on nails, or having a wolf bite you, and hang on as you walked around. But, I needed to know how bad it was.
“No broken bones. That’s good.”
An old shirt sleeve, torn off a shirt, was about right to make a makeshift bandage. I’d have tried to stitch the wound shut, but I didn’t have anything to use. No needle or thread, so a bandage had to do.
“Can’t stay here. If they check the area he shot up, they’ll find a trail to me.” I packed my gear, and headed west, through the trees. Every mile or so, I checked to find the fence. “At least the bleeding’s stopped.”
I walked until I couldn’t, paused a few minutes, then headed north, further away from the fence. Again, I walked until I couldn’t, then set up my camp. “I’ll stay here tonight.”
Scared? Hell yes. I knew wolves, and other predators could smell blood for miles. And I had oceans of it on my right arm, with no way to clean it off. And I couldn’t climb a tree with one arm. I had to stay on the ground, and hope I made it through the night.
I’d have given anything for a jug of water, so I could rinse my arm off, wash my wound, and at least feel like I was able to take care of myself. But I had no water. None. All I could do was pull the bandage off, bury it in the ground, and make another one.
Hell, with only one arm, I couldn’t even shoot my bow. I was down to using my knife as my only weapon. I considered calling for a wolf, but I wasn’t Jessica, and I was a long way from any wolves that knew her. No, I’d have to get through the night on my own.
With that, exhaustion and the agony of my gunshot wound caught up to me, and I passed out
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Mark woke up in 2010, and has been exploring life since then. All his doctors agree. He needs to write.