Written by Dean Horton
Chapter 5 ‘The leap of faith’
Samson had been walking for about one hour since he had seen the torch beams; suddenly he had a strange feeling, that feeling had returned again; the feeling tingled through his veins, growing and growing desperate to take hold. It was almost like a sixth sense; it had suddenly gone colder around him, or was it his mind playing tricks? He stopped walking and listened there’s danger he could sense it; his heart pounded against his chest; the feeling growing and growing; something was not right! A howl could be heard in the far off distance Wolves but here where Samson now stood there was no sound; no breeze; no wildlife; the forest always had sounds but now there was nothing you’re in danger! Samson you’re in danger! His heart began to beat stronger and stronger, faster and faster, he was afraid and sensed that everything else in the forest was also afraid but afraid of what, oh God don’t do this to me?
Then he saw it, around twenty metres away there was a shape? It was a man! Samson could make out his silhouette as the moonlight shone through the trees; he could make out that the man was wearing a baseball cap! Samson swallowed quietly; evil was around him; his brain was instructing him to run but he stood motionless, afraid just watching in the direction of the silhouette. Samson stared as two red glows appeared beneath the peak of the cap! Samson wanted to scream; to vanish but he was caught what do I do; please God, what do I do?
The silhouette started to laugh then he spoke ‘does he answer you; your God? Does he tell you what to do?’
Samson would never forget that voice; it was a Mexican accent but contained evil that Samson would never be able to explain; a mocking evil; an unimaginable evil!
There was a movement away to Samson’s left as another figure began forcing his way through the foliage, a large silhouette with two glints of red light right where his eyes should be. This figure was moving quickly and noisily now, moving in his direction, toward him toward ME! Samson had already turned and was now sprinting again; sprinting as fast as his young legs could carry him; moving fast toward the ravine, suddenly he caught another movement up ahead! The third man this one wearing a cowboy hat, with two tiny pinpricks of red glow beneath the front brim of the hat, he was moving in from the right; he was cutting him off? He was too close oh God he’s got me a hand reached out toward him but Samson was quicker as he dived beneath the outstretched arm; hitting the floor on his shoulder he rolled up onto his feet; spitting out dust he continued through the thick underbrush. The hands tried to grab at him again as they turned to pursue; now there were two sets of footsteps behind him and now they were only two metres behind him! Samson’s heart was now beating so fast he felt like it was going to jump right out of his chest and leave him right there, leave him helpless on the rugged path. But his heart never left him instead it forced him on faster and faster he had never been so scared in all his life and now he ran for his life!
Samson’s legs carried him through branch after branch; twigs scraping along his face; into his eyes and mouth; but Samson ran; he ran as fast as his legs would carry him. He ran as if all the Devils of hell were after him; for they were! Up ahead Samson saw the ravine; it was no use he had no-where to go! In twenty steps he would be at the top of the fifty metre drop; he had no choice he would have to stop! Samson carried on running towards the edge with fear pushing him on; hearing a laugh from behind; he remembered what these men, were they men? What they had done to his family; evil was after him; his legs carried him forward, toward the top of the ravine!
The experience that happened to him next Samson would never be able to explain; never would he be able to find the words to explain the instructions his brain gave to his body? He did not stop running; he carried on right to the end of the ravine; right to the point where it dropped away. To the very edge of the world where he leapt; leapt to his doom right from the top of the ravine fifty metres or perhaps more above the ground! His body flew through the air his momentum sending him forward yet downward; dropping, dropping, dropping until his body caught the branches of the first trees which grew below; his movement still taking him forward and downward. His arms reached out desperately as he dropped through the blanket of branches. With his body hitting branch after branch Samson fell and fell grabbing and missing until at last his grip caught hold of a branch some 5 metres from the ground!
His weight was pulling him down but he held on with all his might as everything around him stopped; his mind was still falling, about to hit the floor! Eventually he regained his composure I’m alive he took several desperate but deep breaths before he shimmied along the branch and began climbing down the massive tree an Atlantic White Cedar 30 metres tall in all its majesty. Samson dropped to the ground; desperately trying to catch his breath; he crouched over; his hands resting on his thighs as he breathed and coughed; spluttering as he inhaled; his whole body felt bruised and battered from the pounding it had taken from impacting with the branches of the large Atlantic White Cedar.
Crouching over with his hands on his thighs Samson’s lungs took in as much air as they could, he felt like someone with asthma as he panted, panted and breathed. His mouth felt dry, his body battered, his head throbbed and his legs ached like nothing he had ever experienced in his life; but he was alive, alive and kicking. After everything that he had witnessed and everything he had lost, Samson did something that he would never be able to tell anyone and he had no idea why, but he began to laugh. It was surreal a moment of madness, but Samson was in a mad fit of laughing; he laughed that much that he began to choke, once again losing his breath calm down you idiot have you forgot about them? Almost instantly the laughing stopped as he straightened, suddenly becoming more serious as the reality set back in!
Once his breathing had settled he brought his hand up and pulled some twigs from out of his hair, he dusted himself off and looked up to the top of the ravine; the three men stood at the top looking down; three sets of red eyes glowed in the darkness as they stared down at him from their high vantage point! The one in the baseball cap pointed down at Samson and began speaking loudly. Samson tried to make out what he was saying but it was a foreign language almost Spanish sounding; eventually the man straightened; his head looked up to the sky; his chest puffed out with his arms stretched out to his sides and behind him. The man was still speaking and Samson could feel the breeze had picked up around him get out of here, Samson; for Gods sake move! Samson had already turned all thoughts of his bruised and battered body had now gone; he was getting out of there and he was going right now!
With that thought Samson was turning from the three men and was moving swiftly away from the ravine, trying to put as much space between him and the three men as possible……..run Samson run!
Killdeer Mountain; North Dakota 23.45 local time:
The small camp fire began raging; its flames dancing higher and higher; a wolf howled in the near distance. The old Indian man sat cross-legged and topless; he tilted his head slightly listening to the sound of the wolves as the moon shone brightly overhead. His attention turned back to the fire as its flames now leapt several feet into the air; the man’s sight followed the flames as a cloud shadow crossed the full moon; the man reached down to a small bowl on the floor directly in front of him. Bringing the bowl up he placed his finger into the white liquid and began marking his face; with precise strokes he painted his face; constantly dipping his finger into the liquid. His forefinger worked the paint into his aged old features; eventually his face was complete; he placed the bowl on the floor. The aged man was quietly chanting; his voice could hardly be heard above the cackling sound of the small camp fire; dipping his index finger and forefinger on both hands into another bowl containing a red liquid, he brought them up to his face then he traced two lines across his nose and down his cheeks on either side of his face. He dipped his fingers into the red liquid again and traced two lines across his chest one on either side!
His chanting gradually becoming louder he reached into one of the pockets on the leather belt around his waste; his hand pulling out again; he opened his palm revealing a powdery substance. Another howl, this time closer, then an owl hooted somewhere close by, somewhere off to his right past the underbrush and deep inside the clump of trees as the aged man continued his chanting. The moon was now completely covered by cloud; the only light now coming from the small camp fire whose flames were still several feet high; almost abnormal compared to the size of the small fire. The man threw the powdery substance onto the fire; the fire hissed loudly as the flames subsided; almost disappearing as they retreated back into the wooden logs at its base. The aged Indian man carried on with his chanting only louder now, his ancient chanting; the flames now returned a pale blue; a forceful flame like a welding jet; they rose two feet from the ground. All around him a wind had whipped up as the man carried on with his chants; the wind circled him biting him; pulling at his hair; but still he continued with the constant chanting; more howls off in the distance as the wind continued its attack upon the old man!
The man reached into his belt again into another of the pockets and pulled out a palm-full of another powdery substance this time he threw it into the air around him! Instantly the wind stopped; the shadow began retreating from over the moon as the fire now became smaller and more normal looking with its yellow and orange flames dancing lower. The man had stopped chanting, he stared up into the night sky; there was a sound several feet to his right; the man turned to face the sound; three wolves stood in the clearing looking at the old man! The old man began talking quietly; an ancient language no longer spoken; passed down from generation to generation of the Lakota Sioux for hundreds possibly thousands of years. Slowly he walked toward the three animals as they stood in the clearing; watching his every move!
Rocky Mountains 23.45 local time:
Samson darted through the forest stopping for nothing; the wind following in his wake almost as if he were being chased by it! The sound of branches and trees crashing and falling as though an invisible giant were following in Samson’s wake! Not once did he look behind as he ran as fast as his legs could carry him; they ached severely but still he ran from the following wind and whatever malevolent force it contained? After thirty minutes of non stop running he stopped his lungs gasping for air; the breeze had subsided and gone! He crouched over his hands on his knees; his lungs fighting for every breath, in and out his chest moved until eventually his body re-adjusted itself as the air filled his lungs. Samson wanted to cough and vomit but he had no energy to summon either, he was battered and beaten, he was tired and worn out, in desperation he leant his arms against a tree. For what seemed like 30 minutes Samson closed his eyes and inhaled through his nose, exhaling out through his mouth. His heartbeat had slowed; his breathing had become easier as his body returned to normal.
After he had regained his composure he began moving again this time slower; his body was battered and tired; he walked on wearily until at last Samson came to a stream, he stopped and crouching down he cupped water; splashing it over his face. The water cooled him, soothed him as he splashed it over his hair, following through the motion he rubbed his hands around the back of his neck which was sticky with sweat. There was a rock away to his right; Samson staggered wearily toward the rock, feeling like he would collapse at any moment!
It was only several steps but they were probably the longest steps he had ever taken; once he reached the rock he sat down wearily upon it; after several seconds of just sitting motionless regaining his energy he pulled the rucksack from his back. Swinging the rucksack around to his front he opened the pack and reaching inside he pulled out his water flask; opening the lid he took several mouthfuls; it soothed his dry throat as it flowed down filling his bladder. There was the packet of biscuits he had taken from the kitchen earlier, he pulled the biscuits out and opening them he ate two before putting them back into his pack. Samson wanted to eat more but his brain was telling him he was in for a long haul and every bit of food he had would be needed later on! The moonlight broke slightly through the thick canopy above him lighting up the forest around him. Thoughts of his family kept coming to the fore of his mind as he constantly tried to block them out; he could not let himself linger; somehow he had to save himself I’ve got to try not to think about them, I have to stay alive, I have to do this!
The “jump” had at least brought him a little time they would not attempt the same thing; of that he was certain if they were going to jump they would have done it right after me; followed me there and then; but they didn’t! They had not jumped and this buoyed his hopes, it told Samson they would have to either climb down or follow the ravine around until they reached a point where they could reach the ground safely. That would take them a little while the ravine seemed to spread on for quite a distance and they would probably have to split up; one go one way, one go the other, that would be the only way they could know which was the quickest descent. After that they would have to meet back up; yes, he felt buoyed now!
Leaning back slightly he knitted his fingers behind his head; stretching out his muscles, feeling several crack, in his fingers, his shoulders and down his back; his body had taken a severe beating the last few hours. He took several more gulps of water then re-filled his bottle from the stream before replacing it in his backpack. Samson felt refreshed as he thought through his options, eventually deciding to follow the path of the stream and not the moon; hoping that the stream would bring him to civilisation and safety? It made perfect sense to follow the stream, towns and civilisation were always built near water there has to be a town….there has too? Wearily he rose to his feet and began walking again come on Samson you can do it; if you don’t start now you never will! His legs felt like lead as he began moving them again, every step ached, every movement ached, after around thirty or forty steps the aches in his legs were beginning to subside yes Samson you’ve had a lucky escape my friend! That voice and the words that it spoke came back to him “does he answer you; your God? Does he tell you what to do” perhaps God had answered him? Perhaps it was God that had told him to jump from the ravine, perhaps he had put the thought into Samson’s mind without him knowing ‘I hope so I could do with all the help I can get’ he whispered as he continued on his trek yep all the help I can get!
Samson had followed the stream for three hours; hearing nothing except the usual sounds of the forest and the trickling of water as it flowed over the dirt and rocks. His walking had become much slower, every step was now laboured. His walking was becoming more like a trudge; Samson was tired he needed to rest, he felt as though his whole body was going to give up on him. He had wanted to stop earlier but the fear that the three men were hot on his tail had kept him moving; now though Samson needed to rest if only for a short time, I can just lay up for twenty minutes he could just make out a fallen tree off to his right. He nodded to himself that looks as good a place as any; almost inviting he walked over to the fallen tree; the lead had now returned to his legs again, they were getting heavier with each step toward the fallen tree! Samson took the rucksack from his back and placed it on the floor leaning it against the fallen tree next he sat wearily down and leant his head against the small backpack behind him.
With his mind replaying the events of the last six hours Samson fell into sleep; a deep sleep; his thoughts taking him on several journeys; his eyes moving under his closed eyelids, he was on holidays, he was at school then he saw an old Indian man sitting by a camp fire. Samson stood still watching the man, he was talking; no not talking, chanting, the man was chanting, the man was around twenty metres away from where Samson was standing. Slowly Samson walked up to the camp fire and watched from behind the man; the old man was oblivious to him; he was still chanting as Samson walked around to the front of where he sat cross-legged he walked around to face the old man, with only the small fire separating them both. The night was warm as Samson stared down at the man who was still oblivious to him, still chanting quietly under his breath; it sounded like things he had seen in the movies, the Cowboy and Indian movies that he used to watch with his Dad when he was younger.
Eventually the old man stopped chanting as a silence engulfed around them; all sound had gone; the fire, the breeze, the night; silence had enveloped them! The man opened his eyes and looked up into Samson’s eyes he began to speak; his voice aged and wise, his features weathered ‘do not fear the wolf or the great bear! There is danger; all around you, but do not be afraid, you are not alone! You will have help? Remember my words do not fear the wolf or the great bear?’ His voice was old and wise and Samson could feel the kindness of the old man through his eyes; the old man smiled sadly; Samson noticed the marks on his face, the white painted face and the red lines, he had not noticed them before; they were not there the first time I looked I’m sure they weren’t there the painted marks…………………
A sound! Samson opened his eyes to daylight; he had heard a sound; dread filled his thoughts I’m not alone! The same sound again, a snort! Down by the stream, there’s something down by the stream? His heart was pounding as he tried his hardest to control his breathing, to control his nerves I need to look! Samson swung around silently onto all fours then with his heart pounding he crouched up onto his knees; then cautiously he peered over the top of the log toward the stream; a sigh escaped him ‘it’s a moose’ he whispered to himself.
How long have I been asleep? ‘Oh no’ fear began to take hold again; he had given them the chance to catch up, he had been asleep for a long time, he could sense that it had been many hours. They’ll catch up with me he clenched his fists and brought them up to the sides of his head pushing them into his temples hard you don’t know that though? The wilderness is a big place and they know this area like you do, not very well? ‘Damn, damn, damn’ they may be from around these parts; they may know the area well? Samson shook his head slightly no they had come from the city he had seen the one in the baseball cap say to his father ‘Mr Calcone sends his regards’ that meant his father must know them or this Mr Calcone; his Father must have had dealings with him?
Samson knew he had to carry on moving; he had to follow the stream again but first he would have another drink, his survival book had told him that; he pulled the book out again and read. “WATER – Ordering your priorities has to be one of the key steps to survival. Our basic needs are food, fire, shelter and water, their order of importance depends on where you are, but water is always essential, the most important of all. An adult can survive for three weeks without food but only three days without water. Do not wait until you run out of water until you look for more. Conserve supplies and seek a new source of fresh flowing water, though it is possible for all water to be sterilised. The human body loses 2-3 litres (4-6 pints) of water each day. Loss of liquids through respiration and perspiration increases with work-rate and temperature. It is most important that you keep yourself fully hydrated.” After reading the book he drank and ate some more, filling his bottle twice.
After he had eaten and drank plenty Samson picked the book from off the log, knowing that the longer he stayed in the forest this book would be his lifeline. Before setting out on his journey again he decided that he needed to try and pee; he unfastened his trousers and stood there for several minutes trying to relieve himself, eventually it came, the feeling made him sigh and shudder at the same time. Once he had put the book away he threw the backpack over his shoulders, settling it into a comfortable position, once he was happy, he glanced around the area he had slept making sure he had left nothing behind to show he had been there. Once he had scanned the area he nodded to himself then set off again continuing on his course along the stream and wherever it decided to lead him.
Several times on his march Samson lost his footing, his foot falling into the water; although his hiking boots were waterproof, twice his foot had gone in deeper than the boot forcing the water over the sides and into his socks and boots. His feet were now soaked; he could hear them squelching as he walked; it was becoming more and more uncomfortable with each step; his feet were not used to this kind of relentless torture and he could feel the start of blisters. With every step he could feel the back of his hiking boot rubbing the soft skin on his heels, he could also feel them coming on the ball of his foot I need to get out of these damn boots and look at my feet! As he walked a little further the pain was beginning to move up his calves, a slight tingling and a tightness that stretched up to his thighs and hamstrings, a lone tear rolled down his cheek as he begin to feel nauseous and tired.
Samson stopped and looked around there was a slight bank off to his right; he decided to go to the top and check it out, see what was over the other side, he knew from the aches and pains his body was now feeling that he needed to hold up somewhere, he had to rest up, to enable him to dry his boots and socks and look at those blisters, but most of all he needed to rest. If he could just find somewhere shaded and out of view; somewhere out of the way but open enough to allow the sun to dry his boots and socks quicker. If they were close and he found a good enough hiding place; somewhere well covered and out of view, he was sure he would be safe? They would not be able to use the night goggles in the daylight. Samson smiled he knew the goggles relied on body heat; but now in the hot daytime sun they would be useless; he could just hide up, then watch them walk on by now to find somewhere quiet, safe and out of the way!
As he reached the top of the hill he found five or six fallen trees in amongst the common junipers that littered the area, like a blanket en masse the Junipers covered the floor in front of him. They were all around three metres tall; their yellowish brown twigs scraped his face as he waded through deeper and deeper until he was situated between the fallen logs. Samson saw a hare scurry into the undergrowth it must have been feeding on some of the leaves he knew that they ate this kind of tree along with deer, moose and mountain goats they all loved the taste of the common juniper leaves. Throwing his pack on the floor he settled down against it resting for a few minutes; he could feel the hot sun breaking through bits of the canopy; his body still ached but no-where near like it had in the earlier hours of the morning. A little rest and these aches and pains will be gone!
Eventually Samson slipped out of his fleece jacket, then after undoing his laces on his hiking boots he took them off and placed each one in a small patch of sunlight; following the same procedure he took off his socks finding patches of sunlight for them too. He looked down at his feet happy that the blisters were not as bad as he had first thought but they will be they were just developing! Samson leaned his head back and thought; he thought about many things, about the dream, about school, about the forest that engulfed him. Each time his family came into his thoughts and at those times he had to fight to block them out, each time he concentrated on something different; yet his thoughts always returned to his pursuers. They would be back; on that he was sure after all he had seen their faces and there was no-way that they would let that happen, let themselves be identified. They had to get rid of that threat; had to get rid of Samson so far they haven’t done too good a job in catching me; so I’ll just have to make sure it stays that way! Samson felt confident that where he was now hiding was deep enough in the brush to keep him safe time will tell on that! He glanced at his boots and socks smiling as he watched the steam rise from them; the steam coming from the heat of the sun as they dried. What would he do if he heard them go by? Probably turn back and head the way I came back to the cabin; to the rifle; to the rifle that Dad had put on the wardrobe the men seemed militarily trained; this concerned him ‘they’ll be able to follow my tracks?’ He had not thought of that before; Samson swallowed nervously; then he heard a sound twenty feet away, a cawing sound; he stared through the branches until his eyes caught sight of the cause of the sound!
Twenty metres away in a nearby tree a crow nestled on one of the outside branches; large and jet black in colour, its feathers shiny, almost glistening as the sun caught its rays upon them. The crow seemed to be staring at Samson and Samson glared back; each of them failing to break their stare. Samson had a strange feeling again; it was just like before in the night he had had the feeling twice now once at the cabin and once in the woods when he saw them, just before he made the jump! The jump….I must have been mad attempting that! The crow cawed again; then it cawed again this time louder; Samson swallowed; his throat becoming dry once more, he moved his tongue around his mouth trying to generate the slightest bit of moisture I have to move! Reaching out his hand he felt his socks; they were now dry, without hesitation he put his socks back onto his feet one by one; then he followed this with his boots, tying the laces tightly. ‘I’m out of here’ he whispered swinging himself around onto his knees, he could feel the muscles in his calves and thighs they ached more than ever as he knelt on his knees, he could feel his tendons taught. He made sure everything was packed away in his backpack; once that was all secure he slipped his arms one by one through the straps. The crow cawed again; Samson was starting to feel anxious something about this is definitely not right he peered through the branches only to see the crow looking directly at him and the bird had now moved even closer!
Samson made his way quickly down the slope and back onto the slight path by the stream where he walked briskly for several hundred metres ‘I’ve got to get away from here’ he looked behind warily before carrying on. After he had walked for around a mile Samson stepped into a large clearing of around thirty metres square; the stream seemed to flow around it. As soon as Samson was out in the open clearing he felt the heat from the sun ‘its just too hot’ he told himself as he ducked back into the cover of the forest; deciding to skirt around the clearing instead, besides it felt better being under cover; made him feel safer, more protected; protected from prying eyes. But even in the shade of the forest the heat was becoming almost unbearable I wonder what time it is? Samson looked at the position of the sun; it was almost overhead it has to be midday; I’ve been walking for ever!
Samson walked on and on; he could feel the sun burning down through the canopy overhead; he had walked for hours and the sun was burning him through and through. His head felt like it was melting and his hair felt wet from sweat unlike my throat, Jesus Samson you had sunstroke yesterday and the day before, you need to get your head covered! He stopped and pulled out his survival book from his backpack; skimming through the small book until he came to the section headed “Climate and Terrain” Samson scrolled through the pages until he found what he was looking for. “Headgear – a hat with a piece of cloth attached to the back will protect but, better still copy Arab headwear: make a handkerchief into a wad on top of the head, fold diagonally a piece of cloth about 120cm (4ft) square, place over the handkerchief, long edge forward, and secure with a cord tied around the head. This traps pockets of air, wrap around face for warmth at night.”
Not having a spare piece off cloth handy Samson unzipped his fleece jacket and instinctively took the jacket off; next he took off his t-shirt; it was wet from sweat and clinging tightly to his skin. Once he was topless he could feel the sun drying him and burning him he picked up the book again to re-read what the instructions were telling him to do. Something else on the page caught his eye “Keep covered! Apart from risking severe sunburn, an uncovered body will lose sweat by evaporation. Keep clothing loose with a layer on insulating air, sweating will then cool you more efficiently.” He instantly pulled his fleece from the floor and placed his arms back inside before zipping it up around him. Sighing heavily he folded the t-shirt arms in on themselves and put the t-shirt on his head; the arms on his scalp while the rest of the t-shirt draped around his ears and neck. Now he needed something to tie around his head to hold his headgear in place; the only thing catching his eye were his laces no way man, you aren’t having those he scanned the surrounding area until his eyes happened on some bind weed. Samson ripped a good length of the bind weed and began to tie it around his head; happy with his new hat Samson had several mouthfuls of water before he began on his travels once again.
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