Chapter 16 ‘Cats’
The going was tough on his legs, one minute it was flat then the next he had to climb over boulders and stony steps; twice he came to a sheer drop and on each occasion he toyed with the idea of going back the way he had come. But he did not give up, he refused to let the terrain defeat him I’ve come way too far to turn back now on each occasion that Samson happened on some kind of obstacle the little voice in his head told him that if the man in the baseball cap followed his track he too would struggle with the terrain. He was succeeding and on each occasion he negotiated the dangerous drop with caution and both times the outcome was successful; Samson was making good progress, he had been walking for around two hours; the heat of the morning sun was burning his head; he could feel it magnifying through his clothes! As he walked he remembered a boy in his class at school, he remembered how the boy used to use his magnifying glass to kill insects when it was a really sunny day. Samson had never done it but he had seen the boy do it and more often than not he was with him when he did it, there were others there as well, other friends watching the boy. He shook his head at the thought, at the thought of watching the boy as he tortured the tiny insects, watching him and all the time he had done nothing to stop the boy, even though at the time he had found it quite disturbing. He wasn’t on his own, nobody else stopped the boy either; but that didn’t matter Samson should have stopped him and the reason he had not said anything to the boy, not said anything at all to stop him was because he was afraid of him. Samson was afraid of the bully just like all his friends were afraid of him too. He tried to remember the boys name but it would not come to him, he could see him now calling out to him and even now Samson realised he was still scared of the boy what was his name? He could see him now, standing in front of him holding his magnifying glass in his hand, then it came…the class bully “Benjy Jackson” holding his magnifying glass ‘come on Sambo…lets fry some legs’ Samson felt sick at the thought; the insects must have felt like him; like what Samson felt now. The heat was almost unbearable, his slightly damp clothes were now completely dry; just about the same way his throat felt what I wouldn’t give for water ‘no Cola; I’d kill for a Cola!’ Still he soldiered on with the feeling that someone was high up above holding a giant magnifying glass over him, he had his own Benjy Jackson torturing him, someone had to be; he felt like he was the only thing in the wilderness that was steaming!
A sound brought him back from his thoughts what was that? He was unsure of the noise, his mind had been elsewhere but he was one hundred percent certain that he had heard a noise! Samson had stopped….he was dead still, motionless, as he listened to the mountain and the forest below, he could hear the birds and a slight breeze came towards him; he closed his eyes tight as he felt it wisp through his hair. Whatever the sound was that he had just heard it was now quiet again just the same as before, he could hear nothing that seemed out of the ordinary; Samson began walking again. The terrain was a little better where he now walked; his pace was quickened as he took complete advantage of his new fortune! If only Benjy Jackson would let up with that damn magnifying glass…..what I wouldn’t give to stick that magnifying glass up his ass! Samson chuckled at the thought ‘yeah I should’ve stopped ya Benjy, but I didn’t have the balls and now your torturing me instead of those ants!’
He walked and walked and then he walked further, losing all track of time, his mind had wandered to parts of the world he had never seen and probably never would see; his thoughts had gone through his entire life, he remembered good things…but each time his mind returned to the bad things! My poor family; why would they do that? How could they do that, how can people be so cruel to have to take peoples lives; to rape and to torture, to murder! There comes a point when no matter what you have been through tears no longer flow, Samson was at that point now, he could see the white man, the one with the English accent; he was on top of Candice; raping her ‘you bastards’ Samson had no more tears inside him anymore, he was totally cried out. Suddenly there was that sound again! Samson halted instantly then listened intently to the mountainside; this time he had heard it and it wasn’t his mind playing tricks…it was shale, falling; no, sliding down the slope somewhere behind him? Samson was being followed; all his thoughts were now gone as he carried on walking in the direction he was already going, he began walking quicker, constantly looking over his shoulder as he walked forward!
With his heart-rate setting his pace Samson now walked like the hounds of hell were on his heels and for all he knew they probably were? All the time as he walked his head would turn on his shoulders making sure that there was nothing or no-one close by if something was behind me I should have seen it by now! Then he caught a glimpse of some falling shale off to his left, it came from behind him; the source was higher up the mountain than what Samson’s current position was whatever caused the small slide is up there somewhere? Samson was stationary as his eyes took in everything on the slope, then another sound carried toward him, this time his mind realised that it was the sound of an animal, a big animal; it was like the snarl of a cat! Then Samson saw the paw of a cat on the edge of a rock some hundred metres behind and twenty metres higher up than where he was standing….then he saw the head come into view, as it looked directly at Samson oh God it’s a cougar ‘I’ve got to get the hell outta here’ he whispered to himself as he carefully backed away.
Samson was cautious as he walked away from his new nemesis; his first thoughts had been to turn and run but now he had no intention what-so-ever of turning his back on the huge cat that was clearly tracking him. ‘It has to be him, he can use the animals….how in gods name do I ever get away from this man?’ The Cougar jumped onto a large rock, it too was cautious as it used stealth to track its prey, the prey in mind being Samson! Samson had seen enough wildlife programmes to realise that the giant cat was intent on one thing, using him as its next meal. His pace was quickening again; that was until his foot slipped and he slid down several feet of slope; the grit and stone tore through his trousers and then did the same to his skin; the pain shooting up his limbs into his spine and up to his head. But still no tears came, there were no more tears to come, his body had become oblivious to crying; there would be no more tears from Samson Baker, over the days since his nightmare began he had cried and cried but now….he was resilient and most of all he was alive. How he had survived Samson had no idea, but if determination and perseverance were to be a sport in the Olympics Samson would clearly win the gold.
A trickle of blood began to roll down his calf oh for God’s sake…I’m being tracked by a massive dangerous cat and now I’m bleeding, like I need to give the thing even more encouragement. A shale fall sounded, some way behind as Samson quickened his pace, his eyes ever scanning the ground around him for a weapon. There were no branches and although there were trees he did not want to stop to find a stick; that would take too much time; time he didn’t have. There were stones everywhere that he could use in an emergency but he needed something bigger ‘come on Samson, find something’ he happened on a two fist sized rocks which he stooped and grabbed in one fluent movement as he kept his focus on his current track.
They may not be much, but they may just be enough to scare the thing off if it gets too close? With a quick glance behind he saw the large cat round the bend ‘oh shit!’ Samson stopped; the cat stopped…..both watching the other they were one hundred metres apart as they anticipated the others move. What do I do? If I run the thing will catch me in seconds, if I stay here it’ll catch me in minutes! With desperation he searched all around him, then he noticed a clump of mountain spray shrubs about one hundred and fifty metres on his current path but then he would have to slide down several metres they were on a large ledge. From where he stood Samson could see they were fully grown, around three metres tall, he could make out the white flower clusters; he could also make out lots of fallen twigs and small branches. I could start a fire, there’s no way the cougar will come near me if I’ve got a fire going, and I’ve got some matches left. He looked back in the direction of the cougar that had stealthily moved forward several more metres before stopping as Samson turned. But how do I deal with you? I need to buy myself a little time to make the fire?
‘Think damn it; think’ he whispered as his mind began working overtime trying to conjure up some sort of diversion that would lure the massive cougar away. With his eyes looking everywhere Samson began to think of a plan……The cougar was still stationary as it watched for Samson’s next move. Samson glanced up to his right as he faced in the direction of the large cat, there was a short shelf than ran for some twenty metres, and where the shelf finished there was a lone spruce tree. From where Samson now stood it looked like if he could make it across the shelf he could just step into the tree? The Cougar won’t want to follow me into the spruce; those needles are as sharp as hell ‘yeah they’re as sharp as hell for me too, only I’m more desperate than the cat!’ I can climb onto the shelf before the cat reaches me; if I throw my rocks onto the shelf first I can then throw them at him before he comes up the shelf after me? ‘Right then it’s a plan?
Samson threw the two rocks up on to the shelf, then he picked up a handful of stones and without any further hesitation he launched the handful of stones in the direction of the cougar. As soon as the stones left his hand he pounced two, three, four paces, then he was up the slope, he shimmied two paces then leapt two metres to his left. His arms landing on top of the ledge as his legs dangled below ‘aaaarggghhh’ he screamed as he pulled himself up onto the shelf; the skin scraped from his already bloodied shins as he pulled himself into a standing position. Once he was standing he crouched down and picked up the two rocks one in each hand, then turning he saw that the cougar was starting to ascend the tight slope. Samson felt the weight of the rock in his right hand, then pulling his arm back he launched the rock. The rock left his arm and flew forcefully toward its target. Everything was happening so quickly, the rock missed the cougar by inches, the cougar pulled back slightly then looking up and across at Samson it snarled. Samson watched as the rock missed its target and sighed with exasperation as he tossed the rock from his left hand into his right steady now, don’t aim for his head, the target is too small, aim for his body once again he pulled his right arm back, but this time he didn’t rush, he pulled it back and aimed. ‘Think baseball, Samson’ he closed his eyes and breathed gently in and out, several breaths then he opened them just as the cougar was preparing to leap toward the rock that would bring him level with the ledge. With one final slow exhale he threw the rock. The rock left his hand and sailed cleanly through the air, Samson could see that this time his aim was good, the rock hit the just above his front leg as the large cat let out a loud wail.
Without a second thought Samson spun around and sprinted across the shelf toward the spruce tree and its sharp prickly spines! Samson reached the end of the ledge, he was aware of movement further back along the ledge, but ignored it as he stepped out into the spruce tree. The spines tore at his face and arms, Samson closed his eyes as a branch sliced across his forehead, he reached out his arm and grabbed out at a thick branch and pulled himself toward the trunk. As he grabbed hold of the trunk he turned to see the cougar had reached the beginning of the ledge, it was limping, only slightly but enough for Samson to know he had hurt the large cat. Next Samson held the trunk with his right hand and stepping out and across a large branch, he reached out with his left hand and grabbing hold tightly, he held onto a thinner branch halfway down. The spines tore into his palm but Samson did exactly what he had become accustomed too, he blocked out the pain. Then still holding the thinner branch he stepped back toward the trunk, pulling the branch with him, he could feel the spines as they buried into his palm, but still he held it tight as he waited for the right moment.
The Cougar had now reached the end of the ledge, Samson was now only two metres away, the large cat was hesitant, clearly aware that the spines of the spruce tree, could be quite painful, something Samson too was now clearly aware of! The cougar was trying to determine the safest route into the tree, its large paw was trying to reach toward a branch; Samson saw the opening and released the branch he was holding. It left his hand in an instant and catapulted out, hitting the cougar on the side of its head, the force was quite shear, knocking the large cat off balance; once again the cougar let out a loud wail. Samson was thinking quickly now, before the branch had even hit the large cat, he had stepped out and reached out with his left hand once again. As the branch recoiled from its impact, returning back into the shape of the tree, Samson grabbed hold of it again as before he stepped back into the safety of the trunk pulling the smaller branch inside with him. As the cougar fell to the floor, it caught the movement of Samson inside the tree then instantly it rolled back onto its four legs and prepared to pounce as the tree opened up. Just as the cougar began to make its move Samson let go of the branch again, once out of Samson’s grasp it flew toward the large cat, this time the impact caught the cat right smack in the centre of its head. The blow was heavy and seemed to knock the senses out of the large cat, its movement became slow and unsure, it hobbled away from the spruce, back along the ledge.
Samson was already starting his descent down the inside of the spruce, he was now at the bottom, his t-shirt and combat trousers were torn to shreds as he jumped the last two metres, he scrambled under the remaining branches and sprinted along the small path until he reached the point where he needed to slide down to the clump of mountain spray heathers. Once he reached the ledge where the heathers were, he used his foot to drag a pile of wood and twigs together into a large mound. The safety matches were out in an instant as he lit one and cupping it he held it to the base of the dry mound. The pile caught fire easily as he now began to snap off bigger branches and piled them up making the fire larger. Samson ignored the heat from the baking sun as it blazed down upon him, his only focus now was to get the fire alight; with a glance along the path he saw that the cougar had regained some of its composure and was beginning to come back at him.
Samson had a good fire going now, he snapped off a couple of larger branches they’ll come in handy later for weapons! The cougar was back, it snarled loudly, clearly Samson had caused the beast a great deal of discomfort and probably embarrassment! The large cat was again two metres away, Samson held onto one of the large pieces of wood and placed it into the edge of the fire he flicked a clump of burning embers in the direction of the large cat. The cougar backed off several paces as Samson continued flicking hot embers toward it; there were also a couple of stones and hand sized pieces of rock. Samson swapped the piece of wood into his left hand, the hand which was as sore as hell from the pine needles; it felt like there may have been some remains under his skin? With his free right hand he reached down to a handful of stones and threw them instantly at the large cougar, several of the stones peppered the cougar. Samson followed this action with three rocks, two missed but one caught the cougar head on, Samson grabbed a piece of wood and screamed maniacal ‘come on…….’ as he swung the wood around his head!
The cougar had had enough, it turned and began to walk away, the animal was beaten, beaten by a boy, beaten by Samson, beaten by Samson Baker, 14 from Kansas. Samson had never in his life been violent, in fact if he thought about it he had never had a fight; and now here he was fighting nature, fighting big cats, fighting demons, fighting evil……Samson was fighting for his life and slowly he was winning!
All the best