This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!
No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….
Rattlesnake Falls Book 1
Dillon had taken the pack off his back and was digging through his supplies. He tossed her a small package that looked like a rectangle of foil. An emergency heat blanket, the label said. When she looked back at him he was already opening one, and he spread it over Mike.
“We’ll treat for shock and hang tight for a bit. The guys have already radioed for medical personnel, and they’re on the way. We don’t want to do anything that might make any of these wounds worse.”
Shelley nodded and opened the packet, spreading the foil over Tabby’s still form. Dillon rolled up a towel next and put it under Mike’s feet, so she did the same for Tabby. Then they sat, for what seemed like hours until the medical team finally came over the rise. She checked her watch as she moved out of their way, surprised that it had only been 20 minutes. But they were pretty close to camp, relatively speaking.
The next few hours were a blur, as they followed the EMTs down the mountain, helping to carry the rescue litters. Tabitha and Mike were loaded into an ambulance and Shelley followed with Dillon in his truck. They finally settled into worn out hospital chairs with fresh cups of waiting-room-coffee and a sigh.
“The doctor didn’t look too hopeful.” Shelley took a small sip of the strong but watery brew. “He looked kind of green around the gills when he saw the maggots, actually.”
“Well, that’s what he has nurses for.” Dillon tossed his coffee down in one gulp. “I just hope we got to them in time. There’s only so much these folks can do. Only thing for us to do now is wait.”
Shelley nodded, and then fished her cell phone out of her purse. “I need to call Tabitha’s mom — I can’t believe I didn’t think about that before. She’ll want to drive over. Does anyone in Mike’s family need to know?”
Dillon shook his head. “He doesn’t have any — just me.” He didn’t seem interested in sharing further, so Shelley gave him a small nod and stood up.
“I’ll just be in the hall over there. I shouldn’t be long.”
When she got back, Dillon was standing with a doctor in scrubs, and her stomach roiled. Surely it was too soon for news…good news, anyway.
“Thank you,” Dillon said, slumping into his seat as Shelley walked over to them. The look on his face said everything, and she turned to the doctor.
“Tabitha or Mike?”
“Mr…uh, Mike didn’t make it, I’m afraid. I’m sorry.”
Shelley nodded and slipped down into the chair beside Dillon. He leaned forward, elbows on his thighs and head in his hands. His shoulders shook slightly, and she put an arm over them, lightly, not knowing what else to do.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered.
He sat there for another moment, and then abruptly stood, not looking at her.
“I need some air, and some space. I’ll be back later.”
Shelley nodded at his back as he stalked out of the waiting room. Leaning back in her chair, she closed her eyes and reflected on the harsh words Tabitha’s mother Jane had yelled into her ear just a few minutes ago.
This is all your fault, she’d said. You were supposed to be a calming influence for her. You were supposed to watch her, and keep her out of trouble. Where were you when all this happened? Why would you let her just go off with a strange guy into the mountains? Why?
And now the ‘strange guy’ was dead, Tabby was fighting for her life, and none of it would have happened if she’d just said no to the whole trip and talked Tabby down. Or maybe if she hadn’t left the speed dating night so early. Maybe she shouldn’t have been so concerned with her own boredom, and stayed closer to Tabby instead…
Opening her eyes, she shook her head. None of that mattered right now. All that mattered was Tabby making it through this. As long as she survived, everything would be okay.
Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 20!
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