I found some old tractors and such which people had left behind in distant fields to rust away. I started taking a batch of photos, most of which didn’t turn out quite like I wanted, and I decided to head up to the top of a hill to see about getting a few shots of the sunset and the distant mountains. As I walked amongst the stones and undergrowth, I suddenly heard this sound which was reminiscent of a punctured aerosol can. It was LOUD and I was wondering if I’d perhaps bumped something which had indeed punctured said can which someone may have dropped up on their way up that desolate hillside as they were…oh, I don’t know, fixing their hair or something.
A sudden realization flashed through my brain like a shaft of lightening, my heart bounded into my throat, and I leapt to the top of one of the boulders. I will admit that my astounding agility would undoubtedly have won me a gold medal at the Olympics.
I began to shake and felt sick. I saw the snake some three feet from where I’d been walking. His rattle shaking to beat all. Thoughts flooded through my mind, a cyclone of images of what would have happened had he bitten me. I had a snakebite kit…I’d bought last year, I could have sliced the wound, and pumped out the venom, however, I’d never used the kit before, and hadn’t even read the instructions on how to use it. Plus, I’d left it in the car along with most of my gear; after all, I hadn’t planned on this being a long hike.
After a few moments, my heart started to slow back to its steady rhythm; I looked down from my perch and saw the reptile, undulating in the brushwood. The sound of its rattle made me feel nausea seep through me like slipping into a pool of icy water.
Shakily, I lifted my camera and took a few photos. Granted, they were a bit blurry as I was not taking them carefully, after all, my arms were still shaking and my mind was still flooded with images of what could have been.
But what a great story that would have made too…how I tied a tourniquet temporarily on my leg, sliced open the bite with a jagged rock, and forced the blood out of my wound. Recollections of old westerns with cowboys slicing open the wound and sucking out the venom swam to the surface of my mind. Of course you wouldn’t want to suck out the venom; I remembered learning that in Boy Scouts.
The thought made me sick.
As I stood and looked about, discovering that to escape I could play a game of leapfrog of sorts from boulder to boulder. I did so, and the horrid sound of that rattle playing in my ears diminished in intensity as I moved further away from that lethal reptile.
My journey down the hill was through open spaces where I could see the ground plainly. I also moved slowly. It took me far longer to walk down than it had to go up.
When I arrived back at my car I closed the door, took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and leaned back on the seat. I blew out the breath, and turned the ignition. The car’s engine roared into life, and at once my stereo belted out the words of the song which had already been in progress.
And drove back to hurricane.