Waking up should all leave you feeling well-rested, warm and cosy in your bed. Unless something has gone horribly wrong.
Faye woke wracked with cold, penetrating agony. Water, icy water cascaded upon her. She put up a shivering hand, blue with cold, watched through sleepy eyes as it disappeared through the pink-tinged waterfall.
In the grip of panic, she sat up, breaking through the glacial torrent, crawling over rough rocks, falling onto the rocky bank of the frigid, burbling stream. Faye sucked in deep shuddering breaths. Questions flooding her brain. ‘Where am I? What happened to me?’ All banished by an urgent, mortal concern.
“Come on, Faye! You’re hypothermic, you have to get warm fast!” She sat up shaking uncontrollably and looked about. A vast icy wilderness of barrens hills beneath the marshmallow pink clouds of sunset surrounded her. Clouds… ‘I was on the plane.’ A white Cessna popped into her mind, vanishing fast.
She was at the base of a set of rocky rapids ending at the short waterfall. Looking at herself, she saw laceration, bruises blooming on the blue-tinged skin of her exposed limbs. She knew she’d gone over those rapids in her unconscious state. Brushing her long auburn hair over her shoulder, she climbed to her feet. Dizziness grabbed her conscious, she staggered, fell against a large rock. An exhausted groan escaped her lips in a cloud of steam, she climbed back to her feet and sat upon the rock.
Survival kicked in, she took off her wet trainers and socks. They were going to cause frostbite, being soaking wet, so were her clothes. She stripped off her minidress and denim shorts, squeezed the water from them. Then dressed again, leaving only her socks off. Against the freezing air, they wouldn’t keep her warm but were better than nothing. Faye rose to her feet, with no trees in sight she could do nothing except walk, to get warm. There was hope, above the rapids and away in the distance was an orange glow. Her heart jumped, ‘fire!’
Faye set off as fast as her fatigued, hurting body would take her. She kept Stumbling over rocks, falling many times in her hypothermic state. Each time she willed herself to stand, trudged on while making fists with her fingers and toes, to alleviate the numbness. There it was, in the shadow of a rock face, a small campfire. A shadowy, lone figure sat on a rock before it. She prayed he’d be friendly. With her last ounce of strength, Faye reached and crumpled to the ground by the life-saving flames.
“Sweet Caroline! Where on Earth did you come from?” the man grabbed a blanket from his bag and approached her,
“Please- please, don’t hurt me.”
“It’s okay, I’m Bryson. Let me help you.” Kneeling he wrapped the blanket around Faye. Pulling her shivering and crying against his body to warm and console her. She smelled tobacco, felt the roughness of his hands as he brushed her hair from her face.
“Thank you,” she managed. Her eyes took in his friendly, sympathetic face, framed by his neat dark beard and thick hair. Those green eyes betrayed a friendly soul.
“You’re okay now.” Bryson helped her into a sitting position against the rock, then moved to his supplies. “I’ll warm you some soup. Why are you out here, dressed like that?”
“I didn’t come out here, I…” Faye tailed off. ‘What did happen? What did she do?’
“It’s okay.” Bryson put a mess tin in the embers of the fire to warm. “What do you remember?”
Faye closed her eyes, the plane returned. “I, I was on a plane… A party before… Matthew… he was flying me and Shannon to his mansion in Akureyri. I don’t know how I ended up in the stream.”
“Akureyri? That’s a hundred miles that way.” Bryson pointed in the direction the sun had disappeared. “I didn’t hear a plane, or a crash, for that matter… Here have this,” He presented Faye with the steaming soup and a spoon. She began eating hungrily. “Thank you. I think I floated down the stream.”
“Right, I better take a look.” Bryson gave a whistle. A cremello horse came to him. “Stay here, get warm, I’ll return soon,” he instructed before riding away into the night.
He would find no plane. Faye would return to her life without ever learning who Shannon and Matthew were or seeing them again. What happened to her will always be a mystery.
Have a great day!