Chapter 7

Written by: MatClarke

Another gulp of water. I gag and more water shoots into my mouth. I can’t stay up, oh god I can’t stay up. My leg hits something hard. I’m being dragged along the river floor. I can see the sky past the few inches of water above my head. I could be closer to the shore than I thought. I could stand! I wave my arms through the thick water and turn myself around and face down stream and push against the rocks below, the life jacket helps me surface. Air partially fills my lungs again. The shore is only yards away; although it’s the opposite side to where Artie has been left.

I scramble over the wet slippery obstacles until I’m back onto sun cooked rocks. Water spurts out from my stomach and I cough and shake. Everything has gone so wrong and Artie is dying. No rafts and no people are in sight but I can hear far off voices and yelling. A track leads along the river. It’s my only option. For Artie’s sake I push myself up and hobble faster than I think I should on whatever is broken in my foot. But for Artie, I have to for Artie.

‘Help! Bruce, anyone, help me, I’m over here. Hey!
My voice echoes off the walls but there is no return cry. I can hear someone screaming. Others must be hurt as well. It’s like a nightmare. It is a nightmare. Of all the stupidest trips this has to be the worst. Why couldn’t Artie just take me on a date. Why couldn’t Artie realise what I feel for him. Idiot! My hand flies to my mouth. He’s hurt and may be dead and here I am I’m cursing him. The hot sun is warm but my face is still wet. I keep crying like a pitiful child but can’t help myself. I gulp a chunk of air like it’s going to run out, sniff and try not to think of future birthdays without Artie.

The track takes a sharp turn moving away from the River. A hiss. I step back into a prickly bush. A snake the size of a cell phone is coiled and upright. It’s almost comical in its size but still scary and looks like it may just attack out of spite.
‘Help, anybody.’
My throat feels so sore. I can’t even yell out properly. I’m so useless.
But then an answer to my call and I can hear running along the path.
‘I’m here! Artie’s hurt we need to help him. Hurry.’
Then someone comes into view and stops on the other side of the small snake. He isn’t wearing the wet gear like everyone in the rafts. Instead he’s in camouflage clothes and a rifle is slung over his back. He steps forward and crushes the snake, then just stands there as if waiting for a reaction.

Mat Clarke (Australia)

Comments

Wow! All of a sudden, I can see this turning into one of those romance action stories with the Rifleman being just the guy to sweep Susan off her feet and whisk her away to Wonderland. Forget Artie. He's a lost cause anyway. There were a couple of rough sentences, but the pay off is so worth it. Nice job, Mat!
Research, research. I have noticed this about in a fair few of these chapters in this serial, not just this one: there's a slight lack in research on the Hell's Canyon, Snake River area. When it comes to such well-known and popular locations as these, it tends to distract from story when there are inaccuracies in the setting. There are plenty of easy ways to research on 'em, too. They're well-known! It takes just a simple google or even a youtube video of someone's trips through the rapids.   But it definitely is somethin' folks should keep in mind and actively do. Research is your biggest ally in writing a story. Especially in terms of real life areas, but even in fantasy or science fiction research is so very much a must. We have such a boon in the easy access of internet in this age and society, making research all the more easy. So it should be taken advantage of! A great story can easily be turned to 'alright' if its filled with inconsistancies. Just my advice!
I have to admit. If I had done any research I would not be wondering why nobody took any notice of a hang glider floating on the thermals. A good idea, I thought - give the next writer a thread. This is a lesson in writing your own stuff without worrying about others. I should have had Sue smoking some weed and hallucinating. Now that would have been more believable. Good points Brad.
Nice one Blue. I can see and feel it all. There's panic, action, and I know what the sore throat feels like while choking on water. We are all sitting on the edge of the seat as the new guy arrives. And only twenty-one words of essential dialog make this a great silent movie.
I also believe in the value necessity of research and being faithful to the premise of the story line. This chapter is an exciting and well-written one that would add much to any fictionalized river story. The one flaw in it, as with others is that the story started out being about an actual well-publicized excursion. As such, I felt an obligation to make the environment as factual as I could even though I have never been there. Part of the challenge of this exercise is to be as creative as possible with in the context of the story’s preamble. In this case, it was about a real adventure and needed to stay in that place.  That’s my opinion.
I reallly like that take on the story. Life threatening situations on 2 people who were looking forward to going out. 
Sorry about the lack of research but I didn't even know Hell's Canyon and Snake River were real places. Doh. It just sounded like a made up name. I didn't even bother going to Google. Oops! Maybe that stems from me not being interested in water rapids? I spent a few days going down river with a survival camp over 20 years ago In Australia, so just drew experience and sights and feelings from that.
So many of us are from the Pacific Northwest of the US, that we forget that names we find to be "well-known" really aren't. You don't sound a fool at all. And isn't fiction supposed to be make-believe? Admittedly, research is my least favorite thing about writing - and I'll admit that it's necessary - but if it's well written, even the fake stuff makes a good story. Just ask the politicians and journalists . . . .