Chapter 1

Written by: Ray Stone

Alex crawled out of the cave, leaving Dawson to sleep.

At first, he’d curled up in a ball and muttered unintelligibly. When offered some chocolate he’d refused, saying he wanted to die quickly rather than prolong the agony. Eventually he fell asleep and she found her anger at his weakness turning to pity.

 During a restless night her worries were split between family and rich kid, Rick Dawson. They enrolled at the U of A, Fairbanks, at the same time, studying archeology under Professor Marshall. Both gifted, they were picked by the professor to accompany him on field trips within eighteen months.      

She watched the disappearing figure of Marshall, silhouetted against the rising sun as he headed down the glacier. He’d explained that Dawson was too emotional to attempt the descent and would put their lives in danger. Being the stronger, he would leave them and try to reach base camp.

With three chocolate bars, powdered soup, and one flask of warm tea, she prayed for a quick rescue.

Alex put protective white tape across her nose and donned sunglasses against the snow’s glare. Then she set about erecting the tent under the lee of the cliff face. The storm had vanished, replaced by an orange sun set in deep blue sky.

Two hours later, she sat outside the tent, exhausted. Her mind was set not to worry about the professor, but to concentrate on keeping Dawson and herself fit.

 Their survival kit included a primus stove, matches, spare socks, gloves, two pairs of crampons, an ice pick, sleeping bags and a torch. She also managed to collect several yards of rope from the basket. Their food would have to be rationed.

Rested, Alex allowed a moment to think of the professor and hoped he was thinking of her. Half Peter Marshall’s age, she was gradually drawn to him over the eighteen months they knew each other, not that her true feelings ever showed. She admired his strong personality and rugged looks.

Marshall, on the other hand, did allude to having feelings for her just before the balloon expedition.

He invited her to dinner so they could discuss final arrangements for the trip. She assumed, ‘they’, included Dawson. It turned out to be the two of them and more time was spent on small talk than the trip. Hoping she’d read the situation correctly, Alex decided to wait and see.

A loud cough interrupted her thoughts.

She crawled back into the cave to check on Dawson. There was a strong smell of chocolate in the air. Alarmed, she reached into her backpack and found three bars of chocolate. Her heart beat faster. A horrifying thought occurred to her.

She grabbed Dawson’s arm, her voice trembling with anger. “You took chocolate from Marshall’s backpack during the night.”

Dawson nodded and took another two bars out of his jacket pocket. “That’ll teach him to leave us behind,” he snarled.  




Raymond Stone   USA (UK)


And very nice pay off at the end! You've given people lots of angles. Great job. I would have never been so precise in listing their gear because of the word-count deficit that cost.  As a reader, I felt that the paragraph where you reveal Alex's feelings for the professor awkward. But I really enjoyed the rat-bastard presentation of Dawson.  
This chapter is alive with possibilities for the other writers - a very generous way to start the story. I liked the ending of this chapter - I shared Alex's anger at Dawson's theft of the chocolate. And his words are so petulant - comes across as a real spoilt brat. The only thing that jarred was the description of Dawson as "too emotional". Perhaps it's just the way I usually read the word emotional to mean tearful and given to outbursts. I think something along the lines that he is volatile (a loose cannon) would be more appropriate.