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An Overcoming Rescue

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An Overcoming Rescue


She wasn't exactly up to par with the job. In fact, she had no idea what she was even doing here! Angela was the timid one. Didn't everyone know that? Angela was the type of girl who that would cower in the face of danger instead of try and beat it. She was the one that lived her life carefully, not out in the open. She wasn't even good at talking to people! She'd once seen someone say words that she thought well to live by: Anyone with a long life has a secret, try not to shorten it.

Well this was trying to shorten it. Standing at the foot of a gigantic cliff with nothing but a bit of rope separating her from certain death of a 500 foot drop. What was she doing here? That was a question not even she could answer, except for one thing: Angela knew she'd heard someone down there. There was no doubt about it. Angela had spent several hours reading facts on survival. One of them said that when voices shout out in the mountain, their echo can be deceiving. But Angela did know one thing, that sound came from down. It wasn't the screech of an eagle passing by. In fact, Angela halfway wished that was what her mind had told her, them shamefully she ran from that thought too. If someone was down there, Angela would be the only one in miles that could save them. But first she'd have to find the voice.

This had been Angela's third attempt at mountain biking. To a person like her, it was the perfect getaway plan. No people would be around for miles at a time. She wouldn't have to worry about predators, since this was almost sheer rock for miles and miles at all sides. She'd be safe, and able to see anything coming her way at any distance. It was far away from Angela's house in the city. When Angela first tried it, she was instantly in love. It was a great workout too, something Angela loved. To a non sociable person like her, this would be the perfect hideaway.

That is of course unless someone else was there too, and in trouble.

Angela had read in her survival book from the library to always pack an extra length of rope with you when you are in the mountains. She had spent an entire day at the library just to prepare her mind enough to go somewhere further from her house than she was comfortable. Angela was naturally a fearful person. Not prone to people and even less prone to danger. Throughout her entire childhood she'd been used to being called the mouse of the family. The careful one. Tammy, on the other hand, was quite opposite. For a sister so close in age, Angela would have thought that Tammy would have been at least a little bit like her. But no, Tammy was reckless, playful, energetic, naturally great around people. She was the adventurous one, the one that could do anything and didn't have any care to how much danger she'd put herself in. Angela wouldn't be surprised if half the things Tammy did was just to feel the danger pulsing through her veins! Angela used to think that Tammy could do anything, which left Angela in the dust to be made fun of. Her sister had even gone so far as to go skydiving with her boyfriend just last week! Yeah, she was that crazy!

“Tammy should be doing this right now,” Angela whispered to herself.

She'd already finished unpacking the rope. In her pack Angela had also packed small essentials for a downward climb: a few harnesses, draws, and bolt anchors. No helmet, no gloves, no gear slings. This would be dangerous, and exactly why Angela shouldn't have to be the one to do this.

Still, Angela wouldn't have even heard anyone calling if she'd been speeding by like she did on a normal day. Angela hadn't even known there was a cliff so close. But on her way here she'd heard someone talking in the convenience store about it. Of course, she'd never have come up and asked them. That was just too much for her, talking to a random person. Speak only when spoken to. That was her motto, the words she took to heart. But it was enough for Angela to have a good enough scare to be going only five miles an hour near it.

When Angela prepared her gear, she walked a few feet by the cliff, but stopped. Maybe she was just hearing things. Maybe the guys at the store had just scared Angela enough that she'd heard voices. Tentatively, she put a quivering foot to the edge, and cupped her hands to her mouth.

“Hello?” She shouted.

She waited. Angela had heard to be patient in times of emergencies from a book she'd read at the library. Still she found herself hoping, praying, that there wouldn't be a response. Then the shame came again, and she willed herself to wait, to listen earnestly. After about five minutes, there was no answer. A tinge of hope returned.

She tried again. “Hello?” She shouted, even louder.

Angela waited, straining her ears for a sound, any sound.

Then, faintly, a distant voice came from directly under her. “H...help! Somebody help!”

Angela's heart instantly raced. There actually was someone there! She really did hear something. She knew she'd have to do something!

“Sight him first,” Angela recited from the book. “Always good to sight out your target before going.”

She decided to slide on her belly would be the best option to get to the edge. Angela would feel more stable that way, and in case she fell her feet might be able to catch her. “I shouldn't be doing this! This is something for Tammy! Get me out of here!” She was whispering to herself, but Angela couldn't just leave whoever it was down there! It would take too long for her to go back on her bike for help. By then whoever was there might slip.

Finally, Angela managed to poke her head over the cliff. Instantly she gasped and jerked away. She had just seen her entire life flash before her eyes! A drop that big would kill somebody instantly! She could see herself falling, further and further, being tortured by the mere length of how long she'd have to fall to get down, helpless, staring death in the face and unable to do a thing about it.

Angela took a deep breath. “Get a grip Angela,” She told herself. “You're going to have to do this.”

She held her breath, then took another look over the edge. “H...hello?” She called again, then waited.

“Hello!” A prompt voice called almost immediately. “Somebody help me! Please help!”

“Um, okay, okay!” Angela replied stupidly.

Even though the voice was distinct, exactly where it was coming from was another story. Angela didn't dare move, not when death was staring her in the face hundreds of feet below.

“Where are you exactly?” Angela shouted.

There was silence for a bit, and then another shout up. “I...I don't know! But I...Aah! Help!”

The scrambling of rocks echoed through the canyon. Her heart jumped. Did whoever it was just fall to his death? Angela panicked. She heard more scrabbling of rocks directly beneath her. She had to vouch for that.

She considered setting up a harness for whoever it was down there, but Angela didn't know how much time she had. She didn't even know how to operate the harness! Would she have time?

There was more scrabbling of rocks. “I'm slipping! Please, help me!”

Scratch that then. There wouldn't be time for anything. Angela had to do something – now! She have to just get the rope.

“Hold on for a sec!” Angela shouted, then raced back to her gear. She'd need the fastest way to get to the person. But in a panic all she could think of was rope. Snatching it away quickly, Angela raced back to where she had been sitting. Wrapping one end of the rope around her hand, she put it all at a heap to the edge.

“Grab this!” She shouted, and flung the rope down. It landed at the rocks with a thunk. Would she have any time to tie it?

A sudden jerk told her it was all her. The jerk was hard, and behind it a tugging that nearly sent her sliding to the edge and over in a matter of seconds. She held firm, so the pulling would at least not cut her arm in half from the pressure. But that didn't mean the jerking wouldn't be too much for her to handle.

“H–h–h–hold still!” She screamed, and with the force it took her to shout out anything she felt herself being pulled to her death at the edge of the cliff. She needed something – anything – to put her feet on. Rock might as well be a treadmill to her, the slipping was that bad. She looked down, but nothing was around.

“Are you kidding me?” The voice shouted back. “Pull me up!”

There was an edge of panic in his voice, but Angela could almost believe she was way more scared than he could ever be. It occurred to her that she hadn't even known how big this person was. What would happen if he was bigger than her? That was likely, most people were bigger than her. What if he had gear with him, or even a backpack weighing 100 pounds more?


“You got yourself in this Angela! How could you be so stupid?!” She shouted, and grit her teeth as the pressure got worse and worse at every second. Her feet skidded, closer, closer. She closed her eyes and braced her legs. Angela would never let go, but if it was pointless to try, if she didn't have any chance of pulling both of them with her weight, why would it be better to let two people die? Would it be the right thing then to let go? Did she just condemn her own death? Could she do anything about it? Regret and sorrow filled her entire being, and then it was just shame that replaced it. How could she even think of letting go? This had to work! Angela had to do this! She might be able to – no, she was able to – get them both out of it.

A new form of confidence encircled her, and she glared at the cliff. This cliff was an enemy, just like every person had become to her for her entire life. She needed to steer clear if it. She needed to avoid it, just like a person. She had no use for this cliff. Angela's only thought became this: survival.

With a strength Angela knew she would never be able to possess again, Angela took the rope in her hand and wrapped it behind her. She braced her knees, bent low so all the pressure was on her back, not her hands.

“Try and...crawl...crawl up!” She shouted. The pain that followed was excruciating. Was she breaking something doing this? Just how heavy was this person?


Angela looked around. She needed something to hold on to. For the first time of ever being here, Angela was angry at the layout of the land. What good was the beauty of nothingness when there was nothing here that could help her? What seemed so beautiful, so peaceful, Angela's getaway from any form of civilized life, her lifeline to sanity, became a contribution to nature's forces that drove her to her death. She was again being pulled to her death.


But a new relief came over here when she heard a frantic scrabbling of rocks, directly beneath her. He was trying to climb! Angela gave out a sigh of relief. She wasn't in this alone. “Remember,” Angela whispered to herself. “This is a human life I am saving.”

She lifted one foot, placed it back behind her, and pulled. The force was immense, but Angela shifted her other foot behind her. She was doing it! Angela was backing up!

But her confidence was short. The second she lifted her other foot, a force stronger than any before jerked the rope forward. She was plunged forward in an instant.

“Help!” Two voices echoed through the empty canyon. Angela was screaming now just as loud as the man she was holding. Angela caught her footing again, and the jerking stopped. For a second, Angela felt nothing. She waited.

“Hello?” She called tentatively.

Nothing.

The weight was there, so Angela knew she still had him. But...why wasn't he answering?

“Are you okay?” She shouted.

No response.

A shudder pulsed through her veins, and the thought of what may have happened overcame her. Did he just die because she'd jerked too hard? Was he even there? Could it be possible it was only his backpack she had and he had fallen to his death? Right then and there, a strong desire to cry overcame her. What was wrong with him? Why wasn't he answering?

The power of oblivion sent her into hysterics. Angela had no idea if he was okay. She had no idea of anything. What was she even doing? Had he been knocked out? Maybe hit his head at that last jerk?

She knew one thing and one thing for sure. The man needed to come up – now!

Surprisingly, without the man flailing about Angela found it easier to haul the rope up. She thought that bad to think about – she'd rather have him flailing about so at least she'd know he was okay. But in a way, she was grateful that he wasn't. This was much easier. The familiar shame came back at what she was thinking, but she pushed it aside and heaved hard behind her.

Dread caused Angela to pull harder, backing up became more of a determination than a burden. Angela grit her teeth, resisting the urge to cry. But she didn't talk, or try and make contact with him again.

“Focus.” She commanded herself. A few more steps and the rope would be up. He would be okay – he had to! Angela refused to think otherwise.

Finally, finally, Angela saw the top of his head. Bleeding on one side, he sagged to the right and his eyes were lolled to the back of his head. Butterflies came up in Angela's stomach. Not the ones she usually got when she was nervous around people, but ones that filled her with a dread she'd never felt before. Was she looking at a dead person? Was she the reason he was dead?

With one more exhausting heave, she had him up. He lay on the ground, the rope fastened around both of his arms like he had been carrying an invisible backpack and these were the straps. Presently, Angela considered whether this man had been a backpacker before, with experience in fastening straps. He was a young man, with ashy brown hair that came down past his ears. He needed it trimmed, Angela thought. His eyes remained opened, just slightly, so Angela could see that his eyes were a foggy sort of blue. His jaw was narrow, features thin. Angela guessed he could only be in his early twenties, like her. In different circumstances, Angela would think he was sort of attractive.

Mildly distracted by this, Angela snapped back to the problem at hand. There were no present signs of life in him. His chest didn't seem to be moving, but Angela herself was still a little bit flustered. She couldn't focus on something for very long without then thinking of something else.

“Come on Angela, think think think!”

Tammy had taken a medical course when she was still in school, which was appropriate, since she was always purposely putting herself in positions where she'd need medical attention. Tammy was crazy. But now it was Angela who needed the education. She'd taken cooking in school, not medicare. But Angela had dedicated a lot of her time to reading. That was her main entertainment, something she'd preferred over embarrassing herself around a bunch of people. She had to know something!

Suddenly, she knew it. In her bike riding manual, there was an emergency situation section.

Angela thought for a moment. Was there anything in that book that could help her now? “Pulse!” She exclaimed. “I can check his pulse!”

She didn't know exactly where she'd have to check for a pulse. Could Angela find one anywhere? In an old movie she'd watched Angela recalled someone looking at the neck. Would that be the spot?

Angela decided to try it. The man had his head lolled to the side a little bit, just enough for her to get a firm grip there. She waited, but couldn't tell. Was there a pulse? A tick? Something?

Just barely, Angela pushed harder, and waited.

There! She felt it. Just barely, a slow tick could be felt in the man's neck. Angela breathed out a long, deep sigh of relief. He wasn't dead. Angela hadn't caused him to die. But the pulse was still slow. Angela didn't know a lot about medical emergencies, but she did know a slow pulse was a bad sign.

The blood from his head dripped down the side of his head. Angela used her sweater to brush away some, so it didn't get in to his eye.

“I need to call somebody,” Angela finally reasoned. Leaving him for a second, Angela raced back to her bike. She'd kept her cell phone in the pack at the front. Angela was in hysterics by now. If the man was alive, he'd need attention immediately. Maybe even be flown to the hospital! The second she felt the smooth texture of her phone, she ripped it out and frantically dialed.

9-1-1.

There was a ringing, slow and tedious. Another ring. Angela's heart was beating so hard she could hear it in her ears. Another ring, and then a click. Angela listened intently, but was only met by an automatic voice.

“We're sorry, you are not in service of any cell phone towers. Please find a service, then try your call again.”

The dread came over Angela again instantly, in full force. If she couldn't contact anyone, what was she supposed to do now? The sun was already setting in the sky. She checked her watch. 6:45 PM. It was too late for her to even think of walking back with him. But she couldn't just leave him there, not with his head like that.

Angela was faced with three choices: leave and go find help, find a way to bring him with her to town, or stay with him until somebody found them.

If she stayed, it might be days, even weeks, before they would see another person. The reason she'd come here in the first place was, after all, for solitude. Angela had only brought one protein bar and a bottle of water. They wouldn't make it, and Angela would be putting both their lives in danger.

If she left, the man might wake up when she was gone. What if in his confusion he fell back over the cliff? What if a wild animal found the blood when she was gone and went to him? Or worse, what if when Angela came back, the man would already be dead?

Her last choice was to take him with her. Angela only had one bike, a sports bike she'd rented from a bike place by herself. There was no way both of them would fit on there, unless someone straddled the handlebars. Angela didn't think either of them could do that.

Could she drag him?

That sounded a little morbid to her, but Angela had an idea. She wouldn't just drag him behind the bike. That might even open up his wound more. But if she'd found something to pull him on, something big enough that he could just lay on it and she could tow him in, would that work?

But what would she use?

Angela looked back at her bike. Her backpack was pretty big, about half as tall as her. She unhitched it and drug it to the man. If she got him on that, his head would be lifted up enough maybe it could work. She could use her sweatshirt for him to sit on for the rest of the way.

Angela's plan was already coming in to action. It wouldn't be a problem to secure him to the backpack. She had rope, and only needed to make sure he'd stay on. Swiftly, Angela set to work. She carefully set him on the backpack, putting his arms through the straps and tying the straps together. That would be enough to hold him. Then she tied her sweatshirt to the bottom of the backpack, gently setting his feet on that. Finally, Angela tied the makeshift contraption to the bike's seat with the remaining amount of rope.

She took a step back and observed her handy work. Tammy would probably think she was nuts, and she was probably right. But so far, this was the best she could come up with. Angela was no MacGyver, but she'd at least be able to get him to safety.

A slight bit of hesitation arose when she boarded the bike. Would he be okay like that? Angela didn't want to hurt him more than he was already. She just needed him safe.

She started off.

It was a slow and ongoing process. Angela didn't dare go faster than a slight pedal, for fear he'd fall off or Angela would crash and injure them both. Multiple times Angela had to stop and readjust the straps or sit him up a little more. The whole time, Angela was worried. She had no idea what she was doing, just that she had to get it done.

Hours passed by tediously slow. When Angela finally saw the faint glow of the city lights, she breathed out a sigh of relief. It was well past 9 O’clock. A few more pedals and she'd be able to make it.

At long last, Angela came to the road she'd left in that morning. She could barely suppress her joy. Quickly, she got off her bike and went to the man. Gently, she touched his forehead. It was hot, and he was dusty from the ride, just like her. For a minute Angela faced the fear that taking so long may not have been the best thing. Maybe that made it worse for his head.

His eyes fluttered, and Angela's heart stopped suddenly. Was he waking up? And what would he say when he saw himself strapped to her contraption? Angela was already dreading having to talk to him. To say anything to anybody she didn't know well was beyond anything Angela ever felt capable of doing. Swiftly she cut away the rope, and eased the straps from the backpack off his arms. Even slower, she eased his head up, took the backpack and the sweater from under him, and rolled up her sweater to set his head down on it. He was safe. Now, Angela could probably call someone to pick him up.

She took out her phone again and dialed. This time, it came through.

“Police station what is your emergency?” A bored office voice stated through the line.

Angela paused for a moment. Should she tell them she'd pulled the man from a cliff and brought him here? What if they thought she was a hero? A star? There would be people, everywhere! She'd have to face the police, reporters, maybe even see the news media! The thought of having to talk to that many people made her seize up. What would she do? What had she gotten herself in to?

“Hello?” The phone said.

“Um, sorry.” Angela stuttered. “I um, I found a man here. He has a bad head wound and is not responding. He needs medical help immediately.” It wasn't a lie, so it wasn't bad to say that, was it?

“We'll be there right away.” They said.

Angela hung up. Quickly, she grabbed her bag and placed it on her bike. She needed out of there before they got there. Angela didn't want a scene. She wanted to be gone. But she had to know he was okay. She decided to stash the bike and the things a little ways off, then she herself hid a couple of blocks down. She could still see him, lying helplessly on the ground. A tinge of guilt overcame her for leaving him, but the thought that he'd be okay made her stay.

A little while longer, Angela could distantly hear a paramedic vehicle zooming by. It was followed by a police car and a fire truck behind it. Angela stayed hidden, but watched as they pulled in and found the man lying on the ground. People swarmed him from all sides.

“Sir! Sir are you alright?” One man shook his shoulders, a little harshly. A strange sense of protectiveness overcame Angela, but she ignored it. “These are authorities, they know what they're doing.”

“Stop that!” One man shouted. “You don't move a victim of a scene when he is injured!” The other backed away quickly. “Sorry.”

Angela watched as they brought out a stretcher and placed it by the man. Then, distantly, Angela saw him stir. She tensed. Was he waking up? She watched carefully as they picked him up and placed him on the stretcher, so careful, so knowing. “He'll be alright now,” Angela whispered.

She couldn't help but come out of hiding just long enough to see that he was awake. She allowed herself to stand in a clearing – nobody was watching her anyway. There! His arm moved. Two people rushed forward and help him sit up. He cleared his throat. Angela could tell from there that he was really dizzy. He rubbed the spot on his head with the blood trickling down.

Instantly a group of people came to him.

“Are you all right sir?”

“What happened sir?”

“Did somebody do this to you?”

“Were there others?”

“Were you robbed?”

Finally, one man cleared the people away. “Don't surround him. Let the man breath.” He bent down and studied the man's face. Angela watched carefully. “Now, what happened son?”

“W-where am I?” He said, confused. “Where's the girl?”

Angela tensed. He was asking about her!

The man looked at his face hard. “What girl, son?”

“The one that gave me the rope. She pulled me up! W-where is she?”

Instantly there were whispers in the crowd. They were shushed promptly.

“Nobody else was here.” The older man replied.

“But – ”

“Just lay down sir. We'll have you fixed up immediately and you can tell us about it.”

In a hurry he was pushed back on the stretcher and loaded in the ambulance. Angela stayed low, out of sight, and watched as the crowd disappeared, and he was rolled away to safety. She breathed out a sigh of relief.


A week later, Angela was in her home, brewing a fresh cup of coffee. The incident a week before still haunted her, making her think how close she was to death, how close the man came to dying. Angela had never done anything that brave in her life. That was Tammy's job. She hadn't told anybody either. There was no need to. Angela wasn't the brave one, and telling somebody would only lead to more questions. Questions meant people, and people meant another reason Angela would cower away.

She flipped on the news channel with her coffee and sat down. The past was the past. It was good that he was okay, but Angela still shuddered to think about it.

But something on the news caught her attention. It was the man, his head now bandaged and fixed up, his tawny brown hair still waving as he moved. His hazy blue eyes were dreamy, and Angela caught her breath for a second before she could comprehend who it was she was seeing. She turned up the volume and listened.

“This man was found last week injured and in shock on 31st street late in the night, saying that his last memory was being pinned on the edge of a cliff! The man said a woman had come and pulled him up with a rope she'd had with her, but he had never seen her face, since in the process he had lost conscience due to a head injury. This mystery woman is unknown, and the good Samaritan that helped him never showed her face to the public. Many people would like to congratulate her for her bravery. Reports of exactly how the man had gotten on the cliff on the first place or how he was delivered to safety was quite a mystery...”

Angela stood up and shut it off. She was smiling to herself. So he made it, he was okay. Angela knew she would never tell anybody she was the one to help him. She never would have the guts to. But something had changed in her now. Angela knew what it was like to be brave, to help somebody in their time of need. Angela smiled, for she would remain the secret hero. She had overcome her fear.



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