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Search Party

Search Party
By Kathy Turnlund


Trekking through the deep, heavy snow, soaked to the bone, the soldiers hiked up the steep pass, eyes peeled for the hole, the cave, the tomb. Their boots weighed them down, the worn canvas wet and torn in places, tight on some, falling off others, each step painfully following the previous. Cedric, the troop's leader, had fallen 2 days ago into a deep crevice hidden by several feet of snow, ice, and pebbles. The men were worried, cold, and almost completely alone. What was once a sizable troop of fifty men had deteriorated to merely seven.

The month of December had taken at least half the men with it's howling blizzards, freezing humidity, and false trails. The rest of the fatalities were either from the recent cases of pneumonia or the frequent hallucinations of a toasty cabin off in the distance. 2 more weeks brought February 7th, the day the remaining souls were expected in Venslo, the next village.

Felix, the leader until they either found Cedric or arrived in Venslo, whichever came first, was plowing the trail for the rest of the group. All that was visible was the majestic pines, an icicle here or there, and the seemingly constant downward swirling of snowflakes.

“Eh, Felix,” called Reggie, a soldier at the back. “How d' you know where we're going? I think I've seen this tree about ten times,”

“You've seen it twice, Reggie. We're doubling back,” said Felix, with quite a sharp tongue.

“Look, I wanna find Cedric, too, man, but there's no reason to snap,” Reggie's heavy Southern accent lifted slightly as he sloshed over to Cedric, lowering his voice. “Dude, I know he's your buddy and all, but it's been almost three days and if we don't make it to Venslo on time, we're gonna run out of supplies.”

Felix let the thought roll across his mind for a moment, and simply replied, “One day. Give me one more day, and if we don't find him, I'll continue on just like he was one of the others.” He choked just slightly at the end. Felix and Cedric had been in the militia together for over seven years. He was determined not to let this end those adventure-filled seasons of battle. He shrugged off his heavy rifle, pack, and stretched boots, and ran full steam down the pass, not even bothering to take his lunch rations.

He had just reached the bottom of the pass, where Cedric had fallen, when the storm seemed to take a turn for the worse. The wind yanked at his frozen uniform, blowing sleet into the whole left side of his body. He continued on, plucking his frostbitten feet in and out of the already amounting slush. Felix was running out of steam as he carefully and gently lowered himself down the crevice. It was than he'd expected, and he found himself regretting not bringing his pack. As his feet alighted upon the fresh snow at the bottom, the stinging wind cutting through his parka, he inched along the wall of the crevice. Felix, not seeing any sign of disturbance in the snow, only low rising banks of ice. He decided, in that moment of desperation, to dig. He scooped up handfuls of snow as fast as his frozen limbs would allow, disrupting as much of the smooth floor of the crevice. As he came to about the middle, his foot struck something hard. Felix leaned over and brushed away the snow that hid the remnants of his dear friend.

Cedric was most definitely dead. He had landed on a three foot ice patch on his head, shattering the vertebrae in his neck, and had died almost instantly. His mangled corpse had been buried completely under sleet and ice for the past three days and looked a sickly bluish-white. Felix found himself doubled over in despair. His best friend, his only friend, had passed in a horrifying accident. Not on the battlefield, not even in war time, Cedric had died what he would've called a shameful death. Felix curled up next to the only man he had ever cared for, the only man who actually mattered to him, and laid there, sobbing gently, until he fell asleep, never to wake up again.



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This article has 5 comments. Post your own!

Kathy T. said...
Oct. 23, 2010 at 12:07 am:
I'm completely open to constructive criticism, as long as it's not plain old mean. I want to know your honest opinion about this piece.
 
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UnwantedNinja said...
Oct. 22, 2010 at 8:06 am:
Very Very Interesting hahaha :) really cool
 
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LIVESTRONG said...
Sept. 14, 2010 at 10:04 am:
FANTASTIC, well written and interesting story...  Keep it up!!!
 
Kathy T. replied...
Oct. 21, 2010 at 11:32 am :
Thanks!         
 
Kathy T. replied...
Nov. 10, 2010 at 11:08 am :

I realize that it says Reggie walked over to Cedric. I meant Reggie walked over to Felix.

I dunno how to fix it, so please just ignore it.

 
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