The Miner's Pursuit

March 21, 2018
By , Glenn Mills, PA

The frostbite began to set in on their faces. As the both gold miners trudged up the rough terrain of the Yukon Territory, each step they took became more brutal than the last.
“How much more do we have to walk?” Carter started to ask, but his question fell on deaf ears. There was no response from Michael.
“Michael?” he called again, but no response followed. Carter made an attempt to move his feet faster to catch up to his friend, but stumbled and fell on the hard, unforgiving terrain. The fall felt like he’d landed on concrete. He lay stunned and unable to move for five minutes, or at least what he thought must have been five minutes. Slowly, he clambered to his feet, calling out for Michael to come help him. No one came. He scanned the area for any sign of his friend, but Michael was nowhere in sight.
A panic descended on Carter. As he continued to scout the area for traces of Michael, he noticed that the snow was beginning to fall faster than it had been. Carter knew he didn't have much time left out in the open Yukon terrain.

The blizzard was unleashing its full fury on the desolate landscape of the Yukon Territory. Carter, who’d slowly limped his way to a cave to take shelter, now curled into a ball deep within the cave, thinking about his lost friend. He wondered if Michael had found some shelter to protect himself from mother nature. His thoughts kept circling back to memories of Michael, who he considered to be his best friend and only friend.
Carter thought back to when he was at the base with Michael. The night before he and Michael had started their expedition to find gold in the Yukon, there had been a shouting match between Michael and their supervisor.
“What do you mean, I need to go out on an expedition with him again? I almost died on the last one waiting for his slow ass to catch up to me!” Michael had shouted.
“Listen,” the supervisor had answered, “you need to make it work. Our company is too far under our gold quota this month, and we need to find some -- quick.”
“I’m not going to risk my life waiting for his dumb carcass. If he’s weighing me down, I’m moving on without him!”
“I don’t care what you do, just make sure you come back with some gold,” said the supervisor.
That night, Carter had laid awake thinking. Michael must have been pissed off with Jared, one of the other miners. He’d gone on a previous expedition with Jared, and was probably pissed that he was going to get assigned with him on another expedition to the North. It had to have been Jared. Now, Carter felt a subtle sort of doubt. He thought of the moment when he and Michael had been preparing for their current expedition -- how, as they readied their backpacks, Carter had kept trying to talk to Michael, but he’d been unresponsive, almost as if he didn’t want to talk to anyone. It was no matter, Carter told himself. He just had to find Michael. He shifted his focus back towards the blizzard as it continued to rage outside.

While the wind continued to attack the barren landscape, a sound of whimpering penetrated the cave. Carter clambered to his feet and started walking further back, trying to find out where the noise was coming from. Eventually, he found a wolf laying on its side, with its tongue hanging out of its mouth. It was dying. Wolves, Carter knew, usually moved in packs. Finding a wolf on its own meant that it had been abandoned by the rest of the pack. He placed his bare hand against the neck of the wolf to feel its temperature. Realizing that the creature had little time left, he took out the machete from his backpack and ended the animal’s suffering. He sliced open the skin of the animal for the meat because his stomach was starting to rumble. He took the matches from his pack and gathered whatever he could to build a fire to cook the meat as best he could. Carter tried to keep his thoughts on making sure he didn’t overcook the meat to the point where it became as tough as his boots, but again and again he found himself thinking about his dear friend. He stared into the raging blizzard contemplating what could be of Michael.
“I will find you, Michael,” he said.

The blizzard managed to subside for the time being, giving Carter the opportunity to leave the confines of his shelter to pursue the ultimate task. As he trekked the Yukon he thought of what it was like before he met Michael. Nobody ever talked to him before he started going on expeditions with Michael. Thinking back to the fun they had on those journey, Carter remembered the times when Michael would race him on their excursions but he could never understand why Michael always asked for a head start each and every time because no matter how fast he would try to run Carter would always catch back up to him. Although he was reminiscing the memories, Carter couldn’t help but think about what the future would be like without Michael. He couldn’t bear the thought of being alone again. Living without his friend wasn’t an option because he forgot what it was like to live alone like he did most of his life. This thought sent chills throughout his body almost as if he was shocked back into focus to continue the search. Carter surveyed the landscapes but all he could see was the white sheet which blanketed the harsh territory that stole his friend from him. Occasionally, he would see a caribou carcass or atleast what he thought was a caribou carcass because the wolves picked the corpses clean making whatever remained unidentifiable. He walked for two mile more miles but still could not find any trace of Michael because the blizzard covered up whatever tracks he could have left. He found what he thought was another caribou carcass about two hundred yards from where he was standing, and from what he could tell it looks like it was fresh meat. He thought of going over to see what there was to salvage but he knew he didn’t have time because Michael could be in trouble. He pushed on forth into the wilderness looking Michael hoping that he could escape the nightmare that loneliness would inflict upon him. He knew he didn’t have much time left because a blizzard could strike again at any time.
“I will find you my friend” said Carter as he wandered deeper and deeper into the Yukon.

The rescue team came up moved as a unit, scouting the area for clues when they found the main thing they were looking for.
“Looks like a carcass and doesn’t seem like it’s been here that long” said one the men. The rest of the team moved in on his location and scoured the area for what else they could find. The man inspected the carcass closer and realized that he was looking at what were the remains of a gold miner.
“Boss, I found a pack over here with his gear!” said another member of the rescue team. He struggled to pull the pack out of the snow from which it was buried. After he managed to break it free from the clutches of the snow he searched for any sort of identification.
“Looks like it belonged to Michael” he said. The boss made his way toward the carcass and examined what was left of Michael.
“Unfortunate” said the boss as he stood over the carcass.
“We haven’t seen any sign of Carter” said another rescuer .
“That dumbass probably perished in the blizzard it’s not worth wasting any more time and resources looking for him” said the boss. He stared into the wilderness thinking about the fury that the Yukon released on Carter’s poor soul.






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