Episode 60 - Good and bad luck are like my right and left hand. I use both

Funny how certain events can change your perspective in life. Sitting by the fire inside Penn’s Cave, even a crystallized piece of Silver Maple sap can taste delicious. Except for minor frost bite in my left thumb, I made it back from my snow trek in one piece. I just never want to feel that cold again. Being back at the cave was very comforting, but getting back here wasn’t all that easy. After spending the night in the woods last Tuesday, I woke up to a beautiful sunrise the next morning. Snow flakes sparkled with the first sun rays. The snow storm was finally over. I gathered my gear and headed down the hill hoping to find the river at the bottom of the slope. Whipped by a lazy wind I stamped my feet on the snow. As I scanned the horizon for familiar landscape I spotted movement amongst some rocks by the nearest outcrop to the north. - At least the rocks will give me some sort of shelter from the wind - I said out loud while marching towards the rocks; my eyes focusing at the rock formations to see if friend or foe caused the movement. I paused some hundred feet from the outcrop when I heard a gun shot. The bullet landed a few feet away from me, flinging snow chunks up in the air. Without hesitating, I leaped back and slid down behind a thawed knoll. - Man! That was close! - I mumbled to myself. I looked over the tiny mound and spotted my troubles: Dr. Johnson and Corporal Gilman, the beefy Marine. - Rats! This is not good! - I whispered concerned. They were closing in. I took off my mask and attempted a shot at Gilman’s leg. He was much bigger than I and I couldn’t afford a fight with him. I pulled the trigger but nothing happened: the gas cylinder inside of my machine gun had gotten loose. I tried to manually feed a bullet into the barrel causing a loud click that echoed through the hill side. The two men leaned against a snow bank afraid that bullets were coming their way. But I had nothing. My machine gun was jammed. I looked up again and I was shocked to see the burly Marine running towards my position. I quickly pulled the magazine out and back in again, in hopes to get the damned gun to work. A few more punches on the breech block and a bullet was loaded. When I turned back to the mound, Gilman was right on top of me. I hesitated pulling the trigger: I never killed a man. Gilman threw himself over me. During the struggle I managed to lay my left boot on his belly. He was a hefty man. Using all my leg muscles I pushed him away surprisingly lifting him up in the air for a few seconds. He hit the melting snow hard. But before I could even think, Dr. Johnson had his gun pointed at me. The Doctor had a smirk on his face. The kind of smirk that told me he was going to shoot me. Still pointing my gun at Gilman, I quickly reached for my ice-axe and with a fast swing, I threw it right on his gun. A short burst of bullets followed before the doctor let his machine gun fall on the snow. I felt a shot cut through the fabric of my snow jacket. I checked for blood but I was clean. Gilman in the other hand was hit in the leg. How ironic. Dr. Johnson’s magazine had come loose and he was struggling to get it back in place. I had a break! I took Gilman’s rifle off his hands, with little resistance from the husky Corporal who was now bleeding pretty badly. - Catch you later, Doc! - I said it almost out of breath, running as fast as I could towards the river. I would’ve loved to see the Doctor’s face trying to explain Gilman’s wound to the sarge. When I finally arrived at Penn’s Cave, what used to be a moldy smelly cave suddenly became the best place on earth. They say “home is where the heart is”. But I’ll say “home is where I’m warm and free of bullets”.

by Corporal John Harris, December 07, 2006