|Packrat (standard:adventure, 1005 words)|
|Author: GXD||Added: Jul 19 2007||Views/Reads: 2272/1273||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Jeff never went mountain climbing without his alarm clock -- until he met the Packrat. Enjoy the laugh!|
PACKRAT Jeff tumbled upward onto the rock ledge, but the sun had already set. A trace of color to the northwest wasn't enough to light up the rock facade -- night was here till morning. He'd see more by moonlight later. One by one, he drew items out of his pack and set them around him at arm's length. The ledge was wide enough for that. He dealt out harness clips, cooking gear, pre-moistened wipettes, flashlight, a log to recall the day's events, an alarm clock ... Jeff never went climbing without an alarm clock. This one was a beauty. It had big, easy-to-read letters. The electronically amplified alarm was pitched at a shriek. It went off with a ring loud enough to wake the dead. And it was only two inches square. Jeff had put in new batteries just that morning. ...and, of course a pen. Well, an old stub of golf pencil, with a blunt tip. Its end was all chewed off, as if it had had the audacity to carry an eraser. With the flashlight between his teeth, he sat on his mat and blanket, scribbling notes in the log. He took a final swig of water from his half-gallon plastic jug, leaving it near empty. As a rule, he would hang it from its handle, but the ledge had no tree branches. And it was dark. He set it with the other things. Finally the flashlight died out. Jeff's dream was euphoria magnified. He was soaring over tree-tops, feeling the thermals against his arms and body, toasted by the sun, uplifted by a sensual, soaring, spiritual ... in the rain, in the green trees, the tall rocks with their scarred faces and cracks, the patient black birds tracking him, always in sight ... how his heart was beating, thump ... thump ... thump-splash-thump ... thumpthump ... a sound so real, he felt himself waiting for it. And it came: thump. Over there, somewhere to his left. He felt for his flashlight, groping, but couldn't find it. The beautiful black night cast a rockshadow over his ledge, but it was not entirely dark. Moonlight was creeping around the edge and would soon shine in his face. Edging away from the ledge and toward the sound, he touched first the rock, then something plastic. Instant silence. No more thumps and splashes. He recognized his water bottle and grabbed it, but it wouldn't come. The handle was stuck on something inside a hole in the rock. He pulled harder. A squeal and the sound of chattering teeth came from the hole and he let go. A minute later, the thumping commenced again. Jeff realized that a packrat was trying to get that big bottle through his little hole -- and wouldn't give up. Some other items might be missing, but it was too dark -- without a flashlight -- to check on that. He tried to go back to sleep, but scrapes and thumps kept him awake. He found a good-sized loose rock and propped it against the water bottle, so whoever was in the hole wouldn't escape. That stopped the noise. Then he dozed off. Even the moon could not wake him. But just as false dawn phased into a cinnibar-fuschine-peachblossom- marigold-apricot-goldenrod-beryl-aquamarine-hyacinth-violet luminescence its silence broke to the muffled clangor of an alarm. The electronic god trapped within Jeff's clock was bellowing to be set free. Jeff was furious: the clock was no more than two feet away, but he couldn't get to it. Even if his hand would fit the 3-inch hole, he didn't want to be bitten by a furious rat, for sure. That clock had set him back a good twenty bucks. Inadvertently, he shrugged. Best let things lie. And with his head on a fold of the blanket, he listened to the alarm, wondering how long the new battery would keep it ringing. Around him, the ground was bare, except for the cooking things and the stove. Everything smaller than three inches had disappeared inside the packrat's nest. Even his pencil: he couldn't even write up his feelings in the log. Jeff wondered if the rat was chewing on his pencil. By now, Jeff was getting really sore about the situation. Suddenly, the alarm stuttered once or twice, then stopped. Good, he thought, it's run out. Rolling up the sleeping things, he stomped on a can of goulash Click here to read the rest of this story (32 more lines)
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