Up A Creek…
You end up deciding, after some mental weighing of your options, that the best course of action would be being smart and not jumping across the gap to try and climb up to where Erin is. So, you opt for following the river instead.
“I’m gonna follow the river and see where it leads,” you say, gesturing to your left. “Will you be okay over there while I figure out how to get there?”
Erin says. “I told you not to worry about me, mate.”
“I know, I know, but I don’t mind,” you say.
She sighs. “Alright, fine. Just be careful and don’t do anything dumb like me, and I’ll be happy. But yeah, I’ll wait here. Ledge is stable enough that it won’t collapse on me or anything, so, that’s definitely a good note.”
With that, you nod and start to hop down the path, following the river more.
The path the river is coming from slowly arcs up, so you end up hopping up a relatively slight incline that goes higher with each passing moment - nothing too extraordinary or troublesome, fortunately, but it seems to keep going on for a good while. You follow without stopping, though, and you wonder how this will pan out if you can find a way to get over to Erin.
You’ve never sprained your leg or ankle before, never broken anything severe, either, but you knew someone that ended up in a similar predicament. You know you’ll have to help support her to walk back, but, the one downside that comes to mind is: you have no clue how exactly you’ll GET back to the top of the cave where you both came from.
There isn’t exactly a way for you to get down the waterfall without climbing, and when you have Erin in tow, with a hurt ankle, that doesn’t leave you many options in that regard, either.
‘Guess we’ll figure it out when we get there,’ you think. You have no choice.
You push on, and up, and after a few minutes of going up the steady incline, the path comes to another opening, wherein the river winds to the left more. Fortunately, you see that there is now a place where you can veer back to the direction Erin is located: across from you is a small gap, yet across said gap is another area of the cave that seems to be heading up more. You swear you can actually see some vague hint of where you came from way back when.
‘Huh,’ you think. ‘So this is where the abyss leads to? But I doubt we can climb back up, and I doubt we can exactly hop up it, either.’
You shake his off and focus on what’s directly in front of you - the gap that leads to a jutting out portion of the cave wall that goes to where Erin is.
You suck in a few slow breaths, then let them out, as you begin to brace yourself. Even if the gap isn’t super large, it’s still a nerve wracking experience, and you need a moment to build up your courage. And from there, you start to move. You pick up speed and strength once more while you hop toward the edge of where you can jump from, and with one great leap, you jump with your pent up might and fly through the air.
Your jump is a strong one, and you end up overshooting it, but, you don’t crash into the wall. Fortunately, you land just inches from smacking into it, enough that your hands shoot out and take a slight bit of impact in exchange for making sure you don’t crash.
You wince from the impact on your palms and shake them off, letting the stinging pain subside. When it does, you resume your interest on getting to where Erin is located, and thus, you begin to move once more, hopping down this path.
The ledge you find yourself on is the opposite of the path you followed the river, in that it slowly goes downward rather than upward - which makes sense since, you know, logic and all that.
It takes a few minutes for you to hop down the smaller path, but, when you do, you spot Erin still where you’d left her, chilling on the ground. She sees you and waves you over, and you make it to her rather shortly after, at which point you stop and eye her. Her ankle does look swollen and bruised, for sure.
“How did you get over here exactly?” Erin asks.
“Oh, well.” You fumble for a moment. “I kept going down the single path instead of trying to go down that dip like you mentioned. It led me deeper and deeper into the cave until I found the river,” you point across to the running water, “so I followed that and discovered it turned into a waterfall right over there. Unfortunately, there, um, wasn’t a way for me to get over the waterfall easily, so I sort of…”
“You jumped it, didn’t you?” Erin asks.
You nod, a little sheepish, but it’s the truth.
Erin snickers. “Bloody hell, you’re a gutsy one. How did you even make it over in one swoop?”
“I didn’t,” you admit. “I almost fell right back down, but discovered we have claws at the best possible opportunity. I used those and my legs to clamor onto the ledge so I didn’t have to worry about falling and breaking something.”
“Uh, yeah, you’re damn lucky,” Erin says. She shakes her head. “Had you fallen and knocked yourself out, or worse, then, shite, I dunno if I’d have ever figured out what happened to you. Guess it’s piss in the wind for the time being.”
You offer your hand to her. She accepts it, and you help her up slowly, though she winces and grunts due to her obvious leg injury. It takes a few minutes for her to pick herself upright, but when she does, she puts her weight onto her good foot and lets the other one dangle slightly over the ground. You help hold her up with your shoulder and both hands, just to be safe.
“Cripes, this stinks,” Erin says, and she looks exasperated. “I hate getting into nasty scenarios where I’m forced to rely on someone besides myself.”
You furrow your brow. “Well…”
Erin pauses. “Shite, sorry. Don’t mean it like that. No offense to you, mate. I really appreciate you coming to my rescue a lot, so thank you, truly. I just prefer to do things my own way is all.” She grunts, then nods along. “Alright, well, guess it’s time for us to figure out what to do next.”
“Yeah,” you say. “That’s, uh, something I considered. Not sure what way we can go since there’s following the river again,” you nod to the side toward the ledge you were at not long ago, “or we can follow the river further in and hope for a miracle. Or, I guess, we can try to climb up the steeper portion you fell down, but I’m not entirely sure that would work out well.”
“We might be able to make it work,” Erin offers. “Look, I’ve got a bum leg for the moment, sure, but I’m not helpless.” She smirks. “Either of the three options is fine by me, mate. You let me know which you think would be best.”
“Are you sure?” you ask.
“Positive,” Erin replies. “What do you want to do?”
You frown and start to consider - what path do you try to take now?
Written by Hollowpage on 18 September 2020
…Without A Paddle