The blisters had gotten worse as the terrain changed from mostly flat, to rolling hills and now a more steady up hill climb as he was approaching the highlands. Dan had a small first aid kit, but knew only time would toughen his feet. He did worry about infection. He was debating taking a break to check his feet when he heard a shout from a ranch style home, set aways back from the road to his left. A man was shouldering a rifle and took a shot at Dan.
Dan played basketball in high school and pick up games in college. Since graduation fifteen years ago, getting a regular job in information technology, if Dan ran more than two hundred yards he would be surprised. As the first round cut through the air above Dan’s head, he turned and broke into a full out sprint, he body was reminding him how long it had been since he did any serious running. Through the fear, as more bullets whizzed by, he mentally noted a slight pain as the skin around his blisters ripped. He would really feel it much later when he was out of range and could calm down again. If he could get out of range first.
Initially Dan thought the man was just trying to scare Dan off, and it was working quite well. But after a few hundred yards Dan ran, more bullets continued to fly over his head, the sound of the bullet cutting the air and the report from the rifle interval increased. Dan concluded the man was actually that bad a shot. He was perfectly fine with the idea.
Despite the initial fear and flight response, Dan had to slow his sprint down to a jog. The man stopped firing, but Dan kept up the jog not willing to risk it.
After what seemed like an hour, tired, Dan walked off the road into deep woods. He staggered, nearly tripping more than a few times. Once satisfied he was far enough from the road, he sat down in a heap against a tree, still panting heavily. He took a long drag from his water bladder, and let the exhaustion crash over him like a wave. Now he felt the effects of the surprise sprint on his feet. The pain throbbed from not only his heels, but in a few new spots. He dropped his rifle next to him, leaned forward to wiggle his pack off. He took out the first aid kit.
Pulling the boots off was nearly as painful as the blisters themselves. He grimaced through the pain, noting his socks had small blood spots on them. Getting the socks off would be just as painful. Barefooted, Dan propped his feet up on his pack to keep them from getting dirty. He washed the broken skin with some water, dried them with a four by four gauze pad, applied a anti-biotic gel with pain relief. It did not seem to help the dull throbbing pain in the slightest.
From the kit, he popped three Advil into his mouth and took another long drag from his water bladder.
He stopped drinking, thinking he heard a voice, someone yelling, coming from the direction of the road. It was faint, as Dan had pushed back into the woods further than he realized. He picked up his rifle, knowing how futile it was with him, no boots, no socks on, bare feet up on his pack if someone came into view right now. The panic that began to rise, he forced down, and controlled his breathing.
And he waited.
And he eventually fell asleep.
Dan’s freezing feet is what woke him. He sat up with a start, bringing the rifle up, but there was nothing he could see to aim at. He did not know what time it was but he had the impression more than a few hours had passed. It was hard to tell in the deep woods, everything was darker, and he could not see the stars easily.
He paused for another minute, listening. Hearing nothing alarming, he felt around for his headlamp in his pack. He made sure he slid the red light filter over the LED before slipping it over his head and turning it on.
No bullets torn into him, no shouting.
Dan took out three, four by four gauze pads, used his folder knife to cut them in half. He folded them over, and taped them over the blisters. It was a little thick, but he did not care, and then added more tape to keep the gauze secure. He slipped his last pair of clean wool socks on, and then pulled the tarp out and wrapped himself into a tight cocoon.
Sleep eventually came.
Statistics: Posted by Cast Iron — Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:04 am