By Peg Keeley
As time went on, Lonnie could bear to wait no longer. Without saying anything to Kono, he picked up a spear and torch and headed towards the stream. He tried to whistle as he walked hoping the noise would frighten the boar away. Maybe it would make him feel braver. But darkness all around him brought him to the point of panic. "Dad!" he yelled as he approached the stream. At last he could hear the water gurgling in the streambed. "Dad!" Where's the light from his torch? Where did he go?
He saw the torch first, lying on the ground where it had gone out, a black charred circle around it. Lonnie's heart began to pound in panic and fear. Something isn't right here. Dad would not go into the forest without light. Where is Dad?! "Dad! Dad! Where are you?" He picked up the burned torch and held it with his. The extra fuel caused his flame to burst brighter, throwing a larger circle of brilliance.
Something moved in the bushes off to his right and he jumped, bringing up the spear. Then he stepped closer. He recognized his father tangled in the torn up shrubbery and covered with mulch and leaves.
Lonnie ran to Danny's side and knelt by him. "Dad, are you okay?"
Danny roused some in the presence of his son. "Kono, get Kono," he murmured.
"Are you hurt?" Lonnie asked in terror, bringing the torch closer.
"Afraid so," Danny managed to utter, trying to sound casual, but was unable to cover the pain or concern.
Lonnie quickly counted the wounds. Four to the abdomen, one of which seemed pretty big; two long lacerations on his chest; multiple cuts on his arms; two deep wounds to the back; and his lower leg had an odd swelling.
"Lonnie, get the guys," Danny repeated weakly.
Lonnie could feel his heart rate quickening as he tried to explain the situation as though by telling it, it became more real. We are in big trouble. "Mark is dead," he murmured, "and Kono is hurt real bad -- like you."
In spite of shock and pain, Danny was stunned by the sudden revelation. "What?"
"That boar came tearing through everything." Lonnie got to his feet. "Dad, you just have to get up. Can you get back to camp?" I need you to help me, Dad. I need you!
I have to make it back and get us out of here -- no matter what. I have to stand the pain. If I don't do this, we will all die. But, God what if I can't? "Help me up, Lonnie."
Lonnie put down the spear. Good, Dad isn't so bad. I knew he'd help me. He's going to make everything all right. He grabbed Danny under the arms and started to pull him up.
Danny cried out as pain stabbed through his abdomen, back, and leg.
Sweat on his forehead and panic mounting Lonnie tightened his grip. "Come on, Dad -- you gotta!"
"Stop! Lonnie, Stop!" Danny screamed not sure what to grab first.
The second cry of agony was enough to make Lonnie release him. The sobering terror that things might be worse than he hoped raised new fear in Lonnie's mind. What is going to happen to us?
Danny lie panting for a moment, hoping the pain would ebb a little. He regained control and tried to think. What is going to happen to us -- to Lonnie? "It's no good, Lonnie. You'll have to leave me. Go back to camp and check on Kono. Maybe he can help you."
Lonnie slowly shook his head. "Leave you? I can't do that. I don't think Kono can get up."
Danny tried to think as a chill washed over him causing him to shiver and his teeth to chatter. Shock. I may not have much time here. I have got to get Lonnie out of here. How? Can he get out of the valley by himself?
"Lonnie, you'll have to leave both of us."
"No!" Lonnie shouted in horror. "I won't do that!"
"You have to," Danny implored. "You have to get help. You are the only way."
"But the boar will come back!"
Danny managed a shake of his head in spite of the shivering. "She's a dumb animal. She's gone now."
Lonnie wasn't so sure. He remembered Kono wanting him to stay in camp because of the boar. Kono said one thing -- Dad is saying another. What do I do? "I'm going to find a way to get you back to camp," he decided. He jammed one torch into the ground next to Danny. "I'm be back."
Unable to respond due to the shaking, Danny watched him disappear into the brush caught between wanting to get Lonnie away to safety and the dread of being left alone himself. But it was only a matter of a few short minutes before Lonnie was back with a hammock thrown over one shoulder. He spread it out on the ground next to Danny.
"I can use the hammock and pull you back to camp. You just need to get on the hammock," Lonnie suggested.
It was a good idea and Danny was proud of Lonnie's ingenuity, but he knew just getting the few inches to the hammock was going to be agony and the drag back unbearable. "Okay, Lonnie," he agreed, then cautioned. "I want you to listen to me." His shaking hand took hold of his son's arm. "Don't stop no matter what. Even if I ask you to, okay? Just keep going."
Lonnie looked confused. "Okay," he murmured quietly, not understanding.
"Promise me, Lonnie. You will keep going."
"Dad, you're scaring me," he whispered. "Are you going to die?"
"You promise to keep pulling and I'm promise not to die. A deal?" He tried to sound light.
Lonnie gave a slight, fearful nod.
"Get on with it," Danny murmured.
Recalling how painful the lift had been earlier, Lonnie decided he would log roll his dad onto the hammock. He gently pulled on Danny's shoulder, then harder; realizing this was tougher than he'd thought. Danny bit down on his lip, trying to keep from crying out, but the muffled groans could not be silenced. It took several minutes to get the roll accomplished every touch bringing new pain, but at last Lonnie had his father entangled in the mesh hammock. "You okay, Dad?" he asked.
Danny was nauseated, light-headed, and his vision failing. "I'm fine, Lonnie," he uttered through tight lips. How will I never endure this pain back to camp?
Lonnie had not missed the torment in his dad's eyes. He picked up the free end of the hammock and pulled it over his shoulder. He glanced back one more time, then started to drag his injured father back towards camp. He could hear the sounds of suffering issuing from Danny with each step and tears came to Lonnie's eyes. He knew he was causing so much more pain, but he recalled his promise not to stop. Now he understood the meaning.
It was a mere thirty yards through the underbrush back to the old temple site and by the time they were half way there, Danny made no more sounds. The circle of flaming torches were like heaven to Lonnie as he dragged the heavy hammock into the lighted area. He pulled Danny next to Kono, hoping one of them could help with the other and that together they would think of a way out of this. As he knelt to unwrap Danny from the hammock, he saw right away that Danny had passed out from the pain and was unconscious. Kono could not be aroused either where he lay, hands gripping the blood soaked chest wound.
Lonnie crouched down before the smoldering fire, a spear on either side of him. There was nothing to do but wait for Kono or Danny to wake up. He was tired, beyond tired, and numbed by fear and shock. He stared into the fire, transfixed by it after a while. His eyelids grew heavy and fell into a light sleep.
Lonnie jumped, his eyes flying open in fear. It was dark -- too dark. The fire had died down to embers. He quickly reached for kindling and threw it onto the coals. A small flame burst up within seconds. He heard heavy breathing a looked up. The huge bulk of the boar stood on the other side of the fire, flaming red eyes burning into him. He gave a scream and thew his arms over his head as the animal came crashing through the pitiful fire and upon him...
...Lonnie recoiled in horror and gasped. It was light around him. Morning. He sat up in confusion, his heart still pounding rapidly in his chest. There was no boar. He shivered as he collected his wits and got to his knees. His head cleared as he quickly looked around, hopeful for a millisecond that the entire event had been a nightmare. But he realized almost as quickly that it was not. Mark's mutilated body, invisible in the dim firelight of night was plainly seen at the edge of the clearing.
Lonnie went to Danny and Kono, terrified that one or both might have died during the time he'd slept. Kono awoke when Lonnie touched his arm. "How are you?" Lonnie asked.
Kono was aware he was in bad shape, but could tell by the heavy sweat on Lonnie's face that the boy was scared to death. "I feel better," he lied. He saw Danny for the first time. "Boar got him, too?" Kono could not believe this bad run of luck.
Lonnie nodded. "Is he gonna be okay?" Believing Kono's statement, he hoped Kono would now assume responsibility for this situation.
Kono winced as he shifted position. "Danno." He poke him gingerly with his hand. When he moved his fingers, dried blood flaked off. "Hey, Bruddah." He poked him again. God, is he dead? The warm skin beneath his fingers convinced Kono otherwise. "Lonnie, got any water?"
"The stream," the boy replied.
"No, gotta boil that."
"That taro stew stuff," Lonnie remembered. He picked up the pot. Most had been dumped when the boar had attacked, but there were a few ounces left in the bottom. Lonnie carefully drizzled the fluid into Kono's mouth.
Kono licked the moisture off his lips. "Good, Lonnie."
"I'll go the stream, get some water and boil it so we have more," Lonnie declared. He jumped up, and hurried off into the brush, pot in hand.
Kono could feel the warm sun peaking through the trees and playing across his wounded body. He knew that Lonnie would have to go for help alone and wondered if the boy could find his way out. He turned as he heard Danny murmur something. "Hey, Bruddah," Kono called to him.
Danny opened his eyes, all the memories and pain of the previous night rushing back to him. I am still alive. "Kono, how bad?" he managed to utter.
"Don't probably get much worse," Kono replied. "I took a couple in the chest. Hurts like hell to breathe. Mark's dead."
Danny nodded, recalling Lonnie's report from the night before. "Where's Lonnie?"
"My gut feels like it's on fire," Danny confessed. "I think my leg is broken."
Kono moved in attempt to confirm what Danny suspected. When he did, his ribs shot fiery fingers of pain that cut off his breath. He gave an excruciating cough that brought up blood. Gasping Kono said, "You got a couple of nasty stabs in the belly, Danno. Leg's swollen, so a fair bet you're right about that, too."
"What are we gonna do?" Danny asked.
Kono tried to think, but the options were few. "No choice. Gotta have Lonnie hike out."
"He will never make it alone." Danny gritted his teeth as pain washed over him. "He'll get lost. The terrain to the north is too steep."
"I know. We can send him back the way we came. Take longer. Bigger chance of getting lost."
There were running footsteps as Lonnie came back with the sloshing pot of water. "I got water!" he announced and noticed that Danny was awake. "Dad! You feeling better?" he asked hopefully. See, it's going to be okay. They are both okay. We will get out of here.
"Fine," he muttered.
"See? It's gonna be all right," Lonnie said a bit of hopeful cheer in his voice. He stoked the fire a little and set the pot on it. "We'll have that water boiling soon. Then we can find a way to fix you guys up and we can go home. Right?"
Silence answered him as both men tried to decide between hope and reality.
Lonnie came closer to Danny. "Can you walk?"
Danny did not answer the question. "Lonnie," he said soberly, "we have to consider the options."
Lonnie walked back over to the pot and waited for it to boil. What does he mean by that? Options? It did not take long for the water to start to bubble. Lonnie used a stick to lift it by the metal band from off the fire. He tore out part of the leg of his shorts. "When this cools, we can clean up your cuts."
"Lonnie," Kono whispered. "Dig up the cooked pig. Eat something."
Lonnie had forgotten the cooking pig. Using the end of a spear, he unearthed the blackened and charred piglet. Yesterday, eating anything with its head on or that had been stuck in the ground would have repulsed him, but now the smell of cooked pork was fragrant and he was very hungry. He got out the knife and sawed off a hind leg. The steaming meat inside was juicy and tender. He sliced of a small piece and popped it into his mouth. It tasted like pork, but a bit more gamy. He cut off a few more slices and carried them back to the injured men. "Tastes good," he encouraged.
Kono allowed Lonnie to feed him a few bites. "Not bad," he admitted.
Lonnie offered some to Danny, but he refused. "You gotta eat something, Dad."
"Water," he murmured.
"It's cooling off," Lonnie replied. He cut off a tiny bit of meat. "Eat?"
Too tired to argue, Danny let Lonnie place the tiny sliver into his mouth. The flavor made saliva spring to his parched mouth and that provided some comfort, but he knew if he swallowed he would vomit and was pretty sure that action would kill him. He left the morsel tucked in his cheek.
Once the water had cooled a little, Lonnie, using the fabric from his jeans, proceeded to try to clean the men's wounds, but it was a near futile effort. As he worked, he began to see for himself the severity of the situation. As soon as he began to wash Kono's chest wounds they began to bleed again. Lonnie could tell they were very deep. When he cleaned Danny's wound he discovered that two of the abdominal ones were actually one injury where the tusks had entered one place and exited four inches away. Lonnie stomach churned upon realizing intestines visible in the hole that had been left behind.
"Dad," he whispered, his face pale, "I can see your guts."
"Lonnie, we are going to make it," Danny promised, seeing that the boy was close to coming apart. I am lying to him, but what else can I do? He has to keep hope or he won't get out of here either.
Lonnie brightened a little. "So, do you have a plan to get us out of here?"
"We don't get out," Kono told him, "you do."
Lonnie frowned. "What if the boar comes back?"
"She won't be back until nightfall, if at all," Kono told him. "By that time you'll be out of here and have sent help back to us."
Lonnie shook his head. "We should all go."
"Your dad can't walk, Lonnie."
"Maybe he can," he answered, anger building. "He said he felt better. You said you were doing better." Agitation was growing as his voice rose. "You've gotta come with me!"
"You'll have to do this by yourself," Danny told him quietly. "We'll slow you down."
Lonnie rose to his feet. "See how you feel in a little bit."
"Lonnie!" Kono implored. The plea ended in another bloody coughing spell.
But Lonnie turned his back and walked away. I can't just run away and leave them like this. They need me. I need them. He remembered Mark and although touching a dead body frightened him, he muscled up the courage to straighten the twisted body until it looked less uncomfortable. Rigor had partially set in, but Lonnie did the best he could, then began to collect rocks like he had seen done in a movie once. He slowly built the rocks up and over the body, crying softly most of the time, until it was completely encased in stone. He carefully placed a few branches of taro and 'ape'ape over the stony grave. It had taken over an hour to accomplish. Lonnie now stood there, sweating from the humid heat, wishing he knew something more to do or say. He did not know much Hawaiian or any of Mark's chants, but he remembered one of his mother's songs from her recordings. It was about the land and the love of the people for it. His thin pre-adolescent voice lifted amongst the primeval wilderness. And when he was finished, he felt very lonely and alone. He pulled down several of the large 'Alani plant leaves measuring about twelve inches across each, and carried them back to the camp.
Lonnie squatted before the cooked piglet and using the knife Mark had provided him at the start of the trip, cut off strips of meat and wrapped them in one of the leaves. At last, he rose and walked back towards Kono and Danny no more certain what to do than he had been an hour before. "I've got some meat to carry with us," he declared, putting the rolled leaf into Mark's small pack.
"There is a topographical map in the front of the pack," Kono instructed.
Lonnie retrieved the map and brought it over to Kono who tried to rise on one arm. Gripping the wounds, Kono glanced over the paper. "We are here," Kono pointed to a spot.
Lonnie stared at the map. It didn't look like any map he had ever seen. He raised his eyebrows at the paper full of thin green lines, circles and swirls. He could identify nothing on it. "If you say so."
"Look," Kono motioned to the line. "That's the stream." If Lonnie is going to make this rescue, he will need not only to get out, but know where to send help back. "North is still the top like other maps."
Lonnie felt fear rising. "I can't do this. I don't understand it."
"You have to," Kono said earnestly.
"Can't we just wait for help?"
"That would be more than two days," Kono explained. "No one will even miss us till tomorrow night. If you take the northern route, it will be easiest. Stay with the stream then go over the ridge. After that it's pretty much downhill."
Danny's voice spoke in a whisper. "Why north? The ridge...."
"Most direct," Kono answered. "He'll come out at Wailua. Lots of people around there."
"No trail...can't stay on course...no compass," Danny murmured.
"Not hard," Kono insisted, glancing at Lonnie. "Lonnie," he grabbed the boy's arm. "You know which way the sun comes up, right? Keep the sun on your right in the morning, left in the afternoon."
Lonnie glanced at his father, realizing that Danny doubted the outcome of this. He doesn't think I can do this. It must not be the right thing to do. I need to decide for us. I have to know what to do. I don't know! What if Dad dies because of me? "What time is it now?" he asked.
Kono had managed to get up on one elbow by this time. He sighed. "Just follow the stream till it ends. Go right. The sun with be on your left by then. Keep it there. It's only about five miles, Lonnie. It shouldn't take more than a few hours."
Lonnie's face wrinkled in doubt. "What if I get lost?"
Danny spoke. "Kono, can you walk?"
Kono gripped his wounds, as he tried to get more erect. "Don't know, bruddah. Awful slow -- maybe."
"Leave me. You take Lonnie. Won't matter if it takes longer. You get him through."
"What 'er you talkin' about?" Kono growled. "We take too long and you are dead. You're already in shock."
Danny tried to still the shaking muscles. "Kono, he gets lost we both die. Maybe him, too. Go. Leave me."
"No!" Lonnie jumped to his feet. Storming across the small clearing, he picked up Mark's machete and a spear and stomped off into the brush.
"Lonnie!" Kono called after him and again it ended in a cough. He was annoyed that Danny in his attempt to be heroic had accidentally talked the boy out of getting help. How can I get Lonnie to go when his dad doesn't want him to? Can't Danny see it is the only way?
"Where did he go?" Danny murmured.
"I don't know," Kono replied, "but I am sure he'll be back. You shouldn't say nothing, Bruddah, got that? Let me talk to Lonnie and get us out of here."
There was a sound of crunching wood, smashing leaves and Lonnie reappeared tugging two long poles behind him. He determinedly hacked off the side branches, measured the pole against each other and made one a little shorter.
"Lonnie, come talk to me," Kono said quietly.
He did not answer. He disappeared back into the brush again and was back momentarily with a length of long vine. He began to twist it around the two poles, lashing them together at one end. He examined his work, lay it down and took the vine off. This time, he cross the poles more in a teepee style. He checked his work again, lay the contraption down and picked up the short end.
Kono could identify that he was attempting to construct a travois. "Lonnie," he said again, trying to sound gentle. "Come here. That won't work."
Lonnie looked up angrily. "Yes it will. It has to." He ran to the hammocks, untied one from the tree and brought it to his travois where he began to weave it into sort of a sling. He stomped over and retrieved another hammock, then took it and several of the large 'Alani leaves to Kono. "I saw once on TV about splinting this guy's chest and it made him feel better. Maybe it can help you feel better, too."
Kono gazed into Lonnie's eyes and saw the grim determination. "Lonnie, we will never make it."
"We are going to try!" Lonnie snapped back.
"So where are we going now?" Audrey asked Carrie as they exited Bath & Body Works. She had thoroughly enjoyed smelling all the lotions and candles. Carrie had bought her a small bottle of body lotion and Audrey felt very grown up.
"Well, Audrey, I thought we might take in a bite of lunch," Carrie suggested.
"McDonalds?" Audrey asked bright-eyed.
Carrie gave a small grin. "All the girls go to the salad shop."
Audrey stopped short. "They do? Do they have cheeseburgers?"
"No silly, they have healthy salads and fresh fruit."
Audrey looked skeptical. "Does it taste good?"
A few minutes later, Carrie was helping Audrey dish salad greens and pineapple from the salad bar. As they sat down, Audrey carefully placed her napkin in her lap. "My mom taught me that," she told Carrie.
"Well, that was a good thing to teach," Carrie replied.
Audrey paused, fork in the air. "I miss my mom."
Carrie blinked. "I-I suppose you do," she replied, feeling uncomfortable. It was easy to forget that only six months ago this child's mother had burned to death in an auto wreck. Her whole life turned upside-down in an instant.
"I'd like to go see Grandpa Lincoln," Audrey added. "Could you take me to see him?"
"Me?" Carrie gave a single laugh. "Have you told Danny this?"
She made face. "I don't think he would want to. He doesn't like Grandpa Lincoln." She fiddled with her salad, not really eating it. "Why can't you be my mom now?"
"Don't be silly, Audrey." Carrie felt her face flush.
"Danny likes you. Do you like him?"
"Yes, I do," she replied.
"Then get married!" she giggled.
"You know it takes more than that, Audrey," Carrie answered. I wish it were that easy!
"You don't want to marry Danny?"
Carrie tempered her irritation. She's a cute little girl and she doesn't understand all the details. Just humor her. "Audrey, let's talk about something else."
Audrey crossed her arms and pouted. "It's all stupid Lonnie's fault."
Carrie sighed and took a sip of her iced tea. "Do you like those little nuts on your salad? Come on, I'll get you some."
It took time to work the last hammock into a brace for Kono's chest, but at least Lonnie stepped back. "There, does that help?"
Kono nodded, trying to save breath. Much to Kono's surprise, the bracing really had helped. He was able to sit and breathe better with a little less pain.
Lonnie stuffed the remainder of his pork wrapped in leaves into Mark's pack. "We're ready," he declared.
"The map," Kono wheezed. "Keep it handy."
Lonnie folded it and zipped it into the front pouch of the pack. He walked over to Danny who was not awake. "Dad," Lonnie touched his shoulder, noticing how pale and clammy his skin looked.
Danny opened his eyes. "Lonnie?" A wave of pain passed through his abdomen.
"I have to move you again," Lonnie said quietly, recalling the agony the previous trip had been. "We're gettin' outta here. All of us." He took hold of the hammock Danny had remained entangled in from the night before and slid Danny inch by inch onto the makeshift travois.
Danny was surprised that the new movement had not increased the pain as much as he'd thought it would. Maybe that is a good sign. Perhaps the wounds aren't as bad as I thought. I am so cold. He shivered uncontrollably.
Lonnie helped Kono slowly to his feet. Kono felt a wave of dizziness pass over him, but he was able to clear his head. I cannot walk five miles like this! This is impossible. He searched for words to attempt to get Lonnie to reconsider. Our fate is in the hands of an eleven-year-old boy.
Lonnie picked up the handles on the travois. "Let's go!" he declared with all the gusto of a wagon master. And he felt a little like John Wayne leading the wagon train across hostile country to safety. This is all up to me. I will bring us through.
"Lonnie," Kono called to him, hand to the chest wound that was starting to seep blood again. Lonnie looked back. "The spear. Bring the spear."
Lonnie picked it up with one hand and slid it down the side of the litter where he could grab it quickly if necessary, internally reminding himself the boar might be out there waiting for them. He started ahead, pulling the travois behind. It did not go smoothly. The terrain of thick jungle caught and snagged the poles and meshed sling with every step.
With each jolt and bang of the travois, Danny felt surges of stabbing pain. He wound his fingers into the hammock mesh till they were blue and bit his lip so hard it bled. He knew within the first ten steps that he could never survive five miles of this punishment.
Kono followed behind Lonnie and the stretcher. He had a clear view of Danny's experience and could tell Danny was not tolerating the movement well. What can I do to keep this boy from watching his father die? Kono's own pulse was quickening as his system tried to transport more vital oxygen to his straining muscles. The pain made him catch each breath short and the blood was seeping through his fingers. Kono knew he would also not likely be alive at the end of five miles. I need to get Lonnie to stop and reconsider. He watched the young boy's back muscles strain as he dragged the litter ahead over a rock. There will be no changing this one's mind. Kono staggered from tree to tree for support, having no difficulty staying up with the slow moving travois. It bounced down over a log and Danny gave a cry he could not cut off.
Lonnie turned. "We are almost to the stream!" he declared hopefully.
It has been half an hour, Kono thought sadly, and we have gone thirty yards. Ahead he could see the stream.
She had buried herself almost totally in the soft muddy bottom of the shallow water. The coolness had eased the torturous burning pain in her side and leg. The pain had driven her mad and she had even frightened away her offspring. Although they were not far, they dared not approach her. Anything moving would be trampled. She could not destroy her pain, but her animal mind would try by destroying anything else she could find. Her powerful snout picked up a scent and she immediately came to full alert. She knew that scent to be associated with this fire of pain. She rose to meet it.
Kono stood at the stream with Lonnie surveying the crossing. At this point, the water depth was about knee deep, which on Lonnie would be half why up his thighs. He would need to raise the front end the travois substantially to keep Danny's head above water. "This is the shallowest point I know," Kono commented. "I can try to help you."
Lonnie studied the large man, sweating and panting already. "I can do it," he assured Kono. God, how I hate the water! It would be water. He lifted the poles as high as his chest and facing the travois, backed into the stream. The quick water swirled and gurgled around his legs. The bottom of the stream was covered with small well-worn rocks covered with a film of algae and mud making them slippery. He was at mid-point, trying not to think about the water, when he heard Kono give a gasp.
Lonnie turned and saw the huge, black, mud-covered mass of boar suddenly before them less than twenty feet away. In horror, he screamed, losing his grip on the poles. The travois splashed into the stream. Water frothed as Lonnie felt for and found the spear. At the same instant, Kono lunged forward, also grabbing into the water, and finding Danny whom he yanked to the surface by the neck. As he pulled Danny up, Kono felt a sharp ripping feeling in his chest and knew something, somewhere had just given way. It was all he could do to stay on his feet and keep Danny's head above water.
Lonnie stood a few steps apart from the others, spear gripped in both hands, heaving great breaths of pure terror as the boar stood motionless facing them. Silence closed over the scene except for the gurgling of the stream.
The she-boar swung her massive head from side to side. Her eyesight was very poor and she knew the enemy was present, but without movement could not locate it.
There was a sudden explosion of activity and squealing as one of the piglets broke from the clump of brush and charged across the stream between Lonnie and the boar.
Lonnie issued a cry of surprise and dropped the spear into the water. He scrambled after it as the boar zeroed in and charged at him.
Kono and Danny were helpless to do anything except watch in horror as the events unfolded.
Lonnie chased the spear as the swift current pushed it towards the bank. White sheets of water sprayed as the boar closed the distance between them. Lonnie went down on his knees for the spear at the bank and the boar was upon him.
Quite suddenly, it all stopped. Lonnie remained frozen on his knees, spear clutched between both hands. The boar's snout and razor-sharp tusks were only inches from the boy's face. She had run onto the spear, through the mouth and out the back of her neck. There was a sudden mighty crack as the bamboo spear broke off and three hundred fifty pounds of boar collapsed on top of the boy. He began to shriek in complete panic and terror from under the dead animal.
Kono, his own pain unrelenting, staggered towards the bank, still dragging Danny by the neck much as a toddler might pull along a rag doll. Kono resembled a large hot air balloon that was slowly deflating as he stumbled out of the water, dropped Danny without much grace, and fell to his knees beside Lonnie and the mountain of boar.
Danny attempted to move towards them, a mere four steps away, but after a few floundering attempts, gave up and could only lay shaking from shock and fear hoping for his son.
Kono knew his strength was fading fast. He no longer had the power to push the dead beast aside, but he could see one hand flopping as Lonnie continued screaming. He took hold of the hand and yanked Lonnie out with one last great spurt of power.
Lonnie stopped yelling instantly, and gasped in the light. He was covered with blood from head to foot. Am I bleeding? I don't think so. No, it's that boar. "Gross," he gasped in disgust. He was still shaking from the experience, not quite able to grasp what was taking place.
"Lonnie," Kono gasped, falling forward onto the heap of dead pig, "get the map."
Lonnie looked at him. "What?"
"The map. And hurry." Kono could feel unconsciousness approaching, and fully expected it to be fatal.
Lonnie looked around, remembered the map was in the backpack. The backpack was on the travois and the travois was at the bottom of the stream. He splashed back into the brook, found the travois immediately and pulled up the pole. He took the backpack off and carried it, dripping, ashore. Lonnie wondered what shape the paper map would be in. He opened the zippered flap carefully and was surprised to find the pocket had been nearly watertight. The map was slightly damp, otherwise intact. He took it to Kono grinning. "It's okay."
Kono merely nodded. "Open it."
Lonnie did so, noticing that Kono's chest wound was bleeding badly. "Kono, are you all right?"
Kono did not want to waste valuable energy on the obvious. "The map."
Lonnie held it close.
"We are here," he whispered and touched a spot with a bloody finger, leaving a spot of blood on the map. A little theatric, but right now practical. "Now go."
"Go?" Lonnie whispered, a frown of confusion crossing his face.
"Lonnie," Danny called quietly to him.
He turned around and knelt next to Danny. "Dad, I'm sorry about this all."
Danny forced a confident smile. He was shivering from shock and being wet; his skin was ghostly pale. He touched Lonnie's arm and it felt like the touch of death itself. "You did it."
Lonnie could think of nothing except how awful Danny looked. "Did what?"
"You got your boar," he said trying to put more enthusiasm into it than he could.
"Oh." It did not seem important anymore.
"I know," Danny whispered to him. "Right now you don't even care about it anymore, but last night you were disappointed in yourself. You didn't think you could -- but you did."
"This was different."
"Yeah. The stakes were a lot higher." Danny paused. He was exhausted. He glanced at Kono who lay beside the boar in semi-consciousness. "Kono is right. You are our only hope. You can't take us with you now. Time is too important for that."
Lonnie's chin quivered. "Dad, if I leave you, you'll die."
"No, Lonnie, if you don't leave me, I'll die. Take the map and show them where we are. There is still time, you'll need to hurry, but don't be careless."
A tear slipped out of Lonnie's eye and dropped down onto Danny's cheek. Lonnie reached out and wiped his father's face. "But what happens if-"
"You will do your best. If it is not enough, don't be angry with yourself. I will wait for you as along as I can," he promised. "But don't be angry with me either."
"Dad, I love you!" Lonnie threw his arms around Danny's neck.
"I love you, too," Danny replied wishing he had the strength to hug back. "Now go."
Lonnie carefully folded the map, slid it into the pocket of his jeans and threw the small pack over his shoulder. He stood looking upstream, then looked back at the two men on the ground. He started to make his way hastily upstream.
"Don't you go die on that kid."
"You either, Bruddah."
End part 3
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