Part 2 /2
Ray opened his eyes blearily and looked around.
“Hey, you’re up,” he said once his gaze came upon Fraser.
“Yes. I didn’t want to wake you. I’ve made breakfast.“
Ray looked at the bowl with the worms and made a face. “That’s disgusting. Maybe they can do something for your optic nerve but I won’t risk mine if that’s alright with you.” Ray took a look at their campsite.
“Let’s try and reach the river today,” he said and bent down to ruffle Dief’s fur.
“Excellent plan. He can’t have too much of a head start, I’d say chances are good that we’ll catch up with him before we reach the river.”
At least Fraser looked alright; the night of sleep had probably done him good.
“Greatness. Let’s go get our legs in working order then, pitter-patter, time’s a-wasting.” Ray joked lamely but Fraser started laughing as if it was the most hysterical thing he had heard in a long time.
Maybe Fraser’s mental state was still up to debate.
“I know I’m a funny guy, Fraser. But I’m not that funny so what’s up?”
Fraser continued laughing before he managed to calm down enough to answer Ray. “Well it would appear that I have lost the use of my legs.”
Ray experienced a brief feeling of vertigo. He watched Fraser’s attempts to raise himself out of the seat with an open mouth.
Oh God, oh God, oh God.
It wasn’t that Fraser’s blind stumbling had been much help to their current situation but… losing the use of your legs had to be several steps down on the ‘it’s not getting worse’-ladder.
His faced moved in quick succession through all the appropriate expressions – horror, pity, hopelessness, defeat and fear – while he swallowed curse after curse that rose to his lips.
Ray took a deep breath. “I-I’ll redistribute the baggage… Dief can carry a bit himself, can’t you wolf?” Dief gave an approving yip and Ray tried not to read too much into the fact that he had started to talk to wolfs.
“I’m sure it’s only temporary, Fraser. As soon as we get to the stream we can find help, okay?” And Ray wasn’t sure if he was trying to assure Fraser or himself.
“I just—I can carry you… just until you get the feeling back in your legs.”
“Ah yes, Ray. I’m sure it’s only a temporary condition,” Fraser replied heartily.
Ray staggered under Fraser’s weight. Couldn’t he have a ballet dancer as a partner, just for today?
He could only hope that the river was indeed as close as Fraser thought it was.
“Ray if at any point during our trip I should become a burden to you, you would let me know wouldn’t you?“
“Fraser, do me a favor? Cut the crap,” Ray snapped. “That’s what partnership is all about, okay? You take the good with the bad and you work damn hard that the good stuff always comes out on top. And we’re damn good partners, Fraser!” He sucked a breath in and struggled forward.
When he couldn’t walk anymore he dropped Fraser to the ground and tried to get his lungs back into an agreeable working relationship.
“Thirsty?” he wheezed and Fraser nodded. “Yes, please.”
Ray got out a bottle of water and unscrewed the bottle cap. “Here, I’ll be right back. Gotta use the can.”
He tried to work some spit back into his mouth. Two bottles of water wasn’t exactly much. He heard Mrs. McDevitt in his ear again, raving about not giving all the water away and whatnot. Sad thing she wasn’t dead… unpleasant people always lived longer… especially the ones that didn’t like Ray. It was a universal law. He had come to accept that.
All Ray could see was looking down the boulder to find Jimmy Perkins lying on the ground with his leg twisted in such an odd angle that it made Ray retch just looking at it.
If Ray concentrated he could see the man with reddish-brown hair and a mischievous smile who told him that it wasn’t his fault and that Ray had done everything he could… it was only in Ray’s mind that Jimmy Perkin would forever be 13 and lying at the bottom of the cliff.
“…you ill?” he heard Fraser ask indignantly somewhere in the distance. Ray could only hope that he was talking to the wolf… and that the answer was a negative one.
In a way Ray was glad that Fraser had already been a freak before their plane had crashed, that way the talking to himself stuff didn’t really add to his list of worries.
The marched further until even Ray felt that they were making some progress. Ray stretched his legs and watched Fraser blindly tying rocks together with a string. It looked weird but then again, it was probably supposed to look like that.
“What’s that supposed to be once it’s finished?” Ray asked eyeing the thing curiously. It looked like something right out of 10.000 BC or some other Stone Age movie.
“It’s called a bola, Ray. The Inuit use it to hunt.”
‘Hunt’ was something Ray associated with sharp things, preferably with blades. Couldn’t Fraser have carved a spear or something instead of some weird stone yo-yo?
“And you can use it blind?”
“Well, strictly speaking you could use every weapon without the help of your eyes to guide you but you would need to rely very heavily on your remaining senses and… results might not be as accurate as necessary.”
Ray had a bad feeling about this.
“What are you saying Fraser?”
He knew what was coming.
“You’ll have to use it, Ray.”
Of course, ‘Hunting with a bola’ had also been one of those Boy Scout classes Ray had gotten a badge for in some other lifetime.
“Now take this, stand up and spin it. Now when you get enough momentum let it go,” Fraser explained.
Ray spun the bola – practicing this with one stone first might have been a good idea. He let it go and it crashed in a tree somewhere to the left. Hm… it was a bit like Baseball, you had to figure out at which point the ball would go in which direction depending on the way you held the bat.
He went to look for his new toy and when he came back Fraser was looking eerily calm.
“There’s no one with a weapon around who will jump out at me any second, is there?” he asked only half joking.
“I’ve stopped sweating.” Fraser said with forced ease.
Ray looked put out. Usually people meant that in a good way.
“And this is bad because…?”
“Well a person ten percent dehydrated suffers from dizziness, nausea, swollen tongue. At fifteen percent from dimmed vision, loss of muscle control, painful stools,” Fraser explained carefully neutral.
Ray’s eyes widened. He took in Fraser’s unseeing eyes and his useless legs and whispered, “Fifteen percent?”
“Ah, yes, I’m afraid the inability to sweat indicates a loss of anywhere between ten and fifteen percent.”
Ray balled his hands into fists. “How many stages are left after that?” He ground out with some effort.
“Death happens at twenty percent.”
Not on Ray’s watch, no way. He went to Dief who had a bag slung over his back and got the other water bottle out. It was only half full if anything.
“Drink this… we should be at the river soon,” Ray said quietly.
Fraser gulped the water down thirstily and Ray watched with some apprehension when the last drops trickled down.
The sooner they reached this river the better.
They continued on their way and Fraser started singing. It wasn’t that Fraser didn’t have a nice voice or anything but… God, Ray wasn’t even in hell yet and he already had to listen to Beethoven? German was really a godawful language to listen to.
Maybe Fraser was already losing his grip and this was his very own version of blithering? Where were they at when the Mounties started singing in German? Eighteen percent or something perhaps?
“Hey Fraser, how did this June do with building a fire?”
Fraser stopped singing abruptly.
Ray had a sinking feeling in his gut.
“Yeah, wasn’t she the girl in your Scout troop? The one with the boiling water?”
“Yes, Ray. Oh, well, June and a fire was an even worse combination than she and the water, as you can probably imagine…”
And Fraser was off telling his weird little anecdotes and Ray relaxed slightly. As long as Fraser had a story for every occasion they might still come out of this alive.
“… of course, that meant that Innusiq and I had to improvise in order to save—“
“Wait a second!” Ray interrupted.
“the remains of the tent, otherwise—“
“I said: shut up!” Ray shouted and Fraser indeed stopped talking.
“Fraser we made it!!” Ray shouted excited. “There’s the damn river!”
Ray stumbled the remaining distance and filled the water bottles in the river. He handed one to Fraser before draining the other one himself and filling it a second time.
“You alright, Fraser?”
“I- I think I felt a twitch.” Fraser was probably underestimating like usual. Things Fraser described as ‘tiny’ like ‘small problems’ were usually not even measurable by normal people for their sheer magnitude. That twitch might just as well be a full-body muscle spasm.
“You just wait and see Fraser; everything’s going to be alright.” Hey, there were worse mantras. “Can you stay here for a moment? I’ll go and relieve Dief from his burden… damn wolf is probably demanding a dozen donuts for this disaster,” Ray grumbled while he moved to where Dief was sulking.
“Leave him, take the raft you can still get your man.”
Fraser turned into the vague direction the voice was coming from. And he had been wondering where his dad had gone.
“Absolutely not,” he replied evenly.
Ray turned and looked back. He could have sworn Fraser had said something.
Bob looked shocked. “They’ll have you up on charges.”
“Do you ever listen to yourself?” Fraser felt the need to point out.
Ray released the clasp that held the bag around Diefenbaker. “I didn’t even say anything, Fraser!” He shouted back.
“Not you…him,“ Fraser answered annoyed.
Ray let his gaze slide over the empty river bank. Just because he felt haunted by Jimmy Perkin’s 13 year old form didn’t mean Fraser should be able to see him.
He could even hear him if he strained to listen. “You did good Ray.” And Ray really wanted to believe that. “Yeah, just a bit too late for you,” he muttered, his eyes fixed on the bag in his hands but his gaze miles away. “You’re a stubborn man Stan… you saved me you asshole.”
Ray sighed. He’d had this conversation a thousand times in his head. “I shouldn’t have—“
“Look you don’t just leave a man in the wilderness and hope that he’ll survive… they don’t thank you for it,” Fraser interrupted Ray’s little time travel back into his childhood.
“Fraser I never complained that you’ve left me alone in the wilderness. I know I’m a nag and everything but I’ve never said – hey! You didn’t just tell me that story about your dad abandoning you in the darkness because—I know I shouldn’t have left Jimmy but this is really no way to tell a guy—“
“Ray, what are you talking about?”
“I—uh, forget it. What do we do now?”
“We’ll use the raft as bait to lure him here.”
Ray looked around. Had he missed something?
“Which raft Fraser?”
“The one we’re going to built.”
“Fraser you can’t use your legs,” Ray tried to say as gently as he could.
“Oh no…Ray you remember that twitch I mentioned earlier?”
Ray’s head snapped up. “Yeah?”
“Protract my lower lumbar would ya?” It was possible that this made sense on some other planet.
“Well just put your knee in my back and pull,“ Fraser explained.
Sounded excruciating but Ray could do this. He moved behind Fraser and pulled.
There was a scream like something dying a particularly painful death and then Fraser was panting heavily.
Ray patted him on the shoulder and squeezed once. Fraser flexed his legs and Ray did a little jig even though no one could see him do it.
They were almost finished with gathering the wood and Fraser had almost all of the logs bound together when they heard a twig snap.
Fraser moved to the tree line with Ray hot on his heels.
“Fraser I hate to say this but there’s a flaw in your plan.”
“We don’t have any weapon. We lured him here, he took the bait, he’s coming after us and we have-no-fucking-weapon!” Ray sounded upset.
“On the contrary, we have the bola.”
Ray looked at the rocks on a string. “Fraser I can’t aim with this thing.”
“Well, you’ll have to.”
And wasn’t that typical? When did Fraser care if Ray could do something or not, he had to do it anyway. Ray sighed.
If he got shot while he was risking his neck throwing rocks at a guy heavily armed with a 9mm sig saur and more ammunition than could fit into one Ray Kowalski he at least wanted someone to know the end of his camping story.
“You know Fraser, that time I spent in the wilderness with Jimmy Perkins?” He pushed at Fraser to move further into the trees.
“It was my fault that we had to go back,” Ray shouted breathlessly, looking for an opening in their cover to at least see where the guy with the weapon was.
“Ray, is this story assisting you with your use of the bola or why are you telling me this now?”
“It’s just… well, after the second night we were kinda hungry, you know? So I figured I got to take control here and I said “Hey, let’s split up, find something edible. Nuts or berries or stuff” and—go, go, go,” He pulled Fraser further; he thought he had just seen something blue flash between the trees.
“So we did and I came back after a few hours with nothing much to show but Jimmy didn’t return so—well, so I went looking for him. I found him an hour later… lying at the bottom of a cliff.”
“Ray you didn’t push him down there,” Fraser said with a frown on his face. “You know how important it is to watch your step.”
“Yeah, I know, but Jimmy Perkins didn’t and—God, you didn’t see his leg. It looked all wrong and there was a piece of bone showing and… I have no idea how long he had been lying down there but—“
“Ray – the river,” Fraser reminded him. He squinted through the trees before pulling on Fraser’s sleeve again, “go, go, go,” he chanted.
“And I climbed down there and then I took him piggyback and I think he lost consciousness because of the pain and I had no idea how far it was to get out again—“
“The raft,” Fraser said and Ray shot a quick glance along the riverbank.
“I managed to find the way back somehow and they patched Jimmy up so—“
“Ray, you risked yourself to help him, I don’t think Jimmy Perkins believed it was your fault.”
They crouched beneath the raft.
“That’s what Jimmy told me later, too. But still…”
“Ray where is he?”
“Perfect, now remember to release the bola at the last moment; you have to use its momentum.”
Ray looked towards their wannabe pilot and let the bola rotate. Damn, he hated it when Fraser made him do stuff he couldn’t pull off in a million years – this was as improbable as hitting a homerun for God’s sake!
Ray squinted. He couldn’t even really see the guy. Maybe his best shot was trying to hit the rocks above him in the hope that it would bury him underneath the resulting rubble. He didn’t have any choice but to risk it anyway, they were all out of options.
So Ray tried to do that and he let go and he vaguely heard Fraser trying to get up next to him – at least there was a ‘thunk’ or something from his left.
The bola collided forcefully with the throat of the criminal and wrapped itself around him. Ray watched this scenario unfold with his jaw open. Good thing he had such a left-hand twist with this thing… how it could have ended up, like, 10 feet lower than he had intended he had no idea, but who cared? They had their man!
“Hey, Fraser! I did it!”
There was a groan next to him and Ray turned to find Fraser rubbing his head. Fraser looked up at the movement and—“Hey, can you see me again?” Ray asked surprised at Fraser’s focused look.
“You got your man.” Bob Fraser said immensely pleased with himself.
“Yes, thank you,” Fraser answered.
“Heh, mucho welcome.” Ray reached out to pull Fraser up.
“But I think he’s dead,” Fraser’s Dad added with a frown.
“It’s just, uhm, you see, it kinda wrapped around his throat…” Ray gestured at the criminal with an embarrassed rub of his neck.
“Oh… oh dear.”
“Yeah… well, it just wasn’t his kinda day. Uh… what do you say, we get the hell outta here?” Ray said, trying to change the subject.
“Ah, yes. Let’s get the raft.”
“The raft?” Ray intoned with disbelief.
“Why yes, how had you intended to leave here?” Fraser asked puzzled.
“You said it was bait.”
“Fraser you do not get me on a raft,” Ray said with vehemence.
“Why not Ray?”
“Because I can’t swim.”
“You said you couldn’t use the bola either,” Fraser pointed out.
“Yeah, that was a freak accident. But I’m not taking my chances with the wet element.”
“Oh, Ray this is really ridiculous,” Fraser said annoyed.
“Fraser, can you hear me?” Ray asked worried.
Fraser frowned. Where had the change in topic come from?
“Fraser? This is Ray from the material world.”
Fraser wanted to answer, tell Ray that he was right in front of him and that he could see him perfectly well but his vision was developing odd patches of blackness… his head hurt.
Dizziness made him spin and he felt the world go black.
“Buddy? You still in there?”
Fraser regained consciousness with a groan. His head felt like it was about to split open.
He was lying on the hard concrete of a back alley in Chicago.
“He clocked you good. Just lie there for a second, okay? An ambulance is on its way.”
“What about the—“
“The guy? Don’t worry, he ran straight into Hewey and Dewey around the corner… it wasn’t his kinda day, I guess. You got your man, so can you relax already?” He pushed at Fraser chest and Fraser lay back down with a sigh of relief.
“You were out for quite a while there Frase.”
“It was… interesting,” Fraser hedged.
“Interesting? Only a freak like you could find getting knocked out cold interesting.”