The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
The morning struck like a razor sharp icicle through the heart of the tent, causing everyone of them to awaken groaning. The ground was freezing, even with the campfire, which was blazing in the center of the tent, and even with their sleeping bags pulled tight about them. The window with the view of outside was covered with snow.
"Please tell me we're not buried under an avalanche of snow." Jimbo groaned, wanting to get out and stretch, but protecting his mouth and nose from the cold, cold air by having the bag draped over his face to his eyes.
"We're not." Samuel answered from the other side, but he didn't stir either. Also talking from beneath his sleeping bag cover.
Nina, however, was sitting up and stretching. "Think I'll go out for a snow bath."
"WHAT!" Jimbo and Samuel said at the same time.
She laughed. "Guys! It's only thirty below zero. Perfectly safe."
She got up, pulled, stretched again, then unzippered the tent. Immediately, she froze. "On second thought, maybe we are buried under an avalanche of snow."
Jimbo finally got up. He grabbed his rifle and poked at the snow. It made dents in it, but no light came through.
Samuel got up, shivering violently for a moment, then sighed. "Please God, no dead people in this snows."
He went to the snow and placed a hand on it. The interior of the tent went brighter than the sun for a moment as a bright illumination filled it from his glowing hands, then slowly the snow began to melt away, until the light of the morning sun, scant as it was, was able to come through.
Jimbo joined him and with mittens on his hands, began pulling the snow right and left, until a large enough hole was made for all of them to exit.
They crawled outside, then marveled at where they had slept. It was covered under about ten feet of snow.
"I don't think we're getting our tent back."
"No problem." Nina said, then went back inside. In a few moments she had the tent collapsed, rolled up and began shoving it and its framework outside. She crawled out and grinned. The snow is frozen like an igloo.
They grabbed the rest of their gear and Samuel looked to his left where Al and M were standing on a ledge, overlooking the valley below. Al looked back and smiled. "It's so beautiful." He mouthed.
Samuel nodded, then looked at the mountain behind them.
Al sighed, then he and M glided over the snow and along a narrow path of snow that towered in a narrow crevice against the mountain and the old path. Samuel began hiking along it, wary of disturbing the snow, for fear of tumbling it down on them, but it held and there were no accidents. There luck was holding so far.
They climbed silently for what seemed like hours, and it became steadily colder, even with the sun climbing in the sky. A light snow flurry began swirling about them as they climbed. Finally, Samuel couldn't take it any more. He closed his eyes and pressed his hand to the mountain side.
Inside his vision a door opened up and he could see a narrow opening about fifty yards to their right and about a hundred yards straight up. He groaned. They didn't have any ropes for that, which meant climbing hand over hand and that was dangerous with everything so frozen and icy.
He looked at the others, who gave him appraising looks. "Our both is that direction." He pointed straight up.
Jimbo shook his head. "I knew I should have stayed home to play with my hounds."
Nanny jabbed him with an elbow in his side. He gave her a sharp look.
"A big hunk like you should have no trouble navigating a few hundred feet vertically."
"Shows what you know, Ranger." He growled, not liking her jibe.
She gave him a surprising hug. "Just kidding, Jimmy."
Jimbo's face lit up. No one had called him Jimmy since his last real love. He became all gooey and melty eyed when he looked at her. She smiled and didn't look away.
"Look, this love fest has to become a bit more grounded." Samuel said, interrutping their kumbaya moment.
Jimbo looked over at him. "We don't have any gear for this."
"Don't need it. Get out the rope you have stashed."
Jimbo obliged him, pulling out about a hundred yards of triple wrapped nylon steel reinforced rope. Samuel slung it over his shoulder, then nodded to Al, who began climbing, albeit in a floaty kind of way. Al would stop periodically to point out a place for Samuel to step, or grab onto. M would do the same.
To both Nanny and Jimbo's surprise, Samuel made the climb in about thirty minutes. He reached a small ledge, checked the opening and then waved back at them. He dropped the rope, then went into the opening. Even though the light cut off about ten feet back, the whole interior was lit up like a Christmas tree with various mosses casting glows of green, blue and yellow. He finally found a spur of rock strong enough to secure the rope and tied it off again and again, making sure it was strong enough, then he looped it over his arm and went back to the edge, and signaled to Nanny. "You first!" He yelled.
A rumbling sound came from behind him when he did so. He looked up just as some snow began to loosen up. It moved several yards, then stopped.
He looked over at Al, who shrugged his shoulders.
"Samuel made a hurry it up motion and held onto the rope as Nanny began climbing it to the ledge. She made it in twenty, but breathing hard. Her face was red as a beet and her eyes wide. "That was harder than it looked."
"Always is." Samuel agreed, then gave her a portion of the rope. "Help me anchor, Jimbo."
She shouldered a portion and they leaned back after Samuel waved at Jimbo.
Jimbo began pulling himself up. He made it in ten, but as he reached the ledge, it broke away for about a foot of it and he began to tumble down. He let out a roar like an elephant in pain. The rumbling of before grew again, but this time more furious and loud.
"Haul! Haul!" Cursed Samuel as he and Nina struggled to help Jimbo get back up, even as an avalanche poured down the moutainside, gaining momentum and weight as it tumbled, growing louder and louder, larger and larger.
Jimbo saw the wave of death tumbling down and redoubled his efforts. He reached the new ledge and Samuel and Nina practically threw him into the cave opening as they themselves dove in after him.
Jimbo rolled over and looked as tons of snow fell past the cave opening. Samuel helped his friend to his feet.
"Indiana Jones has nothing on us, Sammie."
"I'll second that." Nanny grunted, then froze.
They turned around and were silent. Nothing. Nothing, then the ground beneath their feet began to rise and fall, at first gently, then rougher and rougher, almost tumbling them to the ground.
"Run!" Samuel hollered.
He caused his right fist to light up like a flashlight and they ran down the pathway of the cave, dodging falling rocks and dirt and some stones shaped like spears. And soon they actually were spears, then blades shot from the walls on their left and right.
Samuel saw them coming even before they left their hidden spaces, and steered them to safety, but one blade caught him slighly on his right thigh and he almost died then and there, if Nanny had not grabbed him and jerked him away in time.
They all froze in place. No more blades and falling spears.
"I think we're safe now." Jimbo uttered.
"Jimbo!" Samuel almost screeched.
"Sorry." Jimbo muttered as the walls began to rumble loudly and starting closing in on them.