I mapped out the area even though it was in vain. Mr. Black had said we were going to move camp today, but I figured it was good practice. Earlier that day I had sat and messed around with my wristband and had found it had a compass. I imagine that I should have thought of this before. It was a GPS device after all. I used my wristband to remember landmarks. At such and such latitude and longitude I would find the meadow, then there was a small creek off in another direction. I found we were on the top of a hill that had a sharp drop in a different direction from camp. I didn’t go too far out from camp but I got further out than I had when setting up my traps. I periodically returned to camp to see if Mr. Black had returned and was ready to move to another location. Each time I returned there was no change at camp.
I worked my way back to the little creek I had found. Fish wasn’t my favorite, but they might be easier to catch. Never had I gone fishing before, but had been forced to watch a few shows on the television. What was with men and fishing? Anyway, the concept was simple. I would try my luck at fishing today.
While I walked to the stream I considered how I might catch a fish. I knew in normal life people used fishing poles with hooks on the ends. How could I make a fishing pole? I found several sticks on the way to the stream that I thought might get the job done. My mind kept wandering toward a picture of a small boy sitting on the edge of a river with a stick and line hanging from it, waiting for a fish to bite.
By the time I reached the creek I had an armload of sticks. I chose the one I thought might be the strongest and then pulled off one of my shoelaces. I tied it to the end of the stick and thought about what I might use for a hook. Finally the only thing I could come up with was trying to carve myself one with my knife. I got down to business and quickly found it was nearly impossible to carve a hook. I could get a toothpick type thing carved but not a hook. They kept coming out looking like miniature spears.
Spears. Then I got another idea. I wouldn’t even need to carve a hook I could maybe spear myself a fish. This required me to see a fish though. I took my shoelace that was tied to the end of the stick and used it to tie my knife onto the end of the stick. Then I got up and snuck around the banks of the stream. It didn’t take long before I saw a fish. I had kept low and was being quiet. I remembered seeing on a fishing show how fish can see you better from the water than you can see them. I slowed, stood my entire height and threw the spear I had fashioned at the fish. I missed but I managed to make a big splash. This I knew had probably scared fish away for miles in each direction. I had to wade out to retrieve my spear. Thank goodness the creek wasn’t more than waist deep.
As I waded through the water I tried not to kick up too much dirt. If I muddied the water I wouldn’t be able to see anything. I looked into the water in search of fish to skewer once I reclaimed my spear. I saw one just as it darted under the edge of a rock. I stood still in the middle of the creek for several hours and tried my luck numerous times. My legs were getting numb and my teeth were chattering before I decided to exit the freezing water.
I took a walk up the creek to see if there was a more shallow area I could try. It wasn’t long before I found a spot that only reached my knees. I trudged in and tried my luck again. This went on until it was close to getting dark. I better get something soon or I would go without dinner again tonight.
I saw a nice sized fish, aimed and threw my spear. I missed and watched the fish dart under a nearby rock. I ran to the spot where the fish was hiding and plunged my hand under the rock after him. He swam away from me but I had touched him. This was a new concept. I began slowly and methodically feeling under rocks.
About every third or fourth rock I would feel something and then see a fish dart away. I just had to be faster. I lowered my hand back into the water and started feeling around a new rock. Ah-ha! I pushed my hand up against the rock from the bottom, trying to pin the fish so I could get a grip. I got it! I actually said this out loud. It wasn’t very big and I started to close my grip. As my fingers closed around my fish I felt a sharp pain in my hand. Instinctively I pulled my hand toward my body and hanging from it was a snake!
I jumped up and down and screamed, “SNAKE! SNAKE! SNAKE!” Then I shook my hand and arm violently. The snake didn’t loosen its grip. Finally I calmed down enough to try and pry the snakes’ fangs away from my hand. It had a hold of me right at the base of my thumb. I wondered if it was poisonous.
I couldn’t get it off! I had somehow gotten myself back to shore and was standing near my spear. I reached down and picked it up and sliced the snake in two. Its head was still hanging onto my hand and there was a lot of blood. I made myself calm down and I took my finger and thumb and pushed them into either side of the snake’s mouth and was able to finally get it off me. I threw it down and stomped on it a few times. Then I reached down to inspect it with my spear.
In my effort of prying I had noticed its fangs had been more to the back of its mouth and thought that was a good sign. If the fangs were in the front of the mouth it was probably poisonous, but if they were in the back of the mouth, they were meant to hold on, not to inject venom. I did a double check by physically picking it up and opening its mouth and didn’t find any vampire like fangs in the front. Maybe it might not be a bad idea to take it back to camp to see if Mr. Black knew what kind of snake it was. Maybe he had some anti- venom in his pack.
I picked up the dead snake parts and my spear and tromped back to camp. Mr. Black was nowhere to be seen. I sat down and tried to regulate my breathing. I remembered hearing that if you got excited it would just make the venom move faster through your blood stream. I looked down at my injured thumb to see if it had turned black like the pictures I had seen of rattlesnake bites.
It wasn’t black but there was a huge gash right underneath where I had cut the snake in two. I must have cut myself with the knife. It was still bleeding and all the blood when I cut the snake must have been mine. Great. Now what?
Not only am I going to die of snakebite, I might actually die from blood loss too. I started to feel light headed.
“Knock it off,” I told myself out loud. Quit acting like a girl, I thought internally. Okay, the snake had bitten me close to half an hour ago; if it had been poisonous it would probably have kicked in by now. I hoped. Now I just had to figure out what to do with my hand. It was still bleeding heavily. I sat and looked at it. I needed stitches, that was obvious. How was I going to get stitches out here though? I pushed the cut together and that helped slow the bleeding. I had to do something.
I rummaged through my pack and found a book that I hadn’t put in there. It was titled Herbal Remedies. Mr. Black must have put that inside. I skimmed through it quickly to see if there was anything about snakebites, but there wasn’t so I put it down and continued my search. I didn’t find anything else that seemed of use in my pack.
The knife Mr. Black had given me was a survival knife; maybe I would find something there. I started to play with the knife and found a spot on top that unscrewed. I opened it and low and behold there was a little baggie in there with some sort of plastic line and a FISHING HOOK. No needles though. I was so furious at myself for not snooping before. I had thought curiosity would get me into trouble one day, but never thought it could have prevented disaster.
I knew I had to sew up my hand, but I wanted to wait for Mr. Black. I was hungry, and tired and I was freezing because I was still soaking wet. I tried to start the fire because it was getting close to dusk. I finally got it lit and Mr. Black still wasn’t back.
I supposed I better try to sew myself up. I tied some of the fishing line to the hook and proceeded to sew. I had never liked to sew, but this was even worse. When I had first touched the sharp end of the hook to my hand I thought it would hurt too much for me to go through with it, but my wound was numb. At least it was on the outside. If I tried to go too deep it hurt like hell. I caught myself a couple of times with my other hand because I had touched a sensitive spot and it made me almost pass out. I finished sewing up the cut and tied a knot at the end of the line. I used the knife to cut the plastic line and was pretty impressed with myself. It wasn’t too straight, but the bleeding had almost stopped and I hadn’t died because of poisoning either.
It was completely dark around my campfire now. I got up and quickly changed my clothes. They had almost dried completely except around the seams but I didn’t want to be covered in blood anymore. I looked at the snake lying on the ground and my stomach rumbled.
“No,” I said and laid out my bedroll. Then I sat down on it and waited for Mr. Black to reappear. He had said we were going to move camp today, didn’t he? I wondered why he wasn’t back. I hoped he hadn’t gotten hurt. I worried about him a bit to keep my mind off the snake that had almost killed me. Every once in a while I was hit with a feeling of panic because I wasn’t totally convinced it hadn’t been poisonous. I thought of eating it again but decided against it, partly because I wanted to show it to Mr. Black but mostly because I didn’t want to eat snake.