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Dallas D'Angelo-Gary

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Widow's Peak
By Dallas D'Angelo-Gary
Monday, November 16, 2009

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Sometimes, incredible truth is more difficult to believe than a lie. It all has to do with your 'comfort zone.'

Widow's Peak

The burning pain in my side forced me to temporarily halt my ascent.  I clung to the barren overhang, gasping for breath and wincing with pain.  I've got to slow down, I thought to myself.  I'm very likely to fall if I'm not careful.  Then a scraping sound below me reminded me why I was in such a hurry.  I felt just a slight tinge of satisfaction in the fact that the thing couldn't climb as fast as I, but that feeling was short-lived.  It'd only be a matter of time until I reached the top of the cliff, then where would I go?

As I watched my breath fog out into the chill I was gripped with a sudden panicky urge to catch it, keep it, put it back, for I realized each one was numbered now and soon I would reach my last.  I looked at the darkening sky, wondering if the thing could follow my scent through a blizzard.  A tiny hope dared to flare into life.  If I can just hang on for another hour....

But, could I?  My mind wandered back to the beginning of my terror.  My climbing partner, Frank Price, and I were just topping the first vertical face, and working along a narrow ledge, when this thing came out of a small cave.  It waited until we were past it, then came after Frank, who was anchoring me for the climb up the second face.  It almost looked human, at first, until it got to Frank -- then it was all teeth and claws.  Frank had leaped to his death to escape the pain, nearly yanking me off the cliff with him.  But the creature had all but severed the rope in its attack, and the rope snapped just as it came taut.

The scrabbling sound came from beneath the overhang.  From the sound, I tried to gauge where the creature was on the face.  Maybe the narrow chimney chute?  With another gasp of air, I renewed my efforts to negotiate this last vertical face.  Above me, I could see the scrub juniper that marked the edge of the cliff.  Just another two hundred feet, then I would have to run like hell.  I had to have as much distance between us as possible when it gained the top.

Suddenly, heaven opened up and gave me the most melodious song: the distant whup-whup-whup of rotary blades.  Driving in an anchor, I rummaged frantically into my backpack and pulled out a flare.  I could hear the rotors increase in pitch as the helicopter changed direction, and came for me.  I was saved!  Saved, that is, if the weather didn't close in too quickly.  I looked anxiously toward the leaden skies that I'd once counted upon for salvation.  Now they were my enemy.

Then, there he was, hovering above me, the blades whupping loudly as billows of dust and snow fled the cliff.  I waved my flare frantically, and screamed into the building winds.  A cable dropped out the door, and snaked its way down the cliff toward me.  The scrabbling below me now sounded rushed.  I panicked!  In frantic terror, I leaped for the cable, wrapping my arms and legs around it.  The hoist began to pull me up.  Thank God!  I really was going to make it.  Suddenly, I began to laugh hysterically, bringing a puzzled look from the crewman as he helped me aboard.

"Okay," he shouted to the pilot, "we've got him.  Now lets maneuver around for the girl."

My heart stopped.  "Girl?  What girl?  There's no one else with me.  get the hell out of here, man!"

"What?"  The crewman looked incredulous.  "Why would you say that, man?  She's right there."

I looked where he was pointing, and there on the cliff face, not fifty feet below us was what appeared to be a woman.  A scantily clad woman as well.  "That's not a woman, fool!  I don't know what the hell it is, but whatever it is, it killed my partner."

The crewman's jaw dropped.  'Not a woman?  What?  Do you think I'm blind, buddy?"

"Think, man!"  I almost screamed.  "What woman climber would go out in this weather dressed like that?  It's got to be some sort of hypnosis, man.  Snap out of it."  I grabbed the cable to keep him from letting it down.

"Hey!"  He pushed me, and I slammed against the bulkhead hard enough to break my hold.  The cable began to snake toward the 'girl.'

The pilot's voice came faintly over the sound of the rotors.  "Better hurry, man.  The weather is breaking."

Heartened by that, I dove to the door, and reached for the cable again, trying to pull it up hand-over-hand, even as the crewman let it out.

Outraged now, he pulled his weapon and clubbed me with the handle.  The world went red and black, and there was a steady ringing sound that nearly silenced the rotors.  I rolled about on the floor, incoherent and drooling.  Then I saw the creature nearing the threshold, climbing up the cable hand over hand.

I grabbed for the unholstered weapon, then made a futile attempt to reason with the poor soul who had no idea what he'd hooked.  He fought against me, pushing me against the door, so I had to grab it to keep myself from flying into the dizzying space below us.  He reached down to help the creature into the copter.

"No way, man!"  I screamed, and leaped through the door, snapping into free-falling position as I cleared.  Then I heard the screams -- and the gunfire -- and more screams.  Then the chopper dipped from view and became a fireball against the cliff face.

The trees were rushing at me, reaching for me with their verdant arms of grace.  Well, I thought, at least I'll have died by natural means.

Well, as you can see, man, I got pretty busted up, but I didn't die.  That's also why I'm up here, telling you not to try this climb.  Did the creature die in the crash?  I've often wondered that, myself.  I'd like to believe it.  But too many people have come up missing on Widow's Peak.  I'm telling you, man, don't do it.  Turn right around and go home.

You will?  Good!

Hey!  Hey, you.  You getting ready for a climb?  Mind if I tell you a little story first?

Dallas D'Angelo-Gary 03


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Reviewed by Ronald Hull 11/18/2009
Nice little story for people who believe in thingies. Reminds me of Stephen King.

Ron
Reviewed by Peter Schlosser 11/17/2009
A real cliff-hanger, if I dare say. Loved the tension and build-up to the conclusion. Are we talking a North American Yetti or some cracked-out stripper in the High Sierra? You need to do a follow-on to this. You've "peaked" my curiousity now. Good story.
Reviewed by Jerry Bolton 11/17/2009
I liked this. Very much. You gave the reader something to muse and ponder from the very first sentence. That is a big plus in short story writing. Add to the fact that the story was written so well, that puts another star to it. The ending was, quite simply, stunning, and one that I was not expecting and THAT is the coup de grāce insofar as short story telling. I am very happy I found my way to this excellent short story, Dallas . . .
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 11/17/2009
Compelling story; you had my attention! LOL Well done, Dallas!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D





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