I have no idea how far I went but at some moment, I realized that I had left my phone on the ground where the bear trap had snapped me.
A new fear gripped me then.
If there was a bear trap, there would be bears, wouldn’t there?
Would they smell my blood? Would they come to feast on my carcass when I inevitably passed out?
I was barely walking now, the snow sweeping over my feet as I stumbled like a drunk man toward the cabin ahead.
I had to be hallucinating. Ice had formed on my eyelashes as I froze in my spot and gazed beyond the flatlands toward a long, log cabin that seemed to stretch on forever.
It didn’t make any sense but nothing happening to me in that moment did. I was going to die if that place didn’t exist anywhere else but in my mind.
With the last ounce of energy I could muster, I made my way forward, gasping as dizziness overwhelmed me. My eyes were nearly frozen shut and I couldn’t feel my fingers underneath my mittens but none of that compared to the pain radiating from my leg.
As I lumbered up to the structure up ahead and fell inside the door, I had a terrible feeling that I was going to die anyway.
My heart was still racing even as we approached our residence and I knew it wouldn’t stop until we were safely inside and shielded from the pelting snow and sleet pouring down on us.
It was a miracle we’d made it home from the expedition at all and no matter how much time I’d spent in Iceland, I’d never really get used to the unexpected brushes with death we seemed to encounter by the way of weather.
Jim stopped the van in front of the cabin and we all hurried into the cabin, exhaling in unison as we fell inside the door. The equipment could wait on the truck. Our safety came first. Our gear was used to inclement weather, even if we weren’t.
“Guess we’re going to be off for a few days,” Jim commented and there was a murmur of consensus among us as we shook the snow off our burly bodies and hung up our coats in the mudroom.
“I’ll get the fire going,” I said to no one in particular as our crew dispersed in different directions to find the warmth they sought.
I heard someone banging around in the kitchen but suddenly a cry of alarm caught my attention.
“There’s someone in here!” Jim yelled from our shared dorm.
“What?” I asked, hurrying toward his voice. “Who?”
The thought that an intruder would be in the middle of nowhere was absurd but what would they take?
My question was quickly answered as I swung my massive frame into the room and paused mid-step, gawking at the bloodied, unconscious girl in my bed.
“Sweet Jesus!” I muttered, regaining myself. “How the hell did she get in here?”
Instantly, I saw from where the blood was pouring and anger spiked through my veins when I realized what was on her leg.
“You idiot!” I yelled at Jim who hovered near the unconscious girl. Her skin was as white as the snow which fell outside, a stark contrast to her ebony hair which lay dripping over a mouth of surprising redness.
“How many times have I told you that those bear traps are an accident waiting to happen?”
I dropped to my knees and barked at Harry to grab the medical kit from the bathroom.
“Yeah but the polar bears,” Jim whimpered and I glowered at him.
“Does she look like a polar bear to you, Jimmy?”
I didn’t listen for a response and I looked at the wound around her leg. I needed to pry the clamp off her before she got sepsis. There was no way of knowing how long she’d been there or how hurt she was just by looking at her.
Harry returned and handed me the kit as I struggled to unhinge the jaws from her leg.
“Be careful,” Jim muttered and I shot him a scathing look.
“I wouldn’t have to be careful if you’d be more sensible!”
“I’m sorry,” Jim muttered and I softened, knowing it was never his intention to hurt anyone. That didn’t change the fact that there was a woman bleeding to death in our dorm.
“Stand by with towels. Blood is going to go everywhere. She’s lucky the brunt of it caught her boot. I don’t think there’s much damage to her bones.”
Jim did as he was instructed and slowly, I pulled the trap off her calf, my dark eyes darting up toward her face to see if the pain would rouse her but she remained in a deep, slumber and it scared me beyond reason.
As I predicted, gushes of red began to spurt from the wound and we were on the blood, holding towels to her as I managed to slip off her boots.