Russel's a Glory Seeker

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Russell's a Glory-Seeker

Russell enjoyed rustic tours. He loved to feel blood slamming through his ventricles and skin prickling up in excitement. To repeat an experience was to waste valuable time. No one lived forever.

He awoke to a burning sensation on his right side; so hot it was cold. He peeled his sleeve away and some of his skin came with it. While he slept, the steel door of the helicopter had cooked him alive. His neck stung too. Russell found that the blue nylon seatbelt had carved such a deep trench into his skin that hot blood pooled out and scabbed around it, fusing them together. He pulled it away anyway, accidentally biting through his lip with his canines.

The dangling helicopter in which he was trapped hung vertically with its landing skids lodged between the wall of the mountain and a jutting tree trunk. Russell had a first-class view of the fatal drop down the valley of the Kohala Mountains. He wondered what the tour guide would have said here. Would he have stayed in character? Would he have mentioned the wild cows and described how the jutting topography came to be?

Moments before a rogue gust of wind sent them reeling into the cliff, the pilot/tour guide had been smiling and cracking dry jokes that sent the old folks behind him into a fit of laughter. The pilot was gone now. He must have taken out the windshield on his way down because the cockpit was empty and the windshield a gory mess.

There used to be three live passengers in the backseat: an older man, his wife and her sister. Their names escaped him now. Russell reached back and shook the man by his limp shoulder. His forehead was cut but otherwise he looked intact. Unfortunately, he wasn't drawing breath. The two women wouldn't be missing him. They weren't breathing either.

Russell daren't make too much commotion. If he did, he risked changing the weight distribution dislodging the skids. The whole helicopter would fall down the cliff with him strapped inside it. What a wild ride that would be!

The radio and intercom system was a mess of smoldering circuitry. He saw no sense in trying to repair it, especially with one arm burned so badly that he couldn't wiggle his fingers. He thought he might try climbing down to the basin if he were a younger man without a melted limb. Climbing up to the top was simply impossible. There were no footholds and the cliff actually moved outward toward the top meaning the climber must defy gravity in two ways. Russell thought about each option in turn. They all ended in tragedy.

I should wait here for rescue, he thought with disappointment. No sense trying anything stupid.

All his life he'd waited for a moment like this, to be a survivor, to do something grand and miraculous that made other men wonder, would I have been able to do what Russell Larsen did?

He'd heard stories of men sawing off their own limbs to escape a fallen tree. The story of Alive especially struck him; where the men had to eat their comrades for sustenance. Russell thought desperately of ways to escape the helicopter without assistance.

A faint click came from his seatbelt clasp. Was it not clicked the whole time? He realized a second later that it was just the opposite...

The belt released at once and Russell's stomach flew into his throat. He stretched his arms and legs to their full extension and hit the spider-webbed windshield. The glass supported Russell's weight but its cracks fanned outward. Russell reached up and grabbed the seatbelt and circled it around his arm three times.

The glass gave way. Russell fell out of the helicopter awkwardly and shards gouged his chest, legs and back on his way down. He fell to the length of the seatbelt and felt a violent jerk on his arm. The torque pulling something in his shoulder and may have dislocated the joint.