The following story is based on my very real weekend, but I figured it could double for my submission to M Pax’s Rifters launch. The story is true, just the location is fictional. I present, My Summer Trip to Settler, Oregon.
My mother broke her knee.
We were at a remote campsite, just north of Settler, Oregon, and had been there all weekend. I’d been standing by my car, checking that my daughter was properly buckled in for the return trip, when I saw it from the corner of my vision. My mom stepped down from the camper. I stood frozen for an instant as I saw her tip. And then she hit.
I ran. “MOM!”
She winced and held her leg. “I felt something snap.” She forced out the words through gritted teeth and pale lips. No tears. Fierce and fearless as usual. How could she be so composed?
I raked my hands through my hair and grabbed her beneath the arms.
“No!” Her wince morphed into a grimace. “Don’t pick me up.”
Crap. I shouted to my husband and grabbed my cell phone out of habit. No reception. Of course there was no reception! We were out in the freaking mountains. I shoved my phone back into my pocket.
“Where does it hurt?” my husband asked. At least he was able to think in a situation like this.
What was I doing? What could I do? “I…” I looked around the campsite. “I’m going to go find Dad.”
Again I ran, scrambling down the river rocks to the water. “DAD!” I waved my arms above my head. “DAD!”
He squinted at me and gathered up his gold pan. Green waders covered his legs to the the thigh and water sloshed around his feet. Good. He wouldn’t have to walk all the way around from the other campsite. As he neared, he called out, “What happened?”
“Mom fell!” I pantomimed breaking a stick and then pointed to my leg. I looked back toward the camper. Should I wait for him before going back?
I rushed back to my mom and husband. He’d gathered pillows for under her head and now prodded her leg. “Can you feel your toes still?”
She nodded, but kept her eyes clamped closed.
I licked my lips and started pacing. “What should I do?” I stalked to my car, but my daughter was drifting off into an afternoon nap, and my son was already asleep. Okay. No need to fuss over the kids.
My husband looked around. “We should splint her leg.”
I sucked in a breath. “With what?”
He waved at the campsite. “Sticks would probably work.”
By that time, my dad had made it back. He dug through his supplies, pulled out the pop-up tent for the portable toilet, and grabbed the poles. I went back to fidgeting. “I have my hand wraps, the ones I use for kickboxing.”
“Yeah, get them.”
I popped the car trunk and yanked out my bag. Front zipper? No, second zipper. I grabbed the balled-up hand wraps and left the bag lying on the ground. “Here!”
The tent poles braced my mom’s knee on either side, and we wrapped them in a folded up blue tarp that had duct tape lining the edges. I slid the first hand wrap around her calf, and winced when I saw her wince. “I’m sorry,” I whispered.
“No, no.” Her hand patted the air. “Make it tight. It feels better.”
I stuck the Velcro end of the hand wrap to itself and started in on the second one, on her thigh, just above the knee.
We all took a few deep breaths, and then started throwing things into the camper. It’d be a 3 hour drive to get back to someplace with a decent hospital.
And that was how our trip ended.
BTW, the area we camped in was pretty good for gold panning…
The Gold Rush trickles to a fool’s quest and a string of stagecoach heists. In 1888, Earl Blacke decides to make a new start and become a better man. He escapes into the mountains, heading north. In the wilds of Oregon, a rift inside an ancient volcano opens and sends him into the future, into the present day. It also shaves forty years off his age, forty years to live over again and atone for what he’s done.
Starting over is hard to do. In current day New York, Daelin Long’s dream job at a publishing house goes the way of the dinosaurs her sister chases. With no money and nowhere else to go, Daelin accepts the librarian position in her sister’s dinky town in the middle of Oregon. Nestled inside ancient volcanic peaks, the town of Settler holds onto many secrets. Residents roam the streets with weirdly fashioned devices, and odd lights pulse in the night skies. People whisper of a phantom outlaw and start dying, murdered and missing their heads. On top of it all, Daelin’s sister is missing, and Daelin doesn’t know who to trust.
Earl knows more than he’s saying. He shares a notorious history with the phantom, one he’ll see remains buried. Keeping Daelin’s sister’s secrets is his only chance at redemption, and the only way to keep this world safe.
The Rifters is available at an introductory price. The second book in the series, The Initiate, will be available October 20, 2014. It’s up for preorder for a special price at iTunes, Amazon, and B&N. Check HERE for links. Giveaways and events are ongoing through October 31, 2014. Check HERE for details.
M. Pax is author of the space adventure series The Backworlds, plus other novels and short stories. Fantasy, science fiction, and the weird beckons to her, and she blames Oregon, a source of endless inspiration. She docents at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers as a star guide, has a cat with a crush on Mr. Spock, and is slightly obsessed with Jane Austen. Learn more at mpaxauthor.com.
Have you picked up The Rifters yet? Have you had any traumatic camping experiences? What was your summer trip to Settler, Oregon like?