97. A Walk in the Wild
Bill parked his car on the residential street. The street used to be safe, but now there were frequent reports in the weekly paper about break-ins. He put The Club on his steering wheel and made sure that nothing of valueŚnot even a pair of cheap sunglassesŚwas visible through the car windows.
He got out of the car and started the uphill walk. The mountain trail was mostly narrow for the first two miles. Only two people could walk side by side. When the trail got close to the edge of the mountainside, it was best if people walked single file. Several years ago, an experienced hiker, walking alone, slipped and fell to his death. The trail went past a small lake created by a dam, and then broadened as it went up into the heart of the mountain, away from cliffs. When Bill got to First Camp, he stopped by the small stream to look for fish or frogs. Suddenly, he heard a sinister rattling sound. Then, he felt a sharp bite on his calf. He turned around in time to see a rattler slithering off.
There was nothing to do now but walk back down to his car. He had no cell phone with him. He would remember to bring it next time, if there was a next time. Should he walk slowly, so the poison would spread slowly? Or should he walk fast, so he could get to his car and get medical help faster? Perhaps he'd meet someone on the way down.
A simple walk, he thought. It was just going to be a simple walk up a mountain trail.
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