Sunday, December 11, 2011


     Archer and Zach pounded the last stakes into the ice, then quickly scurried inside their tent. They wasted no time crawling into their sleeping bags to keep warm. Neither of them had expected the blizzard to hit, and they knew they had to conserve their remaining camp fuel for the morning. It was going to be a rough descent, but both men felt proud to have conquered the mountain.
     “Hey Arch,” Zach said after zipping up his bag from the inside. “It’s been great doing this climb with you.”
     “You too, buddy,” said Archer. “This is number three for us. We’ll have to pick a real challenge next time.”
     Zach laughed. “You bet, although I think this mountain is pushing me to my limits.”
     “Yeah, it’s been a tough one,” Archer agreed. Then he rolled over and tried to fall asleep.
     He was almost out when Zach spoke again.
     “Hey Arch?” Zach asked.
     “Wha— What is it?” Archer rolled over. “Is something wrong?”
     “No,” said Zach. “I was just wondering… do you think we’ll make it down okay?”
     “Of course we will, buddy. Down is the easy part, right?” Archer reached out of his sleeping bag to give his friend a light punch. “We’ll be fine.”
     Zach smiled. “Thanks. Yeah, I’m sure we will. It’s just that… if we don’t…”
     Archer sat up. “What is it, Zach? What’s on your mind?”
     Zach took a deep breath. “Well, Arch, you’re my best friend. And if we can’t make it down and we’re starving and I freeze before you… well, I want you to eat me for food.”
     Archer stared at his friend a few seconds as the words sunk in. “Thanks,” he said, then rolled over again to sleep.
     “Hey Arch?” Zach asked a minute later.
     “What?” Archer didn’t lift his head or open his eyes this time.
     Zach leaned over to see his friend’s face. “Is there anything you want to say to me?”
     “I'm just saying,” said Zach, “suppose we get trapped making our descent… and you freeze before I do… and I’m starving…”
     Archer’s eyes popped open and he turned to find his friend’s face very close to his own.
     “Zach,” he said, “If you take one bite out of my cold dead body, I swear I’m going to haunt you for the rest of your natural life.” Then he rolled over and shut his eyes again.
     Zach rolled over, too, and seemed to fall asleep for a few minutes. Then he spoke again.
     “Hey Arch?”
     “I don’t think I want you to eat me anymore.”
     “Fine, I don’t want to eat you.”

     The two friends didn’t speak a single word to each other during the rest of the descent.
     Both made it home safely.

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