I’ve got calluses on my hands from burying my brother. If we’re rescued today, I’ll have to explain that to someone. Some search-and-rescue trooper, some forest ranger, will hold my palm to the light of a chopper window and want to know how I managed to rub the heel of my hand raw. I practice, sometimes. I practice what I’ll say to people when we get back home. Dr. Harmon, the department head, will need to know how I got Geoff and Lillian killed doing what was supposed to be straightforward field research. They were both his students, hand-picked for great things, led astray by the man who wrote his dissertation on the Russian Yeti, who taught a cryptozoology class disguised as a folklore survey. I got bumped off the tenure track for that. Harmon talked over me in meetings. Like I wasn’t there.
The man on the trail is dead and will need to be moved. It is a more difficult task than I would have guessed, and nearly impossible for a 5’ 4” woman with no help and no gurney. I tried to drag him toward camp right after I found him this morning, but only succeeded in pivoting him and twisting his legs around each other horribly. Bodies look so wrong once they stop feeling pain. I never thought I would have so much experience with death, but I haven’t cried over the loss of someone since the lighthouse. This man shit his pants before he died, and moving him made the smell worse. It will bring the animals in. Still no sign of Ira or Bill.