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Secrets of Liberty Mountain: No Man's Land (Chapter 15-16)

Life abruptly changes when a homeless veteran stumbles upon a group of female survivalists.

The gentle nudge of Alice's hands dragged me out of my sleep. 

"Dennis, I'm sorry to wake you, but I've gotta piss so bad I can taste it. I need your help," she said as she pulled me into a sitting position. Our warm and cozy tent had turned into an icebox.

"You gotta be kidding; since when do you need help taking a piss?" 

Reaching under my makeshift pillow, I fished out my light and turned it on. In front of me, a naked Alice sat huddled, her breath streaming like smoke from her mouth, and nipples hardening like pebbles in the chill air.

"I need your help. I don't want to go outside, by myself, in the dark. Not with all those fucking snakes," Alice said with a shudder.

"Then don't go outside, use the chamber pot," I glanced at my wristwatch, we had been asleep about six hours and sunrise was still an hour away.

"We don't have a chamber pot." Alice scanned the contents of our tent for confirmation.

"Oh, no! Not that that'll be gross," her eyes widened in alarm as I pointed to the stainless steel cooking pot.

"You have three choices: pee in the pot, pee in your pants, if you wore any, or go pee with the pythons." I knew her dilemma wasn't funny, but I couldn't keep from chuckling.

Holding the flashlight aloft for illumination, I watched as she straddled our improvised toilet and squatted down. Alice let out a plaintive yelp! when her bare bottom made contact with the ice-cold stainless steel rim.

"Squat, don't sit unless you want a frozen fanny," I let out a sympathetic laugh.

Alice made a face, stuck her tongue out, hunched down, and with a little grunt kicked her sprinkler system into high gear.

I scrambled to get dressed in the near freezing air as my scrotum tried to pull everything inside of me in an effort to keep the family jewels snug and warm. My nuts were responding to the same instinctive response to the chill air which caused Alice's nipples to become stiff and hard when cold. Her body tried to protect the twin sisters from getting frostbite by increasing the blood supply to her milk outlets.

All of which made summer trips to the frozen food section of supermarkets such an enjoyable experience for voyeurs. Humans are hardwired to stay sexy and productive for as long as possible. How else could we have managed to survive the ice age? At least, that was my theory.

When I came across something, which sparked my curiosity, I often concocted a theory to answer the question, "Why is this or that like it is?"

I never bothered using Google or Bing to find out if my guesses were correct. If they were? Great. But, if they were wrong it would be proof I needed to get a life and stop wasting my time pretending to be smart. Frankly, I wasn't eager to find out if I was using brain cells thinking about bullshit.

I was more awake than I wanted to be, so I left Alice to her business, retrieved my clothes, got dressed and headed down to the tunnel entrance. I wanted to check things out and snag some fuel for a hot cup of tea. Memo to self: I want caffeine with attitude. Make sure future survival kits include instant coffee.

The tunnel's entrance was wider and deeper than the rest of the cave, and it was a relief to be able to stand upright without banging my head on a rock ceiling. While the air in our cavern was almost freezing, the temperature at the entrance was absolutely arctic. The snow trapped in the crowns of the saplings sparkled and glowed in the light of my torch. The storm had done an excellent job sealing our stone shelter from the weather, maybe too good of a job. 

The air in the foyer was as still as death. I grabbed the base of one of the smaller saplings, pulled it toward me, and pushed it out in an effort to break open an air passage. I could drag the tree inward without too much effort. But, when I tried to force it outward I could make no headway, even when I pushed with all my might.

It was like trying to push a pillow into a sand dune. I tried another sapling. Second verse, same as the first.

I gave the base of each sapling a push. None of them moved. Our shield had become an airless prison. It was unlikely we were in any short-term danger of running out of oxygen. The real threat was being poisoned by carbon dioxide. CO2 becomes mildly toxic at a concentration around a percent or so. Eventually, the atmosphere in the cave would go bad, and we would die of carbon dioxide poisoning long before we ran out of oxygen. We needed to open an air passage to the outside. Pronto!

"Alice, can you give me a hand down here, I think we have a problem with our air supply." I leaned against the cave walls and used my feet to try to move another small tree. Zilch, Zero. Nada. The damn thing might as well have been a parking meter planted in concrete.

Leaning against the rock wall of the entrance, I caught my breath. My guess? Our sapling shield lay buried under the mother of all snowdrifts.

Chapter 16 

The dark wall of snow sealing the entrance of the tunnel sparkled and glistened in the moving beams of our flashlights. Alice paused for a moment to wipe the sweat from her forehead. After digging into the embankment for almost an hour, we had almost nothing to show for our efforts.

“Time for a break." Alice leaned her back against the rock wall of the tunnel and rested her head against the rough surface as she pushed several stray strands of blonde hair out of her eyes.

"It should be about sunrise," I glanced at my wristwatch and back at the snow, searching for any sign of light from the outside. A faint glow would tell us where the snow cover might be thinner than the rest. No glimmer of light entered.

With a sigh, I leaned against the wall next to Alice and took a deep breath followed by another. My fingertips tingled with the same feeling I got when my arm falls asleep.

The blizzard and the drifting snow did an excellent job blocking the entrance. Digging in the drift would have been easier if it were not for the tangled branches of the young Aspens. The barren foliage and sticks acted like rebar in a reinforced concrete retaining wall. Running the Boston Marathon would have been easier compared to digging an air passage between all the woodwork.

"Dennis, it's getting hard to catch my breath." Alice's chest heaved as she inhaled a long breath. The annoying headache dancing in the shadows stopped hiding and announced its presence in a wave of pulsating pain keeping time with my beating heart.

We were on the leading edge of CO2 poisoning and like the canaries in a coal mine, we didn't have any place to go. I kept pawing at the snow as I removed one handful of white stuff after another. I would dig a little and stop for a minute or two to catch my breath and dig some more.

Somewhere within the recess of my mind alarm bells sounded. A tiny part of my brain jumped up and down trying to get my attention. All rather annoying and I told myself to settle down and take a nap. A nap would be so fantastic right about now.

I rested my head on the arm I used for digging and took another breath. I will just rest here for a moment. Warm and cozy, a snow cocoon surrounded me in my new tunnel. Do butterflies dream when they sleep?

"Dennis! Dennis! Move. I got it," Alice's hands shook my body as she pulled me back toward her.

"Whatcha doing? This is no time to cut firewood." I rested against the warm snow as Alice crawled past me with a saw in her hands and took my place where I had been digging.

"Son of a bitch! Grunt. God damn it! Ugg!" Clumps of snow mixed with twigs, branches and sticks flew out from behind her.

"Whatcha doing?" I asked again. My voice called from a million miles away.

"I'm cutting my way through the fuckin' snow. I'm not, ah fuck it, I'm not, God damn it! Digging," she kicked a huge snow block bristling with sticks and branches out of the hole followed by more cursing and more snow and wood.

My field of vision kept getting smaller and narrower. How strange? I found myself in a tunnel looking at myself in a tunnel. I wanted to tell Alice to stop making so much noise and let me sleep, but my voice was lost in the fog filling my head.

So warm, so restful. I closed my eyes in a cozy blanket of sleep when a blast of freezing air hit me in the face. What the hell? I inhaled a satisfying breath of fresh freezing air and another. I could feel the fog in my head clearing each time I inhaled.

Son of a bitch, she had done it. She had fucking done it! She opened a passageway to the outside.

Driven by the blizzard's gale force winds, a tsunami of sub-zero temperatures cascaded through the opening carved by Alice. Whatever body heat and warmth we retained under our clothing were swept away like sandcastles in the rising tide of Arctic air.

"We've got to warm up!" I put my arm around Alice's shoulders and pulled her close to me. Her body was shivering and trembling as much as mine.

Prolonged exposure to elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide wrecked havoc with our bodies and our minds. Trying to complete a thought was like wading through an ocean of molasses. I felt like I had been driven over by a Greyhound Bus.

From what I understood about CO2 toxicity, which was almost nothing, it would take Alice and me at least twenty-four hours for our systems to restore a healthy oxygen balance as we purged the excess carbon dioxide from our bodies.

With each breath we took, our breathing became a little bit easier. Trying to stand up was a different story. I made it to my knees twice before wobbling and falling over. Alice didn't fare much better; she swayed sideways and toppled over like a tree in a hurricane when she tried to rise to her feet. We were a mess.

Finally, we got ourselves into sync and helped each other climb to our feet. Like two drunken sailors, we staggered off toward our tent with the beams of our flashlights leading the way. A fuzzy part of my brain was engaged in trying to do a basic risk assessment. The math was so simple my foggy brain could do the calculations:

Hypothermia + CO2 poisoning = Death

"My God, I'm freezing." Alice's teeth chattered in time with her shivering body. The sweat, which had drenched us while we were frantically digging ourselves out of the cavern became a swarm of leeches sucking the heat out of our bodies.

"We gotta lose these wet clothes before we freeze to death," My teeth chattered like an old-fashioned typewriter. I stuttered and stammered so much I had to repeat every word two or three times.

Inside our tent, I ignored the chill as I raced to disrobe. My tee shirt was drenched. I stripped it off and used it as a towel to dry myself off. I knelt naked next to Alice, removed her clothing, and toweled her shivering body off the best I could. I glanced at my watch; it was a few minutes after nine o'clock in the morning.

Without another word between us we slipped into the frigid sleeping bag and held each other as tightly as we could. For all the warmth we were generating, we might as well have been two ice cubes at the bottom of a martini glass.

Our hands caressed each other's bodies and bare bottoms as we used friction to warm the surface of our skin. After several minutes our shivering abated as we exchanged body heat.

Alice's body relaxed as her tension evaporated. We held each other in our arms as a deep, restful calm surrounded us in the warm and comforting cocoon of slumber. I smiled. 

Butterflies do dream when they sleep.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © Copyright 2019 by Nathan Wolf
All rights reserved.

This is an adult work of fiction intended for mature readers.

Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents either are the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner.

Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is too weird for words and 100% purely coincidental.


NOTE: "Secrets of Liberty Mountain" is a work in progress and today stands at 97,650 words. As a new author, I value your feedback. Please take a moment to share your thoughts on my story. Either leave a comment below or PM me and let me know what you think. Thank you.

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