It’s the sound that startles me awake. I squint through the black and my vision slowly focuses. I can see something: numbers and a word. They are luminescent and blue. The word is: Volume. The sound is maybe a siren… no. A car horn… yes. I’m in the driver’s seat collapsed on the steering wheel. I gasp, shoot myself into the seat and the horn silences. I find myself suddenly alert from an adrenaline surge as I gulp back metallic blood. Pain shoots through my head and abdomen. I’m afraid.
Think, think, THINK! I consciously breathe deeply. Slowly in and slowly out. In and out. In and out. It’s important to avoid panic in a situation like this. One must use the capacity of the mind and cool intellect. There are many questions; prioritize them and survive. Prioritize and survive.
Number one: Am I safe? This question can be divided into two parts. For the first part, how injured am I? Secondly, how safe is my environment?
I relax balmy fists. Every body part must be checked. Stop trembling. Now! OK. I have a broken ankle, a few cracked ribs and a forehead injury. I look up into the rear view mirror, but it’s too dark. I see nothing but the whites of my eyes peering back at me. I press the base of my palm against my head. Two streams of warm blood run down my wrist and pool inside my elbow before running off. It’s not good. I know that I need to address this immediately, but allow myself a moment. I must keep myself awake. I turn on the radio. It works and the sounds of Roxette fill the dark car. I find a knit scarf on the seat beside me and tie it around my head. That should slow the blood flow. I reason that I my injuries are sufficiently taken care of, for now.
Onto the second part. I look around me in the night air. I don’t recognize the area. It must be close to the middle of the night because it is near pitch black. A full moon illuminates the snow covered pine trees below. I’m far from the main road: I can’t even see it. The headlights are still on. They filter bright beams fifty feet in front of me. I can see that I’ve hit a tree. The hood is crumpled against it. I’d be surprised if the car was drivable. It appears I’m alone in the wilderness.
It’s cold outside, but the heater is still running. Where was I going? I can’t remember. What is the last thing I did? I try to backtrack in my mind, but draw a blank. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to recall it.
Who am I? Nothing.
I decide to shove panic aside. What matters at the moment is my need for help. My head injury may be serious and the pain in my side could be a bruised lung or worse. I need to find my way to help.
I’m becoming sleepy. I must fight it. The music fades to a message sputtering through the speakers. I sit still and try to concentrate. I’m hopeful it will give me a clue on my whereabouts.
The seat envelops me like a warm protective blanket. I surrender to it. In the distance I hear a wolf cry. I wonder to myself if man was ever once a creature of instinct. A wolf would fight its way out of this mess, not sit here to die in comfort.
My eyelids are growing so heavy, so I snap them open. Fight it! I dart them to and fro along the wide, icy landscape until I see a figure ahead. Could it be? Yes! A man propped against a tree. It's dark, but there is no doubt that he IS a man. The rhythmic motion of his breathing gives his silhouette away. He doesn't move, only stands at a distance. I think he's watching me. Maybe he'll save me. I know I should cry out to him, but succumb instead back to the Sandman.