“We have about 6 or 7 minutes before we get there, can you tell me what happened?”
“We were hiking back to our campsite, and Brent’s foot slipped into a fox hole. The small bit of snow around it didn’t help. He couldn’t stop himself and fell forward. I managed to slow the bleeding, but it’s broken. It pushed through his skin.”
Compound fracture, it would be tricky to move him. Tara took her phone out again and sent another text to Paytah.
“Possible compound fracture, be sure to bring the gurney.”
Her response came quickly. “Got it. On the way.”
“My co-worker will come with no less than two other people; we will be able to get him help.”
“Thank you so much, Tara. I am so glad I heard your music on my way to the Visitor Center. It was the only place I could think of where I would find someone.”
“We have a hospital on-site, so once we get him off the mountain, they should be able to secure his break well enough for transport.”
“It should be just up here through these trees.”
Tara looked beyond the tree line with a squint of her eyes to determine where Maggie’s boyfriend was sitting. She spied him across the clearing, his body still and unmoving, his eyes wide and locked on something to his left. Tara saw it then and grasped Maggie’s arm to pull her back and down into a crouching position. Maggie attempted to pull away in confusion, crouching down beside Tara after her fierce whisper.
“You need to stay here, and stay quiet,” Tara said. “You don’t want to move.”
“I see it,” Maggie whispered. She had hardly taken a breath since crouching down beside Tara. Three sets of eyes were locked in the same direction, and while the boyfriend was the closest of the three, it wouldn’t take more than a few seconds for the mountain lion to make it to their location if it chose to do so.
Tara scooted closer to the clearing, leaving Maggie behind her by a foot or two. It was enough of a movement to attract the animal’s attention. It locked its gaze on Tara, as it adjusted its powerful body slightly to face hers. She could hear Maggie’s slight intake in breath, but otherwise, she was as silent as an evergreen. Tara slowly put her arms out on either side, her hands splayed with palms forward. The mountain lion bared its fangs with a sharp hiss, but otherwise didn’t make a move.
She wasn’t quite sure it would work but couldn’t think of anything else to do. The idea came as a flash to her mind, much like some of the other things that she had been shown in the past few months. Going with her gut in these types of situations, had been the right choice for her entire life, but much more so lately. It was the right thing to do; she knew it in her bones. Tara took a deep breath and pushed her thoughts out in front of her, directing her intention at the large cat a few feet away from the injured man.
Peace. No Harm. Friend.
FOOD. The response wasn’t angry, nor did it feel urgent. This animal wasn’t starving but had merely come across something that smelled like blood. Tara felt the waves of curiosity coming from the beast. If the animal had truly been hungry, Brent would have already been attacked.
Not Food. Friend.
The mountain lion’s head tipped to the side, much like Brooke’s cat Misty did when Tara spoke aloud to her. Her best friend had seen how attached Tara and the cat had become and had left her in Tara’s care when she moved away. She and Misty had their communication down to a science, and it was only because they spoke to each other this way, that Tara had even thought to attempt it with the wild feline. The words were always sent with images that reinforced her words.
“Unbelievable,” Maggie whispered in awe. Tara could only imagine what it must look like to her. After all, Tara had now lowered herself to her knees and the cat had shifted its muscular body so that it was facing her fully.
Tara smiled as the large cat started a rumbling purr and stopped twitching its tail. Its ears were up in a relaxed position and it was waiting for her response. Just a conversation between two friends.
The cat relaxed even further, rolling to its side and resting its head on the forest floor. It wasn’t leaving, but Tara decided it was safe enough to approach. She needed to get the cat to leave before the others arrived. She didn’t want it to be tranquilized. She knew that Paytah would have that kind of stuff in her kit.
The cat watched, unblinking, as Tara stood in place with her arms still splayed at her sides. Maggie muttered under her breath, and Tara glanced back with a shake of her head to quiet her. She needed to concentrate and couldn’t worry that Maggie would draw any undue attention to herself.
Tara took a step forward and paused, glancing over to Brent who was no longer staring the mountain lion’s way. He was still up against the tree, but his head was slumped forward chin to chest. He must have passed out from the pain. At least that was what she hoped it was. Another step forward, and her attention was back on the large cat who was giving her more and more of a Misty vibe as she continued to communicate with it.
The words that came to her were more visual than actual words. Pictures pushed into her mind by the cat, showed it rubbing itself across a tree stump and wrestling with its siblings. The images flickered by, like an old black and white movie. The words always formed after images were shown to her, which was how she was able to know what the animals truly wanted.
She was now within a couple of feet of the mountain lion, which rolled over on its back and showed its belly to her. The cat was young, probably just old enough to be without its mother. She supposed that was part of the reason it was so easy to communicate with. It hadn’t had much interaction with humans so the level of fear hadn’t been raised yet. Tara took the final few steps toward the cat and placed her hand on its chest. She could feel the rumble of the purr as she started to fill the feline’s request.
As she rubbed her fingertips across the mountain lion’s fur, she pushed more thoughts its way.
More humans coming. Cat must hide.
The large cat raised its head and looked at her, cocking its head.
Tara continued to rub and pushed another message. Cat must hide. She pulled her hand off its belly, and pushed one more message.
Man needs help.
The mountain lion understood, and as Tara stood and took a step back it rose to its feet and gave its great body a shake to lose the wet debris from its fur. It stepped toward Tara, and rubbed itself along her legs, practically knocking her over with its force. Even though it was young, it had to be over a hundred pounds. She reached down and rubbed the top of its head, before giving it her final thought.
My friend. Cat hide.
Tara pointed toward the woods, and the animal gave one last look at her before turning and walking in that direction. The mountain lion was gone with a whisper, but Tara knew it wouldn’t go far. It made her wonder if it would run into any other hikers, but she couldn’t worry about that now. Its curiosity would keep it nearby and watching, but it would heed her warning. Of that she was sure.