Housekeeping … Dudley’s bookstore writers group April 24, 2017. We now are committed to publishing a book named Clockwork Purple and we are in our final stages of preparation. All finished date is July 4, 2017.

Today’s prompt was randomly created from a random book picked by J Michael. It turned out to be Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen. Then a random page was chosen by Joanna; it was page 63 – and then a line was chosen randomly by Aingeal; it was line 5. And so our random prompt turned out to be … (set timer to 45 minutes GO!)

“Burned my hand badly while holding a red and green fire cone.”

Where to begin telling the problems that erupted that dark and stormy night? We had ascended a cliff on Mt Boring to near a small flat area we had spotted from below and where we intended to set up our overnight camp. It was a perfect day for climbing and camping when we left our cars at a wide place in the dirt road a couple of miles below, but the trail became more difficult than expected and we had wasted an hour on a wrong turn on a confusing fork in the trail. We chose the trail less used but it appeared to be pointed up the direction we were intending to go. It ended up an hour later at a large hole in the ground where some crazy miner probably thought there was something worth digging for and he wasted a month. We only wasted an hour on that detour, but it was an hour that later became critical and brought on our crisis.

Let me mention at this point that if you find this bottle I survived. At least I survived hanging off the cliff long enough to write this essay. You see, we were stuck right here all night while lightning intermittently exposed our perilous situation and pounding wind peeled my friends off the cliff and into the oblivion below. At least while I write this it looks like oblivion. I can see nothing but swirling fog. Perhaps if you find this on a perfectly clear day, like the one we were having such a wonderful time enjoying only a few hours ago, you will see how beautiful Mother Nature can be. However, if you notice piles of human remains below you might get a deeper appreciation of how dangerous our universal mother can be and how her beauty can suddenly turn into your personal ugliness and horror.

I am functionally tied to this crack in the cliff face by my improvised support made of the shoulder straps of my pack wrapped around my thermos bottle and jammed into the crack. I hang here! I’m filled with guilt for leading my friends into this absurd situation and hearing them curse me as they fell from the cliff below – one by one. But what could I do? What can I do now? In a last desperate effort to summon help, while my remaining friends were clinging to the cliff face below, I wiggled out the rescue flare. It was a flare to be used when lost and a rescue party or search airplane was overhead, but here in the wind and fog, it was useless. All the same, they called from below in their desperation for me to do something! Anything! With an impossible twisting about while hanging there in my improvised straightjacket that Houdini would have respected, I succeeded in lighting the flare.

I burned my hand badly while holding the red and green fire cone. I was waving it wildly and screaming at the top of my soon raw voice. There wasn’t any reasonable hope of a savior even hearing me, or any of us; we had all screamed our life out into the fog from a mountain named Boring in the middle of a place on our map named Nowhere.