The movement made me think of a boat and when I listened, I could hear the splash and swish of water near my head. I was lying on a hard surface barely padded with a rough cloth. Cautiously I opened my eyes again, merely a slit, and looked around.
Wooden walls, rising no more than a foot above me, and as I opened my eyes a bit more, green leaves and blue sky moving swiftly by. It took a struggle, but after a minute or two I was able to sit; yes, I was in a boat, and traveling fast down a large river.
I rested then until the dizziness went away and then I investigated. I had no idea why I was in this fix, but first I needed to know what supplies I had to help get myself out of it. In the stern the steering handle had been disconnected and the rudder locked in line with the keel. The seat there had a storage box under it. When I lifted the seat, I found clothing, food, water flasks, a medical kit and boots. I didn’t stop to do a real search, but moved on.
Investigating further I found posts for a tent, some of them would also serve as a mast. What I had been lying on was the canvas sail, which would be the tent, providing I could get to shore. In other compartments I found more food, camper’s cooking gear and dishes with cutlery, and several cans of sterno. Well, I would be fairly well supplied if I got to shore. And there was a book giving good information on edible things that would supplement my supplies. Once ashore, I could figure out how to get back to civilization, but not back where I’d come from; obviously, I had enemies there. But I knew I had at least one friend there, or I would be dead, not floating down a river.
On further looking through the clothing, I found a map. On one river there was a red x. It was the river where we had set up our main camp. At last I had an idea of where I was. I knew there was a cataract on this river, a high one. If I went over that, I would not survive. I searched more, and found a compass and was able to determine my approximate location. I had to get busy and fix the rudder and start looking for a safe place to pull in to shore. Fortunately that only took a few minutes, and I studied the map again. The water was moving faster and was getting rougher, so I was getting closer to the falls.
I found a small bay as I rounded a bend, and steered into it, and the boat nosed up to the shore. Jumping out holding a rope, I pulled until the boat was partly on land, and tied it to a tree. Then I took the backpack and started packing it with clothing, food, dishes and cookware and sterno. I wrapped a blanket I found in the sail, with all the poles and fastened that to the rack beneath the backpack. I hung the axe and folding shovel and other tools I’d found hidden under the clothing on the belt of the backpack. I also hung six water bottles, filled from the reservoir I’d found in the bow.
When I was sure I had everything I would need attached to my body in some way, I untied the boat, pushed it into the water, and shoved it as far out as I could, hoping the current would catch it. I stood and watched, and saw it finally caught, and swirling away. It would go over the falls, and if they came looking, they’d find the wreckage there and, I hoped, conclude that my body was drawn out into the ocean.
I climbed up the bank and stopped, sitting on a fallen log to take off my wet shoes and socks. I hand wiped my feet as dry as I could, hung the shoes on the belt with the socks tucked in them, and put on dry socks and the boots. I discovered as I did, that they were my own, and smiled and blessed my unknown friend. Then I stood and started my trek, using the map and compass.