Teen Elf – Episode 10 – CONCLUSION

Before I know it, I’m in my buckskins, ready for the journey home. The Knights are crying and hugging me. It seems impossible our friendship has been so brief…Britney begs me not to go, and I hesitate…finally head for the door…determined to follow my destiny.

“Wait!” Noel cries, “At least, let me get you past the reporters. They’ll eat you alive.”

I agree…slip through the door crouched low…sneak into Noel’s police car. It’s dark and bitterly cold. I kneel on the floor, bow in hand. We pass easily. All have taken refuge in tents and trailers. We ride to the exact spot I met Sam the day before. “Will you be okay?” he asks deeply concerned…thinking sad thoughts about parting with another “son.”.

“Don’t worry. I have a great sense of direction,” I tell him.

He leans over and gives me a big hug. “Please come back soon.” A sob escapes. “Our home is your home. We want you to join our family.”

He’s so upset, I feel guilty about leaving, but it’s something I have to do. The souls of my family are lingering at Big Furnace, and I have to say goodbye before they merge with the forest and mountains.

“May I tell you something?” He asks.

I nod. “Of course.”

“It’s obvious you and Britney hit it off, and we’re delighted. Don’t worry about it. We want you both to be happy.”

I’m so choked up, I can hardly speak…have to get away or I never will. “Goodbye!” I cry. “Thanks for everything,” and quickly head out.

I’m so worked up, I charge ahead until dawn…start to recognize familiar landmarks. Thankfully, the Knights have given me a few things to make my trip easier…matches, little energy bars (whatever they are), and things called pruners to cut branches.

Finally, I’m so exhausted, I crawl under a pine…stretch out on the carpet of golden needles…peer up through the crisscrossing branches at slivers of blue sky. Feel glad to be back in the forest….my home more than anywhere.

I fall asleep…suddenly am awakened by snorts and grunts…see a dark shape beyond the branches…a bear attracted by the scent of a juicy elf! Know I should yell and scream and scare it off, but for some unknown reason, I leap from the branches and confront it…one of the biggest bears I’ve encountered. What in the world am I doing? We’re only a few feet apart, and it’s a pregnant mother bear. She’s confused…sniffs the air, wonders why I’m acting so strange. Suddenly, snarls and lashes out…rakes my belly.

I snap out of my trance, scream and shake my bow. She smells blood, but hangs back. I continue making a commotion…slowly move away…she does the same…finally ambles away. I’m relieved, but feel the wounds burning. They’re deeper then I thought…bleeding profusely. I curse my stupidity and press on.

I see the outline of Big Furnace in the distance. Not too far, maybe two hours. Blood is oozing down my legs…I’m leaving a trail. Shit! I’ll attract every bear for miles. It’s late afternoon. Don’t want to wander, bloodied, in the dark. Scoop up snow and rub my belly…feel the gashes in my skin.

As I trudge on, my mind is fuzzy…shock, loss of blood, exhaustion?

After an eternity, I stumble into our meadow. Immediately my head fills with voices…free of their earthbound bodies. I recognize the anguish of my mother, father and all my sisters. All a swirl in my head…sudden joy on finding me…so many feelings, I can’t grasp them all…bliss, wonder, sadness…and so many questions…what happened? Where are we going? Are you joining us? Will you be safe?

I’m drawn to the site of our home…a pile of ice and rubble…now riddled with rescue tunnels leading inside. Evening is falling. The world is becoming solemn and blue…no cheery windows, no smoke curling up, and as I stumble in the rubble, the voices fade from my head…float into the afterlife. They needed to see their son and brother one last time. I search for shelter under nearby boulders. Find one where I played as a child, a flat rock with space beneath, a dirt floor, no room to stand. In pain, I drag myself under and collapse on my back…need to get through the night without freezing. Reach out…feel dry leaves. Slowly grab handfuls and cover myself…even my face. Hope the cold will staunch the bleeding.

I open my eyes…see daylight…my body’s sore. It’s difficult to move. Stare at gray rock a foot from my face. Feel the cold everywhere, hands, nose, feet, the tips of my ears. Know I need to move to get circulation going, but don’t want to…realize I’m worse off than I imagined. Lose interest in searching the rubble….it’s better to cherish the good times…worry I might find a sad reminder.

Lie motionless for hours…give myself a pep talk. “Come on. You’re hardy and tough. A little pain is nothing! Get up!” but it doesn’t work. I think of the Knights…how ridiculous it is to dwell in the past. They’re my life now, not the cold pile of ice, but I’m stuck under a rock hardly able to move…not sure I can make it back even if I want to. I start getting sleepy. Shit! the worst thing that can happen. “Wake up!” I scream. “You’ll freeze to death!” But, again, I don’t move a muscle. It’s hopeless. There’s nothing to live for.

Suddenly, I’m aware of a distant sound…pulsing. Faint at first…it gets louder and louder…a helicopter! Adrenaline surges through me, and I manage to drag myself out. Stagger into the meadow and wave my arms. Amazingly, the big machine settles next to me…I hear Noel’s voice. “Arne, my god! What happened?”

“Bear…” I mumble. My knees collapse…and arms cradle me. I’m not aware of much…the chop of the rotors…worried faces…mountaintops moving past. A voice says, “I’ve never treated an elf. Let’s scan him ASAP.” We touch down. A building looms overhead…faces come and go…finally the feel of sheets.

I hear voices. “He’s awake!” Open my eyes and the Knights surround my bed.

“How you doing, buddy?” Noel asks.

I can’t help grinning.

“I should have never let you go. What was I thinking after what you’d been through?”

I feel bad for him…try to explain. “I would have been okay, but when I saw the bear, I lost my head…needed to prove I was brave or something.”

Britney’s teary-eyed. “Arne, sweetie, I’m s-o-o-o glad you’re back. I was totally freaked with you out alone.”

“Me too!” Mrs K agrees.

“Are the reporters around?” I ask.

“Yup,” Noel says, “loads of them. The lobby’s packed.”

I shake my head. “I guess you’ll never have peace.”

Noel leans over me. “Don’t worry. We’ll handle it together. You’re a thousand times more important than a bit of inconvenience. You’re our son.”

THE END