Standing Water

Posted: July 28, 2014 by writingsprint in Drama
Tags: , , , , , ,


Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Algae grows in it. Things die, things decay. Nothing good comes out of drinking standing water.

Becky walked up to the pool of standing water at the bottom of the slot canyon. Something had died in it. It looked like a squirrel. The ground was too arid for it to breed mosquitoes, but that was its only redeeming quality. The pool smelled a rot stench, and every cell in her body told her to walk away from it. Now.

Becky took out her canteen and filled it up with the pool’s water. She held her breath. She thought she could smell the pool through the pores in her skin. Ugh. She started to retch but held it back. She couldn’t contaminate the sample. Actually, it was already contaminated – this wasn’t a sterile field sample kit – but it was the best she could do.

She returned to camp. Charlie looked worse. Black veins ran up and down his arms. His eyes glazed with fever.

Something had contaminated his water, or his food. He had no insect bites on his body. This was the only water source they’d walked past on the way in. Could he have been truly stupid enough to drink from it?

Charlie mumbled something. Foam dribbled out of his mouth. He’d been unconscious for the past hour. He hadn’t been making sense anyway.

Becky put the canteen inside a plastic bag. She had turned his backpack into a frame to drag him with, dragging him behind her using bungees. It was a long walk back to civilization. For all she knew, she was contaminated now, too.

“A nice hike in the desert,” Becky sighed. “What was I thinking? I could have been watching the Sox play the O’s.” Charlie mumbled again. Becky started walking. The frame scraped on the rock behind her. “You just sit tight and enjoy the view. Take a few pictures for me or something.”

Becky laughed. Her legs burned. Her shoulders were killing her already. She laughed anyway. She pictured Charlie taking pictures all the way back to the park ranger post, shots framed by his feet. Selfies with the back of her head.

Charlie had laughed, too. Becky shook her head. She said, “I had snark long before I gathered your poison sample, Mr. Charlie. I could laugh at a funeral, were I so inclined.” She might be laughing at her own, and Charlie’s. To her own thoughts, she replied, “Yeah, well. If you’re going to be infected, you might as well be infected with something that makes you smile. That’s what I say.”

Becky kept walking. All the same, she hoped she met the rangers soon.

Photo credit: “Desert” by Moyan Brenn at Flickr
Photo is unmodified
Shared under Creative Commons license

  1. I first thought she was going to taste that water and my mouth fell open. Phew! Glad I was wrong. Short and yet drew me in instantly.


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