She wasn’t lost. But she might as well be.
She pulled her top around her shoulders: night was setting in, and with the darkness came the cold. And she was going to spend the night here, and who knows how much longer. Because her right leg was completely trapped from the knee down beneath a pile of collapsed stone.
The rocks were impossible to move. She didn’t think it was just the angle she was at that made moving them impossible: they were just really, really heavy.
(Hiking alone. One apple, half a bottle of water. What was she thinking?)
Her phone had been smashed in the fall. As the sun set, and she was immersed in the blackest blackness she had ever seen, she repeated to herself a new mantra:
“There’s no predators in Australia.”
But the mosquitos bit her all over.
After the second night, despair really set in.
It was bad enough to have this constant pain. It was bad enough to be so very hungry. It was bad enough to be stuck in some part of the “Aussie bush” no-one ever visits. But what topped it all off was trying to go number twos hygienically while trapped beneath a boulder. The banal logistics like that pushed it from completely awful into a whole other realm of living hell. No-one ever talks about that, she thought, no-one mentions the difficulties in defecating while crushed beneath fallen rocks. She would mention it, she thought, when she wrote her memoirs.
After the third night, though, when the hunger and stink and pain were all one, and after she had cried out for help until her throat could no longer take it, and after she had sobbed and dried up and sobbed again, she knew there was only one way she was getting out of here. There was only one way she was going to live to write those fucking memoirs. There was only one way she was getting back home to London. And it was a way she could barely face.
In her hand was a pocket knife.
The kneecap, it turned out, was a hard place to dig into. So much bone and gristle. The stick she was biting down on snapped under the pressure, and she was sure she had splinters in her tongue. But she pushed on.
Her blood, so bright in the Australian mid-morning sun. Her meat attracting the flies. The bone, there, so hard to separate from the sinew. The veins, so daunting to sever. But she pushed on.
And finally, finally, it was done. She tourniqueted her stump with strips cut from her top. She was slick with blood and sweat, but it was done.
Teeth clenched, she pulled herself up. Her hand, bloody, slipped on the rock, but she managed to stand.
She would survive.
Around the corner strode five strong Norwegian backpackers.
They moved the rocks, recovered her leg.
“Looks fine,” they said.