Just before reaching the tunnel I heard what sounded like soft meows, followed by a hiss. Lowering my torch I spotted a small recess in the wall. As I shone my light into the hole I saw three pair of eyes staring back at me. “Look Presley, kittens! Aren't they adorable!”
Just then, hearing a low growl, I turned to see a gigantic cat glaring at me. Ears flattened, its green eyes were dilated. The hair was standing straight up on its back and head and I could hear its long tail swishing angrily back and forth. But this was no ordinary cat. Its body was sturdy and low to the ground, but even more frightening was the fact that it had huge striated razor sharp long fangs on each side of its mouth.
“Don't turn your back,” Presley warned, grabbing my hand as we backed slowly towards the entrance of the tunnel. For each step we took backwards, the cat took a step forward. “Dive into the tunnel on the count of three,” Presley instructed. “One, two, three.”
As instructed, I dove into the tunnel. Turning my head, I saw Presley dive in behind me just as the cat made a swipe with its claw. When I realized Presley wasn't moving I saw it was because the cat had pinned his foot to the ground with a claw that was much larger then that of a panther or tiger in the world we had come from. It was trying to drag him backwards out of the tunnel. I knew that once it got him out in the open it would stab him in the neck slicing into a main artery with one of its fangs.
“Hang on,” I yelled. I still had the stick that had served as a torch. Looking down, I saw that the end was still smoking. I maneuvered my body until I was next to Presley and edged past his leg. With a rush of adrenaline, I raised up and lunged forward shoving the pointed end of the smoking torch deep into the cat's paw. A feline hair-raising primal scream echoed throughout the cave's chambers. The cat released Presley's foot and beat a hasty retreat. “Move Presley! Hurry before she comes back,” I yelled. After what seemed like forever, we managed to scramble out of the tunnel into the wide mouth of the cave. “Are you OK?” I asked frantically. Even as I said the words I realized Presley was not OK. His face was white and blood was pouring out of his foot spilling onto the ground. I grabbed the rope, coiled it, and after looping it around my neck I put my arm around Presley's waist, holding him up as he began hopping, trying to avoid putting pressure on his injured foot. Once we got out of the cave I tied one end of our rope around his waist. Then I wrapped the other end of the rope around a large boulder three times. Holding onto my end, I planted my feet against the boulder for leverage. “Go ahead. I won't let you fall.”
“I can't let you do this,” Presley protested. “I can make it. Don't worry.”
“I know, but just in case you slip I've got you. Your foot looks like its mangled, you're bleeding and we need to get back to the beach.”
Holding my end of the rope I braced myself as Presley made his way slowly down the rocks until he reached the ground. After he untied the rope, I pulled it up and again looped it around my neck. Then I carefully made my way down until I reached him. With him leaning on my shoulder we headed back to the beach. It seemed to take forever, but finally we made it. Exhausted, Presley sat down on the ground and leaned back against a large rock. Crouching down I looked at his foot. I tried to act like there was nothing out of the ordinary, but I was scared. The skin around the gash was swollen and blue. Gathering some dry moss and getting some clean water I wiped the blood away, trying to be as gentle as possible. Then I sat down next to Presley and pulled his head down onto my lap before saying a silent prayer. “Here I am again, God. I never know if you're there when I need you, but please help Presley. Don't let him get sick. Show me what to do.”
After sitting quietly for a few minutes I had an idea. I remembered watching a movie where an American Indian medicine man put moss and leaves on a wounded man's injury. Without saying anything I got up and started walking around. There were plenty of plants and moss, but which ones would work? I finally settled on a giant plant that resembled the Aloe Vera plants that grew in our garden at our home in Lakewood. Everyone knows that Aloe Vera plants have amazing healing properties. Breaking off some stalks and gathering more moss, I returned. Sitting down I broke open the plant stem and carefully poured the juice on Presley's wound. I then covered it with moss and wrapped his foot in a palm frond. By this time it was getting dark. We hadn't eaten, but neither one of us was at all interested in food. Crawling into our shelter we lay down. Our pets were unusually subdued. It was as if they could sense that Presley was hurt. I was scared. I thought I wasn't tired but I must have been because within minutes I fell asleep.
I woke up the next morning to the usual morning noises of the surf moving gently over the sand, the buzz of insects and the sound of birds. It took me a few minutes to remember the events of the previous evening. When I did I sat up hurriedly. My heart sank when I realized Presley was gone. Scrambling out into the sunshine I found him sitting by the rock that served as our table. “How is your foot?” I asked, trying not to let him see how worried I was.
“I'm fine,” he smiled. “Look.” He extended his leg. I was dumbfounded. The wound on his foot was completely healed. All that remained was a faint scar. It was only then that I allowed myself to cry.