On top of everything else I now felt like an idiot. I had forgotten that Ronnie had grabbed our guns from the glovebox before he headed into the cave. He must have tucked them in the waistband of his pants. I reached over to his body and felt around. I found the top of his jeans and rolled him over on his side and ran my hand around the waistband. The guns weren’t there. I felt rage rise in me. Where the hell could they be? I had seen him take them before he got out of the car.
I rolled him back over and felt around the front. I found one gun. I figured the other must have fallen out when he got bit or maybe when I was trying to walk him with me. I listened close in the gloom for any sign of company and then felt around the ground on either side of him. No sign of the other gun.
I opened the chamber of the one I had found. There were five bullets in it. Must be Ronnie’s then. He had put one bullet in the Deputy. I wondered what I would have done if I had thought about the guns earlier. Would I have tried to shoot that rattler off of Ronnie’s body? Not in the dark. So it didn’t matter anyway.
With Ronnie gone there was nothing to keep me from trying to find my way out of the cave. I got to my feet and hobbled past his body. I began relieving myself against the cave wall and retched at the strong smell of the urine. In mid stream I stopped as a thought hit me.
I could make like a dog. Urinate a little as I moved through the passages trying to find the entrance. That way if I was somehow going in circles I’d know by the smell if I came back to a place I had been.
I set out back the way I had come to get back to Ronnie, taking the passages I could remember, leaving marks as I went. Finally I reached the last point I could remember being and carried on from there. I soon came into another chamber, this time there were three ways I could go. I chose the middle passage. I carried on even though my ankle was getting worse. I reached down at one point to check on it and it was very swollen.
I reached another chamber and two more directions to choose from. I chose the left one and groped my way along the wall. The passage seemed to curve slightly but I couldn’t be certain in the dark. It seemed to go on forever and I was getting more and more tired as I went. I needed sleep but I knew it wouldn’t be wise.
This passage was longer than any of the others I had been in. At last it came out into a chamber and I made out three more directions I could go in front of me. This place was one massive honeycomb of passages. It was hopeless. I found the strength to go on and chose the one on the right.
I hadn’t gone far when my heart sank at the smell of fresh urine. I had been here before. I made my way back and took the middle passage. After ten minutes the same thing happened again. I shoved down the panic in my throat and went back out and took the left passage, the only one left. Within minutes it happened again.
I sank to the floor fully defeated. I had been going in circles all along. There was no telling where the entrance to the cave was. Somewhere in the beginning I had made a wrong choice and now I was trapped.
No food, no water, almost unable to walk and in need of sleep. I was never going to see daylight again. There were no two ways about it. I felt the handle of the pistol digging into my stomach and I took it out and rubbed the cool barrel against my sweaty face.
I heard a hiss and then a rattle just off to my left. They had found me again. I was so tired. I just wanted to rest. I gave it no thought whatsoever before putting the barrel of the gun in my mouth. I needed to rest. There was nothing more to do.