It really was a beautiful day.
Carson would probably say it was bonnie; yes, it was turning into a bonnie day.
Rodney stopped his forward motion with as much grace as he could muster. He closed his eyes briefly and drew in a deep breath; a cleansing breath Teyla might have called it. The sun blushed on his eyelids, he could hear a soft wind blow through the trees standing to his left.
Whatever else had happened and however serious was his situation, it could not be denied, the day was a beautiful one.
Transferring his weight carefully onto his bad leg he set off again, hampered only a little by the shallow bed of sparkly snow.
He looked down at his boots as he walked; they shuffled awkwardly, in and out of his vision. Black, shiny... made shinier by the melting snow peppering them and by the reflected brilliance of the yellow sunshine.
The torn one leaked of course, letting in the cold and slushy snow; but his foot was icy anyway... mostly insensible from the ankle down, its warmth long since leached away.
The boot felt heavy on this dead foot, and not just because it was soaking wet. It was slowly filling with blood... his blood. It came from a wound near his ankle that had been too violently inflicted for him to want to deal with it.
One second he had been standing, his pack open beside him, putting on the gloves he always carried; the next, he was pitching forwards, his left foot having been snatched back sharply and with an audible crack. Voices shouted and weapons fire rang out. Louder, though, were the sounds he made himself, while being dragged bodily across the frozen terrain, his lower leg held in an unyielding grip. He bit through his tongue and tasted blood; his head made contact countless times with what felt like rock and ice.
That he'd been grabbed by some huge alien beast, became apparent all too soon, as he caught brief starry-edged glimpses of it, as it lumbered on through the snow with him bouncing behind.
The pain in his ankle where the beast's teeth had lodged, was excruciating and had him screaming long and hard, until his voice, scratchy and raw, had simply given out. At first, his arms flailed and he struggled. Thank God there had been plenty of snow; otherwise he would have sustained some terrible head injury early on. But as the long minutes went by, shock and cold dimmed his senses and dulled the pain.
At some point, when he was as close to unconsciousness as he could be without actually passing out, their mad dash had slowed. Another animal had appeared and, occupied with defending its meal, the first beast faltered and dropped him. Not ready for this turn of events, the injured scientist simply curled up, shivering for some moments, and then he crawled away, trailing blood, to the shelter of nearby rocks.
Cowering there he thought he heard voices calling and, filled with hope, he had scrambled through the rocks in what he guessed was the right direction. But then, in his clumsy fear-driven haste, he had slipped and fallen; down a slide of ice that seemed to go on and on.
Landing eventually in a bank of wet snow and finding himself momentarily dazed, he lay on his back, panting, eyes open to the blue sky. Then he picked himself up and staggered onward, bruised, cut and exhausted.
So here he was; with no radio or weapon and with the comforting sun going down before him. How long he had before full dark he had no idea. He didn't know where he was going, but something inside him urged him to keep moving. Somewhere alien animals stalked him and there was no sign of his team.
In a voice still painful and gravelly, he muttered to himself in that way he did when he was anxious:
"Moving... K-keep moving... damn snow.."
He longed to call out; maybe his team were nearby, but he was afraid of what else might come running. So he put his trust in technology as usual and hoped Sheppard had the LSD.
The air was cooling rapidly and he wrapped his arms around himself for warmth; the wind made his face sting.
He was hardly dressed for the weather, but he did have several layers on and his jacket was pretty thick.
He couldn't actually tell if he was hot or cold; the beads of perspiration on his upper lip and forehead would indicate some heat but the shivers he felt up and down his back said otherwise.
With difficulty he climbed a low rise up and out of the valley, towards a great cliff face and snow covered rock fall. It was puzzling that his foot didn't pain him more; in actual fact, it didn't pain him at all now. He found that rather worrying.
His breath wheezed and stung his throat. He stooped and gathered a handful of snow, as he had done maybe two or three times already. He took just enough to melt soothingly against his throat.
Coming at last to the top of the hill, he turned carefully squinting out from this high point for signs of pursuit; friendly or otherwise. He could discern none and the landscape remained empty and barren. His strength having left him, he sat awkwardly, hearing his breath catch. He was done and he knew he wouldn't be getting up again, not without help anyway.
Where was his team? How much time had gone by since his abduction? It was surely less than thirty minutes. He'd made a mistake, perhaps, in struggling on. He should have stayed where he was, they might have found him by now.
Feeling suddenly foolish, he lowered his head to his hands and exhaustion washed over him.
How was he supposed to know these things? He was a scientist, for God's sake...
It was so quiet; the only sound was the thump of blood in his ears. So still was it, that when he heard the tiniest of scratting sounds in the snow above him, his head jerked up...
And there it was; his heart almost stopped... it had found him.
Silhouetted for a moment against a salmon pink sky, the dark furred animal trotted silently down the incline of snow and rocks, and stood motionless not fifteen feet from him. Way bigger than any dog Rodney had ever seen and reminding him more of a bear than anything else, the animal sank down on its haunches in the snow, regarding the scientist with its glittery eyes.
Whether this was the original beast or its recent adversary Rodney could not tell; it was, though, blood streaked, tattered, and very much alive.
Lying low in the shallow bed of white, the beast began to inch its way forward, almost imperceptibly; it was stalking him.
"Oh, no, no, no... not happening... not-" Rodney babbled, his hands ineffectually patting down his pockets for helpful items he knew were not there.
Even as he spoke, in the periphery of his vision he saw the animal freeze, becoming in that moment, as still as a statue. He felt himself freeze also, and he narrowed his eyes thoughtfully.
The animal resumed its creep forward.
Rodney spoke again, suddenly, "Don't like the sound of me, huh? You wanna eat me, not listen to me..."
It had stopped once more; his talking stopped it.
He cleared his throat, drawing himself up as straight and tall as possible.
"Okay, this is how we'll play it then... Let me tell you how I came to be on your icy little planet, shall I? Well, it was not my idea to leave important projects to lesser men, but..."
And so, Rodney McKay talked. He talked and talked; and then he talked some more. After all it was something he did well. He usually enjoyed it; but today... not so much.
He told of life on Atlantis; he gave an account of yesterday from start to finish; he described the Monday night movie.
As the orange sun hovered in the distance, he turned to politics for a short while, but he struggled with his subject and two blood red eyes regarded him hungrily. He continued valiantly switching to leadership, until the accidental monotone of his voice brought on by the relentless onset of fatigue prodded the animal into a furtive creep forwards.
Louder was better he found, so then he began berating the creature, insulting its relatives, calling into question its parentage.
At last he dared to call his team, adding that the perfect time for rescue was now. But his thin wavering voice went nowhere in the still and frosted expanse.
He went on, hardly taking breath, feeling like Scheherezade might have.
But it was taking its toll... oh, yes, he felt himself weakening. Even as the shadows grew around him and the air became chill enough for him to see his breath, he weakened. His eyes narrowed as he squinted through the gloom at the motionless animal. Now all he could see was its outline against the pale snow, and two points of glittering and eerie light that were its hungry eyes.
As his anxiety increased, so his cries became louder and more desperate.
"You're a stinking heap... yes... stinking... and you'd better not come near me, ya hear?" He was panting... his heart racing from exertion and just plain old injury.
"No! Don't you move... I swear he'll kill you, with-with his-his... " Words and sense were leaving him, he sketched in the air with his gloved hands...what the hell did Ronon have?
"...his blaster! Blaster! Yes, and-and Sheppard will kick your flea-ridden ass for you.." and then he laughed, high and shrill ignoring the moisture on his cheeks and forgetting for a moment his purpose. From the bear thing came a low and almost inaudible growl. It chilled Rodney more efficiently than any frost could.
His teeth began to chatter, punctuating his words with a desperate rhythm.
"T-t-tan your hide... and-and make you... c-c-coat for Ro-"
Oh, God, it leapt up... after all he'd done; shit! It sprang toward him, in a liquid blur of limbs and.. was that a splash of red he imagined?
He closed his eyes and threw himself back, arms covering his face in a defensive cross, and he shrank away from the anticipated impact of fur and teeth and claws.
When he felt the creature touch him, he screamed. It had chosen his left shoulder to latch onto, and Rodney let out a howl, grabbing at the fabric of his jacket with his right hand, yanking it from the jaws of the beast. He began shouting again in a vain attempt to drive off the animal.
"They're coming, ya hear me, you SHIT HEAD! Get the hell away from me- the hell away- away from...", his words tailed off.
It was strange; there was no feral stink, no crushing pain of biting teeth, so he stopped shouting and just panted. Unable to face the reality of his own grisly demise, his eyes were still tightly closed although stars popped and shimmered in his head.
A voice... it sounded like Sheppard.
"Sh-She-She...?" was all he got past his trembling lips.
"Yeah.. it's me, buddy"
His eyes opened then and he saw quite the little crowd; Sheppard releasing him and brushing snow from his pants as he rose... then turning his eyes downward to glare at Rodney's torn boot. Ronon, standing a little away, a look of satisfaction on his face, his foot atop a steaming, furry heap that could no longer stalk anything. Teyla was at Rodney's side in the snow and she moved to grasp both his hands in hers.
They had come... and relief washed over him in a huge and wonderful wave that had him beaming. Then indignation bubbled up from somewhere, his smile evaporated and all he could think to say was, "What took you so long?"
TBC and thanks for reading... one more part almost written.