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Swim for It!

"Hey!" Calvin yelled. He splashed and struggled to his feet. The creek bed wasn't too deep. So the current had swept him just to his knees. Of course, now he was dripping wet. And the backpack was soaked, too.

"Good thing this creek isn't that deep," he hollered to Rob, who was still standing on the other bank. He still looked frightened.

Calvin waded to the other side. He sat down on a big smooth rock to rest.

"I thought you were a goner," Rob said, recovering.

"Watch out for those slippery stones on the bottom. That's what happened to me," Calvin warned. He began squeezing water out of his clothes. He untied his shoes and held them upside down. Water streamed out.

"Great," he said. "Everything is wet."

Rob reached the other side. He joined Calvin and sat down to put his shoes on.

"At least you don't have to hike in wet shoes and socks," Calvin said. "Well," he sighed, standing up, "let's go."

They made their way down the canyon. Sometimes they hopped over rocks. Sometimes they had to climb over bigger ones. Next to them, the creek frothed and bubbled around rocks. Sometimes there was even some white water where the creek surged over rocks in the middle.

"Whew," Rob said. "My ankle's bugging me. Let's rest for a while. We've been going for about half an hour, don't you think?"

"Sure," Calvin agreed. "All the rest of our food is soaked." He made a face as he opened the backpack. "But we can still drink the soda," he said. He handed a can to Rob.

Calvin tipped the can up to drink. Something caught his eyes. Something above them flashed – he knew it.

"Hey!" he said, setting the can down suddenly. He stared at the opposite canyon wall. "Did you see something up there?" he whispered to Rob. His heart raced. Stop, he told himself. Don't be so jumpy.

"Uh, I – I'm not sure," Rob said slowly. He looked up again where Calvin pointed. "Uh – no – no, I don't think so," he said. Then he stared down at his shoes. He rubbed his soda can between his palms, back and forth.

What was going on with Rob? Calvin wondered. He wasn't acting like himself.

"Whatxs up with you, man?" Calvin demanded. "Are you going psycho on me or something?"

Rob didn't answer Calvin. He stared at his feet.

Rob did look kind of green, Calvin thought. What was wrong with him?

"What?!" Calvin blurted out. His stomach turned a flip. "What do you mean you've been seeing stuff? Why didn't you tell me?"

"Well, a while ago, I thought I saw something moving up above us on the cliff," Rob said slowly. He seemed to be forcing his words out. "But every time I looked for it again, it was gone."

Rob stopped. He looked at Calvin.

I didn't tell you because I wasn't sure myself. I didn't want to get you worried. I know you're already thinking about those prisoners. And then you thought you saw a mountain lion back there by the boulders," Rob finished.

Calvin sighed disgustedly. "So you were trying to protect me?" he asked angrily. "I don't need protection. Just talk to me straight. Things will be fine then."

"Sorry, okay?" Rob said. He looked miserable.

"Yeah, no problem. Forget it," Calvin said.

"But now you see it too. What do we do?" Rob asked.

Calvin looked around. The steep canyon walls were closing in on them. Even the side they were on was losing ground to the sheer rock walls. He studied the canyon walls. They were steep. It would be impossible to climb them in a hurry. Every now and then, a ledge jutted out from the canyon wall. Lone trees and a few bushes grew bravely from the loose rock walls, reaching up to the sunlight. But there was no easy escape if something – or someone – were to come after them.

"Well," Calvin said. "It looks like wexre not going anywhere but down. We just have to keep going. And hope. Maybe it's just a deer. Maybe it's a raccoon or something. Whatever it is, we have to forget it. Let's concentrate on just gettin' out of here."

The other side of the stream was already in a shadow, Calvin noticed. They really did have to keep moving.

"Okay. My ankle's okay," Rob said. "Let's move." He got up and pulled Calvin to his feet.

They both shot a quick glance to the top of the opposite cliff. Calvin wondered what was up there. Just forget it, he told himself. He had enough to worry about. He didn't need to imagine things, too.

They rounded the next bend.

"Oh, no!" Calvin yelled.

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