So, the tale of How I Nearly Killed My Best Friend In The Woods, But She Was Totally Asking For It.
There was a weekend, years ago, when I went to visit my then best friend at her college campus. Staying at her dorm was a bit of a trial, because her university was strict on visitor rules and you absolutely had to be signed in/out . . . and there was a curfew. This will be important later.
Said campus adjoined a forested mountain ridge, upon which, my friend promised, was the best view of the city lights at night. It was just a little hour hike out, she'd done it with friends while everyone in the group was drunk out of their minds. We were sober, we had a flashlight, it couldn't possibly be that bad! So what it was cold, I was wearing good waterproof walking shoes and she was raring to go. We were Out for an Adventure.
I should have known things were going to get exciting when the first part of this adventure involved crossing a stream upon a two-foot-diameter round pipe instead of a bridge. Apparently if you were brave you'd just walk across the thing, but it was something like a six foot drop into cold water, and I compromised by throwing dignity to the wind and scooting across. I have never had exceptional balance, and I have always had exceptionally bad luck. No tempting fate for me!
The first part of the hike wasn't that bad, and it wasn't too dark to begin with. Woods, I'm good. The excitement came when we hit the rock face. Oh yes. See, the best way to get up this ridge to the outlook from the campus was diagonally up the cliff face. With, you know, a better than hundred foot drop only a matter of feet to my left or a missed step behind me. Yeaaaaaah. Guess who had the flashlight. Not I. Guess who couldn't see where they were going half the time and was terrified of edges.
So I would yell at my friend to give me light to cross the not-so-pleasant patches, and she would. . . until I was about two thirds of the way across. Then away the light went, each and every time, leaving me to traverse the last lonely dark steps on my own. I was scared shitless. And pissed as hell. I get very . . . snarky when peeved, and I have two kinds of friends. One thinks that I am Hell On Wheels and it is totally time to duck and cover when I am angry. A direct quote is "I think my balls would shrivel up into my body if you were pissed at me." The other thinks it is time for popcorn because man, the show has started. You may guess which one she is.
I have no idea how more students from that school have not broken their necks doing that while inebriated. Possibly you don't notice the drops so much when you're drunk. There were a great deal of unpleasant moments, then we finally got to the top. "Isn't it beautiful?" she said, as we looked across perhaps a handful of large buildings at night, standing beside a perfectly usable roadside outlook. I silently thought a great deal of swear words and lamented that she had evidently never been to a city. Not to mention-
"You mean we could have just drove here?!"
"Yeah, but it's not the same! We hiked and did the real thing."
"We are not taking the cliff route down. There has to be another way."
So I put my foot down, and she led us down the mountain, through the woods the whole way. It was far less imminent death by long drops, and far more scrambling and sliding through wet leaves and humus on our backsides. And a great deal less direct, as we ended up at the bottom of the mountain on a road with no idea where we were. My friend insisted that if we went through the woods on the other side until we found the stream, we could then follow the stream to the totally-not-a-bridge, and we'd be back at the campus in no time. She kept ranging twenty to thirty feet in front of me through the woods, taking the light with her, while I brought up the rear, tired, cold, and pissed. We'd been on the go for several hours by this point and were well and truly lost.
And that was when I dropped straight into a hip-deep puddle of mud that I never saw coming.
Waterproof shoes, when dropped below the water line, become fantastic water-filled buckets. On your feet.
Cold, tired, pissed, and now wet and muddy from the hips down. Shoes squishing with every step. And my friend was still laughing at me. Murder was imminent.
Then suddenly, we heard meowing. Tiny, piteous meowing. Two itty bitty kittens came out of the woods towards my friend, because she had the light. They were so young, their eyes were still blue, and small enough to be scooped up in one hand. We looked, but there was no sign of any others, and they were tiny and shivering. We decided some asshole probably dropped the kittens off from the road. Conclusion: like hell we're leaving tiny kittens in the woods alone, especially when it's this cold. Murder averted.
So we went to pick them up, one kitten each, and that's when we found out they were not actually kittens, they were miniature hellspawn. In other words, feral. They hadn't been handled before, but they knew they didn't like it. Now we had our moral quandaries in hand, hissing, spitting, clawing the whole way. I, being in sound possession of common sense, demanded we head back to the road. There was very obviously a correct (away from the mountain) and incorrect (towards the mountain) way to go on the road, and much better chances of us actually getting somewhere before dawn. Lo and behold, ten minutes of walking later, we were back at the campus, wet, muddy, each holding a squawling kitten competing to declare which was being murdered louder.
It was in this state that we walked into her campus's police HQ, to politely demand they tell us what we could do with the itty bitty bundles of fluff. Their answer? Nothing. It was now close to one thirty in the morning, since we'd started this lovely adventure at perhaps nine o'clock. Not exactly vet or shelter visiting hours.
We headed back to her dorm, and my friend pressed squawling ball of fluff number two into my free hand and went "Here, sit in my car while I go inside to figure out what to do." Fantastic. I got to sit, still wet and muddy in her cold, dark car, holding two angry tiny kittens instead of one. For half an hour or more. She finally came back with a backpack and declared that the only thing to do was to smuggle the kittens in, because no emergency vets would take them overnight since they weren't hurt. They would catch hell from the university if caught with them in the dorm, because their pet rules were incredibly inflexible, but what could you do? I was dubious but at this point, I was beyond not giving a damn and all for being able to put the kittens down where they could stop attempting to kill me. I hadn't dared let them go in her car because they would undoubtedly hide somewhere and be impossible to get out again. Into the backpack they went. She took the bag o' kittens and we headed in. Her roommate, a very kind soul all around, was waiting in the lobby.
My friend bolted for the elevator, leaving me with her roommate, and it was at this point we recalled that oh hey, two a.m. is well after curfew. The RA on duty was not happy, but I was obviously In A State, so they allowed the roommate to sign me in. Thank god. When we arrived upstairs, my friend explained that the bag o' kittens had started meowing, and she made like a bandit before getting caught red-handed. I pretty much shrugged and declared the mission a success.
So the two sister kittens spent the night in a spare aquarium before being ferried to a shelter in the morning, I had the best hot shower in the history of ever, and my friend escaped death. Barely.
(And now people totally know where my affinity for snarky-hissy-bitchy-wet-cat types comes from. My brethren.)