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A Choice of Miracles   By:

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A Choice Of Miracles


You're down in the jungle with death staring you in the face. There is nothing left but prayer. So you ask for your life. But wait! Are you sure that's really what you want above all else?

Andy Larson was a hard headed Swede. He had to be, to be still alive. He hadn't been able to move anything but that hard head for what he estimated to be about three hours since he regained consciousness. And in that time he hadn't heard anything that led him to believe anyone else had survived the crash.

[Illustration: Hurt and helpless, Larson waited for death.]

The only thing Andy Larson had heard was the water and the far away whine of the patrol ship on its grid track search pattern. It had not reached his area yet, and he wasn't at all excited about his chances of being spotted when it did get nearer. He could turn his head, and he could see the tangled interlacing of tree branches and vines above and around him. He remembered, at the first moment of impact, just before the ship began to break apart, a tremendous geyser of mud and water. The picture was indelibly imprinted on his mind. He couldn't see the water now, but he could hear it. The litter he could see by twisting his head as far to the left as it would go told him they had crash landed on the water a river by the sound of it and had skipped drunkenly, in something approximating flat stone fashion, into the forest lining the river's bank. There had been no explosion and no fire, there was no wide swath cut through the trees and therefore no reason why he should assume the patrol would spot him. There might be pieces of the ship lying where the patrol could see them. But he doubted that, for the river was deep and the vegetation was thick.

He strained his ears, not to hear if the patrol was approaching closer, but listening for the sound of life around him. This was his one hope another survivor, and of necessity a mobile one. Someone to shout and wave, to climb a tree, to find an open space and build a fire, to light a flare, to do something anything that would attract the patrol's attention. Andy Larson wasn't afraid of dying. He felt no panic, no agonies of conscience, remorse or bitterness at the apparent inevitability of the prospect before him. But if he was not destined to die he needed a miracle or the assistance of that almost impossible but only almost survivor. And instead of praying for the miracle, he listened with all the hearing power at his command for the sound of human life. That would be miracle enough, and he didn't intend to stop listening until he couldn't any more.

Not that he didn't pray at all; back home in New Jersey, while not considered a pillar of the church, Andy Larson was known as a good, practicing Lutheran. But it was doubtful if the Lutherans, or any other sect for that matter, had sent missionaries this high into the heavens yet; the misbegotten flight he had been on had been only the fourth to reach this strange little planet of Abernathy since its discovery by the good professor back in '92. So Andy was no longer a practicing Lutheran, if practicing meant going to church. But he had prayed more than once during the long outward journey. And he was praying now, while his ears strained for sounds and his eyes strained for movement; praying for himself, yes, but even more for his wife, and for someone he had never seen.

He couldn't help being afraid for Elsie; he had been gone from home almost seven months, and she had been rocked with morning sickness for the last three weeks before he left, moaning over her saltines and begging him not to go even though she knew he couldn't and would not back out. She was afraid of the unknown he was going into, and he was afraid of the unknown that awaited her it was the first time for both unknowns for both of them.

In a little while he could stop straining his eyes... Continue reading book >>

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