I could see my breath in front of me and my whole body was shaking uncontrollably, it was so cold. It took me a couple of minutes to remember where I was. Then it all came flooding back and the thought ran through my head. ‘Someone would find me, wouldn’t they?’
I knew I was hurt, I couldn’t move my legs for the pain. I could feel a warm trickle of what I thought was blood running off the side of my right leg. I attempted to sit up and check how bad the situation was. “Aaarrgh!” I screamed out in pain, my left leg was pretty bashed up , but that was nothing compared to my right one. The bone had broken and was sticking out of my skin, I lay back down and thought…‘this surely couldn’t get any worse.’
It would be dark soon and it dawned on me that realistically no-one was going to find me tonight. Though I secretly hoped that I would be found and I surprised myself at one point when I shouted out loud “Please God, let someone find me!” It was more out of anger than fear, though fear was definitely a big part of it. I scanned the area around me and could see the disturbed ground where I had rolled down the embankment and thought if I could just move a little bit at a time I might be able to make it back up to the road. It wasn’t far, only about 10 – 15 yards, I started to shuffle myself in that direction, but who was I trying to kid. I was probably doing more damage than good and I soon found that it was going to be near impossible. Apart from the absolute agony it was causing, it might as well have been 15 miles up a mountain rather than 15 yards up an embankment. The road was so close; I could hear the cars driving past. The problem was, I couldn’t see them and they couldn’t see me.
My best chance at this stage was for the driver who hit me to come back or even if he confessed to a friend out of guilt, then maybe the friend would come and find me. But it had been hours now and if the driver had no intention of stopping then, I don’t know what made me think he would care now.
I found it unbelievable that I can jog along this road almost every day, a road that I knew by heart, it was a 60mph road with no paths and no built up areas on either side of it. Just trees and lots of them and it never occurred to me that something like this could ever happen. There were other joggers of course, the town was only 2 miles back up the road and this was a popular place for them. It wasn’t a very busy road and was as close to the countryside as we could get. But of course they all wore headphones and wouldn’t hear me if I shouted out to them. That’s where it all went all wrong for me; I didn’t hear the screeching of the tyres until it was too late. He was all over the road and my first thought was ‘drunk driver.’ Then he came towards me, it was all so fast. There was no way I could have moved out of the way quick enough, though it didn’t stop me from trying. He caught me on my right side and everything seemed to be in slow motion as I flew through the air, the last thing I remember was one of my trainers hitting the ground before I did.
Now here I was trying to survive the night, but now there was a new problem. Drowsiness. I was getting weaker, probably from the blood loss and it took all my strength to stay awake as long as I could. But eventually I fell into a welcomed sleep.
“Max, shut up! What’s wrong with ya, you stupid mutt?” my eyes flew open, I had slept all night and now it was a crisp frosty morning and by the sounds of it, someone was taking there dog for a walk.
“Hello, hello can you hear me? I’m over here!” I could hear the dog going ballistic, I could hear the owner telling him off again. “Please help me!” I started to scream it now. The dog was getting quieter as they moved further away. I started to panic, I screamed until I couldn’t hear them any longer. My throat was dry and sore and I cried myself to sleep.
I woke several hours later and found I had lost my voice. I started to despair and with every minute that past (which felt more like an hour) I just knew that no-one would ever find me alive. I was so weak now; it was starting to become an effort just to blink. If only I wasn’t so self obsessed, someone would know I was missing. They would know where I jogged every day and worry if I never returned, but no-one would know I was missing, I didn’t have a girlfriend (I was more your one night stand type of guy.) It was too much hassle having to think about someone else, when my needs were more important. Work wouldn’t know either, we had just finished a huge account and I had just started a well earned week off. Even the guys at work wouldn’t be bothered where I was, we were all too competitive to care. I didn’t have any friends outside work because my job was too important and I worked all the hours under the sun. Even my own mother wouldn’t know, I could hear her now, complaining that I didn’t call her and I never answered any of her calls. To be honest…when I knew it was her calling I would avoid the phone like the plague. She always told me she worried about me and she just wanted to make sure I was alright. I would just roll my eyes and tell her that I was a grown man who could look after himself and I didn’t need to be calling my mother every 10 minutes to tell her that. But I can tell you now, if I ever got out of this situation, I’ll call her every day and look forward to it.
Hours passed and I was starting to drift in and out, my blood loss must be quite big now. This was it, I was going to die. And all I could think about was how my mum would feel and how I would never have the chance of starting my own family, how I would never have kids or never know what it would be like to be so deeply in love I would want to spend the rest of my life with someone.
Then… “What you want to stop for?” I could hear someone.
“I saw this when we passed earlier; it’s a brand new trainer, man” They were close.
“What the hell do you want with one shoe?” They found my shoe! I couldn’t believe it.
“Well, the other one might be here somewhere.” I could hear him moving just above me. I used what little strength I had to move and try and get a look, the man must have heard me, as he stopped in his tracks. I tried to move my arms and rustle some leaves about to catch his attention and it worked, he saw me. “Hey, Kevin theres someone down here!”
“You what?” his friend must have thought he had misheard him.
“I said theres someone down hear, man. Call the police and an ambulance will ya!” He came stumbling down the embankment towards me. Oh my god, my heart was pounding in my chest. I’m found and I’ve never been so pleased to see anyone in my whole life. I wanted to laugh out loud, I’m found, I’m found!
The man fell to his knees next to me, then reached down with his wonderful hand and held onto mine. He looked me over. “Jesus Christ mate, you got yourself into a bit of a state.” He said it with a smile on his face, then he leaned in closer. “But its OK man, we’re getting you some help. What’s your name?”
“John.” I could barely whisper it.
“Hi John, I’m Gary.” He looked down at my feet and said. “I think I found your shoe.” I smiled, I had been found and this man was my accidental guardian angel. Thank God for Gary, I knew I would never forget his smiling friendly face for the rest of my life.
His friend Kevin shouted down that the ambulance was on its way. I closed my eyes out of pure weakness and absolute relief. That’s when it started to happen, slowly I sunk deeper into a heavy sleep, still hearing Gary telling me that everything was going to be alright and I was to stay with him. But I just wanted to rest now, I could relax, I was going home.
Then…there was nothing.
…“It’s OK mate, help will be here soon. You just stay with me, alright?” Gary still couldn’t believe how this man had stayed alive; he wondered how long he’d been lying here. He was pretty bashed up, it looked like he had been hit by a truck or something. He looked at the mans face and he could see the trails left behind on his dirty face from his tears, he had made him smile after his comment about finding the shoe and he was still smiling now. I hope he’s going to be OK. He thought to himself. He only looks about my age, late twenties, early thirties. Maybe hes got a family at home, oh how terrible it would be if he didn’t make it…where is that ambulance? He looked over his shoulder to the embankment but there was nothing.
“Help will be here any minute now, John” he said it more for his sake than for John’s. He didn’t want this young man to die, but he also didn’t want to be left with a dead body.
Looking at John, he could see he was starting to struggle to keep his eyes open, he tried to keep him awake. “John, you’ve got to try and stay awake. Come on John stay with me, listen to my voice. Try and keep your eyes open. John…John?”
It was too late.
“Kev…Kev! I think hes dead!”
“What you saying?” Kevin peered over the top of the embankment.
“He just died, what should I do?” they could hear the sirens now, Kevin disappeared from view to hale them down. Gary hung his head and started to cry, it was so sad, if only he’d just stayed awake for a few minutes more. This young man whos life was wasted, whos loved ones didn’t know that he was now dead of all the sadness that would follow for his family and friends.
He was still holding Johns hand and he never let go until they took him away.
Now when Gary sees an abandoned shoe on the roadside, he stops and checks. Maybe next time, he might just save someones life.
I was always curious about how those shoes were just left on roads, how did they get there? who did it belong to? This was just one of my theories.