A loud moan came from Eli’s mouth as he rolled over on his back. He had felt the rock’s sharp edges dig in, as he tried to open his eyes. They had nearly sealed shut from the dried blood coming from the wound in his forehead. He caught a sliver of bright sun come through as he blinked and began to check his ability to move….. not sure that anything worked.
First, his hand found the wound, finding it completely dry and crusty,,,,Then to his right leg that throbbed with pain as he gently moved it.
Then………How long had he been there? He remembered instantly what happened…..but quickly reminded himself; I must help help or I might die! He laid there, getting his head together, as the whole memory of what led up to this disaster sped by. He was reminded;
It had been three long years since he started the project of building his own airplane in the last year of engineering school. The object of his final course was to create something that used all those hard-earned skills.
So it was; from the drawing board to the fabrication, welding, to the finishing and final testing, the process continued until two years after graduation. His job at Swift Engineering provided the money and spare time to complete the project. His new boss and owner of the firm, Tom Swift, followed the progress of his newly adopted protege with amazement.
There had never been a private aircraft quite like it. The two passenger fiberglass pod was placed on a titanium tube frame that was super light and strong. While not fully tested, it was believed capable of breaking the sound barrier. Both conventional wheels and pontoons could be snapped into place. It was the wings that were so revolutionary. They were designed to operate exactly like a birds; the pitch and incline were motorized and would adapt to all flying requirements.
The engine was converted from a four cylinder supercharged Porsche that would also power the pod when it was placed on a four-wheeled racing frame, that stood ready in the garage for the next competition.
Eli’s mind spun back to his present situation: Forget all that……….. What now?
Slowly he brought himself to his knees… the pain still persisting; then to his feet. His hand rested on a piece of the smashed wing; now just a skeleton of rods and torn metal. The pod lay broken in half. The severed motor had exploded and was still smoldering in a pile of debris fed by fuel. All the remaining elements were scattered on the mountain top.
Eli looked over the edge of the cliff. It offered little hope for a conventional exit across it’s jagged face.
While to many, the situation would seem hopeless, but Eli’s mind was churning to assess the options. He did not have a rope, so that was not one that he could use.
The engineering part of his brain began to buzz….What if? Or how about this? and so on…. He knew he had to take inventory of what remained that he could use.
In that process he found his briefcase, some tools, and emergency food (which he thoughtlessly devoured) A quick summary of his aches and pains assured him that if he still had a brain… he had a way. But, in the end, it did look like there was no way.
It would seem that his may have been the first time that he had identified a problem with no apparent solution. He remained braced upright against the wing in total frustration.
Suddenly, he felt something skitter quickly over his shoes, then to see it duck behind the shell….. Then a tiny squeaky sound….then a small furry head. It was a Marmot. He could tell from his yellow belly. Eli wondered….Just how did he get way up here?
Then, as if to tease him, the little fellow stepped forward, then back twenty feet.
Eli was used to working at problems in an entirely different way, but he knew he was confronted by the possibility of his own bad decisions. First, he realized that the crash may have been due to an error on his part; the engine should not have overheated and blown up. His life was at stake and he had not thoroughly tested it…….but he could not just look back.
In that moment, he knew that his focus should not have been just on the face of the cliff as his engineering mind lead him, but on the simple option of ; Is there another way down? It was a sad thing to think; “If a marmot can find it, surely I can.”
With that the creature moved forward in the same way, squeak-run-stop…again and again. Then at the back end of the towering monument, he saw an outcropping of vegetation. The marmot stood, making a sideways motion with his upper body as if to say “You coming?”
Eli’s nature and years at the drafting table absolutely called for some scientific explanation as to why he should enter a now recognized hole in the rocky surface that could dangerously lead to nowhere.
Only the appearance now of first one, then another…. and another little creatures that popped up before him; mimicking the same motions, brought him to consider their offer.
As Eli’s brain spun into reasoning all this, and he noted one thing that absolutely floored him …..the last one out of the hole had three (and he counted them) large daisies in his mouth. It immediately registered; “Daisies do not come out of holes in the ground… they come from a field. “This, whatever it is, goes somewhere!”
He gathered himself, as the last Marmot darted into the hole and disappeared… and he jumped in, sliding downward on a surface of loose gravel with no control whatsoever… pitch dark and foul smelling, feeling his arms banging into the sides through twists and turns.
What seemed like and hour, was only minutes before he could see light coming from below. He tumbled out head over heals into a field of white sunlit daisies… bees buzzing as if it was the first human they had ever seen.
Well, you could probably figure out the rest……. A search party led by Tom Swift arrived in their ATV’s and he was rushed to emergency where he was stitched up and fed a huge dish of macaroni and cheese… his favorite!
While some might wonder, in Eli’s long career, what his most important and life-changing experience might be. He knew this was it. Everyone thought he was hallucinating about this marmot business, but they went along with it, knowing he would find his right mind at some point.
Very little was said about the accident itself, for Eli just didn’t want to talk about it. It was a real lesson learned about nature and the surprising way things work.
As he now speaks to Sunday school classes:” The bible says we have “dominion” over God’s creatures” He explains dominion as “We got to respect and take care of them” and, “Let me tell you about the little Marmots that saved my life”. They laugh as though it is just some little cute story, but Eli knows the truth….. and so will they one way or another.
God works in strange ways, even when He has to turn the tables on things.
You know…….. He’s done that before: Right Daniel ?
He doesn’t always have to use a Lion when a little Marmot will do fine.