This is part of the rescue scene, a slight spoiler maybe but I think everyone will have guessed who the stranded person Dylan goes to save will be! That’s just when troubles really start for both of them!
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Almost before Dylan gave the command, Freya and Thor turned and headed back the way they had come, following the tracks and runner-ruts that were rapidly filling with new and blowing snow. No trotting now, but they kept a steady pace, leaning into the harness to take the extra weight. Dylan muttered a prayer they’d make it back to the checkpoint. If they got that far, he’d forget about the race. There would be other races, but he only had one life, as did his unexpected passenger and each precious dog of his team.
The trip that had taken two hours coming out took five going back. Long before they got there, the dogs had to break drifts higher than their backs. The wind howled like an insane banshee and ripped at them, sucking off every bit of heat their bodies could produce. A time or two Dylan considered stopping and making a cold camp, but he didn’t have enough to feed the whole team because he hadn’t picked up his drop bag before he left the checkpoint—mistake on his part. It was make it or die…no other choice.
He stumbled now, pacing beside the sled, knowing that his added weight on the runners would be too much for the tiring team to handle. All at once he tripped, his leg twisting beneath him and he fell. A searing pain knifed up his right leg. Oh, shit, I’ve done it now.
Somehow, the dogs knew, stopping almost at once. He grabbed at the sled and tried to get up, but he couldn’t. His leg was not going to bear his weight.
* * *
Grey wasn’t asleep. He didn’t dare go to sleep. Even as green as he was, he could tell the dogs were tiring and the non-existent trail had vanished beneath the windblown snow. He sensed Norgard staggering along beside the sled and started to offer to trade places for a while. Then the big man went down.
The dogs stopped, somehow sensing something was wrong. Grey unwound himself from the sled and scrambled to Norgard’s side.
“You okay? What happened?”
He heard the big man draw a slow breath and let it out. “Think I broke my leg,” he said. “Tripped over something. Tired…” His voice slurred with exhaustion and pain. He slumped against the sled, resting on his left knee.
Panic gripped Grey for a moment, but then he steadied himself. It’s up to me now. I didn’t come this far to die, to lose everything. Damn it, what do I need to do?
Later, he could not have told anyone how, but he managed to help Norgard onto the sled. The man probably outweighed him by seventy-five pounds, but together they did it. This was going to be a heavier load for the dogs, but somehow they’d handle it. He had to lean close to hear Norgard’s mumbled words.
“Not too far, I don’t think. The village—maybe another mile or two. Just trust Freya. She’ll get us there if it’s possible. Hold on to the handle, but try not to put too much weight on the sled. Talk to ’em. Tell Freya it’s up to her.”
Grey wasn’t sure if Norgard passed out then or not, but he hoped the other man would stay on the sled. Norgard’s gloved hands seem to lock onto the side rails at any rate.
Grey raised his voice so the dogs might hear him above the wind. “Okay, Freya, you know what to do. Hike, girl.”
Much to his amazement, the lead pair leaned into the harness again and started forward. They seemed just to be inching along, but they moved, and he had to keep walking to stay in his chosen spot at the back end of the sled. One foot after the other, slogging and struggling, but moving, moving, moving.
He held onto the handlebar like a lifeline, which indeed it was, but he didn’t lean, didn’t put any weight at all on the sled to add to the burden the weary team dragged through the snow, against the wind…
When the dogs finally stopped, Grey almost fell. It took a moment before he realized he could see dim lights through the dancing snowflakes. Lights? Then he heard voices.
“Hey, somebody’s here. Team in.” People seemed to come boiling out of the cold darkness to surround him.
“Hey, it’s Norgard.” Then the fact the musher was on the sled and a smaller figure stood beside it soaked in on them.
Grey tried to explain, but a haze wrapped around him as he felt himself sliding into a cold, silent, empty place. He sank onto the snow and everything went out like a quenched candle.