The gravel of the dry creek bed crunched beneath my boots. Soon this would be site to a massive freeway overpass and changeover, a concrete spaghetti bowl of twisting roads and towering pillars. For now though, the project was just getting started, and we were there to make sure it went smoothly. Upon arriving at the site, Dad, Kevin, the others of our inspection team, and I set off to inspect the construction workers.
It was to no one’s surprise that we found groups of them simply standing around, idly chatting or even napping in the shade. Typical Cal Trans bullshit. They’ll never get this thing done on time. My father was particularly upset about the on-ramp not going up and left us to go berate the project manager. He walked down the creek, directly under the suspended loads of the construction cranes. Very dangerous. Where are the safety officers? Why are they letting him go there unescorted? It was then I realized they truly didn’t care. We were on our own.
Kevin and I grabbed our packs and took off into the forest. We soon came to a small clearing. Filling the clearing were rows upon rows of young marijuana plants, laid out in a grid beneath suspended wires. The wires hung a couple feet off the ground and were hooked up to a nearby transformer that was simultaneously running at two different frequencies. The wires hanging overhead, positively vibrating from the electricity coursing through them, emitted a glowing neon green light providing the plants below perfect irradiated nourishment. Underground, beneath the plants, was a mirrored grid of wires running at a very low frequency. This enabled just the right amount of heat to work its way up to the plants.
I stooped to inspect the wires. Fools. The wires are a good idea, but didn’t they see how sharp they were? Some of the plants were already reaching the wires above them, and were getting sliced off short on the razor sharp edges.
Hunger was turning my stomach into a knot, so we moved on. A wide meadow opened in front of us, its tall grass thick with glistening dew. By now we were nearly starving. I looked down and was overjoyed. Scattered among the tall blades of grass and damp soil of the meadow was a trail of Fruit Loops. Kevin and I dropped to the ground and began to ravenously devour each Fruit Loop we could find. So fruity, so delicious, just what we needed.
A baby’s cry somewhere in the distance interrupted our meal. We froze, straining to hear any more sounds in the suddenly silent air. We kept to a crouch as we hurried to the edge of the meadow and hid behind a large log. I poked my head up. A trail ran on the other side of the log, sloping down to the creek bed far below. From here we could see the construction site, the workers finally moving about, hauling wheelbarrows full of gravel.
I spotted a coyote down near the end of the trail. Coyotes can be dangerous, but usually only if they are hunting in a pack. Good thing this one was alone… It took only seconds for me to notice the other 2 coyotes sprinting up the trail towards me, yipping and howling, but those were precious seconds I couldn’t spare. I took off at a sprint in the other direction, but I knew my chances were slim. Frozen in terror, Kevin remained motionless, crouched atop the log.
The rapid sound of padding feet grew closer behind me. I wasn’t going to outrun them. Planting my foot down firmly I skidded to a halt and turned to stand my ground. The lead coyote leaped, lunging with its snapping jaws for my face. I reached out and grabbed it by the throat with both hands, trying to strangle the life out of it as I held it at bay. The other two in the pack arrived, and I desperately flung the coyote in my grasp back and forth, attempting to shield me from the other vicious hunters.