She fashioned a sling out of her poncho, to let the cub rest against her stomach, hoping her body warmth and the rhythm of her breathing and heartbeat would soothe him. Then she pulled out her phone. No bars whatsoever.
She couldn’t use the GPS program in her phone to make sure of her position, but she knew where she was in relation to her mother’s greenhouse lab where they lived, and the nearest hiking trail and ranger stations. No matter which direction she walked, the shortest route was to go home rather than take the cub to the rangers. She might not be a licensed veterinarian, but the rangers all said they would trust her to tend a wounded animal any day. Making sure the cub was taken care of was her first priority. She set the phone to alert her when she had enough bars to call, then set up an email with the video attached. The poachers were probably long gone, but she had enough evidence to track them down and ensure they were punished.
Not enough to make up for the damage to the cub and the loss of the young buck she had watched grow up, but she told herself to be grateful for every bit of punishment that resulted. Some crimes would never be solved, some pain never paid for, but this time she could be sure of some justice.
A sob escaped her as she pulled out the old compass her father had given her, the first time they came out to this wildlife preserve when she was only five years old. She checked the direction, put away the compass and then her flashlight, and got up to start the long, cold walk home.