She trembled while walking between the towering trees. She threshed a path through the undergrowth. Ferns depressed beneath her, brambles clawing at their sides.
The trees in the forest were malady brown. Droplets of poison tarnished the crust of trees and burned like witch dust. The rusting air and suffocating atmosphere was a flawless abode for those who revered darkness rather than light. The spiders fastened their trap-strands. Their mesh-work shimmered like pearly snare plunged in silver. Eyes fiery with hunger, they wanted to have a barbecue of stuffy bodies, and slurp on hot blood.
She kept walking, but was interrupted by the prolonged, doleful cry of a wolf in close proximity. She froze. She got goose pimples on her fair skin. Beads of sweat began to roll down from her blonde hairline to her forehead wrinkles. Her mouth desiccated. She ran for a few minutes, but the voices continued to haunt her. She wanted to run more, but her drowsy frame didn’t cooperate with her will. Unable to force command on her feet, she fell down on the damp forest floor.
She sat there for a long time, and when the voices became more conspicuous she stood up and began to move cautiously, as if fearing that the ground would swallow her feet.
She then leaned against a huge, contorted tree which leaked its sticky sap like the poisoned back of a toad, burning her hand. She snatched it away. Her heart throbbed in her chest. The circumstances brought about such turmoil in her mind that tears welled up in her eyes. She wanted to die without going through the uncomfortable routine devised by nature.
She mustered up some courage and started walking. When she reached a three fork point, she sighed and turned behind. The dark pathway slowly dissolved into the night.
She stood there for a long time. Then she began to stagger her way towards a broken tree trunk. With her bag resting in her lap, she sat there, and began thinking- about her friends, the camp, and her getting lost. She started sobbing, at an angle calculated for distance so that none could hear. She reached her bag for water. Her trembling hands tried to unzip the bag, but the zip refused to open. Her activity was interrupted by the wolves howling. She gulped. She felt someone was coming towards her. She could hear the footsteps clearly, growing stronger and stronger. She froze. She closed her eyes. She never wanted to face all this. A deep voice broke the silence, shattering her into a million pieces.
“What are you doing here, girl?”
She opened her eyes to find a man, a shade larger than herself, sitting beside her. He had grey eyes and wore a trench coat and long boots. She stared at him for long, struggling to judge whether it was a dream or reality.
“You didn’t answer me, girl.” Said he, interrupting her thoughts and bringing her back to the real world. She looked perplexed and couldn’t say a word. Who was he? A bit of scare shot through her face – a bit of uncomfortable suspicion. She searched his face, but it told her nothing. She turned her head and stared at her bag.
The man took the bag from her and placed it on his lap. He unzipped it and took out the water bottle.
“Thankyou”, she whispered as the man gave her the bottle.
“Hmm.” Words struggled to come out of her mouth.
“Now, what are you doing here?”
“Huh!? Um, well, um, I don’t know. I got… lost.” She rubbed the sweat off her forehead and eyebrows. “Who are you?” continued the blue-eyed creature.
“Lost? Well I guessed that as soon as I saw you. I can get you out of here.”
The man started staring at the dusty road. The girl was hopelessly rubbing life back into her arms and hands. Time passed.
“It’s getting cold here. Can we please get out of here?”
“Yeah, sure. You might want to drink some more water. You look like a walking corpse, girl.”
“Hmm. Yeah. Tell me something I don’t know.”
“The bags under your eyes are quite a delectable shade of purple. What brand is that?” Said the man, trying to lighten her mood, and with a grin on his face, revealing his yellow teeth.
“Do I honestly look that bad?”
“Come, let’s go. You look miserable.” The man stood on the ground a few feet away from her, with his hands tucked in his pockets. “What’s your name?” he asked. His grey eyes shone bright.
A faint breeze quivered around their bodies. The girl paused zipping her bag for a moment and said, “Alex, sir. Alex Haselberg.”