Low battery. Exactly the two words I didn’t want to see right now.
“Shit,” I mutter, tossing the useless device back in my backpack. Hesitant, I peer above and groan as I witness the sherbert painted sky fade to black.
It isn’t long before the shadows become animated around me; the eerie silence of predators followed by the rustling victims. Each and every step I take spooks a creature into a scurry. A light breeze picks up, it’s music a daunting resemblance to a horror flick and I’m the idiot out alone despite the warnings my guide gave. “Don’t get caught after dark,” he had reminded me several times.
In the distance an owl makes it’s presence known and what sounds like bats flutter above. I cinch the straps of my backpack close, goosebumps the aftermath of a chill scaling my spine. The forest is very much alive and yet, I’m unable to make out any clear objects; each shadow is distorted with the dark and I swear I witness a few saunter away.
My breathing begins the quicken, the anxiety caught in my throat. I spin with each sound, clutching the straps as though they were the key to my survival, like a life jacket or rape whistle. The darkness pranks me more often than not and I trip over a fallen log and almost immediately shimmy to the nearest trunk trying to calm myself.
That’s when the crunching starts. Slowly at first, like individual steps, and then on key, they quicken. Alternating between squeezing my eyes shut and wishing for a miracle and trying my hardest to see anything in the foliage, I focus on my breathing and find a reflection.
And then the reflection becomes a light. Small and then large and I’m fixated on it like a cat to a laser pointer. So fixated, in fact, I feel it’s a mirage; a dream pointing to my salvation.
And just like that, my arm is seized and I let out a piercing scream.