It was dark, and I was lost. “Marie told me not to wander off,” which had guaranteed I would. Into the trees, somewhere in the Green Mountains. I hadn’t paid attention. I’d just walked. Toward anything that looked interesting to me. It had been a good walk, too. I’d seen deer, squirrels, I’d lost track of how many birds, and I even saw a moose. I’d never realized how huge those things are. “God, don’t let it see me! God! Don’t let it see me!”
Before I knew it, the sun set. It happened all at once, like one moment, I could see where I was going through the trees, and the next I was running into trees I couldn’t see, and tripping on roots, and rocks.
I’d completely forgotten what direction was what, and I couldn’t see enough of the sky through the trees to figure recognize any of the stars. “Curse you, new moon!” I shook my fist at the sky. No moon made it even darker, and more difficult to figure out which way to wander.
So, I stopped. I found a good tree, with a chunk of level ground around it. I couldn’t see any stumps, or boulders. “Are there predators in the Green Mountains in Vermont?” I didn’t know. I figured there were certainly small ground animals of some kind. Mice. Maybe rats. Maybe rabbits. And bugs. Billions of bugs. Worms too. “If only I had a tent, or at least a blanket.”
It was going to be a long night, and I wasn’t likely to sleep very much. “Are there snakes?” That would have been perfect. Bit in the middle of the night by a poisonous snake, found dead days, or weeks later, with worms crawling out of my nose and mouth, and my eyeballs having been dinner for something.
“Marie told me not to wander off.”
I sat down and leaned back against the tree. “May the ticks not suck all my blood. And may I not get Lyme disease.” I settled in for a long night. A night filled with noises I couldn’t identify. Creatures rustling through the brush. Strange chirping noises, crickets, frogs, and something else. A lot of something else. Tree limbs moving in the dark, when there was no wind, turned out to be nerve wracking. I couldn’t sleep. Something on my hand. Something on my neck. Something on my leg. Something on my back. Something somewhere, all the time.
When I couldn’t take it anymore, I got up, and wandered around some more. “I know! Let me get super lost by going in some random direction, in the dark!” And off I went.
I don’t know how long I walked. Or what time it was. I just walked. And jumped out of my skin every time an owl said, “who?” or the frogs broke out in song, or a cricket chirped. I do know, I was hopelessly lost, in the mountains, in the dark, wondering when I’d trip on something, and break a leg, or impale myself on a dead tree branch.
When I heard, “Shhh!” I froze. “Shhh!” I’d clearly heard someone.
I looked around, scanned the trees, the dark. I almost fainted when a hand touched my shoulder. “It’s alright,” a soft, beautiful, musical voice spoke. “You’re lost, aren’t you.”
I glanced at the hand, and followed the arm, to a woman. “Who are you?”
She only laughed. “Let’s get you where you should be.”
I remember her eyes. Magic. I’d never seen eyes like hers. Blue, or gold, or silver. I couldn’t tell. “Follow me. I’ll guide you.”
She turned and walked a few steps, then paused, and waved for me to follow her. “Come on, silly man.”
She was naked. I hadn’t realized that before. Those eyes. Wow. Those eyes. But there she was. Naked. I couldn’t see any details, but I could tell, she was every bit as stunning as her eyes. And she was out of reach.
I followed. She walked at first, then got faster, until she was running. And I was chasing her. Not to follow her. I wanted to catch her. I wanted to touch her. To touch all of her. But she stayed just beyond my reach. And I chased her.
Until I heard Marie, “Danny! Please! Danny! Answer me!”
The naked woman with the magic eyes laughed. “See? You’re not lost any more.”
And she was gone.
Miranda Kate‘s weekly short fiction challenge is in it’s 8th week. You can read about the challenge here. I’ve enjoyed writing for it every week so far. I never know what’s going to happen when I start to write. I just have to get out of my way, and let the story happen. Please, go read her short tale this week, and any others that show up.