I started writing this yesterday and finished it up today. It was based on a prompt where the characters can’t get away from each other. I follow it for the most part. You’ll see what happens when I don’t. Enjoy.
They’ve been wandering for ten hours straight. One wrong turn was all it took. No phone reception, no one knows about their adventure. No food, and little water. Lots of traveling left to go. He has a feeling they’re heading deeper into the woods. She thinks they need to keep going, and they’ll eventually make it out. It’s been raining all week, and there’s no sign of it letting up. No sun or stars for guidance.
Bears are known to live in this area. They try to avoid people like the plague, but winter is coming and they need to eat as much as possible before their deep sleep. Tracks can be found all over the forest floor. Fire would help, but the lack of a fire starter and dry wood make it impossible. Mountain lions, as rare as they are, are another threat.
Both have planned this trip for months. They’ve never hiked before, but they are physically active. They met at a 5K. She was with her group of friends, he was with his. Like it was destiny, they gravitated immediately towards each other. Throughout the race, they helped push each other to the finish. That bond, they believed, couldn’t be broken. They didn’t even know each other’s names. Only at the end, did they think to ask each other.
Nights are cold in the woods. Peter and Anna only brought rain coats. No real protection from the elements. They didn’t want to overheat. The hike was supposed to last one day. They should have been back at the cabin, planning their next trip.
“We need to find shelter,” says Peter.
“A cave, maybe?” asks Anna.
They search for a cave. It takes them off their path, but the rain will kill them if they can’t get out of it.
Hours go by and they can’t find a cave. They’re forced to huddle together in a fallen over, hollowed out oak tree.
“It’ll do,” she says.
The space is so tight inside, they’re literally on top of each other. Peter can’t help but notice how bad Anna’s breath smells. He wants to say something, but he knows better.
Anna wonders about how they got here in the first place. Where did they leave the trail? How are we going to find food and water? They didn’t plan on getting lost. It was never a possibility.
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, look at the little foot path.”
If they walk fast enough, they’ll be able to catch back up to the couple they were talking to in the parking lot.
“I don’t see any foot prints.”
“I don’t think they went this way.”
“There’s no other path. We were told to stay on the path, so that’s what we’re doing.”
The path they took was an old deer path, carved out over the course of many years.
Neither slept at all. They barely talked; they didn’t want to risk saying something they would regret. The rain didn’t let up at all. The game plan at this point is to stay alive. Peter wants to stay put. He’s betting on a search team being called. Anna wants to find high ground and hope for a signal.
The sun begins to set again. There are no caves in the area this time. No axe to chop trees and get themselves off the ground or put a roof over their heads. They’re left totally exposed to the elements.
“I don’t know how we’re going to make it,” whispers Peter.
“We’ll make it. We need to stick together, follow the plan.”
Peter isn’t even listening anymore. He responds only because he knows he should. All he wants is something to drink, a substantial meal wouldn’t hurt either. When was the last time they ate? What did they eat?
Anna knows it’s on her to get them out. She’s not stupid. Peter can’t go on much longer. Hypothermia is getting to him faster than it is to her.
“I’m going to get help in the morning.”
“I’ll go ahead and get help. The mountain’s not far away.”
“Who says anyone will even be there?”
“We have to try.”
Morning comes and Anna mentally prepares herself for the long journey ahead. She’ll be by herself in bear country. She’ll be by herself for the first time in years. There’s no other choice. Do or die. She kisses Peter goodbye. He doesn’t respond. He tends to shut out the world when things don’t go his way. She doesn’t take it personally.
Another day spent constantly on the move. Anna’s body needs rest. It tells her this every hour or so. She perseveres. Finally at the top, she pulls out her phone. It won’t turn on. She left it on even though there was no service. The battery drained probably in less than a day. She screams and looks out, past the valley, and towards the other mountains in the distance. Storm clouds slowly roll down towards Peter.