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Lost in the Woods

Everything was fine until it wasn’t. That is usually how it goes. We had gotten some strange reports at the Ranger station. Trees seemingly dragged across the trail. Reports of people feeling like something in the woods was watching you, just out of sight. That wasn’t unheard of. There were all kinds of predators in the woods. The problem was how frequently this was being reported. We might get a handful during a dry busy season. Reports had been coming into the station daily. We finally got permission to close the trail so that we could bring some extra Rangers in for an investigation. So, that is what I was doing before I got in this mess. My truck is rolled over. Both of my legs are broken. Something is out there. Waiting.

I should have just stayed at the trailhead. I only came up here to close the trail. Lock the chain, put up the warning signs, and head back to the station. My damned curiosity got the better of me. I wasn’t a complete idiot. Most of us haul around a rifle in our trucks. I slung it over my shoulder and headed down the trail, thinking I’d be safe. I was about a mile into the trail when things began to go wrong. I felt it before I realized how quiet the forest was. I could feel a pair of eyes burning a hole into me. Now, I’m a Park Ranger, I know how it feels to have a bear or a wolf, or a big cat stalking you. This felt different. There was an animosity to it. It permeated the air. Whatever it was did not want me here. I felt hate of it radiating the air. To it, whatever it was, I was trespassing. I took my rifle off my shoulder and started heading back the way I came.

A deathly silent forest, unseen eyes boring into you is a whole other world world of weird. The crunch of dirt under my boot was enough to set my nerves on edge. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing on end. It took everything I had to not break into a run. Beads of sweat were rolling down my face. I could feel it getting closer. It was just off the trail, to my left. I could see a vague shape, hulking, moving silently through the trees in the edges of my vision. I dared not look. The trail crested and I could see the truck. It was yards away. I couldn’t hold back anymore. I ran for it.

I’ve never run so hard in my life. I threw myself into the truck. With the slam of the door, sound returned to the world. Birds chirped. The wind picked up. The trees rustled. I let out a breath.

Suddenly the truck and I are flying through the air. As we pull away from the Earth, I briefly wonder if we’ll break orbit. Would I be the first Park Ranger in space? The wind is rushing through the broken glass and I see we’ve begun our descent. Gravity always wins.

I came to only recently. It’s getting dark. It’s out there, moving among the trees. I’m resting against the wreckage of my truck. My legs are broken, useless. The rifle was thrown from the truck and where ever it is, it is out of reach. I hope you find this. Close this park. Keep people away. It’s angry. And it’s coming.

Published inOctober Writing Prompts

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