When you're young anything and everything can fuel your imagination. It could be the tree outside your bedroom window, the rickety stairs leading to the attic, or even the stars in the night sky. For me it was the forest in my backyard. If even now I consider it to be immense you can only imagine what it was like through the eyes of a child. It had everything from deep valleys and rolling hills to swinging vines and a tranquil waterfall. But the forest isn't all sunshine and butterflies. There is a downfall to its massive size. When you are but eight years old it could get quite worrisome if you were to wonder from the familiarity of the path.
The sweet scent of honeysuckles and damp earth tickle my nose as I gazed from atop the majestic waterfall. The summer of my eighth year was coming to an end and what better way to spend it than relaxing in the magic of the forest.
A rustling sound drew my attention to my right and I saw my niece and nephew emerge from the trees. They both held homemade wooden swords in their hands.
"You guys made it!" I exclaimed. "Marina, Cheyenne, the grandkids are here!" I shouted down the waterfall to the tree trunk that had fallen and landed just above the surface of the water creating a bridge over the creek. There was no reply. "Guys?" I called.
"RAAAHH!!!" came the sound of a battle cry.
"OW!" I exclaimed as my twin sister thwaped me on the back with a wooden sword. "That hurt, Marina." I rubbed the spot where the stick made contact with my back. "The game hasn't even started yet. We don't even have teams picked out."
"Yes we do. It's me and Des against you and Cheyenne." Marina replied.
"What!? That's not fair. I don't want to be on Cheyenne's team. And what about Hunter?" I said pointing to my niece.
"She's not old enough to play." My nephew, Desmond, said.
"Well, then she can be on your team. A handicap since I got stuck with Cheyenne."
"Fine. But the game starts now!" Marina exclaimed charging at me.
"No! That's not fair!" I yelled. "Time out! Time out!"
"No time outs!" Marina swung her sword haphazardly in my direction. I dropped to the ground and grabbed my weapon leaping to my feet and scampering down the trail that led to the bottom of the waterfall.
"Cheyenne! Cheyenne! The game has started! We're under attack!" I hollered at the top of my lungs sprinting to where she sat at the water's edge. She looked up just as I grabbed her wrist and dragged her to her feet.
"But I don't even have a weapon."
"It's your fault you left it at the house. Here take this." I scooped up a stick from the ground a thrust it into her arms.
"But I don't want this one!" she cried.
"Deal with it!" the sound of twigs breaking informed me that the others were closing in on us. "We have to go." I started off in the opposite direction of Marina and the grandkids.
"I don't like this game!" Cheyenne yelled, following me deeper into the forest.
Maybe that was our first mistake. The forest may have been our playground but we had never wandered to far from the waterfall. The waterfall was familiar to us and when I ran farther and farther from the falls my surroundings became more and more foreign.
"Sierra, let's take a break. I think we lost them" Cheyenne wheezed, collapsing to the ground.
"No. We need to find a place where we can ambush them from." I slowed, taking in my surroundings. We were in what looked like a valley. We had wandered off the path in hopes of losing the others but the trees were spaced enough so that we could make our way around without worry. On my left lay a large fallen tree that Cheyenne had decided to perch herself on. The rays of the sun cut through the branches and cascaded off the leaves casting a misty colour of greens and reds upon the valley.
"Where are we anyways?" Cheyenne wondered aloud. A couple of deer grazed a couple of yards away. I shifted my weight causing a twig to break under my foot. The deer swiftly looked up and took off in the opposite direction.
"I don't know." I whispered.
I looked towards Cheyenne whose eyes widened as she yelled "Sierra!" a sudden pain shot through my shoulder. I dropped my sword and clutched my shoulder spinning to face my attacker.
"Found you!" Desmond hollered as he made to strike at my legs.
"Desmond, STOP!" I yelled rocking backwards. My back connected with the fallen tree just as Desmond's sword swung through the air making no contact. "Time out!"
"No time outs, remember?" Marina said from behind me.
"I'm serious. Stop!" I cried. "I think we're lost!" I covered my head but no blow came.
"What do you mean? Just go back the way we came." Marina replied.
"But which way did we come from?" I asked.
"No I think we came from that way." I said pointing to the right of where Marina indicated.
"Well, how about we just start walking and if we notice anything familiar then good. But we're not going to get anywhere if we keep fighting like this." We all looked to Desmond.
"Desmond's right. We have to do something. But which way should we go?" Marina said.
"How about we split up. Marina and Des go that way and me and Sierra go the other way." Cheyenne suggested.
I stared at her. "You're kidding right? How are we supposed to contact each other? We left the walkie-talkies at home, remember?" Cheyenne looked at the ground and twiddled her thumbs.
"I was just trying to help." She muttered.
"Let's flip the sword. If the side with the nail lands up we go Marina's way. Nail down, Sierra's. Ready?" Desmond bent his knees and shot the sword into the air."
That must have been our second mistake, going Marina's way. We were walking for nearly an hour and nothing was looking at all familiar. The sun was slowly making it's decent into the horizon and we were nowhere near finding our way home. We were becoming restless and our stomachs ached for food. Panic started to chew away at my insides and I was terrified that we would never find our way out.
"I told you we should go the other way!" I blamed Marina. "We're never going to get out of here!"
"We're going to find our way out eventually." said Marina.
"We've been walking for hours!" Cheyenne complained, stressing the word hours.
"It can't have been that long. You're just overreacting." Marina replied.
"Overreacting? Look." We followed Cheyenne's outstretched finger and tilter our heads upward. The sky had gone from a cerulean blue to a pastel red. "The sun is setting and you know what that means?"
"Coyotes." We all whispered. Silence settled over us as we all took in the meaning of what we were about to face if we didn't find our way out of the forest soon. Marina was the first to break the silence.
"No! I don't want to be coyote food. I'm only eight! I want to go home!!!" she cried.
Terror draped over all of us like a thick comforter, suffocating us. I could taste the tension in the air. If we didn't cross over the tree line by the time the sun disappeared over the horizon we would no longer be surrounded by the sanctuary of the forest but rather the terror of the darkness and everything that came with it.
That would have been our third and final mistake, panicking. But before the panic could truly settle in we heard a sound. It was more of a whisper of a sound, barely audible, but it was there. It was the sound of running water, the sweet echo of water coursing through the trees.
"Guys! Guys! Do you hear that!?" Desmond shouted.
"Hear what?" We said.
"That!!!" He exclaimed turning and indicating something straight ahead of us. We squinted our eyes and gazed through the trees. A shimmer caught my eye as the sun reflected off of a moving surface. And when I was able to pinpoint the shimmer I gasped.
Getting lost for the first time in our lives was probably good for us. It taught us that we shouldn't panic and that everything would work out in the end. From that day on we never got lost among those trees again but rather explored every inch we could of that forest to help prevent us from ever getting losing sight of where we were.
Listening to: shinedown
Reading: the demonata! if you like gore i reccomend it
Drinking: hmmmm... i don't know...