The cold was slowing seeping through him, the shock was still working its way through his body. His wide, green eyes surveyed the scene. He hadn’t thought it would end this way. His body still trembled lightly, even hours later. Nothing in his life had prepared him for this sort of situation. His three degrees were absolutely useless when faced with this, his life wasn’t supposed to be like this.
His eyes kept going back to the person lying on the forest floor. Nothing made sense, he shouldn’t have been here, hell, nobody sensible should have been here. This forest was known for its dark powers after all, or at least, that was the local lore. He wasn’t a believer, not until he had proof. The body was the proof. The forest was haunted, or rather the forest was angry. And years of anger had turned into a sort of malevolence that seemed to take away the very breath out of a person.
Slowly, he inched towards the person. It was a girl. She was pale with her lips almost blue with cold. He wasn’t sure if she was even alive at this point but he needed to know. He couldn’t just…he couldn’t just assume. She had pretty hair, he noted almost absently. Almost as pretty as his mother’s used to be. He shook off the thought, almost horrified. Why was he thinking about pretty hair, for fuck’s sake? He finally reached the place where she lay, the forest floor wet and cold. All around him, the trees, the moss, the grass lived and breathed. Somewhere birds chirped. He didn’t pay attention to any of that.
Touching the girl was a shock, she was so cold. So very cold. He fumbled around, trying to get his phone out of his jacket. He had just touched his phone when the girl’s eyes snapped open. He almost jumped, she grabbed his wrist, her grip tight as a rope on him. He gasped and so did she. Her eyes were so dark, they were almost black. She was so pale, with her dark red hair fanned around her and then…she smiled. Her grip tightened on his wrist and he grimaced, letting his phone fall back into the pocket.
“Hey, hey! It’s ok, it’s alright. I am just…let me just call the police, ok? They can help, I am…I am just lost in the forest. I mean…” he stopped when she tried to get up and winced.
Trying to help her up, he grabbed her other hand and pulled her up. She kept looking at him with wide eyes. Eyes so dark he could have lost himself. He backed away from her lightly and tried to get to his phone again when she finally spoke.
“I found it. I found it.” She kept repeating herself, almost whispering to herself. He looked at her with panic, he wondered if she was losing it. If maybe the cold or whatever had happened to her had made her disoriented. He almost skittered back in fear when she got up and started walking towards him with an almost manic smile on her face.
The forest, the pale face, the manic smile….everything made it seem surreal. He was wondering if he should start running for his life when she whispered. Her voice whisper thin and almost soft, “I found a loophole, you see? Oh, Ford, I found a loophole! We couldn’t be separated, not like that. We couldn’t. Do you see? I came back for you!”
His heart started thudding with genuine fear, she was crazy. She knew his name, she came for him. How did she know he was going to hike in the woods? He didn’t even know her! He had never seen her before today, what was happening? The thoughts came to a stop as her hands touched his cheek lightly. Tears pooled in her eyes and he could almost see the odd kind of love in her, she thought…she genuinely thought she loved him and she had come for him.
“I…” he lost his voice and she smiled through her tears. Taking her hand away from him, she asked, “You…you don’t know me, do you?” He shook his head instantly.
She moved away from him and laughed. And laughed and laughed till it sounded as if she was crying. Then, it became obvious that she was crying. He didn’t understand anything. What was he supposed to do in this situation? Then he remembered his phone, he took it out and was about to place a call to the police when he saw to his consternation that there was no network. He was lost, he didn’t have any means to let his family know how or where he was. There was a young woman who seemed to be on the verge of a breakdown and she kept muttering about some loophole, this day was officially the worst day of his life.