Authors: Aurelia Thorn
Copyright 2014 by Aurelia Thorn
If you never want to pay full price for one of her stories again, sign up to her newsletter! For the first few days of each of her new releases, they will be priced at $0.99 or FREE and
will be the first to know if you sign up
“No, no, no. No! Fuck!” I swore as my car pitted to a stop. Who the hell puts spikes in the middle of the road? This just tops the cake. Not only did I now have to walk around the dark forest to find my little sister, but even if I found her, we’d need to walk for miles as there was basically no chance of anyone else driving down this road. When I came home for spring break, I did
imagine it spent trying to figure out where Mary, my sister, went camping with her new boyfriend. Obviously she’d be fine since she was with Brad and I’d heard he was captain of the football team—so basically really popular and liked by
and probably a good kid. But since she was supposed to be home two days ago, my mom was freaking out.
This was probably the worst spring break ever. Thinking I’d make the most of this pointless search for Mary, I’d invited Gordon to come along with me. Hoping that if we were alone… Not that it mattered, he called when I was about to go pick him up to say that he actually couldn’t make it. He had to help his parents build a deck while the weather was still nice and sunny. I mean, seriously? Who would actually choose to help their parents over potentially getting fucked. I was even prepared to blow him—the shit-eating jerk!
“Well, Mary certainly isn’t going to find me,” I said to myself as I pulled food and drinks out of the cooler I’d brought for the road, filling my oversized tote bag with sandwiches, bottles of water, trail mix, and a small bottle of vodka.
No one said I had to stop having fun just because Mary couldn’t keep it together for one weekend!
Not sure what else I’d need, I grabbed my phone and the car keys and set off into the forest.
Fortunately, I had enough daylight to look for her for at least an hour. My control-freak mom had made her send her the latitude and longitude coordinates of where she’d be in case something like this happened, so all I needed to do was use the GPS on my phone and walk towards the numbers she’d given. Starting up the direction finder, I couldn’t help but grin when I saw that it was only a fifteen minute walk from where I was.
She’s really going to get it now.
Trailing along towards her camp, I couldn’t help being happy and annoyed at the same time. Mary was great at bringing those mixed feelings out in me, like she knows how to ruin things in the best way possible. “Mary!” I yelled out hopefully. Since she’s not that far off, she might have gone for a walk.
My call was met with silence though, except for the snapping of twigs. My hearing sense heightened at the sound, and I was really slow to turn towards it. My parents always told me I was careless and should worry more about what could happen to me, but I always laughed in response. Why should I care? This is
Nothing ever happens here. Now I was starting to wish I’d listened—or at least brought the swiss army knife my dad always keeps in the glove compartment.
Duh, that’s the number one thing you’re supposed to bring to the forest. Nicole, you’re such an idiot. And it’s spring! Everyone’s always talking about bears in the spring, where else would they be right now, dummy?
Paranoid, but knowing that I needed to face whatever was out there, I finally gathered the courage to turn towards the sound. It was hard to tell because there was just trees for miles, you literally had to play the find-the-difference game to figure out what’s wrong. From what my blue eyes could see, though, there was nothing there; relieved, I let out a shaky laugh. “Obviously, bears would make more noise than that, Nicole.”
I carried on walking towards the camp and picked up my pace—especially since my phone apparently only had a few hours’ worth of battery left, and I needed that for the ride home. The camp shouldn’t be much further now, but I couldn’t see any tents yet, which was weird. I figured I’d at least see the peak of the tent or campfire or something. Something moved in my peripheral vision and I snapped my head back to the side, but whatever it was moved too fast.
What the fuck.
I half-jogged half-ran the rest of the way to the where Mary’s camp should be and stopped dead in my tracks.
It was all trashed. Her tent was torn to pieces, food was littered everywhere in opened and closed packets, her clothes strewn on the floor. And not a single sign of Mary or her boyfriend.
I ripped through all of her belongings, tossing her clothes this way and that, trying to find a note, a clue, anything.
“Mary!” I screamed this time, and kept screeching her name several more times.
The panic and worry and grief was so overwhelming, it almost felt as if I’d throw up. Crumpling to the floor, fat tears welled up and spilled as I wept for my sister.
“Mary, you idiot. Why’d you have to come camping?” I wailed. Through sniffles and blurry eyes, I looked around me, trying to make sense of the scenario. She clearly hadn’t been here for days: all of her belongings were covered with dirt and leaves that must have been carried over to it by the wind. There was a piece of grilled steak just lying there on the floor with flies buzzing around it, almost completely devoured by insects.
Not knowing what else to do, I knew it was time to call my mom and tell her. Wiping away the tears and trying to steady my breath, I dried my mascara-and-tear-smeared hands on my denim skirt before pulling out my phone.
“Okay, here we go.”
As I began to dial in her number, another frustrated cry built up inside of me as I noticed there were no bars.
Of course there’s no service here. If there was, Mary probably wouldn’t be missing right now.
The sun was beginning to set, and there wasn’t a whole lot to be done. I didn’t even know which direction to start looking for her, and while I wanted to be brave and go hunt her down with my dying phone and meager food portions, I knew I’d be in no better place than she must be right now. In my mind, it was settled: I’d walk to the nearest town and ask for help finding her and call my parents from there, too. For now, the least I could do for my little sister was gather as much of her belongings as possible—or at least the clothes that weren’t completely tattered. I knew she would have brought her favorite outfits with her this weekend to impress her new jock boyfriend, and if it were me, I’d be pissed if not only was I kidnapped or whatever, but also had to spend my next paycheck restocking my favorite items of clothing.
As speedily as I could, my eyes scoured the ground, looking for any of her clothes that were salvageable. One after another, I tossed tops and skirts and shorts into my tote bag, appreciative of the fact that she packed light clothes that wouldn’t take too much space. I caught sight of the long, wool cardigan I’d bought her for Christmas—she must have brought it for the chilly nights. I grabbed it and hugged it to me, taking another moment to be sad for my sister.
There was a different sort of panic building inside of me now: a frenzied kind. It was almost as if my heart was telling me that if I didn’t get out of here
then something would happen to me. My brain agreed, and as I looked up at the sky that was turning into a deeper purple, I knew I had to be on my way. I glanced around their campsite once more and snatched a flashlight that was hidden under some dried leaves and chocolate wrappers.
As I flicked it on, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t seen a single item of clothing that belonged to Mary’s boyfriend. Everything strewn on the floor was my sister’s. It made no sense, unless he had something to do with her disappearance. Anger welled up inside me at the same time as a thousand questions tried to rush my mind at once about who my sister’s new boyfriend was, why he’d taken my sister, or, at the very least, why he had seemingly gotten out of this without a trace and hadn’t notified my family or the police.
Oh, Mary. You’re even worse than I am with your choice of men,
I thought with a sigh.
Then there it was again. The snapping of the twigs and the bristling of the leaves. This time, I was more prepared for it than the previous two times, and I swung my flashlight around to face whatever had been following me. It was all I could do to not scream when I realized that I was standing face-to-face with a wolf. A large, snarling wolf.
He was a huge one, with thick, dark gray fur and at least 100 lbs of pure muscle. And he was growling at me, his teeth bared in an almost twisted grin, like he was enjoying the beads of sweat building upon my forehead from fear.
I had no idea what to do. I never paid attention when my parents taught me about caring for myself in the wild all the times we’d gone camping, because I assumed there would always be my dad or someone else there to protect me, or else it just wouldn’t happen. Now I was kicking myself once again.
Am I supposed to run in a zig-zag or pretend I’m dead?
I had no idea, so I trusted my body’s instincts and started backing away slowly, careful to not look away from the wolf. Not that it’d matter. If he wanted to kill me, I’d already be dead. Though I could run, outrunning a wild dog just wasn’t in my DNA. Really, running wasn’t in my DNA, period.
Taking the babiest of baby steps back, I darted my eyes towards the ground to see if there’s a stick or weapon of some sort I could use to protect myself, though I didn’t see anything. I took another step back as the wolf snarled threateningly.
That’s it. This is it. I’m going to die.
It was almost comical, that of all ways to die, it’d be because my sister simply couldn’t wait to go camping with her shitty boyfriend.
This is all your fault, Mary
. Suddenly, I was furious. Was this really the way I’d go? After all I’d been through, after my entire university education, after keeping myself alive this long? It would all be due to some stupid wild animal? I wasn’t going to have any of that. If the wolf wanted me, he could have me—but not without a struggle.
Turning on my heel, I began to run. Somewhere deep in my mind, a memory kept poking its head out, telling me that most wolves can’t climb trees. Coincidentally, I
. Sort of.
I lunged for the nearest tree, quickly assessed my path up it, and grabbed onto a thick branch just as the wolf bit onto my boot. Shrieking furiously, I tried to kick at its face with my free boot while clinging onto my last hope desperately. My kicks were to no avail, and as if it was out of nowhere, another wolf leapt out from the shadows and grabbed my other boot.
My arms were straining to keep me up, my nails digging into the branches, my body stretched between the trees and the wolves. I’d lost my flashlight at this point, but I could see the light pointing at a slanted angle upwards. That’s when I realized that it wasn’t just the two wolves—there must have been at least six or seven of them. The others were just watching, waiting for these two to drag me down from the tree. I could see their creepy eyes gleaming up at me from below.
Another idea struck me, and I immediately started trying to wiggle my feet out of my boots. I clenched my toes and, with all my might, tried to do a chin-up and use the wolves’ help to separate myself from my boots. Sadly, my upper-body strength isn’t worth shit, and, if anything, it just made me weaker.
I could feel my fingers slowly lose their strength. They’d held on for so long that they were beginning to lose sensation; I think if I’d even tried to use a pen to write something at that moment, I’d have no luck because my fingers wouldn’t function. As my grip loosened, eventually my fingertips were the only things holding onto the branch. One last time, I tried to hurl my body up, but this effort completely depleted my strength, causing me to collapse.