One More


Not Getting Dirty Drama Queen

When Trikelia walked out of her front door this morning, she had no idea what she was getting into. It was supposed to be a nice, average day of hiking through the swamp with her friends. img_8075

They loaded up their packs and trucked out the the trailhead, checked to make sure everyone brought their water, tied their shoes, and pulled up their gaiters. And then Chrissy started being a diva.

“I don’t know if I really want to go today, guys. I mean, it just rained yesterday, and there’s already water on the trail right here,” she whined.

Trikelia watched the five dollar bill change hands between Will and Chris and shook her head in disgust at their bet. To be fair, she did admit to herself that she would have joined in, had she known about it. She sighed. “Come on, Chrissy, you didn’t have to get in the car this morning. You already knew it rained, and you’ve been wet before, jeez.”

Chrissy narrowed her eyes. “But this time I have new shoes.”

“Just stay with the car then,” Will shrugged.

“Give me the keys and I will.” Chrissy crossed her arms in defiance, and she nearly missed the set of keys when Will tossed them to her. The other three turned their backs and started down the trail as Chrissy unlocked the back hatch and unloaded her pack.

They walked in silence for about twenty minutes before Chris started in on Chrissy. ” I can’t believe she pulled that crap today.”

Trikelia nodded. “I know. I don’t know why she even got up this morning if she was just going to cry about her shoes. For crying out loud, we hike in a swamp. I don’t know what she was expecting. And it’s not like she’s never been before.”

Will just shrugged again. “Whatever. She spent most of the day complaining anyway. No biggie. Just don’t tell her next time we plan something. Problem solved.”

“Yeah, I guess,” said Trikelia. She paused and held up an arm, signalling the boys to stop for the snake slithering across the trail in front of them. “But let’s not let her ruin our day. We’ll just have more fun without her. She can sit in the car and eat her organic hippie food all by herself.”

“Those weird rice cakes she brings are so gross!” Chris chimed in.

The three of them laughed together and started walking again, the snake far enough out of the way now.

Lost on a Wild Goose Chase

Stefan plodded on, his pack weighing heavy on his back. The mornings on the trail were the worst for him; the longer he walked, the better he felt, other than sore feet. By the end of the day, he was joyful as he set up his tent and cooked his final meal of the day. 

But today felt different. 

A strange sound woke him early, a strange sound that had yet to repeat itself. In that place between wakefulness and sleep, Stefan was unable to identify the sound, and it gnawed at the back of his mind. 

He came upon a footprint on the trail: a bare human footprint, pointing sideways, as though the owner of the foot had raced across the trail, rather than along it. Stefan stopped, and squatted to study the print. 

Fresh, because the dry dust hadn’t crumbled in on itself, or been blown away. Light, because it was quite shallow in the fine dirt. And odd–were those claw marks at the tips of the toes?

Stefan stood up and tried to peer into the woods where whoever had gone. He stared, and just as he was about to give up, a sudden movement. 

“Hello?” he called. 

No answer. 

He took that fateful step off the trail. Stefan knew better, truly he did, but he told himself that he wouldn’t go far, that he wouldn’t lose sight of the trail. 

In less than a minute, he broke that promise. 

Something metallic glinted in a stray shaft of sunlight, and Stefan bent to investigate. It was a key, a shiny gold skeleton key. He picked it up, as unable to resist its brightness as a crow. The key was smooth and warm, almost feeling liquid in his hand. 

He looked up and realized he had no idea where he was in relation to the trail, but the wonder of the golden key helped the briefest twinge of worry fade away into nothing. 

He began walking in the direction he was facing, neither knowing nor caring if it was toward the trail. 

Far behind him, and off to his left, his cell phone vibrated in the dirt of the trail, erasing the footprint as it danced along the ground.