The Oakland before her was wide and wild.
A dusting of snow lay on the summits of the Appalachians. It was true- Winter was on its way and only time would tell before it brought its brunt down to the coast and casting the whole of North America into sub-zero temperatures.

Her golden tawny hair lifted in the breeze and she sat gently onto a raw granite outcrop. Melissa flicked it back with her finger and watched the world go by-without her.

The village was down in the estuary about twenty five miles down from the mountains. The land here was steep gullies leading down to the flatter homesteads of Maryland's pasture. Pine needles and cones lay deep in the woods back up the mound, a thick orange coppice ahead.

Her hands slipped into her hair, as she scrubbed her scalp. What was going on inside her? What was making her question going home? Was it the thought of the celebrations when she got home, or was it the simple fact of the questions? She knew why she worried most about that, not even she had any answers.

Miranda Gorge's feet were bare. She didn't really have any answers at how she was asleep one second in her bedroom in a nighty. Then two hours later she was asleep as a ball in the depths of the Redneck Hills. The towering spruces overhead and the sound of owls deep at night. She shuddered in the wind. It seemed to pick her up and blow her ten paces back before settling her down.

Forcing herself up and to face the truth she made it bare foot down the hillside again. Sharp tangs of biting pain drove deep into the bed of her feet. For each step she took, she jumped forward razor blades in her feet. God she wondered how fire walkers did it.

Finally for what seemed like an age, she came to a small wooden hut surrounded by reddish brown autumnal leaves. In a month's time this place would be snowed in she thought. Making tea she assumed she must have walked at least five miles. Miranda had descended at least four hundred feet and soon she could get to a homestead and seek refuge.

The silky flimsy nighty was a rosette, images of bears dotted across it in a lavish fashion. Miranda had lost her belt a mile back in some mud when she had slipped into puddle. Thankfully the hut had a water source but it ran ice cold when she tried to wash her hands. They had no soap either. It was a cesspit.

Miranda was really going to have to go back into the cold sooner or later. The hut could have been a few degrees above freezing but at least it shaded from the cold wind. There was a red towel by the basin, and she rolled it lengthways and used it as a belt to stop the wind ripping the nightdress open and exposing her flesh to the hoarfrost. Threading it through the hooks it lay heavily and clumsily down her thighs. Her face was a ghastly white and now was taking a tinge of blue and turning solid to the touch.

The heavy oak door was stiff to open and soon as it did, a gust of gale force wind picked it up and slammed it back hard against the wall. The steel hinges almost shattered on impact. She could not close it again.

With another gust the wind literally raised her, split the towel belt and a rush of cold gathered inside her-bringing her entire body out in gooseflesh.

"Aeh." A gush of warm air escaped her as she hit the floor winded the air seemed to run its coarse fingers all over her. Raping her of warmth. "Ah god." She could have lay there on the dirt and in the leaves as the naked white body that she was. That would have been the easy way out and for a moment it actually was considered.

The red sun fell behind the depth of a high cumulonimbus cloud and down by the coast an onslaught of torrential rain whipped the coast. Something pulled her to the coast and she was right back up fastening the towel. Her body was tilted trying to lower to keep the brunt of the wind out of her. The smooth tawny hair was reduced to snarling pythons when the wind made it dance.

Her bare feet were bleeding when the sun fell and Miranda was left with no other choice than too keep walking into dusk. The rain by the coast had fallen and had retreated up hill and brought a thin fret of rain that had stuck the dress onto her skin similar to the way silk would have.

The pain was inexplicable. She felt numb in the tips of her fingers. But not cold numb. Emotionally numb. It was almost as if her body had given up hope of salvage and had let them turn to solid blocks of ice. The girl felt dazed. Her eyes span around; her pupa small minute dots of life pleading for life. Her feet were bleeding; pine needles had shot right into her and had carved her like turkey on thanksgiving. Except she was raw and she was still alive. Her mouth was burning acid. The taste just like sour milk, and it wouldn't go away. Her tongue had been scorched with the cold- the back of her throat just-blood curdling there to never heel-
George made it to the start of the farmland within ten minutes and she knew this was the way home; the land was taking its less dramatic forms once more as it rolled down into the Sea.

There was an array of wild hedges hiding the escarpment at the end of the field. Their autumnal colours were dying off now though and leaving the twig form they would show all throughout the winter months. Gold's, auburns and reddish brown leaves lay as a reminder of late Summer. The nighty was bitingly cold from the rain and as the Sun vanished casting the fields into darkness she really had no hope of finding shelter-tonight anyhow.

The girl took a seat under the shadow of an oak that irradiated a smell of deep must. Its usual light bark was taking on a more sinister colder feel with the advent of the water. This was really not one would hope. A freezing cold day in October a week before Halloween out in the hills, alone. What had happened to her?

A slithering tear welled in her eye and slipped down her cheek as a warming shaft of water, almost immediately followed by a drip from the oak. Miranda bit her lip, she couldn't break down Dammit! She couldn't just sit there and let the tears come. Yes, something had happened to her and yes she wasn't quite sure what had happened. But she had a family to welcome her home; she had a warm loving family with open arms waiting for her to come home. She didn't have anything to cry about not at all. Maybe it was the feeling of the warmth that the tears brought and the expelling of the tears and emotion that made her feel warm. But as they flowed even more, she knew deep within herself.

It wasn't what had just happened that upset her. It was the underlying problems she could never bring herself to admit that forced her to leak like this. Forced herself just to expel, because she knew deep inside if she didn't expel then she would just be a ticking time bomb ready to expel itself from inside.

The nighty belt was unravelled and she wrapped it over her shoulders.

The girl began to shake.

Shake from inside.