My love for drawing had been what had gotten me lost in the first place. I had stopped to sketch a particularly eye catching view and when I looked up again, everyone was gone. Not even my buddy had noticed that I'd stopped. Tears began to fall from my blue eyes as I curled up tightly under the tree. The sound of night time began to fill the woods around me and I whimpered in fear. I wasn't used to the nocturnal noises of animals in the wild, the normal hoots and howls, mixing with the sounds of insects. I was a city girl, usually holed up in my room, painting or sketching something. It made everything around me even scarier as I had no idea what any of the noise belonged to.
The night seemed to go on forever as I was awoken constantly by one noise or another. As the sun rose, I began to wonder if the counselor had even noticed that I wasn't there or if anyone would be looking for me. My stomach growled loudly and I cursed my brother for having forced me to go on this trip with my summer camp. He was probably regretting it now. Now that I was lost in the state park without any sort of sense of direction, no map and no compass to make the attempt to get back to the camp site.
I pulled a granola bar from my bag, eating it quickly before standing up to try again to find the others. Frustration set in as the sun rose quickly to be high in the sky and I continued to only become more lost. I finally found a stream and stopped to refill my water bottle before walking along it upstream. I vaguely remembered the counselor having told Ryder that the campsite was near a river and I just hoped that this stream would lead me to it. Unfortunately, I was either completely wrong or had wandered much further away than I had thought.
Night fell again and again I huddled under a tree for some modest protection from the night winds that swept through the trees. It was entirely too scary being stuck out here in the dark and unable to figure out where noises were coming from or what was making them. I woke in the morning with a scream of terror at the sight and feel of a spider crawling over my bare leg. I jumped up, still freaking out and brushing my hands all over my body to sweep away the invisible bugs that I could feel crawling across my skin. I hated bugs! I hated the outdoors! I hated nature! I wanted to go home!
Still randomly wiping down my arms and running my hands over my braided hair, I started following the stream again. It was late morning before I saw my first sign of a hope; a half finish wooden fence surrounding a cabin. I was nearly ecstatic to find a cabin out here in what I thought was the middle of nowhere. Excited to be able to contact civilization, I ran toward the door, pounding on it in hopes that someone was there. I wanted to go home. I wanted to see Ryder and my room and my puppy. I smiled as the door opened and a half dressed man came into view, though he blocked all of the opening.
"Yes? What can I do for you, Miss?" he asked and I breathed a sigh of relief that he was a nice guy.
"I got separated from my counselor and the other campers and I'm totally lost!" I said quickly, shifting from one foot to another. "Can I use your phone to call my brother? Or could you contact the ranger station for me?" The man smiled and stepped back to let me inside.
"Of course! Why don't you go get cleaned up some in the bathroom and I'll call the ranger station. It's right through the second door there," he said, pointing to a door down the hallway. I smiled, nervously stepping inside.
"Thank you, Mister -?" I said, turning questioning eyes up at him as I fiddled with the strap of my art bag.
"Reiner," he supplied. "And it's no problem at all. I can't imagine what it's like getting lost in the woods. Must be absolutely terrifying." I nodded a little, pushing a stray strand of hair behind my ear.
"Yeah, it was awful," I agreed. "You said second door, right?" I asked, glancing between him and the hallway. Something felt off, felt wrong about the whole situation, but I couldn't put my finger on it. So I simply pushed it aside in favour of having the chance to go home.
"Second door," he agreed and I walked down the hall. I glanced back at him before opening the door and heading inside, closing the door behind me. I took my time freshening up as best I could in a bathroom that obviously didn't have a girl as a regular user. I walked back out to the living room once I'd rebraided my hair, with my windbreaker hung over my art bag and my tie-dyed tshirt tucked into the shorts that were far too short for wearing in the woods. As soon as I came back to the kitchen, Mr. Reiner gestured to the table.
"I made you a bit of food. The rangers are sending someone out now," he said and I smiled.
"Thank you again, Mr. Reiner," I said as I sat down in the chair. My stomach growled at the sight of the sandwich and orange juice. "I really appreciate it. I was afraid I would never find anyone else while I was lost out there." I took a long swallow of the orange juice before beginning to eat the sandwich. I wasn't all that fond of meat, but I was too hungry to care right this minute.
"Well, don't worry. You're perfectly safe now," he said as he sat down in the second chair. I finished the sandwich quickly before draining the rest of the glass of juice. Near the end it tasted a little funny, but I brushed it off as my just not having had it in awhile. Ryder preferred apple or grape juice to orange so I only ever got orange if we went out to breakfast. I fiddled nervously with my art bag as I waited for the ranger to get there. It sure seemed to be taking a long time. I covered my mouth as I yawned a bit, feeling my eyes starting to grow heavy. Two relatively sleepless nights must have been catching up to me.
"You look tired. You can lay down on the couch if you want to. I'm sure the ranger'll be here in a few minutes. Resting your eyes couldn't hurt," he offered. I turned my head a bit to look over at the couch, finding the invitation tempting. Two uneasy nights, sleeping with my knees pulled to my chest made the couch look like a feather bed to my tired body.
"Thank you, but I really shouldn't impose too much more on your hospitality," I said softly, another yawn breaking free. "Like you said... the ranger should... be here shortly." Still, it was hard to keep my eyes open and I rested my head on my hand, leaning heavily on it. As hard as I tried to keep them open, they kept falling shut and eventually I couldn't bring myself to open them again.
"Suit yourself. I'll just be in the kitchen if you need me," he said, his voice sounding muffled and distant to my ears. I caught myself nodding off a couple times before I just let my head fall to the table. The last thing I remembered was a hand on my shoulder, shaking gently before I let everything go in favour of some real sleep.
I jerked awake, rubbing the sleep from my eyes as I tried to get my mind to focus for me. I shook my head as I tried to erase the memory of my nightmare. Getting lost in the woods was something B-rate horrors were made of. I laughed a little bit as I glanced around my room, the sound dying quickly as I realized it wasn't imy/i room. I jumped from the bed, going to the door and trying the knob. Locked. I was locked in.
"Hey! Somebody open this door!" I called, banging on the door as I tried vainly to turn the knob. Panic swept through me as no one came to the door and the knob never gave way to my attempts to open it. Something was horribly wrong with this picture and I backed away from the door slowly as my hand started to bruise. The last thing I remembered was Mr. Reiner giving me something to eat and now I was locked in a room.
"Somebody help me..." I whimpered as I curled up in the corner of the room, staring through my tears as the locked door. Silently I prayed for Ryder to find me, for the rangers to appear. Something, anything to happen before something bad did.