“Remember, there is to be no talking. You’re all to meet at base camp-19 miles north before 9 am tomorrow. If you don’t arrive on time, fall asleep on the hike, or talk to anyone before you reach base camp, you will not pass the hike and have to repeat it before you are allowed to go home. You will find lights every mile or so, pay attention or you will be lost for the next couple days, the climb is both steep and windy and you will not see anyone as we will be releasing you all at different times.”
He recalled being told 5 hours earlier, so how could that hiker possibly be approaching him?
Using her eyebrows instead of her mouth she asked, Are you lost?
Reluctantly, he shrugged his shoulders.
It had been over an hour since he’d last caught glimpse of any light, read a mileage marker or felt hopeful at all. And now others were catching him? Had he gone in a circle? He shouldn’t be running into anyone… unless of course, he had gone in a circle. Shit.
Beckoning she pointed right.
Follow you, yeah, right he laughed.
Hadn’t she gotten herself out here, in the middle of nowhere because her life choices had been as good as his, why should he follow her?
Don’t be stupid. Her eyes challenged.
Glancing to the left he sighed. Up they climbed. Down on his knees he slid. Silently he doubted. Frustrated, he wriggled his toes, the toes that were bleeding inside the one size, too small, hiking boots.
And then he saw it. A sliver of hope. A ray in the dark night. A light hanging from a small bush , pointing left, attached to a mile marker. She had been right. He wanted to hug her. But where was she?
Scanning the darkness he realized she was gone, or was she?
Turning left he placed one boot in front of the other and began climbing up the steep grade.
He would be in base camp by 9 am, he would, he would, he knew he would..