Sneak Peek!

Chapter 3: 
“I’m not gonna lose you too.”  ( Chief Ray Gaine, San Andreas)

For another hour, Vale and Ash walked, damp cold leeching into their bones. They shouted for help, but no one answered. Vale was beyond tired. Her feet moved on instinct, her mind circling a fear she was only now starting to name. It’s my fault we fell behind. I was the one who’d insisted on picking up the garbage. I made us late.


Exhausted, Vale stumbled on numbed feet. Ash caught hold of her arm, steadying her before she hit the ground. They stood in an unfamiliar forest, the trail a charcoal line that ran away into the darkness on either side of the two of them.


“We got to keep moving,” Ash panted.


“I—I just need a minute.”


“What’s wrong?”


“M-my feet,” Vale said. “They’re freezing. C-can hardly feel my toes. We should stop.”


“Stop for what?! There’s nothing here! There’s just trees and rain and—”


“I think we should wait for someone to find us.”


“What?!”


Vale cringed. “I-I don’t know where we are anymore, Ash. No one came when we called for help.”


“So that’s it then!” He kicked at a rock on the trail and it skittered into the grass. “We’re LOST in the mountains! Well, that’s just fricking great!”


Vale winced. “Someone will find us. We can’t be that off track. Right?”


Ash tucked his hands under his armpits. “How would I know?! I’ve never even hiked here before!”


“Neither have I, but we were halfway to Twin Lakes when we stopped for lunch. That was a good four hours ago or more. We should be close… I think.”


“You think?! Why don’t you KNOW?!”


“Because I haven’t hiked here before. So don’t yell at me about it.” Vale turned away from him, blinking back tears. “We missed the trail somehow,” she whispered. “We’ve been walking for hours. We’re obviously too far away for them to hear us, And we’re on a trail, but not the right one.”


“There’s a couple places where the path forks off into the woods a ways back,” Ash said, “but no sign posts. I’ve got to be honest. I’m not even sure we’re following an actual trail anymore. I think this might be a…”


“A game trail?” Vale offered.


“Yeah, exactly. I think we somehow got onto a game trail. So can we go back the way we came? Follow our tracks until we find the right trail again?”

“Not right now, Ash. It’s too dark.”


“So what? We just stay here?”


“For now.”


“But where are we?”


Vale’s heart pounded as she lifted her eyes to the foggy forest that surrounded them. It was like an image from a movie. Swirls of mist wove around their feet and dark branches reached out with skeletal fingers. The silence filled her with dread.


“I have no idea...”