Alastair was lost.
Plants bled together before her as if the world was stained in watercolor. When she turned
around to retrace her footsteps, there did not seem to be a path to follow. Her eyes could
not grab hold of any markers that would lead her back to her camp. Alastair was standing
in a sea of green, completely directionless.
Hours passed as she wandered the green forest. Panic began to bubble in her stomach but
it wasn’t until daylight disappeared before she gave into her fear. Feeling the bight of
defeat, she fell to the dirt, pulling her legs up against her chest. Face pushed into grass
stained knees, she asked herself, how could she have been so foolish? Hot tears filled her
eyes, blurring her vision. Alastair almost didn’t see the softly lit wagons that passed on a
winding road at the bottom of the hill. Leaping to her feet she charged down the slope
dodging trees and jumping rocks in an attempt to catch the bobbing caravan.
It wasn’t long before Alastair was within throwing distance of the wagon. Stumbling along
the dusty path, she ran along side of it at a full sprint. Her lungs were heaving coupled
with the straining muscles of her chest, calves and thighs. Blood pounded in her ears with
a force that felt as if it could split her skull. Alastair felt a cold crisp air caressing the sheen
of sweat that covered her skin. Lights flickered in her vision, her lungs felt as if they were
being shredded by each intake of air, could she even make it? Or would she pass out? That
would be deadly out here in this jungle.
The world seemed to shrink to just the pain of her body screaming at her and the back of
the moving cart. If she didn’t make it, there would be no one to look for her, no one to save
her from the monsters that lurked in the night. This caravan was her best chance of
surviving the night. In a last burst of strength, Alastair flung herself forward. Her hands
missed the railing but caught an old tattered blanket that decorated the cart. Lifting one
fist over the other, Alastair pulled herself across the rotting wood railing and landed hard
on the floorboards. Splinters bit into her skin, the world spun, her head ached, then the
world went dark.
It wasn’t clear to Alastair exactly how long she had been out cold. It was still dark when
she found herself lying among sacks of food. Having not been discovered, she scrambled
further behind a wall of barrels. Alastair held her breath between twisted lungs as the
minutes stretched on.
Peeking from her hiding space, she scanned the area. Eyes had been carved or drawn with
chalk over almost every surface. Shiny stones, animal bone and feathers decorated the
edges of the roof, catching the first rays of morning light. Alastair cursed under her
breath, everyone knew the types who rode in these kinds of caravans, gypsies. Perhaps she
would have had more luck in the jungle after all. Pushing herself up so that she could see
over the rim, she was very aware of her cheek scratching against the rough surface.
All was quiet. digging through the sacks of food, she found a bag of almonds and apples,
gobbling down as much as she could. When the time came to run, she wouldn’t be able to
carry anything with her and who knew how long it would be before she ate again. Her
body, was pulling her into sleep again, it felt like ages since she had gotten real rest.
Dragging the old blanket over her, she made herself comfortable in the small dark nook.
As soon as she closed her eyes, a shadow covered her in the darkness. A smokey voice
whispered across Alastair’s skin like furry spider legs, so slow and careful, “What are you
To be continued…