He climbed along the fallen leaves—breathing harder than expected, wondering if the trail was difficult or if he was simply out of shape. The path was littered with rocks and roots and the trees were tall and clear. It was a good day. He came to a small clearing and leaned against a rock. His hand shaking, he took water from his bag—drank and thought about why he came hiking alone. The water went down too fast or the wrong way and he began to cough. It turned something violent and he vowed to quit smoking. He was glad he hadn’t brought his cigarettes along with him. He thought this would probably be a good time to have one.
He took another sip of water and headed up the trail following the white blaze. The map was surprisingly accurate—costing nothing, and found in a broken mailbox attached to a tree. It was black and white and sometimes hard to decipher which color trail you were following. “I’m pinning my hopes on a photocopy of a photocopy,” he thought. And if I get lost. Than I get lost! Stop. Stop. In your heart of hearts you know it is not your fault.
Seeing no one for three hours he began imagining himself alone in the woods. These woods are mine. I know every branch and every fallen leaf. I could blind myself and through sheer smell—find my way to safety.
He stooped under a gnarled branch, resting his side against the wood and unbuckled his belt. Not completely altered into the beast in his mind, he checked to see if anyone was in sight and finding no one, dropped his pants. It was pleasant. He felt like a bear. A beast, you could trust. An animal with brains and a positive disposition. He wished he could meet another just like him.
Looking right, the small stream was an abandoned estate which was not mentioned on the map. There was a dour humor to the overall appearance predominantly because it reminded one of the moment in the horror story where the characters look to the house and the audience unanimously decides, “Do not go there.” He hustled up the side of the stream where the leaves were heaviest and avoided getting wet. There were three rooms. The first room he entered felt thick. He expected to see an arm. Out of all the things to see why an arm? He could not explain—though he was quite shocked when (instead) he saw a pack of cigarettes. They were Winstons. He picked up the pack. There was one left. He lit up—putting his elbows on the edge of the window and looked out. He wondered who looked out this window before him?
Now is where his mind begin to trick him in the body of a small boy. Not yet six and dressed inappropriately for winter, he stopped and stared stared fixedly into the man’s eyes. He looked right back and felt a fear start from the circumference of his wrist, and the cigarette in his band began to shake. He felt a young fear. He was caught in a place that wasn’t his. He had something in his hands that belonged to someone else.
Where is your Father?
A boy like you should not be out here by himself.
Are you lost?
Have you come for an outing or do you live here?
Why do you look at me in such a way? I am no threat to you. I am merely passing by.
The boy said no.
What do you mean no?
Am I not passing by?
Have I lost something you are looking for?
You are nothing but a young boy lost.
The boy turned and walked away.