Steel and Spell

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Chapter 3

I groaned in pain and spit dirt that entered my mouth. “Wait. Dirt?” My mind went into my memory and I could remember crystal clear that I had passed out in my bedroom. My eyes shot open and I realized that I was flat on my stomach looking at the ground. I rolled so I could look up, to see I was looking trees. My brain took a while to process this new information. I tried to stand up, and miraculously my body obeyed. I slowly stood up from my position and started to look at my surroundings.

“What the...” I turned around to see everything in my surroundings were the same. I was in the middle of the fucking woods. All of a sudden, an overwhelming feeling of nausea started to creep up my digestive system. My hand went straight to my mouth and I started looking for a decent place to throw up. Apparently behind a bush was all I got. I ran to the bush and everything in my stomach was thrown out with an acid stench that made me want to vomit even more. After good five minutes of throwing up, I leaned on a tree for support and closed my eyes. The sounds of birds and all kind of animals was relaxing and disturbing at the same time. The sun rays were warm and comforting to the position I was.

“Shouldn’t I be in my bedroom right now? Watching TV or starting my historical investigation or whatever?” Thoughts of all kind flooded my mind regarding how the hell did I got there. “Maybe when I was passed out someone brilliantly took me to the woods as a joke...”

A list of names and persons ran through my mind to find a possible explanation. “Aria? Don’t think so. She wouldn’t put a foot on a forest even if they paid her. Hannah? Not the joking kind of person. Lucas? What the hell would he be doing at nearly 1 AM in my house?” I started to run out of persons

“My mom?” I snorted at the thought of my mom making a prank and putting her daughter in the middle of the woods after she passed out. And even if someone was capable of doing it, it was not possible. I lived in a small town were the closest forest was across the state, and in no freaking way, I was passed out that long. A prank was discarded. But still, my options of how did I get there were few, and the possible one is being pranked. But that one was already discarded so I got nothing.

“I should focus on how to get home right now.” I said to myself and opened my eyes. For the briefest of moments I thought this was only a hallucination and when I opened my eyes I would be back in my bedroom. But the noises and the large trees said otherwise. I started analyzing my surroundings. There wasn’t too much humidity and the vegetation was not thick or dense, so a tropical forest was eliminated as an option. I was on a regular forest, like the ones you find in Canada (or at least that’s what I thought they were like when I saw them in pictures) but it looked like it was summer. I felt rather cold being barefoot with my pajama shorts and my Twenty-one pilots shirt, but the outfit wasn’t for outdoors purposes. I gave there were at least 65 F and maximum 80 F. I only wished to not encounter any dangerous animal on the way.

I lifted my body from the tree and started walking in a random direction but then I caught sight of something reflecting the blinding sun towards my eyes. I bent my knees to the floor and I found something that put my hopes up. In between some dirt and leaves, my phone laid like another object on the ground. Excitement took over me and in a flash, I took the phone out of the ground and pressed the initial button. The screen lighted up to life and just when I was about to call my mom, I realized I didn’t have reception.

My hopes went down as fast as water falls from the Niagara Falls. I sighed and passed a hand through my hair. I looked down to see the screen again and the time it showed was weird. It said 1:32 AM. I looked up to see the sun shining through the trees, blinding my eyes if I looked at the correct angle. In no way here or at the end of the world the sun would shine as bright as it was there at 1:32 AM. I looked at the date and it was the same when I passed out. Less than an hour had passed since I fainted.

“What the fuck is going on?” I asked myself constantly.

The situation was beyond weird and I was starting to freak out. I grabbed my phone and put it in my pocket and then started walking in the random direction I was going before. I was going to find answers one way or another and it didn’t matter if it took me all day.

Five FUCKING hours had passed and I was still walking and I hadn’t seen any sign of civilization yet. My throat hurt because of the thirstiness and my pace was slower every minute I walked. I saw the time on my phone, and it was 6:46 AM. So, as you can see, all the energy and “I’m going to find out was going on no matter what” attitude, they were gone. The only thing I could think about at that moment was water. The sun was still shining brightly, so I figure out it was between noon and afternoon. I stopped walking to take a break in a tree near my position. I sat under the tree and closed my eyes to focus on something else than water and the pain in my bare feet.

All of a sudden I felt movement above my head. I shot my eyes open and looked at the place where the movement was coming from. A squirrel was watching me intently from some branches above my head. I had never had had a squirrel so close to me in my entire life. For a second I thought of standing up and pet him. But I had seen lots of videos of squirrels attacking people and living nasty bites and scratches. That made me think twice about it. Since I wasn’t in a position to get hurt in any way (I didn’t have water in the first place) I just stared at the squirrel very intensely. It was like a staring battle, and I wasn’t going to lose to a squirrel. The squirrel broke eye contact and started sniffing the air. Suddenly, like it got hit by lightning, it started climbing the tree like its life depended on it.

“Sucker!” I shouted while it climbed.

I shook my head at my childish behavior and chuckle at the thought that I had been only a couple of hours in the woods and I was already going nuts. The sound of broken dry leaves and branches took me out of my thoughts. I looked in front of me and my breath hitched.

A giant grizzly bear was walking through the trees, its gaze fixed on something farther ahead, ignoring my existence. It was the biggest bear I had ever seen in my life. It looked like someone had given it steroids instead of fish, or whatever they eat.

A lump was formed in my throat almost instantly, and I was absolutely sure I stopped breathing. A single move could end my life. My eyes didn’t leave the bear at any moment. If I blinked it would have attacked me. Then I saw something it made my fear rise up higher than the empire state and my heart rate picked up so fast that I thought I was going to have a heart attack. Two little cubs followed their mother, jumping and playing with each other.

One thing is a bear, another thing is a momma bear. You don’t mess with them. If you want a very violent death that will make you plead for mercy, look for a mother bear and mess with her cubs. Something National Geographic taught me very well is to FUCKIN STAY AWAY FROM THEM AND I COULDN’T FUCKIN MOVE. Since the cubs appeared into the picture, I was terrified beyond imagination. My heart was hammering against my chest so hard I thought the bear could hear me. Then a twig snapped below me. I was so scared I didn’t realize I was pressing myself against the tree so hard that made a twig snap in two. The bear’s head snapped towards me and watched me intently. Then a low growl came from its mouth and a very dangerous look took over. It was a warning. I nodded, almost as if the bear understood I wasn’t planning on crossing paths with them in the future and mostly not there. The bear’s head moved to its original place and kept walking with its little cubs.

When they disappeared from view, I couldn’t move. I released a shaky breath I didn’t know I was holding and my whole body was so tense that I thought if I moved, I would break all my bones. I started taking deep breaths to relax and my muscles started relaxing as well. The position I was also started to loosen up; my back was against the tree, my arms tightened against my side and my legs were pressed against my chest. It took me a while to loosen up and my heart rate to relax. When I was more relaxed, I gave a deep breath and stood up.

“I almost died. I could have died.” I realized with my hands rubbing my temples trying to relax again because the statement made my heart rate pick up again. Then reality hit me.

“I’m not near my home. Not even close to my state.” My eyes widened in realization and my hands went straight to my mouth.

“This isn’t happening. This is a dream. I’m going to wake up soon and I’m going to laugh at my stupidity.” That was my only thought in that moment. I pinched my arm and the pain seemed to be damn real to be a dream. My senses were quite active also, which it didn’t happen when I was dreaming.

“This is impossible. This can’t be happening.” I shook my head in denial. I wasn’t going to cry. “I’m stronger than that. I’m going to find someone that can help me and I’m going home. It’s simple as that.” I said to myself in my mind to put my hopes up.

My instincts of survival kicked in and I started looking for the tallest tree. While I walked, I looked up to see if there was a tall tree which also could be easy to climb up. Of course, my walking was more discreet and I tried to not step on twigs or dry leaves. I definitely wasn’t planning for another close-to-death encounter with a bear. Most definitely not.

I got to a tree that was more taller than the others and it could be climbed if you were careful. I secured my phone on my pocket and then started climbing up. Since I was barefoot, it was kind of difficult to not slip in some branches. My bare legs roughly pass through tough branches and left deep scratches. In one moment I felt blood dripping through my legs. I tried to ignore the pain in my legs and kept climbing up. The foliage started to decrease and the view became clearer and clearer. I wasn’t liking what I was looking at. I started climbing faster and I didn’t realize when I got to the top of the tree, I was too focused on the view.

There was no foliage surrounding me and I could see everything crystal clear. My breathing was hitched and all hope I had left went to hell. Straight to hell. All I could see was trees and an endless forest all the way to the horizon in every direction.

“FUCK!” I shouted to nothing and all I wanted to do was hit something. Some birds flew at the sudden shout and you could hear the shout of animals who didn’t know what the hell was going on. The tiredness, the thirstiness, and the pain were taking over me. Before I even noticed, I was crying and sobbing like crazy. “No, no, no, no...there has to be another way...“. I kept sobbing for a while, looking at the horizon with a hopeless look and all kinds of negative thoughts came to my mind that included me dying alone in the middle of that endless woods.

The sun was about to set and I decided the best decision was to get down before it was too late and I couldn’t see what I was stepping on. I started to climb down very carefully and trying to step on the branches that seemed the strongest. Apparently, that wasn’t enough.

I stepped on a branch and just when I was about to put my other feet it broke and I held for dear life to a branch over me. A loud gasp left my mouth when I looked down. There was a good 20 ft fall below. My hands started to sweat and slip off the branch. My only option was to wrap my swollen legs around the tree trunk and put my arms around it to avoid falling to my death. With all the strength I had left, I swung my body enough to wrap my legs around the tree trunk. My legs ached at the rough texture of the tree and I was sure I started bleeding again from my previous wounds. I moaned in pain and tighten the grip on the tree even if it hurt more, I knew it was going to be far worse if I fell. Seeing my grip was tight enough I move my left arm fast and gripped it around the tree. Then I moved the other arm and I found myself in a koala position around the tree. I slowly started to move downward while small whimpers escaped my mouth because of the rubbing of the tree against my scratched thighs. I slowly got to a branch, this time I verified safely if it was safe to step on. No more incidents happened while I continued to climb down.

When I got to ground safely, I leaned against the tree and released a breath I didn’t know I was holding. I stare at the trees ahead of me and it was way darker than when I decided to climb. I needed water desperately so I kept walking even though my legs were still bleeding and they hurt like hell. I looked at them and they had splinters and dirt all over them. One more reason I needed water right there. I started walking faster, for my desperation started growing every passing minute. I started hearing distant running water and I started walking faster and faster. But apparently, fate had other plans for me.

Suddenly, I was engulfed in a net that lifted me up 7 ft from the ground. I started to struggle but it was impossible in mid-air.

“Help! Somebody help me!” I pleaded, but the silence of the forest was enough of an answer. I stopped struggling, taking deep breaths to calm myself down. I decided it was better to blame anything else for my misery and I started to curse everything.

“Fuck this net. Fuck water. Fuck this fuckin woods. Fuck stupid squirrels. Fuck bears. Fuck trees. Fuck my life. Fuck the asshole who decided to put a net here. Fuck...” and then I realized something. Someone had put the net there. There was someone. Someone that could finally help me. I needed to keep screaming so he or she could find me.

“Help! Somebody help me! I need your help”. The shouts continued until night fell upon everything. I stopped when my throat felt dry and hoarse and if I kept screaming I would have probably needed lots of water I didn’t have there. The temperature dropped slightly, but me being in only shorts and a shirt, I started shivering. The cold wind passed below me, caressing my back in a way that made me shiver even more. The wounds in my legs still hurt and the lack of food and water all day was getting an effect on me. Tears of despair rolled down my cheeks and all I could think about at that moment was death.

I was going to die without saying goodbye to my family, without amending things with my father, without having my first love, no college, no marriage, nothing. Seventeen years of my life and I had accomplished nothing.

Tiredness and exhaustion took over me, and even with the pain of my legs and the grumbles of my stomach, I managed to fell asleep.

Suddenly I woke up, my body freezing and shivering. I felt movement below me, and before I could move or say something I was falling and I hit the ground with a dry thump. My whole body was aching and I started groaning from the pain. I started to struggle against the net and found a way to get out. I took the net away from me and just when I was going to stand up I felt a cold and sharp metal on my throat. A deep low voice with a thick British accent spoke.

“Move and I will slice your throat.”

Damn. My. Life.

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