It was a beautiful summer night. The moon was full, providing plenty of light for my midnight walk. I had been working on a project and at the moment… I was stuck.
The warm breeze blew through the air causing my long brown hair to lift, my wavy curls bouncing slightly. I took a deep breath in trying to relax my mind and unblock myself. I approached a path into the woods. I paused before emerging myself onto the trail.
The last year had been hard. My boyfriend, Anthony, was killed 15 months ago. We had dated for 5 years and just gotten engaged. To say I was a mess would be an understatement.
I allowed my entire life to fall apart. I resigned from the marketing firm I had been working for since college. I sold my house and almost everything inside before moving into my sister’s guest house. She just had her third child and welcomed the help.
Being around Bethany and her kids was the only thing that kept me motivated for a few months. She was a working mother at a law firm and her husband, Rob a pilot. I was happy to be a free live-in-nanny and hide from the real world.
I never wanted them to see or sense the pain I was in. It gave me the strength to bury the pain. I was so involved in my work before; I hardly knew the children. Her oldest child is 6, Scarlet. We became quick friends, she helped me find anything I needed the first couple weeks.
Scarlet requested to have a “sleep-over” in the guest house a few nights. They just happened to be the nights I was feeling my worst. In a way, I felt like she knew and just wanted to try to help. I enjoyed her company while we ate ice-cream watching animated movies.
Sarah is 4 and her father’s daughter. She is always constructing different aircrafts for her to fly saying one day she will be lead engineer, building a space craft. She also intends to fly it into space, against her mother’s wishes.
Thomas, or Tommy, just turned 1 last week. His birthday party was spectacular, just in the fashion my sister always did parties. I was happy to stay occupied with the children playing various games and working on crafts.
With all the whispers around me it was hard not to begin to think about what I was still doing. My plan was only to be here for 6 months. A small reset on my life to decide what I wanted to do. Somewhere along the way I stopped tracking time.
A year later, I am still here with no plans to leave. I knew I didn’t want to go back to the marketing firm. The money was great, but I never felt a sense of fulfillment. With Anthony gone, I needed that more than ever.
As I approached the first bend in the trail, I decided to pick up the pace a bit and jog. Little droplets of rain began to fall from the darkening sky. A small smile spread across my lips. I love the rain and how refreshing it feels on my skin.
I kept on the trail climbing the small mountain in the woods. The view from the cliff was beautiful, especially in the rain. I picked up the pace as the rain started to become angry. About 200 yards from reaching the top clearing, my foot caught a hole that had filled into a puddle, rolling my ankle.
I hoped over to the closest tree to look at it, barely able to see anything. The forest was dark, the rain like a blanket. I went deeper into the trees looking for an area with better coverage. Lighting struck down no more than a half mile from me. I felt the earth shake as it made contact.
Frantically moving faster, I saw a small hole in between some large stones leading into a cave. Realizing there would likely be animals inside, I weight my options for a moment.
I wasn’t sure how I wanted to die. I knew lightning was not at the top of my list. I carefully slid into the cave, trying to put the least amount of pressure on my ankle possible. I stumbled slightly when my hand slipped off the rock I was gripping.
The cave was dark. I sighed in relief; no immediate attack is good. I pulled out my flashlight from my pack and shined it down the tunnel and around myself. After I was satisfied, I was alone, I pulled out my hunting knife from my ankle.
I was my father’s daughter growing up. I used to go everywhere with him. Hiking, fishing, camping, in the garage for days straight rebuilding his project car of the year. He taught me to always be prepared, especially when you’re the second daughter of a Navy Seal.
“Never be caught off guard.” His voice rang through my head. “Always carry a weapon.” He said once, “But Pa, you can’t carry weapons everywhere.” I said back with a sly grin. “Be the weapon.” He said as if awakening some eternal survival instinct inside me.
Ever since then I have trained for any possible situation. Some people thought I was crazy, one of those… “dooms day types”. The truth is none of us know what is going to happen, I would rather be overprepared than under.
“Helllllooooo….” I sang into the darkness in front of me.
I cleared my head to stay focused and remain calm. I could no longer hear the rain outside. There was water falling through the cracks in various locations as expected. I knew I didn’t need to keep limping on my ankle, but curiosity was getting the best of me.
I had been on this trail hundreds of times before and never noticed the cave. After another 50 yards or so the light barely touched some markings on the wall. I approached slowly shining the light directly upon the rock wall.
“Well… you look interesting… I wonder what language.” I said aloud speaking to myself.
I took out my cell phone to snap a picture when I heard the air move quickly behind me. I dropped my phone moving the flashlight around with my knife near my chest pointing outward.
After a few seconds of looking around and noticing no foreign sounds or movement, I slowly bent down to pick up my phone. I took one more look around before allowing my eyes to peek. Smashed. Of course.
“Shit.” I said aloud before shoving the broken phone into my pack.
I looked back at the markings on the wall for another minute before looking deeper into the cave. I couldn’t make it out, but it sounded like there was running water up ahead.
I approached slowly checking behind me every now and then. I couldn’t believe the shallow glow that begun to show. I knew in my mind I should turn back. I had watched to many movies to know how this would end.
My body didn’t want to comply. My feet carried me forward. I could barely feel my ankle’s tenderness. As I got closer, I could see the opening I would need to crawl through. It wasn’t too far, only 6 feet or so…
I checked behind and around me once more. I was alone. At least in this side of the tunnel. I put the flashlight in my pack and took a deep breath. I didn’t like small spaces.
“Just do it you sissy.” I said aloud to myself.
“Do you always speak this much alone?” A deep, threatening voice said from behind me.