The black Ford Ranger pulled into the car park at the Woodland Rangers main office. Its tyres crunched on the rough gravel as it came to a stop. Jason climbed out and headed to the door of the office. He walked in and found Natalie studying a set of maps. She had marked various circles on them and her face was set in concentration.
‘Hi. How’s it going?’ He said but he only got a mumbled reply.
‘You found something?’ he asked.
‘Not really, just trying to find some sort of pattern but the incidents just seem to be scattered throughout the parks.’ She replied.
‘Let’s head out there and see what we can find.’ He said.
‘Yeah, okay. It’s useless staying locked up in this office all day.’
‘Let me grab a few things first, then we’ll roll.’ He said as he headed over to a door at the far end of the office.
The door led to a fully stocked store room with everything from tranquiliser guns and medications to ropes and walking gear. Thinking for a moment, he grabbed a tranquiliser gun and set of 4 darts, then switched the light off and shut the door.
‘You think we’re going to need that?’ Natalie asked in surprise.
‘You never know. It might come in useful.’ Jason said with a smile.
Natalie set the office phones to divert calls to the answer phone and then locked the door while Jason loaded up the Ford pickup with some gear and the tranquiliser gun. They both jumped into the cab and Jason started the engine. Leaving the office behind, they headed toward the woodland where the hikers had reported the disturbance in the undergrowth. It was a short journey but they both stayed silent during the drive, their minds deep in thought. When they reached the woods, they pulled off the road and onto a dirt track that led deep into the woods. They bumped down then track until the woods became too dense to drive any further, forcing them to grab their gear and leave the pickup behind.
The woods were silent. No birds were chirping, no animals scurrying through the undergrowth and no hikers or dog walkers were in sight. The stillness created an eerie atmosphere and a shiver ran own Jason’s back. He tried to shake it off, he had been in these woods a hundred times before. There was nothing to fear. But the feeling stuck with him, the feeling of being watched, stalked even, as though he was being hunted by some invisible animal.