Lush green forests overlooking the valley, rugged landscapes, flowing rivers, and unique wildlife attracted Chantel to visit the famous National Park in the hot months of summer. She was stunned to see the natural phenomenon and felt she could appreciate it for the rest of her life.
Chantel packed her essential belongings in a small backpack, water bottles, snack bars, nuts, a small lunch box, cleaning wipes, first aid kit. The guided hiking tour was about 4 hours; they took a bus to the park in the early morning. Chantel was not a morning person; the alarm buzzed at 5 am. They were supposed to meet at the designated spot at 6. She quickly jumped on her feet, rushed to the bathroom for a quick shower, and dressed in her most comfortable leggings and T-shirt. She remembered she had forgotten to keep the bug spray and sunscreen. After getting ready, she went to her son's bedroom and kissed him gently on his cheek....."Time to leave sunshine.....come on....get ready..." She packed another backpack for him, and soon they were out of the house.
The drive from home to the park was about 2 hours. Chantel thought she could shut her eyes and recharge until the bus was parked at the destination. But the scenic roadways, and the mountains, kept her intrigued. Her eyes twinkled as the bus passed through winding roads facing the valleys. Pine trees waved her excellent morning, and the fresh air enhanced her glow. It was something Chantel loved to do, visiting new places and adoring the marvelous nature. Two hours on the road just passed quickly. She didn't realize when the bus came to a stop. The tour guide rose from her seat and called everyone to gather outside, where she briefly described the location, routes, and housekeeping rules. "There was active wildlife which could be dangerous. Anything is possible in the dense forests of bears, raccoons, wolfs, and whatnot," the guide warned everyone.
During the day, she discovered new areas and hiked amongst the terrains. Slowly hopping through the rocks between the flowing river, capturing every scenery in her mind, the group went behind the tour guide as she explained the detailed history, wildlife, flora, and fauna...Chantel had only seen it in the movies. She wished she could take many pictures, but she couldn't leave the hand of her son walking beside her.
The magnificent view of the picturesque mountains appalled her, and she could not resist at one point. She took her cell phone out of her jacket pocket and clicked the picture to share with her friends. The group was behind her, she took a peek, but suddenly she could not find her son. She called his name and walked around the area, but nothing. Then she noticed him walking downhill at a distance. Her heart pounded. It seemed he couldn't hear her voice. She ran behind him, her breath heavier and her heart beating much faster.
After a few minutes, she grabbed him by his shoulders and hugged him tightly. Beads of tears dropped down her cheeks like drizzling rain. Bewildered, she kissed him and told him not to leave her hand again. The boy was frightened. Both smiled but then realized there was no one nearby. They lost sight of their group, and no one was around far and wide.
The sounds of birds and animals rustling in the area alarmed them. It was almost dusk. Chantel told her son not to worry and started climbing the mountain again to find the group. The scenery was still quaint, but it was much quieter now. She looked at her clock. The group was supposed to leave an hour ago. They must've searched for them, but now there was no one in the area.
Having no idea about the directions, she was confused about finding the nearest exit. "North, we need to head to the North," she said. She checked her phone to start the navigation, battery was on 1 percent. "Yikes," she screamed and switched the phone off to save the battery. Then she started walking in the other direction. Then suddenly, they heard the sounds of animals galloping in the forest. Her heart was almost in her mouth, and her son hid behind her. Wondering what it might be, they panicked and tried to hide behind the big rock. Then suddenly, she found someone pulling and dragging her. "Shhh", a man dressed in a brown shirt and jeans told her to follow her. He whispered to Chantel that a pack of wolves was running toward them, and they must find shelter immediately. She was confused about everything and realized the man was pulling her inside a shed. They were traumatised.
It was an old rusty cabin hidden inside the dense forest. Chantel wondered how she didn't notice it. She was too busy inspecting her son for bruises. The thumping sounds of running wolves came closer as they closed the door. Chantel touched her heart and was grateful to have not been eaten by the wild animals. Then, she noticed there were other people in the cabin. It was a vast space where everyone was resting. Chantel was withdrawn and scared by the events and didn't speak with anyone. She held her son and sat by the wall quietly.
The murky and dim atmosphere terrorized her soul. She pulled her son closer, spread her jacket on the dirty wooden floor, and made him sleep. Her mind raced in all directions, thinking of all the weird possibilities. Strange eyes gazed at her. She was vulnerable and checked her mobile to call her husband, but there's no network in the woods. Frustrated as a grumpy older man, she threw the phone on the phone and cried. Everyone looked at her. She was pitiful.
Awestruck by the strangers and their intentions, she reckoned to get out of the place as soon as possible. It had been hours in the woods. They hadn't eaten anything. She was thirsty and grabbed her bottle to take a few sips. Then she thought about uncertainty in the jungle, so she saved the rest for her son. Chantel stretched her legs and removed her shoes. She noticed she had developed some blisters, which hurt badly.
As Chantel tried to sleep, she realized her bladder was full, and she wanted to use the washroom, but she was scared to leave her son behind. She investigated the whole room and found everyone asleep. Cautiously as a kitten, Chantel walked to the bathroom inside the cabin and found it extremely filthy. For a moment, she thought she'd puke, but that'd wake everyone up, so she covered her mouth and pondered the possibility of using it.
Chantel was still planning to escape because she didn't trust anyone but the night in the woods scared her. She quietly went back to her son and tried to stay awake. Her eyes droopped as Chantel struggled with sleep. All night, she heard the sounds of animals walking in the area and waited for the morning patiently.
The dawn cracked, and birds announced its glory. Chantel saw it as a chance to escape while everyone in the room was still asleep. She tapped her son and told him to follow her lead quietly. Then she opened the door quietly and stepped out. She peeked outside in the forest, birds were humming their songs. The critters were crackling and then there was rustling in the woods. They hid behind a large tree, wondering if they would face a bear this time. She looked around to see if they could climb up on the tree. The sound got clear and she pushed her son to climb but then noticed it was just a petite raccoon. As they took a few steps, the galloping sounds of the wolf pack returned from the top of the hill. This time they made eye contact and were closer than before. Chantel pulled her son's hand and ran back to the cabin as fast as possible.
The wolves chased them with speed. Fortunately, they made it inside and quickly closed the door. She looked through the cracks on the door and saw the wolves peeking inside. They smelled human meat and circled the area. Chantel sat by the door and waited for them to leave. Someone in the cabin turned, Chantel closed her mouth and her covered her son's. Fortunately, none of the people in the cabin heard the commotion.
The sun rose with all its glory, and when the pack did't see anyone coming out. They left the area. Chantel took a breath of relief and opened the door. She inspected the surroundings to check if they were hiding somewhere but nothing. Slowly and carefully, she walked across the forest. The howling and rustling in the woods stopped as the sun rose higher in the sky, and it got brighter.
Chantel and her son hiked on the mountain, crossing the woods and the river. Suddenly, her son glanced at the road above. He told his mother, and they climbed up cheerfully only to see the grey clouds covering the sky, turning dark. Soon, it started to rain. They put their hands on their heads and waited for someone to passby. Scared, hungry, and vulnerable, the mother and son duo stood on the road waiting for someone to help them. It was an eerie street with no one in sight. Suddenly, they saw a bus coming to their side. Chantel screamed the bus was here. The bus driver stopped the bus and inspected them. Both of them were mustered in the soil, lose hair and gloomy eyes told a story. The driver asked to buy a ticket. She checked her pocket to find the cash but realized she didn't have any.
Chantel was heartbroken, they somehow managed to exit the forest, but it was getting dark again. Who knew what kind of animals would turn to them as it got darker? No streetlight, not even a cabin now.....it was impossible to survive for another night.
Then suddenly, an older man, bald and plump, wearing pants, a shirt, and a brown half sweater, came down from the bus and tapped on her son's shoulder. "Here, take this for the bus fare?" and handed him some money.
Chantel and her son jumped with cheer. It was like they won the lottery ticket. They looked back at the forest and hopped on the bus.
Rakshita Joshi 1 second ago
Intriguing and nail biting adventure for me. Keep writing!