When consciousness returned I found myself laying on the ground next to a large tree.
Where was I? How did I get here?
The back of my head was throbbing. I placed my hand where the pain was originating from and felt something warm and wet. The back of my head was bleeding.
Had I been attacked by someone? An accidental injury? I could not remember anything. Was the head wound responsible for the lack of memory?
I had to find my way out of here, find the nearest road, anything. Problem was I could not see the hand in front of my face. I inclined to a sitting position with a groan and leaned up against the tree. Something pricked the back of my elbow in the process and sent a new wave of pain up my arm.
What the hell was that?
I checked my pockets. My keys, wallet and smokes were all missing, all that was left was a handful of change and a cheap disposable lighter. I pulled out the lighter and stood up very slowly, using the tree to balance all the while. I flicked the lighter to life and used it to look around my immediate surroundings. I was in the woods, which was odd, since I lived in a city, and there were huge thorns sticking out everywhere.
Well, one mystery solved- My arm had been gouged by a thorn.
Nothing left to see here.
I picked a direction and started walking. It was slow going- My head was still throbbing, I felt dizzy and my balance was off. What concerned me the most was that I could not hear anything. No cars, no planes, no animals or insects to be heard. Nothing. Eerie, it was so quiet. The sound of my footsteps crunching on the ground was the only noise.
I stumbled and landed on the ground twice in short order. The first time I flicked the lighter and discovered that I had tripped over a fallen branch. The second time the ground had sloped down suddenly and I had stepped out expecting to touch the ground, falling forward and doing a fancy little half somersault instead.
My head was still hurting and I could feel that the back of my neck was wet, so the bleeding had not stopped.
Every so often I flicked the lighter and waved it around as a source of light.
Where was the moon? Just trees and more trees.
The third time I stumbled and fell it was much worse. I slid down a large embankment of some sort and landed hard, twisting my ankle.
Clambering back to my feet I found myself standing on something solid and slick. I flicked the lighter and discovered that I was on a frozen river or creek of some sort. But that didn’t make any sense at all since it wasn’t winter…
I made my way up the other side of the riverbank and continued on. Not really knowing where I was or where I was going.
I was still trying to recall what I had been doing during the day. I remembered eating some spaghetti for an early dinner, watching something stupid on television. Nothing after that.
I staggered and stumbled around for what must have been hours. It became a repeating pattern. A nightmare that I could not wake from. Every time I flicked the lighter and looked around I found the forest to be even more dense than before, more difficult to navigate through.
Eventually I decided to just give up and wait for the sunrise. I found a nice spot of ground to rest on.
The back of my head and my ankle were hurting, but I wasn’t tired or hungry at all. I remained there for what must have been many hours and the whole time the forest around me was deathly silent. At one point I used the lighter and discovered to my horror that it was completely out of fluid.
The sunrise never happened.
It slowly dawned on me that I had not survived the head wound.
[Original writing and photography by J. E. Lattimer]
© 2012, 2013 J. E. Lattimer all rights reserved