What Happens Next?

Coming this fall!


We sat watching the fire and drinking our spiked tea.  The brandy was calming my frayed nerves.  “You know tomorrow we need to start thinking about heading back.  Saturday is coming up faster than I thought.  Do we need to spend the night in Great Falls for me to catch the early flight?”

“I hadn’t given that much thought.  I guess Saturday is looming.  What will happen if you don’t make it back on Saturday?”  Michael asked staring into the fire.

“What do you mean?  Not make it back?  I have no choice, I have a job.  I need to be back to work on Monday!”  I swallowed the last of my tea.

“Well, what if you didn’t go back?  Would someone be looking for you right away?”

“Well of course I have people who would look for me.  My friends and my job.  Why would you even ask such a thing?”  I felt myself feeling warm either from the brandy or from fear.  I didn’t want to sound scared.  I tried to joke, “Have you decided to keep me here?”

“Well, you never know what might happen out here.  Lots of people from back East come out here and they are never seen again.  We wouldn’t want that happening to someone who would have the Feds poking around out here, looking for bodies.”  He was laughing.

I jumped up so quickly, I startled Jake.  He jumped up looking around as if something was about to happen.  I dropped my cup as I stepped back from the fire.  “Jesus, Michael!  Are you trying to scare the crap out of me?  Well, if you are, you’re doing a damn good job!  What the hell?”

“Hey, I was just saying, that stuff happens,” Michael blurted out.

I cut him off quickly, “If you are going to talk crazy crap like that, trying to scare me, then you can just shut up.  That’s not funny.  I’m going to bed!”  I turned and stomped off towards the tent, Jake following me.

I unzipped the door and crawled into the tent.  Jake made his way inside with me and flopped down in the middle of Michael’s sleeping bag.  I removed my boots and crawled into my bag.  I didn’t bother undressing.  I was too mad and too scared to think of anything except the question of what if I didn’t return.  Michael didn’t know it but I doubted if anyone would come looking for me anytime soon.  Maybe not ever.  I was fighting tears of fear when I heard Michael coming through the tent door.

“Hey, I didn’t mean to upset you.  I was just making conversation.  Tomorrow we will start making our way over to the trail that cuts back towards the cabin.  We can go into Great Falls on Friday so you can make your flight on time.”

I had my back to him.  I didn’t bother to turn to face him, I just mumbled, “Fine,” like I was already half asleep.  However, sleep wouldn’t come for what seemed like hours.  I laid there trying to figure a way to protect myself in case Michael was not who I thought he was.  If he was some kind of monster.  I rubbed my whacked up hair as I fought the tears.  Jake and Michael were asleep when I lost the fight.  I felt the tears well up into my eyes and slowly make their escape.  I don’t remember when I finally lost the fight to stay awake.  I believe it was only the brandy that allowed me to sleep at all.


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