Day 348 – Alienation – Part 6

Word count: 732

Puddles of shadow across the thickly grown moss; wind rustling through bone-dry leaves; the cry of a hawk rising on a thermal peak, the pit of the forest was a strangely chaotic place. In the backdrop of snow-capped mountains they had hiked from the car, following the meandering animal tracks. Crossing countless streams, climbing steep hills only to race back down again and traversing vacant clearings, they were still nowhere near where Frank believed they should be.
He checked his compass: none of it made any sense. He had woken up here with no instruction as to how he had come to be here: how could he replicate the route back? Doctor Blackman looked at him oddly. Frank knew in his heart what his doctor was thinking: he was mad. Perhaps this was all mad? The doctor had been a fool to want him to show him the way. Perhaps he was just a drunk after all? A drunk with a conscious so guilty, he was trying to hide the truth from himself.
“I’m sorry, I cannot find the way,” Frank admitted, “I’ve failed.”
He let himself fall to his knees. The soft moss caught him like a trampoline.
“Frank, do not give up so easily. We have only been trying for a few hours,” Doctor Blackman encouraged.
But Frank shook his head in defiant refusal. There was no place to find – there was no place. It was all just his wild imagination.
“Doctor, I can’t. There… there is nothing to find.”
“What do ju mean?”
“I don’t know how I got here, I just know I did. I’ve pored over maps of the place. The nearest road is fifty miles North East. I just won’t be able to take you there.”
Doctor Blackman sat down on a rock nearby. He wiped his brow and tightened his shoelace. The good doctor had taken two days of work to be here. Frank’s guilt grew like a virus.
“Ju know what jour –”
“Why did you trust me?” Frank interrupted. Twenty years married, many years a father, god knows how many decades a worker, Frank never felt more weak in all his life. The screaming matches he had had with his wife; the shame he had brought on his family was all for a madman’s dream. How their patience must have been tried – Frank certainly was not half the man he would need to be in order to put up with the behaviour he had been displaying the past few years.
“Trust? Ju think dis is about trust?”
Frank nodded, “My family have never even asked to come out here.”
Doctor Blackman paused, rolling up socks and patting down his trousers, “Dis was never about trust. Dis is about ju – it has always been about ju.”
Frank curled his eyebrow, “I’m not sure I understand?”
“I didn’t come out here because I trusted ju, Frank. I came out here because I wanted to understand ju. This place changed ju, didn’t it?”
Frank gazed up at the canopy of leaves above. A cold chill spilled over it and rubbed against Frank’s exposed and red ears. Yes it had done. This forest had made him the man he was today. The Frank who had come in was very different to the Frank that had left.
“Ju see it now, yes?”
Frank got to his feet and pondered the situation more. It still did not remove the fact that they were in the wrong location. Frank kicked some stones – tiny pebbles left over from a stream long ago. At first he thought he was seeing things – and it was only when he picked up the pebble that he realised that he was not going mad after all. On it there was a tiny little letter W. He kicked the ground for some more and turned over a few others that also had letters on them. Seven letters in total he found and rearranging them he found that they made two words:
THIS WAY
But there was no arrow at all to indicate which direction. He kicked more stones and scattered them with his hands. Eventually he saw it – shining like a diamond in the dark. He picked it up and a shot of fear and excitement throttled through his veins. The last symbol was very familiar to him: indeed it had been tattooed on to his body.

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~ by S.G. Mark on September 18, 2012.

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