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July 13, 2018

29. A Rustle In The Leaves

He heard a heavy rustling in the leaves and woke in a sweat. His sleeping bag constricted him. The heat was palpable. He unzipped the tent and stepped into fresh air. Whatever had made the noise was gone, a raccoon probably. A waxing gibbous moon looked down on him. No clouds in sight and stars saturated the night sky.

He walked around his campsite to stretch his legs and accidentally kicked his smoldering fire, a rock tumbled over. His compact, steel-grated grill surface was balancing over a heap of ashes. His french press sat nearby. A canteen had spilled his water out. Perhaps whatever had made the noise has also tipped his canteen.

His site was in a generous clearing of pines, hemlocks, and other evergreens. The smell was raw and beautiful, humidity lingered. Between the moon and the stars, the area was well-lit. He decided a short walk through the woods. He ducked under some branches and moved away some leaves. His steps were loud and crashing in the night’s thick silence.

Just ahead of him he saw a glowing figure in a hooded, white robe. He was startled and turned run. He tripped over a canteen of water. His steps grew louder and he began to feel uneasy. His feet only took short steps no matter how much he tried and he couldn’t turn around to go back to his tent. He fell over in the crunchy leaves. Lying on his side he found himself in a tent and zipped in his sleeping bag. A rustling outside startled him awake.

The heat congested his breathing so he shimmied out of his sleeping bag stepped outside for air. Whatever had made the noise was gone, perhaps a raccoon. He tiptoed over last night’s campfire. His portable grill supplies and french press were scattered around. His canteen had spilled his water out. Probably the raccoon.

The air was thick and fresh. The night brought a wonderful life to the smell of the woods. He took a few paces out beyond his camp to stretch his legs. Further into the tight brush, in the deep of the night, a glowing figure in a hood had its back turned to him. Frightened, he turned to run. His legs only allowed slow and sluggish movement. He could hear the footfalls of the hooded thing behind him, now in pursuit. He took a misstep and spilled a canteen. He fell over in the crunchy, leafy earth and was startled to find himself sweaty and shaken.

In his sleeping bag he wiped his brow and exhaled heavily. Bears don’t live around these parts, maybe a raccoon making noises looking for food. He unzipped his sleeping bag and slid out into the heavy air. It was cooler than his tent but alive and thick. At his feet were a few rocks of a campsite and makeshift cooking space. His travel-sized grill and french press were arranged neatly about. His canteen, just nearby had toppled over somehow.

The beauty and power of nature, the outdoors, is what brought him here. He decided for a walk through the woods. Through a patch of trees there was a figure. A person? In a white and glowing robe. It’s good was drawn. It’s back was to him but it must have heard the leaves crunch. It turned its head in a flash and seemed to focus on him.

Shocked and frightened he turned to run. In a flash the thing seemed to breath down his neck. A gust of cool air froze his spine in fear. His staccato steps felt broken and unnatural. Finally he saw his campsite. He lunged to distance himself from the robed form. Instead his foot caught his canteen and some rocks around his site. He fell hard into a thick bed of leaves. His face was covered in a nervous sweat and he awoke shocked and terrified. He found himself enveloped in his sleeping bag. Just outside his tent was the sound of rustle and thud of dried leaves. 

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