Read Chapter 1
The first thing John noticed was the darkness. Kind of like walking into a cave. Here and there a shaft of sunlight hit the ground, but for the most part, the trees took care of that. It took John's eyes a second to adjust, to focus, to take in the shift in brightness. The floor of the woods was covered with a thick coat of dead leaves and rotting branches that had broken off during storms or just given up all hope of consistent sunlight. All around moss poked through. John tried to remember what he'd heard about moss. Did it always grow on the northern side? On the southern? Or was that something else?
Mark was yelling back at him. He was thirty feet ahead; Paul twenty feet more. John couldn't even see the guide, even though he wore a blaze orange shirt with a deer decal on it and the phrase "Getchadeeryet?" all mashed together as one word. Actually, blaze orange probably was no longer accurate. It was an old shirt. Perhaps just orange or whatever you'd call that color when it had faded over the years.
John jogged to keep up, careful not to trip in the trail that was more of a footpath weaving around trees with a strip of flagging ever forty feet or so to mark the way. As he got closer to Mark, he started to catch glimpses of the guide. He was moving fast, walking through the woods with purpose, only occassionally checking to make sure they were keeping up.
"Fucking hell. Does he even know we're back here?" The pack was heaving and John was slightly out of breath from jogging.
"I think so. I saw him check a minute ago."
"Where did you find this guy anyway?"
"My cousin recommended him."
"The one in jail?"
"I do not have a cousin in jail." Mark's voice came up a little. It was a touchy subject. "He's a second cousin. Not even a blood relative."
"Anyway, it wasn't him. It's a different cousin."
"You know, Paul's a lawyer."
"Sure. Hey Paul!"
"I don't want to know," Paul yelled back. "I'm on vacation. You see this hat? This is my I'm not a lawyer hat."
"So I lose my attorney-client privileges?"
"Yes." Paul stopped, turned to face them. "But replaced with the ever more solemn fishing trip code of secrecy. Like Vegas, only without the strippers."
"So you don't want to know about Mark's genetic pre-disposition to crime?"
"Not a blood relative," Mark protested.
"No. I don't care."
"Ladies!" The guide had walked back toward them and didn't look pleased. "You wanna stand around in the woods or you wanna fish?" They all wanted to fish. "Ok then." The guide turned and walked down the path, muttering something about people from out of state and city folk being a waste of time.
Like chastized children, they walked in silence for the next ten minutes, doing their best to keep up with a guide who was moving even faster through the woods. Finally, he stopped. They could hear running water, but they couldn't see it. The guide put his pack down and pushed aside some brush. The woods opened and before them lay a bubbling brook. The burst of light took their breath away.
...to be continued when our Kickstarter campaign hits $1,000...