Cindy and I collected ourselves after the small freak-out at the gas station and made our way down the road again. I was a little ruffled by the growing sense of insanity that I’ve noticed in my hitchhiker’s behavior, and I was worried that my journey north wouldn’t end as well as I would hope. I moved my car to the second most right lane on the highway—close enough to quickly merge over and onto a nearby exit just in case my passenger’s mood shifted again, but out of the way of the slow moving 18-wheeler trucks blindly cutting off their fellow motorists. It was then in that moment when Cindy began to tell me the one story I wish I had never heard.
“I suppose you were wondering why I was hitchhiking, and why I need to go to Oregon,” Cindy said with a steadying exhale. “I’ve sort of ran away from someplace—but it’s not what you think—”
My mind quickly shifted to the worse possible thought and I barely managed not to swerve off the road to the next available exit. Dear God she’s an escaped convict.
“—a group of people were holding me against my will. I can’t really go to the police right now, but I know a couple of people in Oregon who would know what to do.”
I wasn’t really sure what to do. No police? She was held captive? Whatever was going on wasn’t sounding very safe.
At this point Cindy had witnessed the apprehensive look on my face and began explaining everything. “I suppose I should start off from the beginning.”
It all began deep inside the dark green and plush woods of the north, where thriving wonders of the wilderness curled up beneath the large trunks of the coastal Redwood trees. A heavy mist had descended upon the richly dense forest sometime after witching hour, as often it does, and took its time lifting the opaque veil of fog towards the rising sun. There, a bright blue cotton dress with a full skirt, all covered in white polka-dots, was found clothing a pale young woman with medium length jet black hair nestled in the dew covered grass.
The young woman, whose years reached no further than a score, laid unconscious on the damp forest floor with no other soul in sight. As the warmth of the sun steadily climbed in order to trade places with the moon, the woman’s eyelids fluttered open to reveal the deep-green-colored irises that nearly matched the color of the wild growth on the forest floor.
A pain shot through the lower front portion of her head and on through to the back that happened to meet the damp cool and hard object found underneath her cranium. The woman slowly reached back to feel the base of her head with her ice cold fingers and met what felt like a damp rock. She pulled her slightly wet fingers to meet her forward gaze toward the brightening sky, and found herself nearly falling into a state of shock when she saw what had found its way between her head and the rock—blood.
The woman slowly sat up in an attempt to investigate the situation. She scanned her surrounding area while inspecting the back of her bloodied head and the rock that had apparently caused her most pressing problems. She realized in that moment she was alone in the middle of woods she didn’t recognize, and that she had no recollection of how she happened to end up lying, bleeding from the base of her skull, face up and on top of a rock on the forest floor. In fact, on further assessment, the woman couldn’t even remember why she was out in the woods, or from where or to what she was coming from or going. She felt the sense of panic set in as her heart began to quicken. She wondered how on earth she would get out of the unknown forest or, better yet, even to get back home. She paused for a moment and thought to herself, I don’t even remember home. Her eyes widen with terror. I’m not even sure if I remember my own name.
Read the story, “Shock Wave,” every Wednesday.