This serial story is posted one chapter per week on Fridays, in unedited (draft) form. It may contain adult situations that might not be suitable for children. Missed a few chapters? Email me to catch up. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!
No, I still haven’t decided on the title. One should come to me eventually. Just gotta keep writing….
Rattlesnake Falls Book 1
The day was beautiful as Shelley trekked across the mountainside with Dillon and the others. Too pretty, really, she thought, her gaze drifting across tall grasses swaying around blooming flowers, tall trees rattling their leaves, and the occasional tiny woodland creature darting back into hiding. Didn’t nature know her friend was missing, and probably hurt? Why was everything so…normal?
She’d first caught the sound of running water fifteen minutes back, faint in the distance. It was getting louder now, and her tired steps quickened, anxious to reach the old ranger station. If Dillon was right, Tabby was close, and maybe they weren’t too late.
Though it seemed like a long way to travel from the bear carcass.
Lots of questions, and the only two people with the answers were out here somewhere, waiting for help.
“Hold up.” The man in front stopped, and Shelley about ran into Dillon’s back. Stepping to the side, she looked around him at the leader, and then just beyond.
Across the next clearing was a wooden shack — or the remains of one, anyway. The roof had collapsed and was partially in, partially out of what was left of the gray plank walls. The fallen structure wasn’t capable of providing shelter any longer. Firewood was about all it was good for now.
“This doesn’t make sense,” Shelley said. “If Mike knew about this place, then he would have known they were close to the trail when he killed the bear. They would have gone the other way, toward camp, not farther up the mountain.”
The three men all looked at her for a long moment.
“What about the sweatshirt? We found it first, closer to the camp…” Dillon’s voice trailed off as the words came out, and understanding widened his eyes. “She took the sweatshirt off after, maybe used it to try to stop the bleeding. Though we don’t know if she was the one injured or Mike.”
One of the other men frowned. “If they were headed back toward camp, they should have been there by now. Before we left, actually. What the hell happened to them?”
“Only way to find out is to find them.” Dillon breathed a heavy sigh. “And we’ve been looking in the wrong direction for over an hour. Let’s head back to where the sweatshirt was, and we’ll figure out how to proceed from there.”
When they finally reached the correct site, Shelley collapsed on a fallen log, almost as good as a favorite recliner after a hard day.
“I can’t imagine what they were feeling like when they stopped here,” she said, speaking slowly as she tried to catch her breath. “Actually, I can’t believe they made it all the way here, considering one of them is hurt. That’s quite a jaunt just from the attack site. Is that even possible with a bad injury?”
Dillon shrugged, taking a seat beside her. “You’d be surprised by what a good shot of adrenaline can do. But it is pretty amazing they made it this far. Shock would have been setting in for someone hurt and bleeding that badly. It is odd that we didn’t notice any bloodstains or drops between here and there though. There should be some sign of them passing through, and it’s like they were just picked up there and dropped here.”
Shelley sat up a little straighter. “Or, they didn’t use the trail. Maybe they were confused, or avoiding the trail for some reason.”
“I’ll check for some sort of sign above the trail,” one of the other men offered. He pointed to the fourth man. “Why don’t you check below the trail?” The other man nodded and they set out, leaving Dillon and Shelley to rest.
“Are those guys rambo or something?” Shelley was only half-kidding. “They don’t seem to ever get tired.”
Dillon’s lips turned up in a small smile. “They’ve probably had more sleep than us.” His smile faded, and he cocked his head to the side, giving her a searching look. “They weren’t in a car wreck just the other day either. How are you feeling? You must be in a lot of pain with all the walking…”
Shelley shrugged. “It hurts here and there, but nothing I can’t handle. It actually hurt less when we were moving. Mind over matter, I guess.” She looked away, her gaze drifting over the small clearing. “You’d think it would be easy to find someone these days, with all the technology at our disposal. But here we are, searching a mountain for two people who could be anywhere. You’d think there was a better way to do this.”
Dillon was quiet for a long moment, and she wasn’t sure he was even listening. Then he looked up, eyes wide and face flushed.
“Maybe there is,” he said, putting two fingers in his mouth and letting out a long, loud whistle. “We need to get back to the camp.”
Thanks for reading! Check back next week for Chapter 17!
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