Someone or something is guiding a journey. 529 words-Short Story format
I had finally arrived. The cryptic map I had found at my last rest stop had brought me here. I had come to a natural hot spring. It had been so long since I had had a hot bath or a shower and I was not about to pass up this chance. It was late morning , but I would be able to find suitable shelter before the night fell.
Shedding my threadbare, baggy clothes I left them and my backpack under the old growth fir tree. I had no fear of losing my meager belongs. I had not seen another living soul in ages. My muscles ached from my long journey and I knew a long hot soak would ease my tired body.
After a long soak, I got out of the water and gathered my clothes. Taking them to the waters edge, I proceeded to give them a bit of cleaning too. To dry them out, I draped them over some of the surrounding shrubs. Finding a sheltered spot under the fir tree, I settled down to wait for them to dry and try to get a bit of rest.
I had only closed my eyes for what I thought had been a few minutes. A cool wind roused my from my sleep. It took a few minutes for it to register that the sun was starting to set. I had slept longer than I had intended.
I was startled when I saw that my clothes were gone. My first thought was that they had blown away in the stiff breeze. Looking for my backpack, I saw that it was missing too. The last of my food had been in that bag, so I stopped blaming the breezes and began suspecting animals that lived in these woods. Panic was beginning to set in. Searching a few hundred yards downstream yielded nothing. I headed back up to the area I had used to rest. I could not believe what I beheld. Someone or something was playing games with me.
The backpack-the one that hadn’t been there a few moments ago-leaned against the tree trunk as if taking a rest. Funny thing was, I thought I’d been the last person alive on this earth for years.
My heart started racing when I saw that my tattered clothes had been replaced with ones in the same style but not one tear or hole was to be found on them. They were in perfect condition! I put them on quickly as I was shivering both from fear and the night cooled air. I turned to face the backpack.
Sitting down under the tree, I slowly opened the top zipper. A shiny square of fabric was positioned on the top. It opened up to the size of a blanket. The other contents were a fresh load of protein bars. I had only had about a week’s worth left. I had been rationing them for survival. Rationing was not going to be necessary going forward so it seemed. The last thing was another map, but with one difference this time…a message.
“You have fulfilled our expectations. Continue the journey. We’re waiting.”