Jack won’t stop staring in the direction of the sound until I start dragging him away from the area. I don’t know who is lurking in the forest, who isn’t even concerned about the sharks, or who would want to actually cause us harm, especially the agonising torture of being slowly devoured, but I don’t want to find out. I take off running, still clinging to Jack’s arm in an attempt to get him away from the creature which not only injured him, but which is also weighing our lives in a very unbalanced scale.
Jack nearly falls over with the force of my pull and from his inability to voluntarily move his limbs, but once he begins to stumble, his body kicks into action and he begins to sprint, faster than I ever could and disappears into the lush and wild greenery. Great, he’s so scared that he’s leaving me behind.
A few moments later, a rock rushes by my head and my hair moves with the force of it. Is he throwing rocks at me? Why would he throw rocks at me? Another rock passes over my head, and I decide to glance back. I soon regret as well as rejoice that I did so. A dog of some sort with a large collar and an even larger set of teeth is chasing me, which is terrifying, but sends another rush of adrenaline pumping through my veins and causing my speed to increase. Another rock passes me and I hear a snarl from the dog, meaning the rock either hit or came very close to hitting it. Jack is protecting me. I can’t help but smile a little at the thought.
I finally begin to catch up to him when I notice we’re back at the glade, or a glade, with a lone tree in the middle of the clearing. Something looks strange about this tree, but I can’t tell what. Jack is already entering the shadows of the lower branches when I step into the clearing. He pauses while he’s still low in the tree to grab my hand and pull me up. We know that the branches, especially the lower ones could be the perfect shelter for small sharks, but we’re more willing to risk encountering them than the dog.
“We need to climb,” Jack says sternly. Even if I doubted his judgment, I wouldn’t bother questioning this statement, so I start climbing, trying to be as careful as I can. Stepping only on branches I know could support either or both of us, I climb as high as I would usually deem safe, and further still.
After a few minutes of climbing, I finally reach a spot where I can no longer go higher, and I hope that the owner of the dog isn’t as light or fit as Jack and I if he decides to pursue us. I look back to make sure Jack is still near me, and see that he is only a couple branches lower. He’s seems to be keeping an eye out for sharks, which might be more important than ever considering we just sent several flocks and lone birds flying, and the attention drawn from that will most likely attract every predator in the forest in our direction.
I decide to look out through the leaves from my perch. I see a sunset of bleeding orange, fiery red, and gold flecks of clouds on the horizon. It’s the most beautiful display of nature I have ever seen, but mingled with the brilliant colours, I see the grey haze of smoke blending with a lone patch of striking pink in the sky. The smoke is issuing from a cabin on a hilltop near the western edge of the forest. I don’t know whether the cabin will be a place of refuge or our doom, but I tell Jack, mentioning that it might be our only escape. “If it means getting to survive the night, I don’t care if it might be dangerous. Finding danger in or around a building doesn’t seem as though it could be as bad as all the dangers we are facing here,” he responds. We slowly begin our descent, but the darkening sky and the muffled growling of a dog are friendly reminders that whatever we do, we are not safe until we are far, far from this forest.