The Forest

April 2nd, 2012

Randall walked through the trees, trying to force air in and out of his nostrils, with little success. The dull pain in his head had become steadily sharper as he walked, and the pit in his stomach was getting deeper. More and more he was regretting his decision not to eat earlier that night. It was catching up with him now. He closed his eyes for a moment, trying to shut out all the external stimuli assaulting his senses, but the pain in his forehead only worsened. Suddenly his stomach lurched, and he grabbed his stomach and focused hard, stifling the urge to throw up.

The symptoms are starting to show, he thought. He wasn't sure how long it had been since he started walking away from the train, or at least what was left of it. Headaches always stretched his perception of time uncomfortably, and he couldn't be bothered to strain his mind any more on details like that. All he could do was hope that no one was following him, and try to find a hospital. Even a drugstore or something would probably suffice, he could figure out a cure when he got there.

For a while, Randall walked through the trees, straining his eyes painfully to try and find anything resembling civilization, but without much success. Even the frigid, windy night air, which was usually a cure-all for whatever physical ailments he was dealing with, just seemed to be worsening his headache and adding a shiver to his cocktail of discomfort. Then what sounded like a moan floated mixed in with the wind and blew past him, and he scrambled to hide behind a thick tree trunk. He had to struggle hard to resist retching audibly as his stomach turned painfully again, and his head throbbed harder than ever as he panted behind the tree, not daring to look for where the sound had come from.

Even amidst the groaning, growing louder as the wind picked up, Randall could hear the crunching leaves beneath his feet, shuffling around as he shivered uncontrollably. He was focusing all his energy on keeping his insides inside, the constant pain throughout his body sending his senses into overdrive. He heard the branches bending weakly against the howling wind, his hands growing white as they clenched harder and harder onto his forehead and stomach. Then it stopped. No more moaning, no more whistling wind or bending branches or even crunching leaves. Even his shivering had stopped. For a moment, everything in the scene was silent and immobile, as if frozen solid.

After a while, Randall stood up and walked out from behind the tree. He looked around at the empty, motionless forest. Seems like they've moved on, he thought, I should get moving again before any others show up. But as he proceeded through the trees, he realized something. His head had stopped throbbing. The pit in his stomach seemed to have been filled, and he had long since stopped retching. In fact, he felt perfectly fine.

Damn, he thought, I was really getting into that one too.