Return to the Lodge

Damn, my toothbrush left behind. Don’t sigh. Silence everyone, until we return to the lodge. After the roads had apparently been cleared, the production team managed to drive us out and back. The lodge was about 1000 feet off road so we were forced to walk uphill through the snow that stood at least three feet high. The pass-van was parked on the side of the road, just by the snow-covered path. We all wore large trash bags, covering our legs and feet. Uphill through a dark forest increased the chances of plummeting into the snow but did you have a jetpack? I didn’t think so. Luckily, I only had one trash bag after my second tore just before putting it on. There was nothing else that could protect my other foot.

One by one, the team began to ascend the dark hills. Some carried flashlights and others used their phones. I looked up at where I thought the lodge might have been located, took a deep breath and made my way up. I was second to last, following the line of crewmembers while depending on their lights and my dilated pupils. We resembled German soldiers in World War II moving through the snow-covered woods to our next rendezvous point to avoid an airstrike. Come in commander Fritz. Commander, do you hear me? His walkie is down sir. Shoulder your rifle sergeant. Keep your eyes peeled. The tree branches silhouetted against the moon, appeared to be spider webs overlooking the forest. Passing trains and occasional dog barks echoed afar. Crickets chirped and someone in front of me whistled in an undertone. “What the hell are you whistling?” no one said. The muffled sound of our footsteps plowing through the snow was all that remained. Starting with a straight line up the hill, we gradually began to lose each other and shifted in various directions. Stay close people. And whom the fuck is still whistling? My uncovered left foot nearly froze, barely allowing me to persist.

The moonlight was fading away and blending in with the clouds. Nowhere to be found, the moon had abandoned us, along with my left leg. I left it behind somewhere, but we had to move on before my other leg ripped the only bag. “Do you guys hear that?” someone there but not there at all up ahead whispered. The last person in line behind me screamed, “guys wait up, we can’t see anything back here!” The line had been destroyed and the flashlights undetectable. Suddenly, I heard a sound echoing in the darkness at least twenty feet left of me. It was a wolf howling. “What the fuck, did you hear that?” whispered someone apparently there. Heavy breathing reverberated. “RUUUNNN!!” Everything was inaudible in a heartbeat and sucked into oblivion. Deep breath, inhale and, sprint. I ran on the snow faster than I would run on concrete with three legs. That’s when you know you’re running for your life, Mr.Fritz. The adrenaline kicks in and you’re suddenly fucking roadrunner. I continued to hear the sound of something creeping around in the bushes. Stop following me you bastard. It crushed the leaves as it moved by our side. I shadowed whatever light I couldn’t see, and the utterance of this thing followed my every move. The trash bag wrapped around my right leg was left behind somewhere too. Not cold nor hot, just fight or flight. Being a soccer player for nearly 13 years allowed me to sweep past everyone without a flashlight. I saw the light coming from the lodge, a faint tungsten bulb in the distance against the wood. Benny crossed my mind. Gladly, he was alone at the lodge with his legs up, hands behind his head. Didn’t have to experience the sinking and dragging. Everyone was behind me by now, and the howling in the distance echoed until it disappeared completely. There it was, the lodge. I stopped to catch my breath, and slid the door for the team to come in. Dying was not an option commander. After you, please. No sir, after you. And brush your teeth while you’re at it. Get a good nights rest and I’ll see you in the AM.