“What did he say?” I ask Marcus as he hangs up the phone. I start unraveling the new map we bought from the gas station on the hood of the car.
“He is sending scouts and is on his way,” Marcus tells me as we look over the maps with only a flashlight for light. We were trying to find some trails.
We knew roughly where she was, but the forest was so dense that navigating through unfamiliar terrain even for us could end up with us becoming lost or walking straight past her without seeing her.
The signal was only weak and kept blinking out. So while we waited for Valen to send some men, we searched over different maps trying to find any sort of trail.
John was walking along the forest edge, trying to pick up any tracks or scents, so we were at a standstill for now. We needed help.
No doubt my son would be furious with us, yet we were hoping to have found and brought her back before he found out. Yet when the hours ticked by and we found nothing and the day came and gone and turned to night, we knew we would have to take his anger and ask for help.
Macey’s life was the priority, and we didn’t want to take unnecessary risks more than we already had, and this area was known as forsaken territory, yet we were yet to come across any.
“What about this track? It leads toward the river?” I ask, finding a tourist trail.
“Too small for access by car, hiking trail?” Marcus suggests, but it cut off before it got to the river, yet was the only trail we had found. “Over here,” John calls out, and I look down along the road, the wind whipping my face as I look in his direction.
It was bloody freezing out here. And the grass was ridiculously high along this road, and I could just make out his head and arm waving for us to come to him.
“Wait here,” I tell Marcus, and he nods, putting his head down to go over the maps again with his flashlight. One was a tourist map, yet why anyone would tour out here was beyond me. The other was just an ordinary road map.
Walking toward John, I stop beside him when he starts walk ing toward the truck stop about 500 meters down the road. We had passed it on the way here, but it was empty.
“What is it?” I ask him, jogging to catch up with him when he turns on his heel.
“I think I found Carter’s car,” John tells me, and I pick up my pace to follow him. We walked to the far back of the truck-stopping place, where some toilets and bins were. The place was entirely empty. John then disappears into the long grass, which was angled wrong, and bent toward the forest slightly.
I followed him, barely a couple of meters off the road. Covered by branches and obscured by the grass was a car.
“That’s definitely his car,” I tell John while trying to peer in the windows but seeing nothing from the lack of light and the tint is too dark.
The breeze picked up from the brewing storm, and we knew we would be racing the storm once the scouts and Valen arrived on the scene. Lightning had been streaking the sky for the past half an hour, and the thunder was growing louder as it got closer.
The trees swayed, bent in the wind, and were surrounded by mountains as they whipped through, making the wind.
“Not necessarily Macey is smart She would bide her time and wait, knowing we would search for her,” Johns says, turning and staring at the ground and looking for tracks.
“What do you want to do?” I ask John. And he glances back toward the road,
“Valen will be hours away,” John mutters, peering back into the forest’s darkness.
“Not with the way my son drives,” I tell him, knowing Valen doesn’t seem to understand the speed limits or how to abide by them. My son seemed to have a lead foot. Even so, it would take him time to get here. “I am going in and taking a look around,” John says, walking around the car.
“Wait, let me tell Marcus. And I will come with you. Marcus can hang back for Valen and the others to arrive,” I tell him before walking out of the long grass and back to the road.
I make my way back to Marcus and let him know, and he fiddles with my phone linking it to his. Walking around the back of my car. I pop the trunk. I grabbed some flashlights before returning to John, who was stripping his clothes off.
“You’re shifting?” I ask, and he nods.
“One of us should. Besides, I didn’t bring my glasses, and my eyesight is better shifted,” he laughs. I nod. Best to be a little prepared. God knows what we will run into out there.
“You got the app open?” he asks, and I nod, holding up my phone to see her name blinking on but not giving us a direct direction, just flashing in general on the screen but not in one spot like the frequency was being blown around.
John sets his clothes on the car’s roof and then shifts, and I turn the flashlight on before stepping into the forest after him.
The darkness swallows us instantly from the canopying trees, the place silent, not even the crickets chirped, all noise dying out sensing John, a predator walking, trudging, and sniffing through it. We move a little deeper, and after ten minutes or so, John starts sniffing a large fern under a tree. “What have you found?” I ask him.
“Blood,” John’s mind links back, and I shine the torch on the fern he was sniffing to see speckles of blood on the leaves. It was dried on the leaves, and I plucked the leaf off and sniffed it.
“Macey’s,” I tell John, and he nods, peering into the darkness. A growl escapes him, and he lowers his head, moving through the trees silently, with me following behind him.