Mists of Time

As the mists swirled around them they joined hands and staggered forwards....or was it backwards?

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21. Assessing

He too felt a strange wooziness. He’d once got drunk with a lad in scouts. It’d been a party at Alan’s house and they’d been secretly nicking the bottles of cider and drinking them in Alan’s room. They were only found out when Tom’s mum caught Alan throwing up in the toilet. He’d been given a lecture on the dangers of alcohol from his dad. Funny Tom thought, the way I felt that night was enough to put me off for life. The sensation was very similar to what he had experienced that night. 

They all stood up, all experiencing the sensation of dizziness. Sinead and Sarah looked the worse, however they’d not been awake for a long as the others. They instinctively linked arms, Sarah’s head resting on Sinead’s shoulders. Tom wondered if there was anything between them. He brushed the thought away.

‘Which way is the camp?’ Sarah asked looking around in all directions. 

Tom was for a moment uncertain which way they’d come. In fact the more he looked at the undergrowth, it didn’t seem possible that they’d come anyway to this spot. The ground all around them showed no sign of them trampling it. It was though they’d landed from nowhere right here. He rubbed his chin as he always did when he was perplexed about a problem. Mai noticed this gesture. She’d played chess with him long enough to know that he was thinking over a problem. She moved to his side and asked quietly 

‘Is something up, you seem quite faraway? She asked 

‘It’s just that looking around; I can see where we’ve moved since we wake up but can’t make out which way we came, there should be a track where we walked in. Then there’s the missing bush that’s not there at all.’ 

Each one of them glanced around.  

‘Probably the grass has sprung back up’. Sarah said, ‘come on let’s get back to the site. Terry will have eaten all the sausages if we don’t get back there soon’ 

Tom looked at the trees and the lightening sky that meant the sun was coming back up. They’d wandered off towards the south he remembered.  

‘This way’, he suddenly said 

‘Why this way’ Mai said curiously. 

‘Well if we went south of the clearing and the sun is rising in the East, this must be north’ he explained pointing towards the wood.  

It was hard going at first and Tom was beginning to think that he’d picked the wrong track. It just seemed so heavy going. He didn’t remember walking through this on the way out. He glanced across at the others. Sarah and Sinead were walking along still together even though the path wasn’t really big enough for the both of them to really fit down. Mai looked at Tom and raised her eyebrows as if in questioning. She knew that they hadn’t come this way. Then suddenly they were on a path that was wide enough to walk down. It headed slightly west of where they wanted to be.  

‘This way now’ Tom said as they turned along the track.  

After a few minutes they saw the glow of a fire. They could also make out that unmistakable smell of cooking. 

‘There’s the fire, smells like Terry’s found the food!’ Sarah said. 

‘Shh’ Tom said 

Something didn’t seem right to Tom. The wood was much more dense than he remembered it. He couldn’t put a finger on it but he felt they should not just rush ahead. Something appeared wrong. Maybe it was the fog that had done something to his brain. He put out his arm and flagged that the others should be quiet. 

Tom put his finger to his lips and crouched down at the edge of the track. He indicated that the others should move towards him. They moved off the track and into the shadows of the path.  

‘I think I heard something’ Tom said, ‘just move back a bit from the track. Something’s not right about this. Does anyone else remember this track.’ He scanned their faces and saw that none of them did. 

Tom estimated they were about 50 meters away from the fire.  

‘I’m just going for a look, stay here’ he asked 

‘No way are we splitting up now,’ Sarah said. 

Tom looked at the others, he could see them nodding. He shrugged his shoulders. In a way he was glad. 

‘OK then, but you must all be quiet, we’re going to wander towards the campfire but then I want to creep up to see everything’s OK.’ 

They all nodded and followed in single file behind Tom.  Sinead was close to him followed by Sarah and Mai brought up the rear. They were nearly in the clearing when Tom flagged them to stop. He crouched down and they all took his lead. 

Tom could now see through the trees and what he saw didn’t fill him with confidence.

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