Somewhere on Earth:
When Ava woke up she was sore all over and blue eyes was gone. She looked around and thought that they had failed, that they were still in Purgatory. Then she heard the birds sing and noticed the warmth of the sun. She had woken up in some forest. It wasn't like back home, the trees were a lot taller than she had seen before.
"I did it!" She shouted. "I fucking DID IT!" A voice in the back of her mind said, yeah you did it... Unless you're dead, but she ignored it. At this very moment she was ecstatic.
She stood up and spun around with joy, them collapsed in a heap of tears. She was filled with happiness. She could hear birds again and it was the most beautiful sound, even when they had been a terrible wake up call in the morning years ago. The sun, which she had taken for granted before, was the most beautiful thing she had seen along with the green grass, the trees and their leaves, and just about everything else she set her eyes on. She didn't know how she was supposed to get home to Wisconsin, but at that moment she didn't care. California was home enough for her. Blue Eyes had been right, the seam lead her to California. It looked just like all the calender pictures and brochures she had seen.
She was lying in the lush grass looking at every single detail when she heard a sound form the brush near here. Ava's feelings of euphoria evaporated immediately and she felt terrified.
"They followed me." She whispered to herself She stood up and looked around for her weapon; it was nowhere to be seen. As a figure appeared, Ava screamed and ran off into the woods, to scared to wait to see what was approaching her.
Caiden took a deep breath as he dialed the number in his cell phone. It had been five years today. It was the 5th anniversary of Ava's disappearance, 1826 days, and he had decided to call her parents. It was going to be weird speaking with them again.
"Hello?" Her mother had picked up on the third ring.
"Uh... Hi, Ms. Holland... This is Caiden." He said slowly.
"Oh, how nice to hear from you dear!" She said enthusiastically. "How are you?"
"I'm better. Working mostly. How are things with you and the family?" He asked.
"Wonderful. Everyone came into town last night to celebrate her." It was something that her family did every year, Caiden never went because he never felt comfortable going.
"Well, I just wanted to know how you are doing. It's really good to talk to you." He said leaning against the wall. His throat felt tight and his mouth had gone dry. He tried to distract himself by looking around his small house. The walls were bare and the furniture was sparse, it was almost as if no one lived here.
"You know you are welcome anytime dear." The woman said softly. She was genuine, and always had been. It was something that Caiden liked about her.
"Alright, maybe soon then. I have to go, I'll talk to you soon."
"Okay. Everyone says hi. Have a good day Hun." Then she hung up the phone. Caiden shoved his phone in his pocket and walked to the fridge. He pulled out a beer and popped off the cap. He searched for the remote then turned the television on. He flipped through the news channels trying to ignore all the murders and disasters broadcast all day. It was disturbing.
"To you Ava, hope you've found a better place than this hell hole." He tipped his bottle up to his mouth and chugged. "God knows you deserve it."
"Hey! Wait, are you lost?" A deep voice called.
Ava had been running as fast as she could, but whatever was following her kept up. At the sound of his voice Ava stopped dead in her tracks. It was a human voice; but maybe it was a trick from the monsters. Ava slowly turned around, eyes wide.
Before her stood a man dressed for a hike through the woods. He was short and muscular, he was drenched in his own sweat. He put his hand on his sides and took a deep breath. He took a step forward, but Ava stepped back. The man held his hands up as a sign of peace.
"I don't want any trouble. It's just that usually I am the only one on this trail." He spoke slowly, trying to catch his breath. "And you don't look like you are dressed for a hike..." He added while he looked her up and down. Her hair was a mess and her skin was covered in a layer or two of dirt and blood. Her dress was torn to smithereens and her legs were cut terrible. She looked like she had wrestled a bear or two; but she had done much worse than that. Her green eyes were wide with fear, she looked like a wild woman from the stone age. The man was debating on whether he should leave or help her, it was clear by the look in his eyes.
"What happened to you?" The man finally asked taking hesitant steps forward.
"I...I don't know." That was a lie, but she was to afraid to say anything else. "I'm lost."
"I can see that. Come on, we are close to the park entrance. We will get you to a police station or something."
"We're in California right?"
"Yeah far up north. Lassen National Forest." He answered. "You really don't know what happened. You look pretty spooked."
"I woke up... and I was in the woods." Ava said looking at the ground. Something rustled in the bushed near them and she jumped, going into defense mode.
"Chill, its probably just a rabbit or something, nothing that could hurt you." The guy said putting an arm around her. Ava flinched, but having an arm around her was the most comforting thing she had felt in a long time, even if this guy was a total stranger.
They walked up the path to the part entrance. There was a small lot with a couple of cars in it. He pointed to a blue truck and led her in that direction.
"Is there anyone nearby that you could call?" He asked. "I'm gonna call the police and let them know I am bringing you in, but you should call someone who can come get you when we arrive." He opened the door for her and helped her inside. It smelled of cigarettes, a bad habit for a young man.
"I don't know... maybe, if I still remember his number." Ava said. She curled up in the seat and leaned against the window. She felt sick, and exhausted.
"Okay well, let's get going." He said as he jumped into the driver's seat. He picked up his phone and called the local station.
"Yeah, I found this woman in the woods. This Jones." He paused. "Lassen National Forest, I am the park ranger here." Ava could faintly hear the officer on the phone talking calmly to the man. "Uh, no. It looks like she's been there awhile. You don't need to send an officer, I'll bring her in to you. Thank you."
He hung up the phone and handed it to her. She took it with shaky hands and looked it over. First she looked at the date. It was 2018... that means it was only five years ago that she disappeared. Red Eyes was right, a year on earth was ten in hell. Shaking her head she dialed the number she thought was her friends. It rang several times then went to voice mail, a woman's voice mail. Wrong number. The case was the same for the home phone at her apartment.
"Here." Ava said giving up.
"We can get a hold of someone at the police station." He said with a smile.
The drive wasn't very far. Once they arrived and officer was waiting in the foyer for them. His eyes grew wide at the sight of her. Ava looked down at herself and for the first time she realized how terrible she looked and how bad she smelled. She crossed her arms consciously and looked down at the ground embarrassed.
"Come on in sweetheart." The man who drove her in said. "There's nothing to be afraid of."
Ava wasn't afraid though, she was nervous. She didn't know what to expect, and she didn't want to find out either. It had been five years, so much had probably changed.
"Officer Smith, I think you would be more helpful than I would." The police officer at the door called back as he lead Ava into the station. A woman appeared. She was short, but she looked like she could hold her own.
"Come on love, lets get you something to drink and eat. Then we can get you cleaned up and back home."
Home, Ava thought. That was hundreds of miles away from here. She tried to smile at the officer but it appeared to be more of a grimace. The male officer was talking to the ranger who had brought her in.
"She just appeared, I had no idea she was there." He said. "I walk those trails everyday and I never have seen a sign of anything other than animals. It's weird."
"I'll say, she looks like she's been out there for a long time. I'd go on a limb and guess more than a year."
Then she was out of earshot. Officer Smith had lead her into a small cafeteria. She grabbed and apple, set it on the table. Ava took it in her hands and examined it, apples weren't her favorite but she hadn't eaten anything properly in so long that it didn't even matter. She took a bite and the sweet taste filled her mouth. The officer returned with something smaller in her hands. She set it on the table and pushed it to her.
"Chocolate." Ava whispered. She took the bar and opened it. It smelled heavenly.
As she finished the bar, the other officer stepped inside. He took a seat across from her and leaned against the back of the chair. He had pen and paper in his hand. She smiled at her reassuringly, and Officer Smith put her hand on Ava's back.
"Okay, we are going to try and get you home. You just have to tell us what happened." He said in a stern voice. "So let's start with a name and phone number to call. That way we can get you back to where you belong. She had tried to call home already, besides he was too far away.
"I have a friend that lives in San Diego, or at least he should still live there." Ava said softly. "I don't know his number but his name is Azarias Holt. I tried to call him earlier, but I think he got a new number or something."
"We will get in touch with them, just tell us your name sweetheart."
"Ava Hollard." She said slowly, her name sounded foreign to her now. Was that who she was?
"Okay, and how long were you in the woods?" He was taking a note of everything she said.
"Honestly, I don't know I am very confused but it felt like a very long time." Ava whispered. She was shaking now from the anxiety. "I just want to go home."
"Okay honey, we will get you home. I think that is enough Dmitri, she is shaken up as it is. Lets call her friend and get her home." Officer Smith said sternly, then she turned to Ava with caring eyes. "I bet you are tired. We've got a cot that you can sleep on for now. We will worry about getting you cleaned up later."
Smith helped her stand and took her to a small room with a cot. Then she was left alone. She could hear them talking outside the hall in hushed voices.
"Get her friend on the phone I am going to look at missing persons records. She can't be much older than twenty, so I will look at girls gone missing in the past 5 years in their teens."
Ava stood and put her ear to the door trying to hear more. But they were already walking away. Ava sighed and walked to a small mirror against the wall. How could she look 20... she was twenty three when she was taken... and in hell that was fifty years ago. Her reflection shocked her. She looked exactly the same that she had 5, or fifty, years ago. There was no way that was possible. She tore the mirror off of the wall and hid it under her bed. Then she climbed under the covers and fell into a fitful sleep.
YAYYY she made it back home... sort of. Hahah well I would love to hear your comments!!! Leave a like and be prepared for whats next. OH also I am in the progress of making a short story its a thriller, I don't know how many of you would be interested in that. But let me know. It's going to be titled 'Stalker'. It's an older piece of mine that I hadn't finished. Okay love ya!!!