Nobody moves. Our breathing echos audibly in the deadly silence of our location and my grip on Xanders hand tightens as we again anticipate the arrival of someone, or something.
"What should we do?" Will asks from somewhere behind me
"Find shelter" Gabe replies but his words are drowned out by the sound of a shriek coming from somewhere close by.
Instinctively my body stiffens awaiting the danger that lay around us, but before I had time to debate my impending destruction, Xander pulls me forward in the direction of where the scream came from. All my senses were screaming not to follow him and my heels dig into the soft ground below us in an attempt to hinder their sprinting.
"Haidee, what the hell are you doing? Someone could need help." Xander spits at me the agitation clear on his features as he rubs his free hand across his forehead the other hand still firmly trapped in my grip.
"We don't know what's out there Xander..." I whisper, still afraid of what lurks in the shadowy silence that surrounds us.
"Stop being such a wuss Haidee, someone's out there, they might be able to help us if we help them, they're testing us Haidee, they want to see if we will do the right thing, if we can rescue someone, if we are strong" Xander retorts
"Yeah, they're testing us Xander, what if this is all just a trap made to make someone like you run off and get themselves caught, we don't know what these sick bastards have planned, so why don't we just wait here whilst all four of us are still alive and maybe we can all get out alive." I say
"Someone like me? What's that supposed to mean Haidee?" Xander fumes, having focused on a completely irrelevant part of my sentence "You don't even know me Haidee, and to think I liked you, you're just like everyone else, always thinking that you know best"
He has chosen the wrong woman to piss off, cause I am not about to let him get away with saying things like that about me
"Stop being stubborn Xander, if you want to get yourself killed go ahead, just don't drag me down with you" He is staring daggers at me and something within me fears he is about to rip out my throat.
"You two stop arguing" Will commands "We're not going to be going anywhere if you two don't shut up. I say we follow the shriek, we should be grateful for any company we can get, so let's go whilst we still remember the direction the noise came from" With that they all start to trudge deeper into the depths of the forest.
"I am staying here" I tell them.
They stop dead in their tracks.
"Haidee..." I hear Gabe whisper under his breath as in warning.
Wills jaw clenches and he gives me one last glance before beginning to march on again, Xander close on his heels. "Fine be like that, stay here, but we're not staying with you" he shouts back over his shoulder
Gabe gives me a sympathetic look then dashes after them, leaving me on my own in the forest of darkness.
I walk back in the direction we came, I can still just make out the footprints left in the mud from our entry in here. Eventually I manage to locate the gate, it's cool metal digging into my back as I slide down it so that I can sit leant against it. The moisture from the ground soaking into the back of my trousers, making me shiver, as my clothes provide an inadequate barrier from the cold bite of the air around me.
I can't help but hope they're okay, even though they just left me in the middle of the forest with nothing to defend myself with. I wonder where they are and if that shriek had been one of human origin or whether, like I had predicted, it was something much more sinister.
I don't know how long I have been sat here, but I can feel my eyelids growing heavy and just when I am about to succumb to sleep I hear a rustling in the bushes surrounding me. Now I am not one to be paranoid, but ever since this whole abduction thing, it has put me a little bit on edge, so I immediately feel my heart racing and my palms sweating. I leap to my feet, but with nothing to defend myself, my only hope is to scale one of the trees around me and hope whatever's out there cannot follow.
This is not the first time I have ever climbed a tree, but it most certainly is the most difficult. Knowing whatever's down there could eat me alive, my body kicks in to survival mode and hurls me at the closest tree I could find. The tree itself is black and instead of being covered in bark it's surface is made out of something like glass, though it does not have the same fragility. Placing one foot on a branch half a metre off the ground I manage to boost myself up and grab onto a higher branch then proceed to climb the rest of the way up the tree. Half way up the tree, I lose my grip for a mere second and find myself with just one hand gripping on to a branch, my other hand and my legs struggle to find a hold as they slip against the smooth texture of the tree.
One finger gone. My grip is slipping and I can already picture myself falling to my untimely death, I can't find anywhere to support myself, just a vast expanse of nothing.
That's two finger's gone. I don't know how much longer I can hold on before the number of fingers left is inadequate to hold my weight and in this moment I accept I am going to die. All alone, in the middle of a forest with no one to see my final moments not even Hal the cat can save me now.
When I have literally lost all hope that I am ever going to see another human being again, my right foot catches on a branch and I feel myself relax as my body no longer worries it is going to be falling back down to Earth. I straddle the branch above my head and lean back against the trunk of the tree, thanking my lucky stars that I am still alive. From here I can see across the top of the canopy, somewhere out there are my friends, if that's what I should call them, but it is impossible to make out anything in the darkness that surrounds me, who knows, maybe I will find them tomorrow. But for now I relax in the relative safety of my tree top resting place.
Only now do I notice the irony that the team loneliness has four members, but in this moment it seems like the perfect description of my situation, never have I felt more alone than I do now.