Drake McCarty’s leg was shattered deep in the wilderness, and as the flash flood closed over him, he looked death in the face.
When he wakes up in a hospital bed, in a military base that shouldn’t exist, he has a whole leg and a furious sister to deal with.
Drake is sworn to keep a secret he doesn’t understand, but whatever pulled him out of the flood, isn’t quite done with him yet, because even if you leave nothing but footprints, the things that walk the forest can still follow you home.
Tears streaked down his cheeks as he stumbled onto a path and turned towards home. He was almost passively aware that his feet followed the patterns they were used to, finding balance, gaining speed as him mind didn’t think.
A cry escaped his lips as his foot caught on a vine. Small thorns dug into his palms as he smacked into the ground. Awareness of his surroundings came with a rush when he identified the trailing blackberries under his hands. The heedless flight had led him too far south into a clearing at the base of a granite cliff. A few dozen square yards of rich soil abutted a dry wash under the canopy of Douglas-fir. Years of seasonal flooding had left the earth at the bottom rich in silt and nutrients. The family came here blackberrying later in the summer. Now the youth pushed himself up with a groan.
Drake staggered to the side with a hiss as his ankle folded under him. Bracing on his good leg he glanced over at the spring that bubbled up at the base of the rock. His ears were still ringing but the sound had faded with distance and he couldn’t tell if he could still hear it. Of greater importance was the burning pain stabbing up his leg.
Shaking his head to clear the emotional fog he limped over to the base of the cliff and pulled off his moccasin. Drake eased his aching limb into the crystal clear water and settled down on the mossy bank. The cold began to seep into his damaged muscles painfully but he held his position. A blank look had taken his face. His lips moved slightly but no sound came out. Under the deep red thatch his mind was whirling, processing everything he had seen, heard, and felt.
Bole had rejected; had driven him out of his sanctuary. Even as the thought formed he dismissed it harshly. Bole was a figment of his overconfidence in his own perceptive abilities and overactive imagination. There was no way a tree could even act, let alone act against him; but all the logic in the world couldn’t erase the aching pain in his chest.
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