Oh boy, she was good at that game.
Dad had taught her all about camouflage and remaining silent. She could spot great hiding spots, and silence her breathing.
And he began counting: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6....
She took off like a shot towards the woods.
Perfect. A small trench covered by pine branches.
Stealthy, and yet she could see out to watch the ManHunter if he got too close.
So scary, and yet so beautiful.
Her stomach growled softly. It was almost dinner time. The kids were all killing time while the leaders were cooking.
She heard a couple of birds chirping near by. She wondered if they even knew she was there.
Minutes passed and her leg started to go numb. She spent a solid minute of concentrated listening before she determined that the ManHunter wasn't close enough to hear her move.
Gently, gently now. She shifted her weight onto the other leg.
The ground was chill. It permeated through the baggy camouflage pants she was wearing.
An army surplus store gift from her parents.
And the camouflage jacket.
The wind was firm. Not whispering by, but not gusting fiercly. It made its presence known as if to say 'This is my forest. I allow you to be here.'
Beautiful. She always loved the wind. And the forest.
A deep breath. Purging her lungs of the city air. The forest was so clean, so healthy, it filled her with happiness.
How much time had passed? She pulled back her camouflage sleeve and looked at her Timex wrist watch.
When did they start playing? It had been at least 20 minutes. 30 maybe. And she hadn't heard a sound.
Maybe she had won.
Her stomach growled again and it was decided. She stood up and brushed the forest floor from her pants.
Did she come downhill to this trench? She couldn't remember. She didn't think there was a hill. She turned and walked the flattest route.
It was when she hit the trail that she realized she was lost.
Panic didn't set in right away, despite her age. This was a camp grounds of sorts, so following the trail would eventually lead her somewhere, but how would she know if she had walked in a circle?
She kneeled on the edge of the path and constructed a standing arrow of sticks and long grass. She pointed it down the direction she had chosen to walk, that way, if she came back to it she would know, and could choose the opposite direction.
1. Stay in one spot...hah! Fat chance. She was on a trail, she could get somewhere...the sun was starting to set...
2. Stay in plain sight. Okay...she would stay on the trail.
3. Make noise so your rescuers can find you. She decided she would sing the song they were taught in case they got lost.
Here we sit like birds in the wilderness,
birds in the wilderness,
birds in the wilderness.
Here we sit like birds in the wilderness,
waiting for someone to find us.
And so she sang.
And sang and sang and sang.
Her stomach growled and her throat throbbed. The setting sun was causing the temperature to drop, so she stuffed her hands in her pockets for warmth.
A granola bar! Fantastic!
She opened it with haste and stopped. She stared at the granola bar as the reality of the situation set in. She had been walking for more than half an hour now and hadn't heard a sound. It was getting colder and colder outside and she had no coat for warmth and no shelter for sleeping in. No water to drink, no voice to call for help, and this granola bar could very well be the only food she would have for a while.
Her eyes welled with tears as she stared at the granola bar.
A few tears fell before she steeled her will against them. Tears would not help, and they would just dehydrate her.
She bit a small corner off of her granola bar and wrapped the rest up. She put it back in her pocket with her hands and held it firmly in her palm, as a child would hold a teddy.
She walked a little faster.
Every time she reached a fork in the trail she would stop and construct a standing arrow out of sticks and long grass to show which way she had gone. That way she would know if she was walking in circles, and maybe...just maybe...if Dad came looking for her, he would see the arrows and be able to follow her.
The whistle! As the metal cooled down she noticed it against her skin. She could blow the whistle for help! It was louder than singing, and the whistle would never get a sore throat.
She could feel the elation well up within her chest as she fished the whistle out from her shirt and placed it in her mouth.
She inhaled a nice, deep breath and blew hard.
She blinked. Inhaled. And blew hard.
It was broken.
The whistle would not make much noise at all, certainly not a piercing whistle. It sounded like the wind was whistling across the top of a bottle...a bottle made of tin...
She walked a little slower now.
The moment of false elation had drained her, and she was running out of hope.
The whistle hung loosely from her lips, making it's pathetic noise as she walked.
Step step wooooo-ooooo, step step woooo-oooooo, step step woooo-ooooo
The wind blew.
She stopped. What was that?
The wind blew again.
She listened hard.
Her name! In the name of everything holy and happy she could hear her Dad calling her name!
She ran through the woods towards the sound.
There it was again! More voices this time! All calling her name!
She burst out of the woods near her group's dining shelter. She could see people lining the edge of the woods, cupping their mouths, yelling her name at the trees.
And she saw him. Her dad was standing at the opposite end of the clearing, yelling into the wrong part of the woods. The wind had taken his voice and carried it to her.
Oh thank you thank you thank you thank you she muttered as she ran to him.
She leaped into his arms and melted into a pile of relief and safety.
' Thank God, ' she heard him mutter. Then louder, 'The game ended. It's dinner time."