The young man and I stared at each other awkwardly for a few minutes before he said something to break the ice. “My name is Chris.”
He held out his hand for me to shake. Reluctantly, I took it. “
“Nice to meet you, Shelby.” Chris had a smile on his face that was bright and inviting. Not like something I would expect to be worn on a serial killer. I was beginning to second guess my instincts. Maybe this guy was just another hiker on the Midnight Trail? But then again, he could want to kill me the minute I turned my back on him.
To break the ice, I wracked my mind to find something to say so Chris wouldn’t start asking questions about my imaginary friends that weren’t coming up from the waterfall. “So … What’s up over that rock?”
I pointed toward the small path where the young man had snuck up on me moments before. It was almost hidden behind a few ferns that were growing out of the side of the rock, but it was there and I wanted to know where it went.
“That path right there? Well, that’s where you find the best view of the mountain.” Chris spread his arms wide, like he was showing me the land beyond the rock. “You can see for miles. Where the forest meets the mountain and beyond. There is nothing like it.”
He spoke with a nostalgic tone, looking off into the blue sky and allowing the sun to warm his face.
“Will you show me?” I had forgotten about my serial killer theory. The only thing on my mind was the thrill of what was at the end of the trail. I thought I had seen it all, but little did I know that the trail still held secrets that I had come here to uncover. There was nothing that was going to stop me from revealing them all.
Chris led the way past the ferns and up the small trail. The rocks were tall and there weren’t many hand holds, or footings to pull myself up. Chris scrambled nimbly up over the edge, disappearing from sight. Just when I thought he had left me behind, he leaned down with his hand out to help me up on top of the rock. I gladly took it this time and scrambled up.
There was a small gap between two large rocks that was easily jumped and a few small pushes to push through before the blue of the sun came into view, but that wasn’t what I had come for. It was the next sight that took my breath away.
Before me lay the entire world. Evergreen trees as far as the eye can see. Below lay the river, white rapids rippling over its surface. The mountain stood grand in the background of it all, with its white cap and blue-gray skirt. It glistened in the sunshine.
“Oh wow.” Was all I could say.
“I told you it was a better view.” Chris stood next to me on the edge of the rock face, his hands on his hips like he was king of the mountain. I had to give it to him, this was the most amazing view I had ever seen.
I took a deep breath, taking in all that I could. Committing it to memory so I would never forget, but what happened next I would never forget either.
Do you think that Shelby will survive the fall? And what happened to Chris? Check back next week to find out what happens.