The following morning we met in the same place we did on that first day, that felt like a million years ago. We each had a backpack and when we all were there we went through them to make sure we had everything. 

Luke unzipped his pack first "I got 6 bottles of water, 2 boxes of granola bars, a big Army flashlight my dad gave me, and extra batteries" he looked up smiling "well we got snacks covered" Max laughed and unzipped his pack "well I have a big cantina for the water, I also brought 3 bottles, my BB gun and extra BB's, just in case.." he shot both of us a scared look and continued "I didn't find any snacks but I have some lighters, old newspaper, and a box of wooden matches in case it's too windy for the lighters" "uh Max? Are you planning on being stranded out there?" Luke's voice cracked and he looked uneasy "no but Boy Scouts taught be to be prepared for anything, I could have gotten more stuff but I didn't have the time" Max dropped his eyes to the ground and kicked the dirt. There was an uncomfortable silence between us for what felt like an hour. Finally I cleared my throat and unzipped my pack. I also had a flashlight, extra batteries, a couple water bottles and I grabbed a first aid kit from the closet, my mom kept them all over the house plus travel ones, she was an ER nurse, so she was always prepared for the worst case scenario. I held up the first aid kit and both boys nodded in agreement that they didn't even think about that, but boys/men never think of first aid, they're too busy thinking about how they aren't going to get hurt, then act like babies when they do. 
I re shouldered my pack and adjusted it to a comfortable position "ready?" I asked them. All three of us were staring at the tree line, Max sighed loudly "let's do this" he sounded more confident than he looked. Silently, we entered the forest. 

That is where my memory stops, nobody ever believed me but it's true. My therapist asked me to write out my story until I couldn't remember anymore, that didn't help to jog my memory, nothing worked.

Until I met Paul Randall, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and a licensed Hypnotherapist. After hypnotizing me a couple times with no luck, then finally it worked. I assume it did anyway, Mr Randall left the room in a hurry and won't return my phone calls anymore. 

He recorded all his sessions, as many therapists like to do for their own references. He left so quickly, he left everything in his office. I sat down at his computer, dug around in my bag until my fingers brushed against the smooth plastic of a flash drive, I popped it in the USB port and was prepared to maneuver around the password protection but he didn't have it activated. "You stupid man" I said under my breath as I scrolled through literally thousands of sessions, finally I found my name and made a copy of the folder before uploading it to my flash drive. I was starting to get nervous that he would come back.  50% done....come on, I was fidgeting, I couldn't help it...99%. Finally,  after it hit 100 I grabbed the drive, shoved it deep in my jeans pocket and quickly left the building. 

I just finished watching my last session, it all came flooding back to me, all the things I never wanted to remember was now right there staring me in the face, taunting me, eager to take me back to that day in the forest. 

As soon as we stepped inside, it was dark, the tree tops formed a very large teepee. The air was cool and damp, I could smell a mixture of pine trees, cherry blossoms, and something less pleasant. It was subtle but I picked up on it right away, but couldn't put my finger on it. 

We walked and walked for what felt like hours, it didn't seem this long last time. I mention it to them, they both shrugged their shoulders and mumbled some sort of agreement and we trudged on. 
I paused a moment to dig a water bottle from my pack, the didn't hear me and kept walking. I got the bottle and zipped my bag back up, when I looked up, they were gone. My heart started pounding and I nervously scanned my surroundings. "Hey guys! Wait up!" I yelled, loud enough that I heard my own muffled echo. I ran in the direction they were heading last time I saw them. I ran to the top of a hill and saw them stopped at the bottom. "Hey! Are yuh coming?" Luke yelled through cupped hands. I breathed a sigh of relief and headed towards them. 

When I got closer, I could see that they had found something, they looked excited. "Look!" Max pointed to the clearing, we appeared to be on the opposite side from the last time we were here, but that can't be right, we used the same entry point and were careful to go the same direction, did we go in a big circle?  "Guys? How is that possible?" I asked. "We were just wondering the same thing" Max was staring at the back of the cabin, his eyes like saucers, he was terrified. I patted his back and said "are you ready?" He forced a smile "ready as I will ever be" 

We were halfway to the cabin when we had to stop, a horrible smell hit us, it was like rancid, rotting meat. We pinched our noses shut and kept moving. Now directly behind the old, sad looking building, Max stopped suddenly and in a low voice I heard him say "!" I spun to look at him, he was staring to our left, past the cabin, there was a glimmer that meant water. "It's a lake, what's the big deal?" I asked, confused and a bit frightened by his odd behavior. 
"Look at the tree line there" he said pointing to more forest. I scanned the treeline and saw it immediately, it was a clear walking path. We looked at each other and nodded in agreement, but when we looked at Luke, he was pale and shaking his head.  "Would you rather stay here?" Max asked him and I smacked him in the arm and snapped "be nice" in a loud whisper. "Ok Luke, I'm sorry but we are here to find Becca, have you noticed that no cops or adults have made any attempt to find her besides the day she went missing. It's like they all forgot her, even her parents, I don't understand but I can't sit by and let our friend be tossed away like garbage, so let's go!" Max's speech did the trick, he still looked unsure but he was done arguing. 

We cut across the clearing, through tall grass. Every once in a while, we would hear a rustling then the grass would bend as an animal ran away from us. 
I see that clearing in my dreams every night, I feel the breeze on my face and the tickle of the grass on my palms as I reached out to the side and brushed my hands over the top of the blades of grass. It's a peaceful dream, I wouldn't mind having it all the time if I hadn't figured out by now that the peaceful dream is an omen. 

The peaceful dream is a warning to stay out of those woods, HIS woods. 

Published by Liz Zemlicka