Taylor waited in the rain and mud for hours. She waited until her stomach rumbled. She waited until the hunger passed into a cold ache and the sun dipped below the horizon. “He’s not coming back,” she whispered to the falling rain as it mingled with her tears.
The puddles surrounding her fed small braided streams that twisted between the rocks as they began their long journey down the hill. She squished the soft mud between her toes and examined her bare, mud-splattered legs in the fading gloom.
She watched her scattered reflection in the soupy mud and gave a bitter laugh. “Well, there’s no point in staying here any longer.”
Taylor pulled herself up onto her feet with her walking stick, then picked up her small backpack. Her shoes spattered mud on her arms as they bounced on their long laces, making the pack feel as heavy as her spirits as she slipped and skidded downhill through the scattered boulders.
She tossed a shoe back over her shoulder as she rested against the last boulder, rubbing at a bruise on her right arm. With a sigh she pushed herself away from the rock and resumed her walking-slide downhill.
At the edge of the forest, Taylor paused. She stared up into the dark clouds overhead, rain streaming down her neck and through her soaked clothing. She clenched her right fist around the walking stick.
“Damned aliens! I’m going home, to Earth. Just let them try to stop me.”
Taylor stabbed her walking stick into a puddle and entered the blackness of the forest.
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