Chapter 14

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The day was hot and cloudless. Trevor Wilson, a college student who grew up in the area sat alone on top of Mt. Chocorua, looking out over countless hills and lakes that stretched on endlessly in front of him. The lakes were like blue mirrors surrounded by bright green hills, and the heat of the day was made bearable by a light breeze. Looking out across the familiar landscape Trevor wished he could stay up here for a week and forget his schoolwork and upcoming finals. He had taken a few days off of school to clear his head and get some rest in before his finals started, something he’d done every year to maintain his sanity. He had taken a few extra classes this semester so he could graduate early and not have to stick around New Hampshire for another summer, wanting to move on to bigger and better things.

At first, the extra workload had been no big deal, but as the year wore on his teachers piled on more and more assignments, until it was beyond his ability to keep up without a severe lack of sleep. The stress of all the extra work had built up steadily over the last few weeks, and he didn’t want to go into his final tests burned out. So, here he sat, looking out at the view and enjoying the light breeze. It was the last day he planned on staying in the White Mountains, and he was enjoying the peace and quiet before he made the drive back to college.

 Out of all the mountains he had hiked in the last few days, this one was by far the easiest, but it was also his favorite. He had taken countless overnight hikes up here with both the boy scouts and his friends when he was younger, and had stayed in a small cabin that stood alone at the edge of the tree line more times than he could count. Trevor could see the top of that cabin from his vantage point on top of the mountain, the sight of it bringing back memories of years past and tempting him to stay one last night before heading off to the rest of his life.

“What the hell, why not?” he wondered to himself.

He had enough food to last him another night, and there was a small wood stove in the cabin that he could light to stay warm. Besides, wasn’t doing things spur of the moment one of the advantages of being a college student? He looked down at his watch; it was only a few hours from dusk. If he was going to stay he would need to gather up a little bit of wood for the stove or it was going to be a very cold night. Almost regretfully Trevor stood up and stretched the stiffness from his legs and back, taking one last look around at the view from his childhood before making his way down the rocky path to the cabin.

The temperature dropped with the sun as the sky filled with stars, but Trevor soon had a nice fire going in the wood stove and the little cabin was starting to get comfortable. Digging through his pack he pulled out a small tin bowl and water bottle. He filled the bowl and put it on the wood stove to boil, a pack of dried noodles and instant coffee waiting on the rough wooden bunk next to his pack. It was good to be back in this old cabin, it brought back a lot of memories he hadn’t thought about for years.

 Trevor dipped his finger in the water on the stove, it was just getting warm. Having a few minutes before it would boil he stepped outside and sat on the steps and looked up into the night sky. He was going to miss this, going to school in a large town he never saw many stars in the sky. He figured when he moved on and into some city he would see even less of them. All in all he was really glad he came on this little trip, you can’t get this kind of quiet on a college campus. The best part was the fact that all this time in the woods alone had drained away the stress that seemed to choke him from the moment he got out of bed in the mornings till he dropped into bed at night. “Back to reality tomorrow” he told himself as he stood up and stretched the stiffness out of his limbs.

He stopped next to the door to pick up an armload of the firewood he had gathered up that afternoon when the sound of snapping branches caught his attention. The sound was coming from just inside the shadows of the trees and moving around slowly. He dropped the armload of branches and clicked his flashlight on, swinging it in large arcs between the trees, following the sound as it moved slowly through the trees. Moving the light slowly Trevor caught movement out of the corner of his eye and quickly focused the light at the spot, a pair of yellowish eyes reflected back at him for a split second and disappeared quickly into the brush. Trevor heard a few more branches brake as whatever it was took off running deeper into the woods. His heart racing, Trevor took a few timid steps towards the woods: the only sound besides the wind was that of his own footsteps crunching small rocks beneath his feet.

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