Chapter 42

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Jason was starting to get worried. Sarah had been gone since late afternoon to retrieve her trail cameras. He had opted to stay at camp and make sure nothing else went wrong and to pack up what he could. Most of what they brought was going into the first garbage container he saw on his way out of this miserable forest. The tent, the sleeping bags, even their clothes. They could stop on the way home and buy more. This was the last night they were going to be here, one more night sleeping wrapped up in a blanket and then it was back to the real world. Jason couldn’t wait to get out of here.

He stoked up the fire and started pacing around the camp. He should have never let her walk off on her own. She had promised to be back before dark and had taken the rifle along, so he had reluctantly agreed to let her go. Throwing another log onto the fire, Jason continued to impatiently pace around the camp. It was at least a full hour after dark when he finally heard footsteps coming towards camp and saw the bobbing of a flashlight.

“Sarah, is that you” he called.

“Yea, it’s me” she called back. Jason almost collapsed with relief.

He walked back to the fire and sat down on a log, trying to look like he hadn’t just been pacing like a worried father on his daughter’s prom night. When she stepped into the clearing, she headed straight for the fire, the expression on her face told Jason her day had not gone as planned.

“What took so long” he asked.

She gave him an irritated look and unzipped her backpack, opening it up fully and dumping the contents onto the ground. A large pile of plastic pieces fell out of the bag, forming a jagged pyramid on the ground.

“That’s how it went,” she said angrily, “almost every camera I brought was destroyed, and the worst part is whatever did it took all the memory cards out of the cameras and took off with them! What the hell does that?” She gave the pile of plastic pieces a kick, sending some of them into the fire. Jason was tempted to comment on how bad it was to burn plastic but wisely kept his mouth shut. Instead, he quietly slid next to her and put his arm around her shoulders.

“I’m sorry we came and got nothing babe” he said softly.

She looked at him from the corner of her eye and gave a tiny smile. “Not nothing I hope. I said most of my cameras, not all of them. It missed one.” She said happily. Sarah pulled her only untouched camera out of the pocket on the front of her backpack and handed it to Jason with a grin.

“I’ll go put the card into the laptop, you sit here and have some coffee, you definitely look like you need it.” Jason told Sarah, he bent down and kissed the top of her head, then went to their remaining supplies to get the laptop and plug the card in. Sarah had just finished making her cup when Jason came back, laptop in hand.

“It’s still downloading, but it looks like you have plenty of pictures to go through.”

“How’s the battery” she asked between sips.

“Full, I used the solar charger while you were gone.”

She smiled at him and rubbed his leg, “you’re too good to me” she said, then put her head on his shoulder while she waited for the computer to finish.

“Only because I love you” he told her.

A few minutes later the computer gave a small beep, it had finished downloading all the images. Sarah took the laptop and sat upright, looking like a kid on Christmas morning. Jason watched her as she started clicking through pictures, thinking of how cute she looked when she was concentrating.

“Bird, bear, deer, deer, another deer, another bird…” listing off all the animals in the pictures, Jason could tell she was losing hope. He took a sip from her coffee when she let out a gasp. Her eyes went wide and she looked up at Jason excitedly.

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