Chapter 14

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We looked up and the sky was covered in grey clouds. Soon we would not be able to see the sun at all; we needed to come up with a new plan to stay on track.

"I remember reading in a book once that when you look at trees, there is only mold on one side of it. The north side always has mold on it. So we need to follow the non-moldy side of the trees to be walking north." Hayley said with a grin on her face. I always knew that one day her addiction for books would actually come in handy.

Following Hayley's idea we followed the sides of the trees that we could not see mold on. We applauded Hayley for her brilliance. Well, I did. Jake was too frustrated that his bright idea didn't work.

Jake and I were following Hayley, as she led the way.

"How's your ankle?" Jake asked, seeing me limping.

"It's great. What about yours?" I said sarcastically.

He gave me a bored look and told me to be nice. "Do you want me to carry you again?"

"No thanks, I can manage." I said.

I sighed. Just a three days ago I was having fun at my birthday party.  Now I'm stuck in a forest with one of my best friends, a guy I barely knew, trying to find my other two best friends. Tears welled up in my eyes but I quickly blinked them away. Jake must have seen me crying as he grabbed my hand. I quickly jerked it back as his cold skin touched mine.

"Hayley, how long do you think we have to go?" I asked.

"Well given that we should walk four kilometres an hour on flat surfaces, and a bit more than that on other surfaces, I'd say... About half an hour walk? And of that half an hour we probably have about 15 minutes left." She said, kicking her outdoor education knowledge into action.

I tried to think of how this whole food table thing could be a trap. Why would they give us food? Why wouldn't they just let us die out here? What do they want with us? Why us? Was this whole thing planned or were we just at the wrong place at the wrong time? I tried to think of various scenarios about what would happen when we reach the food, or where would we go after that? I was wondering if anyone was looking for me at home. Where they worried about me? How could I ever explain to my friends' parents what had happened if they don't make it back? What if I don't make it back? I swallowed the thoughts that got me too stressed out.

Once again my thoughts were interrupted. "Help me! Tess! Hayley! HELP MEEE!" I heard Megan's familiar voice near by. In fact, it was just behind the tree to my left.

"Megan?!" I yelled out, running around the tree, but not finding her. I heard the same words again. This time I realised where it came from. From a recorder which was stuck to the tree just above eye level. "They're messing with us. They think it's hilarious to have your best friends taken away from you! They think that everyone deserves to be starving, lost in a huge forest!" I couldn't stop the tears this time. Hayley gave me a concerned look and then started crying as well as she walked into my arms.

We just stood there for a while crying over our best friend. We recovered and wiped our tears away. Jake just stood there awkwardly, not knowing what to do. "Can I get a hug too?" He teased.

Giving the recorder one last disgusted look we got back on track and headed for the supposed food.

"We must be close now if they stuck that recorder there." Jake said, saying something relevant for the first time.

Just as he said that a wonderful, indulging smell caught our attention. I could smell pancakes and bacon and eggs, toast, and so much more flavours. My belly rumbled and I knew it wanted to be fed. Through the last few trees we could see a easy to set up table with way too much food for three people to eat.

We stopped before we walked through the last parts of bush, to investigate the area. It was a bit of a clearing with just the necessary space needed for a campsite. In the centre of the clearing stood a table with the widest variety of food; from fruit through to soup, meat, pancakes, bacon, eggs, coffee, water and anything you could imagine. There was nothing anywhere that looked like a trap.

My phone buzzed again.

DON'T WORRY. THERE ARE NO TRAPS THERE. THIS IS JUST TO PREPARE YOU FOR THE JOURNEY AHEAD.

I shivered at the thought of still being watched.

My hunger senses kicked in and we dashed towards the food table. Stuffing our faces with anything we could find.

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