6 - The Accident

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Brian winced as he sat up. There was a sharp pain in his shoulder that cut off his breath every time he moved. He looked around, attempting to figure out where he was, but it was too dark to see much, apart from the moon and a few stars. Turning around, he could see what looked like headlights on the top of a hill behind him.

"Is anyone else here?" AJ shouted from a few feet away.

"I'm here!" Brian shouted back as he struggled to get to his feet. "Where are you?"

"Over here," replied AJ. "Are you hurt?"

"I think I dislocated my arm," Brian replied. He pushed himself up with his uninjured arm and cradled the other against his chest as his shoulder burned painfully. "What about you?"

"I'm pretty sure I've sprained my ankle," AJ replied. "I'm cut up pretty good, too. Did anyone else fall out of the bus?"

"Melanie went out before I did," Brian replied.

"Melanie!" AJ shouted. "Melanie, can you hear me?"

As their eyes began to adjust to the lack of light, the two men were able to see each other and the area immediately around them. They had rolled down a hill and were in an area full of trees. The road was behind them, but they couldn't hear anything other than themselves, the forest creatures, and the rain.

Melanie woke a few metres further into the forest with a pounding headache and an excruciating pain radiating from her rib cage that made it hard to breathe. She pushed herself up onto her knees and looked around. She had no idea where she was and had no recollection of what had happened since breakfast that morning. Everything was dark around her and the only thing she could see were the stars and the moon, which she was seeing in double.

She cried out as she got to her feet and protectively held her arm close to her tender ribcage. Parts of her clothes were wet and she wasn't sure if she'd been lying in a puddle of something or if she was bleeding. She quickly realized she was missing a shoe as the stones and twigs beneath her dug into her foot.

The side of her head stung and she gingerly touched it with her free hand, feeling a rather large lump. Her hand came away wet and smelled slightly metallic. She wiped her hand on her jeans and attempted to focus her eyes enough to see the area she was in.

Little by little she could make out the shape of the trees, shrubs, and cliffs around her, blurry and still in doubles. She could feel her heart pounding in her chest as she listened to the noise being made by insects and birds. She thought she heard a voice, but as she listened more intently, there was nothing more than wildlife and the rain as it slapped against the leaves in the trees.

She began walking aimlessly, desperately trying to find something familiar to give her a clue as to where she was. A twig snapped a few meters away and she froze in place. Her heart drummed in her ears, but she could still hear something breathing heavily nearby. Without a second thought, she tore off in the opposite direction, adrenaline over-riding the pain she was in. She stumbled over a branch, crying out as she landed on her hands and knees. She quickly got back up and continued running, silently praying that she wasn't being followed.

Brian and AJ froze and listened carefully. They had heard Melanie nearby and were trying to determine which direction they'd heard her in. Every sound seemed to echo around them, making it difficult to make out where the sound had come from.

"Melanie!" Brian shouted. They both heard her scream, further away this time.

"This way!" AJ stated, taking off in the direction he'd heard Melanie's voice. The two of them bounded through the forest, sliding down a large hill, brushing past trees, and jumping over fallen branches.

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