Souls journey, p.5
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       Soul's Journey, p.5

           Joanne Johnson
 
back on his feet in no time, sending beams of light back at his would be captor. It looked as though the tall man and this stranger were evenly matched, or so I thought. The other two smaller men seemed to be only bystanders.

  For a split second, it actually looked like they might be using magic, and then I promptly laughed at the idea. Maybe I had hit my head on the pavement, and was hallucinating this whole scene. I decided to pinch myself just to make sure, but the reality of the situation could not be denied. Suddenly the stranger was running towards me.

  I heard him yelling in my direction, “I told you to keep going until you reached the top.” I looked back at the other men, but they were lying on the pavement. I knew they were still alive because I could see them moving around slowly.

  "What happened to them?" I asked.

  "I took care of the situation to give us time to get away," he replied.

  "What do they want?"

  "They think I have something they need. Now move. We need to put some distance between them and us!"

  Increasing my pace, I felt like I was stretching my legs fully to stay ahead. The man behind me was able to keep up and almost passed me a few times. I was finally a few feet ahead when I noticed a fork in the road. What path would take me to safety? I had to make a choice, and fast.

  The Introduction

  Within a few strides, I notice similarities between the path ahead and my dream last night. I slowed down to examine these surroundings in greater detail. The smell seemed the same, as well as all the strange birds singing. The similarity between this experience and my dream was unmistakable. This was the strongest déjà vu, I had ever experienced.

  Which path was I to choose? Should I choose the bright cheery trail or the shadowed dark one? The recollection of the path I had taken in my dream came to me. I remembered the deer, and looked down the bright cheery path. I laughed to myself for expecting to see it standing in the grass, but it wasn’t there. I decided that the way to go was the one that I had chosen in the dream, so I began heading down the brighter trail. When I came to where the deer had been standing, I looked down and discovered another egg shaped rock. I picked it up and placed it in my pocket along with the other stone. Glancing at it for a split second I noticed that it was the same size as the last one, but this one was black and shiny.

  The stranger caught up to me in a few large strides. He looked at me for a moment rather strangely then said, "Just out of curiosity, why did you pick this path?" I glanced at him, walking almost beside me now.

  I tried not to look at him as I spoke, "This path seemed brighter." I thought I would just keep it simple. I saw no reason for giving this man too much information at this point.

  He rolled his eyes at me and said, “Somehow that doesn’t surprise me. You seem to be the type to make your choices based on how things look."

  "What the hell is that supposed to mean? You don’t know anything about me," I said extremely annoyed.

  "No offence to you Miss. I didn’t mean for you to get your feathers all ruffled. It was just an observation.” He looked thoroughly amused by my response.

  "You sir, have not ruffled my feathers. You have passed a quick judgment based on past observations of others that has no bearing on me at all. As a matter of fact, I had a vivid dream about the same two paths last night and was shown which one was in my best interest to take."

  His face looked shocked and he stared at me for a long moment before continuing. “What did you say your name was?” He seemed to be observing me sternly with his eyes, as if he was trying to see into my soul. I placed my nose higher in the air, but not high enough that I would trip over the fallen branches.

  “I haven’t told you my name. We’re not friends or acquaintances of any kind.”

  He gave me a cheeky look and said, “So it is going to be that way is it? You will be stuck with me for some time, so what is it you would like me to call you? Or should I just make up a name, like “Babe”?

  I was frustrated more than I should have been, but for some reason I decided to give him my real name. “I’m Jordan Howard. My friends call me Jordan, but you can call me Miss Howard.”

  He smiled looking like he had bested me. “Hello Jordan, my name is Derrick McTavis. Everyone calls me Derrick."

  I could feel annoyance rising up within myself. I tried to remove the emotion hoping that we would only be spending a short time together and then I would be free of him. He seemed to be the most arrogant, self-important, frustrating man I had ever encountered, and I had met quite a few working in the coffee shop.

  I glared at him as he spoke again, “We need to keep up a steady pace because we have a long hike ahead of us.”

  “What do you mean?” I asked. "How long do you think we will have to endure each other’s company?"

  “You’ve stepped into a situation that you know nothing about. They would rather kill you than leave you around to identify them later. I know without a doubt they will leave no strings untied.”

  “I believe I could explain to them that I am not involved and they would allow me to go back to my car, where I will continue on my way.”

  I could hear the laughing before I could see it. “This is not a game! You are in an extremely dangerous situation, so please hurry. I have given us about a half hour head start, but not much more.”

  I stopped walking and glanced over at him. What had I walked into? How did my life become so complicated in such a short time? This situation alone would cancel out some of my to-do list. I stopped and took a good look at him. He had curly, black hair that was a little longer than most men chose to wear their hair, and he must have been six foot four or five because he towered over me. When he looked me in the eye, his eyes were the most beautiful sea blue. His leather jacket and white t-shirt seemed to emphasize his firm, muscular, weight-bearing shoulders. He looked like he could be in one of those firefighter calendars I used to buy. Then I recalled seeing him in front of me at the gas station in the pickup truck. I wondered why our paths would cross again. Too bad he’s so arrogant and self-absorbed.

  Smiling at my own thoughts, I could feel my muscles loosen up as I headed into a power walk. I had always considered myself relaxed and easy going, but this man had made me defensive and frustrated right away. I had never met a person who treated me this way right from the start, and I could not imagine that it was going to get better any time soon. Maybe if he did not speak to me we could get along better. He was, however, the nicest piece of eye candy I had seen in quite some time.

  My distraction was short lived, as he spoke abruptly. “We need to hurry. I can feel they’re getting closer to us.”

  I snickered to myself; I was on the path to the unknown with someone who thought he had ‘spidey senses’. He started to pass me on the path, so I cleared the way for him. It wouldn’t hurt to stare at his best asset for a while. He did have the cutest, round, firm ass in his blue jeans.

  I was busy admiring the view when he spoke sharply to me over his shoulder and ruined it again. “Do you think you could hurry it up, or do I have to carry you? I’ve seen baby turtles move faster,” he smirked.

  Dumbfounded, I answered in a snotty tone. “I’m not a child and would appreciate you not treating me as such."

  “If you did half as much walking as you do talking we would be at our destination already,” he replied.

  Did this man have to scold me for everything? If I had known I was going to spend my holiday with someone who treated me like my fifth grade teacher had, I would have taken more time to bolster my insecurities. I was one of those people that usually stood frozen to the spot with my mouth hanging open, shocked when people were intentionally rude to me. It always took me a few hours after the fact before I could formulate a comeback, but by then, of course it was too late.

  I trotted along behind him, fuming under my breath. The nerve of this man, his self-importance, and his snarky attitude were getting on my last nerve. I had never met anyone so rude. How dare he, I
thought.

  I could hear a river somewhere nearby and thought I could use a good wash. As we slowly approached, I noticed that we were about thirty feet above the river itself. It was at the bottom of a steep ravine with many huge rocks on either side. I felt a tightness in my stomach as dread ran through me. We were trapped, and now we were going to be caught! Would this be the end of my story?

  Looking over at Derrick, I could see he was deep in thought until he spoke. “There’s a tree up-river two miles that will take us across. Our only hope of escape is getting across to the other side.”

  As we followed the cliff up stream, I was careful not to get too close to the edge. After a few minutes, I noticed a slim tree that had fallen across the ravine. It might have been wide enough for one foot at a time, but I would not be able to stand with both feet together at any time during our crossing.

  I looked at him, "You don’t really expect us to walk across that twig, do you?"

  "Our only hope of freedom is crossing. Do you have a better idea? If so, please go ahead and share it," he replied aggravated.

  I thought for a minute. "No, I don’t have a better idea, but there must be an easier way."

  He walked over to the tree, looked over his shoulder and said, “You go first.”

  "What a gentleman,” I said feeling provoked. “Let me plummet to my death first; your mother would be so proud."

  As I walked over to the tree, I remembered what my sister had said. Her words seemed to echo in my head, "You never take risks, and you always take the easy path.”

  I felt a newfound strength and determination as I brought my leg up to the tree and took my first step on it, holding my breath. I was too frightened to look down. After the first step, I took another, and then another, until I realized I was almost halfway across. A wide smile spread across my face as I realized that I was able to battle my fear and take the risk. I had an epiphany when I separated Megan’s criticism of me from the anger it provoked. I realized how accurately her words reflected the inadequacies of how I viewed myself. My frustration wasn’t with her, it was with me.

  I could feel the tree moving beneath my feet, I was scared. I didn’t have the best balance on the sidewalk let alone on a twig suspended 30 feet above a ravine. Nothing made me more aware of my surroundings than someone moving the item I was walking on. I stopped in mid-stride only to see that Derrick was walking up behind me, moving quicker that I would have liked. The tree was shaking violently and I was uncertain it would hold us both. I looked down and saw the jagged rocks sticking out of the rushing, cold, mountain water. I could feel the chilled air and the spray from the water, even at this height. My cousin taught me in her playhouse, high in the trees, that if you don’t look down it can’t hurt you, or so I believed at nine, I wasn’t so sure now.

  "Stop,” I yelled. “I’ll fall.” I looked ahead again, trying to regain my balance and composure.

  “You need to hurry; they’re coming and they will be here soon,” he said. “I can see the movement in the trees already.”

  As he spoke, I struggled to maintain my balance and craned my neck around to see if he was right. I could see them too and at this rate it would not take them long to catch us. I could easily see the three men running after us now. I felt the panic rising in me; my stomach tightened harder and I thought I might throw up. I took a deep breath and tried to calm my nerves, somewhere under the surface I was able to find some control. I slowly moved forward again.

  The tree cracked as we were crossing the midpoint. I took a big breath and felt something push me from behind. “That is not going to help you know!” The tightness in my body was back, it was as if all of my muscles
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