Teen Ink on Twitter
Tyler nodded, pulling the other knife out of his belt. He had lived in and visited forests all his life, tracking, hunting, camping. Never before had he felt afraid for his life. Not like this. And now he was surrounded by strangers, in a strange forest that he knew nothing about. He tensed up even more, gripping the knives tightly and cautiously looking around him.
When Cole finished building the stones around the fire he gathered kindle and made the nescessary items he needed to start the fire. After a while the fire lit up and he started feeding more kindle and after that small twigs then thicker branches.
While Nate was busy freaking out over Tyler’s discovery, Cole had started the fire. Well, I’m glad we have someone on the team capable of doing that. It perked him up a bit, but his gloom showed through when he finally reached Cole. “I…I have some bad news,” he sighed.
Cole looked up, "what is it?" He wondered what was going to go wrong.
Nate reached up to rub the back of his neck—a nervous habit. “Well, obviously—we’re stranded in a forest with no idea why. We’ve established that. But, as it would turn out, this isn’t an ordinary forest. Something is extremely wrong with it.” Nate goes on to explain Tyler’s discovery and what it meant.
Smiling, Cole got up, "evidence?" Cole asked. Without evidence even good theories could be disproved.
You can’t imagine the look that transpired on Nate’s face. Despite himself, and the situation, he had to laugh. So he did. “Evidence? Usually, I’m all for stuff like that,” he was still amused by the suggestion. “But c’mon, look around you! We don’t have the luxury of applying the scientific method to everything—“ he paused abruptly. Then, taking a new approach, “You know what my motto is? I’m innocent until proven guilty. Let me apply it to this situation—My hypothesis is valid until brutally proven otherwise.”
Tyler stood by, watching the two, holding his knives at the ready. His lips were pressed tightly together, holding back the torrent of questions that piled up in his mouth. They stayed there, building up. But he still didn't speak, he simply stared straight ahead.
Cole sighed, "well. You do have a point. But still, it's doesn't take too much time to show evidence." He watched the fire grow.
Nate shrugged, "All the evidence I have his the tracks and a basic knowledge of animal behavior." He turned to point in the directed of the tracks, in case Cole wanted to see them for himself, but stopped when he saw Tyler. Now, Nate had gotten used to the serious rock of a guy, but something seemed off. He could sense that behind that quiet stare, Tyler was holding something back. Won't be long till he just explodes. Nate remembered something the boss had always told him, you never ignore your intuition. Its a con artist's greatest tool. "Hey, Tyler. Mind coming over here for a sec?"
Tyler silently stepped forward when Nae called. He didn't come too close, but he did come closer, still holding tightly to the knives. His chest still felt tight with fear, and his jaw was beginning to ache from holding his mouth closed so hard. Still, he let nothing show on his face.
Nate really had no idea how to proceed. Con-artists don't deal with people like this. But...leaders do. He decided to take the blunt approach, accepting that it might not be the best. "I'm an expert on People," he began, "Your jaw looks like its about to shatter, and your emotionless countenance is a dead giveaway something's bothering you. What's on your mind?" Again, he spoke factually and calmly.
Tyler stayed silent, afraid that if he opened his mouth, it would all come tumbling out. He lowered his eyes to the forest floor.
Slowly, so as to not startle him and end up getting stabbed, Nate closed the distance between them and placed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “You can go ahead and say it—go ahead and explode,” Nate thought of his brother and sister, how he had to be the strong one after they were orphaned. How he watched everyone break down around him, using his strength to console them. Even the adults. “Whatever emotion slips out of you, I’ve seen much more severe. Trust me.”
"I'm fine. I've just found myself in a strange forest, stranger than any forest I've ever been in my entire life with a group of strangers and nothing but a pair of knives to defend myself with." Tyler said, his voice tight and strained. His knuckles turned white with how tightly he was gripping the knives.
“We’re all in that situation, except Cole has a water gun and I have a metal stick,” he glances at the staff laying a few feet away, “It sucks like he.ll, but what can be done?” Nate knew there was something else wrong. If anything, Tyler was getting even tenser. He wasn’t exploding, or even slowly letting the air out of his tire. He was filling it to the maximum capacity and just leaving it there. What can I do? How can I get through to him? “You’re holding back. But I won’t press you any further.” He releases Tyler’s shoulder and throws his hands up in defeat. “Would it make you feel better if we all got to know each other better? Then we’d be acquaintances. Maybe even friends, as time goes on.” Nate was trying his best. He was going to protect everyone here. He would die for them, whether they ever realized it or not.
Tyler just stood stood still. After a moment, he shoved the knives back into his belt, slowly letting out a deep breath. He jammed his hands into his pockets to hide the slight tremor they retained after letting go of his knives.
A slow, uncontrollable smile appeared on Nate’s face. Was this the best time to smile? No. But he couldn’t help it. This victory, though seemingly small, meant a lot to him. He did it. He got Tyler to relax! He did it! He accomplished his goal as a leader. His buddies back home would be proud. “Tonight, we can sit around the fire and share a little about ourselves,” he said, “but first, I’m going to see if that lake over there has any fish.” Nate grabbed his staff and took long strides towards the lake. He was thrilled.
Tyler followed slowly behind him, his hands still jammed into his pockets as he walked slowly. He watched the toes of his well worn hiking boots as he walked, not looking up at Nate. The tightness was still in his chest, but it had loosened a little. He watched the other boy, still cautious, still silent. But a little less hostile.
Finally reaching the point where the stream connected to the lake, Nate crouched down at its edge. He scanned the waters for movement. Sure enough, there was fish. They weren’t very big, of course, but still. There was fish. He rolled up his sleeves, revealed the retractable blade on his staff, and walked in. “Here’s hoping I’m as skilled as I think I am,” he muttered, raising his spear and standing still. I should get a conversation going. There was something that had been on Nate’s mind, and he wanted to get it out of the way. “Odd question. Do you have a criminal record? I would guess not, but…well, I’m trying to see if there are similarities between any of us. To give a reason why we’re all here.”