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Old 02-22-2010, 12:47 PM   #1
Rufus the Mad
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Stolen Away (Closed for KaosDancer)

“Dammit Joey” I muttered, struggling through the dark with the heavy pack “I thought you said this fucking place was easy to get to!”

“It is easy, now stop yer bitchin and just move yer ass!” he replied, staggering a bit ahead of me in the gloom.

We had taken the day off, each of us sneaking away from the world, as it were, to get a jump on the weekend, and had struck out to a supposedly great fishing spot my friend and fellow stumble bum had found last year. We each carried our own tackle, neither one quite trusting the other with our closely guarded secret weapons in the battle of line and lure, but where he had his hands full with the cooler, I was stuck playing pack mule for everything else. An old Army pack served as a carrier for both of our tents, the cooking gear, the miscellaneous equipment that we were never sure we would need but always brought anyway, and of course the ever present solar powered tape player that I had cobbled together several years back. The old music monster was ugly as sin, but it never needed batteries, and was sturdy as hell. You could tell, because it was as heavy as hell too.

"So where the fuck is it then!?” I snapped, more than a little tired. Like I said, we had taken the day off, and had been tromping through the back woods and bogs for the last six hours. Now, with night surrounding us, I was more than ready to just set up here and say to hell with it!

“Alright, alright, we’re here, ya big baby.” he said with a grin, his teeth being about all I could see of him in the dark “We can set up the tents over here, and we’ll get up at first light to get in a full day of me kickin yer ass at fishin!”

“Like hell!” I said with a good natured laugh, easing the pack down and reaching for the first of the pop-up domes. We knocked the camp out in short order, each of us carrying out our tasks with a practiced ease, not needing light to know where the other one was, or what they were doing. We had been sneaking away like this for over sixteen of our twenty-four years, and had more than worked out each others habits by now.

The last thing we did is crack open the cooler, revealing the precious icy cold brew that had fueled some of the wildest experiences of our lives. Popping the top on a couple, we sat back and listened to the nearby river, neither saying anything, simply enjoying the relaxed atmosphere as we sipped our beers in the dark. That was the way we spent our evening, drinking quietly, watching the stars, and listening to the river until we felt tired enough to try sleeping in those tiny little tents.

The morning was well on its way by the time I crawled out of the nylon hell that Wally World had decided to try passing off as a shelter, and I was ready to tear Joey a new one for letting me sleep while he fished. This wasn’t the first time he had pulled this shit, sneaking in a few hours extra time on the river to snag more fish, but it was for damn sure going to be his last! But first, I had to release a few of those trapped brewers eggs…

I staggered in the direction I remembered hearing the river last night, intent on first relieving a bit of pressure, and then smacking the back of a fuzzy red-haired head. For about ten minutes I staggered… then I stood up and walked, then I ran. Then I stopped and yelled.

Where the fuck was I!?
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Old 02-22-2010, 12:50 PM   #2
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“At last.” I sighed as I slid behind the wheel of my truck. Before I backed out, I glanced reflexively down at my phone. I had missed a message. Already? I had just left the damn office 10 minutes ago. I was already 2 hours late for the start of my vacation because of their petty problems. “No.” I told myself determinedly, “I’m not going to check it. In fact, I’m turning the damn thing off.” The simple act of ignoring a call made me feel wild and reckless, more like I did in those days before the job, and the responsibilities that came with it. “Oh well.” I laughed, as I unplugged the phone from the charger and placed it in the drawer under the passenger seat, “You’re the one that wanted to go into computers.”

The phone now dealt with, I backed out of my parking space and checked with OnStar for the best route out of town. Soon I was on the highway, away from the city and off to a wonderful week of rock-climbing and cave exploring. No phones, no computer, just me and the wilderness.

My late departure made for a much longer trip as I ended up getting caught up in rush hour traffic in Columbia. As I sat in traffic, watching the precious minutes of my “alone time” slip by, I just had to curse my co-workers and their incompetence. Arriving at my intended camp site way after dark, I hurried to light a couple of lanterns so I could see what I was doing. I unloaded the truck and dragged my equipment to a nice spot under the canopy of a group of old pines. Even with the light, it took me an hour and a half to set up camp.

Once everything was arranged to my liking, I cleared the area around my portable fire pit and lit a small fire. Turning out the lantern, I sat back in my camp chair and tried to relax, but I was twitchy, I just couldn’t seem to unwind. “Come on now.” I laughed to myself. “This used to be easy.” I sat there for a while longer, but my mind kept thinking about work and I found myself wondering what was on that message. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to just check… “No.” I told myself firmly. “That’s how it starts. They can make it on their own for a week.”

Finally, in frustration I got up, banked the fire, and climbed into my tent. I washed my face, and brushed me teeth, put on my pajamas and slipped into bed. The air mattress wasn’t as comfortable as my bed at home, but the down topper helped and soon I was lulled to sleep by the sound of the frogs and crickets outside.

I woke early, as I was used to, and after a few feeble attempts to go back to sleep, gave up and got out of bed. Grabbing my robe and sliding my feet into my slippers, I opened the door of my tent and walked through the soft grass over to the fire pit. Something didn’t seem right, but I wasn’t too concerned, I needed coffee before I was willing to face the world. With a yawn and a stretch, I stirred the coals and added enough tinder to get the fire going. Hanging the kettle above the fire, I suddenly stopped. Grass? I stopped and looked around, trying to make out my surroundings in the pre-dawn gloom. Looking up I saw the clear sky above. What the? I know I set up in the pines.

Unable to deal with such insanity in my robe and slippers, I went back into my tent and got dressed. Surely everything will make more sense in the light of dawn. Taking my time I put on my clothes and packed my pack for the day’s hike and climb. My rope and carabineers, my water and lunch, all went into the pack; along with an extra pair of socks and a compass.

I unzipped my tent and stepped out, stopping half way. It didn’t make more sense. In fact, it was worse. I seemed to be camping in the center of a flower-filled clearing, and my truck was no where to be seen. “That’s it Tess,” I laughed to myself. “You’ve finally cracked. They really didn’t want to give you a vacation, so you’ve taken one from reality…” Not knowing what else to do, I put down my pack and walked over to my fire pit. I sat up the table and prepared my coffee press, filling it with the now boiling water from the kettle over the fire. “Crazy or not, I’m hungry.” I laughed to myself, and dug the skillet out of my chuck box and placed it on the fire to heat. As I was starting to open my cooler, my peace was shattered by some yelling. “What the…? I can’t even have peace and quiet in my hallucinations?”

I got up and walked around my tent to see if I could find the source of the noise. Over, at the edge of the clearing was a man, disheveled and wild-eyed. I looked at him for a moment, wondering if he was dangerous. Then he noticed me. “I don’t know.” I said with a shrug. “But I was getting ready to make breakfast, if you’re interested."
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:37 PM   #3
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Alright, now I was fucking confused! No river, no Joey, no friggin clue where I was... and then I come across a woman offering me breakfast. That’s it man, dial the operator, we officially have a problem with our connection! But... she had coffee...

"S'cuse my hollerin Ma'am," I said in my best early morning manners, especially considering that I still had to piss like a damn racehorse. "I'm just a bit turned around I suppose, and can't quite seem to figure out where I am. You wouldn't happen to know where the river is from here, would you?"

Hell, I knew it was a longshot, she probably didn't know what the hell I was talking about, but it served as good conversation as I eased up to her little encampment, complete with one of those iron firepit things like they had in the State parks. And well, talking to someone else made me feel a bit better...

"Sorry," I said rather sheepishly, extending my hand in what I hoped was a friendly manner when I finally remembered to introduce myself "Name's Dale, but most folks just call me D, and to answer your question, if there's another of them cups of coffee involved, I'd love some breakfast. But first, I have some business to attend to. Excuse me."

There wasn't any cover for as far as I could see except her mammoth sized tent, and even though my manners were screaming at me for pissing behind somebody else’s tent, it was a damn sight better than doing it in front of her!!
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:39 PM   #4
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Ma’am? I thought. Oh my god I hope I don’t look that old! While I’ll admit the last few years of sitting behind a desk have made an impression on my physique, I’m still in pretty damn good shape. Better than most 28 year old system analysis! While my once rock-hard muscles now have a layer of softening, my waist is still thin, and my stomach flat.

I glimpsed down at my utilitarian outfit, and started to unbutton the top button of my shirt, to better show off my full breasts. Better not girl, I told myself. Heck, you don’t even have any idea where you are, or who he is. Let’s not give him any ideas. With a sigh, I grab a brush and quickly untangle and then braid my long red hair and then turn to breakfast.

I’m a pretty good cook, even though I hardly bother anymore. It’s no fun to cook for just yourself, but I had brought along plenty of supplies in case I got bored and wanted to get adventurous. Working quickly, I set up my camp kitchen and pull a couple of packages of sausage out of my cooler and set them to sizzling in the hot frying pan. Pushing the pan over, I placed my grill on the hottest part of the coals to heat and started mixing up the batter for pancakes.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:41 PM   #5
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Shaking my shaggy blond head, I tried to clear the last of the cobwebs out of it, and tied my bladder off as soon as I could. No sense making a worse impression than I had to here. I ran a critical eye over my ragged jeans, battered tennis shoes, rumpled overshirt and AC/DC t-shirt that comprised my wardrobe and wondered just how much worse it could get!

I ran a hand over my stomach, scratching idly, and figured it could be worse... At least I was in relatively good shape. I might not get to the gym or anything, but being the outdoor type, and having a tendency to blow most of my paycheck on booze, had left me with a flat belly and bundles of clearly defined muscles. Like I said, nothing worthy of Mr. Universe, but I wasn't the fat bastard I might have been, I just wasn't expecting to have run into any women this weekend, and was dressed like a bum!

Oh well...

Rounding the tent again, I caught the unmistakable smells of pancakes and sausage, smells that kicked my brain into a different gear and all but removed thoughts of rivers and missing friends from my reality. That, and the sight of this curvy woman kneeling down beside the campfire, a thick braid of soft red hair trailing down her back... Damn. Leave it to me to find a hottie when I looked like an absolute freak!

Inhaling slowly, I shook my head again, setting my shoulder-length hair to whipping back and forth, and walked forward, clearing my throat as I came up so as not to surprise her. "Is there anything you need me to help with? I might not look it, but I'm fairly handy with a frying pan."
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:44 PM   #6
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I look up at the sound of his approach. He’s kinda cute in a mountain man kind of way, I think to myself, a little young maybe, but cute... mMaybe I should have undone that button. I smile up at him and point over to the frying pan full of sausages as I stand up with the plate of pancakes. “If you can make sure they don’t burn while I see if I’ve got enough plates for two.”

Rummaging through my gear, I manage to find some miss-matched plates, and, surprisingly, a pair of dark green glass mugs. "That's odd." I say as I pulled them from the box. They were large, easily 20 ounces each, and kind of bulbous at the bottom, making them stable on irregular surfaces. Holding one up to the light I notice that what first appeared to be nothing more than a dark green was actually delicate swirls of greens and browns. I could tell they were hand blown from the mark on the bottom, but they were as identical as if they had been molded. Frowning in confusion, I stare at the mugs. While I surely would have bought them if I had seen them, I know I’ve never seen them before. “Oh well.” I say quietly, placing them on the table, “Just another mystery to add to the rest.”

I turn and look at my breakfast companion and say, “You’ll have to sit on the chuck box. I only packed one chair.”

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Old 02-23-2010, 02:47 PM   #7
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Stepping up quickly, I flopped down next to the fire pit and began stirring the sausage about, pretending to make sure they didn’t burn while I watched her move around the camp. She had herself wrapped up tight in some sort of hiking outfit, probably getting set to wander some of these fields I’d been running through for the last hour or so, and seemed truly fascinated by a pair of good sized mugs she pulled out of her gear.

“I don’t mind sittin on the ground itself really, so long as I get to relax a bit. I’m sorry though, did you say mystery? Heck they just look like cups to me… The real mystery is where the danged river went… and why a rather organized girl such as yourself would bring so much climbing gear out here when I ain’t seen so much as a decent hill all day.” Standing up again, I waved the spatula at the grasslands that surrounded us, saying “I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we seem to be in the middle of a real big empty Miss… uh… what is your name, anyway?”
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:49 PM   #8
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“Oh” I stammer, embarrassed that I had forgotten to introduce myself. “Sorry, my name’s Theresa. And, as for the mystery – I’ve never seen these mugs before in my life, and if I had you can be sure I wouldn’t have brought them camping.”

Grabbing a hot pad, I walked over to the fire pit and relieved him of the frying pan. “Come on. Let’s eat. I think better when my stomach’s not yelling at me.” I carried the pan over and divided the sausages evenly between the two plates and set the pan aside. Taking my chair, I snagged a couple of the pancakes and said, “As for the mountains…” I sighed and shook my head, "They were here when I went to sleep.”
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:52 PM   #9
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“They were here when I went to sleep.”

"Huh" I grunted, reaching for the remaining plate "What else was here when you went to sleep? Myself, I was just getting settled in for a weekend fishing trip with a buddy of mine down by the river just outside town. Wasn't nothin there when I woke up but me, my gear, the cooler, and my tent."

I ate in silent for a bit, chewing and thinking, before I looked at her critically and spoke again, saying "Ya know there Theresa, you're taking this a damn sight better than I did... You on somethin, or are you just waitin to wake up? I mean, no offence intended here, but damn girlie!"

I grinned then, an honest and open offering of good humor, and reached for one of those funny coffee cups of hers, holding it up to the light as she had done, and looking through it. "I can't tell if this is glass or plastic... looks pretty though, I'll give ya that. Will they hold coffee though, that's the real test!"
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:56 PM   #10
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“As long as the first one doesn't explode in your hand, pour me some while you’re at it.” I said with a smile, "As for what else was nearby – well, my truck for one thing, and I left my damn phone in it, so we can’t even call for help.” I stopped and thought for a moment and said, “Hold on.” And got up and checked my gear. “Damn it... I should have known.” I said, throwing the pack aside in disgust, “My GPS is missing too."

Whoever set this up sure was thorough.” I sighed, sitting back down and doctoring my coffee. “But I’m not gonna solve it by running around in a panic. The way I see it, food first, then exploration. Anything else will have to wait for more data.”
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:59 PM   #11
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I snagged the other mug and filled it with the dark brew, nodding as I realized that her train of thought made a lot of sense. I had been all panicy and reactionary, and all that it had accomplished was to make me tired... and get me breakfast. Thinking it through though, I began to piece some things together, calming myself down as I went.

"So we were both relatively alone then when we went to sleep, right? I mean I was with Joey, but we were so shot that neither one of us were noticing much, and I'm guessing from your camp that you weren't expecting company. So whoever did this, whatever 'this' is, didn't want to go into any large population centers, and really didn't have to, I suppose."

After I finished mopping up the last of the syrup, I sat the plate aside and carried the hot coffee with me, moving over to examine her gear. "So what all did you bring with ya here, anyway? If you want data, we might as well start with what we have left instead of worrying about what we are missing. Hell, if Joey is still out there somewhere, and that’s something I'm beginning to seriously doubt, he's gonna be doin the same thing, so we might as well worry about ourselves first."
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Old 02-23-2010, 06:16 PM   #12
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“Good idea.” I said with a nod of my head. “Just let me put a pot of water on to boil for the dishes and we can see what our...” I stopped for a moment, the word kidnapper on the end of my tongue, but I couldn’t say it. To say such a thing, gave voice to the idea that it could be real. That is was more than just some elaborate joke set up by co-workers. I sighed and said, “To see what equipment we have available.”

I got up and added some wood to the fire. “We’re gonna run out of fuel pretty quick, if there’s nothing here by grass.” I told him as I stoked the fire and picked up the water jug. “Huh.” I said with a frown. “And water too.” I filled the kettle back up and hung it over the fire and turned walked over to my gear.

I pulled the canvas sheet out of the top of my pack and spread it out before I started laying out my gear. My ropes, ascender and carabineers seemed to be exactly as I had left them. As did my hammer and climbing spikes, but then I pulled out the compass I has so casually shoved into my pack that morning. I started to set it aside, but, for some reason, decided to open it up instead. “Damn.” I said, as I watched the needle spin, “I guess this is useless.” I added, tossing it aside.

The front pockets contained the protein bars I had intended to have for lunch, my emergency medical kit, two pairs of gloves and my extra pair of socks. I looked at the socks for a moment, sighed and set them aside as well, so much for being prepared for any emergency.

My gear box held no new surprises, and my food looked the same as it had when I packed it. I then went to the tent and opened the door. My bed looked the same, as did my discarded pajamas. I quickly went through my clothes, toiletries and the books I had brought for relaxation. To my relief, I found nothing else missing.

“Well,” I said, looking over at my companion in this mystery, “there doesn’t seem to be anything else missing, or added. In fact, the only thing that seems to be amiss is that compass…” I paused for a moment, “except, of course for the obvious.” I giggled

I shook my head and said, “Well, what do you think? Explore first, or check your camp?”
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Old 02-23-2010, 06:22 PM   #13
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I heard the word she almost said, and was as careful as she was to avoid using it if I could help it. Sure we had both figured out that our missing gear, my friend, the trees, her truck, and even the river were probably all still right where they had been, and that it was us and the things we still had that were the only things missing, but it didn't serve any purpose right now to dwell on that fact.

She had quite a set up, and if we had been anywhere near a mountain or cave of any sort we would be set, that much was certain. Here and now, however, they seemed like so much superfluous junk. Of course this was coming from a man who was fairly certain he had a full compliment of fishing tackle, with not even so much as a mud puddle anywhere nearby...

The loss of the compass hurt the worst though. Finding any one direction on this rolling grassland was gonna be a bitch. If we were going to do any explorations, it was going to have to be during the day, before the darkness wiped out all signs of their trail. "Your idea sounds like a good one to me," I said, nodding as she got herself together. "We'll fetch my gear back here, if that’s alright with you. Haulin all your stuff might prove to be a bit too much fer just the two of us... at least if we wanna get back here before nightfall. Once we get everything back, we'll look around a bit, but I'd like to secure what we have before we try and find anything else."
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Old 02-23-2010, 06:25 PM   #14
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I looked at the sky noting the position of the sun, and the dirty dishes from our recently finished breakfast. "I think I... we may have slept later than normal. Is your camp that far away?”
The whistle of the kettle made me jump, and I said, “Uhm... Let me these cleaned up first, so we don’t get ants, and then we can leave.”

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Old 02-24-2010, 09:38 AM   #15
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Grinning at the subtlety of the request, I hopped up and did what I could to pitch in, and soon we had the place pretty much in order. The dishes were washed, dried, and put away, and I had taken the time to bank the fire so we would have coals for later. With a final nod, I hefted her canteen onto my shoulder and off we went, trying to make the best time we could with me picking the path out from memory.

We tromped through the grass, not really talking much, and I kept a weather eye on the progress the sun made across the clear blue sky. I was glad of that blue color, just as I was glad for the lack of clouds. Where her tent had been downright spacious, I couldn't help but reflect on the fact that mine was little more than a nylon coffin. I just wish... ...

I came up short, my thought stopped dead in it's tracks by the sight before us. There was my cooler, there was my trusty tackle box, and the now-useless rods bundled up beside the both of them, but my tiny little tent was nowhere to be seen. In its place was the damnest thing I ever saw! A canvas tent, one that looked more suited to some Black-Powder retreat than a casual fishing trip, was staked down right where my little coffin should have been! Looking like a pyramid that someone had bumped the walls out on, making them just a bit more vertical, the thing must have stood nearly twelve feet tall at the center, and even had a canvas floor! Inside, as pretty as a picture, was a folding cot, a table and chair, bedroll, food stores, and a monstrous backpack that looked like it could hold not only everything here, but a battleship to boot.

I stood there, blinking like an idiot in the face of the voluminous tent, and felt like I had found the rabbit hole... Then I remembered the coffee cups and felt a gripping chill...

"This ain't mine." I said flatly, turning to face her "I recognize the cooler, and the fishing gear... but this tent and everything in it are as new to me as they are to you. Just like those mugs this morning."

I watched her, concerned that this might be a bit much for her, and continued speaking, letting my mind work itself through the problem as I saw it. "I was thinking about my tent, and wishing I had a better one, and this shows up. You had a need for an extra cup, and found a matched set... I don't know where we are... and I don't want to scare ya here... but I think we're being watched."
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:22 PM   #16
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“Watched doesn’t scare me.” I said, “I was figuring we were being watched. Why bother to steal two strangers and throw them into a ridiculous situation like this, if you aren’t watching. Heck, I figured we were being recorded for some new outlandish reality show, like my coworkers are addicted to.”

I sighed and shook my head, “But I refuse to think that we’re being watched by mind readers that can give us what we wanted, without our seeing them do it. This tent can be easily explained. If your tent and gear were really that substandard, and we’re in the middle of some sort of reality show, then of course they’re gonna replace them – especially if they think it will shake us up. As for the cups, if you were… scheduled to wake before me, chances are you’d end up in my camp for breakfast – thus I would need two cups.”

I was determined to find a rational explanation, so I started looking over the tent, trying to find a brand name or part number anywhere on it. As I searched, I felt my determination begin to waiver as I looked closer at his new gear. “Well.” I told my companion, “They’ve sure done right by you. This damn thing looks to be hand made, down to the stitching and the grommets.” I looked over the rest of the equipment, and found them to be just as unusual. Well, I thought to myself. There’s no reason why the producers of such a show couldn’t get someone to make up a set of camping gear. In fact, I only have this guy’s word that he woke in a bubble tent this morning. The most logical thing would be to believe that my co-workers set me up, and he’s in on it. Well, I’m not gonna let them make me look like a fool.

With that last bit still running through my head, I looked over at my companion and said, “However it got here, I guess it’s yours now. Why don’t we see how hard is gonna be to take down. If it’s too difficult, we may want to move my camp"
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:29 PM   #17
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It was difficult to miss the sudden chill of her demeanor, but I would have been hard pressed to tell you where it came from or why, even on a good day. As distracted and scattered as my thoughts were by the tent and accompanying gear, I was barely able to recognize the shift in her mood. Giving her a look of confused curiosity, I began rolling up the bedding and packing the gear, leaving the tent itself for last.

I was fairly surprised that the two of us eventually got everything to fit neatly within the confines of the monstrous pack, though due more to her organizational skills that my bullheadedness, I must admit, and I sat back on my heels to examine our handiwork as I cinched the last of the straps down tight. With the multi-part framework strapping to the outside, the canvas itself to the bottom, and the cot and bedroll lashed to the top, the entire thing was rather solid, and didn't appear to be all that bulky either. I loosened the shoulder straps a bit, making sure there was enough room to maneuver myself into the thing before I sat back at last, shaking my head in disbelief. "Well," I said expansively "We managed to get it all in there, lets see if I can carry the damned thing, huh?"

I still wasn't sure what her deal was, and threw her another "what the fuck" look as I hoisted the huge pack into place, quickly followed by a "Holy Shit!" look as the weight seemed to settle into place perfectly on my shoulders. I had enough stuff on my back for a four-day hike, not to mention a tent from hell and a bed, but it felt like I had only hefted about ten, maybe twelve pounds, tops!

With a goofy grin, I walked over and hefted my old blue cooler in both hands, finding a good balance point between the two loads easily, if not effortlessly, and turned to face her again, saying "Well, I don't know where they got this shit, but I'd say they got a good bargain! This pack weighs next to nothin, and coupled with the load of this cooler, I feel pretty much perfectly balanced! Only problem now, of course, is that I'm out of hands and my tackle and rods are still there. You think you could haul those if I get the rest?"
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:42 PM   #18
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Well, I thought to myself as I watched him attempt to pack his gear into the pack, He’s either a good actor, or really has never dealt with this thing before. “Here,” I told him with a sigh, as he tried to put the frame inside the pack, “Let me help.” He seemed surprised when we managed to fit everything either in or on the pack. I couldn’t understand his attitude – it seemed obvious to me.

He gave me a puzzled look, and then hefted the thing upon his back. His look of surprise seemed genuine and I found myself reconsidering my earlier judgment. Damn it! I thought to myself. He’s the only other person out here. I can’t deal with this madness alone. I sighed and shook my head as he turned away from me. A smile came unbidden to my lips as I watched his physique as he picked up the cooler. Heck. I thought to myself. Even if he is in on it, he sure is cute.

He asked me to carry his fishing gear, and even though I thought it made for a more even distribution of labor for me to carry the cooler, I smiled at him and said, “No problem.” And walked over and gathered up his tackle.

I looked at the sun and at the surrounding green hills and picked what I thought was the correct direction. “I know we came from a bit further North, but I think this would be a straighter path back to my encampment.” I told him, pointing along the line I had chosen.

I set out at a moderate pace, not wanting to tire my gallant, but still heavily burdened companion. As we walked, I found myself listening intently for any signs of human civilization. In my travels, I had found that you had to get pretty far from people before you couldn’t hear them if you tried. Heck, even where I camped, I could hear the sound of cars going by on the distant freeway, but here there was nothing. I could hear both our breathing, and my heartbeat, but nothing else.

Then, as we crested a hill, and I could see my camp below, I heard something that made my heart skip a beat. Water! ”Hold up a minute.” I told him as I listened closer to the faint sound. There was definitely water running somewhere nearby. I looked at D and said, “Why don’t you take that stuff on down to the camp, and get yourself set up. While I see if I can manage to find that stream I’m hearing. Heck. Maybe you’ll get a chance to use your fishing gear after all.”

I turned and started following the sound. To my surprise, it became louder and louder as I approached. Much louder than was logical for the amount of terrain I had covered. Suddenly I stopped in shock. No more than 500 yards from my camp, on the back side of what appeared to be nothing more than just another hill, there was a waterfall. The hill started down, as normal, then sprouted an enormous outcropping of rock, from which rushed a torrent of water out into the air, to fall more than fifty feet to a large pool below. How the hell did we miss hearing this from camp?

I sat down the fishing gear, and began to make my way down to the pool, staring in amazement at the cascading water. All this place needs is a couple of trees and a rope swing. I thought to myself. Then, I rounded an outcropping of rock, and stopped short. That wasn’t here before! There, on the other side of the pool was a cluster of trees. Looking closely, I could see a rope looped over one of the lower branches, with its other end tied out over the water. Maybe I just didn’t see it. I mean the angle was a bit odd and I was awfully busy looking at the… the thought trailed off. I couldn’t fool myself, I knew better.

I shuddered, but continued to make my way to the water. No matter where it came from, we had to have it to survive. But as I approached, I found my fear swept away as I became caught up in the majestic beauty of the area. The water sparked and seemed to call to me, inviting me to strip off my clothes and go for a swim. None of that, I thought to myself, You’re not leaving yourself that vulnerable out here, but… oh hell, there probably isn’t harm in going wading. Finding a convenient rock, I sat down, took off my hiking boots and socks, and rolled up my pant legs.

The moss underfoot felt wonderful as I approached the water’s edge. Sticking one toe into the water to test the temperature, I was again filled with a compulsion to just drop my clothes and dive in. I even found myself unbutton a couple of buttons on my shirt, before I stopped myself. Just wading I told myself firmly, and stepped into the water. It was cold, but as I started to step out, the air seemed to grow warmer, making the water seem perfect. Refusing to think about it, I simply walked along the water’s edge. The cool water seemed to wash away much of the anxiety of being in such a strange situation. A short way around the edge of the pool, I found a rock that jutted into the water. I climbed up onto it and made my way out to the edge. Sitting down, I dangled my feet in the water and laid back to bask in the sun.

The heat, and the downside of the adrenalin rush I’d been under all day conspired to make me sleepy, and I found myself drifting off…

"Aren’t you hot?” I heard a soft feminine voice whisper and I opened my eyes slowly. Kneeling next to me was a strange creature of light and wind. I wasn’t afraid. This was impossible, so I must be asleep. I’d always had strangely realistic dreams, and this was no exception.

“Yes hot,” came another voice, seemingly from inside my head. I gave the airy creature a puzzled look and she nodded down toward my feet. I looked down and saw a figure seemingly made of the very water of the lake. The creature smiled and ran a cold wet hand up my leg. The cool of the water caressing my sun-baked leg made me shiver.

Oh, I thought to myself. It’s going to be one of those dreams.

“Swim with us.” The first creature said, reaching out and caressing my face. I closed my eyes at the touch; it was as if the air itself had been given substance. Its hands slid down my neck to the opening of my shirt. They tugged at the fabric for a moment, and then, as I opened my eyes, proceeded to undo the buttons.

I started to object, but the creature shushed me with a finger across my lips. Soon it had my shirt opened, and the hook on my bra undone, leaving my breasts exposed. I gasped as the creature leaned down and began to gently suckle and kneed them. As I was swept away in the feeling, I felt other hands upon me, lifting me up, pulling my clothes from me. I didn’t resist. Why should I? This was a dream.

As the last of my clothing was removed, I opened my eyes to see the water creature reaching for me. With a smile, I stepped into its arms, and gasped in pleasure at the feel of its body touching mine. “Come,” it sent, caressing me, “Swim with me.”

I looked into the creatures eyes, smiled and nodded my head. It released me and I dove off the edge of the rock into the water. The cold of the water against my sun-baked flesh was incredible, and I wondered how I had ever managed to resist. As my head broke the surface, the creature rose from the water next to me and said, “Let’s swim.”

I struck out for the rocks under the waterfall as the creature slid back into the water. Suddenly I felt something touch me, caressing my legs, my breasts. Any part of me that was within the water. I gasped in pleasure as the water itself seemed to grow fingers, tongues, even teeth at times. I reached the rocks, and started to turn and swim back when the creature rose up in my way. With a smile, it reached down and lifted me from the water, placing me on half submerged boulder.

It pushed me back, until I lay with my face barely out of the water and the rest of my body submerged. I cried out as I felt the hands return, their caresses more ardent, more demanding, forcing me to respond. Then, I felt my legs being gently tugged apart and the watery hands begin to explore my inner thighs. As they reached my most secret of placed, I started to try and pull away, only to find the hands holding me firmly to the rock as my lips were opened and a tendril of water was pushed inside. I cried out at the coldness, but was shocked to silence as the tendril swelled, filling me. All I could do was lay there and gasp as the sides of the tendril began to ripple, stroking my delicate insides and then up across the sensitive nub of flesh. Within seconds I was swept away in a wave of carnal pleasure. My gasps of delight seemed to please the creature using me, and it stepped up its explorations, surging in and out of me as if trying to bring me to greater and greater heights. To which my body seemed more than willing to agree to. I had never felt anything like this my usually analytical mind swept away in sensation, higher and higher I climbed, until I could take no more and my mind fled into darkness.



I woke up on the rock, the sun still beating down on my and my feet asleep from where they had been hanging over the edge of the water. Still shuddering from the aftereffects of the dream, I scooted myself backward to allow my feet to wake up. “Damn” I said, reaching up and rubbing my eyes and suddenly stopping when I realized my hair was wet.
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:48 PM   #19
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I nodded as she made her observations about the change in direction, my lips pressed together in concentration as I focused on tromping steadily forward. With the pack on my back and the cooler in my hands, I was, indeed, well balanced, but that earlier estimate of “ten or twelve pounds” went out the window in damned short order. I was carrying a full-on ass load of stuff here, and it wasn’t twenty yards slogging through that damned grass before my body began telling me about it.

Still, I wasn’t about to say anything to her about it, and just dug in and went, as my brother would have said. My arms were burning, my legs starting to shake, and my shoulders had long since been screaming in protest by the time we came over the last grassy swell that led down to her camp, and I was so happy I almost cried. Turning to glance at her as she spoke, I barely registered what she had said, mostly hearing something about me going ahead and she was going to look for something. ”Yeah okay.” was all I could really manage as I walked forward, determined not to let her see me stumble, not to let her see me weak.

Reaching the camp, I sat the cooler down and shucked the weight of the pack as fast as I could, falling on my butt beside my abandoned load as I sucked in air, and I reached into the ice-filled behemoth I had lugged all the way here and retrieved a cool beer as a reward for my own efforts. Pressing the cold metal of the can against my forehead, I lay back on the ground and rested, simply letting my muscles go lax to ease the strain I had put them through. Cracking the top open, I downed the brew quickly, taking long gulps of the icy liquid and relishing the feel of it cooling my insides. If she wants to move the camp again, I thought to myself, she’d better come up with a damn truck!

Sitting up after a bit, I pulled the heavy pack over to me, and began unloading it, making piles of the various contents around me until the thing was empty, then setting it aside and standing up. I looked over the gathered materials and began separating them even further, creating smaller groupings for medical supplies, foodstuffs, clothing, bedding, and so on until I had a decent Idea of what I actually had to work with before I turned to the difficult task of attempting to set up that monster of a tent.

I cleared the most level spot I could find of rocks and other debris, and unfurled the canvas carefully, making sure that I had allowed enough room between her tent and mine for the various ropes and such, and then began assembling the poles from the gathered mass of sections before me. I managed to get them sorted out in short order, aided greatly by the different marks that were so conveniently carved into the pieces, and lay them atop the canvas, ready to pick them up and put them in place with only a little effort. I stood there, gazing down at the canvas castle before me, and had a sudden revelation, however. It would take more than one person to assemble this beast… and I was currently very alone.

Where the heck did she go, anyway?

Filled with a sudden sense of impending dread, I all but ran back up the small hill to the spot she had parted company with me, and looked around. I couldn’t see her anywhere! My anxiety rising, I remembered her odd expression when we parted, half smile, half question… and she had been holding her head like she was listening to…

Closing my eyes, I calmed my breathing and focused on the sounds around me, hoping that I heard something, anything that might help me find her. The sound that met my straining ears was like a dull roar, a constant, hissing, angry noise that seemed somehow almost soundless in its fury. There were only two things that I knew of that could make a noise like that… and if there was a Jet engine lying around here, I’d eat my shirt. Rushing forward, a sense of pure relief flooding through me, I ran up the spine of the hill in front of me… and looked down from the crest of the waterfall I had heard into a valley filled near to bursting with lush green foliage! Trees... strong, sturdy, and seeming like they had been here for hundreds of years, crowded close enough to one another as to rub shoulders and cross branches. Here was Oak, Walnut, and Birch… Pine, Maple, and Poplar… Each of them looked completely natural here, and yet I knew somehow that they had not been here before. This was another Tent, a second Cup… These were here because we wanted them…

At the base of the falls, once I could tear my eyes away from that wondrous wood, lay a deep pool of cool water shrouded by a shifting layer of fog, surrounded by a sandy beach and the occasional rock, and on one of these wide stones, lay Theresa, naked and writhing slightly… I blinked my eyes and looked again, unsure of what I had seen, and was frustrated in my attempt to get another look by the damned fog and mist of the falls! Scowling now, and shifting around in hormone-driven intensity, I looked for a sign of the flesh I had glimpsed, seeing in my mind again those full breasts, those lush hips and soft skin… Damned fog!

It shifted at last, having obscured my sight for no more than a second or two, and revealed her again, laid back on the stone, her hair splayed out around her, one foot still touching the rippling water, her clothing damp from the spray… Waitaminute. Yup, clothed. Fully dressed. Not naked. Fully confused now, I made my way down to her as quickly as possible, picking my way through the half-grown trees and undergrowth they marched up the side of the hill, and eventually loping across the beach to sink down next to her rock. I looked at her, unsure of what I had seen, unsure if I had seen anything, or had simply imagined it. She scooted back a bit, drawing her feet clear of the water and sat up. I looked at her still, my face a mask of confusion, and watched as she seemed to become startled over the fact that her hair was wet. What the fuck? I assumed she had taken a dip, hell, I would have, and had fallen asleep waiting for her clothing to dry out a bit… What the hell was going on here?

Still uncertain, but determined not to be the one that looked stupid in an unusual situation, I heaved a sigh and looked at her with the best smile I could muster at the moment, trying to let her know everything was alright without having to actually say it and lie. ”Well,” I said in a friendly tone ”If you’re good and rested, it’s gonna take the both of us to put that tent back up.” Looking around at the falls and the surrounding woods I grinned at her again and couldn’t help but add ”Nice place you’ve got here!”
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:52 PM   #20
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Oh God, I thought to myself as I surveyed the sparkling water, Please let it have been a dream. My reverie was brought up short by the sound of D’s voice. I looked up at him, too shaken to even be startled by his sudden appearance. At his second statement, I realized that something was different and followed his gaze out across the changed landscape. These deep and mysterious woods reminded me of other dreams I’d had over the years, one’s I really didn’t want to think about. I began to shudder and felt panic well within me. I wanted to scream, or to at least jump to my feet and flee… This thought was interrupted by the tingling of me feet as they finally started to wake up. The stinging pain brought me back from to reality, and using all my strength of will, I squelched the panic with the realization that even if I could get my damn feet to work, there was nowhere to go.

I gave myself a moment longer to recover and then looked back up at my companion. “You must like the woods D.” I said softly, warily surveying the darkness beneath the trees as I rubbed my feet, trying to get them useable. “Because I sure didn’t wish for them.”
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Old 02-24-2010, 06:54 PM   #21
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I saw the wave of panic rise behind her eyes, watched her cringe away from the surrounding trees as though they held the demons from her nightmares… and watched her battle her way back from that ragged edge through sheer force of will. Strong girl, but I couldn’t help but wonder what had brought on such an attack in the first place. Glancing around to the shadowed treeline, I nodded slightly, saying ”Yeah, I like ‘em well enough… I grew up playin’ in woods about like these, and know my way around ‘em, I guess. At least we won’t run out of fuel for the campfire anytime soon.”

Smiling a bit, trying to put her more at ease, I looked at the pool so close at hand before turning back to her and saying "So if the woods are mine, does that make the water yours? How was your swim, anyway?”
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:02 PM   #22
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"Well," I said shakily looking out across the water, "I wasn't planning on going for a swim. I was wading, and then sat down on this rock to enjoy the sun, and then..." I paused for a moment and glanced up at him. Maybe I should just...No I couldn't. He'd never believe me, and anyway, I still don't want to admit what happened to myself. "You showed up." I finished quietly. I reached up and pushed my wet hair back from my face, "I have no idea how this happened." I whispered. I closed my eyes for a minute, hoping he wouldn't press the issue as the word “Liar!” echoed in my brain.
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:07 PM   #23
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Cocking one eyebrow at her, it was easy to see that she wasn’t saying what had actually happened here, just as it was easy to see she didn’t want me to ask… ”Oookay…” I said with a quiet shake of my head, letting her know I realized something else had gone on here, but said nothing else about it. Instead, I changed the subject quickly, choosing instead to focus on the fact that she seemed to be without her usual footwear. ”Where’s your shoes and socks girl? You can’t walk back to camp in your bare feet!”

With a sardonic smile I followed her pointing finger, and left her momentarily to retrieve the abandoned foot covers from the nearby rock she had placed them on. Once I had returned, I noticed her wincing as she struggled to get her toes to move, and it struck me then that she may have been laying across that stone for quite awhile… long enough, at least to have cut off circulation to her feet. ”Here, let me take care of that…” I said gently, kneeling in the soft sand and setting my retrieved burden aside as I took her left foot between my hands. Carefully, slowly, I began rubbing her tingling flesh, kneading it gently to increase the flow of blood. I manipulated the musculature, working the tendons and ligaments as well as I slowly eased my way up the foot to her ankle, and onward to the calf.

Glancing upward, a gentle smile on my face, I raised my brows a bit at the fire I saw in those green eyes, catching her staring hard at me for a split second before she turned away. My mind snagged that image, burning the glimpse of those smoldering eyes into my memory, and mixing it liberally with the half-imagined, half-remembered image of her naked, writhing body. Shifting slightly, allowing myself a bit of room in my suddenly tighter jeans, I finished one foot and moved on to the other, working it over with the same care, the same clinical focus… but one hell of a lot more enjoyment.

Finished at last, I assisted her in slipping into her socks and hiking shoes, lacing them up for her since she seemed to be thinking so hard about something else, and then stood, offering her my hand as she began rising on her own. Standing together, I waited for a second longer than I should have, lingering close to her unconsciously before backing away from the stone, and then shook my head with a sigh, turning to look at the steep hillside and try to find some sort of path to the top. As I was doing so, I couldn’t help but notice the fact that she began making her way toward the rocky face on the other side of the pool, and reached out to grab her hand, stopping her short and looking at her with a definitive “what the fuck” expression. ”Are you nuts lady?” I said with a half smile, giving her that familiar raised brow once again. ”Your legs would never hold up if you tried to climb that right now. They were quivering jello when I was workin’ on ‘em! No ma’am, we’ll be goin up through the trees. It’s an easier slope, and there’s plenty to hold on to.”

Having made up my mind, I set out, leading the way up through the break I had made coming down, really the only trail through the undergrowth, and had gone about twenty yards when I noticed that she was having a great deal of difficulty following me. I waited, one arm looped through a wild grapevine clinging to a nearby Walnut tree, and allowed her to catch up before speaking to her, saying ”Alright, here’s what’s gonna happen. I’m gonna go first, actin as a break, and your gonna hold on to the back of my belt. All you have to watch out for is where you put your feet, okay? I’ll do the rest. I forgot that you ain’t real happy with the woods, and I’m sorry, but there ain’t no way I could haul you up that bluff. Rocks is your territory, not mine.” Nodding to her, making sure she understood, and then making sure she had a good grip on that old leather belt of mine, I started off again, going slower this time since I was hauling both of us, and because I didn’t want her to slip in the brush. Pulling somebody is a damn sight different than carryin ‘em as dead weight.

In short order, and with my arms and shoulders screaming at me again, we reached the clearer terrain near the summit, and she was able to make her own way, and we were able to cover the remaining distance back to the campsite without any further incident… and without words. She seemed worried, subdued somehow, and I was just too damned tired to do anything but plod onward right then. I looked at the tent, lying there all ready to be set up, and grunted in disgust, plopping down on the cooler instead. ”We can put that up here in a bit,” I said in a gruff voice, my hair hanging down in front of my face “But right now I gotta take a few and rest. Can I get some water please?”
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:12 PM   #24
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My mind torn between trying to sort out what had happened to me and trying to get my feet awake, I responded numbly to his question about my footwear, but when he took hold of my foot, my mind was swept back to the feeling of being caressed by the wind and the water. My body answered immediately with an uncalled-for heat, and I found myself staring at him in a new light. I quickly realized what I was doing, but not quickly enough to keep him from catching me.

Embarrassed, I wanted to tell him to leave me alone, but I could not deny the improvement in my circulation. So I sat in silence and allowed him to finish, holding my body tightly in check the whole while. But when he was finished, instead of backing off and letting me put my shoes on, he stayed and helped. Determined not to allow him to see what he was doing to me, I stayed silent, my eyes adverted to keep him from seeing any errant emotions within them.

Finally, he was done and stood up. I started to stand, but found my legs were still reluctant to obey my orders. My gallant companion held out his hand to help, and I gratefully accepted. For a moment, my whole attention was focused on my legs, and whether they would support me or not, but I soon became aware of his closeness, and found my attention focused a bit higher in my anatomy. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a deep ripple in the water’s surface, any my body instantly cooled in the flash of fear it invoked. Wanting to get the hell away from this place, I turned and started toward the rocky trail I had used to get down here.

To my surprise, he stopped me, insisting that we take the other route. Puzzled, I look up the way I had been going and realized that what had been a steep, but navigatable path, was now an almost sheer cliff face. Refusing to think about it, I simply turned and followed him into the foreboding woods.

I had no more than stepped beneath the overhanging canopy of trees, when I began seeing furtive movements in the undergrowth out of the corner of my eyes. Thinking I was having problems climbing, D stopped and waited for me to catch up. Which I quickly did, not wanting to be left alone with whatever the hell I kept seeing. The going soon became tough, and in my weakened condition, I was thankful for his help as we fought our way out of the woods.

Once we reached level ground, I became aware of how exhausted he was, and realized with a shock that he had gone from carrying his camping gear to climbing down and back up that difficult trail, hauling me with him on the way up. I smiled and shook my head. I knew he shouldn’t have carried all that stuff by himself.

We made it back to camp, and I grabbed at water bottle and brought it too him. “Now just relax.” I said, walking around behind him. I placed my hands upon the back of his neck, and gently ran them over his shoulders. Just as I had thought, the weight of the pack, and the climb and done a number on his muscles. “I’ll try not to hurt you,” I said with a sigh, “But I’m not guaranteeing anything, you’re a mess.”

Ignoring my earlier feelings, and focusing only on his pain, I began slowly massaging his neck and shoulders. Gently at first and then harder as I sought out and released the knotted muscles. While I worked, I noted his reaction when my hands brushed the back of his neck, and I had to smile. “So, my friend,” I thought to myself, “I’ve discovered one of your weak spots.” Because of what I had just been through, I was careful not to linger in this obviously sensitive spot, but instead went onto the shoulders and lower back.

“Ok.” I told him after I managed work out the worse of the knots, “You think you’re ready to put up your tent?” I asked him with a smile. He nodded and climbed to his feet. I was surprised to see that he had already set everything out, and even more surprised at how well we worked together. With very few words exchanged, we soon had his tent up and all his “new” furniture arranged.

I looked around his living quarters and spied the chuck box. “Now, if you would care to look through the food that our hosts provided,” I said, pointing to the box, “I’ll go get cleaned up and then see if I can get the fire going. I could sure use some lunch…” I stopped and looked at the sun where it was sitting low in the horizon, “Make that dinner.” I amended with a smile and then turned and walked off to my tent.

Once inside I stripped off my clothes, desperate to either confirm or deny the reality of my earlier experience. To my dismay, I found confirmation. For one thing, my bra was not hooked properly, and for another, there were three delicate rose petals tucked inside it against my skin. I struck them from my flesh and collapsed to the ground in shock, staring at them where they had fallen. There was no way that they had gotten there this morning, I’d have noticed them. No, they were placed there specifically to prove to me that what I had experienced was real. “You are a bunch of bastards, aren’t you?” I whispered softly, “You could have left me with my illusions, but no…” I reached for the hateful things, planning to crush them and throw them away, but I heard D calling from outside.

I stood up and taking a moment to calm my nerves, I called out to him. ”I’ll be with you in a minute.” Working quickly, I stripped off the clothing I was wearing, finding even more flowers beneath the rest. Grabbing a package of wipes, I cleaned myself as best as possible, and then, working quickly, dressed, tied back my still-damp hair, pasted on a smile, and went out to help with dinner.
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Old 02-24-2010, 07:15 PM   #25
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Taking the water, I downed almost half of it. My body was screaming for liquid at this point, and I wasn’t about to deny it, not now that we had a steady supply. I saw her move behind me, and heard her tell me to relax just in time. I forced my shoulders down, fighting my own responses as my body naturally trying to protect the overly sensitive area at the back of my neck, and only shuddered and growled as her fingers played over the skin. God she was getting me hot!

Between this, the could-have-been scene on the rock, and that undeniable look as I had been working over her feet and legs, I was definitely able to tell you how tight my jeans were. I was just glad she wasn’t working me over from the front or I’d have had a hell of a time keeping my hands to myself… not to mention the fact that it would have been a bit difficult to hide the rampant hard-on I was getting! Struggling to clear my mind and relax, or at least get my blood pressure to go down some, I let her work me over, rather enjoying the sensation of her small hands wandering over my body, and truly becoming more able to move as she went on.

By the time she asked if I was ready to put up the tent, I was able to do so, but was a bit disappointed that she had stopped. Having taken the beast down, we sort of knew how to put it all back together, and were able to get everything set up again in short order, down to the table, chair, and cot that had been set up inside. It seemed like we were meshing fairly well, and I was a bit amazed at how well we seemed to compliment one another. It seemed like we had been working side by side for months, and I had only met her that morning!

She called out something about seeing to the food, and then went off to her own tent to change out of those damp clothes, leaving me to look through things again on my own. I had no real idea about her actual cooking talents, so made sure to cover the basics. Biscuit mix and evaporated milk, potatoes, carrots, and tinned beef. Digging around, I found a tub of lard, and another of bacon fat as well. Heck not only did the tent look as though it was from some frontier revival, but it seems that the food had taken the same flight! I might as well have gotten here in a chuckwagon. Well, here’s to hoping this gal could cook better than I could, or we’d be eating the lard within a month!

Oh man… had I just said a month… Damn! Well, might as well let the nightmares begin.

”Ready when you are Theresa!”
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