The air grew cold and the wind was near constant, leaving me chilled to the bone. A man stood in front of me and repeatedly yelled the same word before finally grabbing my restraint and yanking me to my feet. I was clumsily led into a tent where the rope binding my hands was removed with a knife. I was then pushed to sit on a cot. My first thought was of relief now that I was out of the wind and my hands were free. The solider left the tent and I was alone. I lifted the blindfold from my eyes. The wind whipped against the tent, causing the fabric to undulate with each gust. I noticed that the cot I was sitting on had a blanket with a bloodied helmet on top of it. This did not look good for me; I was certain that these men had not just decided to give me my own tent. I had a bad feeling about what could come next. I reached out to touch the fabric of the tent—it was lightweight, nylon maybe.
Summoning all the strength I had I slunk down behind the cot and used my teeth to gnaw a small hole in the side of the tent. I paused to listen to the activity out near the fire pit. I poked my finger into the small hole I had created and started to quietly tear the fabric. Slipping one hand through the hole, then the other, it was like diving into a pool as I pushed myself through and slipped out. It was dark and I realized now that I was on a mountain top. Without hesitating, I ran from the camp, praying my absence would go unnoticed long enough for me to hide.
Minutes later I heard shouting coming from the campsite. I thought it would be near impossible for them to find me now. Looking back, I could see men getting into a transport while a few others started beaming flashlights into the distance, so I ducked behind a tree. I had moved down the mountain a good distance; the terrain between us was rather barren but with enough boulders and scrub brush that concealing myself was easy.
I waited them out and after maybe only a half hour the flashlights stopped. Still, I waited a while longer before standing up and stepping out onto a rock face, giving myself a good vantage point. I could just barely make out the moon’s reflection on the horizon off the coastal waters. I thought if I could traverse land to the coast I could head north to the fishing drone station and signal for help.
Before continuing down the mountain, I took inventory of my injuries; the bump on my head was large and very sore, crusty with dried blood. I thought about waiting and sneaking back into the enemy camp to steal their transport but my fear of being caught was too great. I would have to move on foot.
Slowly and steadily I made my way down the rocky slope, step by step, occasionally jarring or twisting my ankle in the dark. It wasn’t until now that I realized I was shaking from the day’s events; it was hard to keep everything straight but my mind had moved into survival mode. To stop now would mean certain death.
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