Chapter 2: Lost in the Woods

“If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?”

“And there’s the closing bell, signaling the third consecutive day of losses on Wall Street.” This was not the news that Darren wanted to hear. Things have been growing more heated around the office as the economy continues to cool. The portfolios that he monitors have dropped 17% in the past 8 weeks, causing many of his clients to call with concerns and panic over their holdings. He understands that this was a natural part of the market cycle, but trying to convince his clients to focus on the long term is another story. He knows that the following week will bring more of the same headaches. Fortunately, he had a plan.

Last week, Darren called his childhood friend Kyle to see if he wanted to get away for the weekend. It has been over a year since they’ve last spent time with each other since Darren took his new job in the city, and the two of them were excited for this chance to get away. The plan was to relive their college days by trekking out to one of their favorite camping grounds out West, spending the weekend kicking back while sitting around the campfire and telling stories past midnight. His bags were packed and the car was set to go. All he needed to do was stop by the store when he reached the town outside of the campsite and pick up the food.

Closing his books and turning off his computer, Darren hopped up and rushed out the door. He knew that traffic would be heaving today as people wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Dropping the top on his convertible, putting in his favorite rock CD into the player, he pulled out of the parking garage and headed out of the city.

Breaking the silence of the evening, Darren’s car pulls in to the parking lot in front of the old country store. Mr. Mackey has owned and run this store for the past 30 years, and Darren was looking forward to surprise him. Kyle and Darren would always pop in and say hi to the old man every time they came out to the campsite, and he always took interest into how their studies were coming along. It was almost as if he were an uncle to the two college kids, and Darren wanted to surprise him with news of his big job.

Walking through the door, Darren walked straight to the counter and tapped the old service bell. To his disappointment, Mr. Mackey didn’t show up, but rather someone he did not recognize. “Where’s Mr. Mackey?” Darren asked of the stranger.

“You mean the old man that use to run the place? He’s retired. Seems the years have caught up with him. Can’t stay on his feet all day any more, ” said the man behind the counter. “You’re the second person coming in here looking for him today. The old man hasn’t worked here in a few years. What gives?”

“That must have been Kyle,” Darren replied. “He and I are headed up to the old campsite for a weekend getaway like we did when we were young. Dropping by to say ‘hi’ to Mr. Mackey has become a tradition for us.”

“Sorry to disappoint you,” said the clerk. “I hope you two have a great weekend. Hope you can find your campsite in the darkness.”

Darren thanked the clerk and proceeded to pick up the supplies he needed. After ringing up Darren’s goods, the clerk escorted him out the door as he was closing up shop for the night. Loading up his car and heading back on the road, he headed down Main St. out of town to the campsite, hoping that Kyle already had the tent setup. Last think Darren was looking forward to doing was trying to assemble tent poles in the darkness. His eyes were becoming heavy, and he was hoping to unpack his car at the campsite and head right to bed. It’s been a long day.

The campfire has been burning for hours, and Kyle was growing tired. He wasn’t planning on doing all the setup work by himself, but he understood that Darren had a long drive ahead of him. Looking at his cell phone, he was cursing at himself for having a service with poor national coverage. It’s after midnight and he was growing concerned about Darren. If he at least knew that Darren was close, he would leave a light on and head to bed. Thinking to himself that the town was just 30 minutes down the road, he contemplated driving down to see if he could get a better signal, but that would leave the site abandoned, and he didn’t want to risk someone stealing his gear.

Pacing. Kyle finds himself walking back and forth between the campfire and the car. His concern over Darren is beginning to wear on him. His mind tells him that Darren is old enough to take care of himself, but his heart can’t help but be worried. An hour has passed since he last checked his watch, and his conflicting feelings are beginning to drive him nuts. “This is not how I wanted to start my vacation,” Kyle thought to himself. Reaching into the cooler to grab himself another beer, looking for something to calm his nerves, he sat back down in the chair in front of the fire and started to drink. He never had a chance to finish his beer as his exhaustion caught up with him and he fell asleep, waiting for his friend.

Waiting, and worrying.

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2 Responses to Chapter 2: Lost in the Woods

  1. ilikeverin says:

    You’re having tense issues; decide whether you’re past or present tense, and use it throughout. Past is the default, and I’d suggest it for most any type of story 🙂

    Also, “He understands that this was a natural part of the market cycle,” is a little gratuitous “look I’m a Republican/know anything about the economy!” on the part of the author. This might be an opportunity to explore Darren’s personality a little bit more; I suggest having, say, a client call him right after he hears the news, panicking about their portfolio. He could respond by bellowing into the phone about how stupid the client is, softly reminding them about looking at the big picture, go on a rambling story while avoiding the panic at all, speaking to them patronizingly, being somewhat polite on the phone but thinking in his head about “them goddamn ignorant oafish stupid fool liberals”… etc.

    Of course, since he’s evidently gone missing, this might not be so important… but perhaps it could increase our sympathy for him? Or, if he’s an arse, perhaps it could set up a slight change towards the end of the novel? And/or an unexpected plot twist (Darren manages to free himself from the clutches of Dr. Vampiro von Werewolf but leaves the little girl and the old granny in the woods?)?

  2. admin says:

    Reading back through it, I see what you mean. I need to go back and edit it to make those corrections.

    HAHAHA! I could definite turn him into an arse. Might make his eventual outcome “justified.” 🙂

    Thanks for the comments bud. As I said, feel free to rip it apart. It’s the only way I’ll get better as we progress. 🙂

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