He Moves Along the Trail – G. Appel

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He moves along the trail. The temperature dropped to freezing hours ago when the sun left and night took hold. He stumbles along the trail. There is no moon and the thick forest canopy mutes the starlight. He struggles to make out the trail. He cannot let himself stray from it or he may never find himself again. His feet ache from the endless miles he has traveled, his throat burns with thirst. It is all he can do to stay conscious and stay moving.

He lurches along the trail. The trail, the path that he has followed for days, for weeks. The trail is all he has, all else is gone, lost, burned, taken. Tears begin to flow down his cheeks as he again thinks back to the calamity that brought him here. He staggers along the trail. He doesn’t know where the trail leads, nor does he know when it will end. He hates the trail, the path, the course, the track. He hates it because it is all he has, he hates it because it is a constant reminder that he has lost all. It mocks him with its endlessness.

He continues along the trail. He forces his feet to continue, slowly one foot in front of the other. He has to concentrate on his steps lest he fall. He has fallen twice before now, the first as he fled the flames and destruction, the second when the grief overcame him. Both falls were hard to return from, both falls brought him close to quitting, to giving up, to allowing death to take him. He cannot fall, he cannot quit, he cannot die.

So, he follows along the trail. The trail must lead somewhere, the path must end, otherwise why would there be a path? His body is ragged, the bleeding of his wounds has mostly dried out but without food or water he knows it will be difficult for him to go on. He begins to shiver as the cold pierces him, seeping painfully into his bones. Though it pains him and drains him of his will, he knows the cold will pass. A few more hours and the sun will return to heat his body and rejuvenate his conviction. There will be short lived relief as the night turns to day, before the sun reaches its zenith combining it’s heat with the forest’s humidity to torture and challenge him again. So it has been, the constant cycle, freeze through the night and bake through the day. He has accepted the cycle. Though it still challenges him, he knows it will not conquer him. He will walk along the trail.

He will reach the end of the trail. He must. The world must know what has become of his home, his family, his people. The world must pay for whathas been done. He will persevere, he will continue, he will grit his teeth and force his way through, until he has his vengeance.

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