“I can't remember.” Lauren looked over at Jonas for just a second, then back at the trail ahead.
Jonas could tell how upset she was, but she was trying not to think about it. They were walking along the trail, which matched the route he was originally planning on taking. It was a coincidence, but not too surprising. There were a set number of trails maintained throughout Coven, and this one was a major one, with spurs and side paths. It was also generally straight, without excessive switch-backs except where elevation changes made it more prudent.
She couldn't remember… She couldn't remember how she had got to the stream. She couldn't remember how long she had been there. She was lost, but couldn't remember where she was lost from.
In general it seemed like her memory had an enormous gap. Names, places, and events all eluded her. She knew who she was. She was Lauren. Lauren…what was her last name? She had to have a last name.
She stopped walking and leaned against a tree, arms crossed. She had to have a last name.
“What's up?” Jonas stopped and looked at her, his thumbs hooked behind his pack's shoulder straps.
“Think I should find a campsite?”
Lauren shook her head. “No…I just need a moment. Maybe we can rest for a bit.”
Jonas set his pack down. “Sounds good to me.”
John Walsh's car ambled along the forest maintenance road. It wasn't dark yet, but that was okay. John had to find out if he needed to feed the cave's song. If he did, it would be another late night.
His car bounced along the tight road, over ruts and irregular dips along the dirt trail. It was only one lane, but almost never used. Walls of trees surrounded the vehicle as he passed through tight turns and down irregular straight-aways. The sound of branches rubbing against his car was omnipresent.
A couple of hikers were up ahead, a guy with a full beard and a girl in a red sweatshirt. He honked once, and they turned around. After they moved off the trail he honked again, and signaled a thank you with two fingers. Maybe tonight wouldn't be as late as he thought.
Jonas and Lauren could see the sun getting low in the distance, a sign of the coming dark. Jonas did some math in his head to determine how much time they had left before they would need to make camp. They didn't have much. “We need to stop. If we don't break for the night we'll be setting up camp in the dark.”
“I don't care.”
“I do.” He stopped. “We're not getting to the cave before nightfall. We stopped for too long earlier today. It happens, and I'm sure whatever is in that cave can wait till tomorrow.”
“We've got to be close.” Lauren kept walking.
Jonas sighed. This was probably true. He drummed his fingers against the straps on his pack. He didn't like where this was going.
Jonas smiled. He walked up to her with a smile. “Having a change of heart?”
“Sssh.” Lauren held up a finger.