Nancy L. Meek
THE HUNTER’S PATH
I knew there was the possibility I might survive my ordeal. If I did, I knew the police would be asking me questions, lots of questions as to exactly what happened. I knew they would ask me for times and what my kidnapper looked like, what he was wearing…… and I wanted to have the answers ready for them…. that is, if I survived. I had to think positively, like I was going to make it through, or I knew I would lose it. There were a few moments when I felt as if I was going to panic, like when he told me to stop the car and cut the engine off. I remembered him telling me he wanted to find a place where he could tie me up, so he could get away. I don’t think it would have bothered me so badly if I hadn’t known the area so very well.
You see, I had spent my teenage years in a subdivision not far from where he forced me into the trunk. That road which he told me to turn down was surrounded by nothing but woods…… woods deep enough to hide a body in…… or tie one up to a tree where it would never be found. When he told me to stop the car, all I could think about were the boars and snakes which lived in those woods and just the thought of being slashed to one of those trees, like boar or snake bait, almost overpowered me.
When I was about sixteen or seventeen, my best friend and I went hiking through those very woods, having nothing else to do on a sunny summer afternoon. During our leisurely stroll, we discovered a hunter’s path, deciding to follow it to see where it went. Not a good move. Little did we know we would encounter one of those boars at the end of it. The ten-foot-wide path meandered through a forest so thick hardly any sunlight could get through; and the further we went, the more dense and dark the forest became. There was stagnant swamp water, smothered with green algae, running along both sides of the path…… pretty creepy, let me tell you.
The path grew narrower until we found ourselves walking through knee-high grass and weeds. We soon came to the conclusion we had gone as far as we could. Just before we decided to turn and head back to civilization, I spotted something up ahead. It was a wooden bridge. I almost missed seeing it, due to the brownish/grey grass which was growing over it.
Pointing to it, I elbowed Connie and said, “Hey! Look at that! What is that?”
She bent down and squinted hard, trying to come up with an answer to my question.
“Gee, I don’t know. “ She said, “But it looks kinda like a foot bridge. “
Before she could get the words completely out, we heard something moving, the sound of something rustling on the other side of the bridge. Then we heard what sounded like a hog snorting. Well, of course it was. It was a wild boar.
But neither of us had any idea there might actually be wild animals living in those woods, and especially so near our subdivision. It just goes to show you how little we ventured from the safety of home.
We both squatted down to get a better glimpse of this mysterious creature grunting through the grass. After a few seconds of staring in awe, we were able to make out his tusks. He blended in so well with the undergrowth, it was hard to tell where he stopped and the grass began.
With hearts pounding, we entertained the thought of creeping closer, to get a better view; but when we heard his hoofs beating against the wooden boards of the bridge, going from a walk to a gallop, we agreed it was best we should high-tail it out of there. I never knew I could run so fast! I was barefoot, having lost one of my tennis shoes in some deep mud awhile back. They were cheap tennis shoes anyway and one had a hole in the toe, so I had decided to remove the other one and throw it away. Besides, I found I could run much faster without them.
We didn’t stop or look behind us until we were breathless. Fortunately, the boar had given up chase a good way’s back. As we were counting how many of our nine lives we had left, I glanced up at a nearby tree branch overhanging the path, wondering why it was swaying in the wind, when there was no wind. On closer inspection, I saw a black snake, dangling half of his body in the air in front of me.
I said, “Look…… a snake!”
Well, off we went again, like a bat outta you know where. Running into wild boars and snakes was not how I wanted to spend my day.
The memory of that summer day has stayed with me and the very thought of being tied up in those same woods with wild boars and snakes flooded my mind with scenarios which I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I should have realized my kidnapper wasn’t telling me the truth, because he didn’t have anything even remotely resembling a rope…… unless he was going to use his shoestrings.
I seriously believe now that his original plan was to have me turn onto a dirt road further down, which was blocked by a dump truck and two men, who stood on the side of the road staring at us as I drove by.
It’s funny how, even after all these years, we still try to understand why past events happened the way they did. God knew it would have been one of my worst nightmares to be forced back into those woods, to be left as “lunch” for those wild boars. Perhaps that is why He saw to it that those two men were standing there, blocking that dirt road, precisely at that moment.
©Copyright 2002 by Nancy L. Meek