The sun was setting, according to the time on my watch. Not that I could tell in the fog. It changed from pearly to gray. I shivered in the cold, damp air. The grayness was disorienting and I had somehow left the road and walked out onto the moor. I don’t know how I had missed the transition from pavement to moor.
It was evident that I was walking through grass and heather and other such moorish plants. What was not evident was the direction back to the road. I couldn’t even navigate by sound. The road wasn’t busy, so no traffic was to be heard. No animals could be heard and I assumed this meant animals don’t go out in the fog. Even though stupid humans do, though it wasn’t like this until the sharp turn in the road.
I tripped and went down on hands and knees and landed in freshly turned soil. I sat and felt around to find what had tripped me. A brick? I leaned in to see better and yes, it was a red brick with some dark smudges. I rubbed my knees. They weren’t seriously damaged, but they were dirty.
I heard voices. They were far enough away that I couldn’t make out words, but could tell the direction.
“Hello!” I called loudly and stood up.
Well, shit. How was I going to find my way back?
“Hello,” a man said from closer than I expected and I jumped.
“Hey, can you help me get back to the McCloud Inn? I stumbled off the road and got completely turned around.”
“Might be able to.”
“I can,” a woman said from my left.
“Jesus!” I exclaimed as I jumped again. “How did you get here so fast. You sounded quite a distance away.”
“Oh,” the man said, “we weren’t that far. The fog does strange things with sounds.”
“Just follow us,” the woman said.
“I would if I could see you.”
The fog stirred in front of me, but I could see no one.
“Just follow my voice,” she said.
Yowling erupted and I jumped again, but this time my heart rate stayed high. “What is that unearthly sound!”
“Just a cat.”
“Damn! Someone pulling out its tail?” Adrenalin still pumped through my body as the sound wound down.
“No. They usually do that when they are upset.”
“Go on, then!” the man said from behind me.
I whirled and put out my arms, but no one was there. “Where are you?”
“Here,” he said.
His voice came from directly in front of my face. I could not see him or touch him. The hair on my arms rose.
“Let’s go,” the woman said, now behind me.
I took a step to the left, moving myself out from between the voices.
“Come along,” she said from where I had been standing. “Where are you?”
Goose flesh rippled along my body and I stood silently and kept my breath shallow and quiet, though my heart raced.
“Well, now you’ve done it,” the man said. “She’s well and truly lost in the fog.”
I backed away from the voices and tripped and fell. I landed flat on my back with something underneath me. Had they heard me?
“She’s this way!” the woman said.
I got to my hands and knees. Instead of the rough bark of a log under my hands I felt… a brick? I looked down and—
“Boo!” the woman said in my ear.
I screamed scrambled over the brick. I felt soft soil under me and realized it was again the fresh earth.
“Did you lose her again?”
I crawled slowly, watching the ground. I came to the edge of a pit and carefully leaned over. I could not see the bottom. Yowling startled me and when I jumped, the edge of the pit collapsed and I tumbled in. I fell in a shower of soil, but only went down a few feet. The yowling continued. I was coated in soil, but not buried, thank God! I had landed on my back, and I stayed that way listening to that ear-splitting noise.
I could see something four-legged prowling around the edge of the pit. It was making that awful noise. It stopped and sat at the edge. I got the feeling it was watching me. It was about the size of a cat. I sat in the lumpy soil and thought. I thought, “My what a silly thing you are. Scared of a cat and of the two people trying to help you.” I also thought, “If it’s dangerous on moors, what are two locals doing out here? Only the crazy outlander should be here.”
Well, this crazy outlander must get herself out of this hole. I rolled over and got to my hands and knees and the soil shifted in an odd way. I kept my balance and felt around. Through the grit of the soil I felt fabric. In a pit? I felt around some more and couldn’t interpret what my hands were telling me. I didn’t want to look.
“Oh, here she is,” the woman said from above me.
“She found us!”
The prompt was the word “brick”.