Silence. Overwhelming silence. It seemed as if the whole woods was holding its breath, waiting for Grace to be captured. She crouched behind a shabby, dehydrated shrub that offered no protection at all. Luck was definitely not on her side. The milky glow of the moon illuminated the whole woods, exposing her to the kidnappers, the landscape was devoid of any shrubs, bushes, or trees to give her some cover, and the barren ground was littered with crisp leaves and dry twigs. But even the smallest noise could mean the difference between life and death. Suddenly, Grace heard the soft rustling of leaves –a sound that she usually loved. But now it filled her with fear. Panic-stricken, she glanced around, looking desperately for anything that would help her flee. And then she saw it, not far away –a derelict, rotting, abandoned building deprived of life and family. Looking around precariously for one last time, she sprinted as fast as she could towards what could be her last hope for escape.
I was lost. Hopelessly lost. I looked around to scan my surroundings. I wasn’t surprised to see that I was stranded in one of the worst places ever –miles and miles of barren, scorched wasteland with only a handful of shriveled shrubs and parched plants. Well, at least I figured out now that I shouldn’t have travelled without my G.P.S. I slowly knelt down, ignoring the throbbing cut on my left knee, to check if there was anything I could do about my worthless car –it had broken down twice already but luckily, at places where I could get help. This time, there wasn’t a single living organism in sight. I glanced at my grimy hands and tattered clothes. I desperately wanted to wash them with the water in my last bottle. But I knew better. After years of solo travelling, I realised that you can sacrifice anything but water. I needed to save it for genuine emergencies. After inspecting my wounds to make sure it wasn’t too serious, I stood up to scan the desolate landscape once again, now that the sun was rising. The clear blue sky was both a relief and a hindrance. Visibility would be much better now but the blazing heat could take me one step closer to death. I squinted to get a better view of my surroundings and a wave of joy washed over me as I saw a building the distance. A dilapidated, rotting building, but still something that could save me. Even though it was very unrealistic, I secretly hoped that there would be an extremely generous family with a perfectly working car. But, seriously, even a run-down rest house would do. I was dead tired. I gathered my belongings –a worn out backpack containing my travelling gear, clothes, and my perishing supply of food and water and began trekking towards the building, overcome by strong determination and hope.
Finally, I reached the house. It was even worse up close. 3 stories of decayed, rat-infested wood, cracked, murky glass windows, flaky paint and rusted metal. A dusty sign board was hanging on a corroded iron nail hammered onto a wall full of cracks. Once upon a time, there might have been something written on it, but now, the house stood here alone, slowly dying, long forgotten. I sighed as I realised that I was still stranded here with no help. But that didn’t kill my curiosity. I warily ventured into the house. The floorboards creaked threateningly, filling me with panic. Even though I was quite light, I silently pleaded to God, hoping that the floorboards wouldn’t come crashing down. As I proceeded up the stairs, I heard a faint whimper followed by a feeble cry. Not even daring to move a muscle, I waited for what seemed like an eternity until I heard it again –a faint moan. Terrified, I stood still, not knowing what to do. But when I heard the next cry, curiosity won over me once more and silently tiptoed up the stairs. I willed my trembling hands to push open the decaying door and peered inside. A small shriek escaped my lips as I got a closer look of what lay in front of me. It was a person. On the verge of death. Sprawled in a pile of filth and dirt. I gently inspected the person’s wounds as she looked at me with big green eyes filled with terror, pain, and gratitude. “What is your name?” I asked while cautiously pouring water over her infected gashes. In a hoarse voice that barely sounded human, she replied, “I am Grace.”