“Behold, the road less traveled!” Ben pointed to a fork in the trail with a dramatic swish of his hand.
Wide and well trodden, the trail on the left was lined with bright green clovers promising luck. Sunlight streamed in clean lines through the redwoods kissing the sky. A brown board announced ‘Big Basin Trail’ in bold, white letters.
Ben looked wistfully at the other prong in the fork.
It was a narrow dirt road with nothing but a small board nailed to a stump. “Fairy Dust Trail” was painted in cursive across it.
He unfolded his map. “Fairy Dust Trail? Weird, I don’t see it on here.”
I turned on my phone. “Can’t check maps on here. Zero bars.”
“Fairy Dust trail sounds interesting, doesn’t it?” Ben said. I knew exactly what he was thinking.
“Ben, don’t even…Remember when you were seven, you tied a towel around your neck like a cape and jumped off the tree in the backyard? This idea is worse than that.”
“Relax, sis! When was the last time you did something adventurous? After all, the road less traveled makes all the difference.” He winked.
“Don’t go all Frost on me!” I brought out my big sister voice.
“Come on! Just one mile and we’ll turn around, I promise.” He heaved his backpack over his shoulders.
“One mile.” I couldn’t believe my stupid little brother had talked me into one of his crazy plans. Again!
The woods were dense and dark here. It smelled woodsy mixed with a strong animal scent. There was no birds chirping, just the sound of twigs snapping beneath our feet and my water bottle clanging rhythmically with my steps. The wind picked up, making the redwoods chant something ominous.
At the one mile mark, Ben took his backpack off and knelt down on the trail.
“Benny, you okay?” I whispered.
“Yeah, I guess.” He took deep gulps of air. “This place is…eerie.”
Something swished in the bushes nearby. A coyote howled in the distance, making the hair on my neck stand up.
“Okay, let’s head back now. Fun’s over.” I helped Ben get on his feet and turned around. “Benny, Benny, the trail! It’s not there any more! We can’t go back!” I shrieked.
There was that howl again. My heart fell into the pit in my stomach. Whatever it was, was getting closer.
We broke into a run, until we reached a clearing. I saw the lights first. A man in formal white shirt and grey slacks stood outside a short office building. Relief washed over me. Was I hallucinating?
There was a board outside.
“Rob Keating.” The man offered a handshake. “Want to make a call? Infinity has bars here!”
My brain was in a haze. “Why do you have an office here in the middle of the woods?”
“You’d be surprised how often people take the road less traveled. Makes it a good spot for business.” He grinned.
This is in response to the Week 2 prompt of the 13 week streak I’m participating in. The prompt was – “An hour’s walk from camp, there is a fork in the trail not marked on any map.”