Hiking with my friends, I was struggling to keep up with the more athletic members of our little group. It was hot, my pack was heavy, and I was desperately thirsty. I called out to my friends in front of me, asking for them to slow down.
"C'mon, man! It's only a little bit farther to the cliffside! You got this!" my friend Jonny yelled back to me.
"You guys just go ahead. I'll catch up once I get my breath back!" I replied.
They hesitated for a minute, but then collectively shrugged and kept moving. I took off my pack and sat down for a minute.
Leaning against my pack, I took out my water bottle and drank heavily from it. I felt exhausted, and all I wanted to do was take a nap. I couldn't, though, not with the ultimate destination so close. I figured I could rest more easily once I was back with the rest of the gang. I managed to stand up and steady myself. I reached over to grab my pack, but something gleaming caught my eye. Something was shining from amidst the roots of an old birch tree a few yards away. I disregarded my pack for a minute and went to investigate.
I shouldn't have.
Lying just under the tree was a shard of glass. At first, I thought it might be a piece of a mirror, because it had been reflecting at me. Picking it up, I was able to see through it, so I pegged it as a piece of a window or something. Either way, it was just a piece of junk. I was about to toss it away, when something flickered across the glass. Startled, I dropped it on the ground. Maybe the heat and the exhaustion were getting to my head. I picked up the glass again. I don't even know why I picked it up the second time. I was only going to throw it anyway, shouldn't dropping it have sufficed for me?
I should've left it on the ground. I shouldn't have even picked it up to begin with. When I picked it up, it seemed like someone was staring at me through it. I rubbed my eyes with my free hand, thinking I'd seen my reflection or something. When I opened them again, there was no reflection. At this point, I was ready to just get moving again, so I cocked my arm to chuck the stupid thing.
As I went to finally throw it, someone behind me suddenly grabbed my hand.
I turned around, thinking maybe Jonny or one of the others had snuck back around. It wasn't any of them. It was someone i'd never seen before, bigger than me and far stronger. I think it was a male, but it was hard to be certain. The worst part was their smile. The widest, most unnatural smile I'd ever seen.
They spoke to me. "Thanks for getting me out of there." Their voice felt like icy knives sliding into my ears.
That smile was the last thing I ever saw.