Matt clutched a moss-coated branch and lowered himself into the river. The water reached his crotch before his new boots touch the bottom mushy with weeds and mud. He waded out into the river and looked up and then down stream. “Darshan!”
He had to crawl up the slippery embankment to get back to the path. “Darshan!” When he found the little bugger he’d kill him. He took a few deep breaths. Anger and panic made logical thinking impossible. It put you and everyone around you at risk.
Where to begin? He continued along the path going further from the road, checking the forest on his right, the river on his left. The trail ended, beyond only marsh crisscrossed with rotting deadfall, draped and coated with layers of moss. What was that? A blur, the devil’s club swayed, a twig cracked. Wind? But there was no wind? Maybe a deer? It started to rain.
Could Darshan have got past him and headed home? Maybe when he waded in the river? Matt had to call Raminder. She’d be at the house by now, worrying, unless Darshan was with her? What if he wasn’t? He made the call.
“Matt, where are you guys?”
Shit, Matt’s stomach twisted, his chest felt constricted. “Rami, Darshan and I went a short hike and we got separated,” Matt’s voice sounded foreign, his words unintelligible.
“What? Where are you?”
“Just on the other side of the bridge. We took the trail that runs along the opposite bank and—“
The line went dead. Should he call 9-1-1? The first few hours of a search were crucial. There were still at least five hours of daylight. Matt sobbed and the sound surprised him. Right now, he would give anything, even his own life, to see that cheeky face peek out from behind a thicket of huckleberries.
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