The thick forest beside the pristine beach, the waves crashing against serrated rocks, the exotic flora and fauna. All this seemed like a dream, albeit a very vivid dream. I was used to the finest things in life, and the place where I found myself now wasn't exactly my natural habitat. Not that I didn't appreciate nature in its truest forms, but it suited me only when it was according to my timetable. Maybe during a vacation, which I hadn't had in the longest time, or maybe when I was chairing an off-shore conference. Being the CEO of a chain of ultra luxe hotels at twenty-three years of age wasn't an easy job. And I did take my job very seriously.
That was one of the reasons why I didn't understand how I had come to be in this strange place. I was headed to this swanky new lounge that was making waves all over town for a round of cocktails with a potential client when the cab had swerved suddenly off the street and into a side lane. The driver had immediately apologized and told me that he knew another route that would take me to Macabre, the lounge.
Fifteen minutes and a dozen texts later, I still did not find my cab merging with the traffic melee on the main streets. My worried brow must have been in evidence, so the driver told me that we were just a couple of minutes off an intersection that would take us to the lane opening into the back entrance of Macabre. I eased a little and went back to checking my mails on her blackberry.
The next thing I knew, I was lying on warm, clammy sand, my ears ringing with a strange hollowness, and the sound of waves. My hair was clinging to the side of my neck and to my forehead, the deep auburn curls disheveled and frizzy. My midnight blue silk dress was soiled and damp, and slightly frayed at the edges. I felt around to get a sense of the place where I was, but found only sand between my fingers.
As I fidgeted, I felt a lump beneath my right thigh. I shifted and retrieved my silver silk clutch. Snapping it open, I peered into its dark confines to check my belongings, but could only feel my blackberry, a couple of credit cards, tubes of lip-stain and mascara, and the keys to my apartment.
I was startled and distracted from my inspection when I heard a bizarre cackling sound coming from a distance. Confused, and more than a little irritated, I looked in every direction and could not make out my location. The face of my pearl watch was cracked and the hands were stuck at a quarter past eight. My surroundings were dark, and a forest cover was visible a little away from the coast.
Feeling lost and dazed, I decided to take matters into my own hands and explore the place where I was seemingly stuck. I headed towards the trees at a brisk pace, feeling the night air form goosebumps along my skin. My dress was not made for nature hikes or trips to the beach. Frustrated, angry, and impatient, my heels thrusting in the sand and my dress swishing around my knees, I was forced into slowing down as I neared the beginning of the forest.
From damp sand, my feet now found themselves sinking into slushy mud. My patience was running out very fast now. I could not make head or tail of the situation, and I hated feeling clueless and out of control. I swept my hair off my shoulder and braced myself before walking through the dense foliage.
Just when I had taken the first step into the forest, I heard a loud, wild howl. My steps faltered, and my brain froze. Animals. There must be animals in the forest. I had not thought of that possibility. And then it sounded closer to me than before. A sudden light gleamed through the trees, and I nearly fainted when I saw a couple of men loping towards me.