Who's coming? she wanted to ask, but her throat was still so very dry. She worked her tongue around her mouth in hopes of finding some saliva hiding in some crevice, but found none.
Too sore to hope to fight off whatever or whoever was coming, Miranda crawled through the underbrush until she felt she was buried deeply enough to avoid being seen in the dark. She ran her fingers up and down the mossy branch in her hands, sizing up its potential as a weapon. It felt weak and brittle, as though it had fallen from its place on the tree weeks ago. She dropped her mossy branch and felt around her for something a little heavier, a little stronger.
She groped fruitlessly for several minutes. She was about to give up when she felt something odd. Metal. Metal in the undergrowth? What's it doing there? She wrapped her hand around it and yanked it toward her. It looked like a piece of a car's bumper. Not very strong, but its ragged edges were sharp. She could hear footsteps now. The bumper shard would have to do.
Emerging from the shadow of the woods came three people, dressed strangely in flowing robes.
"She was here," one of them said.
"She still is," said another. "I can feel her presence."
Heart pounding, Miranda backed farther into the underbrush, trying to move as quietly as possible. SNAP! She'd cracked a branch. She looked down to see the very same mossy branch she'd discarded. Traitor, she thought ruefully.
One of the people stepped toward her.
"Come out, Miranda," said the first person who'd spoken. "We will not harm you."
Miranda stayed silent and crouched down lower. What good is hiding if they can sense me?