Matt had stayed in his room, and let the emotional deluge work its way out of his system. The sadness had welled up out of nowhere, and retreated just as abruptly. He had never been one for second guessing himself, but now.... all he ever seemed to do was replay the moment over and over in his mind.
Analysing possible actions, coming to the same conclusion over and over. He did this often while awake, and even sometimes dreamed about it. But thankfully, that was growing rarer as his mind recovered from the shock of a sudden, unprovoked violent attack.
He quietly hoped into the shower, and let the hot water soothe him, as the water washed away the remnants of the tears. He got out and looked in the mirror at himself with the harshest eye possible. Criticising every flaw, the small amount of flab that was on his body.
If he had trained during high school as well as study, he might have been more toned, he might have even been good enough to date Anna, and this horrid mess would never have happened. Hindsight assailed his reflection, and after a while his resiliency re-asserted itself. Scott thought he had him beat did he, he'd show the prick.
Matt came out of the shower with a towel wrapped around his midriff, and went into his room and changed into his PT gear. As he came out of the room, Ian looked over from the computer and said, "Dude! You sure you should be running so soon? Doc said to take it easy for a while, besides why have a shower first, and then go for a run."
Matt smiled and said, "Don't worry, I'm only going to find the kinks. Most I'll do is jog, I promise."
Ian nodded, "I'll hold you to that, wait up and I'll get changed so I can go with."
Matt shook his head and then said, "No man, got some stuff I want to jog out of me, I'll only be going up the old ranger's trail. Nothing that a toddler couldn't handle. Can you cook tea while I'm out, and I don't mean order take out. There's Hokken noodles, and chicken in the fridge. A chicken stir-fry sounds good for tea."
With that he sat down and put his runners on to Ian's martyred expression about having to actually cook. Matt smiled and then stood back up and exited by the back door and headed out and down the trail that led from the house to the set of naturally occurring animal trails wound through the bush and the sleepy valleys.
Ten minutes into the run, he'd lied to Ian, Matt ached in his joints and muscles. He slowed his pace a little, but he kept running until he came to the rock. His father had first laid out these trails a month after buying the house. He'd been a runner too, said it helped him unwind, he'd marked the trails, with a special shorthand system, indicating level of workout, level of obstacle and level of safety.
Normally he would have taken the right hand path, as it led to a series of mid to high intensity aerobic workout trails that were safe and fairly unobstructed.
Today however, he chose the left path. The rock warned that it provided an extreme muscle building workout. He had never taken this path, his father had told him to stay away from it until he was older and he had a chance to show it to him. More importantly, to never never attempt it alone. Today, the notion of devil may care ruled him, and he took off up the left path.
Within 20 metres of heavy scrub he came to the first obstacle, a rock wall about 5 metres high. He began to have real doubts, even if he weren't still aching from the battering, he would need to be in top physical condition to attempt this path. He pushed the note of caution ringing in his brain down into a deep dark corner and stepped on it, silencing it for good.
Sizing the wall up he took a handhold and started climbing. As he got to the top and looked over the otherside, bare track led up to a ledge that skirted round a cliff face. He then turned around and slowly, with his shoulders protesting all the while, managed to get about half way back down the rockwall before he slipped and fell.
His landing could have been better and he fell onto his rear. As he slowly got up he staggered around for a moment and then looked back up at the rockwall, which had no hand holds that he could reach anyway. This trail must exit somewhere else, so to get home he would either have to complete it, or as he looked over the edge of the marked path.
Spend several hours climbing down and around before being able to head back to familiar territory. He weighed both options for a moment, and then decided to continue, as he turned and took a step, he caught his foot on a barely exposed tree root, which sent him stumbling toward the edge of the trail.
He threw his hands out, trying to save himself on the young tree that was clinging to the edge, it arrested his momentum for a moment, before giving way and sending him plunging down the incline.
He experienced sheer panic for that single moment of flight, before his survival instincts kicked in, he threw his hands out and as he landed he collapsed one elbow and then tucked his shoulder in so that he transitioned from a face forward head plant into a combat roll that saved his life.
The role flipped him onto his back and turned his tumble into a slide. He slid over bare rock, gravel and through various plants and branches till he hit a gulley about a hundred metres down the slope.
He passed out, and when he came to in the gulley, he was covered in mud, scratches and some minor lacerations. He ached all over, but he was still alive and somehow without any broken bones. He tried to laugh weakly at his good fortune and coughed in a spasm of pain.
His aches had aches, but he lived to fight another day. Ian would rip him a new one when he finally managed to stumble his way home, but things could be worse, a lot worse. A moment later a sharp cracking sound reached his ears from close by and he froze.
There wasn't any large feline predators in these mountains, or not that he'd ever heard from the farmers, and they'd go after cows more then they would be lurking around waiting to gobble up injured humans. But he didn't question the sound, someone could be lurking in the scrub, and when you heard a noise in the forest you don't turn to your mate and ask "Is that a tiger?", you just run.
So Matt crawled quietly, and then more with more speed, mentally cursing and then coaxing his bruised, battered and fall damaged muscles to get a little more speed out of them as the need to be away from here consumed him. His senses were on high alert as he creeped through the bush, the sound behind him moved one way and then another as if it was stalking him, and he nearly went into a frenzy at that thought.
He neared a large hole in the ground, probably washed away by the recent rains and turned to make his stand against what was ever out there as best he could.
Matt stood in a crouch awaiting the mystery threat, and what stepped out of the bush was the last thing he expected. Gleaming metal and prehensile appendages, it's appearance shocked him so much, that he forgot there was a hole right behind him and he took an involuntary step back.