“There it is,” John said, walking into the field. “Do you see it?”

Andrea pushed passed a thick bush between two trees and lifted her head when she reached the clearing. “Yeah, I can see it,” She said, peering into the grassland before her where it was not difficult to point out the gaping wound in the earth. “That's the crater alright. Keep your eyes open.”

“I'll go first,” John said, bringing his weapon to the shoulder and walking cautiously toward the muddy chasm.

The sound of steel slipping against leather resonated as Andrea drew her sidearm. “Let's hope we got here first,” She said.

Both of them lowered their weapons when they got to the crater. John searched the horizon as Andrea let her eyes wander over the clay and mud for clues.

“There, do you see where he climbed out?” She said, pointing across to the other side.

John searched the area her finger had directed him to and soon found the telltale disturbed earth. “Let's go see how fresh it is,” he said, immediately stepping off to make his way around the crater's edge.

Andrea holstered her pistol and knelt near the edge where the tracks exited the pit. She wiped sweat from her forehead. “To be honest I didn't think it would be this obvious, or this deep. What do you think? Thirty, maybe forty feet?”

John was keeping watch on the treeline and the hillside. He responded without breaking his vigilance. “I don't know, but this field is a kill zone.”

Andrea took her turn to assess the situation tactically, and agreed. “You're right. We should get moving.” She got up and looked at the nearby grass. Even with her relatively untrained eye, it wasn't difficult to notice the bent over shoots of grass, and the path the man they were tracking had taken to leave the field behind. “See that?” Andrea said, tapping John on the shoulder.

John took a quick glance. “Yeah, he went into the forest.”

“Well, let's go. Others will be here soon.”

“Right behind you.”

Together, they crossed the field and entered the treeline. It only took a few moments before they discovered the first campsite. Andrea's heart was pounding in her chest at the sight of it.

“I didn't think it would be this easy to track him John. These embers are still warm, he was here just ten hours or so ago.”

“Don't let the heat fool you Andy. He could have left the camp when the fire was still going, which could put him a full day ahead of us.”

Andrea's brow furrowed. “You're right.” She stood up and playfully punched him in the shoulder. “Stop being right.”

“Just being realistic,” he replied.

Andrea scanned the area again. There had been a lot of movement here, and she tried to trace his passing to and from the site. She imagined him collecting wood and pine boughs. She imagined him resting just at her feet as she stood before the lean-to. “So close.”

Something was biting at John's mind, he was uncomfortable in this campsite; like stepping on a grave. “We should get a move on.”

“Where to from here?” Andre asked, unsure as to which direction to travel.

“There's no water,” John commented. “He would have to find water.”

“So we need to find water,” Andrea said, nodding her head. “Alright let's go.”

The pair trudged on into the forest in search of fresh water, which with luck, would lead them in the right direction.  

The End

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