After recent dramatic events, the hiker seeks solace on a lonely trail to clear his head. Will he find the solitude and silence that he craves?

His arms swung rhythmically, his backpack moving with his body as his powerful legs carry him forward.

The chafing sound of the backpack against his body has long since stopped bothering him. He’s grown deaf to the bump-bump of his water bottle against the hip strap.

He was here for the silence. The kind of quiet that makes even the most stoic of people uncomfortable. Only the rhythm of your steps and your thoughts keep you company, with no more background noise than that of Mother Nature going about her business.

For him, it’s just what the doctor ordered: some solitude to work through the confusion of emotions these last few months has created. He allows his thoughts to run along their own track as his body carries on mechanically.

At the crest of the last hill, the silence suddenly felt eerie. Nothing moved, even the birds and insects  kept quiet. He ignored the goose bumps suddenly racing up his arms, surveying the valley spread before him as he slaked his thirst. Some distant trees obscured the hut where he’ll be spending the night.

This is the last stretch. His body has fallen into the same, comfortable rhythm again. The water bottle is keeping the beat with an empty, hollow sound as he walks through the tall grass.

He can see the hut in front, promising a night of well-deserved rest after a meal consisting of food that can only possibly be endured on hiking trails like this one. No one else in their right mind would choose to eat freeze-dried chicken à la king. He was looking forward to it, the strains of the day taking its toll on his energy. At least he’ll sleep soundly tonight, for the first time in weeks.

With a grateful grunt he lowers his backpack to the floor of the hut, his eyes adjusting to the darkness of what will be home for the next couple of days. Grabbing the kettle, he heads outside with his small hiking stove. No better way to settle into a new home than with some coffee.

He steps outside, immediately noticing the absolute silence of his surroundings. The lack of the usual cicada orchestra and other noises is deafening. A chill pricks his neck.

A sudden squawking jerks his gaze to the right, where some birds noisily takes to the air in fright.

The End

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