Sam can feel the anxiety beginning to build as the sun droops low into the trees. The more the trees hide the sun, the more they hide Sam. And she does not want to be out here when the entire earth decides to hide the sun. She has been in similar situations, but never has she been forced to spend the night in the bush. Never has she been this lost.
Her feet slip into a desperate rhythm, and her eyes scan the gloom for a hint of familiarity. It seems as if the forest has folded in on itself, leaving her trapped on a never-ending treadmill of faceless forest. Her progress cannot be felt, and she knows that she will not find her vehicle before dark. All she wants now is a road.
She scolds herself with a nervous and bitter laugh, shaking her head and wondering what her friends would say. How many times has she been warned not to hike alone? She does wish that she had a companion, but all those that she has hiked with are stringent to remain on the path. And that just isn’t a real hike.
Sam stops and rubs her arm over her forehead. The sun is nestled in the woods like a dying flame. She moans as her stomach squeaks with nausea and her limbs turn warm and syrupy. The weight of her pack and her tired limbs are forgotten as she strains hurriedly down a deer trail.
Her mind races as she tries to calm herself. A night in the woods is nothing to worry about. She will have a full day tomorrow to find her way back. She curses as she thinks of how her friends and family will worry. It is their fault that they worry so much. Why do they have to make her feel guilty? Ironically, these are the very thoughts that cause her to feel guilty.
She slows her feet and gains control over her emotions. “I will just hike until I find my way or lose direction completely.” The sound of her voice is comforting. “And if I am still lost, I’ll just lie down under a tree and relax. No problem.”
She sees an open section and decides to cut through to investigate. But as she reaches to push aside the thick bramble, her hand stops against something solid. She tries to focus in the descending gloom, but her eyes do not catch up with her sense of touch. Her hand is pressed against a solid flat surface. But she cannot see what it is.
She slips forward and presses harder. There is no give, unlike most things in the forest. She lets her hand drop to a new position, but every time that she feels she has cleared the object, it is there again when she pushes forward.
“There is a glass wall here,” she murmurs. She feels an unfamiliar excitement and wonders if she is closer to civilization. But the invisible wall is perplexing, and something feels very wrong. She steps close to the wall and looks for the edges. The air is dark but clear, and for all her eyes can see, the wall does not exist. Feeling suddenly doubtful, she takes a step forward. Her nose and forehead hit the wall hard, and she jerks back, feeling more anger than pain.
She frowns. Something was missing from that collision. She reaches forward and taps the wall. There is no sound. No vibration. She steps back and lets her pack slip from her shoulders. With an impatient stride, ready to prove her imagination wrong with simple logic, she gives the wall a wide berth before moving forward again. This time her knee hits first, and she stops before colliding.
“It’s a fence. Like a border. But made of…glass.” It feels wrong that she should call it glass, but she does not have any other explanations. At least she has been distracted from her previous worries. She begins to follow the wall. After a while of running her hand along the frictionless surface, she pulls away with a crackling laugh.
“It’s a bloody force field,” she says, feeling giddy. “That is what it is. That is what it is,” she repeats. “There must be something top secret on the other side.” She laughs again, feeling as if the wall itself is her own secret. No one else would believe her if she told them.