Janet hit the ground, one foot twisted beneath her at an odd angle. The little sticks below her exploded in a chorus of snaps that were drowned out by her high pitched scream. The hill was steep enough to get her rolling, and for a second, she imagined that she must have looked like a rag doll being thrown down by an angry toddler.

When she hit the first of the small trees, she stopped imagining anything.


Janet realized that she was looking up at the stars. She could feel the cold of the ground beneath her and little sticks poking into her back. When she tried to roll over, pain washed over her, replacing the black of night with a blinding flash that made her head spin. Janet twisted so that she wouldn’t throw up on herself and struggled between vomiting and screaming.

She flopped over, turning her head to put as much distance between herself and the smell of her lunch as she could. Briars bit into her cheek, but she didn’t turn away. This was as far as she could go for now. The stars faded away and she tried not to cry.


The sky was still dark, but Janet could see the woods around her. She moved as slowly as she could, trying to avoid another wave of pain induced nausea.

She gasped when she looked down at her leg. It was broken and bloody. Just beyond her boot stood a coyote. Behind it, stood at least another half dozen. They were crouched low to the ground. Each one stared at her, but none of them moved.

“Go away,” she whispered.

The biggest of the animals took a step closer, but jumped back a step when Janet screamed.

The second time she screamed, it didn’t move away.

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