As I mentally processed my surroundings, I felt my knees buckle, and I sank to the ground. Something inside me was broken. The adrenaline that had triggered my fight or flight response earlier was fading; I couldn’t move. I was both mentally and physically exhausted; I didn’t know what to do or where to go from here. The world as I knew it was over.
I managed to army crawl towards a patch of grass before my energy was spent and I collapsed in a sprawled heap of limbs. At least the ground was soft here; I probably wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. My body aching with fatigue, I closed my eyes.
When I woke up a few hours later – I really don’t have any idea how long it actually was; I wasn’t wearing my watch, but it seemed later in the day – I didn’t feel any better. I wasn’t feeling much of anything, but I knew something was off. Maybe I was still trying to process what happened.
Pretty soon, it was almost dusk, and I was cold. I didn’t have anything with me but the clothes on my back, which weren’t much for warmth. My whole body was covered in gooseflesh.
While I was staring out into space, a noise in the bushes behind me startled me. A head with chocolate-brown hair poked through. “Hey, you okay?” it asked. “I saw you running.” I was too stunned to speak. Was I hallucinating?
I wasn’t. The woman – I could tell that much about the stranger by now – climbed through the bush. “Hi,” she said, settling down next to me. “Name’s Mange. What’s yours?”
“Call me Raven,” I stammered.
“You look pretty roughed up,” my new friend said. “Why don’t you come back to camp with me?”
Before she even finished speaking, I burst into tears. Maybe I was going into shock, or maybe it was the relief at seeing another human being. “Hey,” Mange’s voice said soothingly as she put her arm around me. I buried my face in her shoulder and cried harder. “You’re going to be fine, we’re going to be fine,” she said.
When I had relaxed somewhat because all my tears were spent, I realized I had nowhere else to go, so I followed Mange.