Clay dragged his feet along the gravel path. The road that sat parallel to it was now home to his old beaten up Jeep.
“Stupid piece of crap,” he muttered to himself as he looked over his shoulder with a scowl. Clay focused straight forward towards the nearest town, remaining completely ignorant to his scenic surroundings.
He should’ve guessed that today of all days his car would break town; it was the tip of the iceberg. His work was becoming unbearable with his horrible boss and suck-up co-workers and today Clay had really let them know how he felt. At the morning meeting Clay listened to all of the business jargon about targets and sales and so on and sat in his chair, deflated. It wasn’t until the topic of bonuses was brought up did Clay start to take interest. His boss, Mr Ramsay, had ‘regretfully’ told his staff that their bonus may need to be cut. Ramsay had acted torn up about it but Clay could see through his fake sincerity. Clay exploded and threw some harsh words around in the heat of the moment. He’d stormed out and headed home and this was how he now found himself storming away from his car.
Clay ran his hand through his sandy blonde hair and blew air out his mouth. He dreaded to think about his next step in life.
His literal next step was echoed with wail. Clay whipped his head around towards woods which lay beyond a grassy field to his right hand side. Clay could faintly make out a female figure with long bright auburn hair and a dark green cloak. He turned his body towards her and squinted, his full attention captured. She began to wave him in a beckoning way towards her. Without thinking Clay started walking.
Clay passed through the long green grass of the field and stumbled towards the woman. The closer he got the more he could see of her. She was tall and slender and her pale skin contrasted to her fiery hair. Clay was now within twenty feet of her and as he walked he was trying to understand what was happening. She kept looking behind her into the wood and then back to Clay. He picked up his pace and called over to her.
“You alright?” He immediately scolded himself for the uninventive greeting.
Clay was now face to face with her. Her deep green eyes were wide and dominated the soft features on her face.
“My dog, I’ve lost him in the forest,” her voice was earthy and cracked as she spoke. She looked down to the ground and back up at Clay a sense of desperation in her eyes. “Could you possibly help me look?”
He was memorised by her raw beauty. That, and he was a sucker for a damsel in distress.
“Of course, lead the way.” He gestured into the forest and she spun around and headed in.
“So, what kind of dog is he?” Clay walked beside the woman and turned his head towards her as he waited for an answer.
“He’s a Jack Russell,” she smiled having quickly calmed down, “I think he saw a rabbit or something.”
Clay let out a small smile. He was pleased with how his day had turned around to his current situation.
“I’m Clay by the way,” he extended a hand towards her. She touched his hand and shook it in a fashion that was soft yet firm like a warm evening wind.
“I’m Summer.” Before she’d finished speaking a huge grin spread across her face, a mysterious flicker in her eyes. Clay found himself smiling back.
They continued into the forest, looking all around for the small dog. All around them were bright green bushes and old oak trees. Clay looked up towards the treetops. They allowed for some of the warm sunshine and heat of the day to creep through and the shadows that were created danced along the forest floor. Summer caught him looking up and down.
“Beautiful isn’t it?” Clay moved from looking at the ground to meeting her eyes. She was searching his face as she waited for an answer.
“Yeah, it really is.” She smirked and pointed in front of them.
“I think I saw something there.” She was indicating towards a denser area of the wood in the distance. They both picked up their pace.
“Is it normally like him to run off?” Clay asked, faking interest. Summer chuckled.
“Yeah, I guess it is.”
As they walked further into the forest their surroundings grew darker and the greenery that once surrounded them turned brown. Clay eyed up Summer while they walked. She really was exquisite. The dark green cloak floated around her while her hair bounced off her back. Clay was conscious that his work attire was pretty standard and unimpressive. He hoped she wasn’t too judgmental.
They reached a clearing in the forest. The ground around them was dirt and dead branches. Clay looked around searching for the dog. Perhaps if he could find it Summer would be grateful and would offer to see him again. Clay’s eyes were drawn to a fallen over large tree. The roots were exposed to him and in their shadow he saw movement.
“I think that’s him over here,” Clay stated in a masculine deep voice. He jogged over while Summer glided behind him silently.
The hole in which the roots used to be was deep and Clay placed a hand on the trunk steadying himself as he peered in. He saw dark shapes move but couldn’t make out the dog.
“Come over,” he called over to Summer while still looking, “I can see something but I’m not sure it’s him.” As Clay turned to Summer her hand reached out and grabbed his shoulder. She seemed larger as he crouched next to the hole. A breeze had picked up around them and dead leaves swirled around Summer. She smiled at Clay as she stared in his eyes, the deep green looked electrified with colour.
“The forest must feed.”
Clay stared at her bewildered and confused by what she was saying to him. He opened his mouth to say something and as he did so Summer switched her hand on his shoulder to a kick in the ribs.
Clay was sent tumbling downwards into the hole. He landed on his back looking up at the distant sky. Summer was standing on the edge above him. Her hair was whirling manically with the wind and he could see her wicked grin from metres below. The ground around him began to move. Branches and soil whipped around him covering his body and pinning him down, unable to move. Clay watched as the wicked grin that had thrown him in here disappeared from sight and darkness took over.