Lorrie marked passage of the fifteen hundred metre mark with a misstep on a loose rock, the result a twisted ankle ballooned beyond the confines of her boot.
The injury on day one of a planned three-day excursion revised plans and created a logistics issue, the need to descend along eleven kilometres of jagged, steep trail. The intrepid hikers chose ignore as their immediate action and embraced hope as their ally.
Morning, it will ebb some by morning, Chloe proposed, and if not, by the following. We’ll hold here and enjoy ourselves.
With dark came the climbing moon, its orange hue different. To one, trees verdant by day evolved into ominousness. A large boulder near their site shivered Chloe, remade from harmless glacial deposit to sacred table in one jump of her formidable imagination. Flames from the campfire flickered projections on the boulder, fuelling skittishness.
“You make me laugh,” Lorrie said. “We camped here because the rock offered advantages for coping with my ankle. Now you believe someone will sacrifice you on it.”
“Well, look at how it’s slotted right in line with the notched V to the east. At least the moon didn’t centre.”
“It will as it rises.” Chloe hadn’t thought of the possibility. Shit.
Dinner segued into tins of sipping whiskey for dessert. The buzz generated comforted one in pain. Talk shifted to the hike, in actuality a first date. “You sure you wish to do this, Chloe? I’ll understand if you change your mind.”
“The date? Why would I change my mind?”
“Did you tell your family we planned this as a date?”
“First clue for me. I don’t want to be your test drive.”
“Oh, you’ve dated women before?”
“Lorrie, I’m certain. I want to be with you, even if that rock is the gateway to hell.”
“Come on. Help me over to the rock.”
“So it doesn’t spook you anymore.”
While not crazy about the idea, Chloe assisted Lorrie across the short distance, and both claimed space upon the feared boulder. The two snuggled, taking in the splendour of the sky. Closeness bred desire, and confident Lorrie took control, not at all thinking about test drives. A kiss, two, and backwards they stretched across the boulder. Sweated bodies paused to shed clothing.
On that night and rock, Chloe sacrificed her body to one she knew she loved.