The Mirrored Woods
Stop! Stop! Please stop! I was yelling at my friend who was running from something that she thought was a bear. It was just a raccoon. We were camping at the Canadian provincial park called The Whitesnake River. It was our first camping trip without any adults around. We had road our bike for hours to get there. It was beautiful out but it would get dark real soon. We needed to set up our tent quickly and start a fire. We set up our Northface tent with barely any trouble at all. We argued a bit at what direction the doorway would be but eventually we agreed for it to face north, and then joked about the tent being called Northface. My friend Jackie was the same age as me which is seventeen, we were friends since we were in kindergarten. We were sick of the city and thought we would take off. No one knew where we were. My mom would think that I was at her house and her parents would think that she was at mine, since we stayed at each other’s houses often. Since it was late September there was hardly any other campers there. There was a little store and a restaurant that was already closed for the year.
Now that the fire was going thanks to my great skills we started making some food. All we were going to eat was some Ramon noodles with beef jerky broken up in it, and some bannock on a stick. Everything tastes so much better when you are outside. After we finished cleaning up we decided we would go for a walk around the campsite and across the highway. We were walking along and pointing out some small animals and different type of birds when we came across this old woman who was camping all by herself. Well, maybe there were others but we didn’t see them. She had a small camper with colorful blankets on ropes all around. We waved as we walked by but she did not wave back. O.K. oh well, maybe she cannot see well. Jackie said that she noticed that one of her eyes looked closed. We continued on and crossed the highway. The sun was going down what seemed faster than usual. We decided to head back. When we came back to our campsite we saw a raccoon that was riffling through some of our stuff. I yelled get out of here! It scurried away into the woods. Hmm, we should of put that away. We built up our fire and stoked it to get it ready for the jiffy pop and sat around the fire watching the starts. We saw the old woman getting water at the pump with a bucket that looked like it was from the 1920’s. It was rusty at least on the outside and it had a type of symbol on it. I had eagle eyes and I could see far away real well. I always bragged about it like it was a super power. When she finished with the pump she looked back at us as if she knew that she was being stared at. She looked creepy and quickly at us. We watched her walk with water falling out of the bucket at every step. Her shoes were weirdly shaped, sort of like elf shoes. Jackie and I just stood staring, why? Probably cause there was nothing else really to look at. Suddenly, out of nowhere this big black dog barks at us and is real close to us. It looked like it was part wolf. It has a heavy collar on it. I panicked and yelled, get out. I could feel my heart almost jump out of my chest. Then we heard someone called it, “Brickly get over here!” and it left. The voice sounded old but strong, with a slight European accent. Jackie said we should of brought bear mace with us. We laughed after being all scared and then continued to stare at the fire.
The morning came with a chilling dampness. I got up before Jackie to start a fire. I first ran to the bathroom just wearing my two piece long johns. You couldn’t really tell that they were long johns they were black and didn’t have the waffling pattern or whatever. I was just opening the door to the bathroom and I got a whiff of something. It smelled like pine or turpentine. I looked over the old woman’s camp and I saw the biggest pot cooking on the fire. It really looked like a witch’s caldron. She was stirring it. She looked over at me just as I walked into the bathroom. When I came out she was standing right there with her dog, I kind of jumped back and said,” Oh, good morning”. She said, “good morning, you see lights last night?” “What? Lights? Ahh no, where?” Across the water. They moved about the waters, floating, fast, green and white. And the wolves were howling. She talked softly but abrupt at the same time. I said, “no I guess I slept through the whole thing”. Were they the northern lights? She started holding her heart and breathing heavily. I asked are you ok? “Yeah, yeah come Brickly its time for our medicine”. She walked away with her scary dog and I went back to start a fire.
I grabbed some birch bark and some small twigs from under a pine tree. I then grabbed some bigger branches and broke them up. The fire pit was damp and it took a while to get going but the sweet smell of birch bark burning gave me some comfort. I heard Jackie moving around and coughing. Her cough sounded like a choking cough. “Are you ok Jackie?” She didn’t answer but just put her head out of the tent and threw up from coughing. “Oh gross”. “What happen are you sick”? “I guess so”, she replied. “I usually get bronchitis at this time of year maybe it’s that”. She got up and I made her sit in front of the fire with her sleeping bag around her. I gave her some hot chocolate and offered her some instant oatmeal but she didn’t want any. She started again with a wicked choking coughing fit. “Jackie are you going to be ok”? She answered, “I think so”. Just then we saw the old lady again and she walked right into our camp and this time her dog was not with her. She said, “Come, come with me”. Jackie and I just looked at each other I didn’t even have time to tell Jackie about the lights. We followed her to her camp. She said come I have medicine for you. Jackie and I exchanged a look to each other that said weird but ok.
When we arrived to her camp she motioned us to follow her inside a tent or shelter type of tent. I noticed thankfully the dog was tied up to a post. There were rocks in it. And it was steamy and hot in there. She poured Jackie a hot drink in a can and gave her a mitt to wear. It was steaming hot. She said sit and then she poured the same drink on the rocks, and it steamed up a mediciney piney smell. I guess it was like a sauna. Jackie reluctantly sipped the drink. How is it? I asked. She said strong but it feels good going down. Jackie’s eyes looked sick. The woman put more liquid on the hot rocks. The steam was making me too hot. I said, “I’ll just be out here for a minute.” The woman said,” Yeah, too hot”. She then came out and I said, “My name is Lily” what is your name? “Dooriya”, she replied. How long have you been here? She answered a couple of weeks. “My son, he chopping wood… enough for the year …out in the bushes.” He come back to get me in a few days. I told that we rode our bikes out here from the city. She said, “Very nice” with her slight European accent. I poked my head back in the steamy tent and asked, “Jackie are you ok?”” are you ready to go back to our camp?” She did not answer, she fell asleep. I told Dooriya , “she’s sleeping”. “Oh yes, It is good”. “She is sick, her eyes, skin and cough looks….sound is bad. She will be good soon”. You go, she stay and sleep. I hardly knew this woman but I thought it would be ok. I better go and collect wood. And check out our camp I thought. When I got back to the camp I noticed the ranger driving around slow and I gave a wave cause that’s what you do when you are camping. It’s a friendly good morning and saying that all is good here. From our camp I could see across the highway and I noticed a baby bear cub up in the tree. I was a little worried cause that means that mama is nearby and violently protective.
I thought of calling home to let my mom know where we were but I just wanted to get away from all the stress and sickness. My mom just went through 6 months of chemotherapy and although she was doing well I didn’t want to hear the verdict of what the doctor might say. I felt bad for leaving but at the same time I couldn’t deal with it anymore. Besides my aunty Suzie was staying with her and our neighbor Alice was always popping in. Oh Alice was the most nosey neighbor ever. She annoyed me and she tries to hide her snoopy personality with an over caring attitude. I could see right through her. I once caught her reading our mail that was left open on top of our fridge. And she always tells my mom if she sees me with anyone and at any different place. I once saw her looking through another neighbor’s garbage. Her husband was a truck driver and was never home. My mom liked her despite of everything I told her, she just laughs about it.
As I was stoking the fire and thinking about the problems back home and I felt the stress leaving me. It was a long weekend and we were supposed to go back before school on Monday. I thought I would go get Jackie and see if she was up to going fishing. I walked over there and the Dooriya said, “eat”, she passed me a plate of what look like stew. It had meat and leafy herbs with potatoes in it. Hmmm, I thought for breakfast? Why not, I was hungry. It was actually really good. It had a thick broth and the smell was amazing. “Thank you”. “Your friend she still sleeping”, I said, “Well, I will wake her up now”. “Oh no, you must not wake her, her body is healing still”. “OK”, I thought. What should I do? I thought. I sat with the old woman and looked around her camp. I noticed some fur hanging on one of her make shift clothes lines. I looked down at my amazing dish of food. She noticed and said “rabbit”. I got it this morning after the lights. I never tried rabbit so I just put my plate down and had immediately lost any appetite. I thought is she even allowed to trap at a public campground? “The lights”, I asked. “What do you think it was?” She said, “time……… time……..coming to end”. I got a chill down my spine. She is old and crazy and I need to get Jackie out of here. I saw the ranger drive by again, the rabbit fur was out of sight so I know he didn’t see it. He smiled at me and the woman gave a wave. He nodded to her as if he knew her. I poked my head in. “Jackie? Jackie? Let’s go fishing?” She moaned and moved her foot slightly and said, “No, just a little bit longer………the, th-e-e- lights”, she mumbled. At least that is what it sounded like. “That food made me sleepy. I told the woman that I m going to my tent to lie down, and I thanked her for the food. Could you tell my friend Jackie please?” Yeah, yeah she replied. I slept and had the strangest dreams. I dreamed that I was all alone at the campsite and that the ranger had the dog Brikley ‘s head on. What kind of herbs were in that food? I woke up in a sweat and heard a few rain drops falling on the tent. I poked my head out of the tent and it was dreary and depressing, good I thought because that is how I feel. Jackie? She is still not back? I put my flip flops on and tried to find my rain jacket in my backpack. I found it and put it on and starting walking down the curved road to Dooriya’s camp. As I got closer, I couldn’t see it. Oh maybe it is further down. I started run–walking and there was no Dooriya’s camp. “Oh my god where is Jackie”. I started yelling, “Jackie! Jackie! What the hell is going on? Where are they? I looked where the camp was and it was totally cleaned out . Tears were welling in my eyes as I was looking on the ground for something but I didn’t know what, through my blurry vision I noticed a bloody rabbit foot in the gravelly mud. The rain started pouring down hard now. I just stared across the lake and watched the rain hit the water.
In a semi-shock and disbelief state, I finally got the words out of my mouth and yelled, “Help!”, “Help!” I ran back to my camp for my phone and looked; of course it was dead, just like in a movie. I ran to the highway and tried to flag down a car. One little black car just clipped by me and didn’t stop the next one was a semi trailer truck and he stopped up the road a bit. I said “please help me could you call the RCMP?” “What is wrong? What happened?” he asked in a raspy voice. “My friend, she went missing! Someone stole her and took her away, an old woman…. He said “calm down”….. “And tell me slowly what happened”…. “Just please call RCMP, please”, I begged in a half crying panicked voice. “Ok ok ok….. breaker breaker,, rcmp…. 911 emergency” There was static and then I heard a professional women’s voice… “What is your emergency?” , “I have a young lady here who said that her friend is missing” he answered matter of factly. Her voice again, “What is your location?”… “Whitesnake river campground on highway 44 East….. “A ranger will be there shortly and then we will send a car out”…… “How long has the girl been missing and her Name and description please”…. I said she has been missing for oh im not sure? Cause I was sleeping, maybe 2 hours, I don’t know, Name and description please. “Her name is Jackie Shier, she is seventeen years old, she has red wavy hair, about shoulder length, she is 5’6 , black yoga pants, pink flip-flops , She said, ok a ranger will be there is 10 minutes. “ “Oh God, mister could you call my mother please he grabbed his cell phone and asked me to shut the door. At the same time we saw a bear in the ditch so I quickly and gladly shut the door. He said that he had to go up the road about 500 feet and pull in to the store so that he would be off the highway. The store… yes I will ask them if they saw anything I thought. I jumped out of the truck which was apparently much higher that I thought, I fell and scraped my knee and one of my flip-flops broke. I threw them aside, I ran into the store and the grouchy looking man said… “We’re closed for the year” as he was taking some stuff off the shelf.…. “Please help me sir, have you seen the old woman who was camping here? “ “Nope, I haven’t been out at the camp for a few days, he answered. Just then I heard the ranger car pulled up. “Hey, you saw the woman she took my friend, remember you drove by? The rain was pounding down and he said, “Please get in the car and try to calm down young lady until the RCMP get here they will then get a statement from you. I felt like I was going to go into shock or something, was this a bad dream? I just stared at the window wipers going back and forth and remained quiet. Swish….Swish..Swish…. , it was relaxing me… I just wanted to stare at them and not think….swish….swish.
I woke up in a hospital bed; I guess I was there for observation. I must have gone into shock. There was a dingy green curtain around the bed. Wait a minute was this even a hospital? Where am I? I looked around and I didn’t see any nurses or hear any hospital type of talk. I looked on the floor and I saw carpeting and the ceiling light was a saloon type of chandelier that was covered with dust. There was a white paned window with the paint peeling off, I looked outside and saw a far away distant me in a window lying on a bed. As I looked around more, my heart started racing a bit and I tried to move my hands but I couldn’t they were in restraints. I thought of yelling but I couldn’t. “Where was I”? I heard some distant shuffling of someone walking towards me. I felt a panicked sweat coming on. Suddenly, I heard a door creek open and a then the curtain opened it was a man he asked if I was O.K.? It was the ranger in plain casual clothes, I said get me out of here. “Oh sure, you needed those on you were out of control.” “No, I wasn’t where am I?” He untied the restraints and I noticed my wrists were all red. Thankfully, I had all my clothes on. I need to go and where is my friend and the RCMP, what happened? Please mister I have to call my mom and I need to find my friend. “Shhh….Shh… Here have some water and then I will help you.” As I had a sip of water everything started going blurry, I couldn’t keep my eyes open…I was semi-conscious when I saw the old woman walk by…Hey I said and then dosed off.