Peering out into the fog, Shannon could hardly see around the tree she hid behind. In the dark, every sound seemed magnified and the fog seemed to interfere with her hearing. She held her breath, trying to determine over her hammering heart the direction she had heard a twig snap.
Panic surged and she was certain she heard whispering voices. She dared not shift although everything hurt. Sucking in air as quietly as she could, Shannon concentrated on her breathing, trying to calm her heart so she could hear.
A hand slammed down on her shoulder and another over her mouth. Shannon jerked with sudden fear and adrenalin as she was pulled back to a solid chest and a voice whispered into her ear.
She could not focus on the words until she suddenly recognised his scent. Horse and cigarettes. Ryan! She almost collapsed with relief and nodded her recognition. Ryan hauled her deeper into the bush, not letting go, then pushed her up high into a eucalyptus.
Together they huddled in the fog letting the whispering voices and tiny cracking of twigs pass by. Night turned to dawn and they did not move. Eventually the voices returned, unsuccessful in their hunt, passed beneath and moved on.
Hours later, Shannon and Ryan unfurled themselves from the tree, dropping soundlessly to the ground. Pain spiking as blood moved through cramped limbs, they stretched in mirrored movements, as if they had trained under the same master.
Moving swiftly through the bush, they made good time and reached the river and the boat moored there for them. They silently pushed out and slipped aboard, rowing far down the river before starting the motor and moving more swiftly.
Not another word was spoken until they reached the agreed upon meeting place. Simon was there, “Alright?” They nodded. “It was a close call”, Ryan muttered, “They passed right under us, twice! The bastards never look up.” Shannon nodded, too exhausted to speak and not yet feeling out of danger to join in the bravado.
They moved to the waiting trucks and piled in. Simon drove faster than Shannon would have dared. She appreciated the speed. Anything that got her further from that hellhole was fine with her.