Sailor climbed with a renewed impetus, searching for the source of the mysterious music. Nightfall approached, and the air grew cold.
I stumbled in the darkness and fell down into one of the hollows between roots. Sailor turned back. She stepped down to help me up with a firm forearm grip. In her frank, practical way, she said, “This shit is insane. We left under an hour ago. Now it’s dark.”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Should we turn back?”
“Let’s keep going. We’ll be going downhill once we turn back.”
Holding hands now, we climbed at a ferocious pace. The cold air turned to wind, blowing Sailor’s hair back, pressing against our clothes. The wind howled and moaned over the fading song of the crickets.
We leaned into the wind, climbing for what seemed like an hour. As the night grew colder, darker, the howl of the wind died slowly away. The sound of the crickets dissolved entirely.
Presently, a sound something like the soft fuzz of a radio came from high above us. Rain had begun to fall. The thick canopy of the giant, primeval trees protected us, but it would only be a matter of time before rain penetrated the canopy.
We were tired now, climbing more slowly, our hands freezing cold, gripped tight. It was ridiculous to hold hands and climb – it felt as if we could pitch forward and fall with the slightest misstep – and yet somehow it worked…as if the magic of the forest recognized the sweet power we invoked through our contact.