by M. J. Joachim
John taught Tess everything she knew about hiking. Wandering through the cave, she recognized familiar signs of direction. Tess knew which path would lead to daylight, having learned well the lessons John taught her in previous months. This was her final test, the one that would license her to teach others the joys and thrills of hiking.
“We must follow the water,” Tess urged. “It will lead us to the river. By following the river, we’ll find our way out of here.”
John smiled reassuringly. He knew Tess was right. Still, he took her hand and headed toward the forest, without saying a word. Tess looked at him in disbelief, her head turning back toward the river, her eyes pleading with John to listen to her. She wondered how she could have failed the test already. John only smiled without looking back.
Upon arriving in the middle of the forest, John stopped at the biggest redwood he could find. He pulled some spikes and a harness from his backpack, helped Tess attach them to herself and said, “Climb, Tess! Climb! Reach the canopy before I assemble my rifle to pass the test. Or fail and never hike again.”
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain