It was late at night already. In any other day they would be inside their tents sleeping and getting ready for the next day. However, that was not an option right now since all the group was scattered all over shouting and searching for their missing member.
– "Carlos!!" "ANSWER!!! WHERE ARE YOU????"- where the shouts that could be heard all over the place.
Some hours before, they had decided that it was enough playing in the lake and they had returned to the camp after gathering water and wood. Cynthia thought he would find a depressed and infuriated Carlos waiting for them but she saw nobody in the camp and the bonfire hadn't been started.
–He must be sleeping in his tent– she thought- he must have been so sad he just preferred to sleep.
-Carlos- called Veronica using a natural and confident voice- it's time for us to eat. Help us to start the fire.
However, there was no answer. Veronica repeated the call but again there was only silence. Cynthia knew how detestable was for Veronica to be ignored and she saw Veronica's face changing to an angry expression.
– If you don't want to eat then at least say so!- she said but again there was no answer.
– He's not there- said Enrique suddenly and he entered the tent- it's empty.
– Eh? Then… where's he?
Enrique had told them that his "Far Sight" had increased to a range of 50 m. around but he couldn't see Carlos within that distance. The group got frozen and they seemed to be confused about what to do.
– When did you see him for the last time?- asked Veronica very worried- I thought he was with us in the lake.
– He was there- said Yeny after looking at Cynthia- but then he just turned around and walked into the forest. I thought he was returning to the camp.
They all looked around but there wasn't any clue or thing that indicated he had been there recently. Their only conclusion was that he had gone into the forest alone.
– Why did he do such a thing?- asked Veronica with anger and worry- He must have gotten lost that silly… Why did he go alone? WHAT WAS HE THINKING?
Cynthia looked at Yeny and she knew they were thinking the same. It was very obvious and logical. Carlos had seen Veronica and Enrique playing and laughing in the lake in a very intimate and lovely way. His face had shown a deep jealousy and hatred and in that moment he had just wanted to get as far as possible from there.
– I doubt he even knew where he was going and ended up lost– thought Cynthia looking at Veronica who detected something.
– Anything else you remembered?- asked Veronica looking at her. Cynthia didn't know if Veronica really didn't know or was just pretending. For some reason she felt angry.
– Nothing that can help- said Cynthia making clear her dissatisfaction- The most important now is finding him.
– I'll go- said Enrique who was already looking around- I'll cover a wider area. The rest of you go together. We'll meet here in 30 minutes.
And without another word he entered in the forest at an incredible speed. She wondered how he was able to move like that. Even if they had all increase their speed, it was still what one could consider a little bit more than "normal," but Enrique had taken the issue to another level where any olympic athlete would turn green from the envy.
– Let's go then- said Veronica who started going to the next direction with a very violent aura- and he'd better pray it's not me the one who finds him.
Veronica was looking furiously all over. Her face was contorted in an expression of full anger. She was tired, hungry and deeply inside worried. This had turned from a very funny and relaxing day into an annoying and nerve wrecking moment for the sake of a person who as Yeny had said sometimes, was of no help in this kind of situation.
– How far did he go?- wondered Yeny who also seemed annoyed.
– How could we know- said Veronica who observed her almost out of battery watch- it's already 30 minutes… we'd better return.
After returning, they found Enrique who hadn't been luckier than them. They sat arond the fire and divided the food but it seemed nobody was eager to eat. However, they knew they didn't have the privilege to just waste the food they so much needed. They decided to continue looking the next day when the sun would make it easier.
That night Cynthia didn't sleep except for some intervals and she was surprised to see Yeny soundly doing so. She wondered how she could do it and then she remembered that Yeny didn't like Carlos very much, but even so, she really doubt she was feeling nothing. Cynthia was worried and very scared. Besides that, since the afternoon she had been feeling a sharp pain in her belly which didn't permit her to sleep.
– One of those days?- she thought trying to suppress the pain- weird… it shouldn't be until next week…
The next morning, the group divided again and the looked for Carlos for hours but it was as if Carlos had vanished in the air leaving no trace behind. The voice of Enrique resounded and the girls went where he was. It took them 40 minutes to find the place and when they arrived , Cynthia felt her heart jump and she started to shake involuntarily.
– I found these – said Enrique showing the pieces of clothing and the right shoe that were undoubtedly the possession of their classmate. The jacket was torn apart and pieces of jeans could be found all over the place- the other thing I found is that tree.
The girls looked to where he was pointing and they saw a tree which had been broken apart by what seemed to be a strong impact. They were in silence but Cynthia was sure about what they all were thinking. Enrique scanned the zone again but without results.
– Do…Do you think he was… attacked?- asked Cynthia very scared looking around.
– Damn it!!! Damn him!!!- cursed Veronica without answering, but Cynthia her answer. The proofs were clear- let's keep searching and if we found him I swear he'll prefer having been attacked!!!
But they didn't find him. They searched everywhere once and twice again but the result was the same. Carlos had disappeared and after a week they all seemed to notice this was just a lose of time. Enrique hadn't eaten nor had slept and went further and further every day into the forest. He only stopped when Veronica asked him to do it after the 5th day of search.
– Let's rest- she said as usual but this time she didn't say that they would continue the next day. She seemed to be gathering strength to say the next words- I think it's time to continue looking for a way out of this forest.
Almost a week had passed and they all knew they had to continue but nobody dared to propose it. Nobody wanted to recognized that Carlos wasn't there anymore and that he probably wouldn't return. Even so, Cynthia looked at her frowning.
– What about Carlos?- Cynthia asked.
– We have done what we could- replied Veronica whose voice sounded heavy and very cold- if we want to get out of here we must move… maybe we can ask for help when we found a town…
– Do you even know where we are?- asked Cynthia mockingly- How can you be so sure we'll get out soon? For the time we find someone Carlos could have already…
– What else do you propose?- asked Veronica whose eyes showed a determination that Cynthia had never seen before. She was ready to abandon Carlos without a second thought.
– I don't know!- said Cynthia with desperation- whatever except abandoning a friend who could be in danger right now…
– And you think I like the idea?- said Veronica raising her voice too- everyone here including you, knows that we've searched for him everywhere…
– We can't abandon him!
– Cynthia!!! Think a little!!- said Veronica very upset- you know all the things that are in the forest!!! I hate to say it… but it's time to wake up and to accept the fact that Carlos is…
– DON'T SAY IT!!- shouted Cynthia whose voice had pierced the area with such strength that even Enrique had felt threatened- DON'T YOU DARE!!
– Even if you don't want to accept it- rebutted Veronica after a while- we must go on and you know it… Enrique and I will go. What about you, Yeny?
Yeny looked at Cynthia and then nodded.
– Sorry to say this- said Yenny- but he let his emotions control him and this happened. And… he's not the kind of guy that would survive so much time.
Cynthia just couldn't believe it. They were just going to abandon Carlos without any remorse and just continue as if he never existed. A huge wrath appeared inside her and by doing so she felt the sharp pain in her belly increasing.
-Then it's decided…-said Veronica who didn't look happy at all but Cynthia only felt even more furious.
Veronica always got what she wanted and that pissed her off. Obviously Enrique was totally in favor. She looked Yeny. She never liked to get into trouble…but this… this was a matter of death or life.
– So I'm the only one who feels pity for him, huh?- she asked desperate- we'll just continue and pretend he never existed?
– We have voted- said Veronica not replying to her comment- I'm sure this is what he would have wanted.
– Ha!! Now you have the power of reading the minds of others?- said Cynthia feeling her blood boiling- or is it just your way to silence your conscience?
– Wha…what are you talking about?- asked Veronica offended- you mean it is my fault?
– YES IT IS- shouted Cynthia. Did she think they were stupid?- if you want to pretend to be a fool so be it!! But you know perfectly why this happened!!!
Veronica stepped back by the aggressiveness Cynthia was showing but she knew she was right.
– Never say again this is what he wanted!!!- said Cynthia- you know a damn about him! If you had been the one who had disappeared you know he would have looked for you in the same hell!!
– Cynthia…-tried to say Enrique
– SHUT UP!- she was burning and looked at him with such ferocity he just obeyed- you're supposed to be his friend…
She looked around and saw the different expressions of the people she considered her friends until then… but now she wasn't so sure about what to feel for them.
– Just do whatever the hell you want- she started to walk to the forest- I'll be back but you can also abandon me if you want… I know you don't care anyway…
And she went away leaving Veronica and the rest standing there. She was bursting in anger and she wanted to release it by kicking and destroying something. She walked to the lake.
– "So that's the only thing we are?" – thought with fury- "partners in the good times? And then if someone got lost… what a pity and that's all?"
She felt all her body burning intensely. She started to gasp and then all was so hot that she started to get her clothes off to relieve that burning a little. She needed water urgently. She got closer to the lake but the unbearable pain made her fall to her knees. Something wanted to get out forcing itself through all her body. She wanted to yell but the "thing" was filling all her throat. Her skin was now red and she panicked.
– Help… me… I'm burning…- she wanted to shout but the pain didn't let her. She started to roll on the floor trying to cool down but it was impossible. The "thing" was in every inch of her while the pain tagged along- please… make it… stop…
She tried to crawl to the lake but when she did, she noticed her hands were enveloped in flames. Soon, not only her hand but all her body was on fire. She ignored the pain and somehow managed to enter the lake. The refreshing liquid made the job quickly and she felt how the heat decreased as the same time as she calmed down. When she returned to the surface she passed her hand for her hair. To her relief it was all there and not even a smell of burning.
– Was all of that just my imagination?– she wondered but then he saw the surroundings that were filled with steam. Also, she felt her body was somehow different but she didn't know how to describe it.
After some minutes, she just let go the matter thinking it was a delusion provoked for the stress.
– It's impossible to be that hot- she said logically- I would have died if I had been burning like that. Of course, it could be another power… but… I doubt it… I would have died..
At this thought, the image of Carlos appeared in her head again. Tears started to roll for her cheeks and she washed in the lake until the tears had ceased. That afternoon and night she avoided the rest and tried not to think in the horrible destiny Carlos had surely suffered.
– I suppose he couldn't manage it- said Yenny appearing from behind a tree- nobody could imagine this was going to happen.
– Even so I feel I should have stopped him when we saw him go that day – said Cynthia walking along with Yenny- and I hate abandoning him.
– I suppose in the end we all will end up like him- said Cynthia with no hope- sooner or later we'll get lost or killed.
She heard something and put into alert. Yeny reacted almost instantly and placed a hand on her shoulder making them both invisible Cynthia also activated her "Energy Shield" making it cover both Yeny and her. They were alert but when they saw what was the sound, they found Veronica and Enrique sitting down in front of a river. She was about to leave when she noticed she was crying.