Somnambulist; a person who sleepwalks.
As soon as they were done eating, Chase tidied up and Faith dug a paperback romance novel out and began reading it. The camping lanterns glowed softly, casting just enough light to see by. The night was growing cold though and Chase wished they had matches.
‘I’m going to check again,’ he announced as he left things to dry.
Faith looked up at him, slight confusion on her face.
‘For the matches,’ Chase explained, ‘maybe I just missed them?’
‘Okay. I’m going into my sleeping bag. To get warm,’ Faith spoke.
Chase nodded and went over to the tent. He unzipped it and began looking through the bags again. Faith brushed past him, wiggling out of her boots as she did so. Chase heard her moving things around and the air bed squeaking.
‘I know I packed them,’ he muttered.
Faith sighed and said, ‘forget it. Come to bed. We’ll keep each other warm.’
‘It’s still early,’ Chase pointed out.
‘You got any better ideas?’ she snapped.
Biting his tongue to keep silent, Chase grabbed the other lantern and arranged it next to the one Faith had brought inside, so that they had a large pool of light. He zipped up the tent and took his trainers off.
Not being a reader, he hadn’t brought anything to do and he felt too awake to sleep. He changed clothes, noticing that Faith hadn’t bothered to get out of her jeans and hoodie. Chase put on some PJs pants and an old Star Wars t-shirt then got into his sleeping bag.
‘I guess we are going home tomorrow, then?’ he asked slowly.
Faith glared at him over the top of her book, ‘Looks that way,’ she answered.
‘I’m sorry, okay? I wanted to have a break from things and money is so tight right now, I thought this would be a good idea. If I’d remembered the matches it would be fine. What else can I do?’ Chase demand.
Faith was silent for a few moments. She turned a page then put down her book to look at him, ‘I don’t know what you can do, Chase. I knew this was a bad idea from the start. What’s wrong with another weekend in anyway? I’m too tried to fight about this now. I’m going to sleep.’
‘Well, I can’t!’
‘Here then, read this,’ Faith stated and handed him her book.
She turned off the lantern next to her and rolled over.
Chase took the hint and began flicking through the book. It was a simple romance story of a lonely girl meeting a heart throb man and the two of them slowly falling in love. Chase turned back to the began and read the first few pages.
‘This is boring. How can you read this?’ Chase muttered.
Faith hushed him and snuggled more down in the sleeping bag.
‘Guess I got nothing better to do.’
Chase turned another page and read a good few chapters. The story still not grabbing him, but at least it had made him tried enough to try and sleep. Putting the book down close to Faith, he turned out the lantern and drew her into a hug.
Faith, who had been dozing on and off, shuffled about so they could be comfy together. She sighed into his arm and fell asleep soon after. It took longer for Chase, but being warm and comfy helped and he dozed off.
Chase came slowly too, fighting to stay asleep, but he didn’t make it. Opening his eyes, he looked into pitch blackness. He wondered what had awoken him then realised he had to go. Growling, he fumbled in the dark for his trainers, put them on and felt for the tent zip.
Letting himself out of the tent, Chase grabbed a lantern and went out into the woods. He turned the light on and found the nearest tree. A cold wind blew around him, stealing away the warmth from the tent. Setting the lantern down, so the light pooled around the tree roots, he relieved himself.
Collecting the lantern, he headed back into the tent. Pulling his trainers off, he turned the light off and snuggled back down with Faith. His hands sank through her empty sleeping bag.
Puzzled, he felt further to the side, but he found nothing. Chase grabbed and turned on the lantern again. Light shone down, showing him that Faith wasn’t inside the tent.
Maybe, she went out too? he thought.
Looking around, he spotted the other lantern and her boots which she clearly hadn’t taken. Chase unzipped the tent and standing on the edge, shone the lantern around. Faith wouldn’t have gone far. She clearly, trusted herself to find the way back more then he had.
She disturbed me going out, Chase thought, maybe she was so desperate she didn’t have time to grab her things? She’ll be back any moment now.
Watching out for her, Chase studied the shadows that the light was casting over the grass and trees. Trying not to think what was further out there in the darkness, he debated what to do.
Shrugging, he placed the lantern down outside of the tent, left the half unzipped and climbed back into bed. At least, Faith would be able to see the light now. Settling down, Chase fell into fitful dozing. An hour or so later, he awoke and saw Faith’s sleeping bag was still empty.
Panic floored him.
‘Faith?’ he cried out.
Scrambling, Chase put on his trainers and grabbed the other lantern. He unzipped the tent and got out. Leaving the first light as a beacon, he scouted the edge of the clearing calling his girlfriend’s name.
He heard and saw nothing.
Ploughing further into the woods, he roamed a large area. Low branches scrapped his face and arms, he stumbled over half hidden tree roots and startled small animals. He switched from shouting her name to screaming it. He tripped through a patch of brambles, feeling thorns snag on his pants. He tugged himself loose and hurried down to the river.
In the lantern light, he could see the shallow water slowly moving over large rocks. He walked downwards for a few minutes then turned and walked back up. He looked as far as he could and checked the other side of the river too. There was no sign of her or anything else that indicted she had been here.
‘Faith,’ he yelled, his voice growing horse, ‘where are you?’
Pausing, he caught his breath and tried to calm himself. Ideas about what had happened raced through his mind. Had she fallen and gotten hurt? Had someone kidnapped her? Had she really got lost in the woods?
Chase wiped his face, feeling his cheek wet with tears. He calmed himself and decided to check back at the tent. If Faith wasn’t there, he could take the car until he got signal on his phone then he could call the police. Heading back, he kept a look out, but tiredness had hit him.
Half way back to the tent, he heard the sound of voices and laughter. He stopped and listened hard. Turning to his right, he walked slowly over. The voices grew then as he got closer they fell silent. He paused then heard Faith’s voice saying something.
Crying out her name, he pushed through the undergrowth and saw Faith sit on the floor, with her back to a tree.
‘Faith? What happened? Are you okay? I’ve been looking everywhere for you!’ Chase gushed.
He knelt down before her and began checking her out. She seemed unhurt. There was a dreamily look on her face and her eyes were shut.
Chase shook her, but she didn’t respond.
‘Faith?’ he called.
He pulled her into a hard hug, feeling at a total loss. Barely holding back tears, he tried to figure things out, but he couldn’t.
‘Chase?’ a breathy voice whispered in his ear.
‘Yes?’ he said, pulling back from Faith.
‘Where are we?’
Chase looked at her. Faith’s eyes were half opening and she was struggling to stay awake and move.
‘In the woods. You left the tent and I’ve been looking for you,’ he explained.
‘I don’t remember….I was having this strange dream about fairies…’ Faith uttered.
She shut her eyes and lent against him, exhausted.
‘It’s okay. I got you now. Do you think you can get up?’
Faith mumbled something and Chase pulled her up.
‘Let’s go back to the tent. You’ll feel better soon,’ he added.
Grabbing the lantern, they slowly made their way back and once there, Chase put Faith to bed and spent the rest of the night watching over her.