“Hello in the shelter,” the female voice called from the dark.
“Hello,” I answered. “Come on in.” The two women who entered were young and fit looking. That was the only positive thing about them, since they had been on the trail a while.
“Could we share your fire?” the older one asked.
“Sure, I’ve finished my supper,” I replied.
While they cooked the younger one said, “I’m Liz a senior at TSU in the school of health services. This is my professor, Doctor Ames. We are test driving a student field trip plan for the summer.”
“It isn’t summer,” I said with a smile.
“So I noticed,” the prof replied.
“So what about you,” The younger one asked me.
“To complicated to explain, but I will warn you, I might shout in my sleep but I’m harmless. You probably shouldn’t shake me though.” I did say it with a smile.
“Iraq?” the professor asked.
“Something like that,” I said ending that part of our conversation.
“So what brings you here?” the younger woman asked.
“I’m testing a sleeping bag set up for my brother’s import company.” It was my cover story lie anytime I hiked the trail.
I was tired of talking, so I just shut up and moved away from the fire place. The two of them eventually began to talk as though I went there, which always suited me best anyway. I did listen and watch them.
“God it’s cold Sarah,” Liz said in a whiny voice. “I don’t know why we had to do this in the dead of winter.”
“God you are such a baby,” the professor said. “You know it’s the only time I have to do it.”
Liz did not respond directly. “It’s so cold. Can’t we build a bigger fire?” she asked the professor.
“If we had more wood, sure. If we throw what we have on the fire, this wood will last about ten minutes.” I suggested. “If you have good flashlights, you can go outside to look for firewood. As for me, I can live with a smaller fire that lasts till bedtime.”
“You seem to be dressed for the cold,” the professor stated the obvious.
“It is military surplus gear. Mostly Navy, except for the sleeping bag. That is Chinese all the way,” I explained.
“Sarah we do have a flashlight. We really should go search for firewood,” Liz said.
“Do you have any idea how easy it will be to get lost out there. It is also going be close to zero degrees tonight. I’d rather not be dead tomorrow just so you can try to be warm,” Sarah he professor said.
“You should know that it’s not likely you can find enough wood in the dark to make any difference. This is no more than a stone shed. There is no way to cut off the wind. If you have good sleeping bags, that’s your best bet.” I explained.
“This is our third night out. You would think she understood by now,” the professor said.