For a fleeting moment after the crash, all is peaceful and quiet. It’s almost as if time has stood still.
Then he opens his eyes.
Wilbur pulls himself up off the ground, brushing away the leaves that had fallen atop of him. He checks his bike, the wheels are bent out of shape, unable to be ridden. Wilbur curses under his breath as he hobbles away. He steadies himself on the stump of an old, hollow willow tree. He exhales sharply, his legs sore from the fall. He stares back up at the top of the hill, the afternoon sun nearly blinding him.
“How did I get down here?”
“Because you decided to take a shortcut!”
The disembodied voice sends Wilbur jolting back, eyes darting around. “Who said that? Is someone there,” he shouts. “I need help—I’m lost!”
“Oh for the love—it’s me, Wilbur!”
Wilbur’s eyes move down to where his cat lies, unscathed by the fall. “Scoot?”
Wilbur jumps. He picks Scoot up and spins him, eyeing him up and down. “How is this—this is impossible!” he says. He looks around, believing this all to be some sort of elaborate prank. “How are you talking?”
“I don’t know,” Scoot replies. “I woke up and suddenly I could talk.”
Wilbur exhales. “This is crazy. Where are we even?”
“Clearly, we’re lost.”
“Thanks for the reminder,” Wilbur deadpans. “Mom’s probably worried. She told us four o’clock,” he says. He looks upward, the sun just barely visible through the trees. “Who knows what time it is now.”
“Then let’s get going!” Scoot says. “I’m hungry.”
Scoot starts to head towards the trees before Wilbur scoops him up into his arms.
“Easy there. The woods are a dangerous place. Who knows what could be lurking around.”
They stare ahead of them, large spindly trfees line the entrance to the woods, the forest floor is covered in orange and yellow leaves, the darkness that lies ahead of them—pulling them in slowly. A pang of fear runs through Wilbur, the dread makes him feel sick.
“But I’m hungry!” Scoot objects.
He remembers something. “Hold on,” Wilbur says. He heads towards his bike. There, underneath the seat, lies a wicker basket. “Aha!” He pulls the beaten up basket from below the bike. He flips the lid open and pulls out a large muffin. “Here Scoot, looks like they survived the crash.”
Scoot trots over to Wilbur and sniffs the muffin in his hand—a pumpkin muffin.
“Really, Wil?” Scoot says. “Cats aren’t supposed to eat muffins.”
“Yeah? Well cats aren’t supposed to talk either, and yet here we are.”
Wilbur ignores Scoot’s unimpressed glare and puts the muffin down next to him. His rumbling stomach reminds him of his own hunger, and he immediately starts eating one.
The two nearly devour all the muffins, choosing to leave one just in case.
Scoot licks his fur clean. “Now can we try and find our way out of here now?” Wilbur stares ahead, deep into the woods. “I guess we have no other choice,” he shrugs.
Basket in hand, and Scoot in the other, Wilbur pushes past his fear, and heads into the darkness of the woods, unaware of what lies ahead for them.