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The Hike

A reoccurring hiking dream haunts Rachel, encouraging her to discover its meaning.

By Iris HarrisPublished 25 days ago 10 min read
The Hike
Photo by Aron Marinelli on Unsplash

Tuesday, May 29th

The trail. I’ve never hiked it before, but the lush forest embraces me with every step. It hides the beating rays of the sun, cooling my trek and protecting me. Gradually, a dark, ominous shade descends upon me. Stealing the sun’s warmth. I pause. Cold air encompasses me. A young man about 19 or 20 with melanin skin and a short afro appears. His eyes are closed.

“Excuse me,” I utter politely. He stands in silence. Has he heard me? I try again.

“Um, can I get past?”

He opens his mouth to scream, but no sound comes out.

“And then I wake up.” Rachel concludes, staring at her iPhone while sitting at her desk in her home office. She pushes her brown curly hair out of her view and checks her tan reflection in the local view screen.

Natalie stares back with her cerulean-blue eyes. “That’s a wild dream. What do you think it means?”

“Hell if I know.”

“Maybe you need to stop watching horror films and TV shows. Girl, you know we’ve been doing that marathon to celebrate half-way to Halloween.” They recently had bought tickets to a Halfway to Halloween horror film fest event.

“I doubt it, since I have always been a fan of horror films.” Rachel retaliates quickly. “Not even Freddy gave me chills. And he’s like the dream master.”

Natalie, with determination in her eyes, says. “Well, let me see if I can try to find some interpretations.”

“What are you, some dream expert now?”

“Rach, I’m serious.” Natalie goes on to explain how she had studied a little bit about dreams during her psychology course in college nearly a decade ago. From the screen, she is eagerly typing on a keyboard. Probably googling dream websites. “Okay. Has anything happened to you that could explain the boy being in the dream? Like, do you know who he is?”

Rachel shakes her head. “He looks familiar, though.”

“But, he’s not speaking right? Are you feeling like, there are situations at work where you feel powerless?”

“I’m a woman, of course there are situations where I feel powerless.”

“Right,” Natalie chuckles. “Bad example. Well, the fact that the boy is not speaking could mean, you’re feeling powerless, or you need to listen more.”

“I do listen. I’m listening to you develop some cockamamie reasoning for my dream.”

“Rach, focus, will ya? I’m trying to help.”

“Okay, continue, Drew Barrymore.”

Rachel listens as Natalie breaks down the dream. Hiking has various meanings and could mean anything from a path to self-improvement to a journey of exploration, or even a desire to reconnect with nature. Rachel’s head perks up.

“Reconnecting with nature. Nat, that could be it. It’s been a month since our last hiking excursion with the group. I know we weren’t planning on attending this month because of the Halfway to Halloween events, but maybe we should reconsider. I’m sure the group will still let us join.”

“Well, that sounds plausible. After all, you’ve been having the dreams for a couple of weeks, right?”

Rachel nods.

“Okay, let me check the group chat,” Natalie moves off-screen. Seconds later, she’s holding an iPad. She swipes vigorously and then taps it. Seconds later, she glances towards Rachel. “Rach, they are planning to go this Friday. I just let them know, we’ll be joining them.”

“Did they say where?”

Natalie’s eyes move back towards the iPad. “It looks like… Big Run Falls.”

“Perfect. Let’s see if that changes anything tonight.”

“So, are we canceling going to the film tonight?” Natalie asks, putting away her iPad.

“Hell no! I’m not going to let a strange reoccurring dream stop me from enjoying a good horror fest. We’ve made it this far and with the end of May quickly approaching, I’m not missing the final nights. What are they playing?”

Hollow Man with Kevin Bacon.”

Rachel squeals. “That’s a good one. Then again, anything with Bacon is good.”

“Bacon makes it better,” Natalie adds, and they burst into laughter. “Alright. See you tonight then,” she waves to the screen.

“Yep.” Rachel disconnects the call. She stands and heads to the bathroom for a shower, excited about both Hollow Man and the upcoming hike.

Wednesday, May 30th

I’m back on the same trail; same clear sunny day, but I notice a crow cawing in the distance. It’s strange because there wasn’t a crow last time. Similar to before, the sunlight is gradually sucked out from the scene; replaced with a darker tint. I’m worried because I know what is coming next. I want my legs to stop moving forward, but they are stuck on autopilot. In a blink, the young black man is back. Eyes closed, standing statuesque before me.

“Who are you?” I manage to say. “What do you want?”

As before, he opens his mouth to scream. His face twists with anguish. He’s hurting, but the silence surrounds him.

“I can’t hear you!” I shout, knowing it would be futile.

His left arm springs from his side, his forefinger points towards a hidden trail among the large ferns, descending sharply into a valley below. I peer over the leaves, taking note of the steep incline the path makes.“Nope. I’m not going down there,” I say, shaking my head.

I’m pushed from behind, elevated over the path. Airborne. Plummeting into a sea of black shadows and howling winds. The sound of rushing water swallows me.

Natalie stares at Rachel, again, this time with a wine glass in her hand, jaw open. Both are sitting on her tan-colored couch next to a dark cedar wood coffee table in Natalie’s one-bedroom, one-bath, just-the-right-size-for-one-person apartment. “So, did you hit the ground? What happened after that?”

“I woke up. On the floor. In the dream, I never made it to the bottom.”

“Do you think it could be a premonition or something?”

“Please. Like I believe in that? What do you think I am? One of the Charmed ones, or something?” They both grin at the witchy reference.

“What about the crow and sound of water?” Natalie sips her wine. “Crows usually signify death. As for water…”

“I don’t know,” Rachel mutters, but contemplates in silence. Could it be a premonition? If so, what’s the connection with the man and hiking? The crow? Water?

Natalie notices Rachel’s silence. “You know what will take your mind off it, though?” Rachel snaps back to reality. “H2H!”

Tension melts from Rachel. Time to change focus. Think positive. “What film are they playing tonight?”


“Ah, continuing with Bacon, are they? Tremors is definitely one a Kevin’s best films.” Rachel states nonchalantly.

“Definitely. It’s also probably the best film in the franchise because every Tremors film after that sucked.”

The two grab their purses and walk out of Natalie’s apartment and head to her parking garage. Giggling and prattling on about Kevin Bacon’s filmography.

Thursday, May 31st

It’s the trail again. She knows where it’s going. Clear and sunny day. She wants to turn around. Walk the opposite direction, but her body is embedded in the twisted plot; stuck on autopilot. Lush green plants, classic hiking trail views. The man is just around the bend. Her stomach tightens with anticipation. The weight of the heavy veil of darkness descends upon her as she walks around the bend. Her gaze meets with the unopened eyes of the silent man. He stands. Rigid. Pointing to the trail hidden among the forest floor, covered with ferns, mud, and broken pieces of fallen branches. This time, she follows.

The path leads to a lower portion of the hiking trail. The surrounding trees stretch high enough to shield the light of the sun. The sloshing of mud becomes a menacing melody with each step. The hairs on the back of her head become erect, whispering to her to retreat. Something, or someone, is behind her. Not only does she sense their presence, but also hears their stomps in the moist ground. Seconds later, her shoulder is struck by the heat of their breath. A low beastly growl blows in her ear. She spins around with caution. Two beady eyes of a black bear stares viciously at her. It stands on its hind legs. Claws out, they strike her with vengeance. Forcing her off the trail and down to the thundering sounds of water.

Later that day, she meets with Natalie at a local Starbucks. Natalie walks in wearing a lime green sundress with sunflowers, coupled with matching green-colored converse. Rachel’s eyes water up at the sight of her best friend. “Hey, you alright?” Natalie says, immediately embracing Rachel.

“Nat, I can’t keep this up. I’m afraid to sleep knowing the boy’s waiting for me.” Rachel cries. After ordering a Summer-Berry Lemonade, Rachel briefs Natalie about the recent dream.

Natalie sits, taking in every detail, holding Rachel’s hand. When Rachel reaches the bear scene, Natalie squeezes Rachel’s hand. “Tonight, you’re staying with me. Maybe, if you’re not alone, you won’t have the dream. Besides, we’re hiking tomorrow anyway.” Rachel agrees.

The two women reach Natalie’s apartment. The tan sofa calls for the pair to relax and take in the final installment of horror films. Natalie pauses. “Do you still want to watch a horror film? Tonight, we were supposed to watch Stir of Echos, but we can change it to a rom-com, if that’ll help you sleep better?” She suggests. Rachel nods. “Ok, how about…”

Crazy, Stupid, Love,” Rachel blurts out, knowing it would still meet their Bacon themed film-fest week.

“Good call, girl!” Natalie grabs the remote to her TV and minutes later cues up the film. Two hours and several glasses of wine and pizza slices later, they are ready for bed.

Friday, June 1st

“Good morning! How did you sleep?” Natalie’s beaming face is the first image to enter her mind when Rachel wakes up.

“Rested. No dreams last night,” Rachel replied. Finally, a night of peaceful slumber. “I’m ready for this hike.”

“About that,” Natalie began. “There’s been a change of plans. BRF has heavy rainfall right now, so the group is suggesting a location change.”


“Blackwater Falls.”

Rachel pauses, running through her hiking memories “We’ve never been there, have we?”

“Nope,” Natalie supplies.

Blackwater Falls. The name creates an unsettling feeling within Rachel.

They double-check their hiking provisions, rush to Natalie’s grey Honda Fit, and speed off to the meet up. Forty-five long minutes later, they stand at the head of the trail, with six other hikers amped to begin. Before they depart, a tall, lanky man with thick rimmed glasses explains areas where they can view the valley and the waterfalls, as well as a large variety of spruce trees.

“Are we hiking down to see any of the waterfalls?” Rachel asks.

“We could. If the group is up to it. It would add another hour to our trip.” The guide responds. A low hum of agreement permeates the group. “Then it’s settled. We’ll go.”

They set course down the trail. Rachel and Natalie gawk at all the trees that greet them. Matching what the guide said, there are a many variations of the spruce tree. The women never stop to examine the differences carefully, but some details are obvious, such as their shape. Red spruce trees appear thinner than the others.

Nearly one hour into their hiking adventure, the group stops near a patch of ferns. Rachel shudders and turns to Natalie. “I’ve seen these ferns before,” she whispers.

“What do you mean, you’ve seen these ferns? This is our first time out here. There’s no way you could have seen them.”

“They’re from my dream.”

Natalie’s eyes squint. “What?”

“Excuse me,” she runs to the guide, “what trail are we on?” She never cared about trail names before.

“Black Bear Trail.”

The ferns? Black Bear? She walks ahead of the group, over the ferns. Within a couple of brisk steps, the trail from her dreams appears.

“How did you—” the guide starts, but Rachel already takes the lead. Drawn to the visions from her dreams.

She descends the trail. The roar of rushing water surround her as though she’s back in her dream. She feels the footsteps of her fellow hikers trudging behind. Fear is absent because she is not alone. Twenty minutes later, they reach the bottom of the trail and stops next to a 57-foot waterfall. The cascade strikes the rocks with a deafening force. Natalie is flabbergasted by Rachels relentless leading. Meanwhile, the guide and other hikers gawk at the beauty nature displays to them. Rachel stands nervously, scanning the area. What so special about the waterfall? Why is she here?

A scream echos from above, catching everyone’s attention. They all gaze up towards the source. Just in time to see a body flail and land behind the white, raging waters of the fall. Several gasps intertwine with the roars of the rapids. Rachel rushes towards the rocks leading behind the falls. She climbs cautiously up the wet dark gray rocks and sees the motionless body laying on a wide rock ledge hidden by the cascading water. Scooting her way closer, she stops. It’s him. The young man from her dream. “Help! Someone call 911!”

The hiking group collaboratively bring the young man to safety. He remains unconscious, leaving his identity a mystery. However, the sensation of his familiarity burns inside Rachel. Who is he? Why is he haunting her dreams?

Later that night, Rachel sits in Natalie’s apartment, calming herself from the events of the hike with her best friend and red wine. Her iPhone rings, displaying an unknown number. Natalie urges her to answer.


“Is this Rachel?” A nostalgic voice says.

“Mrs. Anderson? How did you get my number?” Rachel stutters.

“From your mom. I heard you were at Black Bear waterfall when Levon fell.”

Levon. She had not heard that name since high school. He was one of the neighborhood kids she babysat. She introduced him to hiking, by inviting him on her family’s hiking trips. He was hooked and always wanted to go with her. When she graduated from high school, she knew she would miss him and their adventures together.

“That’s Levon?”

“Yes, he’s always going out hiking. Sometimes with a group, but most of the time, alone. When he left this morning, he told me about Blackwater Falls. If you weren’t there, then—,”

It’s nothing, really,” Rachel adds. “The hiking group just happened to be by the waterfall. How’s he doing?”

“Luckily, he’s just suffering a mild concussion and a broken leg. His backpack protected his head upon impact.”

They continue talking for a few more tearful minutes. As Rachel disconnects the phone, she freezes. Then stares at Natalie. “You’ll never believe it.”

thrillerShort Story

About the Creator

Iris Harris

An aspiring novelist. I enjoy writing ghost, horror, and drama. Occassionally, I dabble with some essays. You can find more of my work with the link below:

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Comments (2)

  • Rick Henry Christopher 21 days ago

    Hi Iris!!! Great job!!! You packed a lot of detail into this story. Keep up the good work

  • Zayn 25 days ago

    Amazing story keep uploading

Iris HarrisWritten by Iris Harris

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