I couldn't see more than a dozen feet ahead as I forced my way past branches like massive claws that raked my face. The light from my pen flashlight hit up against the fog between trees that settled in as the temperature dropped. It could have been a harbinger of coming rain, but my bald spot was cold and cracked and always the first to know when rain arrived.
As I walked, I began to hear a hum. From afar it was gentle, like the earth exhaling a never-ending sigh. Forging ahead, I soon recognized the noise of a waterfall, relentless water pounding on stone. Stumbling between tricky rocks that jutted out suddenly like a prankster's leg, the sound grew into a rumbling roar, a shout in the dark both beckoning and warning.
Then the world gave way, feet under mossy boulders, down an endless slope, face to earth. Wet dirt shot up my nose and forged its way between the cracks in my teeth. There was a momentary ringing in my ears that soon blended the deafening sound that blocked all others.
My flashlight was lost. I groped in the dark, but each movement of my hand was like a limb pushing through water. Instinct drove the search, as I could barely think over the noise of the falls. My face and the top of my head were wet with chilled, beaded drops that banded together and found their way to my face's grooves and rushed down like fast tears.
The waterfall was unyielding. Each movement was met by angry shouts drilling holes in my eardrums. I think I screamed, but it was impossible to hear whether or not that actually was the case.
I shook my head in an attempt to think clearly. I looked down at my watch only to realize that, without light, the dial would be impossible to read. It was supposed to be only hours from sunrise, but that felt like a lie told by my memory so I could remember there were places in this world not made of darkness and sound.
Abandoning my search for the flashlight, I clutched my knees, curled into a ball, and tried to fight thoughts through the waterfall's blockade one thought at a time.