It was twilight and she was walking among giants. In the rapidly falling darkness, Greta could just make out the tops of the towering trees covered in wispy lichen and damp moss that soared straight up into a sky dotted with the first stars. She walked evenly, slowly almost, marking her way, feeling the rough bark of the trees, relishing the squish of the wet moss on her fingers and tasting the sweet forest air as she made her way to a spot she’d been to many times before.
Just as a half-moon broke through the trees bathing everything in a silvery sheen, Greta arrived at her destination, swung the heavy backpack she was carrying onto the moist earth, pulled out a shovel and started to dig vigorously by the roots of an old, gnarled, massive fig tree.
“Where’ve you been?” Isla’s voice dripped with suspicion, her eyes hungry for gossip as she surveyed Greta’s dishevelled state.
“I went for a run,” Greta muttered, pushing past her nosy roommate, heading for the bathroom. She had a big day and in her state, with twigs as accessories in her thick hair, she’d be late if she didn’t hurry.
“All night?” Isla’s eyes narrowed and her pretty mouth settled into a petulant pout as she stared offended at Greta’s retreating back. They always told each other about their dating escapades, so why was Greta being so secretive now? “Well, some guys came looking for you last night,” she called, hoping to stall Greta before she closed the bathroom door, and her ploy worked.
“Which guys?” Greta spun on her heels, her face ashen but her voice composed, “What did they want?”
“I told them you weren’t in,” Isla didn’t like the stricken look in her friend’s eyes, “Greta, is everything ok…”
But Greta was already closing the bathroom door and a moment later, Isla, a lovely but scatter brained individual, was distracted by a song on the radio and as she danced and lip synched with her eyes closed, Greta slipped out unnoticed and headed to work.
Her palms were clammy. Her heart sat solidly in her stomach, each thunderous beat making her woozy and threatening to snuff her unconscious. Greta couldn’t believe it was time. She’d waited two years, working in secret, fearing every second that she would be found out and yet here she was, at the finish line she never thought she’d cross.
“Good afternoon and welcome to the mid-morning briefing, I’m your host Greta Kanini,” her heart dropped to her feet and for one sickening second the whole studio began to spin before her eyes, but as quickly as the feeling came, it was gone; leaving behind only adrenaline and a razor sharp focus.
“As you know, I have been a journalist for several years and my integrity has never been called into question,” she paused, ignoring the frantic waving of her producer as she wondered why Greta was going off script, “and so I urge everyone who wants to know the truth to log on to ‘livingcorrupt.com’ where I’ve published hundreds of secret Government documents and,” her producer was literally jumping up and down, waving her clipboard and arms wildly in the air, mouthing expletives as Greta continued on hurriedly, “we are being sold down the river and this country to the highest bidder…” Greta’s microphone suddenly cut off as the station went off air; and as her producer rushed at her foaming at the mouth, Greta leaped to her feet and started for the door.
The morning was giving way to the afternoon, a benign sun peeking out from behind frothy milk coloured clouds. It was such a pleasant day but all Greta could feel was the threat of a storm brewing, a dark cloud following her so close that the hairs on the back of her neck all stood at attention. And with good reason. No sooner had she gunned her car to life, a car with opaque tinted windows followed her close behind, not even bothering to hide. But Greta drove with an impetuousness that meant she arrived at the edge of the forest bordering the city minutes before her assailants did. And minutes were all she needed.
She’d practiced this hike, oftentimes running it with her heavy back pack, so now, weighted down by nothing, she flew through the trees. Patches of sunlight filtered down through the tree canopy, forming pockets of gold in the lush green scenery, where tiny dots of dust and pollen danced magically, suspended in the air.
Greta could hear the heavy breathing of whoever was behind her, and as she found the spot she’d buried her backpack in the night before, the ragged breathing came closer, becoming more pronounced.
Greta yanked her bag from beneath the dirt and continued at a run, bounding like a gazelle over gnarled tree roots and ducking under twisted vines and foliage so thick it formed curtains of green.
Gradually, Greta slowed and listened intently. There was nothing but the swish of leaves nudged by a lenient wind and her own heavy breathing. She’d camp out, hide for a bit and then eventually, face the music.