Fortune is somewhere but he doesn’t know where. He knows that he is far away from the mall because he can’t hear any sounds of a city. His mind is moving so fast he feels dizzy and nearly falls over. Fortune sets down his backpack and puts his face into his hands. He cries. He wants to be home, in bed, at his computer, typing a blog to his friends telling them that his trip was amazing and everything is ok. He wants to be eating warm breakfast at the table. He wants to be counting the steps from his room to the phone and he wants to be calling a pizza place for delivery and asking for extra pineapple.
It feels quiet like a graveyard feels quiet. The storm is moving closer. The rumbling of a deep thunderhead presses its way towards him. He can feel the thunder crash down inside his throat. Another drop of rain hits his nose.
The truck has vanished and there aren’t any other cars on the road. The road is flat and Fortune can see a long distance in both directions and there isn’t anyone coming. Not for miles. No one is going to stop for him. No one knows that he is even here. His parents must be worried and crying and calling everyone they know. Fortune doesn’t even know where he is. He collapses to his knees on the side of the road and hits his fists on the ground. He feels stupid for running away. He feels small. If he waits by the side of the road somebody will show up eventually. He knows that. What scares him is the thought of who will show up first. Maybe the first person to stop will be someone who will help him and take him out of the rain. If the police show up first then Fortune’s parents would not be far behind. But what if the first person to stop is a murderer? The newspaper always writes about people getting kidnapped off of the side of the road and the only way they can tell they are missing at all is the abandoned cars. Fortune doesn’t have a car. What if someone stops and tells him that they want to help when they really just want to kill him. How will he know the difference?
Fortune turns around in a circle and looks in all directions for anything that might be able to help him: road, trees, trees, trees, trees, road, trees, trees, trees. Fortune is surrounded by forest. He can wait on the side of the road, walk alongside it, or hide underneath a tree until he hears a car coming. The rain begins to pour down from the sky. Fortune’s brown hair gets wet and his bangs fall over his eyes. The world darkens under the clouds. When he looks up to the sky Fortune half expects to see stars.
Suddenly, a crack of lightning flashes down nearby. It makes Fortune jump up and cry harder. He holds himself but it doesn’t do any good. He holds himself tighter but still nothing. He screams out for his parents but they aren’t here. He screams out for anyone but no one answers. Fortune walks down toward the trees. His entire body is shaking. If he hides underneath a tree he will be safe and out of the rain, he will also be able to see who is driving by. If Fortune sees the police he will just curl into a small ball and stay hidden.
He throws his backpack over his shoulder, wipes the tears from his eyes and takes his first steps down the embankment towards the forest. He steps into the woods and from the trees he can’t even see the road. Fortune doesn’t recognize anything around him. The trees aren’t like the trees back home. All he knows is that he is surrounded by woods and he can make out only two colors: brown and green.
Through the spaces in between the limbs of the trees Fortune sees the blue of running water. He pushes his way through the branches and breaks them in his hands. Fortune jumps over rocks and starts to run through the forest towards the water, as if water would somehow keep him safe and bring him home.
The trees begin to thin. The full view of the river appears in front of him. The water is low and slow moving. The rain drops splash down into the river and the water ripples out towards the edges. Fortune looks up and down the river frantically. He looks up and down again. His heart is racing. There is sweat mixing with tears, mixing with rain on his cheeks. All of the thoughts about his parents and the police vanish from his mind as he stares at the water. He looks up and down the river and then he looks up and down again and then he spots something in the water.
A few hundred feet to his left is a small island in the middle of the river. It is just big enough for a person Fortune’s size to stand on, there isn’t much other room on it, but it is certainly an island. Fortune turns and runs as fast as he can up the river. His mind is blank. He can’t think about anything but running faster. As he gets closer, he can see that the island is in the shape of a small, perfect circle.
Fortune can hardly breathe he is so excited. He jumps into the river. The water is cold and rises to his ankles. He shivers. His shoes get soaked and his socks get cold. He pushes with all of his might against the current into the middle of the river. Fortune takes his backpack off and tosses it onto the solid ground of the island and then steps out of the water.
The rain is coming down fast. It is pouring so hard Fortune can barely see his hand in front of his face. The raindrops feel like small metal balls hitting the top of his skull. This is it. This is it. He drops to his knees quickly and unzips his backpack. He coughs and pulls out the shovel that Mr. Wurzburg gave him at graduation. Lightning crashes down into the trees just feet away from Fortune and the cracking branches makes him jump. Thunder bursts over his head and sounds like a gas tank exploding on the TV. His shirt is soaked all the way through and his body is beginning to shiver. His teeth chatter against one another. The water of the river is rising quickly and eating away at the edge of the island. The storm clouds are now entirely over his head and the world is dark like the night.
Fortune takes the shovel in his hands and kneels to the ground. There isn’t a hole on the entire island. The surface is untouched and smooth. No one has ever been here to search it.
Fortune closes his eyes as hard as he can and thinks about his parents and the house they live in; he thinks about his room, the kitchen table and his Stone Cold Steve Austin poster; he thinks about the Fortunesaurus and Hannah Leigh’s face and all the people who die alone in car crashes at night on roads where no one else is driving.
The cold metal handle of the shovel feels like its glowing in his hands. Fortune closes his eyes harder, pushes the shovel into the ground and begins to dig.