So, the wood is safe now, is it?
Frank and Bob stepped from the car and watched the activity from behind the trailers. As yet, hardly anyone had seen them arrive and they were able to take an objective view of everything around them. Shortly before they had left, Alan Frey, the director, had called to confirm that the area he had promised was confirmed safe and ready to use. It seemed, in the cold light of day, a little harsh to check up on him by walking the area, but still very possibly a necessary precaution.
Both musicians turned their heads at the question. Neither had even heard anyone approach, but now they noticed that Angela, the lady who had treated Ray when first hurt, stood next to them. Frank smiled.
“He’s okay,” he nodded. “A mild strain, he needs to keep off it for a couple of days, so we’ll probably end up extending the shoot for a day, maybe.”
“What I did…” she hesitated. “It didn’t make him worse did it?”
“No!” Frank reassured her. “Just what he needed. The doctor did the same thing. Only difference was he was able to insist he stayed off it.”
“That’s good,” she sighed. “Alan’s been going mental today trying to get the area checked and cleared. He’s only just finished, he’s been at it since dawn.”
“Fifty square yards? Since dawn?” Bob asked incredulously.
Angela nodded gravely.
“He found three more traps,” she admitted with her eyes lowered. “Two pits and a bear trap. One of them within the original area you were using.”
Bob took a deep breath, even though he had pushed the matter, he genuinely believed that nothing else would be found. This was a real surprise.
“But he’s sure there’s nothing else?”
“He’s been looking for eight hours, he’s exhausted. He got no sleep last night, and he’s worked through from dawn. The shoot will take us through until four in the morning. He really feels bad about Ray.”
Bob raised his eyebrows. Perhaps he had been wrong about Frey? The man had behaved like an insensitive idiot, but did that actually make him one? Could he just have come across badly?
“He mustn’t know I said that though,” Angela added. “He cares passionately, but he has his pride.”
Bob nodded. “Okay, maybe I was too harsh on him.”
“Frank! Bob!” a voice called; it was Frey. “I didn’t see you arrive. Tell me, how is Ray, is he going to be okay? I mean, not for the shoot, I just… is he okay?”
Bob looked with sympathetic eyes. The director looked tired and haggard and in need of a very long and very deep sleep.
“He’ll be fine,” Bob confirmed. “A mild sprain, nothing more.”
“That’s good news,” he sighed. “Please pass on my best to him and…”
“Alan,” Bob sighed, “we’re not going to fire you.”
The relief on Frey’s face was blatant.
“I… I’ve cleared the area and it’s ready for you.”
“Thanks, Alan,” Bob nodded. “Why don’t you get a couple of hours sleep till the shoot?”
Frey nodded gratefully as Bob and Frank headed into the activity between the trailers and the start of the wood.
Standing now at the edge of the woods looking in, Bob and Frank couldn’t help but see how different it looked during the day. The floor of the woods was wild and green with overgrown moss and ferns. Above them, the canopy of leaves and branches allowed in just enough light to soften the stark edges of the tall trees and give it a romantic and mystical air. They heard a multitude of birds singing and warbling their own individual and characteristic songs and occasionally the flutter of wings as they flew from one tree to the next. Frank sighed. It seemed so implausible that this wood turned so terrifying after dark and it was then that he realised that it was really, most likely all down to his imagination. Of course eating away in the back of his mind was that fact that Ray too had heard the growling and the local legend only seemed to confirm what he had already feared.
“Why are we here?” Bob asked.
“You wanted to go over the set to make sure it was safe,” Frank replied, still staring into the wood; at once transfixed by its daytime beauty and its night time horrors.
“I know why I’m here,” Bob corrected, “I just don’t know what Gerard wants us to do.”
Frank thought about it for a moment. He couldn’t actually remember Gerard being specific about what he wanted.
“He just said, ‘see what you can find’ or something like that.”
“Well, I don’t know what to make of that,” Bob shrugged, “I’m going to do what I came for and maybe, if we see anything else, we can let him know. Sound okay?”
“Works for me,” Frank replied with a grin. “Okay, shall we check it’s safe?”
“I’ll take the left, you take the right.”
Heading into the undergrowth, Frank stumbled once or twice on an overgrown vine or visible root, which occasionally took him by surprise. He knew he really had to be more careful, if any traps were lurking under foot, he needed to be ready for them and not to stumble blindly in as Ray had done. After all, he might not be quite so lucky as Ray.
Staying to the left to avoid a fallen tree, Frank tried to step over what remained of the branches. Catching his foot on a small branch, he stumbled and fell forward only regaining his footing before he completely lost his balance. Trying to reset his balance, he moved his right foot forward, trying to place his feet a shoulder width apart. As he did, he felt something pull against his ankle. It was the slightest of tugs that he knew he had only felt because he was standing in one place and not still walking. It drew his attention and his eyes glanced down to see the wire pulled tight across his path.
He heard it first; a whooshing sound that filled his ears as it got closer. Turning terrified eyes, he saw the branch as it hurtled in his direction. Frank screamed in fear and pain as the long tensioned length of wood sprang back into place, slamming into him with force and sweeping him off his feet. Unable to avoid it, Frank was lifted from his feet and was projected at speed into a nearby tree. Bouncing off, a severely dazed Frank continued to roll quickly down the gentle slope. Beyond the noise of the snapping twigs and the crackle of dried leaves as he rolled helplessly, he could vaguely hear Bob shouting and running to his rescue. His roll was cut short with a sickening thud as his head connected sharply with a boulder roughly halfway down the slope. Skidding to an abrupt halt, Frank lay pale and motionless in the grass, blood trickling from his mouth.