PARADISE

Krka National Park Kendall Bullen

Photo courtesy of Kendall Bullen

“How long are you going to keep us here?” asked Bridget, through chattering teeth.

Fear of hypothermia was overriding the threat of the stranger’s rifle. It was hard to enjoy nature’s beauty while freezing your naked bum off. She could barely feel her legs in the frigid water. Jason’s arms were tightly wrapped around his chest. Behind them crystal clear water cascaded over steep rocks. Their well-worn surface turned the waterfall into a musical lullaby. Both she and Jason had fallen sound asleep after their long hike. Then the stranger showed up. Now the sound knelled like a death sentence.

“Y’all just enjoy your little bath,” said the stranger. He lounged in the sun on their blanket eating fried chicken. Empty containers lay scattered about; all licked clean by their captor. “I haven’t eaten this well since I killed my ex.”

Bridget’s heart jumped. This was supposed to be paradise, not a nightmare. “You promised you wouldn’t hurt us.”

“Don’t you worry, darling.” He bit into a lemon tart and moaned with pleasure. “These are delicious. Sure you won’t consider staying?”

She glanced at Jason and saw the panic in his eyes. If he thought for a second that she’d consider the offer, he didn’t know her at all. Being one with nature didn’t include becoming part of it.

Bridget turned away. “No thanks.”

The stranger smiled and put a lighter on the blanket. “Too bad. Y’all get a fire going now.”

With one last wink, he vanished into the forest.

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About A. L. Kaplan

I am a writer, artist, and parent.
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