- Vol. 04
- Chapter 06
Heath was hitch-hiking along Interstate 10, making his way to Lake Charles, when his captors found him. He hadn’t seen their faces, but they were Cajun, the French in their accents giving Heath a sniff of their origins. He managed to get a look at the vehicle, a Land Rover Freelander with old mud and dried rain more visible than the original berry red paint-job. His kidnappers had bound his hands with a cable tie; the bag over his head prevented Heath from seeing, though he heard dogs growling, patrolling cages in the boot of the car.
They had been driving for hours before they abandoned the car and forced Heath to walk into the swampland. They reached the remotest part of nowhere; when they removed the bag and told him to run. Heath’s eyes took a while to adjust, it was night, and he had the kidnappers' torchlights blinding his eyes. He could make out the bright orange of their padded jackets but their faces where hidden behind balaclavas, or underneath dusty camo caps. Heath ran, only looking back once to find two of the men loading hunting rifles and another watching him, leashed Akitas at his side. He’d been running for hours, hiding behind sunken roots whilst he caught his breath.
Heath battled through grey-green waters, clouds of dust forming around his feet. He never liked swamps, and Louisiana was riddled with them. At this moment the marshes where both a friend and an enemy – his hiding place, masking his scent, but also slowing him down, and making his escape difficult.
It felt as though everywhere he ran was identical. Half-submerged trees and stagnant water. Heath pushed on. He slipped climbing a slope thick with muck and fell into the water. As he got to his feet, Heath noticed something beneath the water’s surface. He knelt and began to pull but slipped again dropping the skeletal remains of human onto his torso. A strange yell involuntarily emerged from his throat. The skeleton’s head had been removed, replaced with the skull of a deer. Barking could be heard as Heath ran further into the wilderness.