That same, nagging feeling woke her up again. “Geez, must I be cursed with such a ridiculously small bladder?”, Louisa thought as she turned over and tried not to think about rushing waterfalls and trickling pools of water. Not that she had been getting the most restful sleep anyway. She and some friends from school were on their annual camping trip at Lake Cachuma in the Santa Ynez Mountains just half an hour from Santa Barbara. Louisa never found it easy to sleep while on camping trips, she always stayed up hour after hour preparing for a bear to rip its way through the tent and devour her whole, or a bolt of lightning to strike down on her campsite. It also didn’t help that she was practically spooning with her friend’s dirty feet due to the fact that she and all her seven friends had decided to share the same four-person tent. Being thankful she was the person nearest to the zippered flap to freedom, Louisa wiggled her way out of her sleeping bag, quietly opened the zipper, and slithered out into the night.
Since she had already been times before, and was armed with her trusty maglight, Louisa had no problem finding the path that lead to the bathrooms. Crossing the wide open field in front of her, Louisa shivered as a cool breeze blew across her jacket, darting down the uncovered parts of her skin, making her grasp helplessly for more material that wasn’t there. Louisa concentrated on the beam of her flashlight that bobbed across the ground in front of her, and tried in vain not to think about what could possibly lay ahead in the pitch-blackness that surrounded her. In that very instant, Louisa’s beam caught a glimpse of something that was not green grass, but rather an upside-down park ranger’s hat. Following her flashlight beam a little farther from the hat, Louisa discovered a man sprawled out facedown in the grass, a tranquilizer dart sticking out from his back. His arms were flung out and his head turned to the side as if he had been running from something when he fell. Gasping with horror and fear, Louisa fell on her knees beside the man, frantically feeling for a pulse on his arm. The man’s skin was cold to the touch, and though Louisa concentrated her very hardest to find his heartbeat, no movement came from the man’s limp wrist.