Thursday, 9:10 AM

They’re going to know it was me. As soon as they find out it happened, they’ll know I was responsible. I’ll be the top suspect. They’ll think they know why I did it, and it won’t matter. They’ll come after me no matter what. I need to get away from here before that happens. It’s my only chance.

Okay. It’s done. I’m gone. It’s been a few hours now. I just packed up and left. Didn’t leave anything that could lead them to me. Didn’t take anything that could lead them to me either. Just some food and money and clothes and my car. And this. This journal. This is probably going to be the only thing that keeps me sane. I’m not sure where I’m going. I guess I’ll figure it out when I get there. Alright, time to get back on the road.

Next morning now, sun just rose. Drove all night. Haven’t really been paying attention to where I’ve been going. But I think I know where to go now. Can’t risk traffic cameras seeing me. Too many ways of being caught.

Alright. I managed to find an opening and I drove a few miles off-road into the forest. I’ve since abandoned my car and spent a few more hours hiking up the mountain. This area of the state is hardly populated, so it should be a long time before anyone finds it. Or me. I need to get as far away from everything as possible. This will probably turn out to be a bad idea, but I don’t care. For now everything is working out fine.

I’ve stumbled across an old log cabin built in the middle of this wilderness. It doesn’t look like anyone’s been here for years. Maybe even decades, but I can’t know that for sure just by looking at the place. Maybe someone else can, but I’m no expert. There’s nothing modern looking here, though. I think it’s safe. I’m going to settle down here. Or, I’ll at least use it as a sort of base camp while I figure out where to go from here.

So then. Now what?

I decided to go out and explored the local surroundings. There’s nothing of interest, really. Trees. Rocks. A stream. Actually, maybe I could follow the stream to a lake. If I’m lucky, there might be fish in it. I realized a little while ago that I only brought enough food to last me around a week. I don’t know what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking. At this rate I won’t be here for long, I’ll need to find my way back to civilization and get more supplies.

It’s getting dark now. I won’t be able to keep writing without some source of light. I doubt the moon would be enough. I guess I should just go to sleep then.

I went looking around again today. I tried following the stream too, but it goes on for longer than I expected it to. I’ll pack more food and water—wait, no need to pack water for that—and try again later. In the meantime, I need to rest. I’m not really in the mood to write right now, but what else can I do out here in my downtime? It’s strange. You can have all the things in the world to do, so you end up not being able to pick between them. And then you can have just one thing you’re able to do, and it’s the one thing you no longer want to do. Life is cruel like that. I should be used to it by now.

I think I heard something.

So it turns out I’m not the only person out here. There is a man who lives here. Not in the cabin. Just… “On the mountain,” in general, I guess. He says his name is Henry. He didn’t seem surprised at all to see me here (which surprised me, honestly). I tried asking him more, what he was doing here, why he lived all the way out here, but he ignored me and just kept walking through. I’m not sure why this person’s sudden appearance didn’t instantly set off all of my paranoia flags—well, besides the fact that he had the most nonthreatening disposition imaginable; he just seemed so casually innocently happy and content—but whoever this person is, I am intrigued and want to find out more.

I think maybe I’ll go look for him. He couldn’t have gone too far.

No idea where he went. Heading back. Not sure why I bothered bringing the journal with me, now that I think about it. Maybe I’ll make a map of the area on my way back to the cabin or something. It’s getting dark. Gotta go fast.

Well that was strange. The man was there at the cabin when I made it back. He said he was waiting for me, that he thought I could use the company. To be honest, he was probably right.

I was able to find out more about him. Apparently he’s been living up here for the last three years. He wouldn’t tell me why, but I definitely got the impression that he just loved the outdoors. He isn’t running from anything or anyone, he’s right where he wants to be. And it didn’t seem like he’s here for the thrill of adventure either. More like, because out here is a simple life. Where you can enjoy nature and stop taking things for granted. It made me feel foolish for thinking I could just come here and survive on my own in the first place. I have no idea what I’m doing out here. But Henry is an expert outdoorsman. Or at least, he’s very good at pretending to be one. He gave me a couple tips for making it out here. Nothing too fancy; just little things. Like how to keep the cabin cool in the summer.

Then I realized I don’t want to be out here through summer. I don’t want to be out here for another week. I want to go back to the world I know how to live in. I need to get back to where I belong.

A few minutes later Henry left. I suppose he had to get back to wherever he’s been living before it got too late at night. Or, maybe he noticed the change in my demeanor after I realized I won’t be able to make it out here, so he internally declared his work done, having saved me from what would have probably been a terrible death from starvation. Whether he meant to be my reality check or not, I’m extremely grateful.

Anyway, that was all last night. I couldn’t wait to get some sleep after all that. Now it’s time for me to go back down and retrace my steps to make it back to civilization. Wish me luck.

Made it back to my car. Time to go home.