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Out Of The Woods

July 2000

I was different back then. I was skeptical, cynical and curious. I never thought it would happen to me, something so bizarre. Something completely unexplainable by scientific standards. It changed my life. Moreover, it changed my heart. And it happened just like this:

In 1992, I was in my sophomore year of college, and my roommate was from West Virginia. She took me down home with her for Thanksgiving break. It was unseasonably warm that year, if you'll remember. We were invited to go cross-country skiing along the Appalachian trail with her brother Dean and some friends of his, and there ended up being six of us all told. We stayed to the marked trails most of the time, but then one of the guys coaxed us into trying the woods. He told us he'd done it many times, and knew the woods like the back of his hand. Being young and up for the challenge, we followed him. It took about an hour for him to admit he had gotten us lost. Before we knew it, the sun was going down, and it was getting COLD! Eventually, all we had was moonlight on the snow for light. Needless to say, we were frantic, cold, hungry, and tired. We were fighting amongst ourselves about which direction we should take, when I noticed Dean walking away from us towards the west. "Well, all right, then," I called out and began following, and everyone else followed suit. He stayed a good 20 yards ahead of us, but I was able to keep sight of his silhouette in the moonlight. Eventually, we made it to a road. Everyone huddled up and I turned to Dean and asked, "How'd you know which way to go?" He just stared at me. "Huh?" he said, "I was following you." My mouth went dry, and my heart dropped into my stomach. I turned to the group and asked who was in the lead, and they all said I was. They steadfastly denied ever having seen anyone ahead of me. To this day, I have no idea who or what I was following. And that's the truth.

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