The combination of Doc’s tired eyes and tricks played by shadows cast in the moonlight, make for difficult hiking through the dense woods that line the seashore.
Had it not been as simple of keeping the shoreline in sight through the woods, he would have become hopelessly lost. It is difficult for Doc to fathom that a thriving town should be here in place of the woods. He has given up trying to come up with a scientific explanation for now. Whatever is happening defies the laws of physics, nature, and mathematics. There is a high probability that the dreams he and Hope shared about each other are closely linked to this phenomenon; but he has no idea how.
The thirty minute hike quickly turns into two hours. Exhausted and ready to quit, Doc labors up a steep, rocky, incline. He rests at its top and takes in the spectacular view of the sea from his vantage. A tiny flicker of light reflecting in the water catches his attention. Searching the shoreline, he finds its faint source less than a mile away, hidden behind a mass of trees and undergrowth. The discovery gives him new energy, and he presses forward.
After walking another twenty minutes, it becomes clear that he has most likely gone past the source of the pinpoint light. He turns around and comes to the conclusion that he will have to go deeper into the woods, leave the shoreline behind, and chance getting lost. Doc is smarter than most sims when it comes to science and math. Some would say he is the smartest. But an outdoorsman, he is not.
When birds begin singing their morning greetings, Doc realizes he has been walking all night. He is completely spent from the hike. He nibbles on some fruit he had packed for the trip, then finds a decent bed of grass to fall asleep on. It is a troubled sleep, plagued by unhappy dreams about his family laying his memory to rest inside an empty grave. They have spent years searching for him, with no success.
He wakes up with the sun hanging high overhead. Feeling sore from sleeping on the uneven ground, but no longer exhausted, Doc gets slowly to his feet. He hears the faint sound of what seem to be many, many women all whispering at once. At first he thinks it is his mind playing tricks; but there is no doubting they are there. It is imperceptibly soft, like the sound of rustling leaves.
Doc attempts to follow the voices, which have no discernible source or origin. And after what feels like another hour of walking, he happens upon a clearing in the woods. Several ancient stumps stick out from the ground where trees had once been downed, and the area is otherwise overgrown with brambles. The voices have disappeared, but he can now hear the familiar sound of waves from the sea crashing below the bluff. There is a tiny log cabin a short distance away, standing proudly where the Barimen estate should be. (See Chapter 1.6 – Home)
As Doc approaches, he can see that the door the cabin has been left ajar. Unsure what to expect, he cautiously and quietly moves closer to the mysterious little building. He nearly leaps out of his skin when a flock of birds launches into the air, screeching angrily at whatever startled them. He turns quickly to see Gerard stumbling into the clearing on the opposite side of the cabin.
Doc motions for the pastor to remain quiet as he anxiously retreats from the cabin. Gerard has a number of scrapes and cuts from the dense brush and is covered in dirt. He is breathing heavily from what may have been a sprint through the woods. When he manages to get his breathing under control, he tells Doc that he wandered for a few hours and found a rocky area not far from here. It was heavily guarded by military personnel. They spotted him, and started shouting and running to intercept him. Then he did what any respectable coward would do. He ran.
Motioning for the pastor to remain behind, Doc again approaches the cabin. From this vantage, he can see a small portion of the interior through the partially open door. From what he can see, it is all quiet and still. The door hinges creak from lack of use when he gently pushes the door open. The front room of the small cabin appears to consume most of the building’s area.
His eyes meet hers immediately. They are a brilliant blue, framed by untamed locks of shimmering, silvery hair; and set in a sad, but pretty face. Physically, she appears perfectly healthy. But emotionally, it is evident that she is quite distraught. He speaks Kacey’s name in a whisper at first, then in a more normal tone when he asks if she is okay. Her eyes move from him to some point outside the window. She swallows hard and forces herself to remain composed, but says nothing in response.
She doesn’t have to speak for Doc to know that the answer to his question is No.