Michelle knew something was following her. She felt it soon after embarking on the Florida Trail from its southern terminus in the remote Big Cypress Swamp.
Being from Pennsylvania, Michelle enjoyed backpacking in the Poconos and other areas of her home state, but snow and ice limited her opportunities in winter, so she had earned money painting houses in order to hike for up to four months through the Florida wilds, beginning in December. She had never been to Florida and had never seen a cypress tree or swamp before her flight to Fort Myers. She had only read about it in magazines. Now, she was on her way, but she immediately questioned her decision. Water covered the footpath; the dry season was late in arriving. She even spotted small fish swimming in the trail! But fish were the least of her worries. Something was following her.
Slosh, slosh, slosh. There was no way she could move quietly through water with a full backpack, so occasionally she’d stop and listen. She heard nothing. At one point, she abruptly turned and scanned the growing afternoon shadows in the dwarf cypress forest behind her. “Who’s out there?” she yelled. “Why are you following me?” Nothing.