A year ago, Bo came out of the closet. He had been in there until he was twenty-five. He came out because he wanted to meet Geoff. Really meet him.
He knew all about Geoff at that point. Bo was observant, and patient. He learned that Geoff loved something called “geocaching,” a kind of modern treasure hunt. So, to have a good excuse to meet Geoff, Bo made a cache and uploaded the GPS location to a geocaching site, knowing full well that Geoff planned on hiking Tunnel Mountain trail that day.
Geoff, for his part, was excited to do the trail. It was a little tame–he’d certainly been on more intense hikes–but the view was supposed to be amazing. He always did his hikes at sunrise, too early for most people to be up, so he had privacy. As always, he checked to see if there were any caches worth hunting for in the area. Only one jumped out at him–it was located in a lookout point not far from the trail he’d be taking. Caches usually had little more than photos or poems or bottle caps, but sometimes there was something worthwhile. And really, it was the hunt that interested him.
He set out at four in the morning from his accommodation downtown, backpack securely strapped, Timberlands tight, and water bottle full. Up Tunnel Mountain Road he went, breathing the crisp dewy air and watching the mist halo the mountains. The sky was the colour of a stormy sea, but brightening. And in the narrow trees flanking either side of the road, he could see deer lazily strolling in search of choice veggies. It was a good morning.
Out came his phone. He hated looking at a screen during these walks (more specifically, he hated people seeing him looking at a screen, like he was a bored teenager or phone-addicted tourist), but it was necessary to get his GPS on track and plan his route. He dabbed the screen with his fingertips and scrolled to the cache location. Shouldn’t be too out of the way, he thought.
Putting his phone away, he wondered what he’d find in the cache this time. Some money would be nice, for once. Maybe something useful, like a fancy pocketknife. Or (dream on) a cute guy’s number.
He let his imagination roam free during the walk. He followed the cliffside, looking down at the valley, the seemingly endless landscape of trees and rivers and hills. He never wanted to be so cliche as to want to be a bird, but he couldn’t help it now. Not with that view. How amazing would it be to soar like Superman over all that green?
Finally, he reached the top. Breathtaking, and not because the hike winded him slightly. He could see sunrays reaching from behind a distant mountain, like fingers waving, reaching, getting ready to grab the mountain and yank itself to its feet. Checking his watch, Geoff noted that sunrise wouldn’t be for another fifteen minutes. He had time to find the cache.
Keeping an eye on his phone while simultaneously watching his feet, he made his way down a rocky slope, weaving between some trees. Then he had to climb up an equally steep slope filled with hunks of bark, stabilizing himself on nearby branches. At last, he emerged from the trees, still on the cliffside, but without such a safe, touristy lookout spot. The view was just as good, though, if not better as the designated end of the trail he had just left.
Looking around, he couldn’t find any marked cache positions. He examined the ground for signs of burial, checked the trees to see if they were hollow, but had no luck.
Eventually, a voice surprised him.
“You found me,” it said. And from behind a tree, a man stepped into view. He had a fey-like, impossible beauty to him. Pale golden hair, grey eyes flecked with green like some kind of emerald mine, slender, wiry muscles made silhouette by his dark suit, a rather unorthodox outfit for the mountains in the early morning. He was out of a dream, and Geoff forgot which dream, exactly, he came from.
“My name is Bo,” said the man. “I like playing hide and seek.”
Geoff, still stunned, said, “Oh.”
Bo smiled, and the whole forest seemed to light up. “Look,” he said.
Geoff turned. Across the wide landscape below, peeking from behind the mountain, the sun emerged. It was perfect. Bo was perfect. Everything was perfect.
But there was something hidden behind the perfection, like a shadow with the wrong shape. For Geoff, it was a memory. A deja vu, of sorts. He knew those emerald mine eyes. And for Bo, he realized he put this off for far too long. His nature was sealed, even when he left Geoff’s closet all those months ago.
Then Geoff remembered where he knew Bo’s eyes. He saw them in the shadow of his bedroom closet in the times between sleep and wakefulness. They weren’t from a dream. They were from a nightmare. Many nightmares.
He turned, but the Bogeyman was already upon him.
Day 204’s three prompt categories were, “The monster in the closet,” “Treasure chest,” and, “Romantic landscape.”
I kind of like this one. I’ll add it to my list of stories I need to fully work up after I’m done this silly ol’ 365-day challenge thing.