Charlie groaned as he regained consciousness, and despite his discomfort sensed immediately that something wasn’t right. His head, it hurt — he remembered being struck from behind, after swinging wildly with the log he’d found. But there was something else; his head felt heavy, it wasn’t the pain, but something else seemed to be pulling him . . . down? His arms, they were heavy too, being pulled down, but . . . they were above his head.
Charlie opened his eyes, saw the same blackness from before he lost consciousness. He lifted his head up to locate the moonlight, and then finally realized what had happened.
His head had scraped over the ground. He moved his legs, felt them bound together at the ankles. He was hanging, suspended from a tree branch or something, there wasn’t enough light for him to make out exactly how.
His arms were free, so he placed his palms on the ground, began walking with his hands. He saw dark shapes all around him, trees he assumed; if he could get to one, climb it with his arms, he might be able to turn himself around, see exactly how he was suspended, figure out a plan for freeing himself.
The shapes on his left seemed closest. Charlie walked with his hands, his pace growing faster as he closed in, just another half a foot — and then the rope (or whatever it was) from which he was hanging stiffened, would yield him no more distance.
He felt a tree root under his right hand. Charlie grabbed it, reached out with his left. He was close, perhaps an inch or two away; he pushed up on the root, reached further with his left, felt his fingertips brush against tree bark —