It was an immensely hot day in the middle of summer; with temperatures rising above 38oC. The humidity was high due to the torrential rain during the past two days – the perks of being in a tropical country; unpredictable climate. Heat waves streamed up from the heated concrete road accompanied by the constant symphony of buzzing of flying insects, chirping crickets and the occasional rustling of the trees.
Yue stopped mid-trek, lowering herself to a squat. Sighing in defeat, she quickly made her way into the shadows of the trees by the side of the road and settled herself onto the mud. Pulling her canteen from her backpack, she cursed to no one in particular at the bad luck she had when her car decided to break down in the middle of the bloody mountain. It was bad enough that she had to be out of the comfort of her hotel on a day as hot as today and now she had to make her way up the mountain on a route designed for vehicles – that meant no rest-stops, vending machines or emergency phone booths.
Following the trail up the mountain would take her another two hours or so, perhaps longer considering the number of stops she had to take to get herself out of the unrelenting sun. One thing she was glad of was that before her trip to this rural town, she had chopped off her waist long hair in preparation for her upcoming role.
Yue was an actress-in-training. Well, she likened herself to one. To put it more accurately, Yue was a stunt double. She had already starred in a handful of motion blockbusters – as the stars’ stunt doubles to be precise. Her upcoming role was for a movie that was set in ancient china, in a Shaolin monastery and it required her to be able in basic Chinese Wushu.
The main reason why she was trekking up a mountain at eleven in the morning trying to reach the summit where a traditional Chinese martial arts dojo was located, that allowed her to video tape the lessons and copy the theory books.
Gulping down mouthfuls of water, she checked Googlemaps on her cell phone. Besides following the trail up the mountain, Googlemaps presented another way up - although it was not advised to. The terrain and slope of the mountain was unmapped, but it was possible to hike upwards through the jungle that covered the main bulk of the mountain.
It was almost noon, and the sun was reaching its highest point of the day. That meant that if she took the vehicle trail, she would have the sun burning directing down upon her, whereas if she went into the jungle, she would have lots of canopy protection. The thought of getting out of the sun made her giddy with glee as she replaced her canteen into her backpack and stood up dusting her backside.
Up and into the jungle it is.
Life as a stunt double was good. The exposure was good. The experience was important. Best of all, the pay was supremely enchanting. Sure, the risks involved in being a stunt double were high, but that was what insurance was for wasn’t it? Yue had met her biological parents once before – they were a nice couple, but they did not regret dumping Yue at the door of the orphanage. Yue was fine with that, truly, to put it bluntly, she was thankful to a certain extent; because the decision made by her parents when they were younger had moulded her into someone independent; someone who was capable of living life for herself.
Checking back against Googlemaps once again, Yue noted that although she was still far, the ground she had covered on this route would have taken her an additional half an hour on the vehicle’s pass. Smirking at her own wit, Yue bit her tongue a second after, having tripped over an exposed root and dropping her phone into the thick understory.
She riffled through the understory trying to spot her phone and a glint from her right made her thank the heavens that the sun was shining. Reaching for the little device, the ground beneath her foot shifted all of sudden. Grasping the little device in her palm, Yue stifled a scream as she tumbled headlong into the understory and was shocked to find that it was deeper than she had expected it to be.
Landing hard onto her left shoulder, Yue winced as a dull ache started to throb from within the bone. Sitting upright, Yue checked her phone and was relieved to see that it was still working albeit without any signals. She patted about her body to spot any other injuries and released the breath she didn’t know she had been holding. Looking up, Yue tried to spot the route that she had fallen from but was surprised to see the white of a building.
Confusion wrecked at her brain as she stood up – how had she reached the dojo if she had fallen downward? Dusting herself slightly, Yue replaced her cell phone into her side pocket and made her way towards the building.
She froze mid-step when she felt a foreign hand land on her bruised shoulder, squeezing it slightly.
“Stop right there.”