Chapter One Miss Piggy very slowly turned around a full 360 degrees, watching as the little red arrow very stubbornly continued to point exactly halfway between the N and the E. Oh, how very helpful. She sighed and shoved the compass back into the pack. Why, exactly, did the one person with a broken compass also have to be the one person to get separated from the group? And how had she so completely lost them so quickly, anyway? She had just knelt down to tie her boot, and now there was no one within sight or sound. Just lots and lots of great big leaves and the occasional glimpse of a tree branch or trunk. Of course, the real question was why they had signed on to this movie when one of the stipulations was to visit a real, live, dangerous, bug-infested jungle 'to appreciate the real experience'. As if they had to explore one of these places for that? Who didn’t know what a rainforest looked like? Big green plants. Really tall trees. Dark. A few bright colors. Big deadly animals. No people, no buildings. End of story. And now here she was, in the middle of one of these mysterious, exotic, endangered, precious, giant deathtraps, with no guides, no companions, a non-functional compass, and a completely unintelligible map. Oh, and one of those... book... things... Something about which plants were good for what and which animals would eat you, because apparently, if you came face to face with a snarling beast, you had time to take out a book and find out that you were lunch before it devoured you whole. Other than that, the pack had... water... which was painfully heavy... and that was all. It was a fairly small pack, which apparently helped minimize how much it would catch on things. Or so she was told. Well, every survival guide she'd ever heard of said that if you were separated from your group, you were supposed to stay right where you were until they found you. Standing still and waiting in a potentially lethal jungle. How pleasant. With nothing better to do, she pulled out the funny little book and started reading about what lurked around her. Apparently, if it was pretty, it was probably poisonous. These gloves made it hard to turn the pages, thin pale suede instead of her usual silk. It was frustrating, but these were nicer for pushing her way through those prickly branches. Hm… What could those do to her… After finally convincing the page to turn, she could still hear rustling. Now, was that them? Or was that some wretched beast that she could read about in her book before it devoured her whole? She looked up and slowly looked around in attempt to identify the source of the rustling. It sounded like leaves, but when she could see leaves in absolutely every single direction- including up and down- that didn't exactly narrow things at all. Hm… Over there, it looked like some leaves were... ...Revealing a large... probably cat of some sort... slowly, stealthily slinking forward... ...That was bad. That was very, very bad. ...Was it the kind of creature that couldn't see you if you held perfectly still? The animal's eyes swooped menacingly over her, piercing straight through her. Its jaws parted. Ohhhhhh... apparently it could see her! ...Running... would be bad, right? Running would mean it would chase her, and it would win, even if she were wearing running shoes and it was wearing six-inch heels two sizes too small. But... standing still... was a very bad idea! She very, very slowly began to back away from the hunter. This meant she couldn't see where she was going. Bad idea. Her other option was to turn her back to her predator. Worse idea. Surely, there had to be another choice... Forwards, backwards, up, down- sideways! That would work. That would work. She very slowly moved to the right, one step at a time, glancing between her direction and the animal, relying on peripheral vision when she could. It seemed to be following her. Bad. Bad. Very bad. Very, very bad. ...If she made a lot of noise, would it get scared and run, or get angry and attack? ...Not... worth the risk, just then... A step to the right. A step to the right. A step to the right. A step to the right. A step back to get around the tree. A step to the right. Another step back, because it was a big tree. A step to the right. A step to the right. A step to the right... Ten, fifteen full minutes after slowly stepping to the right, something miraculous happened. The animal turned around and walked away. She froze. ...So... back to Plan A, of holding still and hoping someone found her? She looked at the book in her hands and began to flip through. Maybe there was a section on what to do if a big cat came and drove you away from where you were patiently waiting to be rescued by the genius who'd given you the broken compass. She waited for what seemed like a long time. With no watch, no view of the sun's movement, and no real patience, it was hard to judge how much time had really passed... but it seemed like a lot. The genius didn't come. By this time, her feet hurt from standing so much, a good portion of her water was gone, and her stomach was telling her that it was dinnertime. Standing still was very rapidly losing its appeal. The question then became which way to go. She had absolutely no idea at all where she was... She had gotten to this point by stepping to the right for a while. If she stepped to the left for a while, maybe she would get back to her original point of being lost. Where was Harry Krishna when you needed him? She turned to her left and started walking. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ "But you will find her, right?" The man shifted his weight uneasily, glancing at the darkening sky. "We do our best, sir, but-" Not good enough. "You will find her, right?" Kermit said, firm and stern and struggling to keep his fists from clenching. "We do everyt’ing we can do to find her, sir," the man said. Kermit sighed and nodded. He knew it was true. He knew that they would do their very best, and that they couldn't make guarantees, but... "Thank you," he said softly, and he turned to rejoin his friends. "Kermit? You okay?" Fozzie asked quietly. Kermit sighed heavily as he sat down beside his friend, propping his elbows on his knees. "...Worried," he said softly. "Piggy's tough, but..." Fozzie nodded. "She'll be okay. She couldn't have gone that far." "Yeah!" Kermit said. "I'm sure they'll find her soon." "They might not even have to find her," Rowlf said softly. "She might just come out here on her own." Kermit nodded. "Yup. Either way, it's just a matter of time." They nodded, and with a heavy sigh, they settled in to wait. ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Miss Piggy felt a shiver run down her spine that had absolutely nothing to do with cold. Even with almost all of the sunlight being blocked out by the countless leaves and branches above, she knew it was getting darker, and still, there was no sign of civilization, no recognizable person other than herself... This jungle held enough threats during the day. She wasn't very keen on finding out what it could do to her at night, nor was she heavily inclined on finding out just how dark the night could be. It was beginning to look like she would have to. It was a terrifying idea. It was too dark now to open up the lousy book and see what kind of nocturnal beast might turn her into a midnight snack, or to figure out what the best kind of horridly makeshift shelter would be... She'd heard that every level of the rainforest was home to its own set of critters and creepers and crawlers and creatures. Bigger animals probably stayed closer to the bottom... Perhaps climbing one of the trees would be wise... but how high would she have to climb? How high could she climb? And when it was this dark, would it really be wise to climb at all? She'd seen enough of the nature channel to know that many predators could blend right in with the trees in day, and night would be all the better for them... She'd seen enough movies to know that a vine was just as likely to be a snake... And if she just kept walking, she was likely to just stumble right onto some sleeping beast and wake it and anger it, and if she tried to just stand still all night and stay awake and alert, then she was just as likely to fall asleep anyway, and that was just begging for trouble... She took a deep breath and stopped walking. She very slowly, carefully crouched down, lightly feeling the ground for any... company. There was none, and so she stayed there, curling into the fetal position. She would keep her ears at attention for as long as she could, and would do her best not to sleep. If and when she did fall asleep, then... she would just have to hope for a little luck.