(Around about 1 30 pm)
After seeing the second grave I was truly spooked and felt unreal in the sense that I couldn’t really believe or comprehend where I was. It had never fully sunk in for me at the time. I think I was expecting fear, which is why I was so confused when I instead felt a complete distortion of fear. I wasn’t scared, but I was definitely disturbed, and that is much worse. I really didn’t want to see what I wasn’t ready to see, like a dead body, or a live person about to hang themself. I didn’t want to be haunted by a totally raw experience, but at the same time I did, why else was I there? It was uncertainty mixed with feelings of fear and dread, and somewhere underneath all of that, there was excitement. I knew that I was having a totally unique experience that would be a game changer for the rest of my life, it would give me a new lens to see with. Every future dance with fear would have to size up to this experience first, and it would lose every time.
By this stage we were surrounded by ribbons in every direction and graves were popping up at an alarmingly high frequency. We walked past a tree with flowers resting at its trunk and a calorie mate planted next to it. Obviously an offering left from a loved one. Just the night before Dave and I bought a calorie mate from a small family run convenient store as a novelty because they were a snack which gave you health in the PS2 game Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. David also found a noose hanging from a tree, thankfully no neck was inside it, but it was disturbing to think that there once was. By this point we had been separated from Josh for about an hour, I think. Later we found out that he felt compelled to explore the forest’s depths, alone, despite his earlier strong desire not to do just that. He also stumbled upon the grave with the calorie mate that we saw, and he saw it as a bad omen. Note: Below is his second video diary, it cuts out at the end. That footage is all that is left of Josh.
We decided to backtrack our way out of the forest and try to find the Ice Cave, in the hope that we might find Josh there, and maybe some cool ice formations too. We had been gone for about an hour so we doubted we would see him again, but we thought we’d at least try. When we finally got back on the walking trail we had about 1km to reach the cave. Once we arrived we went inside and had a look around, we were happy to discover that the cave was very deserving of its name – there was ice everywhere! The Lava Cave could learn a thing or two from this cave. David took a picture of me standing next to a wall of ice, when he was done taking it he needed to take it again, he did and then told me to have a look at the photos. Both pictures were me surrounded in thick fog, while my eyes were glowing white. I told him to stand next to the ice so I could take a photo of him, the picture was crystal clear, he took another one of me, full of fog. There was no visible fog or mist in the cave whatsoever.
After our second cave experience we left and went aimlessly looking for Josh. He was nowhere to be found so I got a grape fanta (grape drank!) from the vending machine and we pottered around for a bit. It was so cold that we were shaking. We looked out into the rainy mist, wondering where to go next, when an old Japanese man called out to us waving an umbrella in the air, it was a clear plastic one. We turned our heads to accept it (Dave took it, I already had a black one I brought with me from home) and noticed Josh in the misty rain looking just as lost as we probably looked. We were so relieved to see him that we dropped our umbrellas and ran over to him in the pouring rain and gave him a hug. Then we sat down and shared photos and stories over a cigarette. Josh said that he felt a strange pull to go into the forest, despite his not wanting to, and that he had seen enough and wanted to go home. David and I felt that we didn’t have closure yet; if we left now we would regret it for the rest of our lives. So we walked him to the bus stop, which was quite far away. He ran for the bus once we could see it stopped in the distance and his body disappeared into the fog.