‘Are you sure it’s this way?’ asked a very wary and slightly frightened Alex.


‘Of course I am, stupid,’ replied Thomas, far too quickly and immediately giving the game away. 


Alex stopped, the long grass tickling his bare legs, the night time dew making his shoes and socks drenched. He looked at his friend, watching him stride forward with an unnerving purpose that ultimately, Alex knew, meant nothing. They were lost, helplessly lost, and had probably been so for many hours. Thomas, realizing that the heavier steps of his reluctant follower had now totally fallen away stopped. He turned back, which was a much bigger thing to do than it looks in print, because Thomas made it a golden rule to never turn back unless, that was, it related to Alex, his oldest friend. Turning back came with the territory, he muttered to himself, as he walked back, his friend now stubbornly parked on a rock with a face that said he would no longer be fooled.


‘OK, OK,’ said Thomas, holding his hands in the air in acceptance of the truth they now faced. Their car, broken beyond repair, and their phones out of battery meant a walk to civilisation, a seemingly simple idea, was now turning into a potential, no probable nightmare.


‘We’re lost aren’t we,’ said Alex, hunger and thirst dulling the fear that sought to take over.


‘Erm, technically or actually?’


Alex gave his friend the look that said jokes were off the menu.


‘OK, yes. We’re lost. Happy?’


A pause.


‘Not really. I’m cold, beyond hungry, and out here in the countryside that you and I both know is probably full of bandits, so no, this is not my idea of being happy.’


‘No,’ conceded Thomas, ‘I guess not.’


‘A fine Christmas this is.’


‘Indeed.’


‘Wish i’d stayed at home.’


Thomas thought about offering various reasons why they had left on this tortuous journey in a war torn country but suddenly every line he had trotted out time and time again to anyone who had doubted his mind, now just fell away. What a truly lonely place to be, their fate in the hands of who found them first with every likelihood being they would follow so many journalists before them, and that that would not include living beyond the night. 


They waited, a perfect star lit night over head. 


‘Do you see that?’ asked Thomas, a wonder in his voice.


‘What?’ asked Alex, following his gaze high into the sky to a star so bright, so ridiculously bright, that they suddenly felt daylight had arrived.


‘And it’s shining, pointing,’ said Alex, his gaze now following the path of the light towards the valley below. Without thinking he began to run towards the point where the light fell off the cliff.


‘Wait!’ shouted Thomas, breaking into a sprint to try and catch up.


Within moments they stood, the cliff giving way to an ancient path that dropped to a house that led to a village that would in turn lead to their redemption.


A Christmas star. A miracle. Hope.