Chapter 6 – February 3A

8:33

Only running up half-way to his knees as he stepped off the front stoop of his family’s home, the snow grew deeper with each step Rune took down the slope. Ten feet from the tree line, Rune was wading through a waist-high drift, and considered turning around, going back home.

Not ready, yet. He looked to his left, saw in the pale moonlight an area where the snow didn’t seem as deep. Recalled how the area looked in summer, the ground was level there. His hips shuffled forward, crunching the layer of ice-crust and billowing the soft powder underneath; three to four steps further and he felt less resistance, his legs breaking free and clearing the crusted surface, stepping forward more briskly, reaching the area he had seen. Barely over his ankles.

The edge of the forest lay immediately ahead of him. Frosted evergreens and denuded poplars, dark and standing in a silent field of white, like headstones in a graveyard. Again he thought of summer, how different this place not only looked but sounded, cicadas and bees during the day and crickets and tree frogs at night, the busy fluttering of wings, squirrels and possum rustling in the leaves and pine needles on the ground. Rune held his breath. Listened. A sharp breeze, branches of a pine tree swaying and releasing snow down. flumpf. Nothing more.

Rune exhaled, watched the steam rise from his mouth past his eyes. Then he walked forward, not really sure why he was going, where he would end up, or when he would come to his senses and then turn around to go back to his warm home. He was going away — that was all he knew at the moment, and that little knowledge was all he needed to walk into the dark, cold woods.

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