Fence of barren twigs, bending and occasionally snapping across Rune’s jacketed chest as he propelled himself into the forest. He reached a clearing, checked the cold darkness around him. Saw where his boots had caved into the snowpack, traced them back to the field where he’d entered — he could find his way back. The slope grew sharply deeper in these woods, he remembered that from carefree summers. A long time ago, a different person.
Down and to the left, that’s where the slope was leading him. The shore of Prosperity Lake, it would be somewhere in that direction. Hadn’t been there in years. Fishing with Butch. When he liked fishing. Saturday night, February — could be ice fishers down there. They’d be drinking, would make noise, have a stove or fire lit. He’d see them first.
Down and to the left. Sharp blow to the forehead, “AHH! Fuck.” He rubbed, stocking cap still in place. Looking down, hadn’t seen the branch. Took off a glove, reached under the cap with bare fingers and swiped the area on his forehead where he’d been hit. Brought the hand down, found a patch of blue light snaking among the branches. No blood.
His eyes cleared, looked forward. Less dense, up and left. Walk up that way a while, look for a path down to the lake. Feet crunched the top layer of snow, breath vapor rising from his mouth. Forward, keep the head up. Up a few steps, cut across, then down. To lake. Ice. Fish. No — just the lake. Crunch crunch.