Chapter 6 – February 11A

8:46

A few more zigs to the right, zags to the left, but the black water remained visible as Rune navigated through the maze of barren branches. Then suddenly the path to the shore was clear, the teen rushed forward, relieved to have finally reached his destination.

He looked back. Vapor from his breath lifted, he saw his footprints in the snow. Remembered not following any footprints (human, anyway) on his way down; light would be a challenge, but if he didn’t panic on his return trip, he wouldn’t have much difficulty finding his way back.

He had no idea when he’d return, though. Wasn’t particularly sure why he’d come down here in the first place. But he was here, and felt satisfied with his arrival.

Turned back to the lake. The water seemed frozen for about twenty feet from the shore — not being sure where the shoreline ended and the ice began, he couldn’t be sure. He took tentative steps forward, moving sideways, the left foot inching forward and pressing down, gauging the resistance before bringing the right forward. He felt snow pushing into frozen gravel the first few steps, then about the fourth or fifth, felt harder resistance. Left foot pressed down again, senses alert for water; he hit a patch of ice, slipped forward a little, quickly regained his balance. Stepped down on the same spot with more confidence, hit a path of ice as solid as concrete. Retreated, found the edge of the gravel, took two steps back.

Looked to his left. A cabin several hundred feet away, the generator sound was definitely coming from there, as were the lights he’d seen. He saw no movement, no sign of life around the cabin — what had seemed like a welcoming beacon as he stumbled through the forest now seemed darkly silent, ominous.

Looked to the right. Thought he saw the outlines of more cabins, further down than the one on his left, but none of them were illuminated, and the dense forest repelled the light from the moon. The shoreline seemed smoother in that direction — Rune walked forward, answering his silent summons.

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