The mechanical hum had been pulling him forward like a dog lured by a whistle, but he no more wanted to continue forward than he wanted his teeth drilled. His earlier wonder at what had bee drawing him forward was now replaced with a conviction that he’d been wasting his time.

He turned quickly. Could still see the lights of the cabin that had shown him the location of the lake. Looked down, located the impression of his bootprints in the snow. Time to head back, face whatever was waiting for him back in his house. Took a step forward, thinking how this whole day had been a waste, not just now as he dragged his frozen ass up and down this lonely shore but earlier. Ever since he’d left his house that first time, after his argument with his father that afternoon. He shook his head, “No” — that had been the second time he’d left the house that day, the first was this morning when Coach Dan picked him up for the fencing tournament. Even that had been a waste of time, another last-place finish, why bother showing up. Not that the second leaving was much better, wandering downtown and eating a bad meal and then showing up at Double-J’s party only to get his ass kicked. Third time he left, might have been the worst, just stumbling around in the dark, through the woods, reaching the shore and heading in the direction of the hum. Only to realize there was nothing there he wanted to see anyway.

Yeah, a waste. Rune continued forward, stepping into this reversed bootprints whenever possible, until he finally noticed, off to his right, the lights erupting over the distant horizon of the lake.


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