04 September, 2012

4 September 2012

Though exhausted after the long struggle of his dream and so stiff with cold that he could scarcely move, Einar did not want to come to bed as Liz at first urged him to do, fearful lest he slip back into the shadowy world in which she had fallen to a dozen federal bullets and he fought  his way up through the snowy woods in a desperate and likely ill-fated attempt to save the life of their son.  She--not wanting him to go there, either, and in fact just beginning to realize how alarmed she ought to be at his actions, his taking of Will right out from under her nose as she slept and nearly making off with him into the snow--soon saw the wisdom of his desire to stay awake, stoked the fire and sat with him before the stove, silent, listening to the logs crackle and waiting for his trembling to subside.  Einar, for his part, could not help staring at her, the wonder of finding her alive and uninjured still more than he could quite fathom, and in his wordless gaze she read something fierce and perhaps a little frightening, a stony resoluteness behind the solemn joy in his eyes, and she hoped he might, in time, speak to her some of the things he was then thinking.  Perhaps sooner than later. For she would have liked some reassurance that the thing was unlikely to happen again, though she did not see how he could give it.  In which case, perhaps she would have to start keeping track of Will at night by linking his ankle and her wrist with a cord, securing the two together.  Would have liked to do the same for Einar, but knew it would likely prove disastrous in the event of another dream sequence similar to the one he must have just undergone.  He’d fight the cord, probably just pull her out of bed with him and everyone would end up worse off.

No, if he was to go wandering off into the snow--or wandering about the cold cabin, which was, after all, as far as he’d got this time, thought it had looked as though he’d tried his best to go further--then so be it, but he certainly couldn’t be taking Will with him.  Which could all be settled later, and she returned her attention to Einar, who did not seem to be having much success at all in his efforts to get warm, too far from the fire and beginning to look pretty purple.  No wonder.  He was, when she tried to help him nearer, quite damp with sweat, and despite his quiet protests that everything was just fine--so fine, in fact, that it had seldom been better, considering that they were all there together, front door intact, Liz alive and Will sleeping undisturbed in his bed--she insisted he get into some dry clothes.  Which, though a bit of a challenge to accomplish, did help a good deal.  Better able to concentrate once he was a bit more steady, Einar again took in the details of the room, Muninn sleeping on his perch, Will in the mountain goat skin, everything in its place, only this time he noticed the deep furrows on Liz’s forehead, shadow in her eyes, and he did not understand it; she was alive, and ought to have been as overjoyed at the realization as he was, but of course, lacking the perspective brought by the place in which he’d spent his last few hours, and something appeared to be bothering her.  Lack of sleep, probably.  Didn’t seem to be getting any lighter outside, and morning might still be hours away, for all he knew.

“Early.  I woke you.  Sorry…”

“You woke me?  It’s a good thing you did!  What would have happened if you’d got that door open?  Were you going to take off into the snow with Will?  How far would you have gone before you realized you’d misunderstood the situation, and came back?  Or would you have come back at all?  Maybe I would have followed you only to end up at the wrong end of an atlatl dart or a bullet, like I almost did just a few minutes ago over by the door.  What do you think?”

Thought he was still pretty confused, that was what, stared at her in dismay as he tried to come up with an answer and then lowered his eyes to the floor, for he had no memory at all of nearly causing her to end up at the wrong end of a dart and as for Will…well, there had been little choice in the matter, with the door down, air un-breathable in the cabin and the enemy soon to storm in…  But he could hardly begin to explain all of that to her.  Knew it would all crumble to nothing if he tried.  Should crumble, perhaps, for clearly it had not been real, and though tremendously glad each time he was reminded of this, the scene remained too fresh in mind and memory to be entirely dismissed.  He had to tell her, make her understand.

“Need to make a plan.  Rally point, more caches, do regular drills so we’ll have some chance if they show up.  Can happen so quickly and we…really, we’re not prepared for it, have ended up too comfortable and complacent here, place is real good and has served us well for an awfully long time, far longer than we might have expected and it’s great that we had a stable, settled place for little Snorri to come into the world but the minute you get too comfortable and complacent, they’re gonna…”

She took him by the shoulders, shook him gently and squeezed until he stopped speaking and looked up at her, panting for breath.  “Whoa, slow down…if you talk any faster, I’m not going to be able to keep up.  Now.  You can be sure that you don’t look the least bit comfortable or complacent to me right at the moment, and while a plan will be good, and we’ll talk about it later, what we really need is to eat breakfast!  It’s not so early.  Not long until daylight, and if we’re going to do that trapline again, both of us are going to need some energy, aren’t we?”

Oh, I’ve got energy, plenty of energy to do that trapline, lay the caches, rehearse our E&E a couple times and be back here before noon to reinforce that front door and set up a few early warning alarms in the woods around the clearing so they won’t take us by surprise next time…  But he said none of it aloud, knew that it wasn’t the answer she was looking for and besides, the energy would never last, would leave him flat on his face in the snow before the passage of much time at all, and despite the confusion which still gripped him regarding the events of the past night, he was very clear on the fact that he must eat, renew and build his strength so he would be ready should the long horror of the night ever find its way to reality in their little basin, in their lives.

“Yes.  Breakfast, then the trapline, and then we’ve got some planning to do.”

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