A lot of things happened in fairly rapid succession, then, Einar wishing he could stop it all moving, have some time to think, trying, but everyone around him seemed to possess an urgency he could not quite understand, swept him along with their momentum and kept him going. Roger and Bud soon had tarp tents and bedding packed up and ready to go, Susan working with Liz to gather up some essentials from the shelter and distribute recently‐finished jerky between various packs. While Liz packed Will's things Susan sat down beside Einar and handed him a pot of lukewarm broth, kept reminding him to drink, giving him only short reprieves whenever he stopped, turning away, nauseated. Difficult as it was he did manage to keep most of the stuff down, consciousness a slightly easier thing to maintain after he was finished.
"Guess I must have been a little dehydrated," he told her, handing back the empty pot for the last time, and Susan looked at him strangely, one corner of her mouth turning down as if she might laugh, but she didn't, pressed another pot of broth into his hands, instead.
"Maybe just a little. "
Time missing, moving, not sure how or when they had left camp, but they were moving, Roger walking beside him as if assigned to do so—which, in fact, he had been—closer than Einar might have wished, but the man wouldn't seem to go away, kept speaking to him in words which made no sense to Einar. He tried to answer, anyway, as well as he could, eliciting a suppressed grin from the the man, who apparently found his answers humorous but didn't want to let on as much. Didn't like it. Why was everyone acting so strangely, refusing to talk to him? And, where was Liz? He looked for her, finally caught a glimpse of her walking beside Susan some distance ahead, Will on her back. Wanting to catch up, he increased his speed, soon outdistanced Roger.
After a time, seeing that Einar had no intention of being left behind, Bud said something to Roger, and the pilot stopped shadowing him so closely, gave him some space. Einar was glad. Not feeling too steady, and didn't want to others to see. Better to deal with it on his own.
World was weird around him, strange and shimmery and dim, which, he could only surmise, must be attributable to the late hour, far too late to be starting out in search of a new camp, which they did seem to be doing. He tried point out the fact, suggested that they wait for morning, but no one seemed to be listening, and then they were moving again, heading down. Too fast. It was all happening too fast and he didn't like it, and because no one would listen and he seemed entirely ineffective, just then, at communicating with words, he did the only thing he could think to do, and sat down. Fell down, more accurately, for once he reached a certain angle his knees folded and he was on the ground, same results, would have to do. For a while no one but the raven noticed that he was lagging behind, kept moving and left him there, which suited Einar just fine.
Night was coming; sleep seemed a good idea. He could catch up in the morning. Except that they were headed down, and down meant danger, which meant that he must be with them. Back on his feet then, still wanting to call a halt to the descent and still unable to communicate the fact, all his breath going to keeping on his feet and moving his body forward. Through a supreme effort he managed to catch up to Kilgore, pace him for a while, delivering, at last, a firm whack to the man's shoulder with his hiking stick by way of attempting to obtain his attention. Bud stopped, whirled on Einar and grabbed the stick.
"Hey now, what's this? What do you think you're doing? You're not the only one who doesn't care for folks sneaking up behind you, you know."
"Want to...stop. Too fast."
"Oh, we're going to fast for you, are we? Can't keep up? Well ain't that a shame? Push harder, you doggone lazy slacker."
Einar grinned, shook his head and would have laughed, if he'd had the breath for it. "No. Not the pace, the...just need to stop and...talk about what we're..."
"We did talk. All done talking. Headed down a thousand feet or so, where there's more air and you can get more oxygen into your bloodstream overnight. All done talking. Can talk after we make camp. Now, on your feet unless you want a quick boot to the ribs. Move."
He still didn't like it, knew the further they descended, the greater became their chances of encountering others, but unable to effectively communicate this and seeing that Liz wanted very much to continue, he allowed Bud to push him along.
Einar kept going down, falling every ten or twelve steps, coming close to losing consciousness and having an increasing struggle getting up again. Bud pulled him to his feet the first time, kicked him the third; Einar barely seemed to notice any of it, and Liz wished he would stop, wished there might be another way, but words didn't seem to be reaching him, so she kept walking with Susan, let the tracker do his job. After a time not even the kicks seemed to be registering, Bud resorting to lifting Einar by the shoulders and bodily setting him back on his feet, ordering him to go on marching.
The end. Everyone had stopped; Roger was already busy setting up his shelter. Einar, freeing himself from Liz's grasp as she tried to guide him to a seat on a fallen aspen, insisted on making a thorough reconnaissance of the place before settling down for the night, squinting hard against the dizziness and doing his best to assess their position. Not too bad, brush heavy and no sign of recent human presence, other than their own. It would do. Would have to do. Darkness inside and out, trees fading into night on the high horizon and the deeper blackness which had been stalking him all day finally asserting itself, consciousness fading as he finished his survey of the place. With Bud's help Liz rolled him into a sleeping bag, slid in beside him, relieved; rest, whether he wanted it or not.