The night fell like a black cloak surrounding the bay.
The snow glistens on the mountain tops from beneath the glow of the rising moon.
A polar bear and her two cubs creep quietly across the barren land, glancing carefully to and fro for predators and prey.
The darkness will keep you here, if you let it. It will devour you and any memories you keep on you.
The night is long. Sitting here in the haunting quiet all your demons quickly surface, taunting your eyesight, skewing your reality.
It doesn’t matter what weapons you hold when the terrorists are inside your head.
You sit perfectly still, straightening out your fingers, flattening your feet to the ground.
You didn’t hear a branch break. Keep inhaling.
You don’t sense movement.
You don’t sense movement.
Somewhere around you in this augmented reality are eyes watching. Waiting.
You start humming like you did when you were young, when you ran from your grandparents house to yours in the twilight, pretending that you weren’t alone.
The moon has moved two thumb widths to the right, by your measure. The mountain peaks shadow has changed direction in defence.
Your fire dies slowly. You’re cold now, but too scared to move. The glow of the embers casts a few feet of light. What lies beyond that light? You shudder.
If you close your eyes until morning you’ll never know. Maybe it’s better this way.
Another thumb widths movement by the moon and you exhale clouds into the sky. You’re tired now. You’re being watched from all directions.
“Maybe I’ll just close my eyes and get some sleep,” you decide.
You close your eyes for a second and suddenly your face feels warm.
You smile because your memory tells you that this feels like the warmth you felt from hugging your dog Hunter.
You open your eyes and in front of you, looking into your soul not four inches from your nose is a pair of stone cold black eyes, on a large grey frame. You dare not blink, but your senses tell you this is no dog – this is a wolf. It glances downward slowly. Your heartbeat races quickly as you know this is the end.
Part of you is thankful, you’re cold, alone, and you’ve been this way for too many days to count. You close your eyes and wait.
“Will he rip my throat? Will he go for my legs? My arm?” you wonder.
You dare not breathe. Your ears are on high alert, picking up every subtle movement. But there is none. You exhale slowly, terrified to move even the slightest bit. Your breath quickens again as you hear the crunching of snow.
“Is that you?” a familiar voice says quietly. Your eyes shoot open like a bullet. A lone person stands before you in a dark green coat – you vaguely remember this person, but are too concerned about the location of the wolf.
The man senses your distress and says, “He took off north of you.”
You begin to stand slowly, bracing yourself against the snowmobile at your back that had broken down days before. The wolf tracks led off to the distance, and ended at a pair of glowing eyes. The man in green starts his snowmobile and says, “We best get you home, there’s a crowd been lookin’ for you for days now.”
You struggle your way over to his snowmobile and climb on the back. Leaving any belongings you may have left by the orange pit, glowing by your broken down ski-doo.
“Am I dreaming?” you wonder.
The engine roars and you speed along, climbing hills, whooshing down paths, crossing frozen lakes, and finally, approaching the lights of your town. You had all but forgotten that pattern of lights by the old air strip. But you crack a smile now, remembering. What a virtue it is, to remember.
When you’re faced with death, it’s easy to close your eyes. But while you’re alive, it’s best to keep them open.