I found a rubber wrist band in the corner where the body parts used to be. It was dark green and imprinted with the words “We live as we dream –Alone.” Joseph Conrad. It must have fallen off one of the arms I moved. I put it on my wrist and stared at it for awhile, but I couldn’t wear it. Not because I didn’t believe what it said. It just didn’t belong to me.
I bundled up and climbed down the stairs to return it to its rightful owner. When I stepped out from under the shade of the tower, the snow was deep and soft which made it harder to reach the tree line. I practically had to dig my way through the white powder. Once I stepped into the forest, the snow wasn’t as deep, but The tree tops above me were drooping pretty severely from the weight of the snow. I expected the limbs to snap at any second and bury me alive.
The snow covered canopy didn’t allow much light to get though. It was almost like I didn’t just step into the forest, but onto a completely different planet, one that didn’t have a sun or warmth or any other living thing besides me.
I reached the tree where I had stacked the body parts, but they weren’t there. Somebody had moved them. I saw footprints on the ground, weird misshapen footprints that zigzagged through the woods in every direction. It was like someone or something had been running around like a lunatic. I followed them in their senseless pattern. I moved from left to right, in and around trees, up and down small hills until the footprints disappeared into a tight grouping of trees that almost looked like they had been woven together to form a dome like shelter.
I stood and stared at the entrance of the shelter, if that’s what it was, forever. Whatever made the footprints going in never made them coming out. He, she, it was in still in there. Probably waiting for me. I looked down at the bracelet without meaning to, and the words caught my eye. “We live as we dream – alone.”
I didn’t want to be alone anymore. If I went into the shelter and was killed or eaten or both, at least I wouldn’t be alone anymore. I took a deep breath and stepped inside. It took a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Once they did, I didn’t see something that wanted to eat me, but I did find the body parts from the fire tower. They were stacked just as neatly as I first found them. As far as I could tell, they were even stacked in the exact same order.
Its’ weird, but I was happy for them. I felt bad for kicking them out of the fire tower. To see them in the shelter, out of the snow… I don’t know. I just felt better. I placed the bracelet on the first hand I could find and got out of there as fast as I could.
It was a shelter. It had to be. The only things I have to worry about are who built it, and if they’re pissed that I moved their body parts. And, most important, why weren’t there footprints coming out of the shelter?