He looks down at him. His face, pale and sharp, empties and he sees another boy never come home. ‘You sure you want to get off here? Expectin’ a bad storm this weekend.’
He smiles. ‘Yea, this is my stop. Thanks.’ He alights the bus.
‘Fine. Go on ahead.’ He slams the bus doors and accelerates around the turn.
He watches the bus bend into the forest and then begins up the mountain road before him.
The sky is dark and in places it blooms sporadically green and lightning blue between the snow. Reaching a plateau he can see a scarlet swell fade out behind the blue massif.
From there the road steepens. The air thins and has a cutting quality to it that makes him pull over his hood and tighten it. He walks with his head down and breathes heavily.
On his way he comes upon a near vacant collection of cabins below a bright red sign that reads Mountainview restaurant and lodge. Standing in the faintly lit gallery window of the restaurant there is a young woman. She has soft grey hair and soft hazy skin. Her hair is up and bobs from one side to the other as she lays her face against the window. She stares out at all the paths in between the trees and her breath makes brief impressions on the glass. Her eyes are dark and her lips move imperceptibly. She smiles and withdraws her face.
As she leaves he feels a warmth grow in his chest. He can feel her lying in between his arms, he can feel her kiss. He continues up.
The road continues elevating but his breath has accustomed itself to the thinner air. The wind becomes more violent and the sky now blooms with awful scrawls of lighting blue and green. The snow falls more heavily and then with the first echoing boom of thunder becomes hail.
He runs with his head down and his jacket collar up. The hail shatters on his back, drawing blood. He covers his head with his hands and continues running.
He comes across a narrow defile in the mountain and takes its rocky path up to the trees that are seeable only when lightning blows up the sky. The trees are sparse here, so hail continues to break on his back and hands. He runs through the trees seeking some refuge and finds in a collection of boulders a cave that stinks of rotted carcasses and feces. Finding no other recess nearby he returns and unrolls his sleeping bag under the low cave entrance and gets in.
As he lies there he can feel the blood drip down his neck. He turns on his side because of the stinging welts on his back and he watches the hail continue its explosive descent and the lightning piece the sky. Soon enough he is asleep.