I left home in the middle of the night, not a word to anyone. As much as my parents tried to reassure me that I did nothing worthy of bearing guilt, I didn’t fucking buy it. Unconditional love wasn’t made for assholes like me, and if there’s one thing I can’t stomach, it’s living a lie. So here I am, ten years later. I’ve built a cozy, structurally sound environment for myself. No people, no problems. Every month or so, I run some firewood into town in exchange for a ration of some minor groceries. There’s a little old lady down there who keeps me stocked with eggs in exchange for silly little honey-do tasks she can’t complete herself, and the general store is happy to operate on trade. Good fucking thing, too—I’d be lost without flour for my pancakes. Just thinking about the past has left my breath ragged. It billows out in front of me, the vapor manifested in the air. I peer around through the trees and see an orange-yellow sun veering off to the west in the sky. That’s my cue. Dinnertime. I get my clothes back on my body, lickety-split. When it gets too dark, I’ve been known to leave garments out here on occasion and just walk back up the mountain in my boots and my manhood. All this thinking about the past, though…tonight, I just don’t wanna fucking deal with it. On the bank of the lake, I gather a bundle of sticks and logs and pile them on each other. I take my flint and starter and get a quick flame going. It catches immediately on the wood. Sure, I can ignite a fire with just my sticks, but some days I like to reserve myself. Even a monster can use a break once in a while to stay sane. I take my big old cast iron skillet, settle it over the flames. When it’s nice and hot, I toss in a knob of butter half the size of my fist. While that melts, I gut the bass in a few easy strokes of my knife and slap it into the pan. Nothing like the smoke of a homemade fire and the sizzle of something you’ve caught yourself to make you feel at home.
As the pan sizzles over the fire, cooking my fish nice and thorough, a hellish screech comes shrieking through my quiet habitat. Sounds like a car. For the driver’s sake, I fucking hope it ain’t. These mountain roads have been nothing but black ice for a week now, and with a storm coming in… I just fucking hope it ain’t a car. I stand up and look through the trees to see a red sedan swerving out of control up on the path. I watch its movements, bracing myself to bolt if it comes this way. Suddenly, the car flies off the road and starts rolling down the mountainside. I hear it crash into the mountain each time a side hits the terrain. I don’t even think about it. In my line of work, you weren’t trained to think. You were trained to just do. There’s someone piloting that car and no matter how dumbshit I might think they are, I need to help them. I swiftly scoop up my flashlight and charge in the direction of the crash. I know one thing for sure: if anyone is even in that car anymore, they’re in rough shape…if they’re even alive at all. My heart races as I strain myself, using trees and natural footings in the mountain to climb my way up to the crash. When a person is injured, you waste no time. You don’t look back. You just keep pushing on. And that’s what I have to do right now, for this driver and who knows how many passengers. I’m already mentally preparing how much I can ration out of my own supplies to be able to help them. That’s the trouble of living alone. I used to worry about it a lot. Hospitality was a big part of my family’s lessons growing up. You don’t hog to yourself what you can give to others. But when you haven’t shared with a soul in ten years, you become relaxed and tend to keep less around you. I continue forward. Damn, it’s a trek up here. I’m surprised the car tumbled so quickly. They’re lucky they stuck where they did, but still…I’m not expecting the best-case scenario with this.