I awoke in the middle of the night. We had no flashlights, but the fire was still barely burning, thanks Will knowing how to light it. I couldn’t see farther than a couple feet in front of me. Holly was shivering, but she was sleeping, so I took the chance to put a coat on her. I could tell that it used to be white, and I knew that it belonged to the old man. But I didn’t think much of it, wrapping it around her as soon as I could.
Then, the feeling of grief welcomed me. A cold embrace. I wondered what we should do with the bodies. Leave them in the position that they died in?
I then wondered why we crashed. Was it the pilot? He seemed old, and pretty tired. Or was it the plane itself? We saw the engines burning. Or it could’ve been both.
To my right, there was supposed to be Charlie, sleeping like a baby. Instead, there was a log where he should’ve been. Instead of grief for those who have fallen, I felt horror. Where did he go? What’s he doing? He can’t go out on his own.
I sat and thought for a minute. Should I just leave him be and hope he comes back by morning? I wrapped myself in the clothing and thought about being anywhere but by this fire. It was cold out there. I should probably stay by this fire. I liked that idea.
No, Duncan! What are you saying? Crashed plane or not, he’s a prisoner! He can’t wander off on his own! I scoffed to myself. The idea of safety by this fire comforted me. But I couldn’t let Charlie get lost.
I brought myself on my feet, feeling multiple bones crack. My left arm was still throbbing. Holly had wrapped it up pretty good, but the vision of that giant hole in my arm made me want to puke. Then again, I admired Holly’s dedication one more time. She was a nice girl.
I stretched, which was a bad idea, because more of my bones cracked, just from me not using them.
Now, I thought, where would Charlie be? I remembered he mentioned a river being not far off from here. If anything, that’s probably where he would be.
I walked, hesitantly, not to make any noise. If they woke, all hell would break loose. I’d hate to lose their trust, and they barely trusted me in the beginning. I had to walk over Holly, then around Will. I knew the river is just past the plane, meaning I’d have to walk by that disaster.
The plane wasn’t that hard to find. Debris was scattered everywhere. You could find some next to the river. I could still see the smoke from the plane rising in the air. I was a little surprised because planes usually explode right when they make impact. Ours had a fire, I was guessing, because the front of the plane was totaled.
The smell of burning gas and metal wafted over me and brought me back to the present. I didn’t want to look. I couldn’t look at the plane crash, to think, that everybody in there is dead. In my throat, a rock formed that I had to forcefully swallow down.
I had to maneuver myself through the thick forest, ducking, twisting, stepping over fallen branches. Humans were never supposed to come here. America’s final frontier.
I heard a sharp voice through the trees. A voice that got me in that very situation in the first place. I tried to scowl, but it was just too damn cold for that. I didn’t want my prisoner to hear my teeth chattering.
We met at the river. Charlie had his hands in his pockets. The moonlight shone over the quiet river. It was a bit romantic, disregarding the dirt on our faces and the plane burning not too far from here. As romantic as two guys who hate each other sitting by a river in Wyoming can get.
“You’re not supposed to leave the camp. What happened to, ‘stick together at all costs’? That’s bull,” I laughed mockingly, my hatred towards him really showing now. Not only was he a killer but a hypocrite.
“I couldn’t sleep.”
“You can’t stay by the fire?”
Tensions rose. The anger in me was making me warmer than the clothes that we were wearing to stay warm. Charlie took a step closer to me. I could see his pale face a little better now, eyes were dead set on mine.
“I couldn’t, Duncan,” he repeated, very calmly. He knew how to use my name against me.
“Oh, cut the crap,” I said, raising my voice. “What are you planning, killer?”
“I'm not a killer!” barked Charlie out of the blue. I flinched. “I did not kill those three girls. Think what you want to think.”
“How could I trust you? Oh wait, I can’t. You think the judge put you on a life sentence just cause he wanted to?” I said, now full-blown yelling.
“You always want the easy way out, don’t you? Like a little kid. If you just agree with the government, everybody is going to be happy. Everyone is going to like the little puppy that you are, wagging your tail around the chiefs.”
I grabbed Charlie by his shoulder. I made sure it hurt. “Don’t call me a puppy.”
“Want me to call you something else, Duncan?” whispered Charlie, leaning in.
That’s when I punched him.
Charlie stumbled back, groaning, and holding his bleeding nose. “I think it’s broken,” he mumbled.
“It better be.”
I walked up to him and punched him in the stomach, in and up.
He wheezed, but managed to stand his ground, holding his hands in front of his face. I tried to hit him one more time, but he grabbed my hands, and we started to wrestle each other, like in a sick drunken fight. We wrestled into the river, each of us getting a turn of drowning. I stuck my head up for a few, short breaths but got pulled under again. It’s when I felt no force under me that we stopped.
My heart pounded when I felt a limp body under me. I swore.
I pulled Charlie out of the water as quickly as I could. When he was on the grass, I screamed his name. He was not talking. I yelled his name and Charlie awoke, coughing, water overflowing from his mouth.
A sigh of relief took over my body, and we limped back to the shore again. We sat and looked at the river, skin hitting skin, breathing the same air.ns184.108.40.206da2