Day 63. I've begun to do things I never assumed myself capable of in order to survive the conditions. I've even had thoughts about cooking my traveling companion, Mr. Riese, though his exploration skills are indispensable. Concerning the choice between surviving long enough to digest his flesh and surviving long enough to see if he can find us a way out of this mountain range, I would rather think that he might be as talented as my daughter had so enthusiastically expressed. It was entirely likely that her misplaced affection for him had disturbed her perspective on such things.
I watched him check his compass for the fifth time in a half an hour, standing in the midst of a powerful gust of snow. The flakes were in such a saturated multitude that short distances became invisible in lieu of the gray-white curtain. The edges of Mr. Riese’s silhouette tapered at points in the flurry as well.
I wondered how he could not remember by now which direction was where. We had not traveled far. I did not want Carina to wed someone with such vulgar, psychological tics. These tended to be the characteristics that spelled out a lack of attention to responsibility and detail. No, I had not spent twenty-seven years fine tuning her mind and her soul from the ground up just so the dead languages amateur could misplace a twig and send it all crashing down.
“Mr. Riese!” My voice barely traveled beyond the roar of the turbulent winds, but Mr. Riese did turn his head in attention of my call.
“Are you still certain of your bearings?” I asked him.
“Indeed, Dr. Round. I’ve made sure of it several times,” he raised his compass so that I could see it better before stowing it away in his pocket-laden coat.
“Which would be the cause of my curiosity, Mr. Riese.”
“I only worry about how far we’ve left to go. These mountains aren’t nearly done with us yet.”
“I could stand to be done with them at the soonest available moment.”
We had made shelter in a few caves back where we had come from for nights at a time. Mr. Riese would insist that we wait for the weather to improve before forgoing our protection, but I could not tell the differences between the days we left and the days we stayed. The mountain had stopped being as kind as to leave us large, hospitable caves as we descended. Our options became curling under small overhangs and openings in between the crags.
We had one blanket between the two of us, which meant that my most trying times on this mountain were intensified by the unwarranted nearness of his person.
We were witling away what remained of the top brand granola bars that expressed high protein content on the package. There were two left. Every hour a functional family might sit down and have a meal, Mr. Riese and I would consume a bite-sized portion of the granola.
I could almost feel the protein flirt with my digestive system before fleeing via the likely exits.
What I could not say about Mr. Riese’s ambition I might say about his emotional fortitude. The man could not be caught anything other than delighted to be stranded in the middle of a blizzard on a mountain. I could not tell if that was a product of wisdom or naïveté. None of it helped his case concerning my daughter.
The decline here appeared endless in a way that made you believe it had been designed with sentient intent. Far and narrow, the lane continued with no regard toward the crags. I suppose it was, mathematically, the best case scenario, through I did not enjoy the constant reminder of the distance my pack of fags in the plane and had not had the urge to smoke since. Carina would be pleased to hear that part of the story.
The plane we had arrived in was a small, rickety creature that had apparently outlived its technological relevance. We had skipped over a comfortable bed to be caught by the plush, mountain snow. To say that the pilot had suffered fatal injuries would have been an absurd statement of the obvious. Perhaps we should have cooked him when we had the opportunity.
“I talked to Carina before we embarked on this journey,” Riese told me from several feet ahead carefully aware of where his footing was. “She demanded that I make it known to you that we will be married no later than the thirteenth of May.”
I had seen this before it happened like some tribal shaman with the gift of foresight.
“And with whose blessing will that ritual be performed, because it shall not be with mine.”
Mr. Riese shuffled through the snow in an attempt to pass an embedded boulder.
“We have both agreed that our conscience will be quiet without it.”