Silence had fallen. The trees were bare, and there was no rustling in the wind. Low, dark, empty clouds could be seen moving beyond the treeline in the fading light. High clouds covered the sky. He was soaked from the storm. The cold gripped him, pushed him, admonished him.  Mountains all around, the lake behind, every direction looked the same. With luck, the stars would be a guide tonight, the Milky Way pointing.

Johannes started shaking, first from cold, then from fear. Control, control, he thought. Decisions had to be made, one step, then another. Remember your father’s fireplace, he thought, remember the family hearth. Control your fear, choose your destiny, survive one minute, one hour, one day, each one different.

Just as the sun disappeared, the clouds above him started to part.

Choose your destiny, he thought, but the clouds had their own.

Darkness fell.

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