Tree Line - Chapter Eleven

Owen reached down and twisted another brass-colored knob, its surfaced covered with a halo of light scratches; old and battered, neglected, but functional enough not to be replaced. Like the previous eight doors, the door that Owen tried was locked.

The entire facility was filled with doorknobs like this one, the wall-to-wall carpeting matching the doorknob’s same mix of lingering functionality and heavy wear. The building had probably been state of the art when it was built, the trendiest product of its time, but the building had lost its charm and modern edge as the years marched forward. The passage of time was unkind to everything, even architecture.

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Tree Line - Chapter Ten

Pat Hermanson panted into the pressed cotton painter’s mask he wore over his nose and mouth, struggling to pull air into his lungs, feeling them clench and ache within him. He imagined his lungs as two tiny baby fists shaking inside of his chest, his face just as red, just as angry, his eyes squeezed closed from the pain and his own rage at experiencing it. He wanted to take his mask off, to lift it over his face and rest it on his forehead so he could gulp in air greedily through an open, unhindered mouth, but he knew better than to remove his mask. They all did.

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Tree Line - Chapter Nine

Gus whimpered at the door, stopping for a moment to sniff at the air, before he turned his dark, worried eyes to look back at Stacey. The dog cast her a glance full of meaning, full of questions, but the young woman was too engrossed in other things to notice.

Stacey was sitting in the middle of her tent, aiming a kinked and bent thread at the narrow slit at the top of her needle. The needle’s mouth was flat, locked in a tight-lipped, content expression. It seemed determined not to help, but Stacey kept pushing her thread at it, rejected again and again. Too stubborn to give up, Stacey persisted. If Angela could do it, Stacey could, or at least she would try. She would learn.

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Tree Line - Chapter Eight

Dave lowered himself to one knee, his glove-thickened fingers struggling to work the uncooperative metal that made up the bindings on Angela’s skis. The bindings fought his efforts, so stiff from disuse they required almost his full weight before they gave in and snapped into place.

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Tree Line - Chapter Seven

Stacey walked slowly back to Camp Corona, a dingy, faded, powder blue backpack slung over her right shoulder. Inside of it a pair of half empty shampoo bottles bounced into each other with every step. A bar of soap, having already slipped free from the towel it had been wrapped in, started to make a series of muted, additional thumps as she walked, an uneven, uncoordinated drum-set at work as climbed up the steep incline of a small, dirty glacier, rocks jutting out from the frozen snow here and there.

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Tree Line - Chapter Six

"Hey, Chase," Angela said, softly. There was no thick, wooden door to knock, no gentle way to announce her appearance outside, so she settled for unzipping the tent door just a few inches, the grinding hiss of zipper teeth unspooling from each other being the best that she could do. "You in here?"

She knew he was. They had all watched him disappear into the tent, but asking that question felt gentle somehow, cautious in a way that his outburst made necessary.

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