Tonner laid gasping. His body seized momentarily from overwhelming shivers, his teeth clicking. He relaxed and stared ahead. He was pinned between two logs, laying where the human had dragged him up and out of the frigid water. The human had fallen back onto the other side of the log. Tonner could hear him gasping and groaning.
His teeth chattered, waking Tonner from his stillness. He opened his eyes and stared at the frost growing on the log in front of his face. It was beautiful.
The human coughed and yelped. Tonner lifted himself onto an elbow and peeked over the log at the man who had saved his life. He was wincing and gripping his bloody right shoulder.
Tonner bit his lip. He looked around frantically. It was pointless. There was no one else here. “What do I do?” he muttered. He tried to sit up. His waterlogged, now frozen clothes crackled as he bent his knees. After a moment’s struggle he sat on the log and took a moment to look around again.
The human was looking up at him, panting in pain. His breath formed a dense cloud over his face.
Tonner hung his head. “What do I do?”
The human groaned and looked away. “Can’t stay here,” he muttered.
“The cabin is so far,” said Tonner.
“Need to get warm,” mumbled the human. He sat up painfully, scowling at Tonner. “Not far.” He got to his feet and pointed up the hill. “That way.”
“What’s not far?” said Tonner.
“Shelter,” groaned the human, beginning the climb up the hill, away from the frozen lake. He took a few steps and turned back. “I can’t carry you.”
Tonner hesitated. “I’m sorry.”
“I can’t carry you,” the human repeated. “There’s a fire.” The human turned and walked on.
Tonner followed, confused. The human stumbled, and fell. Tonner rushed forward and helped the human up. The human shook him off and continued up the slope. Tonner looked at his hands, now covered with blood.
“I’m so sorry,” Tonner said. “I’m a fool.”
“Come on,” mumbled the human. “We’ll make it.”
Tonner watched the human pull himself up the hill. “Why?” he whispered. The wind gusted, carrying away his words. He shivered as his clothes froze more solidly to his limbs. He gaped at his hands. “Oh Keenai. I did this.”
“We’ll make it,” shouted the human.
“We will,” said Tonner, stiffly following. “I’ll help you.”