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Subpar horny amateur artist (started Sept. 2020) who draws naked women as both an outlet for said horniness as well as a way to learn about art and human anatomy.
I don't draw very consistently, sorry :(

Oh yeah I also make YT vids and write a LOT

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Finally posting the second story novelization!

Posted by treeese - May 7th, 2021


Read it on Google Docs with better formatting: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17vs1gTEwOsOTGPCM_lgvNHA50OpjmipdrLqBm3efX8Q/edit?usp=sharing


Give feedback in this thread pls: https://www.newgrounds.com/bbs/topic/1470074#bbspost26796525_post_text

(or here it doesn't matter)


Ax


By @.treese_(my Twitter handle)

For Context


This piece was originally written as a short, ten-minute play for an assignment for my dramatic writing class. This version of the story has been rewritten to read more like a novel than the original, which was written in the format of a play script, though it's still going to inherently have a bit of a play-like feel to it, mostly with the extreme emphasis on dialogue, which is even stronger in this one than in the last one. It’s also slightly different from the original content-wise, it’s generally more R-rated and probably has some other new stuff I can’t think of at the moment. 


No story context this time, this isn't part of some overarching story like with A Robin's Nest.  Just a small, standalone story.


Uh, this one’s got some potty language, some violence, some brief allusions to sexual assault, and a few slightly sexual overtones, though it’s not like anything ultra-mega spicy, I’d argue that the tension in A Robin’s Nest is much higher. 


Deep in the Canadian wilderness, a small, lonely cabin can be found. The interior of the cabin is quaint, featuring a living room furnished with a fireplace, large rug, and two recliners, alongside a kitchen, a restroom, and a bedroom. The cabin's sole inhabitant, Ridley, is peacefully sitting by the fireplace. A powerful snowstorm is raging outside. Ridley is staring into the flames in the fireplace when he hears a loud clattering sound coming from outside, on the cabin's porch. He signs, then rises from his seat and walks over to where his ax is hung on the wall and grabs it. He then turns and starts walking towards the door, ax at the ready. The sound grows closer and closer until…


The door bursts open, a powerful stream of wind and snow billows through the door and almost extinguishes the fire. Standing in the doorway is a girl, a very tall, spidery girl with hip-length blonde hair, which flails furiously in the wind. She leans against the wall, taking stress off of her right leg, which is soaked with blood. In her hand, she carries a small, rusty revolver. She stands there, breathing heavily, still unaware of Ridley's presence.


The girl turns and catches a glimpse of Ridley approaching with his ax and shrieks. She wildly swings her revolver arm and lets loose a shot, which mercifully misses Ridley, who cowers at the sound of the gun. The girl orients herself and trains her gun on him. "You! Put the ax down! Now!" she commands.


Ridley drops the ax on the floor and slides it over to the girl, then raises his hands. She tosses the ax outside and slams the door shut.


"S-sorry, I thought you were a bear, o-o-or a wolf!" stammers Ridley. "Y-You look hurt, please, let me help!"


"Stay the fuck away from me!" says the girl, tightening her aim.


Ridley slowly approaches the girl. "I’m not gonna hurt you! Look, I just gave you my only weapon, I pose no harm to you. So please, let me tend to your leg."


"I said to stay the fuck away from me!" the girl repeats, firing a shot into the floor. Ridley jumps and yelps.


"Sorry, sorry! Well, if you’re gonna reject my medical aid, at least let me get you some food. You look starving." 


The girl freezes at this proposal and considers it for a moment. "Ugh, fine," she says, slightly loosening her grip on the gun. "Something fast and portable, I don’t want to stay here for long." 


"Uh, yeah, sure thing!" says Ridley. The two begin slowly walking to the kitchen. "Hey, why don’t you sit by the fire and rest up while I get the food?" 


"What, and let you climb out the window and get your ax? Or pull a shotgun out from a cabinet somewhere? Or sneak up behind me with a kitchen knife? Or lace my food with some kind of poison? I don’t think so. I’ll be staying right here alongside you, watching your every move," says the girl.


"I’ve told you, I don’t want to hurt you, I just want to help." 


The girl scoffs at this remark. "What, I’m just supposed to go off some rando’s word? After he charges me with an ax? Puh-lease. You can’t trust anyone, and I certainly don’t trust you."


The two arrive at the kitchen. "Alright, alright," says Ridley. "Here, let me get something out from the pantry. I’ve got some bags of assorted travel food for hiking or hunting trips and the like." 


Ridley begins to open a drawer when the girl slams it shut. "No! I’ll get them! Don’t wanna risk you trying anything." The girl reopens the drawer and roots around, brushing past spices and cooking tools until she eventually finds the bags in question. She crams the bags into her backpack and starts backing towards the front door, still pointing her pistol at Ridley. She takes a bad step on her injured leg and staggers, letting out a shrill cry of pain.


"Hey--are you ok? Where are you going?" asks Ridley.


"Ngh--away from here," says the girl, tears streaming down her face. "I’ve...got somewhere I need to be, I’ve probably already wasted enough time as is."


"What?" exclaims Ridley. "Y-y-you can’t go back out there! The snowstorm will tear you to pieces! I mean, look what it’s already done to you, you can barely walk! Please, at least stay here and rest for a few minutes. It’s not safe to go out there in the condition you’re in.


"I’m...ngh...fine," mutters the girl. She takes another step on her bad leg and it gives out under her. She collapses onto the ground and screams in pain. Ridley starts to run towards her to help, but freezes when the girl aims her gun at him again. "Dont! Don't you dare fucking touch me!"


Ridley stops and raises his hands, then lets out a frustrated sign. "Dammit, look at yourself, you’re clearly in no shape to be going anywhere, much less traversing the Canadian wilderness in the middle of the night while a blizzard is going on." Ridley extends his hand out to the girl. "Let me help you to a seat, you can sit in front of the fire and recover some of your energy. Please?"


"I told you, I’m--I'm fine--agh!" The girl says as she attempts to stand. "Stay away from me!" Her leg gives out again and she falls back down. She lays her head on the ground and lets out a deep sigh. "Fine. I’ll stay. But only for a moment!"


Ridley sighs in relief and lowers his arms. "Good. Here, let me refuel the fire, then I’ll help you to a seat."


"N--no, I can do it. You build the fire. I’m gonna take my gun off you for a second, so no funny stuff."


Ridley sighs again. "I don’t know how many times I need to tell you, I have no intentions to hurt you. Couldn’t hurt a fly, 'less it happens to be a moose I’m hunting or a raccoon breaking in. You've got nothing to worry about."


"And I told you that I don’t trust anyone, especially not some dude who lives in a creepy cabin out in the middle of nowhere that comes charging at me with an ax and then tries to be some nice guy all of a sudden when there’s a gun on his head. For all I know you could just be buttering me up until I let my guard down, then you’ll spring forward and tie me up and rape me or chop me up and mix me into one of your travel baggies or something. I'm not taking any chances," says the girl.


Ridley's eye twitches in frustration. "I told you, I thought you were an anima--ugh, whatever." Ridley walks away and adds a few logs to the fire while the girl crawls to the nearest chair and slowly lifts herself into it, then re-trains her pistol on Ridley, who sits in the chair across from her. "I don’t think the gun is necessary anymore," says Ridley. "I’m all the way over here, you can easily reach it if I were to try something, which I won’t. Relax, eat some food, enjoy the flames. You’re safe now."


"A--alright, I suppose," says the girl, which surprises Ridley. "My hand was getting tired anyway. Promise me I won’t regret it."


"Well, I’d pinkie-promise, but you clearly want me to keep my distance, so I’ll just have to go with the verbal agreement." Ridley sarcastically puts his hand on his chest. "I promise on my life that I won’t try to tie you up and rape you or kill you or whatever it was you said."


"Good," says the girl. She sets the gun on a nearby side table and relaxes.


"I never got your name, by the way," says Ridley.


"It’s Eris,” she says.


This startles Ridley. "Oh--wow. I...I didn't expect you to give out your name so easily. Figured you’d be like 'What’s it to you?'"


Eris shrugs. "Eh. Whether or not you're a psychotic killer, it doesn’t really change anything or give you any kind of advantage. It might not even be my real name, for all you know," she says, leering at him.


Ridley sizes Eris up. "Mmm, no, it totally is, I can tell. You look like an 'Eris.' My name’s Ridley."


"Huh. You definitely don’t look like a 'Ridley,' you’re too...nice,” she says. “'Ridley' sounds like a villain’s name, someone pretentious and devious, not some...hermit, some humble little lumberjack lookin’ dude who lives out in the middle of nowhere.”


Ridley laughs. "Heh, yeah, that’s a pretty fitting description."


Eris weakly smiles. "What the hell are you even doing out here, anyway?"


"I came out here for something simpler, a place where I didn’t have to deal with all the chaos of city life. What was originally a year-long Whitman-inspired break from society just...turned into my new lifestyle."


"What, so you just ditched your friends and family?" says Eris, leaning forward in her seat. "Wouldn’t they like, miss you?"


Ridley chuckles again. "No, I still go back every now and then for shopping or holidays and I call them pretty frequently whenever the weather permits, but I just...don’t enjoy life back there anymore. It’s so loud and stressful, people become these...these cruel husks over such petty things. Out here life is quiet and to the point, though I will admit it is a bit lonely."


"I mean, we aren't that far from civilization, surely you must come across somebody every now and then."


"I do. Occasionally I’ll come across the natives that still live around here, they’re pretty chill. And every once and a blue moon I’ll be visited by some over-ambitious hiker like yourself, trying to climb a mountain they weren’t prepared for in the slightest, who I’ll take in and shelter for a few days. But other than that, all I have is myself and the world around me."


"I’m no hiker. At least...I don’t feel like I am," says Eris, looking down at her lap.


"Well, if you aren’t a hiker, then what are you doing out here? The only reason I could imagine a girl your age, or...shoot, anyone coming out here is some kind of hiking trip. What else could motivate someone to come out all the way out here other than the adventure?"


"Soul-searching, I guess?" says Eris, shrugging.


"Oh, really?" asks Ridley. "Care to elaborate?"


"Eh, I was just sitting around, being the miserable, single...worthless 19-year-old dropout with no prospects that I was, when I suddenly decided to just...go," says Eris, brushing her blonde hair out of her face. "To get away, to go somewhere I had never been before. I thought that maybe somewhere out in the world I could find out what I’m supposed to spend my life doing, why I haven’t done anything with the years I’ve already used up. To find out who I am. So I just...got up and left. Stole a bunch of money from my folks, bought an old gun, a bag, and some clothes, and I just...left. I’ve learned a lot and...b-been through a lot, but I still feel like I’m not done. I’m close though, very close. I think this mountain is where I’ve been heading this whole time. I can feel it."


"Ah, the classic 'voyage of self-discovery,'" says Ridley. "I personally can’t relate, I don’t tend to think about the world in such an abstract and complicated way, but I can at least understand the need for a change in circumstances. What’s your journey been like so far?"


"It’s had its ups and downs. I’ve met some cool people, seen some cool things. Got to see the stuff in D.C. at one point."


Ridley's eyes widen. "Wait, you said...D.C.? As in the U.S. capital, D.C.?"


Eris quietly laughs. "Yep."


"Woah, that’s...that's crazy far away. Where’d you originally start from?" asks Ridley. 


"Socal."


"Socal!? That’s...that’s 2000 miles away, if not more! H-how long ago did you start?”


"I dunno, four-ish years ago," says Eris, shrugging.


"Wow...four years…" says Ridley, hand on his head in disbelief.


"I know, right?" says Eris, excitedly shifting forward in her chair and brushing her hair out of her eyes. "D.C. wasn’t the only cool place I saw, either. Far from it. I saw Dallas, Atlanta, New York, pretty much any big city you can think of, really. And I met all sorts of people along the way.”


“Well, I can imagine, considering you traveled across damn near half the country. What were some of the standouts?”


“Hmmm...let me think…” says Eris, tapping her chin. “Well, I hung out with a group of college kids in Oklahoma for a while, they were one of the few good friend groups I’ve had in life. There were these art students in New Orleans that I did some nude modeling for, a skater girl who almost got me killed in a gang fling in Chicago, a Virginian farmer couple that took me in for a while after they caught me swiping some eggs, a really sweet dude in Maine who I tried to help woo a girl even though I was secretly trying to get him to go after me, a wise old hobo in Massachusetts who had built his own little homeless microcity in the woods, and so much more.”


"Wow, you really went all over, didn’t you?" says Ridley.


"Yeah, man. It really put into perspective how big and diverse America--no, the world--really is, there are just so many...people, just an endless amount of people, each with their own life that’s just as complex and storied and interesting as your own." 


Like I said, I try not to think about that stuff, it overly complicates things,” says Ridley. “Sounds like a fun journey, though.”  


“Hey now, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. Not by a looong shot.”


“I can imagine. If you don’t mind me asking, what were those low points like? You clearly seem to have lightened up towards me, I mean, you just let out your life story without blinking an eye, while just a few minutes ago you had a gun pointed at my head.”


“Like I said, it doesn’t really matter if you know anything about me, regardless of whether or not you’re a threat. If you aren’t, then I’ll go on my merry way and you'll get to remember me as an interesting break in the monotony of forest life. We’ll never see each other again, so I’m basically anonymous.” 


“Well, I mean, it’s not that monotonous,” says Ridley, defensively. “I mean, I read, I hunt, I--”


“And if you are a threat,” says Eris, her casual demeanor fading and her hand resting on her pistol, “then it’ll pretty much be the same story, only you’ll have a hole in your head.”

 

Heh heh, riiight,” says Ridley, nervously wiping sweat from his forehead.


I’m not bluffing,” says Eris, not a hint of irony to her voice. 


Oh, I believe you,” says Ridley. 


“Besides,” says Eris, her threatening tone gone, “while I’d usually jump at the chance to talk about all the people, guys and girls alike, that I’ve had to sleep with in order to get a roof over my head or a ride to where I need to go, all the people who got mad at me for stealing or stowing away or seducing their partners, all the nights I spent without food or shelter or both, all the cars I’ve stolen, the places I’ve broken into, th-- the lives I’ve taken…I don’t have time. I need to be on my way.”


“What’s the hurry? Didn’t you just say that you’ve spent time with the other people you’ve met before? Like that farmer couple or the artists in New Orleans? What makes this any different?”


“I’ve changed since then, I don’t blindly trust in people anymore. Let’s just say that a lot of the time people don’t want you to stay with them in their house out of the kindness of their hearts, you feel? They usually stop at ‘Ooh, there’s a pretty 5’ 11’ drifter girl who’s going to fucking die if I don’t take her in, let me see how many sexual favors I can squeeze out of her before changing my mind and kicking her back out onto the street anyways!’” says Eris, gradually rising out of her seat and raising her voice until her leg forces her to sit back down. She brushes her hair out of her face, clears her throat, and says, “Not to mention the powerful serial killer vibes you give off.”


Ridley stares at Eris, then shakes himself. “Hey, I thought I was just a humble, hermit-lumberjack guy. How do I give off serial killer vibes when you literally just admitted to killing multiple people in the past?”


“Out of necessity!” says Eris, defensively. She then puts her hand on the back of her neck and sheepishly says, “Well...in most cases, anyways. But that’s beside the point! Who’s to say a murderer can’t kill a murderer? You’ve got that...that Ted Bundy aura to you. Someone who seems pretty cool at first glance, maybe even a tad sexy, but is secretly a deranged psycho who wants to satisfy whatever messed up urges he has rolling around in his head at any cost. No one is this nice without having some ulterior motive, at least in my experience.”


Ridley processes this information. “Oh, that’s...cool, I guess?” They fall silent for a moment, the fire crackling and popping.


Eris starts shuffling in her seat in preparation to stand up. “Well, I better be off,” she says.


“What? You’re still in no shape to leave! Jesus, Eris, why are you in such a rush?” 


Eris pinches the bridge of her nose. “God, Ridley, you’re so frustrating, I’m tired of having to repeat myself. I told you, I have a feeling that this mountain is what I’ve been looking for, what I’ve been traveling the entire fucking United States for. If I can make it to the top and see the sun rising over the world I’ve spent so long exploring, the world that I’ve conquered after all the bullshit it put me through...I think I’ll finally be satisfied with myself, with who I am, and I can make the trip back to California. I don't know why, I just feel it. My trip will come to an end tonight. No more waiting around.”


Surely you can wait a few more days? Your leg is badly injured and you’re clearly malnourished, not to mention the blizzard. You won’t survive long enough to make it to the top!”


I’ve already made it as far as I have, I’m not turning back! Not when I’m this close!” Eris grabs her bag and gun and attempts to stand. Her leg immediately goes out from under her, she falls face-first onto the floor and slams the gun into the floor, letting loose another shot. Ridley ducks despite the bullet flying nowhere near him.


“Jesus! Eris, look at yourself! You can’t even stand up! You are incapable of reaching the summit, even if the weather wasn’t like this. If you go out there, you will die and your entire journey will have been for nothing.”


Eris doesn’t initially respond, but a quiet sniffling can be heard. She rolls onto her back, small tears rolling down her cheek. “Fine. You’ve proved your point. I’ll stay. I’ll stay as long as I need in order to be able to go up to the top safely. I’ll stay here with...with you.”


“Good. Here, let me help you back to your chair.” Ridley stands up and walks over to Eris, then lifts her off the ground. “No resistance this time, eh?”


“I’m done being skeptical of you. I might be signing my own death warrant, but I’d rather get killed by an ax-wielding maniac than freeze to death.”


Ridley carries Eris back to her chair, struggling under her weight. “Nnngh--wow, you weren’t kiddin’, you really are 5’ 11”.” He gently sets Eris back in her chair then returns to his own. “That’s a wise decision. Look, I can imagine how important this is to you, you’ve been searching for this...validation or...or self-fulfillment or whatever it is for four years! You’ve gone through so much trauma and had so many experiences, far too many for someone your age. I get that you’re almost there, I mean you’re practically within arms reach, but you have to accept that you can’t do it. At least not at the moment. I’m not saying you should give up, rather...your journey just suddenly got a new short little chapter added onto it. It didn’t end, it just became longer.” 


Eris sighs. “I know. It’s just...I’m starting to miss them for the first time. I want to get back to them. “


“Who?”


“My folks,” says Eris, sniffling. “I’ve barely thought about them this entire time. No calls, no letters, nothing. I'd forgotten about them entirely. You reminded me of them for the first time in nearly four years.”


How so?” 


“It was when you mentioned that, even though you live an entirely different lifestyle, you still visit your family for the holidays, you still call them. Me?” says Eris, her voice beginning to break. “I...I’ve done nothing. I haven’t made a single attempt to reconnect with them at all. God, just think of how they must’ve felt! I just...vanished from their life, taking a huge chunk of money along with me! No warning, just POOF! Gone! What if they thought I was abducted or something? What if...w-what if they think I’m...dead?” Tears begin to run down Eris’ face. “God, at this point, they’ve probably already held my funeral!” Eris begins to sob.


“Woah, Eris, if you want to call them I’ll let you use my phone when the weather clears up--”


Eris cuts Ridley off. “And it’s not just my parents either, it’s all those people I met! I just left those Oklahoma guys behind without a trace! They were some of the only real friends I've ever had in my piece-of-shit excuse for a life, and I just fucking abandoned them! I ditched those artists just before their big exam, I left the Chicago girl to bleed out alone in an alley with a fucking bullet hole in her stomach, I stole the farmers’ car after they miraculously took me in and nurtured me instead of reporting me to the cops, I spent all that time building a relationship with the Maine guy only to blow him off just before our big date, I got the hobo dude and his friends busted and sent to fucking prison after all his hard work! I just waltz into people’s lives, trick them into thinking I’m nice, backstab them at the worst possible time, then leave with no calls back, no warning, no condolences, no explanation, nothing. All because I was afraid I would get distracted from my goal, which was the only thing I cared about. I’m exactly what I was afraid you would be! I’m Ted Bundy, Ridley! I’m the nice guy with the ax!” Eris resumes her sobs, shaking.


Ridley doesn’t immediately respond, he waits for Eris to get it out. The cabin falls quiet, all that can be heard is the fire, the wind outside, and Eris’ cries, which eventually die down.


“Hm. I think I see why you want this so badly,” says Ridley. Eris raises her head and wipes her nose. “You want your journey to end so you can feel…feel vindicated for all of this. It’ll serve as the signal to tell you to start making amends, to end your cycle of betrayal. To go back home to your parents, to call the Oklahoma kids and the artists and the farmers and whoever, to give your two cents, to explain to them who you are. You didn’t know how to do that before, so you ran away. But once your journey is complete, you’ll have solved that mystery and you won’t need to run away anymore. Is that close?


Eris sniffles. “Yeah, pretty much spot on.”


“Eris, after all you’ve been through, I think you deserve that kind of closure.” 


“But...but all those people...all the things I’ve done--”


“Eris, you’re a confused young adult trying to figure out who she is, there are going to be some side effects. While you probably could’ve gone about it in a more graceful way, at the end of the day you’re your own person and you need to look out for yourself, pursue your own happiness. Your process might just be a bit messier than most, and that’s fine.”


“I suppose…” says Eris, adjusting herself in her chair and pushing her hair from her face. “But what about those people?” 


“Well, it’s like you said, you’re largely anonymous to them. You’ll never see them again, and they’ll eventually forget about you, just as you will them. It’s a rather callous way of thinking, but ultimately a few people’s lives are only a drop in the ocean. The world is much larger than people give it credit for, they spend too much time focused on the pointless day-to-day of their lives to notice.”


Eris pauses to ponder this information. “W--wow. I...I didn’t expect you to be this...philosophical. It’s like I’m talking to a therapist, which is strange considering how little human interaction you have."


Ridley laughs. “I haven’t always been a hermit, you know. Actually a fairly recent development of my life, started it...I started it right around when you said you left your parents, weirdly enough. Before then I was attending college for a degree in psychology. I actually wanted to be a psychiatrist so I could help people like you before I made my choice to leave society.”


Huh. You know, now that I think about it, you have been drilling me like a shrink this whole time. Guess I was too paranoid to suspect anything.”


"Heh heh, yeah, you took zero notice of it. You clearly had a lot on your mind.”


Eris laughs softly. “Yeah, I really did. I had four years of baggage to dump, and you finally gave me the chance to do it. Which I am very, very grateful for. Thank you, Ridley.”


“No problem, Eris,” says Ridley. Eris yawns loudly, stretching her limbs wide before pulling her legs back in pain.


“You look like you could really use some sleep,” says Ridley. “Want to take my bed? It hasn’t got the greatest mattress in the world, but it’s got one of these killer flannel blankets that I got on Christmas...oh, when was it...the year I left, funnily enough.” 


“Nah, now that I’m not trudging through snow and running on adrenaline I can really feel how badly my leg is messed up. I’ll stay here. The fire’s nice, anyways,” says Eris, reclining her chair back and turning to face the flames. 


“Yeah, your pants are totally soaked in blood. Want me to take ‘em off so I can get a better look at your leg, see what I’ll need to do to fix it?” asks Ridley.


After a brief bit of contemplation, Eris turns to look at Ridley and sighs. “Sure. I don’t have the energy to be skeptical anymore. Go ahead.”


Ridley stands and walks over to Eris. He begins to pull her pants off, but she winces and stops him.


“Slowly, asshole!”


“Ah, hell! Sorry!” He resumes, removing them at a much slower pace. Fully taking them off reveals Eris’ long, sculpted legs, the right one marred with a giant bruise and covered in blood. “Ooh, yeah, that’s bad. That’ll need a splint, first thing tomorrow morning. But for now, just try to sleep. I’ll go grab one of those blankets, I think I’ve got a spare.” Ridley walks away, returns, and drapes a blanket over her. “Good night, Eris,” he says. There is no response, she’s already fallen asleep.  


Ridley walks to the door and goes outside. He quietly goes down the front stairs and searches for his ax. Spotting it in a nearby snowbank, he retrieves it, then begins climbing his porch steps. On his way up he slips on some ice and falls down, which wakes Eris. 


“Wha...? Wh--What was that?” she says, dazed. Eris looks around her chair and finds her gun, which was still on the floor from when she dropped it. She leans over to pick it up, when she sits back up she sees Ridley walking in her direction with the ax. 


Eris screams and lets loose a final panic shot, which grazes Ridley’s left leg. Ridley shouts then falls to the floor. 


“Agh! W-w-what the hell, Eris?” says Ridley, holding his leg. 


“I knew it!” says Eris, waving the gun around frantically. “I-I-I called it all along! You really were buttering me up, waiting for me to get my guard down! God, and after I let out all that personal information and really came to trust you, too! How could you, Ridley?” 


“How could I what? I was just getting my ax out of the snow so I didn’t lose it!”


Eris flinches. “Wh--th-then why were you walking towards me with that ax?”


“I was gonna set it next to your gun so you truly knew I had no intentions to hurt you! Besides, the firewood is right next to your chair, I was going to refuel it for you before I turned in! God, do you still seriously think I’m going to kill you?”


“Huh?” Eris frantically looks around her chair and sees the firewood, then begins to panic. “Wh-what? No no no no no, please. You have to be a murderer. I-I-I can’t do it again. I can’t ruin another person’s life! I-I was about to get away from that! I--I thought I changed.”


“You have, Eris,” says Ridley. “Or, rather you will shortly. You’re in a situation where you can’t run from your mistakes anymore. That’s all this is, just...agh...a mistake. On both of our parts. You accidentally shot me in the leg, and I made the mistake of walking towards an armed, half-awake, traumatized, and paranoid girl while brandishing a sharp weapon. No one is to blame here, so stop beating yourself up.”


Eris takes a deep breath, then exhales. “Ok. Ok. I’m truly sorry for shooting you in the leg. It was an accident.” 


“It’s fine. I startled you, and you reflexively defended yourself. Besides, you didn’t do too much damage, just grazed me. I can stand just fine.” Ridley slowly stands up, limps away, and returns with a blanket. He takes a bad step and falls down. “Well, mostly fine.” Ridley stands back up, tears a small piece of fabric from the blanket and ties it around his wound, adds a few logs to the fire, then sits down. “It’s certainly not as bad as whatever happened to you.”


Eris chuckles, her face turning red. “Heh, yeah. Fell out of a tree. I was scouting around, looking for a cave or something that I could camp out in when I saw your cabin. Guess I lost my balance in the excitement. Luckily you weren’t too far away.”


Ridley laughs. “Welp, now we’re both part of the defective left leg squad, though sadly my legs aren’t even half as pretty as yours.”


“Wow, telling jokes to and flirting with the girl who just nearly killed you? The nerve on some people.” 


Nearly killed me? Man, with your aim the worst-case scenario was a hit to the groin or hips, at most. You barely even hit me, to begin with.”


Eris scratches her head sheepishly. “Heh heh, yeah, to be honest with you, I’m not too great at shooting this thing. Though to be fair, every time I’ve shot at you has been either a reflex or an accident, I wasn’t exactly aiming at you.” Eris pauses for a moment. “I’m just...I’m just glad that my aim has been as bad as it’s been tonight. If I had killed you tonight...especially after talking to you and telling you all that stuff and coming to know you...I...I don’t think I would’ve stayed alive for too much longer. If you get what I mean.”


Ridley’s joking demeanor dies away. “I see. Well, this has definitely put a wrinkle in our plans. We’ll have to restructure this whole recovery process around the both of us having leg injuries, which means you’ll have to postpone your climb to the top even longer. “


“You know, honestly, that doesn’t bother me that much anymore. I feel better than I have in...shit, I don’t know how long. Since I was in high school, honestly. Maybe by the time my leg heals up, I won’t even want to go to the top anymore. Who knows? But…” Eris yawns. “I don’t want to think about the future right now, or really anything, for that matter. I just want to go to sleep. Today has been...eventful, to say the least.”


“I can get behind that. So I guess this is goodnight for the second time?”


“N--no? Not that I’m aware of,” says Eris, confused.


“Oh, right, you were asleep,” says Ridley. “Well, anyway, good night, Eris.”


“‘Night,” says Eris. A brief moment later, a quiet “thank you” can be heard. 


Let me know what you think! Who did you like more? Do you want to see more of their story? Who do you think is this story's protagonist? Does Eris have honkers or bitties?


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