The snow mixed with the wind was blinding. A thin layer of ice lay on the rocks hidden beneath the white powder. Adam slammed a pick ax into the rock above his head to hoist himself up. The storm had not let up overnight. Instead, it intensified. It wasn’t quite blizzard standards, but it was close. He constantly needed to wipe the snow from his goggles, and the feeling had left his exposed nose and cheeks about twenty minutes ago. Usually the cold never bothered him. If anything, it annoyed him by slowing his trek.
Martin had slept through the night after dinner. He was still asleep when Adam left. Realizing the storm wasn’t going anywhere, Adam knew he had to at least try to find the rest of the pilot’s crew. He first radioed into town to tell the authorities about the crash. But with all the interference, he couldn’t understand the officers. They may or may not have received the message. Though he loved philosophy, Adam knew he needed to be a man of action now.
Which was why he was trying to scale the gentlest slope on the ridge. Armed with a pick ax in each hand, Adam reached the half-way point. Through the near white out conditions, he could barely make out the tree tops above him on the top of the ridge. A gaping hole where there had been trees before stood out. That had to be where the rest of the plane vanished.
A crack sounded. He gawked up in time to see the rock crumble around the ax’s hold. Adam tumbled down the slope rolling through the snow and ice. Sliding off the final rock, he crashed to the ground landing flat on his back. Chest searing, all the air was knocked out of him.
Gasping, he gazed up to where he had been moments before. His second ax was still embedded into the rock. There was no way he could climb this with just one, and his spare was back at the house. Hoping to return with good news for Martin, Adam despised the idea of making that man frown. He seemed so sad to begin with. But Adam had no choice but to turn back.
“Owie...” he groaned slowly sitting up. Once on his feet, Adam trudged to his snowmobile.
“This is just another failure of yours,” he heard a familiar voice through the wind. “Did you think this Martin would accept you if you helped him? Someone like you?”
“Leave me,” Adam tugged his hood tighter around his ears. “I’ve grown weary of you, spirit. I want nothing more to be kind to Martin and return him home.”
“Honestly? Or did you think he would stay by your side forever?”
“Of course I didn’t.”
“But you hoped for it. I know you.”
“You don’t know me!” Adam hurled his ax towards the voice. “You’ve never known me! You never took the time! I was only ever a monster to you, but I surpassed you. You gave me life for which I am grateful. I was supposed to be your child!” Catching his breath, he stared into the wind. It was pointless to keep screaming at a corpse. Adam gazed towards his master’s grave. “I have much to do today and little time to talk.” Usually, he would not let the voice anger him when it came. But he had truly failed Martin. Retrieving his ax and revving up the snowmobile, he headed towards home.
He was surprised to see Martin up. Well, “up” was quite the right word. The ginger man sat at the bottom of the stairs grimacing and rubbing his lower back. Halfway up, the sheets of the bed were entangled around the railing.
A slight smirk twitched at the corner of Adam’s lips as he shrugged off his gear, “I told you in the note by the bed not to try those stairs yourself with your ankle.”
“I thought I had control,” Martin took hold of the railing and hoisted himself up to his good foot. He groaned, “Plus I really have to… you know.”
“No, I don’t. You have not finished your sentence,” Adam hung his jacket by the fire and glanced to him.
“There,” Martin mumbled and pointed to the bathroom.
“Ah. Do you need help?”
“No, I don’t need help!”
The agitation from Martin’s features faded into a plea. He nodded.
“I made you this last night,” Adam fetched a pair of crutches from the corner. “They were mine. If the rest of your wounds aren’t too serious, you can get around this way. I adjusted them to fit your height.”
A deep shade of purple crept up into Martin’s face as he stifled a small sound, “Let’s get one thing straight here. I am not short! The- the um… average height of a man is not much more than me! I mean my height! I am a man. A tall man in my own right!”
Adam cocked his head in confusion. Martin barely reached Adam’s nose. But he could see the offense he had caused. It was probably best to not bring this up again. “I apologize. You’re correct. You are indeed a man. Now try these out.” Handing over the crutches, Adam beamed at his handy worked. They fit Martin perfectly.
“Thanks,” mumbled Martin. Hesitating a moment, he glanced back at him, “I really do mean it. These are great. Sorry, sorry, I’m not trying to be ungrateful.”
Swelling more from the compliment, Adam didn’t mind the sullen tone from the other man, “I understand. I am not holding it against you.”
With a curt nod, Martin hobbled to the washroom and shut the door behind him. What an odd man. And that’s was saying something, because people were rarely odder than Adam. This Martin certainly wasn’t a confident man. Which struck Adam as queer, because Martin was a pilot. He had worked hard to get his position which was what he had always wanted. It was a technical and dangerous job that required a lot of skill. Why not be proud of it? Could there be abuse or bullying at work? This Douglas that kept coming up didn’t sound like the most supportive person. Though Martin denied them being friends, Adam had a sneaking suspicion that they cared for each other. If anything, Martin sought out his approval. He had already tried his best not to offend Adam. That was a physiological problem in its own right. Most people wanted to make others happy. Adam tried for his entire life to do it. But Martin seemed to function on trying to be perfect. What was this man’s childhood like? His family? His current life? But his obsessive tendencies for acme were apparently his downfall as well.
But Adam understood it. His master had perished before ever recognizing Adam’s abilities. With his physical appearance, no one tried to get close to him. Or because the way he talked, people perceived that he had some mental disability. It made him try harder to impress them through his carpentry. Maybe this Martin and he had more in common than he originally thought.
Martin emerged from the bathroom and hobbled towards the kitchen area. Adam had only seen that shade of ginger hair in television or in movies. Martin wasn’t traditionally attractive, but he was handsome. Though, everyone was more attractive to compared to Adam.
Martin eased himself into a chair at the kitchen table. Wincing, he lightly prodded at his ribs, “They don’t hurt as much as last night. Maybe I’m better off than I thought.”
“I am happy to hear that,” Adam reheated the breakfast he had made earlier that morning. Handing it off to Martin, the pilot happily devoured the food. Adam leaned back against the cabinets while waiting for a pot of tea to boil. He watched Martin carefully. Why wasn’t he running away? Martin talked to Adam as if he was a normal person. Adam was nowhere close to being normal.
But Martin was different. Though he was a bit snarky, he was kind. People were never kind, especially men. Men seemed to hate Adam the most. In Martin’s eyes was a deep kindness hidden away in uncertainty and the urge to please. Not for the last time, Adam wondered who in Martin’s past had made him hide himself so much.
As he finished his plate, Martin asked in a wavering voice, “Did you find them?” There was a shimmer of hope in his eyes.
“I am sorry,” Adam hung his head.
A strangled sound escaped Martin’s lips. Covering his mouth, he never tried to blink back the forming tears.
Adam realized what he just said, “No! I didn’t mean it like that! I didn’t find them. The storm was far too strong. I couldn’t make it up the cliff.” He quickly added, “They could still be alright.”
A paused passed with only the sound of Martin trying to calm himself. His breathing slowed into a great sigh. Though, a weight still rested on his shoulders. “That’s good to know. At least you tried…”
“And I will try again when I can.”
The smallest grin appeared on Martin’s face, “I know you will.”
Adam’s cheeks were hot. He shot up knocking over the chair in the process. Flustered, he quickly put it right up again and hurried to the sink. He suddenly needed to wash his tea cup. Behind him, he heard Martin chuckle, but it wasn’t malicious.