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lights over a deep dark forest

Chapter Text

lights over a deep dark forest


I am walking  down a lonely road
clear to me now but I was never told
trouble with dreams is you never know
when to hold on and when to let go

                                      Trouble With Dreams - Eels




The forest lies dark underneath you. A black sea, a deep void. You smell every part of it, the heady oily aroma of pine and bark, the icy freshness of a creek crawling through tall grass, the sweet coppery blood of an animal on the run. Your wings shake with excitement.

You are tall and dark like this, too many angles and sharp bones, rows of teeth under bright red eyes, claws anxiously opening and closing while you wait.

The air is cold still, the winter hasn't yet disappeared completely, it clings to the patches of snow hidden in the deep shadows of trees, space the sun never fully reaches. You are high above it all, water droplets crystallising in the fur above your shoulder blades, under your chin, down your back. It is so, so cold. But there is still some heat left inside you, enough to urge your forward.

And then it's not only your own heat anymore driving you but another thing entirely. A soft heartbeat far below underneath you, a warm wet breath, the high-strung sound of strained muscles moving a living being through the thicket. You can't possibly see the creature, it is too dark so far out in the woods. There are dim lights above, stars that are a million trillion miles away but the moon is still hidden behind a range of mountains so it's incredibly dark. The creature underneath you is like a beacon, a pulsating, vibrating thing.

You spread your wings, folding them out completely, effectively slowing you down mid-air. The sound of you cutting through the air stops and for a second it is so quiet, so incredibly silent and calm. And then you fall towards the ground, claws first, red booming eyes next, towards the soft shuffling noises of an unsuspecting creature hidden in the deep dark forest.



With a sudden violent gasp Duck Newton sits up in his bed. His hand grasps his loose shirt above his heart, feeling it beat fast and strong inside him. His chest rises and falls way too fast, riding out a wave of panic he took with him from a dream he had.

Or maybe a vision. He doesn't know if he still can get those.

Duck's bedroom is dimly lit by the streetlight in front of his window. While he sits on his bed, legs tangled up in his sheets, slowly calming down, a couple of cars pass by and move bright rectangles across his face, his walls, the frame of his open door. He looks at the alarm clock sitting on his bedside table, it reads 6:11am. He sighs.

Duck tries to fall back asleep but the moment he rests his head on his sweat-damp pillow he just knows it's not going to happen. So he gets up, puts on a bathrobe, a pair of ill-fitting socks, and shuffles into the kitchen to make some coffee.

With the cup in his hand, the steam of the still-hot coffee warming his face, he rests in front of the backwards-facing window. It's still dark outside, the streetlights not really reaching the heavy darkness of the forest behind the apartment complex he lives in. And for a long time it never bothered him to have this huge unknown presence in his back. The forest had always been something that calmed him down, it was easier than humans, quieter than the city, the light there softer than out in the open.

And then the forest became something else. A gateway to something horrible. A deep dark ocean of trees and leaves, harbouring creatures he could never've imagined. And he had been the Chosen One, he thinks, he'd already encountered things most humans would not believe.

And yet.

Duck Newton is afraid of many things, that isn't exactly a secret. He may have sounded calm and collected a lot of times but that was more out of an inner sense of defeat. For a long time it had also been a coping mechanism, something akin to denial. It had been his way of dealing with the fact that somewhere out there in the universe someone apparently thought it a good idea to put the weight of the entire human existence onto his shaky shoulders.

The fear he is feeling now when he looks at the huge black sea of trees behind his apartment is different. It is less a vague feeling of being overwhelmed with responsibility, and more a solid deep-rooted primeval fear of being killed by a monster. And it's a fear grounded in reality, not a paranoid notion. He knows there are abominations somewhere, he knows they are trying to kill him and, more importantly, his friends. Duck knows they are real and scary and deadly.

He sips his coffee, still hot but bearable.  He shivers, unable to turn his back to the forest behind his window, keeps staring in a futile attempt to make out the outline of a monster hiding in the darkness. But it's not yet time, he thinks, and the darkness, the absence of a full and bright moon are actually a good thing because it means the next abomination will not yet appear.

And yet...

In the beginning it had been hard to differentiate between bad dreams and visions. Both made him fall out of sleep in an erratic almost painful way, their memory going hazy only minutes after he woke up. But over the years and decades he learned to recognise the alluring pull a vision had on him, how the memory of the things he saw stayed with him just a little bit longer and how he felt the emotions a little bit deeper. He also learned that not all visions were bad like nightmares would be. Not every prophecy showed him a possible bad future, death and destruction, loss and pain. Actually, more often than not it would be a calm vision, showing him something almost mundane, something to soothe his fear.

One time he dreamt about a stag slowly wading through a shallow pond in the diming sunlight, something so mystical and surreal that he thought he was still dreaming when it actually happened.

Another time it was Juno and him finding an abandoned but impressive tree house in an area of the forest they hadn't visited before. Juno climbing unafraid onto the swaying platforms loosely tied to the branching arms of the tree, laughing openly like when they were teenagers, something that filled him with warmth and adoration, both when he first woke up from the dream, and again when it happened only days later in the real world.

But there were also the other visions, dreams about possible disasters, about impending doom, about death. Some of them he could stop and some of them he had no choice but watch unfold. Like when the mother of an old school friend died, surprisingly for everyone but him. When he broke his leg on one of his camping trips because the moment he tried to stop it from happening he actually made it happen.

Or when a meteor was about to hit Minerva's home planet.

Destiny, it turns out, is not an easy thing.

But it is different now, Duck thinks when he finishes his coffee, clearly feeling the caffeine driving up his heartbeat, waking him up. The connection he had with Minerva is severed. Maybe just for a while, maybe forever. All he knows is that he can feel it in every fibre of his body, a weakness seeping through him. He is tired when he wakes up, he is slow, sluggish, he became clumsy and jittery. For someone who never wanted to become the Chosen One, tried to deny his role for almost all his life, he sure made himself at home in a body that could not be defeated, that would not tire, that never gave in underneath him.

And Duck is at a loss. He doesn't understand why he just can't get used to it. Wasn't this what he always wanted? To be normal, mundane, just a guy in a town in the woods.

And sure, he is worried about Minerva but it's something he pushes far back in his mind because as helpless as he feels about abominations roaming the forest around his hometown, it's nothing compared to the defeat he feels when thinking about a person a million miles away somewhere in space. He can do something about the monsters here but there is nothing at all he can do about a freaking meteor crushing down onto a planet that is so far away that his brain can't even really comprehend it.

And yes, maybe his inability to deal with his current situation also stems from the fact that after decades of being a Chosen One without an actual Quest he eventually started to use his powers for something good. He finally started to be thankful, not for becoming a hero figure but because he had something he wanted to protect - and he could and he did!

It's when Duck closes the last button on his ranger uniform and puts on his hat that he realises Juno made him take a couple of days off. Of course she doesn't know why he is so pale all of a sudden, why his knees give out more often, why every little bruise and cut seems to equally fascinate and disturb him. But apparently she thought he could use a couple of mental health days and heck, she might actually be right about this. But now Duck is standing in the hallway of his small two-room apartment at half past 7 in the morning and he has absolutely no idea what to do with his day.

The next abomination will take another couple of weeks and since he lost his powers he feels uneasy with the others. Another mystery he isn't sure how to explain. Guilt maybe because he didn't immediately tell them, as if they weren't his friends. Maybe out of fear they might sideline him because, let's be honest here, what help could he possibly be? No magic powers, no trickster charm, no weapon proficiency.

He thinks about calling Juno and ask her for a shift, maybe just to check on a couple of trees along the roads to note down the ones they need to cut before spring so they don't grow into the lane of traffic. But he knows what she will say, he can practically hear her voice in his head. Duck Newton, she'll say, his full name, like an angry mother but with a smile betraying her faked austerity. If I so much as see your butt around here working on anything but relaxing! And she would be right, wouldn't she? Some people need work to distract themselves from their problems but they shouldn't. The healthy thing would be to try to figure it out.

And yet....

The dream he had was mostly about darkness and the cold. Something big and scary was hovering above the forest. There was a pulsating heartbeat somewhere below and he could feel the hunger inside, a feral instinct.  

He doesn't know if the fact that the link between him and Minerva has been cut means that all his dreams will only be exactly that: dreams. Maybe he can't get visions anymore. Might just be he needs to relearn to ignore the things he sees in his sleep.

In his dream he had wings, huge and shivering, and he was high above the forest, the lights of Kepler far away. His hands were claws and his eyes huge red orbs.

Maybe his dreams are just dreams. But some humans believe in their prophetic powers without being the Chosen Ones or knowing about aliens. So he figures he needs some kind of expert in dream interpretation.

This is why Duck Newton zips up his winter coat, clips his torchlight to his pants, pockets his keys and leaves his apartment. Grey light is climbing over the mountains in the distance, the sky is heavy with snow. He sits down in his car, starts the engine and cranks up the heating. The streets are slowly filling with people on their way to work, most of them driving dozens of miles through the mountains to bigger cities with better jobs. But Duck won't be on the road too long. The RV park is not too far away, just a bit hidden between tall trees and low hills.

Indrid Cold's Winnebago is on the far end, naturally. In the dim morning light Duck sees the warm orange glow from all his space heaters through the small windows. He wonders if Indrid saw him coming in one of his futures but then again with all possible futures laid out in front of him, forever changing and swirling and meandering, why would a visit from him stand out.

Duck parks his car on an empty parking lot between a couple of RVs, most of them look abandoned, at least for the winter. When he leaves his car the warmth follows him only for a couple of feet before the cold West Virginian air crawls in between the seams of his jacket. He rubs his hands together before he knocks on Indrid Cold's door, deciding it's the polite thing to do no matter if Indrid does see him coming or not.

There is no answer, just the quiet hum of a generator and the higher whirring of several space heaters doing their best to fight the winter. He knocks again, louder this time, then a third time, adding a strong but not too loud Hello. No reaction.

Duck knits his eyebrows. Several thoughts run through his mind at the same time, the most prominent guided by years and years of being a forest ranger. An unsupervised Winnebago full of running space heaters poses quite the fire hazard, even in winter. Secondly, Indrid Cold doesn't seem to be the person who leaves his Winnebago often if at all. The only time they ever saw him outside was when the goatmen got to him. Otherwise he seems not too fond of the cold, the outside, or an ungodly combination of both.

So why, Duck thinks, would Indrid Cold not answer the door? And why, if he was away for some reason, would he leave all the space heaters running?

Duck is only torn between his politeness and his sense of duty for a minute. Breaking into someone's home, especially someone you barely know, is not a good thing to do. But then again, risking said someone's home going up in flames and maybe even setting the near forest on fire as well is also not a good thing. The fact that the door of the Winnebago opens without any resistance when he pushes down the door handle once helps with the decision a bit as well.

Just like the last time they entered Indrid Cold's home the heat and smell is overwhelming at first. The Winnebago is long but narrow so it's not too hard for three space heaters to make the inside feel almost tropical. It's not as dirty as the last time Duck was here, not as many half-empty cups with slowly moulding eggnog inside and dirty bowls of half-eaten soup. Instead there is a new kind of chaos. The walls, every surface, parts of the floor even are plastered with drawings, and Duck cringes at the added fire hazard. But there are also shards of shattered bottles and glasses all over the floor together with all kinds of stuff that apparently got knocked over; seemingly clean dishes, a box full of drawing supplies, blankets and pillows, crumpled pieces of clothing. And underneath there seems to be an abundance of scratches and indents in the wood of most surfaces, sawdust and wood chips covering everything like dust.

All in all it looks like a big hand picked up the Winnebago, shook it a couple of times before setting it down again. Or, more likely, it looks like a fight took place.

A heavy feeling slowly seeps into Duck's bones. He carefully closes the door behind him. "Indrid," he calls out once, barely more than a whisper. But it's a stupid thing to do anyway, the Winnebago isn't big enough to hide the tall man and his potential attackers without Duck noticing. From where he stands he can see almost every corner of the vehicle: the steering wheel and two seats in the front, the small table with two built-in benches that could be flattened out to be an additional sleeping space were it not for the dozens and dozens of drawings and a space heater on top, the narrow kitchenette with a humming fridge underneath, an open door leading to a very small bathroom, and in the back a wide mattress covered in crumpled blankets and clothing. There are some wooden panels still closed that Duck assumes are closets where Indrid keeps his clothes but nothing big enough for someone to hide in.

Duck is standing in the middle of the chaos and tries to figure out what to do next. It became clear now that Indrid Cold is indeed not at home and even though Duck knows the man is no stranger to chaos this seems different. He has to assume that something happened to him.

And then, suddenly, strangely, Duck sees it. It's not hidden, really, not buried underneath layers of drawings or stuck between bench and table. Quite the opposite, actually. It's clearly visible, almost like a note Indrid left, almost like he wanted to leave something behind for whoever entered the Winnebago in his search for him.

On the table, carefully placed on top of the space heater, calmly reflecting the warm orange glow inside the motor home, sits Indrid Cold's red pair of glasses.

Chapter Text

Oh man, you're not the only one
Oh boy, with that phantom other on
Now'd be the right time
To send us all away
It'd be a good time
If you just go away, man

                         Department of Eagles - Phantom Other




The cold has filled him up completely. His body is nothing more than a shivering mess, every last bit of warmth he had absorbed earlier lost to the winter. Sometimes he hates these woods, how long the cold hides between the tall dark trees. But then again the calm silence is what keeps him here. The winters are harsh but the summers are soft and quiet.

Indrid Cold stumbles to the door of his Winnebago, slowly bowing down to the door handle. He doesn't have teeth in this form but there is still a clicking noise coming from his body fully shaking with the cold. His wings, massive and grey, jitter behind him, too stiff to fold around his enormous form. But there is no warmth to preserve anyway.

His clawed feet scratch naked over metal stairs leading up to his Winnebago. He closes his eyes because there are suddenly several possibilities popping up in front of him, different realities of what can and will happen when he opens the door, but he is tired and cold and in pain and he finds it almost impossible to concentrate on any of them. So he risks it.

He pushes the door open and the heat envelopes him immediately. His entire body shivers with the overwhelming feeling of relief. Indrid barely fits through the door like this but his form is sunken in anyway so he sheepishly pushes inside and closes the door. Then he just stands for a couple of minutes, eyes pressed closed, letting the heat slowly seep into his body.

Eventually he opens his eyes again. The inside of his home seems unchanged, the chaos the same as when he left it in a rush earlier. He is still dead tired and just slowly gaining full movement of all his joints again but he tries to mentally prepare himself for a bit of clean-up. He has to pick up all the glass shards at least, he thinks, before he can fall into bed, praying for dreamless sleep.

With every bit of warmth entering his body his monstrous form seems to unfold. His wings are vibrating with new-found energy, reminding Indrid how most of the chaos in here came to be in the first place. Fortunately his glasses are still exactly where he left them so he reaches a long sharp claw out to pick them up from the space heater on the small table.

He is hit with a multitude of futures again, branching out, flowing back together further ahead. With his body and mind just waking up from the cold-induced hibernation it throws him almost off balance. Indrid shakes his head, nausea only short-lived, his glasses pressed to the fur on his chest. He only skims the futures, just takes a quick glimpse to make sure nothing bad is about to happen, and finally when he is somewhat satisfied he pushes the glasses onto his face.

The feeling is always strange, no matter how often he does it. As a mothman he is tall, very tall, his limbs too long and sharp, his body becomes hard and rigid. The enchantment's effect is immediate, his body becomes smaller, thin and fragile, his skin soft. But for several seconds he still feels huge, like an aura surrounding him. He can still feel where his wings should be, where his head should almost touch the ceiling. And then the feeling is gone and he feels, all things considered, like a normal human being, weak and small and, most importantly, not scary at all.

He looks down to his bare human feet surrounded by sharp shards of glass. Indrid sighs, looks up, to the left, to his mattress in the back of the Winnebago where Duck Newton is sitting, eyes wide.

"Hello, Duck Newton," he says quietly. He doesn't move, just raises his hands to undo his unruly plait to redo it, pushing the hair back afterwards behind his shoulder. Then he looks back to Duck who hasn't moved, arms akimbo. "Excuse the chaos. When I left I didn't yet know I would be having a guest." His smile is thin-lipped.

Duck seems to finally come out of whatever trance he was in. Indrid understands, though. Of course Duck knows that he is the mothman, he has seen him in his true form at least twice. But it is and will probably always be scary to see him like this. After decades upon decades of living among humans he almost started to be scared of it himself.

"Are everything okay?," Duck asks and Indrid lifts an eyebrow in surprise. He isn't constantly checking the possibilities of this conversation but most of all he just now remembers the state of his Winnebago.

"Oh," he says and he chuckles, almost sheepishly. "Yeah, you know me. Not too big on cleaning up."

He knows it's a lie, both of it. Duck doesn't really know him. They only met a couple of times and during those they were mostly preoccupied with arguing about the extent of Indrid's abilities, or their frantic attempt of changing a future seemingly set in stone. The second lie is even more blatant. Duck isn't stupid, he can put two and two together. He does understand that broken glass and scratches over most wooden surfaces aren't his usual brand of quirky mess.

Duck just nods slowly, not getting up from the bed yet, almost like he is afraid of disturbing the crime scene, his hands carefully folded in his lap. He looks a bit lost, but then again he currently is sitting in the dishevelled RV of a cryptid, so not exactly a place you would write down as one of your regular spots. He says nothing even though Indrid is pretty sure he spotted both lies but maybe he is just too polite to press Indrid on it. Or maybe he pushes that mystery back for another time.

Indrid starts moving, he can finally feel all his fingers and toes again, and in the soft warm glow of the space heaters he starts to pick up the glass shards underneath him, then continues with some of the pieces of clothing randomly thrown across the home. While he calmly cleans up he sees Duck stare at his own hands, his fingernails, obviously nervous and unable to start whatever he was coming over for.

Eventually Indrid moves over to the small kitchen, opens the fridge and takes out a carton of eggnog, looks at it for a couple of seconds, decides then to put it back and takes out a bottle of cheap wine instead. He finds two clean glasses and without asking he pours them both some wine. He holds one glass in front of Duck's face while he already takes a sip from the other.

Duck smiles weakly and takes the glass, immediately taking a huge swig of the liquid. Indrid chuckles again. They don't talk about how he knew that Duck needed it nor how much of a bad idea it is to start drinking this early. It's barely after noon.

"What did you come here for?" Indrid finally asks after he allowed them both to drink some more.

"I was the....area," Duck says and cringes visibly at his own inability to not tell the truth. "No, shoot, I mean...technically I wanted to talk. But it's not just talk, it's a bit more than that, I suppose. Ah, great, that sounded weird..." He scratches the back of his neck with his free hand and finally manages to look up at Indrid.

Indrid leans against one of the wooden panels hiding a closet behind, one hand shoved deep inside the tight jeans he's wearing, the other carefully folded around the glass of wine.

"I feel like I need to repeat that even though I am a seer of many futures I can't possibly know everything there is to know." Indrid sighs, defeated. Gods, he feels so tired, the warmth from the wine spreading inside is stomach just amplifying that feeling now.

Duck looks at him with confusion. "I never said you did."

"Ah," Indrid says, "I am sorry, it seems I was several points ahead in our conversation again."

Duck's eyebrows knit together, a first hint of frustration showing. "I came here to talk about some things because I don't feel like I can do that with...with the others. You know. At the lodge. I am not here to antagonise you."

"And why, Duck Newton, do you feel like you can't go with this problem to the people you call friends and instead decide to visit someone you barely know out in the woods?"

"Can't you tell?" And then Duck's eyes widen a bit and suddenly there is an apologetic smile on his lips. "Oh, I see. This is where you tell me that you don't know everything, I get it."

"I try not to be several steps ahead all the time, especially in conversations like this, but sometimes my nature gets the better of me."

"No, no I get it. It must be hard to see everything at once and to realise when certain paths fall away. I can't...imagine. Makes my problems seem a bit foolish, to be honest. Ha." He scratches his neck again in his sheepish fashion and Indrid can't help but smile at this gesture.

"So what is this about?" he asks calmly, smiling slightly, ignoring the building headache brought on by his fatigue.

"I had a dream. Or maybe a vision. I don't know. If I can get visions anymore, I mean."

"Because of your severed tie with the lady from another planet."

Duck nods. He doesn't seem to wonder where Indrid knows about this from which is just as well. Indrid is actually happy to not have to explain it again and again. 

"Yeah, with me losing my powers I thought I wouldn't get those visions anymore. And don't get me wrong," he quickly adds, "mine weren't half as bad as yours. They weren't like branching out and shit. They were just scenes that would happen, no matter what. Sometimes they helped me be prepared for something but most of the time they just....showed me something in my future."

Indrid thinks about that a bit longer and more wistfully than he expected. It must be nice to just see the one future that turned out to be real, not a myriad of different possibilities of which all but one disappear just to split up again. It made it hard, nearly impossible sometimes to differentiate between what actually happened and what had just been one of million other outcomes.

"But I had this dream tonight," Duck continues, unaware of Indrid's thoughts drifting. "And I know how visions feel, they feel different from dreams, okay? And I was wondering if maybe that meant I can still have those? Or that Minerva, you know, the alien lady, that she managed to get some kind of connection back up again?"

Indrid can't possibly know that, and he is sure that Duck knows that, too. He didn't come here to get answers, Indrid realises, he came here just to have someone to talk to about it. Like you sometimes needed someone to agree with you on something for you to realise that you had the answer all this time. It fills Indrid with a weird mixture of adoration and dread. Adoration because he feels trusted and that is a good thing he hasn't felt in a long time. Dread because he knows it won't last.

He sees a lot of futures branching out again, small ones and bigger ones. He knows he has the power to change some of them with just the right words or the right actions. But he is so tired, so incredibly tired. His body has become numb with heat and wine and the stretch of his sore muscles.

And so, even though he sees where it will end, he asks: "What did you see in your vision?"

And Duck Newton takes a second to think about how to say it. In many futures he describes it in all detail: the trees, the wings, the claws, the creature below. He talks about the cold and the hunger, the red eyes, and the dim lights above a deep dark forest.

Not in this future. Here Duck Newton's shoulders sink a bit with the realisation of what he is about to say. But he is no coward so he looks up, directly into Indrid Cold's eyes.

"I saw you, Indrid," he says.

And even though Indrid saw parts of this before it happened it still hits him and sets something inside of him on fire. Not the good, warming kind but a deep-rooted fear that lashes out, like an hurt animal fighting to survive.

Indrid in his human form isn't as big and impressive as he is in his moth form. He is a thin man, skin a dark olive, his long white hair in a messy plait that keeps falling forward over his shoulder. He doesn't look dangerous and Indrid made it that way because his true form has the exact opposite effect. But when Duck utters those words, harmless as they may sound to him, something changes in Indrid's posture, makes him become at least a shadow of the danger he poses in his true form. He tenses, straightening up so he towers over Duck, eyes wide and blown out behind his glasses.

"Duck Newton," he says with incredible strain, like he is about to implode but can hold himself back for just another minute. "I think it is best you forget about those dreams of yours."

As established, Duck isn't stupid. He sees the change in the man in front of him, the sudden aggression. He might not have super powers anymore but there is still the instinct of a man who doesn't want to die.

"Indrid, what-," he begins, confused and unsure, slowly standing up.

"Some things, Duck Newton," and he uses his name like a threat, "are best left alone because they have nothing to do with you whatsoever."

"Now wait a second. I think we can agree that it sure as heck has something to do with me, right? Because I saw it. Because it somehow made me come here to talk to you about it. So what...what is this about?"

Indrid still has his hand tight around the wine glass, the other one not in his pocket anymore but clenched into a fist right beside his body.

"I told you, this has-"

And this time it's Duck who interrupts him. "No, shut up. You listen to me for a sec now. I come here just to talk and I find your home an absolute mess, with all your stuff all over the place and scratches that make me think something terrible has happened to you."

Indrid gasps at that but it's so quiet and Duck is still talking so he never notices.

"And then I find your glasses as well," he continues, "and I know what that means. And lo and behold, hours later I see you creeping back into your RV in full on moth mode, obviously tired as fuck, maybe even hurt, so something, something must have happened, right? But I don't mention it because you know, I am a polite guy, I can see when someone doesn't want to talk about something right away. But now, Indrid, now I am curious why you would compromise everything we're working here for by running around as mothman, and why it looks like you had a punch-out with someone in here. And most of all I'd like to know what my fucking visions have to do with any of that."

Now Duck seems to be as tense as Indrid is, both hands folded into fists, looking up to the slightly taller man, eyes angry. And Indrid understands his frustration, he really does. But he can't possibly tell him, he can't possibly lead him onto this path. He can't possibly allow this future of many. He just can't.

The wine glass in his hand breaks apart with an ugly cracking noise and Duck flinches wide-eyed at the noise. Dozens of tiny splinters dig themselves into Indrid's skin like vicious needles. But the pain doesn't even reach him, it is buried under the cold numb fear that took hold of his body.

Duck stares at Indrid's hand with the broken glass, all tension washed out. He watches blood slowly seeping out of microscopic wounds and dripping down to the ground.

"Indrid," he says, unsure now, deflated.

Indrid shakes his head forcefully. "You should go, Duck." He ignores his bleeding hand, points with the other behind himself towards the door.

Duck nods, slowly, and then pushes awkwardly past Indrid in the narrow inside of the Winnebago. He opens the door and a gust of cold air presses inside and makes them both shiver. It has started snowing in big flakes outside.

Standing in the open door Duck turns around one last time but he doesn't say anything. Indrid sees different futures pop up, one where he restarts the argument, one where he tells him to bandage the hand, as if Indrid didn't know, one where he angrily spits at him that the conversation isn't over yet, and one where he assures him that he can tell him everything, that thing would be alright, that he could trust him.

But his future's Duck Newton just sighs and shakes his head before he closes the door and leaves him behind alone with his humming space heaters.