(Author note: this is an excerpt of a story available in full on Wattpad! Find me @jordynsaelor there!)

The tents were still there when you went back two days later. Of course the tents were still there. Why wouldn’t they still be there?

It just felt like a bad dream, brain.

You plugged your nose against the stench of new rot in the old mud, but gave up because you couldn’t leave the bodies there. You couldn’t move a body with only one hand. You were not going to drag their bodies by their blood because you couldn’t risk them coming to pieces on you. So you kicked Kolariq’s body back into the tent. You resisted the urge to punch his red blood-spattered face. You ripped the stakes from the tent and kicked the side so it collapsed. You yanked it by the corner, discovered it was too heavy, went back in the collapsed tent and tore out the backpacks. The sleeping bags. Yanked the tent again and it slid.

The ocean was as far of a walk as it took the sun to sink into evening. You stopped at the cliff, hesitantly peered over, discovered there was no beach down there. You pushed the tent to the edge, kicked whatever body was closest until it hung off, wound in the tent’s cloth, spinning in lazy circles. You found another body under the tarp and kicked that one to the edge too, stepped away as the tent began to slide. You caught the sense of Silver-eye’s blood and threw it outward, away from the cliff, the tent billowed in an arc weighed by three bodies, fluttering almost like a snowflake into the surging water. You stared until the animal skin tarp sunk out of sight underneath the blue.

The second tent took longer. You made it back to the campsite before dark and threw all the backpacks out, you didn’t know what you were going to do with the backpacks, maybe you would come back tomorrow and throw them in the ocean too. You dragged the tent made from a black whale’s hide, pulling five frozen bodies inside it, you grunted and sweated and you hated the tang of salt but at least the way to the cliff by the sea was mostly flat.

In the dark, you rolled bodies to the cliff’s edge, could hear Bone-builder’s bone arm rattling around, you still felt bad about him especially but you knew he never would have sided with you, you rolled a body with one arm over the cliff and the black tent dangled his body above the abyss, the black water flickered with stars and wild waves hammering loudly against the rocks, you rolled another body so the tent was weighed down by two bodies you rolled another body and the tent slid over the rocks over the abyss. You inhaled sharply, had the sense of Blond-boy’s cold and thick but rough-like-sand blood and shoved it away from you so the tent wouldn’t catch on the cliff face, you laid on your stomach, peering over the cliff to the water of flickering stars, you couldn’t see the tent until the water-lights you were staring at became absences of light and then you pictured the black snowflake of a tent sinking under the black water.

You were shivering cold, panting, skin still tender from leaking blood, but you found the graveyard of backpacks in the quiet dark and then slowly spun in a circle, trying to remember where you left your backpack. You found it by the sense of bone knives and Aukai’s bones and withering poison. You found it next to a rock, utterly without context in that barren tundra. You dug in the pocket for the widow’s thrill and threw the roots as far as you could, they made no sound when they landed, and you smiled at the thought that for all you knew, they never really landed. You scraped the backpack over your tender shoulders and carried him, carried what was left of him, across the tundra of no context to the house where you could still faintly sense blood singing out to you, blood that no longer had a beating heart to carry it.

You slept beneath the table again, the giant backpack clutched in your arms, those bones as close to you as possible without actually touching them, the old rock from the oven radiated warmth through the not-quite freezing house, you thought sometime you should thank that old rock for keeping the ice cube of you from freezing to death. So you sang him a song. Some nonsense about falling in love with taffy bones, bleeding out after someone desecrated the taffy bones, and then ending with whole lot of blubbering thank you’s. You imagined the house got a little warmer after that.