Temron still hadn’t spoken, Jack-o was beginning to suspect he may not ever again, or at least for a very long while. The thought only added to his pain. In a few desperate moments, he thought of just calling it quits and pulling the book from his bag. But he couldn’t. As much as he thought it may be better for him to have never come into Temron’s life, the damage was done. He had done this, and he would stay as long as he had to.
Jack-o looked down at the ground under his feet and again remembered the days at the lake. As he thought, he wondered if this was the way adults felt about life? Simply remembering things that happened in the past, yearning for nothing more than to live in those times again.
The boy raised his eyes and in the distance, just peaking over the horizon, he could make out a small dot. As the two got closer and closer the dot grew larger, still, Jack-o thought nothing of it. The sun had broken his heart too many times since they had started walking, he wouldn’t give it another opportunity. The boy continued staring at his feet, letting them hypnotize his mind, right, left, right, left. Right. Left.
The pain surged through his body as he accidentally walked into Temron. Even burnt and dehydrated it seemed the man was lightning fast in his reflexes. The man threw Jack-o’s body off of his own with a pain-filled grunt. The boy skidded lightly across the ground, the rough earth like sand paper on his skin, too weak to even let out a whimper. He lay there for a minute, fighting back tears so as not to waste any of the precious few drops of water he had left in his body. Slowly, he stood back to his feet and his eyes met what had caused Temron to come to a complete halt.
The dot that had been growing on the horizon was not just a dot anymore, it was a thick of woods. Bones of a forest that once was. After seeing nothing but the rash of the sun for as long as they had Jack-o couldn’t believe his eyes. Without instruction, his feet moved him forward, as he walked he felt his arm raising and it wasn’t until he felt the heat of the petrified tree trunk on his palm that he knew the wood was real. His hand fell to his side as he looked back at Temron. The two’s eyes met, and the man started walking into the woods.
The trees became thick toward the middle and offered the only real comfort Jack-o had felt since his library and the portal were destroyed. Finally, Temron stopped walking again and stared up at the sky. The sun was lower and would flash out for the night in the next couple of hours. Bringing his eyes back to the trees around him, he glanced at every trunk until he found what he was looking for. He walked over to a trunk with a few solid branches reaching out from the base, snapped two off, and tossed one to the boy. Understanding exactly what to do, Jack-o nodded painfully and they both began stabbing the firm upper crust of the Earth.
Just as the sun went down the first signs of softness could be seen coming into the dirt of their hole. Sweat dripped delicately down their bodies as if it was rationing itself to cool them only exactly as much as the needed to continue their dig. After another couple dark hours, dirty water began to fill the hole. Jack-o and Temron took turns swallowing handful after handful of the warm refreshing liquid until their bellies were so full they bulged outward like a woman in early pregnancy, and both immediately passed out.