There was no point in going further from the dimension machine. He would not be able to make it back in time if he did. Still, it felt like someone was laughing at him when he turned his back on the next island and began the long walk back to the hole in the sky.
He reminded himself to breathe regularly when he had to cross the first island. He crossed it with brisk steps, pausing only to check the pile of stones he had left last time he passed. It seemed untouched. Just like his rucksack had, even though he had seen the trees moving while he had left his rucksack on the island. Just like his ankle had when he had been so sure that someone or something had grabbed it. He kicked the pile and threw one of the stones at a tree.
‘Come on!’ he shouted, ‘move!’
The tree remained motionless.
‘Are you digging on my nerves on purpose or can you only move at night?’ he said, ‘or when it’s misty…’
He turned, motioning with his hand as if he were throwing something away. He walked away shaking his head.
‘Speaking to a tree, that’s one thing I thought I’d never do.’
Hopefully the plan he had for tonight would be more successful.
As soon as the light dimmed, he placed himself between two islands as much in the middle of the path as he could. As he took off his jacket, he peered out over the waves. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. He slipped his safety harness out of his rucksack and hid it under his jacket. Then he made himself as comfortable as possible on the stones with his rucksack as a pillow which was not comfortable at all. However, somehow he was glad it was uncomfortable; it would be easier to stay awake.
The wind picked up as the sun set. Rodger crossed his fingers that it would not rain and tried to look relaxed. He clutched the safety harness with one hand, perhaps too tightly. He focused on his breathing to seem relaxed and asleep. He focused on the stone his hip was being squashed against to keep himself awake. He kept his right hand free and ready.
He had to wait for it to come very close, and he might not get a second chance. Even if it touched his leg, it might not be close enough. He would have to seem asleep, until the very moment he grabbed for it.
His hip ached. He felt like he had been lying there for hours. Perhaps he had. He dared not open his eyes to look at his watch.
Something touched his trouser leg. He forced himself to lie still. Keep breathing, he thought, keep breathing. You are sleeping, just sleeping. Something touched his leg again. Was it a bit more insistent? Was it testing to see if he was really asleep? Were his shoulders relaxed enough?
Something poked him in the back. He only shifted slightly, making what he hoped was a convincing sleep-grunt. He took several deep breaths without feeling anything new. Was it still there? Perhaps it noticed he was awake. Perhaps it had gone to fetch more. He felt his heart sinking. Perhaps he should just open his eyes to see if it was there?
A drop fell on his face. He thrust himself up, grabbed it with his right hand, threw the safety harness over its head and held on tight.
This is part 10 read part 1 here: http://abolg.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/moving-forwards-part-1/