His sweater, once full of festive colors and Christmas spirit, now lay in tatters on the ground, hiding in the fallen Autumn foliage. There are worse fates for sweaters and men, and given his available options, Jack might have opted for the outcome of the sweater fossil.
His bare arms shook in the November breeze. There was freshwater in the creek, but the thought of giardia was enough to make him hesitate. He was thirsty though. It had been at least 30 hours since he'd had anything to drink. Combined with the lack of food and blood leaking from his right arm and temple, Jack was feeling unstable and especially vulnerable to the cold. Even his goose bumps seemed subdued and morose.
Scanning the landscape Jack realized he hadn't run as far as he thought. He could clearly make out the end of the tree line just over the ridge to the east, and he knew that just behind the rising sun was Aberdale, now little more than a movie set, a façade giving the impression of life and society but entirely empty and forgotten. He dipped his hands into the creek and drank from the cup they formed. The water was cold, biting his timid teeth and cutting rivulets into the back of his throat.
As he used the water to clean off the gash below his bicep, Jack felt his pants shake. He reached instinctively into his pocket and pulled out his iPhone, and saw her face on the screen.