Quickly disappearing footsteps marked the man's trail as he stumbled through the snow, occasionally tripping over a buried branch or rock. Frost covered his face, and his breath came as a cloud. The man knew he was going to die, yet he moved forward anyway, the last hopes of a desperate being. The darkness slowly closed around him as he pushed through the snow, covering the white forest in dusk.
The man falls again, and this time he doesn't get back up. Instead he lays in the snow, listening to the wind and contemplating his mortality. He thinks of all those he will never see again, and in his desperation he weeps. The tears freeze within seconds of running down his cheeks, and there they remain, reminders of his misery. At last he closes his eyes, and it is then that he hears it. At first he thinks it is his imagination, a dead man's last dreams. Then it grows stronger, and he lifts his head to hear it better. It is sweet and melodic, and he thinks it the sound of angels, before he goes to some unknown afterlife. Yet, while he thinks this he realizes this is not so, that this noise is real. Although, to call it noise would be an insult to its purity. This was music, and beautiful music at that.
Slowly he gains his feet, and stumbles towards the sound, as fast as his numbed feet will carry him. As the music grows louder, he sees a faint light through the gathering darkness. He increases his pace, nearly falling every five feet, but miraculously stays up. He draws closer to the light, and he at first can't believe his eyes. Blinking his ice crusted lids, he looks once again. The cabin still stands against the white background, and it is the sweetest sight he has ever laid eyes on. The music is still drifting across the night air, and the sweetness of it coupled with the sight of the cabin sends the man into a euphoria.
However, this feeling quickly ends as the music stops and a man steps onto the front porch of the cabin, pointing a shotgun right at him. In a gruff voice, he yells, "Who the f--k are you and what are you doing here?" The shotgun is not lowered.
The man in the snow has to think about this for a while. Finally, he answers in a quavering voice, "M m my name is Greg. P please don't shoot me!" Greg takes a hesitant step forward, for he feels a gunshot would still be better than standing in the cold for even another second. When the other man lowers the shotgun, Greg keeps walking. The man doesn't put the gun away, though.
As Greg gets closer to the man, he sees the state Greg is in. Although he is still wary, he leads Greg inside the cabin, keeping the gun in hand. He says, "Sit by the fire for a little bit, and when you're warmed up you're going to tell me everything. If you make one wrong move, I'll blow your f--king brains out." He looked like he meant every word.
Greg finally felt warmth creeping into his body, and he turned to the gruff man sitting across the room. The man nodded to him, and Greg began, "As I said, my name is Greg. I was hiking through the mountains alone when the storm hit, and I got lost. Badly. After stumbling around for a few hours, I heard music coming from this direction, so I followed it. I assume that was you?" The man nodded, and Greg continued, "So I heard your music, and I followed it. I saw your cabin, and I ended up here." He watched as the man sat there, thinking.
Apparently making up his mind, the man spoke, "You look pretty hypothermic, and I ain't got no phone. I hate te say it, but I guess you can stay the night. You better be quiet, though. Can't stand it when people'r talkin all the time. Drives me insane." The man got up and went over to a closet, where he got some clothes. "Put these on, yours are all wet," he said, and then he went over and lay on his bed, leaning the shotgun against the wall. Greg looked around for a private place to change, didn't see one, and so just sat there. He wasn't getting raped tonight, oh no, not after all he'd been through. The man, seeing this, said, "You best be puttin them on, or your gonna die. Don't worry, I ain't some sick backwoods hillbilly. I promise I won't look." The man grinned when he said this, and this was the first time he had.
Greg, seeing he was being made fun of, decided to change. No raping occurred, and Greg settled back on the couch. He didn't really think it was that funny, as he thought his concern had been a valid one. He looked over at the man, and saw the guitar sitting next to the shotgun. It was beautiful, obviously custom made, and he asked, "Is that your guitar?"
The man sat up and said, "Nah, I keep the bears' instruments in here so they don't get snow on 'em." He grinned again.
"Alright yeah, I guess that was a stupid question. It's a beautiful instrument, and from what I heard earlier, you play it pretty damn well." Looking over at the man, he continued, "I play guitar too, you know."
The man lay back down and closed his eyes, saying, "Is that so? Go to sleep."
Greg lay back, marveling at the man who had saved his life. Finally, he couldn't resist, and he said, "You know, I never got your name."
His eyes still closed, the man grunted, "You can call me Joe. Now if you don't shut up and go to sleep, that shotgun's goin where the sun don't shine." With that the man rolled over, and said no more. Greg snorted laughter, and then let his exhausted, traumatized body drift off into the bliss of sleep.