Places in between

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Nice to meet you?

Cold, too cold I’m going to freeze to death all over again. NO, want this to end, want it to stop; stop being so cold. PLEASE!

I felt something like dejavu when warmth was spreading through my chilled bones, warming up my core that apparently no longer existed. Slowly I came through and blinked to the sharp light slipping past the branches. I blinked some more before trying to move, just to clear my head.

With a grunting sound I sat up, my head was pondering and I felt sore all over; maybe from lying on the hard ground for God knows how long. Did I just die again? I saw Shinri...Rinshi? whatever, sitting on a rock with his feet pulled up a couple of steps away and he had a strange look on his face.

“Don’t ever have me do that again stupid!”
He was clearly not happy

Ughh why did everything hurt so much…

“Do what…?

Wait did you…?”

“We should move some more, we are still too close to the edge to be safe.”

He got of the rock and scanned the woods with a serious face.
Somehow I felt like I was being treated like a child so why not act like it.

“Huh, why do you have to drag me along? Just leave me here if I’m such a pain to handle.”

Well I had all the rights to be cranky right, I didn’t like being ordered around and especially not when I felt like shit.

“If only it was that easy…” His face still had that serious frown with a hint of...sadness?

He turned and walked towards me, or more like glided with his graceful ways. When he reached me he extended his hand to offer me help up. Did I look as if I needed his help?

“Yours are the weirdest heart I have ever eaten, it’s like it still lives inside of me and whenever you are too far away or unconscious it gets cold; and I don’t like that.”

I gave him a hard stare with raised eyebrows, not willing to be manhandled after I just fainted.

“So I’m just some kind of battery for you? Whenever you get a new heart you will just dump me in some ditch to die?” I was definitely not happy with this situation.

“When that time comes yes, but fortunately for you I only come across a dying human in the spring once a decade so it looks like we have to stick together until I have figured out a way to solve this.”

He gave me a wicked smile, grabbed my totally not outstretched arm and hoisted me upwards; until I stood upright before him. Now when we were this close I noticed he was a tad bit shorter than me, and with the most amazing eyes I had ever seen.

“Anyway I think this deal will benefit the both of us, nobody wants to freeze to death; right?”

Still smiling that crooked smile he dropped my hand and went to pick up his things, the warmth I had felt disappeared immediately and a shudder ran through my body.

“Oh and by the way! Try to control your thoughts around me of you please; remember that I hear everything you’re thinking.”

With that he turned and disappeared into the forest with an embarrassed me to follow him once again. It would be okay right…?

Later that day not much had change and we were still scaling the forest for a safer place to be, not that it mattered much to me. We had stopped before at some places but never stayed, like we were in a hurry. Strange, there were no things to be afraid of out there and I had no reason to believe “spirits” were after us. As far as I knew he, Sirinji..Srinju... could be a fraud; all I had to go on was maybe a few lucky guessings on my thoughts and his statement of the cold. He could as well have made that up, how should I know he just didn’t want to take me into the forest to throw me of a cliff or something? No traces right, that’s the way to get rid of someone, make it look like an accident and then claim you were never there. He surely was a disguised…oufh!

I had not looked up from my feet in a while so when he stopped abruptly I ran right into him, knocking my nose in the back of his head.

“What was that for!? At least give me a warning before you decide to stop won't you?” Irritation was pooling in me and while clutching my nose I tried to peer over his shoulder to see what was going on, but saw nothing. Without warning he spun around and grabbed a fistful of my shirt.

“Listen! I don’t care whatever you believe did happen or will happen, but I can tell you this!

I am no happier with this than you are so if you would just stop your whining and be to some use. I will not throw you off any cliff and I will not try to kill you! If you die your heart are sure to follow with and it’s a pain in the butt as it is already trying to keep the cold at bay; and you my friend are not helping. And it’s Rinji.”

Angry? Well that was a first, something other than that monotonously boring voice everything else was spoken in for sure. I was surprised and we didn’t say anything after that, just stared some more before he let go, turned and stomped away. Oh great, more sulking.

I heaved a deep sigh and followed him, wherever he was going.

“Well what can I do to help then? It’s not like you have explain anything to me since we met.”

We had finally stopped at a valley-kind-of-thing between some rocks and a stream.

“How should I know? Do I look like some kind of magician to you?”

My gaze flickered over him once again; with those loose, green/brown-ey clothes and a wand-thingy with stones he looked to be taken right out of a fantasy novel.

“Well you do, in fact…”

An eye roll and a sigh was all I got and I gave up, I would get nothing out of this guy so why even try.

I left him with unpacking his bag and went to wash some mud of in the stream, it’s amazing what the ground can do to you when you’re not paying attention. The water was cold and clear, and like everything else in this place something seemed off about it. It reminded me somehow of Rinjis eyes; clear and blue like water. I had to splash my face quickly to get that image out of my head, what if he heard me again…

The mirage I was faced with in the stream did seem unfamiliar too; even if everything was the same. The brown hair and eyes was the same as I last remembered them in that house not too long ago. My hair was maybe a bit longer but that could just be from not having it tied all the time, I needed to get a rubber band or something to get rid of it. My bangs were dripping with water from the stream and droplets were traveling down my chin and soaking the already dirty shirt collar. Well wasn’t I a sight for sore eyes.

Luckily for me I hadn’t picked light coloured clothes when I went out to die, or else I would have looked even more disgusting. The black shirt and brown pants ate up the most obvious spots and you could almost believe I just had been out in the garden or something.

I wetted my hair some more and combed it backward to not get everything in my eyes and went back to Rinji, maybe he had manage to get some food.

Surprisingly enough that was exactly what he had done, a fire was sparkling low and some kind of rabbit was cooking over it. I felt like I hadn’t had real food in months. Had it really just been this morning? Dying took a toll on you.

“Here, pile these will you.”

He stirred in a small kettle that was also hanging above the fire with one hand and threw some garlic/onion crop to me with the other. I rolled up my sleeves to the elbows and sat down to help him, if anything to prove I was not totally useless. He gave me a small knife to chop them into pieces and when I tried to give it back he told me to keep it, that I needed something to protect myself with.

The knife was no bigger than my hand and would surely not do any real harm to anyone except this garlic, but I kept it nonetheless.

The night fell and I knew none of us would get any sleep, so I stayed by the fire and was scaling the rocks incase anything tried to attack us. He soon came back and sat down with the fire, looking very tired and worn.

“Still not gonna explain anything?”

I had all rights to be curious, I think it’s at least something I can demand; answers.

“I’m not sure I know all the answers but I can try…”

He locked torn, like he suddenly was a 100 years old; and then it hit me that he could as well be.

I had no idea what, who or anything about him at all; and it scared me a lot. Maybe I had preferred death after all, this was so new and I didn’t know what to do with myself. What I did here, why did I follow him, what now? I had so many questions and they all clamped together and got stuck in my throat. Like last time I panicked, but this time I would not faint; no I couldn’t faint. If anything it was really embarrassing.

He looked at me, worry swimming in those huge orbs like he knew I struggled; well he certainly did with the mind reading and all.

“You don’t need to panic, we can talk but as I said I don’t know a lot”

Mumbling an embarrassed curse I tried to calm down, it was no use in stressing myself out, hopefully I would get my answers soon enough.

“Maybe I’m just too tired…” I took a deep sigh and let it out slowly, just needed to sleep some and everything would be fine.

It had been a long day and I deserved some sleep but I knew I never would be able to get it. The fire was burning low and was almost gone; the cold in my chest crept further out in my body so I scooped closer to the dying flame to try to get some warmth but totally in vain.

I noticed Rinji getting up and leave the fire; hopefully to get more wood so we wouldn’t need to freeze to death tonight. But he came back again too soon with something in his arms, whatever fabric he had found he draped over my shoulders and I felt safer somehow.

“This must have been a lot for you to take in and I understand if you are scared…

I would have been too.”

He took a seat beside me on the ground and gazed into the fire, his eyes shone with the dying flames and they looked deep purple in this light. I hope I didn’t look like a gaping idiot with my staring.

“Why do you eat hearts?”

I was mesmerized by his eyes and even more so when they locked with mine.

“I live on the warmth they give… I used to think it was because I didn’t have a heart of my own, so I needed others to live but now I know they are more like an energy source; like nutrition…

I can survive without them but I don’t appreciate it.”

“But the hearts you eat are of dying people? How can they give warmth if the person is dead?”
Just slightly disgusted...maybe.

“I eat them before the person is dead, like you said “dying people”. So I guess the heart still lives inside of me somehow…”

He was no longer looking at me but at the glowing coal that was left of our source of warmth.


I tried not looking at him, just a glance out of the corner of my eye and forced my voice to sound casual.

“So you say this is how it usually is… but not the case with mine…?”

He furrowed his brows and looked skeptical, thoughtful.

“No apparently not… like I said; usually they just die, but after I ate yours, it was like you didn’t want to give it away; didn’t like having anybody take it so you kind of took it back… somehow, like a conscious”


I got an an irritated sigh this time but he finally looked at me again instead of facing forward.

“Look I’m not sure either, the “kiss” as you call it is a way for us to eat peoples heart, sucking out their life energy. The warmth you felt was your body sucking that energy back again and woke you up. I could still feel I had it but like it was far away at the same time.

I think somehow we manage to split it so neither of us got the whole but still enough to function. That’s where the cold comes from, two parts of a whole being too far away from each other. Like a human, it’s like I got the body but you got the conscious of the person.”

I felt dumbfounded but it still made sense…somehow… or?

“You are not yet used to the cold” He continued “So it’s only natural you are not function well, and you shouldn’t; that’s the problem. Humans cannot live on parts of their life energy, so why you’re not lying dead on that meadow is as big of a mystery for both of us.”

“So that’s why... we are in a hurry?” I hesitated, things didn’t really add up in my brain.

“Yes, I don’t know how long it will live; Since it drains the both of us; naturally it uses up more energy and runs out faster. Hopefully it will last long enough for us to figure this out. But before it does I would like to find someone who can help us untangle this mess.”

I felt even colder when there was no fire, not just in my bones but in my core. Was this how Rinji felt all the time?

“It’s not impossible” he huffed “But it’s hard to move with the cold in you body, hard to breath... hard to live...” the last words were a faint whisper so I had to scoot a bit closer to hear him. He seemed dejected and closed off, I understood that this was difficult to talk about.

Suddenly he got up abruptly and startled me, I immediately missed his warmth beside me. With his back turned he told me to get some sleep and that he would think on a way out of this. Then he left and the thick forest swallowed him without a trace.

I pulled the blanket tighter around myself and closed my eyes; this would be a long, cold night.

The morning was even colder than last night, a crisp wind blew through the forest and dew had gathered on leafs all around. The ground was hard and damp but what woke me were thousands of birds singing everywhere and I recalled that this was like any other spring mornings. It was a really long time ago I had last camped outside with my parents… too long ago.

Noticing I wasn’t as cold as I should be I tried to sit up, but the same blanket I had wrapped myself with yesterday was now more like tucked in. I turned my head and not until I had hair tickling my nose I noticed someone else was using the blanket as well.

Rinjin was lying down beside me with his back pressed into mine, which explained why I hadn’t woken up totally freezing. It didn’t bother me at first, but as soon as I moved he did too and meeting his sleeping face was totally too much.

I scrambled to my feet, almost tripping on the blanket that was tangled in my legs but managed to remain standing.

By some miraculous reason Rinjin had escaped from woken up and just rolled over to his other side and slept on. How he manages to sleep so peacefully was beyond me and nothing I wanted to know, lying long enough on that dirt was bad for my neck and back. Stretching out my complaining muscles and tried not to shudder, the morning did just become ten times colder without Rinji to warm me up. It felt weird to stay there for much longer so i decided to take a walk, just to get away from everything .

The forest was as calm as i remembered it from my time, long ago. The birds still sang in the branches but it felt further away than before, like they were moving fast. Come to think of it I hadn’t seen a single living creature in this forest since I came here... Only heard the birdsongs but everything seemed a little too quiet somehow. A gust of wind blew past me and something made a noise not too far away. It was very loud and in its wake every bird had gone quiet. The whole forest held its breath and me with it, maybe it was another human? There must be others in this huge place and perhaps they had more answers than that stupid Rinji.

I pulled closer to the source to see if it was anything of interest; it could as well be some boring bird. The bushes were thick and I didn’t see anything that could have made the loud sound in the otherwise quiet forest. I walked around a bit but still saw nothing, strange; I could have sworn I heard something.

The crisp morning had become a tad warmer but the constant chilling in my bones didn’t disappear; never would and it made my guts clench.

A branch broke in front of me and another of those rabbit-thingy from yesterday ran past my feet in a blazing speed, soon another one followed and my stomach started to remind me it was breakfast time. Maybe I could catch one of those and Rinji would help me cook it, it was worth a try; how hard could it be?

Apparently it could be freaking hard. Those things were fast and never stopped for more than a few seconds. I tried everything; traps, throwing things, sneaking up behind them but nothing worked. They were running like something was chasing them and I believed it wasn’t me. Leaves got stuck in my hair and my knees was scratched .

I realized that they had led me deeper into the forest and I had no idea where I was, this was not good. I tried to go back the same way I came but everything looked the same. Oh this was just great… lost in a strange forest with no way back, just great!

In my frustration I kicked a rock hard, it went flying into another rock and together they tumbled down the hill with the sound of roaring thunder. Bushes and branches snapped in their way and overall they made a real mess of everything. Maybe if I was warmer and my stomach was not screaming for some food I would have cared. Now it just made me even more grumpy and did nothing to my “lost, hurt and hungry-situation”

After everything had calmed down again I continued to struggle through the woods, I was bound to end up somewhere right.

A sudden rustling could be heard in the direction I was going and a light of hope lit up my chest, maybe it was Rinji who had gone and searched for me. I thrived forward and the rustling could be heard again, louder this time. Soon, soon I was out of this mess.


Oh please let it be him, I would do anything for some warm food and shelter right now.

“Rinjin is that you? I know I shouldn’t have gone but I was hungry and…”

A pair of eyes was suddenly staring at me; not the pair I would gladly stare back at but a round, yellow pair. They looked big and curious and a lot like a birds. I had stopped dead in my tracks and both of us just stood there; evaluating the other.

The creature leaned forward and blinked slowly. I on the other hand took a step backwards to make some distance between me and this big bird-thingy.

It moved with me and slowly came out from its hiding place, I could now see the whole thing but I almost regret doing it.

“….It’s a griffin…”

My whisper felt loud in the now totally quiet forest.

I was too afraid to do any sudden movements, but it seemed friendly enough with those big eyes and head to the side so I decide to take a chance. I turned and ran.

Not a good decision.
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