Kurt’s eyelids flipped up to reveal woods in every direction, all of it drenched in night. He staggered where he stood, disoriented for a moment. It took that moment for the realization to come that he’d sleepwalked out here from his bedroom kilometres away. Of course. These nocturnal wanderings were happening nightly now, ever since June 8th. His friends kidded him that he was searching for a story in his sleep. He was always out searching for a story while awake, so why not while asleep too? All he could do now was sigh. He glanced around, recognizing the woods that grew at the edge of Hatchet. Under his bare feet was a faint deer path that he’d walked under daylight before. He could follow it back to the unfinished neighbourhood at the edge of the woods, and then follow the snaking pavement back to his house. So he knew his way back; he didn’t need to use the walkie-talkie radio hung around his neck. He’d started wearing it to bed every night when the sleepwalking began, so that he could radio his friends if he ever got truly lost. He hadn’t needed it yet, but every night he seemed to end up a little further out from home, and he guessed that he might need it soon—when he eventually woke up and had no idea where he was. The radio was an overnight lifeline to his friends.
Kurt turned and began treading his way back along the path, feeling the soil and twigs on the bottoms of his feet. Crickets called out from the shadows. Hundreds of oaks flanked the path, each of them reaching and winding. The sky above was bright with stars, dropping a flood of silvery light that was cut and scattered by the branches below. Looking up, the patches of night sky that Kurt could see through the canopy reminded him of a poster he’d noticed earlier that night, when hanging out with his gang of friends in Specs’ basement before curfew. It was tacked to the wall and read The Night Sky over a broad map of its namesake. There were printed lines connecting stray stars into constellations named by stargazers from a long past age.