Opening the backpack revealed Michael

Bone-deep weariness convinced him that the weight of the luggage was no different than it had been when packed, that the perceived heaviness was entirely psychosomatic. Raphael had not slept soundly, too excited for the journey. He had not, in all truths, gotten much by way of sleep for a few days. At four in the morning, he’d loaded his truck in a zombie state.

He’d been on the trail for an hour and a half, the pack straps digging into his shoulders. It seemed to get heavier by the second. Raphael kept telling himself he was just tired. The cabin was just another thirty minutes ahead, he could rest. Sleep. He’d feel better.

This thought, this promise, spurred him on. He got a second wind, and made it to his destination in less time than anticipated.

The cabin was a wonderful sight, but removing the backpack was better. Raphael stretched, worked the painful spots where the straps had been resting, finding it odd that there should be actual marks – divots in his flesh from the weight. This bag had never done that before. He opened it up to unpack his toothbrush. Part of him was not at all surprised by what he found.

A fuzzy grey face blinked up at him, shooting off a yawn and a stretch of its own before eliciting a soft meow.


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