Tristan knew he didn’t have rabies. He swore it. At the top of his lungs he professed that his skin had remained covered! Those cowards. They screamed like little girls – little babies throwing a tantrum about who gets the green lollipop.

Tristan’s snowmobiling goggles were fogging up as he bounded through the woods, down from the cliff where they had been inspecting a decomposing raccoon. The woods were hot. It was June, the peak of the rabies season, and he couldn’t see whether his sleeves had actually crept up enough to tempt any vicious rabies carrying mosquitoes, but he was sure in his heart of hearts that they hadn’t. He had these gortex gloves his dad used ice fishing in Alaska. They had long wrists, and there was no way his sweatshirt sleeve could have pulled out of their draw string grasp. He kept running, shouting, ‘I don’t have rabies! Guys! I don’t have rabies.’ But they were long gone. Those babies. 

He knew these woods like the back of his hand, even in a million degree snowsuit, and seeing in blur-vision he navigated deftly as Magellan. He leaped off rocks and slid down the damp clinging moss. He swung around thin trees that bent, and flung him up over more rocks, smoothly evading a thick patch of prickers strategically positioned to take him down; rip his snow pants to reveal their white fluffy innards. He wouldn’t let it happen. He swung himself out of danger like a charismatic mutant prodigy, a protégée of Gambit the explosive energy wielding, bow staff swinging, acrobat.  

He knew they couldn’t be too far ahead. He probably would have heard sticks snapping under their boots if it wasn’t for his own boots breaking sticks, his hot panting breaths saturating his ski mask, and the pounding of his temples beating blood through his infuriated brain.

The daylight was growing brighter as he approached a clearing in the woods, but it only made him hotter, and angrier. He didn’t need freedom, he needed revenge against these supposed friends; these puny cowards. They were so stupid. He hadn’t even seen a mosquito all afternoon.

He glanced around the field until he found Ted and John cackling and holding each other up as they removed their snow gear. Tristan had already removed his ski mask, goggles, and gloves. It was safe, because they were out of the woods. He threw the goggles he had borrowed down at their feet. He told them that they needed to get a life, and asked why they thought he had rabies. They collapsed on each other again, laughing. Their sweaty hair, with remnants of hay that had escaped the bailer, sticking out, making them look like scarecrows blowing in the wind, laughing and falling all over the place.