Sleep on the porch

You decide that sleeping on the porch of the house is your best course of action. The occupants of the house could be hostile, and judging from the state of the place, they probably are.

You duck behind the wood pile, and drift off to sleep. You dream vividly.

You wake up in a long, cold room. As you look around, it becomes clear that it is the dormitory you slept in as a boy. You feel on edge. The other boys are fast asleep in their beds, and there are no teachers in sight. This relieves some of your anxiety.

As you sit in the dark, you hear a familiar sound outside. Suddenly, a tall, robed figure bursts through the door. Quickly, you lie back down in your bed. Your body is trembling and cold sweat is running down your back. It is Elder Kuruk.

He glides silently, moving slowly in between the two rows of beds. As he reaches yours, he stops. You inhale sharply but silently. 'Alvar.' He hisses, his breath smelling of pickled fish and boiled eggs as he leans in closer. 'You've been a bad boy, again.' You try to ignore him, to pretend you are asleep, but he grabs your ear and pulls sharply, forcing you to sit up in bed. You scream in pain, his nails digging into your ear. He leads you out of the dormitory, his nails almost breaking the skin of your ear as he drags you.

You know where you are going. You plead with him, beg him to just let you go this one time, that you would be good from now on. He doesn't listen. He never listens.

He stops at the door to outside. A blizzard has taken hold of the mountain, and the wind is cruel and harsh. He draws a knife from his pocket. His elven fingers grasp it tightly, and he runs it down the back of your nightshirt. He releases his grip on your ear, and takes the shirt off your back. The familiar hand meets your back. It is cool and smooth. The door opens and you are pushed outside, into the cold, in just your bedshorts. You bang the door, pleading, begging, to be let back inside. Elder Kuruk only smiles at you, a twisted, sadistic smile.

You wake, gasping for air, tears streaming down your face. It had been ten years since you had left that place, but the nightmares still haunted you. Elder Kuruk had been cruel, and he had taken a particular disliking to you. 'It was just a dream', you say to yourself. You decide to move on.

As you walk, your hunger returns. On a nearby tree, there appear to be some red berries. Whilst they may be poisonous, you are so hungry that it does not matter to you. Even death would be preferable to the nightmare of hunger.

Do you...

Eat the berries?

Leave them?

The End

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