Carrie ran a shiny red fingernail along the books lined above the bed and stopped her hand on In The Lake Of The Woods. It was a book she'd been told she just had to read and she struggled to remember what it was about. It came to her that it was the story of a woman who disappears in the wilds of Minnesota and the reader never knows if her husband killed her or what, and Carrie giggled a nervous giggle and thought this couldn't be her story, or could it? She shuddered, but this time not from the cold. As she pushed the book back in its space on the shelf she was startled by the crack of the rifle, again and again, four times in all.
She screamed, "What's going on?" and pushed open the door and called into the darkness, "Bart, what are you doing? Are you okay?"
The rifle barked once more and then all went quiet.
Carrie waited for an answer and then screamed again, "Bart, what's going on?"
Bart's voice was muffled by the drooping, snow-covered branches of the woods. "I'm taking care of the sled dogs."
"What do you mean, taking care of them?" She grabbed her hair and pulled on her curls.
"You didn't shoot them, did you? They're my only way home!" She didn't wait for him to speak. Something told her that she already knew the answer. "How could you? I thought..." She thought he was so gentle and wondered if she'd run away from one mad man to be with another. "Are you going to kill me, too? What have you done to the dogs? To me?"
Bart's dark form emerged from the woods by the outhouse. Carrie backed from the open door as he trudged toward the cabin, the rifle resting on his shoulder, his boots punching holes deep in the snow, a sled dog loping behind him.
"You're a killer," she cried. "They didn't do anything wrong."
"Nor did I," Bart said quietly. "There's no way we could feed them the whole winter." He reached down and scratched the ears of the sled dog that had followed him and looked up at Carrie. "I saved the blue-eyed one for you."
"Oh, for God's sake," she said, the cold wind beginning to fill the cabin. "I never thought it would be anything like this. Not anything at all." She was both horrified and frightened by his nonchalance. "This isn't what I dreamed about, Bart. It isn't at all what I expected. I want to go home. Right now. I've made a horrible, typical-me mistake. Help me, please."