Chapter 05: The next day.

He woke up at the first light, with a chill that permeated his core. His arms ached, and he was covered with bruises and nicks from the day before. He felt a mix of unpleasant obligation and dread. Not wanting to deal with the caracal, or even dragging himself up and down the hill, let alone pushing a large roll of wood and felt.

Then there was the issue of his clothing. Being a hermit, he didn’t have an extensive wardrobe. He managed to salavage his pants, but decided it was not worth the effort or the water to clean them. With this, he only had one change of clothes, but these were his least favorite because he had made them with industrial grade winter insulation felt, instead of the light breezy spring felt that went with the season.

So, there he stood, swaddled in stiff, itchy fabric in the breaking morning sun. The clothing rubbed against itself and made a coarse rubbing sound like courderoy, but some how more uncomfortable. The felt chafed, and left him quickly feeling overheated and sweaty, but there was no more time to try to cut some simpler clothes, and the felt at the bottom of the hill was a lighter material that he needed for himself and and the townsfolk. He strapped his muddy shoes back on, and bounded down the hill.

When he made it to the roll, the caracal was nowhere in sight. He a quickly made his way around it, and pushed his sholder into it forcing directly up the hill. No good. The roll began to unravel and he fell face first into  the acrid onion felt that unrolled beneath him. He sat there, motionless for a moment, considering his options. Faced with the impossibility of undoing the rolls potential energy, he continued to unravel it, then re-rolled the felt, and tried to pick it up, no good again. He pulled out a short felt-cutting knife and cut the fabric into large squares, imprecisely, but none were too large to pick up as a roll. He loaded himself up with half the material, and made his way slowly back up the hill. After resting, he made his way down again, unable to think of a way to get the wooden mat back to the hill top, without disassembling it, or simply leaving it to rot here on the hill. Uninspired, he trekked the rest of the felt back to his shack.

By the time the second trip was done, the sun was hanging directly overhead, and he was even more exhausted, what should have been a painless end of the day before, had stretched agonizingly to the next day. He was battered, and almost useless. His plans to travel would have to wait. He spent the remainder of the day fashioning some new clothes from the lighter felt and shedding the unseasonable truck clothes made out of insulation. At last, at the close of the second day, he felt he was back on schedule, minus the wood required to roll out the batch of felt for the next year. That could wait, and at worst, he could cut the lashes and bring the wood up separately, and remake the lashes from felt (what else!).

He sorted the remaing fabric by quality, and slipped back into bed. In the distance, he thought he could hear growling. The caracal had fallen out of view since his rescue the night before, and as he drifted off to sleep, he wondered what kind of felt caracal fur would make.