It hurt. Screaming pain at the brightness. Open and close the lids, screw up my eyes. Wait until the pupils shrink to pin points to accommodate the glare. Barely move the muscles, my body so stiff, so cold, beyond cold. I turned my head slightly. Saw the humped bodies of Jed and Theresa, huddled into their sleeping bags. I couldn’t tell if they were breathing, still alive. It was all too quiet.
Apart from the popping, the clicking. What on earth was it? The sound was so familiar and yet in the emptiness of my mind I couldn’t make the association, couldn’t forge the pathway into the past, spark the connection. Plop. Plop. Ah! Slowly, agonisingly, a word or two swims up. A tap? No. There were no taps. Painfully I moved my head again, forcing my skull across the fabric, which pulled the tangles in my hair and dragged at my scalp.
I could just bring the window into my line of vision. From where I lay on the floor I saw only whiteness, the unchanging, unshadowed glare of snow. But an infinitesimal glimmer of movement. Then another, and another. A drip. It was a drip. Thaw.
By Chris, on blogspot
Before I knew what was happening, I was on my feet, breathing out small ghosts, wheeling and stumbling, narrowly missing the roof beams overhead. Suddenly the pain was someone else’s, even the grind of my calf muscles, the weight of my skull. Far away, the floorboards groaned, but I took no notice, as I paid no attention to the stiff, dark mound of the others. I didn’t pause to check on them, but kept shuffling towards the door. It was easy.
We had been there for so long.
My fingers trembled against the freezing latch. Thaw – briefly, I let myself imagine it, with my cheek resting against the fur of tiny splinters in the wood. Then I pushed, and pushed again. The door opened, slowly, dismissively, as if the cabin had simply shrugged.
And I was nothing before the world outside.
Nothing before the vast, soft emptiness and the scent of winter like blood and stones. Yet everywhere was glistening; water was falling from the roof and trees, a beautiful ticking like so many quiet, uneven heartbeats. I lifted my arms -
And a voice came scratching from the must and shadows piled behind me.
“Wait,” Jed said. “Come back.”
Your turn . . .