This is the third part of my Describli prompt inspired story. I really enjoyed writing this one, imagining myself in cold, freezing conditions while overheating in the real world. 🙂
Part 4 next Thursday.
The Past, Part 3
The boat ground against the pebble shore. A cold wind blew from inland, forcing dark grey clouds across the sky. Lena shivered, but Zinna was bordering on hypothermia. She was shaking hard, her delicate bone structure not meant for these cold temperatures.
“We have to find some shelter,” Leo said. He climbed out the boat. The last one.
Zinna nodded, her movement stiff, unlike her.
Lena started to walk up the beach. Grass and patchy ice replaced the pebbles and gravel.
On the horizon, silhouetted against the ever-darkening sky, was what looked like a cabin. “Come on,” she said to the other two, “let’s see what that is.” Before Zinna freezes, she added in her head.
The ground was hard beneath their feet, and slippery where the patches of ice were. Those patches grew larger and more frequent the further inland they got. The wind got stronger, and colder. Lena and Leo sandwiched Zinna between them, to share some of their body heat.
The wood cabin was covered in ice. Behind it stretched a large sheet of ice – a frozen lake, Lena guessed.
“Should we knock?” Leo asked.
“I suppose.” Lena approached the door and rapped on it with her knuckles.
Moments passed and there was no answer. She pushed at the door. It swung open.
Inside, the embers of a fire were dying in the corner of the sparse room. A table and chairs occupied one side wall, a set of shelves the other, and a bed stretched along the back wall.
Leo immediately went to stoke up the fire. He was better at that than Lena. Their father had taught them when they were children, insisting they have survival skills. So no matter where in the universe they found themselves, they could survive.
Flames roared into life. Zinna sat by it. She started to shiver, then finally warm through. The tips of her wings looked sore. The beginnings of frostbite.
Lena warmed her hands as she gazed at the shelves. Books, old-fashioned actual books sat on the top shelf. The moment the cold had melted away, she went over to them. There were books on boats, and fishing, and a few on surviving in the extreme cold. And right at the end, there were fictional stories, accounts of adventures, taken by men and women in ages past.
One by one Lena picked them up, amazed at what she held. Only a few books like these existed in the world, leftovers from a bygone age. She had never held one before. And it felt amazing.
The door slammed open, banging into the wall.
Lena dropped the book she was holding and whipped out her gun.
A man, dressed in heavy furs and carrying a bag in one hand, stared at her, the cold wind whipping in around him. “Who in the name of God are you?” he said.
“Travellers,” she answered. “We needed shelter.” He didn’t look armed, but she didn’t lower her gun.
Leo and Zinna were stood by the fire. Zinna was poised to strike, almost recovered now. How long had Lena been staring at those books?
“And you thought you would take shelter in my home?”
A little guilt welled. “I’m sorry. But my friend was freezing.”
He looked at Zinna, and his eyes narrowed. “And what exactly is she?”
The reaction of the men on the ship flashed through Lena’s mind. She didn’t know what to say.
Zinna answered for her. “I’m not from around here. If you have a problem with that, say so now and we can fight it out.” Her muscles tensed, and she crouched slightly, ready to spring. Her words were almost a hiss, every syllable a challenge.
He put down his bag. “How about you lower that thing,” he gestured to Lena’s gun, “and we all have a nice civilised conversation?”
Lena looked at Zinna out of the corner of her eye. Silent agreement passed between them. Lena lowered her gun, but she kept it in her hand. “Okay,” she said. “I really am sorry we’ve just walked in like this, but there didn’t seem to be anywhere else nearby.”
He shook his head as he closed the door. “There isn’t. I’m the only person for miles. Only one stupid enough to live by the lake. But I like it, see, it’s quiet, and I can be alone. I like to be alone,” The last words were pointed.
“I get it,” Lena said. “If you could just tell us where we are and where else we could go, we’ll leave you in peace.”
“You don’t know where you are?”
He looked at them with suspicion again. Then said, “Iceland.”
Iceland? Lena searched her mind. She had heard of that name. Where…
Light sparked. On one of her old Earth maps!
“You mean we’re on Earth?”
He gave her a strange look. “Of course we are. What did you think? Mars?”
Earth. Mars. The ship.It all added up to confirm her earlier suspicion. They were on Earth. Earth that no longer existed.
So. Earth in the past then.
This week’s prompt was: Beside a lake of ice