A Walk in Winter

In the eternal winter twilight of my penitent exile, through the thick shadows of the falling snow, the red-orange glow of a flare bursts overhead. For a few minutes all is wrapped in that monochrome color, the paper-white snow painted with the blood and fire of the burning signal. But each descending flake, in its rapid fall from heaven, casts speeding blue streaks of shadow upon the frozen field. I walk on.

Then, amid the blistering squall, the shrieking banshee cries of this desolate waste, a muffled bang echoes, the old familiar sound of gunfire. And with the sound the piercing pain, another all too familiar friend. I feel the warm blackness of my blood pouring down my back. There’s another bang, another stabbing sensation. I walk on into the night.

The dying flare leaves the world darker than it was before, and even now, as it dims to a yellow star floating in heaven’s ocean, its light makes my darkness all the more black as it fades. It’s possible I hear them, hear them talking, shouting, screaming after me, but it’s all melded with the storm. The falling ice, drifting through the air in weightless particles, builds around me, collecting upon my shoulders. I keep walking.

Through the deep blindness of dark snow, curtains of speeding, shadowy bullets, I plow. What was ankle deep reaches my calves, then again, it’s at my thighs now. Hours go by, and I’m wading through the chest deep snow. Deeper and deeper, I’m swimming blind through the ice. Like coming to a wall, the compacted snow repels all my attempts to push forward, burying me in its cold embrace. I walk no more.

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