Today’s Muse is a short piece of flash fiction I wrote a while ago. I’m not sure that it falls in with either of my fiction series, although almost everything I write ends up – at some point – falling in with one of them somehow.
I put the last piece of bark meat in my mouth, savoring the smoky flavor before chewing and swallowing what may be the last piece of food I eat in this frozen wasteland. I enjoy my meal though as I stare out on the blizzard that is quickly making its way toward me, expelling curtains of snow a half mile from where I sit. Very light flurries of snow, white and blue – the color of the pixel blood that comes with a storm like this – dust my cooking stones, slowly putting out the fire I worked so hard to build.
I stand up and stare out on the coming blizzard some more, unconvinced that it will pass by me as my oracle suggests it will. The storm is headed straight toward me, and it only seems appropriate that it would strike me head on seeing as my supplies have run exhausted, my energy has nearly run out, and my clothes have run their course. Looking down at my tattered pants, I can see how white my skin has started to turn in the peekaboos of the heavy denim. I don’t even know what I will sleep in tonight. The long johns I have been using to keep me warm are at the end of their time. The thread has come loose and most of the fabric has unraveled. Blue pixel blood marks where the thorn bushes brushed across me while I travailed the wilderness last week.
I watch the snow come down in a curtain of white, leaving me to wonder if this really will be my last day here in Crystbeck. I have hated this horrible wilderness since I was banished here months ago. Most die within the first few days of being exposed to such brutal cold and unrelenting weather. Little did the Council know that I was raised in wilderness survival – especially in this type of climate. Unfortunately, even though I’ve bought myself a couple of months in this terrain, I still have yet to find the entrance to the Sacred City beyond this. I’ve even entertained thoughts of flagging down pilgrims who are in the midst of their journeys to the Sacred City, but I haven’t seen a single one since being banished here.
So maybe this is where I’ll die.
I pick up my cooking stones and carry them inside the shallow cave, placing them next to the pots and pans I haven’t used since last week. The blizzard is sure to destroy me by the morning. I have no more materials to make another fire. No more food to keep from going hungry. No more arrows to be successful in hunting. Everything is used up or useless.
The snow flurries make their way into my cave, forceful and without manners. The blizzard is dangerously close now. I will not bother trying to fortify my cave against it. It takes hours for me to move the boulders in front of the entrance, and I only just saw the blizzard while I was eating my last piece of bark steak.
The only thing I can do, the only action I am able to take is to wrap myself in my bark blanket and slide myself within the sleeping bag I serendipitously managed to find on one of my hunting excursions. I bundle myself in at the very back of the cave, watching the blizzard move closer and closer to the entrance.
Minutes later, the white curtain finally drapes over the entrance to the cave. I close my eyes, proud of the actions I took to get myself exiled. The world will be a slightly better place because of me. I made a change to things, and that change will resonate throughout future generations. I may not be around to see those changes, but at least I’ll die knowing I was responsible for them.
A thunderous boom shakes the air. I open my eyes to see rubble crumbling down over the cave entrance, blocking the white light that had at all times of the day pierced my eyes with its harsh illumination. Within seconds, the entire front entrance to the cave is blocked by dark-colored rock, all of which had somehow careened down from the mountaintop above me.
An avalanche. The rock will keep me safe and warm from the blizzard, but now I will die from hunger and lack of oxygen instead of the cold.