The snow rests pale on the naked metal of the shacks around me. The pastel paint stripped away in ugly patches, the rusted iron underneath leers orangish-red at my intrusion – like a thousand fiery eyes set in the suffocating whiteness that is all around me. There is no one here in this deserted little village – this island in an endless sea of ice and capricious cold. There is nothing else for miles, it seems. I am all alone here. All I can do is wait for the ceaseless wind to dismantle me, to chip away at me until the red rust underneath my painted façade is all exposed and I become as silent as the town around me. I press myself up against the side of a shack to get out of the wind, whose shrieks and murmurs fade ever so slightly as I hide. I slowly ease myself onto the porcelain-white ground, and draw my knees to my chest to protect the waning heat in my core from the lashes of the cold.
No louder than a whisper; I’m sure I’ve imagined it. My name called from across the village, sounding as if it was shouted. But the wind rushing through the squat houses almost stole it away before it reached me. I stumble to my feet, heaving my body upwards and craning my head towards the voice. I take a few steps towards it. The ice and snow forces deliberate and careful steps; taunting me who has no energy for such things. I walk onward, and even as I approach I feel the wind rushing by my face, taking with it bits of warmth – chips of paint. I reach the farthest-flung house. There is no one here. Everything is silent and still besides the shuddering of my shoulders as the cold lifts the warmth from them in sheets. The wind strips the paint from everything – I am raw, red, rusty. The orangish-red eyes grow wider, amazed that I persist in moving amongst them.
Again, the voice calls. No louder than before; I might have missed it in the din of shrieks and murmurs. This time though, the voice comes from behind me – on the other side of the village, back where I was. My eyes water as the wind tries to pry them out. I begin trudging again towards the voice. Perhaps we passed each other. Perhaps whoever’s out there is pursuing me just as I pursue them, and as the wind pursues us both. I march in loose, fumbling step towards the voice, back through the town, back through all the red eyes. I fall once or twice, and it feels so good to rest that I might just fall asleep there. I rise each time, however; the voice draws me onward. I reach the other end of the village, looking out into the stormy sea of ice on all sides of this little island of paint and bleary, red eyes. There is no one here but me.
The voice calls once again with muffled insistence, no closer than ever. Somehow now from the opposite side of all the decrepit shacks it beckons me. I’d turn to it, but I can’t face those eyes again, and I’m so very cold, and it feels so good to rest.
credited to David Feuling