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16+ Language

The Year of Ice

by TedusCloud


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

I couldn’t ever really get away from the ice. The thick, white blanket that covered the emaciated trees was so desolate, it was as if I was enchanted to remain there forever.

I don’t regret what I did.

The lake-mirrors threw back at me my reflection. I stared at it for a while, my face refracted back to me slightly askew and broken. I tried to bore my way into the soul of that reflection, but the ice was too thick – I was foiled. With an alarming heat rising through me, I rebelled against the boy in the lake. I pummeled at his face with my gloved fists, but to no avail. I couldn’t reach him. He simply stared back, with bated breath and a beckoning look in his eye.

*

I knew I was in for it when I opened the cabin door and the fire was out. The wood in the hearth was still crackling and the glowing embers gave the room a small, devilish glow.

“Fire’s out, boy.” A gruff voice from the corner of the cabin. Satan himself. He sits there in the corner, ominously lit up with the amber light of the dead fire.

“I didn’t find any firewood.” I mutter. It was a lie. I didn’t look.

And for a while, an infinitesimal moment, time seems to expand around me. I hear the silence grow, and begin to pick up the small details of the sound. Like an ambience of white noise, I hear the wind scrape its nails against the sharp edges of the naked tree branches, I hear the silent screech of its boots against the ice. All of this is far, far away from the dark cabin from hell.

*

I wake up, and the fire’s going again. My head spins as I try to lift myself from the floor, my body racked with new aches. My eyes dart around the room, dreading seeing another vision of Satan, but there is only a man spewed across the living room couch, gleaming ooze of liquor streaming from the corner of his mouth. I go to him, and against my better judgment, I cover him with his favourite red blanket. Christ’s blanket, he calls it, because it’s as red as Christ’s in all the paintings. He loves that sort of thing. Religion, blood, violence, moral superiority. All of those things are down his alley, and in this part of the world they go hand in hand.

My stomach begins to rumble. Heeding its call, I go to the kitchen and open the fridge to see if there’s anything to satisfy my rumbling belly. Nothing. Cursing him and his Christ’s blanket, I head for the door, pausing only to get the rifle from the wall. He always puts it there, right next to the crucifix.

*

Some people would call our world hostile, harsh even. But they don’t know shit. This world is what beauty feels like. There is a stretch of silence so deep you could drown in it, the cold is so sensual it nips at any skin you dare show it and the sun loves it here so much, it barely ever lets go.

But like all beautiful people, this world can be a bitch. Nothing stirs, everything that’s living hides away. I didn’t feel like driving for an hour to get to the nearest town and buy something. I’d hunt, like the men of yore. Only in this cold, and with my severe lack of skill, it wasn’t the best of choices.

But hunting was cathartic. At least in my head. I would lay there in the frozen wasteland and stalk the tiniest of sounds. It wasn’t too long till I found a lone deer or if I was lucky a moose or an elk. If I shot one today, it’d feed us for a while. He’d like that, I thought. Not that I cared.

After a half hour or so of tuning my sense, my ears pricked up at a rustle and a crack. Silently, I crept from my hiding place and followed, with great haste. I could almost smell the rank odor that the elk or deer carried, the smell of filth and shit that all animals have. In my head I was already imagining lugging its carcass down to the cabin, skinning it and slicing it open, all with the purpose of making a mangy stew to fill my stomach and that of the raging alcoholic passed out on the couch.

The rustling stopped, and I was near the frozen lake again. There is no elk nor deer, but I can make out a figure on the lake, looking down. Is this some sort of joke? I feel like I’m looking at a vision of myself, only a couple of hours ago and the image is unsettling. There is a flurry of movement. I squint, trying to make out what the figure is doing. He’s punching something down onto the lake. I hear clinking.

“Oy!” I shout out. Something isn’t right, the figure ignores my calls.

“Oy!” I shout again, even louder. The figure ignores me again.

Something in me snaps. I cock my rifle, aim it just a bit off the figure and a shot rings out in the air. The movement stops and silence returns.

I run over to the silhouette and it coalesces into the figure of a boy. Skinny thing, round my age. A mop of blonde hair, falls around his face. He wears an expression I can’t understand.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I manage to spit out, panting from the run. He has a small hammer in his hands. Again, he shoots me that expression. I look into his eyes, big and blue, slightly reminiscent of a bug. A butterfly, I decide. He has the eyes of a blue butterfly.

“Don’t you know the ice is thin here?”

Again he says nothing. “If you broke the ice you’d never get back out.”

He looks away and mumbles something I can’t understand.

“What?” I ask. There is irritation in my voice.

“That’s exactly what I wanted,” he says, finally, and looks at me with his own bout of irritation and I notice gleaming tears freezing to his face. I don’t know how to reply to that. I get so angry, I grab him by the scruff of his neck and drag him and his weak sobs of resistance away from the mirror lake.

*

The warmth of the cabin hits me of all of a sudden, and I feel sick. I hand the shivering boy a blanket as he looks quizzically at the alcoholic passed out on the couch. I grunt at him and order him to sit by the fire, all the while thinking to myself why the hell I brought him here. I fix up a plate of fried, mangy vegetables – the only thing we have and hand a portion to him. He looks at it with disgust.

“There wasn’t any game. It’s all I have.” I mutter, justifying the measly meal.

“Of course there’s no game,” he retorts, a bit too snarky for my liking, “it’s the fucking deep freeze.”

Again, I don’t know how to reply. “Eat,” I say.

He obliges, stabbing at his food, with no vigor whatsoever. There is silence, but this time I don’t like it. It’s a very different silence from what I’m used to.

He feels it too and finds it necessary to start small talk. He asks me why we live in the middle of nowhere. I don’t reply. Then he asks me if the alcoholic is my dad. I don’t reply.

“Where’s your mum?” He asks. I shoot him a venomous look, and then feel a bit guilty.

“She’s dead.” I say.

He appears flustered. He musters a small apology, stumbling through it and again there is silence. When the crackling of the flames turns into a vehement cackle, I can’t bear the silence any longer.

“Why did you want to kill yourself?” I ask, bluntly.

This time he didn’t answer. I insisted.

“It’s a long story,” he replied, vaguely.

“I’ve got time.”


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21 Reviews


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Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:58 pm
Maximilia wrote a review...



So, if I were reviewing for a magazine/newspaper:

"...this is a piece that comes alive with its deadness.
We as readers are dropped into a world frost bitten and quietly ravenous; introduced to a narrator with such a heavy, aching sense of detachment, that even though this is a recognizable life of numbing desolation we are as driven to feel and know more of it as this young boy is to break open his own reflection..."

I was really impressed by this. It was so evidently introspective -- bleak, but thrumming with such an intriguing and convincing perspective, language... I get this sense of a paradox, you know? The allure this piece has (to me, at least) though it's written to be so feelingly *unfeeling*...

It's great.

What I liked best was the introduction. The story isn't even finished, and yet, it's there that we find the premise and soul of it so perfectly and poetically rendered. Which is another thing that I appreciated.

The poetry here isn't a problem, I think it creates a redemptive quality that perhaps the story couldn't survive without. And I don't see how it intervenes in the workings of the plot. Not that it stands alone as a device, but that it kind of pulls the greatest weight of this work.

Besides, can you have a piece set in the middle of winter without an abundant sense of something poetic? This season and poetry have kind of always been interlaced...

I also don't think there's an issue with the pace/particular details you've obviously and intentionally left missing -- they're supposed to come later.
They're also an incentive.
They're best left that way, until you've written up to the parts where they are meant to be revealed; which isn't now.
(I honestly don't understand why that's being demanded...)

My only suggestions are a careful eye put on tense-switching (whether on accident or purpose) and maybe put more details. Not plot-related details, but details that make the sense of this world more intense and grappling to the reader.

More *chilling* poetry, if you will:)

Other than that, I have absolutely no qualms. I hope to see more from/like this.


-<3 Max




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10 Reviews


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Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:45 am
Susurrus wrote a review...



Hello! Very interesting piece you've written. I love the atmosphere you've created and your lush descriptions make the setting seem almost surreal. There are a few things I want to comment on -

1.

it was as if I was enchanted to remain there forever.

I don't really like the word "enchanted." I feel like it has too bright of a connotation to really fit into your story. It makes the piece start out like a fairy-tale which, as I read onwards, it is really not. It messes with the tone of your story and because it is at the beginning, it sticks out a lot.

2. The style you've set up is very beautiful but I wonder if you can sustain further chapters using the same immense description. It is so poetic that important elements of the plot are being obscured. The purposeful blurring of lines worked well in the beginning but as the action unfolds, it becomes more of a hindrance.

3. The characters seem a bit flat. Though this is only the beginning of your story, I feel that more information regarding the main character's motives would be helpful. What makes him feel compassion for the boy on the ice? Why is there such little understanding between father and son?

In all, I think it was a good start but I really wanted more depth to the opening of your story. Your style was well established but rather overpowering and focus was diverted from character development. Although, in some ways I see the landscape as being a very effective character with more dimension than the people. I'm looking forward to reading more,

Thanks!




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Sun Jan 19, 2014 5:16 am
TriSARAHtops wrote a review...



This was pretty impressive. There were some passages in here that I absolutely adored, and the imagery was quite stunning, and perfectly suited to this piece. The style kind of drew me in, and there was a kind of ethereal quality about it in parts, and at other times it was more blunt - which gave some clues about the MC's personality. I agree with Subtle that I'd like to see more depth and get a bit closer to the characters, if you chose to keep writing this. For example, we still don't know the protagonist's name, and it would be great if you could weave that in, if you choose to continue writing this.

I loved the title, by the way, it was interesting and caught my eye. The pacing is also good. You haven't rushed, nor is it to drag-y.

There are a couple of things I spotted:

but there is only a man spewed across the living room couch

I'd swap 'spewed' for 'sprawled' in this sentence.

I didn't feel like driving for an hour to get to the nearest town and buy something

Something about this sentence doesn't quite flow as well as it could. Maybe you could try '...town to buy something' or otherwise '...town and buying something' perhaps?

"Where's your mum?" He asks.

'He' should not be capitalised.

Really good job on this piece, and I hope you carry on working on it. :-)




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Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:52 am
Nyla wrote a review...



Hi there! Lucrezia here for a review.

It's still unfinished but posted it here to see if I'm getting the mood and imagery I want across and to see whether it's worth continuing


Hell yeah, it's worth continuing! Reason being that this piece is pretty incredible. You definitely captured that mood and imagery; seriously, the ambiance is spot-on. Your descriptions are ridiculously good. I'm so jealous. XD

Your MC is very intriguing and captured my interest right away. I liked his interactions with the blond boy, especially. Very, very nice work.

Okay, nitpicks:

The lake-mirrors threw back at me my reflection. I stared at it for a while, my face refracted back to me


"Back" seems a bit repetitive here.

Skinny thing, round my age.


Put in an apostrophe before "round."

A mop of blonde hair, falls around his face.


You don't need that comma after "hair."

That's pretty much all that I spotted. Now for some bits I liked:

I couldn’t ever really get away from the ice. The thick, white blanket that covered the emaciated trees was so desolate, it was as if I was enchanted to remain there forever.

I don’t regret what I did.


Dear Lord, what a great way to start. It's beautifully worded, and that "I don't regret what I did" caught my attention and interest right away.

I knew I was in for it when I opened the cabin door and the fire was out. The wood in the hearth was still crackling and the glowing embers gave the room a small, devilish glow.


Great description. Just great. The "devilish glow" part, in particular, really caught my eye.

Overall, I'd say this is a phenomenal piece. The flow was perfect, the setting was superbly detailed, and the intrigue of it is quite addictive. Please do continue it! I'm very eager to find out more about your MC. ;)




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Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:09 am
Apricity wrote a review...



Hello, Subtle here for a review. Well, I would say it is worth continuing despite some of the flat languages there. I mean, you have used some pretty good descriptions and created a clear imagery of the chilling cold and the character's personality on my mind.

But the thing is, there isn't enough voice into this, it lacks an intimacy that the readers needs to have with the character. Especially since this is written in the first person POV. The ending, was also a pretty line, and despite all the previous tensions. I think you can end it better.

There is potential, yes. So continue this and we will see where this goes. Best of luck!

-S.s




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Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:56 am
TedusCloud says...



It's still unfinished but posted it here to see if I'm getting the mood and imagery I want across and to see whether it's worth continuing :)





Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.
— Joseph Campbell