[No pic/gif intro this time, my friends. I'm back with another blog, but I'm going to do something different. I'm going to give you guys a nice short story to read! After reading Brittany Vincent's lovely prose, I was motivated create my own. But why stop there? Let's get this fever pitch started and see what you guys can do! Consider this an unoffical Blogger's Response call. Write a short story about anything, videogame related or not. It's that simple. I'd love to see what you guys are capable of, so let's get this ball rolling! Here is my short story. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I loved crafting it. See you Space Cowboy.]
The icy wind bit at Ryner’s olive skin. His eyes were stained glass of mosaic red and pink with a pale-green halo. The thick, musty smell of singed hair and gunpowder suffocated his nose as he gazed hopelessly at the wreckage; scraps of sheet metal were hammered through the ground like tombstones. The passenger seats were ripped apart by the shrapnel, now stained wet of blood and ice.
“All fucking gone,” Ryner said.
He knew he had to find shelter soon. The blizzard was not letting up, and the wind continued. Gunshots reverberated in the woods.
“Shit. I knew they were nearby, but not this close,” he said.
He clenched his fists and dashed towards the trees. His lungs were on fire as he ran through the bitter, frozen forest. The trees’ lifeless limbs towered over him like sentinels, watching his every move. Like icicles, the chilled air consistently gnawed at his skin with its icy jaws. He was tempted to stop and rest for a moment, but he knew better than to give them time. The crunch of powdered ice packed beneath his feet as he ran with his willpower dragging behind him.
Ryner’s heart lifted when he approached an abandoned house, a dilapidated remnant from a war of years past crutched between two pine trees tapered in ice. He hurried towards the house and shut himself in. He slouched in the corner of the living room. He could smell rotting wood beneath his feet; no less pleasant than the crash site a few miles back. The walls were a pale blue, as if reflecting the white world outside.
“Jesus, this whole damn forest is a graveyard,” he thought.
Ryner was shivering in frozen agony as he tried to stay warm. He couldn’t feel his limbs. Breathing was painful. He was scared beyond belief, but was too cold to care. The sliver of life he hung onto was slowly fading until he noticed an old woman in rags sitting across from him.
Her hair was thin and silver like threads from a spider’s web. Her face was carved with wrinkles and her eyes were shaped like thin, slanted almonds. Without speaking a word, she gingerly extended a cup of what appeared to be hot tea. Ryner slowly crawled with every ounce of strength he had towards her to grab the hot porcelain cup. The faint aroma of apples and flowers graced his nostrils. His heart began to glow as he cautiously took a small sip of the scorching hot tea.
“Do you still plan on going?” asked the old woman.
“What?” Ryner replied.
“Do you still plan on going? You don’t seem happy about this decision.”
“Decision? Listen, I don’t know what the hell is going on here or what you’re talking about. Our plane was shot down. My crew is dead. All of my notes are destroyed. Those facts are real. This blizzard is real. Those men chasing after me for god knows what, are real. I’m just a journalist. I didn’t ask for any of this shit. I didn’t even want to be here!”
“So you don’t plan on going?”
“Look, thank you for the tea and all, but is there any place safe I can go nearby?”
“Yes. But you have to make a decision first.”
The old lady slowly extended her long and bony finger, slightly shaking, and pointed at Ryner’s face. For the first time, her eyes opened. The old woman’s eyes were black, with a white iris and a black pupil. Ryner’s stomach churned and his heart palpitated at the sight of her Mephistophelian eyes.
“Do you plan on going?” the old woman said.
“I know where I’m going!” Ryner yelled as he bolted out the door and into the forest.
The old woman gazed upon him through the window as her appearance slowly began to change. Her thin silver hair turned auburn. Her skin became smooth and olive toned. Her face was soft and radiated a beautiful complexion. Her eyes were now pale-green, like Ryner’s.
“I see now,” the beautiful woman said.
The door crashed down. The beautiful woman heard the sound of boots thumping against the old wood floors. The gun was beating against the Kevlar vest in a militant fashion. A tall man donned in white from head to toe stood before the beautiful woman. His posture radiated an aura of regality. His face was obscured from his pitch black goggles and facemask. Nothing about his white Kevlar uniform stood out, except for a small crimson tattoo on the front of his helmet. It was a lion of regal stature, standing on its hind legs and roaring with its tongue worming its way out of the beast’s fierce jaws. It was the zodiac of Leo.
“Did he give you an answer?” asked the man with the Leo tattoo. He had the voice of a leader.
“I know him very well. I’m sure he’s made up his mind by now.”
“Which way did he run?”
“I see. It’s only a matter of time then. I’ll handle it from here.”
“He’s terrified of you, you know. You shouldn’t be so hard on the boy. He has a huge decision to make.”
“Indecisiveness is a disease.”
* * *
Ryner continued north and he eventually discovered a cave carved into a rock face. He ran into the grotto to shelter himself from the sheer cold. It was still cold, but it was a different cold. The cavern itself was much bigger and deeper than Ryner initially thought. The high ceiling and narrow passageway gave off a feeling that the place was more of a makeshift grand hall of greystone. He saw something strange for a cave: a light was flickering at the end of the deep hallway.
“Hello?” his voice echoed.
The cave extended deeper into the rock, and soon the entrance resembled a white snowball. Ryner continued to walk deeper into lifeless grand hall, each step braver still. The flickering light became brighter as he neared the end of the greystone cave. The room at the end had nothing but a fluorescent light hanging from the ceiling. The light cut off for a moment, and Ryner rubbed his eyes. When he opened them, what he saw made his legs turn to stone, and his heart drop.
The man with the Leo tattoo was standing there, his black assault rifle in hand. Ryner turned around, but the passageway was suddenly gone.
“I’ve been looking all over for you,” the man said. “It’s time for you to wake up.”
“I…I don’t know wha—,” Ryner panicked. The man with the Leo tattoo shot him twice in the head before he could speak another word.
* * *
Gasping for air, Ryner shot up out of bed as he stared at his sweaty palms.
“I know where I’m going…,” he muttered.
He immediately ran downstairs and into the kitchen, where he saw a familiar figure. A beautiful woman with auburn hair, smooth olive skin, a soft face radiating a beautiful complexion, and pale-green eyes, was making chamomile tea.
“Mother, I’m turning down the job,” Ryner said with assertiveness. “Being a war correspondent would be too much.”
Ryner’s mother turned around and extended the cup of tea with a smile.
“I’m glad you finally made a choice. What happened? Bad dream convince you otherwise?” she laughed.
“Yeah… I guess you could say that. Everything was so white and grey. I was so scared and miserable.”
“This world has its fair share of problems, hon. Why be miserable when you could laugh and smile underneath a sky so blue?”
Ryner slowly took a sip from the hot, white porcelain cup. The aroma of apples and flowers graced his senses as he cracked a smile for the first time. The sun kissed his skin when he gazed out the kitchen window. The sky was a beautiful cerulean hue.
“I hate snow,” he said. “I really hate snow.”