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The Long Winter

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The Long Winter

Winter came. It was cold, colder than any other winters in remembered history. A biting chilled wind blew and whatever it brushed, turned into the blinding white of snow and ice. Fragile spring flowers froze, their elegant shapes forever preserved in a shell of snow.

People at first thought that it was a freak cold snap, which sometimes came during spring, all too frequently nowadays because of the damn global warming. Give it time, they thought. The new winter would go away and melt back into verdant green soon. It did not.

They only realised that something was seriously wrong when snow began to fall in the tropics. No, it was not global warming, some scientists shouted. It was a global cooling. The other scientists argued that it was only an effect of global warming. No matter. One fact still remains true. Winter has come.

The nights grow long and cold, the daylight dim and feeble. Dark shadows expand and seem to breathe. They quickly learn to never stay outdoors once the sun set – not even outdoor electric lights could protect them from the night shadows and the high childlike laughter that was as cold as ice; making icy fear sink deep into their bones and guts. The foolhardy ones who ignored their fear and went blazing forth into the depths of the night always disappeared.

The new winter is no longer a mere freak cold snap. It is the new Ice Age, the Dark Age of the modern era. Crops wilt, their precious food supplies easily shattered like brittle rotten ice. Species not adapted to the chill go extinct – there are no more humming birds or rabbits.

People starve and go to war in snowy streets and frozen farmlands. Africa and Australia become the new Siberian tundra. Swathes of people flee to the former tropics for precious warmth and food. (There is no respite from winter. He touches all with his ice.) The bloody battlefields have the constant song of wind blowing and with it faint chuckles, expressing perhaps bemusement or amusement at their human folly.

People no longer dream of happier, innocent, warmer times. Instead, they fret and lay sleeplessly, wondering what the next day would bring. They dare not sleep for fear of the dark nightmares that seize them. Some sleep and never wake up; carried away by the ruthless cold (Some of the time. Other times they whisper, it is the nightmares that drag them away.)

In these dark, fearful, cold times, nobody celebrates holidays anymore. No more Easters, Christmases, New Years or such. Only the long, dark winter remains. No one looks up at the moon anymore because it has been clouded over by thick grey clouds and harsh snow. (Some swear that the clouds look black and alive as they writhe in a dance with the wind.)

A boy is sometimes seen. He is beautiful with his snowy white hair, pale blue eyes and wicked red lips. Garbed in a blue hoodie and jeans, he is always barefoot and carries a wooden shepherd’s crook. He walks lightly and agilely like the wind. Yes, he is indeed beautiful…like a still frozen lake that could break beneath you at any moment and drown you in its freezing depths.

They do not call him Jack Frost. Instead, they call him “Vinter Prins”. They warn their children to stay away from the pale boy-prince with stories of how he would snatch them away from their beds. The boy-prince will freeze you with a single breath, they cry. Do not listen to the whispers of the wind luring you to play, for it is the Vinter Prins’ call. Do not. Do not. Do not ever approach the Vinter Prins.

It is not the boogeyman they fear, why would they? He is a figment of their imagination while winter is real. Winter brings the dark and is deadly. No one can stop a force of nature but they can stop their imagination. The Vinter Prins is far more real than a pale boogeyman hiding under people’s beds, feebly shrinking away from the lights. He is always present, day and night and his reach is long. The cold wind against your cheek as you sleep, is the Vinter Prins’ breath.

Sometimes, they see a boy riding a sable mare across the black moonless sky. He laughs, high and cold as the north wind blows. They never hear him cry,

My name is Jack Frost.