I’m going to attempt to write stuff every now and then. It’s going to be rough. Read at your own peril.
Read time: ~3-4min
So many lives were lost. What was left of their hope was little more than embers. After days, who knows how many, of unending pounding by this storm, they were the only two left.
Their expedition had started with 72 people; only them, the two who started this disaster, remained. And he had thought they were going to die as well. Had been sure of it more than once. When the rope connecting him to Nathanial had slackened, he had been certain that he wouldn’t be able to raise Nathaniel back up again when he reached him. He could barely keep himself up after all.
Damn this cursed storm. It appeared out of nowhere. This tempest blanketed a clear blue sky and replaced perfect weather with unending desolation. Thick, soggy snowflakes are whipped about with more force than their weight should allow. Each flake feels like wet leaves clinging to your clothes, like tiny hands that try to drag you down into the muck. And whenever they meet skin, they bring the sensation of small sharp biting pincers that burrow into the individual pores and attempt to tear it inside out one pore at a time. They are carried by a harsh freezing wind that never lets up but is never steady enough for you to adapt. Gusts of wind that throw pinpricks of ice under your hood. Bursts of air that entrench frozen barbs between the layers of your wrappings until your movement causes their spikes to scrape their way to your flesh, where they prick into you like thorns. Each sting introduces more coldness and relieves you of more of your fleeting energy. But also, there is that slight relief when the needle pierces, and the flesh heats in response. The small comfort of a droplet of blood leaving the confines of your body, relinquishing its warmth onto the surface of your unfeeling meat.
Curse this damned storm. And now this.
Hakan barely managed to grasp the knocker and threw himself into it. A sound cracking like thunder, like the splintering of a mountain under the weight of eons. Once again, he struck the knocker.
When Hakan had caught up to Nathaniel after the rope had slackened, he realized Nathaniel hadn’t fallen. He had stopped walking because there was a wall. Out of nowhere, in the middle of the storm. And Nathaniel had observed that it was more than just a wall. There was a door inset into it. They had worked together, mustering what likely was the last of their energy to clear away the snow. Using their hands to clear away the surface snow at first. Then using their pick hammers to dislodge the ice that covered it. What to Hakan had at first appeared like natural ridges on its surface turned out to be seams. But even after clearing a large portion of the door’s surface, Hakan could not see an obvious way to open the door. They had tried simply throwing their paltry weight against it to no avail. What Hakan had considered an ornament turned out to be a door knocker of sorts, though. Crudely designed, a giant rock ball so large and heavy that you needed both hands to lift it off the strike plate. You had to put yourself underneath it and lift it up over your head to throw it forward. You had to commit to it.
Hakan struck the knocker again.
“Hello, anybody there” he croaked. His voice was barely more than a whisper. Desperation was his fuel rather than hope. “Please. Help us.”
A creaking sound emerged from the other side of the door.
Hakan glanced at Nathaniel, who was resting against the wall since they had cleared away the ice. They could make out little of the other’s face under all their ice-crusted clothing. Now there was a spark in their eyes, lid by the sound emanating from the other side.
A small opening appeared in the door. “How many?” a raspy voice asked. Somehow passing clearly through the recess and the snow.
“We need help. Let us in, please. We’re dying out here.” responded Hakan.
When Nathaniel reacted, Hakan did not hear the words. He did not notice Nathaniel speak. He did not perceive Nathaniel at all. Hakan was focused on the voice coming through the door, arguing to let them in.
Hakan did not realize that something was off until he was halfway to the ground. The coldness followed by heat and warmth had not been caused by ice this time.
Nathaniel had taken his hammer and smashed it into Hakan’s head.
As Hakan hit the snow, the voice from the other side of the door spoke again. “How many?”
“Only I.” responded Nathaniel.
“Welcome, applicant,” the voice rasped.
“Welcome to the monastery of death. May you bring the end to others, so their last breath stoke your hearth and their blood nurture your gardens.