This is a continuation to the poem What Am I? that I posted on Tuesday in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge. I had the idea for the short story a while back, and decided to try it out in a poem as well. Hope you enjoy. Comments and feedback are always welcome.
“Well then. I won’t be seeing you again” Hielo said, drifting through fragmented clouds towards Nieve.
Nieve looked out the fortress’s white window, towards the green ground and the crystal skies. In adjoining homes and distant forts, soldiers prepared for the first battle of the season. “I agree,” Nieve said through frozen lips. “We are the seekers. The seekers never make it back. We need to burn some holes so it is easier for you weaklings when you come. You know how it is, the mature ones first. It’s only fair. If you hurry up – that is if we even leave you anything – you may get some flesh.”
Hielo frowned, refusing to look out the window. “Of course you won’t be coming back. No one ever comes back from a mission, regardless of its success. This war is pointless. I might as well kill myself now and save them some trouble.”
“Wouldn’t you like to bite into some warm flesh?” Nieve goaded. They carried no weapons into war, only their cold, cutting teeth.
“I’d rather stay up here, nice and cold.”
Nieve ignored Hielo. “Things are changing at the front, I don’t know why but they are. I don’t think they even know why it’s happening,” Nieve said, looking at the distant ground below.
“How would you know? Have you been to a battle? Have you met anyone who has? None of us have and none likely will, for not long at least, meet anyone who has been to the front.”
“Yeah, I know I haven’t met anyone but something has changed. The winds are colder in the main fortresses—”
“You’re going to die Nieve. The weather may change and the winds may shift, but your death is a certainty, a certainty since the day you were made – written, signed and ensured by Sol.”
“The winds may shift in our favour.”
“Aye to that. May they bring us more swiftly than usual to our death.
Thousands of white soldiers fell from the sky, eager to make contact with the enemy, to solidify a front for those who would inevitably follow. There was no home territory, nor a place to regroup and collect the fallen. Not one soldier would be buried. The wind moved through their ranks, gently steering the paratroopers as they fell. The cold air cut across their exposed skin, but they were used to that. The cold reassured them.
Some clung to their neighbours hoping to mass a group attack. Bracing themselves for impact, the group stood a better chance of staying intact. Nieve tried to link to a comrade but a wall of air separated them. Teasing and testing, the current ripped them apart, then brought them together, but not close enough to touch. The wind directed their attack; the soldiers forfeited control of their bodies when they fell from the base. They moved in dizzying, spiralling flurries. Nieve looked towards the green ground, as it transformed into unfamiliar colours, obscure shapes and sounds popping sounds.
Nieve wept. Actually, Nieve’s body wept. Home is in the heavens. If we die where do we go? The snowflake melted in the winter air, the first in a succession of flakes to liquify in Earth’s atmosphere. The fallen became indistinguishable, lost faces in the grey slush; dead before they breached the front. How do you mourn a face you can’t remember, dissolved into a puddle of greyness?
Once sharp flakes, now shapeless droplets, cold rain exploded against hard, dry surfaces. Street lamps, glass windows, parked cars and green grass glistened in the rising sun, crystallized in blankets of ice. Drops of rain don’t burn, sting, hurt; but they clung, like kerosene on wood they clung and seeped in, waiting to be ignited.
“It’s snow Tommy. You’ve seen this before, every year this happens.” Dan dragged his feet in the snow, not waiting for his son to follow.
“Yeah daddy but it tickles when it melts in my mouth.” The boy traced down single flecks of snow as they fell from the sky. His mouth open and his tongue flailing, he rarely caught anything. They moved to quickly for him to catch. He couldn’t focus on a single flake, for they merged together and danced quickly as they floated down the sky. Tommy’s toes tickled, planted in the pooling snow they began to burn. He frowned. The flakes seemed to dance around him, deliberately avoiding his tongue.
Dan called back, cautioning. “And they will sting like hell when they bite your tongue.”