Frostbite

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A full moon hung in the night sky above me, its light reflecting off the snow-covered ground. The cold winter wind cut into my bones, I tightened my cloak around me as a I sat in a small hollow. Snow-clad trees surrounded me for miles. I tried not to move, some sixth sense told me something was hear. A raging blizzard blocked most of my sight.

The hair on the back of my neck prickled as I heard a wolf how. Its cry was answered by the rest of the pack and my unease grew. Then, startling close, I hear a man shout in fear. Running among the trees in front of me, I saw the man. The wolves were closing in behind me. The man tripped and went sprawling in the snow. Before the wolves could reach him, he flipped on his back and I saw the glint of a knife. Then the wolves reached him.

Snapping and biting, the beasts were attacking his face, searching for the killing blow. My insides cringed at hearing his cries of pain. Yet, I continued to watch in fascinated horror. The man managed to plunge his knife deep into the chest of one of the females and it howled in its death throes. A large dark grey wolf, which I presumed to be he alpha, became enraged and lunged at the man's throat. As the spray of blood turned the now scarlet and a gurgling sound reached my ears, I looked away.

I listened to them feast noisily on him. My insides turned as I heard his flesh rip and tear. Mercifully, I heard the wolves howl to signal the end of their hunt. Hesitantly, I drew my eyes back on the scene.

The alpha's yellow eyes bored straight into mine. The blood in my veins turned to ice as I made eye contact. He licked his lips and growled softly as he bared his bloodied teeth. Then he lifted his head and howled. I flinched at the sound. He gave me a look of cold satisfaction, then led his pack off into the night.

My hear was pounding so loud I thought I could hear it echoing in the vast emptiness of the night. The cold and what I had just witnessed made me shake violently. My breathing came fast and shallow. Though, my sheer exhaustion forced me to fall into the sweet oblivion of sleep.

As the sun rose at dawn, I awoke. Bird were chirping their song as the sun shone through the trees. The blizzard had stopped. With the exception of the bloodied corpse meters from me, it was a beautiful scene.

After paying my respects to the man and whispering a few words of prayer, I set off. My tiredness increased as I hard to fight through deep ravines full of snow. As I reached flat ground, my spine itched with the feeling of danger.

I slowly peeked left around a pine. Rustling the bushes, were two small brown bear cubs. My fear and apprehension increased as I started looking for their mother. Adrenaline surged through me as I saw her to my right. The thought that I was inbetween her and her cubs popped into my head when I made eye contact. No sooner had I had that thought than she started to charge me.

Full of terror, I jumped up and grabbed a pine branch. Snow showered down as I hauled myself up into the tree. My ears registered a swishing sound below me as the bear clawed up at me. My heart fell as I climbed up when I realized that bears could climb too.

I looked down to see the bear looking up at me. I marveled at my luck as my eyes alighted on its right foreleg. It was mangled and torn. The bear stared at me for a few moment and then turned to leave. It led its cubs off into the forest.

Up in the pine tree, I shook as the built-up tension slowly seeped away. My breath came ragged as I held my head in my hand. After allowing myself that small comfort, I pulled my resolves back together. I dropped out of the tree and began my trek anew.

Eventually, I reached the edge of a massive clearing. The freezing wind blew snow into my face as it whipped around me. My sixth sense warned me of danger yet again, but I ignored it as I saw fires burning across far across the clearing. I could almost feel their warmth as I imagined warm food and safety at them. I began trudging through the snow across the clearing. 

After a few hundred paces, I froze as I heard a cracking sound. I looked down as a stronger gust of wind blew the snow from beneath me. I stared uncomprehendingly at the ice at my feet. When the cracking sounds grew louder and more pronounced I finally realized what was happening.

I didn't have enough time to even yell as the frozen lake broke under me. Cold enveloped my body as the hungry water consumed me. Screaming my frustration underwater, bubbles erupted from my mouth.

I couldn't believe I was going to die when I had been so close to surviving. As the cold developed into a dull numbness, I searched for an exit hole in vain. When one last bubble escaped from my lungs, I let my eyes slide shut.

Above, birds searched for food. Wolves stretched in preparation for a new hunt. Mother bears looked after their young. The frozen landscape was teeming with life, just under it's icy surface.






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