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THE ICEHOUSE

“This looks to be the street,” is all I could say aloud. My head was sticky from sweat, my legs exhausted from running and it had been days since I eaten anything of any sort. I had been traveling in what seemed to be a never-ending steam room or what my parents affectionately still called ‘the everglades.’

My ma and pa used to tell me stories about how beautiful “the everglades” were before the pythons took rule of Florida. Hot bulbs of salt welled up in my eyes almost as hot as the air around me. It had been a week since I had come to our South Florida settlement and found my mother and father screaming and fighting back the brigade of savage pythons, which had since taken over the state. What began as a small infestation of pet pythons had grown into a swarm that overtook not only Florida, but also Georgia and even reigned as far north as North Carolina.

The paper I held in my hands had been written quickly by my brown haired and blue-eyed ma, her tears had already started to form as a ten-foot python strangled her open palms. Like muscled scaly handcuffs

“Run Alan! Don’t look back!” she yelped as she struggled with the massive snake.

Air scraped at my chest, screaming n ways that I could not.
But I didn’t stop even craving the burn wishing it to sear my pain away. My thoughts were frozen in action but my legs were motors with no off switch. I could only retain one thing, my mother’s last words to me to run and not look back.

My hands closed tight on a peace of paper mother had given me Crinkled and damp. That week we where paining on visiting my aunt. Emily McCabe her houses one of the few places safe from the rise of pythons well at lest for now, most of the out bursts where in the eastern plot of land where my parents and me lived in rugged swamp land which was always sweating. The northern front was more modernized. Safe. Something my mother wished to avoid for as long as possible. That’s where my aunt lived mother had said she was beautiful. I had never met her before. The crinkled paper in my hands it was all I had left. And it was built on the possibility that I could find her. My breathing increased. Even though my eyes wide open I felt like I had the shades puled down. Everything was a blur. It took me a minuet to gather myself, slowly looking around; I was in a whole different settlement the sun still ablaze its heat increasing. The paper I held in my hands had my aunts address, my mother used to talk about Emily with such sweetness, as if she was a foreign princes royalty compared to us. the sound of her voice telling tales made any situation, regardless of how terrible, worthwhile. This was my motivation to keep going,

I heard the familiar orders of robots telling the townspeople to evacuate to the icehouses. Large buckets handed off to families full of ice water. Pythons are strong with a body built to crush bone. But the are not unstoppable, pythons’ are coldblooded creatures, so they need to be fairly worm to operate, I snatched one of the cold buckets from the pile and ravaged myself in the cold letting every gulp count. After properly hydrating myself I took the bucket with me, I knew that with the approaching danger, I would need the bucket to defend myself.
I knew that pythons too were slowly consuming this village. Just then, out of a open doorway, came a running child teeter totting his way down the steps, he couldn’t have been older than four. Behind him a little toy mouse had been stuck in between the screen. The robots were too occupied with the wounded to notice the runaway boy. But I saw the immediate danger that confronted him the same innocence that occupied him escaping from my eyes. Without a second thought I raced towards him, hoping, praying I would be strong enough to carry him far, far away from hear. Just then a python immerged from an overgrown lot of weeds. I heard the crunch as the snake’s muscly coils bent the brush, its black arrow pointing directly for the boy, its wet tongue flickered in as tasted the air for his chubby bay boy sent, its forked tongue went in and out as it crept closer to the boy’s wrist. Before I can figure out what I am even doing, I take off to a running start screaming—“no!”
The boy stops, his face turned to me, his blue eyes shimmered with surprise but the snake took this moment in time to strike, his saliva stretching across bared fangs wide open, his jaws about to clamp down on the boy’s wrist. But not today, I still had the bucket, halfway full of ice water, which I dowsed into its opened jaws. The snake cringed, its mouth closing tight hissing loudly and recoiling itself back into the sweaty palms, out of sight instantly. Its hisses could still be heard as it wined in complaint and buried itself in a hole hidden beneath the trees.

I scooped the boy into my arms. He grabbed my neck instantly and we took off in a full speed run. Just then, a tall, wiry woman with a messy bun came running out of her house.
“No please! That’s my baby,” she screamed.
The robots held her back repeating to her that she must take cover in the nearest icehouse. Her eyes are unforgettable so massive like a deep watery pool. I feel as if I could just dive right into them there refection becomes more faint as I progress farther.
“Somebody stop him. My baby!” my neck strains I feel as though I am being torn her face dropping tears horror stricken and spiteful but all I see is my mothers face crying out in agony
My legs are once again running so fast, and I can’t seem to get a handle on them.
“Faster, faster, giddy up pony!” the little boy yapped overcome with giggles.
As I turned the corner, I saw the familiar red roof of an icehouse. Immediately I rushed towards it for both our lives I would be safe there. At the entrance a robot handed me a coat.
“Here you go little one,” it said in a mechanical voice as it handed the boy a blanket.
The boy grabbed it and started to chew at the ends his face smeared with remains of food painted on his full cheeks.
“I want my mommy,” he whimpered.
“You must take shelter,” the robot began to repeat.
The boy starts to convulse with loud cries. “I want my mommy now!”
“You must take shelter,” the monotone robot speaks urgent.
I wanted to the boy to stop crying. I wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to laugh again. I wished so much for him to laugh again. In that moment I looked into the boys’ eyes and I said—
“I want my momma too,” a tear rolled down my face and my lip started to tremble. A shiver moved its way through me like an electric current,
The boy stopped immediately. This puzzled him.
“You must take shelter,” the robot buzzed. “This is highly irregular. Why aren’t you listening to me?” it urged.
The boy reached for my face, where a tear had started to roll off my cheek. his face awed and flushed, in his eyes I saw my mother telling me to run and never look back. with that I took of, twigs slashed us as we went.
It was starting to get dark again . . .And I was starting to fear for both of our lives. The boy had his thumb in his mouth and suckled it as I said, “hold on tight!”
The streets are barren; everyone has taken shelter for the night. In the dark, the houses look the same, like ghostly shadows runes of houses that where once homes. I started to worry, panic even. Then I felt the crinkling in my pocket. And dove my hand down and retrieved the piece of paper my map to safety. It read: 6684 Evergreen Street.
I starred at the street sign in front of me an E eroding at the edges faded and wary reading Evergreen. My pulse was quickening and the sun was now almost completely gone hisses could be heard. The house before me was small; my eyes glinted forward at the address on the curb. It read 66 something four. The eight no longer looked like itself but the front door was unmistakable. There was the same little mouse stuck behind the screen. The little boy giggled with excitement. But I clutched the boy in fright. The last time I walked in the front door to my mother’s house, I found scaly shingles across my mother’s hands and my father overtaken in a swirl of attacking reptiles. What if pythons were once again demolishing another family? What if---?
Just then the tall, wiry woman appeared at the doorway.
“Mama!” the boy leaps from my arms into his mother’s.
I have nothing to say. I reach into my pocket and pull out the crumpled piece of paper and thrust it in her direction.
She looks at it with her blue ocean like eyes lit a flam by with blue fire. That looked unmistakably like my mother’s. She uttered the words written on the paper.
“6684 Evergreen. Emily McNabb.”
She stares at me with my mother’s eyes and brown hair.
Without saying a word, she puts the boy down and pulls me into a big, knowing hug.
“You’re home now,” she says shaking. “You look so much like my dear sister!” The inside of her house rose up the hairs up on my arms my aunts shadow her sadness frozen her pools iced over her baby boy unaware and nestled in her boney shoulder. The bitter temperature cold
Housing a broken family that still clung to its icy walls.



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