The early morning light brushed against the snow-capped roofs of the small village that hid at the bottom of the mountains. The sound of the temple bell stilled the air as if a spell had stopped time. The windows were frosted like a spider’s etching against the clear sky. Little huts breathed through their chimneys. The smell of wood and food slowly danced across the crisp wind, which blew lightly between the wooden walls. Like clockwork, old men opened their doors with pipes pressed between their lips. They greeted each other with light bows. The children scampered off to school at the other side of the village. The children believed that they could escape the spirit that commanded the cold if they ran fast enough. And almost certainly, one of them would trip and fall on the fresh snow, reminding them that they could never escape.
Ken found himself falling back towards the ground. His ears turned deaf though they worked a few seconds ago. It had snowed heavily the night before, making his landing softer yet still unpleasant. Light snow drifted onto his face as he stared at the grey sky. Birds scattered across the space, probably startled by the noise. Definitely because of the noise. This might have been the first time he’s had a lie down in days. Hiking in the middle of the snow with little sleep wore him down even more. He couldn’t get up if he tried. He couldn’t stay awake if he tried. The snow around him slowly turned red as too his white scarf. The breath forming from his mouth looked like it came from an old train. The engine ran out of coal; the steam grew less and less until finally, it stopped. Ken’s eyes, unblinking, looked at the sun peeking behind the clouds. No rays reached him.