Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Cold World (A Relic of a Bygone Age)

"Sir? I found this in the wreckage..."

This is a story that I wrote a few summers ago and have been occasionally revising ever since. I thought it would be interesting to share mostly as a snapshot of the sort of emotional states my words were attempting to produce at that point in my writing life. It seems almost foreign to me now in a lot of ways, but I still think the (for lack of a better word) coldness came through fairly well.

Of course, it is also winter, so literal coldness is very much on my mind right now.


Cold World

Her shivering was getting worse. Soon the cold would consume everything, and her body’s desperate attempts to shake itself out of apathy would no longer matter. Why do we try so hard, so viscerally, so instinctively, to live in a world in which death is the only inevitability?

He jumped out of the hurtling train, landing violently on the gravelly slope below. His bones made awful noises as they broke. Somehow he would carry on anyway. If he had to pull the world past him instead of pushing his way through it, then so be it. The cold made his muscles stiff, resistant to the demands he was making of them, but it didn’t matter. None of it mattered anymore. He had to save her.

She felt the relentless cold absorbing everything into its inevitable white void; sensation, thought, emotion. She involuntarily curled up into a ball, trying to conserve what little warmth was left in her world. This was appropriate: to leave the world in the same way she entered it, a helpless, senseless fetal mass, powerless against the elements. Why does the world provide us with this circularity, this morbid, fatalistic symmetry?

He carried on, his movement as much an act of creation as of locomotion. When there was no strength left to carry on through the contours of the world, he reshaped the world into the form of his destination, willing himself to reach her. Regardless of the boundaries of the possible, finding her was simply a matter of necessity, and he would not- could not- allow the limitations of existence to stand in the way until he had achieved his goal. But he was cold... so cold.

She was far past any distinguishable feeling now. Identity itself became meaningless in the unrelenting assimilation of the cold. She became the cold, just as ultimately the world itself would; it was inescapable. Death was the only thing that remained. And yet life continued. Why is this infinitely small spark of life so persistent?

He saw her. Through parched eyes frozen open by the bitter cold, he could only catch a glimpse of her before she was diffused into the infinite white, but it was her. Just a little farther now. He tore down the world before him, pulling nearer and nearer but never quite attaining his goal. She was so far away.

She could not be saved. Finally the last infinitesimal impression of her life was gone, vanished into the cold world. In the end, only the cold persists; biting, tearing, breaking, shattering. Nothing endures. How can we live in a world in which the cold consumes all of our hope, all of our courage, all of our strength?

He could not save her. His broken body shuddered to a halt in the face of the advancing cold. The world he was remaking remained unbuilt; his hopes and dreams froze and shattered as they crashed against the icy inevitability of the cold world. Everything is frozen into place, and in the end nothing really moves forward or upward. Only the cold remains.

Nothingness. White world. White world cold white world cold white world. White cold cold world. Cold world. Nothing...

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