Title: The Ghost of Winter Runs with Scissors
Characters: the Explorer, the Chiurgeon, the Romulan Suicide
Notes: I ain’t talking about this. As with all Vortex tales, it stands as it stands, and it’s a rattling tale told in the spaces between things. Runs With Scissors is, as I think I’ve noted before, a place.
In other news, my mates and I went up the mountain, early this morning. (And by ‘early’, I mean at about 04:30, after I’d been up for exactly 24 hours.) I saw a place I hadn’t seen in nine years — Halloween of 2000, in fact, was the last time anyone was crazy enough to go up with me — and it was dead on as I recalled it being. But, tonight it was me, the chiurgeon, and the Romulan suicide.
And on the way up, I joked about having gone klondiking up there, back in late ’97. My pet Romulan had a few things to say about wanting to see the wood all dressed in white. And the chiurgeon was, as usual, the most sensible of us, saying if it’d been snowing, we’d none of us be on that road, which was absolutely true, since she was driving.
When we got the car to the top of the peak we’d chosen, which is, to say the least, non-wheelchair-accessible, we braved it in, staggering and stumbling. My mates carried and dragged me most of the way up the forty yards or so to the cliff, over Camelot. And we were carrying a case of beer — crap beer, might I add, courtesy of His Drunkenness, the Romulan suicide — and a cel phone, to light the path. But, even with the baggage, myself among it, we made it through. I was the only one who knew where we were, at any time, and I knew where we were, at all times. Some things, they never change.
And there we waited, beers in hands, gazing out across the village below. I curled up on the point of the overlook, wrapped around my drunken deadman, for warmth. I wasn’t really sure which of us was colder, and I wasn’t sure it mattered. The chiurgeon stayed away from the precipice, guarding the beer from the chaotic sprites of the wood.
(as the signal comes in and the lights go out…)
We watched the white roll in, like cotton gauze across the sky. First it blotted out the stars, then the lights of the village sank into the mist. Finally, it crept up to reach for us all, boiling up the foothills and snapping at our toes. It was somewhere in this time that the snow began, or more accurately, very fine hail. Pinky-nail sized chips of white ice came blowing out of the creeping haze and actual snow drifted down from the sky.
(push my face up to the screen)
"It’s snowing," said the Romulan suicide, and his face lit up like Christmas — the first glow of good and right we’d seen on him, all night. Imagine, if you will, a run-down fatality case in a battered leather jacket, gazing up into the sky like a child who’s seen the Ghost of Winter for the first time. And it was my leather, I’ll have you know.
(shed my diamond skin and let the light pour in)
We chose to do as sensible individuals do — we beat a hasty retreat. But the Romulan suicide blew out his knee, and the chiurgeon’s strong, but ill-suited in size to carrying people. I got myself back to the car, over the gravel and the smoothed clay breaks in the ground. Inches from the uneven ground, the whole way back, aye, but I did it. I am no inconvenience, I am a man of goddamn adventure. And this? This was adventure. This was Jim Kirk levels of stupid, on the way in, and Indiana Jones levels of badass on the way out.
And here I am, covered in drying clay — wet, aching, and still laughing. We are the stormbringers. We are none of us whole; we are none of us sane. We run with scissors. The Lady Winter met the Man of the Wood, and the first dance of the season was ours.