View Full Version : The Long Winter scenes 2 and 3 1139 words

Justin Rocket
December 29th, 2013, 07:41 PM
The sun shoots daggers into my eyes as Boone shouts, “He’s awake!” mere inches from my face. The smell of burnt cinnamon and lard floods over me.
Worming myself up to an upright position, I realize I’m in the van heading south towards Denver on I-25.

I'm feeling like I just got mugged.

"You were out for almost half an hour," Donny's looking at me through the rearview mirror, but keeps his eyes on the snow covered road in front of us. His knuckles are white and tight on the steering wheel, but he’s not letting his tension seep into his voice. The van’s got some weight and, of course, the snow tires, but the road is as bad as I’ve ever seen it. The van is weaving around other vehicles which are stuck like frost-covered tombstones.


"He's really sick, Luke," Boone tells me flatly, but he looks away when I turn to him.

"How are you?" Donny asks.

"I..I'm fine. Just, my head is hurting and my body feels like it just went 10 rounds with a bulldozer. Why aren't we dead?"
I roll down a window. It is freezing cold outside the van, but the stench inside the van is overpowering.

"Its the medicine,” Boone explains, “we're doing everything we can for Robbie, but the vapors from the medicine are kinda nasty. Roll the window back up. The stronger the stench, the better the medicine."

"What is it?"

"Arrowroot and Cinnamon."

"You're taking him to a doctor, right?"

Donny shakes his head negatively. "Doctors won't know how to help him."

"You just told me you don't know how to help him."

Donny and Boone look at each other. They're hiding something from me.

"If a doctor can't help, there's gotta be somebody who can." I press.

Donny shakes his head negatively, again.

A minute later, Boone speaks up, "Cragmaker," he says.


"He's in Colorado Springs," Donny states, "but we can't take you there. He's going to be watched - because Robbie's been bit."

"He's a fixer. He knows people who know people, you know? If anybody knows where to find an antidote, its him. But, he's dangerous."

"He's a dwarf. Luke is our first priority."

I get up and go to the back of the van where Robbie is laying prone, unconscious. His skin is green and waxen. He's burning with fever.

"Why?" I ask.

They don't reply.

I slam my fist against the inside wall of the van.

Its all so overwhelming. A day ago, I was a normal teen. Now, I’m an orphan and I'm being chased by giants and wolves. I'm about to go into the lion's den, as it were, to convince a gang banger dwarf to get me some rare black market drug to save my best friend's life from the bite of monstrous wolves.

“What about me? Why are they hunting _me_? Why are you helping _me_? Why aren’t I dead already? Why do my friends and family have to get hurt because of me?”

They ignore me.

Colorado Springs is even worse than the Interstate between the Springs and Denver. The throughway looks like a flash frozen parking lot after a grease spill. The radio offers non-stop traffic notices and, further, reports that the ice storm is nation-wide.
Donny takes us off the Interstate and heads us east towards Manitou Springs. I’m quickly lost as he weaves through a few streets I don’t recognize. Very shortly, he pulls up to a building which looks like a hastily nailed pile of panelling. I expect to see a “Condemned” sign hanging in a window.
Boone stays in the van with Robbie while Donny and I get out of the van as close to the building as we can, but it looks like a few cars were parked here after the storm began. Donny leads me down a concrete ice covered stairwell on the outside of the building, then knocks on what seems to be a utility door.
“Say nothing to anyone,” he tells me. “Look no one in the eye.”
A shrewish old woman opens the door, then ushers us inside like we’re royalty. The room is dark and smells of coagulated blood. The windowless outer walls are lined with benches and tables. What little light the room does have comes from candles flickering on these tables. I can see misshapen shadows moving languorously about and hear a few whispers which seem to be about us.
“Cragmaker,” Donny tells the old woman and she scuttles off in a hurry.
“Come here often?” I ask Donny.
“We’re wasting time,” he grumbles.
I’m about to reply that saving my best friend is not wasting time. Before I can do so, a small, wizened man emerges from the shadows. For a moment, he reminds me of an overgrown beatle, though he has a beard which reaches to his belt buckle.
“Cragmaker,” Donny addresses him.
“My lord,” the beatle-like man replies cautiously.
My surprised gaze flits from the beatle-man, Cragmaker, to Donny and back again. I’m about to say something, but Donny gestures me to be silent.
“Let us get to the point,” Donny says, “we need something from you. You know we’re busy making preparations, battle lines are being drawn, I don’t have time for games.”
“Anything, my lord,” the beatle-man replies earnestly.
“Within about 15 minutes, Ymir’s forces are going to be crawling all over this place,” Donny continues, “before that happens, I need you to tell me where I can get a cure for eitr.”
“snake bite?”
Cragmaker, the beatle-man, nods and mumbles as he ponders a moment. He pulls absent-mindedly on his beard.
“For one of the scions?”
“For a mortal. This one’s friend.” Donny replies.
Cragmaker nods. “Good thing, for one of you there is no cure. If you can’t fight it off yourself, you’re a dead man. I’m sure you of all people know that. But for a mortal? Yes, but it is rare, I’m sure you can imagine. Others are searching for it as well.”
“Great! So, tell us where we can get it and be quick about it!” I exclaim.
“If I tell you this, you will be indebted to me?” he asks.
“Yes, anything!” I nod.
Donny gives me a disapproving scowl.
The beatle-man’s expression brightens up a bit. “Not many can claim to have such as you in their debt.” He seems to be making some kind of excited clicking noise, “It is settled.” He claps his hands together as he leans forward. “The cure for eitr is not easy to acquire, the antidote is death, itself. But, I will tell you how to go about finding it. You must hurry. Mortals die quickly from such poisoning.”
With that, he stands and heads out of the room, gesturing for us to follow.