In front of him were the highest peaks, screaming up towards the sky with shocking rapidity. To his right was a small town of cabin homes. He held himself in his own arms. Glad to be done falling. Sad to be so cold. He took a step to the homes, almost hoping to plunge into another tunnel if it meant warmth. He sank to his thighs, then stopped. He took another step with the same result. And so he proceeded to the town of cabin homes and smoking chimneys.
Zan made it to the cabin homes only to find that he was still alone. During the entire time he had trekked in the snow, his shadow had remained the same. The sun was not moving in the skies. It was bright here. Partially because of the snow. Partially for some other reason still unbeknownst to him.
Zan had walked around the entire town, a feat that left him utterly exhausted. After his first loop about the town of violet woods and brick, he took a seat on a small bench. It had several pairs of names carved into it. Each pair was accompanied by symbols of hearts and plus signs, with other words like ‘forever’ and ‘always’.
His energy returned to him quickly. After only half an hour, he felt as if he had gotten two full night’s sleep. At least, so said a distant memory in his mind. Sleep was no longer something he needed. Perhaps he never had. It was trivial.
He took another loop around the town peaking into the windows of the cozy homes. He had resisted the urge to do this exact thing during the first loop, but his sense of loneliness was now unbearable. No fires were lit. No tables were set. Couches and pillows were puffed up and left alone. Several board games lay out on the floors, half completed and forgotten about.
He wanted to find someone. Anyone. But even more importantly, he wanted no one to find him. He couldn’t explain it. But he felt he should not be seen in this world. Not yet, at least. He was wearing the same clothes as before. He had grown very cold near the start. And that was all. He never grew colder. He was shivering, his teeth chattering. He was surely uncomfortable. But he would survive. And it never got worse, as if some internal blaze was constantly keeping the chill at bay. His skin was red and itchy in several places, but they never lost feeling. He almost wished they would, even though he knew he shouldn’t. No feeling meant frostbitten nerves. And that would mean losing weight in the worst sort of way.
And so he continued on. Mildly uncomfortable. Hoping to find others. Avoiding others from finding him. He had no memories of this place. It was something new.
After approaching the edge of town on the opposite from where he first entered, he spotted something of interest. It was a pair of skis, with old boots and a set of poles. They were left strewn about by someone a hurry, with only a couple layers of snow dust. If they were in his Home (where the thunks still live), they may even look yellowish green with ocean waves etched in them. But here, they were purple.
Zan approached them. He looked around. There was no one in this town. He was not one to steal, but he needed some answers. He could see the very edge of what could be more buildings far off in the distance at the end of a valley between more mountain peaks. These skis would get him there in only a few hours. He vowed to pay back whoever they belonged to if he got the chance. With interest.
He slid the boots on. The snug fit was uncanny. He stood and popped the boots into the skis. He grabbed the poles. Perfect height. It all felt strange then. As if the skis were his all along. A gift. He didn’t recognize the design from a life before. There was nothing he could do to learn more at this time, but he remembered it for later.
He put his poles in front of him, grasped them tightly in his frozen hands, and pulled himself forward with a jolt. He was moving. He was really moving. He was moving too much. He thought of food, though knew not why at a time like this. Finally his feet drifted into a criss-cross pattern that seemed to dissipate his speed some. Then his skis caught and his speed converted all into a rotating motion about his ankle which brought his face right to the frozen ground.
A part of him felt it, while another part was too cold to feel anything. He stood and looked about for his skis. He realized the poles had flew out of his hands as well. His boot had slipped off and stayed in one of the skis. Yard sale. The two words appeared in his mind. He laughed. He didn’t know what the two words meant.
He huffed around in the snow, sinking to his knees again. He found all of his equipment, then set out again. He moved a bit slower this time. He stopped a bit more gradually. All was well. And so he got back a talent he had received before, but had forgotten just slightly.
He was cruising for the valley now between the two mountain peaks. As he drew closer, his ears on fire from the whipping winds, he could see a wall rising almost a hundred feet into the air. The cliffs on either side were overhanging, blocking passage past the wall. Something inside his mind immediately accepted the wall as the gateway forward. There was no real way around it. He continued forward, completely unsure of what would come next.