Ice Block

It was the coldest winter ever and Matt could barely sit on his ass. Even the chair was chilled, it made his butt clench. But his security company, Rapid Response, required someone to man the office. All of its computers, screens and phones were here.

Matt picked up the iced phone – his breath must have frozen on it – and called Danny, who was on duty tonight at the Transparent Temple – nickname for their community centre. “Hey Agent D, how’s the weather over there?”

“It’s bloody freezing! You should know. Don’t you have temperature readings on your monitors?”

“Yes, I do. But they’re telling me minus fifty. Is it really that cold there?”

“Well it’s zero in the office with the heating full on. So that’s probably right.”

Matt said, “Jeez, what’s happening this winter?” He’d heard reports of early frost, growing glaciers and icecaps, and record snowfall, then corrections saying that this winter there would be the least snowfall ever. Snow only forms at -1°C to -4°C; it would be way colder than that.

“This whole village is freezing in,” said Danny. “That’s what’s happening this winter.”

Matt had noticed already that people were minimising their movements. Rather than popping in and out of town, they’d only visit once a day and get all their jobs done. Stores and cafes were suffering. Surprisingly it was the ones on the highway that had first put up notices saying “closed till further notice”, as people were no longer visiting, or even passing through, Lucerne. The stores downtown were still operational, just, because of local business.

A week later however, they also were closed. People bunkered down in their houses. Woodstoves became lifesavers as people’s gas and electric heating systems began to break down. Their stoves were burning around the clock, with neighbours pressed around them – the more body heat the better – in blanket rooms, built within regular rooms. People ate from their root houses and larders. They knew they couldn’t feed their pets, so killed, and sometimes ate them. Livestock died off quickly, and the one good thing about this cold was that their meat stayed well preserved.

Rapid Response’s control room remained fully functional. Matt had refused to abandon his customers, all signed up for annual contracts. They needed to feel secure in this difficult time. He was sure they would repay him with loyalty when the village returned to normal. They wouldn’t go with cheaper rivals who were trying to steal his business.

Matt however had stopped moving entirely. His last thoughts remained in his mind forever, as they do for those who die frozen. He was comfortably seated, protecting people in a happy, safe, warm land, surrounded by racks of pressed white flowers, all of them six-petalled.

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