Searching for salvation in a world of death and endless snow.
What do you do when the world ends?
Lionel Morton and his sister Claire are alone and in danger in a world frozen in never-ending winter. Survivors of a cataclysmic event that brought human civilization to its end, they’re forced to face hunger, rabid animals and the savage remnants of humanity just to stay alive. When a fading radio broadcast calls to them and hints of sanctuary, they’re forced to make a difficult decision: keep fighting through the wasteland in search of something that may not be real, or give up hope and wait to die in the terrible cold?
I wrap my coat as tightly around myself as possible and fish a frayed beanie from my backpack to put on my head. Beside me, Claire drapes herself with the blanket she slept on and adjusts a faded black trilby hat, pulling it as far down over her face as she can.
“Where to today?” Claire asks, in a quiet voice.
“Wherever the path takes us. As long as we stay alive.”
We leave the ranger’s station behind and spend the next few hours hiking through the loneliness. We don’t talk, because we’re already exhausted, and because it’s potentially dangerous, so our journey is forged in silence. It’s an eerie, deathly silence, as lifeless as the land around us, where the ground is nothing but dirt with patches of grey snow and the scenery consists mainly of dead tree after dead tree, and seemingly endless hills stretching onwards to the horizon.
We have no destination in mind, no set path to travel. If we find shelter to spend the night in, we count ourselves lucky. If not, we sleep wherever we are when darkness falls, staring up into an empty, starless umbra. We’re just trying to survive. Our only directive is to avoid others who are trying to do the same.
Occasionally, we come to a landmark that distinguishes itself from the withered trees around us. We pass the rusted out wreck of a truck, half buried in snow. I try to open the door to search it, but it’s frozen shut, so we move on without a word, too tired to attempt digging it out of the slush. More time passes, and we emerge into a shadowy clearing to see the torn remains of a canvas tent dangling from a tree branch, debris scattered across the ground and icy human bones sticking up out of the snow like eldritch plants. We quickly glance at each other, a moment of silence for the people who died here, and we move on, without looking back. None of it means anything.