A Melting Heart
A family man, who has decided to protect his people and family against a dangerous enemy, journeys across the Ice Land to extinguish It before realizing that It is immortal.
Categories: Fiction, Adventure, Quest, Tragedy, Philosophy, War [1,668 words]
Publication Date: July 27, 2016
Everyone agreed on the fact that I was a kind man. Often, when one passed by our Ice Village, he would hear comments like “This guy has the coldest heart of all” as said by the old lady working at the bar Igloo, or “No one is as cold as this man” as said by my employer, the House Chief.
I was unique. Not because of my cold heart, but because of my black-iced beauty mark located under my left ruby eye that resembled a heart. Indeed, I had the coldest of hearts. But, that was until It arrived.
“I volunteer,” I yelled with confidence, fist held up high in order to give me the courage to go on with such affirmation.
The War Chief gave me a look of surprise, which nearly made him slide off his Ice Throne. “You? Joining our team of warriors?” he retorted, incredibility and sarcasm contained in his answer. The
War Chief, in other words my father, had always hated my choice of career. I had decided, a while ago, to build houses instead of destroying them, thus he never forgave me for this “failure.”
My decision came as a big surprise, not only to him, but also to my wife who could not prevent whimpering. She knew I disliked confrontations, yet along fights, but I could not stand still when my people faced extinction. I had to protect my children and their future, even if that act meant transforming into somebody I previously refused to become.
“I guess you will do,” added the War Chief, a grin drawn on his face.
Our journey started one week after the war meeting. Before leaving the village, I kissed my wife and children good-bye, and ventured into the Ice Land under perfect weather: frosty air, cold wind, and freezing temperature. As I stood on top of a cliff, I opened my arms and let the weather energize me and give me the courage I needed to face the imminent threat (and traveling with my father).
“Hurry up,” shouted one of my teammates. I walked back to the group of mismatched volunteers, wondering if we would ever get along. Some of us knew nothing about war. Others were qualified warriors. After a few days, I worried no more; we bonded quite fast. If the reason of this journey was not as gloom as our reality, we certainly would have brought back home memories of a great time spent together. But, we had a crucial mission to fulfill. We needed to save our species. We needed to extinguish It.
“We’re getting close to It’s last location. Stay on your guard,” warned us the War Chief in a murmur. Then, I saw It, burning with rage and hissing like a death vow. Quickly, we extinguished It without suffering any losses or damages.
“That wasn’t so hard, right? So, shall we go back home? I suggested, rubbing my hands together. I did love a bit of fresh air, but I missed my family with all my cold heart. I dreamed of cuddling my wife in an icy embrace and hearing my children’s laughers.
“No, I heard It has spread all over the South Area. We need to extinguish all of It to assure its complete disappearance from this world,” explained, in the same sternly voice, the War Chief. I sighed, smoke coming out of my mouth.
And so, we continued our journey, getting farther away from home. I was getting quite dispirited and impatient. I wanted to return to my wife’s side. “At this rate,” I complained under the moonlight, “we’ll never go back home. Can we really extinguish It forever? I think that this mission is as futile as a waste of time!” I kicked the wall of the Ice Cavern, where we stopped for the night. We stood by the cavern’s entrance, thus we could see the stars decorating the midnight sky. I remembered gazing at the stars with my wife for hours before falling asleep in each other’s arms.
“Do I have to remind you that you’re the one who volunteered? I should have known you would bring disgrace to the family again.” As he spoke, my father never glanced at me. He remained seated on an ice block, sharpening his blade.
The others knew in which direction our conversation was headed, so they all decided in unison to explore the surrounding area. But, thanks to the echoing sound of our voices, our screams probably traveled all the way back home. Luckily for them.
“A disgrace?” I was out of control, and memories of me and my wife added fuel to the fire. “Because I prefer peace over war? What is wrong with you?”
“What is wrong with me? He threw his weapon on the ground and rushed back in an upright position. “The War Chief gave birth to a weak son, that’s what is wrong.”
“Sorry if I’m weak, father. You should have melted me down when you had the chance.”
Screams of horror reached my ears; I had used the forbidden word, the only one that could send shivers down our spine, and as Ice People, we hardly ever shivered. Of course, that was before It came to life. Now, we shivered all the time, even during the coldest of days.
The cavern started shaking. Was it our fight that triggered this tremor, or the usage of the forbidden word? In the blink of an eye, I witnessed an ice pick falling down on my father. I pushed him out of harm’s way, and next thing I knew, my arm had shattered into million pieces. The echo resonating throughout the mountain was soon repeating my cries of agony, which led me to an unconscious state. But, I did not mind, because for a split second, I saw my family.
I woke up in a strange house made of animal skins. “Yuck.” I looked at my arm and whimpered when I realized my nightmare had followed me into reality. I was armless, and harmless. With only one arm, how could I protect my family?
“You’re an excellent builder,” told me one of my teammates who had just entered the room to witness my panicked face. “You’ll figure something out.” He was right. I would find a solution to cure my handicap. “By the way,” he added, “as soon as you feel better, we’re going back home.”
“Why? Our mission is not over yet.”
“War Chief’s order.”
Once outside, it took me a few seconds to realize that It had surrounded us. Flames were eating everything: the disgusting houses, the wooden objects, and… my dad!
“Everyone, leave,” ordered my father trying to extinguish parts of It with his blade made of ice. “Save yourself. It’s an order!”
“No, let go of me!” I shouted when one of my teammates dragged me away from my father. I could not abandon him like he abandoned me years ago, because he was, in the end, my father.
“Leave, son,” pleaded my father, whose words were muffled by the crackling sound of the enemy. My surroundings were getting warmer and warmer, and my body was starting to melt down.
“You’re not so bad for a builder.”
My father’s sacrifice allowed us to escape the burning village. I wanted to scream my loss, but the pain was just too much to handle.
I never experienced hatred before in my life, not even towards my father, until It appeared. I never understood why someone or something was allowed to spread fear in people’s heart and to destroy lives in such hurtful ways. I hated every aspect of It, and I wanted It to disappear forever.
We returned to the Ice Village as heroes, and I became the new War Chief. My father would have been so proud of my accomplishment. Because I made It’s destruction my life mission, I spent the next years planning its demise and traveling the Ice Land. We were at war with It, and I was at war with myself because of It. I was breathing vengeance, and all of my time and thoughts were devoted to extinguishing It.
The years had passed, and as my ice body became whiter by the days, our efforts became more and more fruitless. One by one, other clans were melting down, disappearing in a puddle of water. In the end, only one village remained.
“War Chief, It has surrounded us. There’s no exit. We are trapped inside the Ice Village. What should we do?”
I looked at my frighten wife and children. When was the last time I hold her in my arms? How long it had been since I kissed my children? I could not remember. I was mad. Not mad at It for exterminating us, but mad at myself for losing the little time we had left reminiscing about my losses and filling my mind with hatred.
Regrets. My soul was filled with regrets. I could not stop changes or fight them. But, I could have grown alongside these changes and use them to build a brighter future for my family and my people. I should have embraced those changes, not let them destroy me. It was too late now as time had reached its final hour.
I had lost this war, not because of It’s victory, but because I did not understand this crucial life lesson. I simply hoped that, somehow, someday, I would be reunited with my family once again.
“We shall believe…”
Far away from the Ice Land, a mother gave birth to a baby, a special baby who had a beauty mark under its left eye that resembled a heart. Unable to talk, to mother smiled at her miracle. The baby did not know who it was or from where it came. It simply glanced at the source of warmth burning in the middle of the room, then it fell asleep. From that moment onward, it knew it would forever feel safe.