Everything was so white, so cold. Shelia remembered when it all looked so pretty, how enamoured she was with everything. Now she hated it, hated it all more than anything. She wanted to go home, she wanted to be able to feel the heat of the sun on her body. She wanted to live.
It had been a holiday, a trip of a lifetime. Go and live on the tundra for a few months, get to know the people, make friends and memories, then return to the normal world. Everything had been perfectly magical, stepping off the plane, shielding her eyes from the glare and taking it all in. The city so perfectly sculpted from ice. Tall gleaming spires rose into the air, arches looped over alleys and pathways, ice trees lined avenues. It was all so beautiful, so perfect. Of course they were not staying in some of the actual ice buildings. No, there was no way they would manage to survive that. Shelia and Rebecca both agreed they’d stay in one of the tourist hotels. Still coated in carved ice, but made of good old fashioned materials on the inside, with heating and electric lights. They wanted adventure, but a safe one.
Checking into the hotel had been an event in and of itself, having to stop every few minutes to marvel at a new sculpture, each seemingly more spectacular and impossible than the last. The hotel was full of marble statues and bouquets of fresh flowers. The carpets were thick and welcoming, the staff friendly and warm. Their rooms were huge, much bigger than either expected containing a small kitchen, a large bathroom with a bath and shower, a large bedroom with big, open windows that looked out over the gleaming city and a comparatively small sitting room with a dining table and two comfortable couches.
The first days were fun, but restrained fun. They didn’t drink anywhere but the hotel bar for fear of ending up like some of those tourists who go out for drinks and get lost or take off some of their clothes and end up being found the next morning, dead. They stuck to regular foods, slowly adding in local delicacies here and there, and they found themselves enjoying it more and more. So much so that neither of them wanted it to end. The place, though not a large city, seemed to provide endless entertainments for them. Night after night and day after day they found something new and fun to do. Everyone was so friendly, not just locals but other travellers, and they quickly made friends. Had it all gone as smoothly, Sheila would have said it was the best time of her life.
The problem came a month before. They were supposed to fly out but a sudden blizzard started, they weren’t worried, it happened and the hotel were very accommodating. They would just go out once the blizzard cleared. But it didn’t. It kept going for two weeks. When it finally stopped they couldn’t get into contact with the outside world. All the communications had gone down. The locals were acting differently, no longer were they warm and welcoming, they became standoffish. Not rude, but guarded. They didn’t stay out as late, the shops and restaurants owned by the locals started closing earlier. Some of the locals tried to tell them to leave in subtle ways, saying that something wasn’t right or that it was going to happen again soon. That was as much as anyone could get out of them. Sheila had only gotten one more titbit of information. An old woman who had always been nice to them told her, “It isn’t safe to talk about it. It hears and it comes.” It was the last time Sheila saw the woman. Her daughter would only say her mother had taken sick and wasn’t able to see visitors. The shop closed and remained closed the next day.
Then people started disappearing. Not much at first, not enough that anyone outside of friends noticed, but the news spread quickly. Soon everyone was nervous, panicked. Where had they gone? There was no sign of them, nothing was missing apart from what they had been wearing last. There were all sorts of theories, kidnapping, going crazy and running off into the snow, someone was killing them and dumping the bodies out in the vast tundra that surrounded them. No one knew. Even still no one knew.
There was still no way to contact the outside world. The communication towers kept failing. So far no one had tried to come to them. Shelia wasn’t sure if it was because they couldn’t or because they wouldn’t. She wasn’t sure which was worse.
With no sign of rescue and no idea of when it would end, Sheila decided to take matters into her own hands. Her and three others, Rebecca was already gone at this point, decided to risk traversing the Tundra. It was a long trek, perhaps a month or more, but they thought they had enough supplies to last them. They would be safe, out on the tundra all they had to fear was the ice and snow. That was the theory, until the first person went missing. One moment he was there, the next he was gone. There was no sound, no warning, his footsteps in the snow just stopped. The pushed harder, went faster. The second disappeared the next day, the third a few hours after that. Now it was just Sheila. Out in the snow, alone. She had supplies, oh plenty of those, but whether or not she’d be able to make use of them all was another question entirely. She started to walk, she needed to keep going. Perhaps she was the only one left at all, and no one would know what happened to the city. It would just disappear, swallowed up by the ice and the snow. She needed to get out, she needed to survive.