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Year: 2372 Mankind
EarthGov-u military

(system to be confirmed)
Flower to Tree (colony destroyed)

Oighunii system
Oighunii II (being terraformed)
Oighunii V (outermost gas-giant)
- Phaben Point (sole starpoint)

Dramatis personae
Aellyn, last surviving colonist from Flower to Tree (presumed dead)
Banuggi, second starwatch officer, Phaben Point (deceased)
Dreksin, star sergeant, Phaben Point (deceased)

Folens 4 (paradise)
Star travel: Slocum physics
- nb Slocum effect damages atmosphere of nearby planets

1 - Phaben Point

"Come in! Come in!" Second starwatch officer, Banuggi, waited tensely by his console, sweating. He'd just disturbed star-sergeant Dreksin. Dreksin was a stickler for formality and procedure, and Banuggi lived in fear of his tongue. There were certain times of the day when the star-sergeant was busy with administrative duties; times when he should only be disturbed in case of dire need. But procedure was procedure. There was still no reply from the starship approaching Phaben Point.
Of course, Phaben Point was also manned by commercial interests but, apart from a couple of newly colonised, outlying systems; Oighunii system was the end of the trade road. Even the 'oid belts were slim pickings so wild-cat prospectors turned their noses up at Oighunii system. That would change once Oighunii II was ready to go, but that was a long time off; the planetary seeding teams on Oighunii II had years of work to get to that point. In practise, EarthGov-u military monitored all incoming traffic and stop-overs; after all, it was mostly theirs.
Oighunii was a sparse system, four times the size of Sol's. The sole starpoint in it was Phaben Point which orbited the outer-most gas-giant, Oighunii V. Slocum Physics meant that Phaben Point, and thus visiting starships, were kept well away from Oighunii II, which was still being terraformed. The Slocum effect was generated by starships as they re-entered normal space. it couldn't penetrate to ground level but its backwash tended to degrade the upper layers of atmosphere of nearby planets. You couldn't shield planets so you shielded your starpoints and kept them well away. As the only starpoint, Phaben Point doubled up as stellar docks and trade point for this system.

"They're not answering sir." The scrawny faced young cadet, not long out of inner system training school, began his recognition protocol again.
At the other end of the com, a bored star-sergeant flicked through an edition of 'Terraforming - Nature's Way'. He moved his fingers through the 3D enhanced display to trigger the voiceover again. The image was projected by a thick fibre, lying on his desk. This time, in a clumsy movement, his cuff brushed the fibre. The image flickered and cut-out.
"Damn!" He'd give that recruit extra shifts! How could he check out new colonies when his recruits were so dopey, they couldn't even hail an incoming! The rate this was going on how would he ever finish the article, let alone the mag. Never mind it was 6 months out of date.
Even with Slocum Physics, space travel took too long. Earth, over 160 light-years distant was the best part of half a year space travel. Of course the route took in trade ports and such; places that couldn't be skipped in the fragile network that held twenty-fourth century mankind together. The year was 2372 Mankind, to be exact.
Of course, it'd be many years before the star-sergeant had earned enough points on his commission to apply for duty on one of those fancy colony-type worlds. If ever.
He ran his forefinger along the spine, urging the 3D image to spring to life. Uppermost in his mind were the three bikinied beauties who postured as the voice-over told its tale.
"Savour the sheer delight as dusk turns to night on the palm-ridden beaches of Folens 4."
Where was it at? Folens 4. Now there was an idyllic paradise. A planet, painstakingly doused by ice-meteors over four decades back and brought to fresh, clean life. Absolutely no local forms. Doubtless, those three beauties were just brochure material, but he could dream.
Star-sergeant Dreksin was interrupted by his cadet again. "Sir, sir. Unexpected power surge from incoming..."
The com message cut-off, part way through. Star-sergeant was too busy being fried by an energy wave of unknown signature to note any breach of protocol.
In space no one can here you scream, but sometimes the tortured atoms sing.

Prologue - Xenophid

Fszzt. Fszzt.
Aellyn shrugs aside the bitter wind. Her parents are here. They’ve been here many days, well over a week. Here in Flower to Tree.
Flower to Tree.
Beware its honour guard of wired fencing tangled into thickets of mesh, held tight by the serrated tears to its fabric; a deadly trap of tangled wire. Razor edged. Not to be approached.
Look at the control tower. Gaping sections makes the edifice ragged. Three stories high – topped by a mast that droops at a doleful angle.
Fszzt. Fszzt.
The sound echoes dully through fresh ruins. The little still standing hasn’t had time to fall down.
A recent depredation. No new signs. Yet.
In places partly fallen masonry gives the illusion of shelter. A bitter comfort in these left over shreds of a former settlement.
Flower to Tree is become ruin.

Beyond this ruin, fields already show signs of returning to their native biology. Alien biology. No longer kept at bay.
And at the edges of those fields, a mile or so distant, are the static forms that constitute life on this planet. Immobile. Twisted strangely. Weirdly shaped.
Fszzt, fszzt.
That sound from before. But what?
Grounded wires? Unlikely.
Rustling tatters of plastic? Possible.
Or the wind rattling goodness knows what. You could never be sure really.
The house. Collapsed and broken. Smashed beyond repair. Tomb to her parents. Long since dead. But still she comes.
Back to this place of destruction and death.
Where else is there?

Fzzstrt. Skrrt.
There it is again. What is that sound?
Whatever it is, it is getting closer.

Hide your hurt. Hide your pain.
Those many days ago, she’d run out. Full of frustration and anger; puffed up with annoyance; wanting her way. Creeping through the eerie alien forest beyond field and fence. Ignoring the desperate calls of parents and the search party. Something had happened while she was away and on her return, all was in ruins.
No survivors.
Just her.
Skyrr. Issskrzt.
What is that sound?
* * *
“Bobby? Bobby! Where are you?”
Bobby must be sulking. Not a child; too young to be really independent. Where was he? In that cave again. As usual.
“Coming mom.” A reluctant response, wavering and drawn out.
She knew that tone. He was up to no good again.
They stood at the entrance to Bobby’s den. Its opening was so small that neither could easily fit through. Bobby, being Bobby, was hiding or doing whatever he did in the small cave system that led from the entrance.
“It’s just that…” She watched Bobby’s father intently, to be certain he was paying attention. “…just that he keeps to himself. It’s about time he had interests to bring him out a bit. He’s old enough for an introduction now, don’t you think?”
Bobby’s father sighed. Bobby’s Name Day. Come all too soon.
“Oh, come on,” she continued, “he has to grow up. It’s not beyond our wit to make appropriate arrangements, is it?”
“Well, when you put it like that…”
She smiled inwardly. Sorted. Simple as that. He knew when not to argue which made him a good dad.
* * *
What had happened to Flower to Tree? Aellyn didn’t know.
Her anger had gone stone cold when she found what had been her home; torn as if by a maelstrom. And what was left of her parents, she buried as best she could; eventually.
Some from the colony had been hacked to pieces in the fields. She’d have to bury those remains too. And soon.
She supposed that something had crept in and attacked them. But the electrified fencing was supposed to keep out anything big and nasty, wasn’t it?
She’d searched for the generator, to turn it back on, but all she found was a mangled mess. Aellyn had no idea how to fix it, and anyway the little that remained of the fence protected nothing and was likely ruined.
When was the next starship? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? She’d no idea. Not the kind of thing she was interested in. So she lived from day to day, waiting hopelessly for rescue.
She sometimes felt she was being watched, so she crept about and hid when possible. Her clothes itched badly. Torn and ragged clothes. She’d wish for a change and a shower, if she wasn’t so hungry.
* * *
Bobby’s dad racked his brains. The kid should be allowed to grow up at his own pace. But the thought circled in his mind bring him out a bit. He stalked, ready to pounce on the right idea.
Wait! That was it!
Most were gone. But maybe one was left. It might help bring him out and it would defer the pointless ritual of setting up an introduction.
It was a good idea, one with which he was sure Bobby’s mother would concur. Already he was making good time; a rendezvous marked out in his head.

Stalk. Stiffly stalk. Upper femoral segment of each hind leg jutting back. At an angle. Attached to a carapaced thorax. Powerful. Efficient at propulsion. Forelegs. Two pairs. Sturdy. Mass distributive. Sufficient to balance and carry the weight of head, thorax and abdomen. Add feelers, mandibles and raptor forelimbs to make a predator from hell.
Plastic streamers; ripped and torn from earlier sport, lie tangled on the ground. Stalk, stiffly stalk past. Yet some streamers snag and are torn. Plastic that would tear soft human flesh, shreds and snaps.
Closer to prey. And sport.
Stop. Listen. A soft ragged sound. A fleshy creature lies near. Easily punctured. Will it cry as its life fluid dribbles away?
Forward. Stride forward.

Above Aellyn looms a shadow. Fifteen feet of lean menace. A raptor limb raised high. Ready.
Down it plunges. Razor sharp.
A shriek. She sprawls backwards, losing her footing.
By accident or design it plunges through soft soil, disturbing the grave of her parents.
Soft putrescent liquid spurts from that shallow grave.
And Aellyn? Unconscious; a thin trail of blood oozes from a shallow cut on her right arm.
* * *
It was growing dark. Bobby’s mother waited impatiently outside Bobby’s den. What was he up to in there?
“Bobby. I know you’re there.”
“You’ve been skulking in your den long enough.”
“I’m busy.”
“It is your Name Day and I’ve brought a surprise for you.”
“Look mom. I’m really busy.”
“Aren’t going to come out and open it in front of me?”
“It’s not girl stuff is it?”
“You won’t know unless you come and look.”
“Okay. Leave it there. I’ll come out real soon. Promise.”
Bobby’s mum wanted to say, Look at you, assuming you had the decency to actually show your face; how can I make you see the right way to be? Instead she said, “Bobby, if only you’d tidy yourself up. Girls would be falling over themselves for you.”
“Mom, you know I can’t be bothered with girl-stuff.”
“Just open your surprise. It’s a treat. For you. You’ll know what to do. There. It’s all wrapped up. I’ve pushed it into your den. I’ll go now.”
Bobby’s mother retreated from the entrance to his den. But not far. Just within hearing distance. She waited quietly and knew what was coming.
A pity, for in a way she’d have liked the treat for herself.
‘Still’, she thought, ‘this should get him going.’
* * *
As soon as he was sure his mother was out of hearing. Bobby scooted to the cave entrance. A bag lay there, neatly wrapped as only his mother could manage. That must contain his surprise. Doubtless his mother was still close by, as if by chance. So he’d surprise her by hauling it in. It was surprisingly awkward to drag, so he lifted it.
* * *
Dark wrapping and the stench of Aellyn’s fear was overlaid by a complex scent. The swathe of strange fabric that had bound her was pulled away. She tumbled landing awkwardly. On all fours in the underground gloom, she looked around. Something was there. Watching her. Waiting.
The shallow cut in her arm throbbed.
* * *
Bobby’s mother knew this would do him good. The creature raised her predation instinct to just the right level. She waited for the screams.
"Look, I'm here under duress. I didn't want to come."
"Tough! Now Mr Ridiet, as I was saying, I just want to go through these accounts."
"I'm not intereste-r-r-r-d
"£400 - flowers ..... £750 - night out at Columbus."
"He found America!"
"Columbus POLE-DANCERS..... now let me continue. £3,750 - trip to Caribbean ..... £7,500 - hotel hires ..... £13,750 - a motorbike."
"It's my money. I need a bike if I'm going to ride."
"This is your Tax-Return. These aren't allowable expenses for tax, Mr Ridiet. make your payment to the Inland Revenue or your goods are forfeit ..... including your bike. By Monday."
The Final Meeting
2016 has seen several local clubs teetering on the edge of closure - Hasiwriters who are based in Haslingden), Cheetham Street Writers in Hebden Bridge, Clayton-le-Moors Writers, a group based in Bacup - some due to waning interest and others because of imprudent financial management at Lancashire County Council.
Money and final meetings.

The September Competition for CWG has no particular theme. Details are here:…
My entry comes to just over 100 words.
This is (so far) part one of Fickleday.
It is also an entry to the August 2016 writing competition, run by CWG - in exile from My Telegraph.
Length: about 1,000 words done to a theme of: Islands

“They're coming.”
Clump, clump, clump. Big, clunking steps. The sound paused. Harsh words came down the cave. They were speaking their harsh Western tongue. I glanced over at Ogd'tham. He glowered.
The sounds started up again, but now the crunch of pebbles underfoot.
“You will leave the talking to me.” Not a request.
I nodded silently.
Far off was a distant thoom! The ground shuddered. We waited in a natural broadening of fissures in the rock, some way below the surface so I didn't think we were in danger, Ogd'tham scowled again though, just for good measure.
“Have you the offerings?”
I checked the baskets silently. We weren't sure what the surface-dwellers wanted – George, our Tongan contact, had merely said that here was an opportunity.
As civic leader, Ogd'tham had grumbled something about credulous sightseers little better than  excitable parasites, but nevertheless agreed to the meeting.
More speech came from above. We could hear them more clearly now but I could make out no words. I looked questioningly at Ogd'tham, his brows began to cross; I hoped he wouldn't beat me again.
“English! Why don't they use English?” he snapped. There was no reply I could make. His face changed. There was cruel calculation. After a second he snapped., “Cover yourself! We don't want them thinking we're barbarians!”
This had already been gone through, back in Urshenbal. The proclivities of Westerners were known to a degree and, to present them with something they weren't led to expect might, in turn, generate an unexpected response. But he led here. I put down the baskets and hastily arranged my robe to cover my breasts.
There was no more time. A flicker of other light was slim warning.
“Endlich!” What language was that?
Ogd'tham hailed them before they rounded the final band, “Greetings. We are well met. Please be welcome to the realm of Mu.” The upworlders came into view. They were tall – like giants – with blond hair, crazy blue eyes. That apart they were completely swathed  by clothes. Ogd'tham was into his performance and words spilled out, effortlessly. “Although I do concede the unfashionable term of Lemuria may be better currency.”
Somehow I got the feeling we'd miscalculated. I looked down – hardly any cleavage – what's a woman to do if she can't put something on show? Maybe I should have left things as they were. What do they say about last minute changes?
Ogd'tham's flow of unction adjusted to the situation – he knew Tongan and immediately switched into it. I had a smattering, but not enough to pick out more than the odd word. Seeing without watching is an art. I counted our visitors: Seven: five old men, one old woman and a fierce looking hunk. They wore uniforms, even the woman, and all looked worried, as if disaster stalked.
He who'd spoken before interrupted the flow, “English is acceptable.” Spoken as if he'd just realised he'd been eating rancid crawl-bait. Evidently he was their leader. “I'm afraid disposition is governed by events and we are harbingers of change. It follows close and unless you have troop dispositions that, please forgive my directness, is not evident here, our stay will be brief.”
Ogd'tham's face lit up. He was a master of intrigue and it was said of those who crossed him to only later go missing, they were as like to be found in the shale oceans as not at all – which came to the same thing. The shale oceans were vast and treacherous, even to the seasoned. Without taking his gaze from their leader he said, “Avoca, go.”
As I knelt to leave the offerings he added, “Take the baskets.”
I negotiated my way out. We rarely broadened the fissures – certainly not this close to the surface. No need to leave clues, a thought echoed by Ogd'tham as he began his discussion. The way back to Urshenbal was long and perilous; Niuafoʻou was active and I'd little desire to stay around while she blew.
Voices chased me down and away.
“You are hunted?” Ogd'tham's sensed his way to understand their predicament.
“We are the last of our kind. There was misunderstanding and war. There are those that would bring victor's justice...”
I closed my ears, it would be unwise to know too much – knowledge has a way of shaping your actions, yet I wondered, what would he do? Ogd'tham was wily and quite capable of sending them away empty-handed – minus, perhaps, a keepsake for the sake of good relations. Knowing they were pursued would be an advantage and he wasn't known for unforced largesse.
Not long into my way back, all about me strained and shook. That had to be  Niuafoʻou, she'd been pitching to set off for some time now. Ogd'tham, like as not, had made his escape, he knew the ways as well as anyone. It occurred to me that he might have purposely kept those blond giants talking until there was no escape. Thus would the secrecy of our underways continue to be kept. The ways weren't suitable for them anyway. Even the young man. He was haughty but I fancied I could teach him manners. I put speculation out of my mind, the way back beckoned and navigating the underways would now be hazardous for the inattentive.
* * *
It was a long and difficult return. Eventually I made my way through the outlying fringes of Urshenbal. The township was barely affected but then the brunt of such shocks was always borne on top – the subterranean depths felt only a fraction. That way was now blocked but others would be found. Given I'd been close to the volcano when it erupted, I expected to be quizzed on the matter. Those in my society had other things on their minds; news of the visitors had preceded me – minus my role of course. More than the news because the visitors themselves were here. You'd think they'd just discovered men given their talk about the hunk and anyway, I saw him first so he ought to be mine. But hey, I'm staying on Ogd'tham's good side... assuming he's got one.

Back in 2010 change was in the air. It always is. In this case the blogging platform of The Daily Telegraph (of London) was being upgraded. For some years, a commenting system had been in place allowing online readers to discuss topics of the day. The process worked well for much of the time but was, in the normal course of events, prone to abuse, which was naturally moderated. The system was creaky and the revamp was hopefully a step forward. As is the way of things, implementation went poorly - the Interest Groups flagged. The place had a really intuitive title: My Telegraph.
I'd joined My Telegraph back in 2008 as a potential blog place but never tried to use it. My blog was on MySpace - we all know the doom that met MySpace (spawn of the Doom that Came to Sarnath for all you Lovecraft lovers). Inevitably everything on MySpace, including blog functionality, imploded.
The My Telegraph I moved to was in little better shape but it was supported. The interest groups were wreckage though. By Fall / Autumn 2010, My Telegraph had just finished its transition. For its new look were Wordpress blogs, Disqus commenting and a halfway house arrangement for the Interest Groups. 
The Groups were a mixed bag: History, Football, Expat, Finance and quite a few more. And then there was Creative Writing. Commenting was across everything - articles, group topics and blogs. Yet some savvy commenters had got the hang of this and were conducting ferocious vendettas against each other. But it was mostly a fearsome mess.

Creative Writing caught my eye though. I'd just written a novel but I'd never been in a writing group before, let alone a Creative Writing Group. This one had lots of members but no one was actually running the group or facilitating competitions - it was dying a slow death. To cut a long story short, I kick-started the competition (and ran it a couple of years). It took me a while to get into short story mode but by December 2011 I was producing short fiction with just a hint of the fantastic or a smidgen of speculation.

The following became the title story of my first collection Ice Made and other stories

=================================== || ===================================

Ice Made

THE COLD WEAKENS YOU AND CHIPS AWAY at your defences. So thought Allen as he cleared away tools. Darkless dusk was soon to be replaced by sunless day. The subarctic weather would hold to this pattern and brief summer would flow back to winter.

No wind today. The sun still peeped above the southern horizon, casting long shadows. Allen stumped back to his cabin, tools carefully collected together, mittens on. Open the door and quickly in. Shut tight. Conserve the heat.

In several days he’d need to head back to civilisation. Mix with people. Find new factors. See if there was any interest in his work.

Allen checked his tools. Not power tools. Not toys for speed junkies. If he wanted quick results, he’d go see the festival in Harbin. Instantaneity was fine for kids. He cultivated patience, carefully chipping away with his fine tools. A vision of perfection in his mind’s eye. How close would his ice sculpture be?

There was more than Harbin; Ekaterinburg and Perm were international snow & ice sculpting championships, closer to home was the Crystal Garden International Ice Carving Competition in Ottawa. And there were others – events he rarely attended. Fashion moves on. He was true to his calling. Eking a precarious existence from small commissions. Sometimes just living off the wild while he practised his craft. Here, by Lac Opiscoteo; twenty miles from Labrador City.

Older now. Much older. Allen felt the ice and cold in his bones. Each summer too brief. Each winter, longer, colder, harsher. Yet he still loved the snow and ice. And the shapes he carved.

Not nonsense, but things and creatures of the cold. Why portray a palm tree or a pineapple. They belonged to another clime. It was limiting, but he’d rather do igloos than pyramids. Cold, snow and frost; not warm, rain and mist. He banished reverie from thought and finished preparing a flask of coffee for the day.

Out he went. Out from the constant warmth of his cabin. Not far distant stood a lean-to – mostly recessed in the ground, where he kept pieces from the thin heat of the winter sun. Compacted snow and ice crunched beneath feet. Sparkled rainbows of white danced, brief scintillations of powdered dry hydration. Flashes of memory, dust of dreams.

When’s he coming back?”

I don’t want to talk about that.”

I’m serious. If there’s a ‘we’, I want to know what I’m committing to.”

I told you. He’s never here, even when he is, he isn’t. We’re not married. That would be a mistake and he knows it.”

So. Tell me something new.”

He’s still up there. Expects me to follow.”

What kind of life is that? You should be with me.”

Sculpting he calls it. Anyway, I’ve had enough.”


I sent a letter. He can like it or lump it. We’re through.”


Only last night’s dream. But where had he dredged up it from? Was that how it had happened? Maybe there’d been no-one else. She’d certainly sent a letter. He’d tried to ignore it to dull the loneliness. Abby hadn’t seen purity in his work, only old-fashioned obstinacy.

All many years ago. Now there was just him, alone with his work.

He was probably unsettled. His last visit to town had been a doleful affair. He’d gone to Labrador City early December. The meeting with his factors didn’t go well. They had changed and the agent he was used to dealing with had moved on. The new guy didn’t appreciate his laboriously sculpted pieces. It was made quite plain to Allen that quick results were expected.

Should he just throw aside the skills of a lifetime for crude tack? Three weeks in Labrador City and all for nothing.

A light but freezing wind bit nose, fingers and toes. All carefully wrapped.

Down he went. Down and into the lean-to, where this years art lived, almost ready to breathe and walk. Not quite finished. Nearly.

Snow-fox, crouched, fur blending to ground. Caribou, grazing; fragile crystal-like fronds for antlers. And her…. Arms raised to the sun or stars. Lissom and graceful. Not imploring, but exultant. Robed in delicate filigrees of ice.

Hardly the kind of weather for a lightly robed girl.

Today he would bring her out into the open. Perhaps remove some supporting struts – take pictures. The weather would bring her down in the end but he’d like her to be in the fullest light before he left.

Chip, chip, chip. The sounds of his work echoed through the treeless emptiness. Did a snow-hare avoid that sound? Was there a herd of caribou to hear and steer clear?

Three drinks he allowed from his flask in the day. The balance was thrown away. His body would tell him when to break for dinner. He concentrated on his task, careful. Not too slow, nor fast.

Chip, chip, grind, scrape and wipe. On he laboured.

Two hours after dinner he stopped. Ready to bring her out. The breeze had fallen, slowed to an empty sough. Out was she eased, her legs ended not at her feet but merged into a solid base with runners; so she might move better on the snow.

Out into the little light. A last few finishing touches. Allen checked her for stability. No rocking. Good.

Light gradually faded.

He looked at her, outstretched arms, left leg striding forward, robed to the knees. She was as good as done.

Carrying his tools, he went back to the cabin. A couple more logs on the fire then tools away. A few more days and he’d call it quits for the season. There was still light – time for some pictures. Where was his camera?

A sudden tiredness washed over Allen. Age? Stress? Fatigue? Take it easy. Outdoor gear still on, he sat on the bunk. The cabin was warm.

And thoughts wandered. The young ice-woman had reached a good point. A satisfying conclusion, even without buyers. His work wasn’t for naught for he loved each of his works as only an artist can. He’d put much of himself into the ice maid. But he couldn’t share his dreams, so why go on? With no new factor, how could he continue? His life was all but done – yes there were years in front of him – but his time had passed. What good was a life of mere existence? One where his creations were wanted by none? Sadness touched him and he fought the despair that beckoned. Then in tiredness he slept.

As in a dream the conversation came to keep him company. Abby. Talking to another. A man. Was that Abby’s lover?

When’s he coming back?”

I don’t want to talk about that….”

An exchange he saw as if from great distance. Vague, remorseless shapes that seemed to fade in mere moments, along with that repeated conversation. Was he dreaming again? A half remembered dream, of an imagined conversation? But he and Abby were all gone and done, many years ago. Sacrificed to his art. So why this? Why question himself now?

The blackness of dream formed a face to ask, cool and reflective voice. Eyes of white fire. Pale lips. Human, inhumanly beautiful, she. And it seemed he heard a question,

“What would you have changed?”

He knew that the pattern of the past could not change. And there came the question again, put differently,

“You are true to you. But what of the void ahead? What for you? What would you change?”

The face before him was limned in the white fire of ice. Exquisite.

And he knew; for had he not lovingly wrought that face from ice. His thought then touched on those hidden things; the ones men dare not name, but might ardently crave. But all he said was,

“I – I gave much to bring you to beauty.”

What of those words forming themselves, struggling to be uttered? Words he dare not say? ‘I would give more, aye all, that you might live.’ A hidden desire, plain to him though he held back. He would surrender life itself, that his ice maid might live. A thought he dared not speak. Not even in dream.

That loveliness without flaw, rushed to him – till it seemed all his waking dream were filled by perfection. Wild paroxysms of lightning lashed about.

He awoke with a start.

That noise.

Was that the fire?


Had his statue, carved of ice, fallen?

Oh no! Had the wind got up, blowing her over? Only that would explain the sound. How long had he slept?

Quick, he must dress – he was already dressed.

The door. The door. One, two strides and Allen was to it.

It would be minus goodness knows what outside.

Allen prepared himself, inwardly flinching at the expected damage.

Open it.

Fingers scrabbled at handle and latch.


My Ice Maid’s gone! Where is she?

But down, huddled against the door, was a shivering form.

What? Who’s this? Where has she come from?

Think! Think!

Swiftly. Inside.

He half dragged, half carried her inside. Strip sopping clothes.

Temperature shock! Quick, towels, blankets!

He wrapped them round the young woman shivering at his feet, all thought of ice sculpting banished.

Next? A coffee? A tea? He slipped a look at her. Pale, fragile, long blonde-white locks hidden under a mountain of blankets and towels. Perhaps yesterday’s broth would be better.

Allen busied himself on his self-appointed task.

The violent shivering passed and she felt herself thaw. She was beginning to feel… human. She looked at her pale, almost translucent skin and wondered how long this form might last.

With keen interest, she watched his hard angular form as he moved; busy, determined, earnest. Something stirred in her. Did he still remember how it all worked? She looked down at the firm globes of her breasts and moved the blankets and towels. Her cleavage was plain but she moved them more, so there would be no doubt. He would steal at glance at her soon.


TPArchie's Profile Picture
TP Archie
United Kingdom
I write stories.
Sometimes I do art to go with them.


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TPArchie Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2016
This is the title story of my collection: Ice Made and other stories. I wrote this back in December 2011 as a kind of Xmas present for myself and also as an entry to the online writing group: Creative Writers on My Telegraph. They used to run a monthly competition on the blogging platform of the Daily Telegraph. The platform was switched off in June 2016 leaving the digital contents to bleed into the void of former servers.