✪ THE WINTER WONDERLAND? ✪

It’s been several weeks since a whole village had been shifted, forced to stretch out to gather lumber, minerals, and other resources to keep thriving with their families. Cobi-E a lost boy who was endangered the moment he stepped out of line. Joined later by a girl slightly older than him. Discovering that all homelands are in jeopardy, vanquished, perished, and other remains scattered out in these Winter Wastelands.
On a Journey to find their families again, they find themselves losing sanity, losing faith, and most importantly; losing each other… Will they reunite with fellow escapists? Or will they find a new homeland to call their own? Do they really need family to survive? Only the real person knows the answer to that one . . .

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1. < CHAPTER ONE >

The Wasteland of Snow / The Missing Glaciers

< CHAPTER ONE & CHAPTER TWO >

Throughout the snowy wasteland, littered with thousands, millions of scraps scattered in all directions. Thick white snow with the light dusting of this glittery powder trickled into a wave of North light, beautiful shades of blue with the transparent lighting through the glaciers as it lit up bringing to life the ice fragments, Penguins already stunning from first glance combined with the beauty of this North light- The penguins lit up like lanterns, very dim yet going all the way through their body. This powerful source of some incredible lighting traveled like electricity through the snowy dusting, chilled out penguins, traveling through the glaciers, causing the ice to brighten up with the deep blue sea peeking through from underneath. What a creation of pure polar-styled art.

Shoveling clumps of snow, clogging up tunnels with the sharp icicles forming around the roofing of such a home. Igloos formed from actual buildings while others looked more like snowy hills hollowed out from the inside thanks to the winds direction. Cold frosted winds spread throughout the empty layers revealing the hard rock underneath. Every little detail was being created, ironed out thanks to the weather conditions. Pure, beautiful, and overall enchanting the experience with this Winter Wonderland.

Just like that, out came a small little man with his tall curved back hat accessory. His beady eyes shined with the very little sunlight coming through the snowy hedges. Every fine hair on his face iced over like frosting on a wedding cake. Every eyelash grew out tiny icicles that were so delicate, a simple nod would break them off. The wintery weather forged the beauty in the man, while keeping the nature around the snow all out to show their animal instincts. The man too had instincts, but it was far from just a simple: ‘I need food,’ he thought to himself; ‘I need food, shelter, a place to stay a few nights.’ No luck, the place he had been standing in was just open-lands, little to no space to build anything. Even if luck was to switch sides, he still could see that the thin icy ground was far from supportive.

“Shelley, we need to head North. The open-lands have once again caved in on us…”

Cobi-E, the little man with a whole mind full of these faded dreams. He sure had his head high up in the clouds, the wintery frost had any minute it would choose to form a sheet of ice to block his paths. Shelley, a friend of his from up North, they had retreated from what was once a calm village; food, shelter, even a place to call home was on the menu for them. Once upon a time, they would remember it like that always struggling to find salvation, to find a way out of the treacherous heights that staggered over them. Becoming quite daunting to Shelley, the sight of several villagers that had not escaped in time were left crushed by the ice formation. Every cliff moves as the colder winters reveal more hazards than it does wonders…

“If we head North, I want the promise to be kept. Our families to reform, and our possible… friendship to remain untouched.” Shelley wiped an almost sold tear from her face.

“I’m sorry, the promise will be kept. Our families could be buried in a hundred feet of snow. There’s no way that they jumped like we did…”

“That jump was merely a leap of faith, I believed in that. That every jump we’d make alone would lead us to the escapists, the caverns, and possibly the new homeland.”

“Little faith do we have; I was marked by those Hunters. Your so-called ‘family’ almost threw a spear through my soul.” Cobi-E stood tall over Shelley who had the thoughts going through her head 24/7.

“Is it possible that the homeland was just a folk’s tale? That they told us some kind of lie to keep us away from a possible discovery?” Shelley’s eyes lit up with a smile forming through her frosty dry lips.

Cobi-E stomped his foot in the snow as he pushed himself down feeling a deep emotion fall over him. “I-It’s possible, heck, I believe in the tales they would tell us up North.”

Shelley started to feel impatient with the amount of time it was taking for them to come up with a second plan. Not being much of plan girl herself, she relied on Cobi-E to set a trail, a new tracking for the pair to go forward on.

“Good. I was beginning to think that you may have lost a little faith back there in the wastelands. They sure aren’t the animals we used to see around here.” Shelley gulped, sighing with relief as she sat down beside Cobi-E.

“Did you- wait, what is it you saw back there? Nothing has changed as far as I’m aware.”

“Nothing much… just these huge hideous beasts lurking through the caverns below. Every change in these cliffs, every new form that is being taken from us. My father said that the cliffs really don’t give in to the innocence of us humans.” Shelley sighed again, as she held Cobi-E’s hand for reassurance.

Looking at her -going quite pale face, he could see that the girl he had befriended was full of secrets. Every look on her face; fear, dread, even the lingering tears that would continue to drop off like frozen rain drops falling from the sky. He closed his hand around her cold fingertips, trying to keep her warm with the resources they had open to them.

“Father… I really want to see him again, he is just full of crap, but at the same time… he really speaks to me, Cobi, he talks to me like I’m this beautiful angel. Well, he kind of tells me that every night. Just, not tonight... “Shelley started to shed a few more tears.

“Shelley, I’d do anything to find your father. If only you were there as his angry animal-side took over him. I saw a very different side to him, this ‘hideous monster hidden inside,’ that is how you’d describe these animals, right?” Cobi-E felt clever, making the conversation a little tenser.

“Shut up, I don’t believe in your stories. I never have fallen for your stories; you just have the slight-bit-of-reality out of the picture. Do you think your stories are funny?” Cobi-E had struck a nerve, Shelley feeling anger build up inside with her body warmth rising.

“It’s possible that you are not quite as intelligent as you say you are.” Cobi-E spoke out a hidden thought to a face that could melt anyone’s frozen tears.

“I’ll consider it, but tonight- I want you over there, nowhere near me!” Shelley’s furious side took over, her tantrum becoming a little more serious.

Cobi-E looked at Shelley as she looked away without a second glance to see if he may have looked back on her. Ripping the blanket that she packed in her backpack from the inside, throwing it down as it looked very untidy on the plain hollowed out flooring. Turning the other way shivering without a blanket, only his torn up clothes to keep him warm for the night. Shelley didn’t have a single care on whether her ‘friend’ was going to freeze to death overnight. Her deep sleep soon kicked in as she snored the night away.

An hour had gone by with Shelley feeling mid-warm with the blanket locked tightly around her waist. Cobi-E shivered more frequent, his body turning to slush (so he imagined) his eyes sparkling with the glitter in between his eyes. His nose feeling the wintery viruses taking a bite out of him. Frostbite sure was there too as it wanted to take huge chunk out of the boy’s mind. Every staggering cliff above revealed the tips of what could be described as tall monstrous skyscrapers. From a second glance, it looked more realistic, a little more like icy cliffs forming into a slight replica of an iceberg.

Another hour past them by with the moonlight lighting up this beautiful blue world. Glittery snowy powder continued to feather dust all over the two with Shelley embracing the warmth from her blanket. Cobi-E shook off the frost from his kneecaps, his eyes almost beginning to freeze over. His eyelids feeling like small weights tied to each eyelash, the frost along with the cold blizzard ahead of him was starting to take its toll on yet another innocent character. Reflections through the ice would always tell the truth.

Oh, my, please don’t hurt me… I didn’t see you, I never wanted to come here- please-please!

Cobi-E rushed over to her with the energy that remained in his body, Shelley no longer having the blanket all around her waist, he tried to disturb her slumber. She awoke still mumbling, the frost melted off as her warm breath breathed out slight gasps for air. Brushing off the snow that had fallen on her from the clifftops above, he lifted her up pulling her up into a sitting up position.

“What the? What just happened? Who? Why?” Shelley threw out words faster than poor Cobi-E could process them in his frozen-state mind.

“You were having a nightmare…” Cobi-E looked her dead in the eyes explaining to her that she was in a deep sleep.

“Impossible, I haven’t had a nightmare for three whole months. How is it possible to now have a nightmare? I guess being with you is already a nightmare.” Shelley’s rudeness continued.

Cobi-E sighed as he looked down feeling less of a hero. “You just had to kill the moment, I felt like I saved you back then. Kind of like how I once saved you from the clifftops.”

“Saving? You SAVED me? No, no, you were brainless up there. You had a stick, a twig, whatever- you almost cost my father his life and I turned my back on him for you. I walked with you as you promised my family that we could have a second homeland to feel safe in.”

“Stubborn, you’ve always been so stubborn, I don’t understand you, Shelley.” Cobi-E tried to deliver a few home truths from his knowledge.

“Look, I wasn’t having a nightmare. It was probably a sign, maybe a dream that was going to reveal my escape? It’s possible, I can see myself out of here without you.” Shelley’s impatient mind continued to drain out her true feelings.

“We are almost safe, and we can find our families together. I promise that you will be safe along with happy with your family.” Cobi-E made a promise he knew he couldn’t keep.

“Really? You actually want me to believe you? If I was to go along with this second plan of yours, where would I be? Tell me, I must know where I will end up.” Shelley’s face looking more serious as Cobi-E tried to brush it off.

“-I don’t know, you could be at home, a new home with family, friends, and even the feeling of being safe again. I imagine that you would be way up there looking down on me who still seeks his family for the love and affection-ugh, you said it before.” Cobi-E’s emotions were changing as was the cliffs forms.

“You promise that nothing will happen to anyone we find along the way?” Shelley’s mind went off into Space, she believed in her mind that they would find others out there seeking the exact same thing that him and her too are looking for together.

Cobi-E looked down at the blanket as his kneecaps were almost in sight revealing a thicker layer of frost frosting over his legs. Shelley looked at the pinpoint of where Cobi-E looked, she could see that the blanket was on his mind. Smiling a little, she pulled the blanket over her as she held it up like a tent over Cobi-E nudging him to come closer. He smiled back, slight hesitation grew over him with a feeling that wanted to show through actions.

“Sorry, sorry for being cruel.” Shelley whispered, her last word felt emphasized.

“Not at all, you were just mad at me. I understand, I should’ve told you that our paths would cross again.” Cobi-E tried to apologise too.

“Ha, you almost mad that sound like an apology.” Shelley admired his honesty, “my father told me too, that we’d meet again, you and I.”

“My father told me never to look a gifted horse in the mouth, ha, I have no idea what it means, though.” Cobi-E laughed at the thought of someone looking into a horse’s mouth.

“Night… I hope that we find a way out soon, my legs are kind of giving into this trek through snow. I sure love it when I find an odd snowman here and there on my travels.”

“Oh, right, you go trekking with your family. I forgot, I didn’t even know you still did that.”

“Well, I don’t- not anymore at least, sorry, you just always brush up against a memory I’d rather forget.”

“Sorry, mother said the same things to me as a child, I just see it as a force of habit.” Cobi-E pulled the blanket over them both as he felt the urge to cuddle up with Shelley.

The Next Morning . . .

From the long wintery night of many snowfalls, wintery showers here and there, the huge skyscraper-like cliffs had merged into a more elaborate puzzle. Every cliff looked caved in, some looked crumbled, while others stood taller than the rest of them. Thick layers of ice caved into the open caverns that grew out from slight cracks in the walls. Above them without them knowing was a huge chunk of ice almost ready to landslide off the cliffs. The only fear that every villager has when going trekking is the snowfall, blizzards along with the wintery chain reaction that would follow after it.

Shelley being first up on her feet, her backpack’s items all over the snowy floor scattered around the place. Searching for something, her attention turned to a half-asleep Cobi-E. Pulling out a second blanket she held it over Cobi-E’s body as she shook off the loose ice and snow. Putting down several twigs that she had collected on one of her past treks, she threw down several pieces of fabric ripped from one of her winter-themed jumpers. Stretching it over the finely placed twigs, her precision was just right with the strike of a match- a fire was ignited, she had created warmth for the pair to share together.

A faint voice echoed in her mind, she couldn’t tell if it was real or a slight day-dream becoming more real-like. She looked around her as her eyes went crazy looking in all directions soon stopping on Cobi-E sleeping like a baby. She found him sleeping cute, a little thought of hers that she wished she could bury in the snow. ‘Help, Austin-Austin.’ The voice continued to drop in volume, becoming fainter and fainter soon ending with silence. Yet her mind continued to repeat the voice in echoes.

“Hello?” Shelley tried to find the location of the voice. “Hello?!” Raising her voice just enough not to wake up Cobi-E.

She moved over to the cliffs that had caved in blocking the only pathway out of there. Through rubble and layers of ice, she could see a hand sticking out of from one of the icy walls. As she focused more, she could see a reflection that looked like her combined with some other features. Features that she didn’t recognize at all. The hand was small as it grasped for an icicle by mistake. ‘Ouch’ the voice returned sounding very quiet still.

“Hello? Where are you?” Shelley stood over a fairly large piece of hard rock. “Hello?” Calling out hoping for another response.

Within a few minutes her heart began to speed up at dramatic speeds, feeling afraid of the unknown. No idea where the voice was coming from as she froze in place; feeling four slender twig-like fingers tighten around her left shoulder. Her eyes moved at a very slow pace trying to look to the left and the right. ‘Shelley?’ Another voice broke through the silence with a difference being that she would call it familiar.

“Shelley? I’m awake.” Cobi-E standing behind her with his cold frosted fingertips around her shoulder.

Shelley almost jumped out of her skin as she accidentally elbowed him in the jaw. Cobi-E felt his lower layer of teeth clash with his upper layer. ‘Ouch,’ he tried to ignore the slight pain that followed after the sound of teeth clattering. Shelley didn’t say a word as she hoped that Cobi-E would stay quiet. The first voice she heard was still what she had her mind set on. Feeling the need to know, the need to know where this voice had come from.

“Are you okay? I-I mean; I understand it was probably an accident. Not even going to say sorry?” Cobi-E spoke out his mind again, Shelley placed her finger on his lips: ‘shush, SH’ her shush sound calmed him down.

He nodded in response watching her climb over more chunks of fallen debris. Behind the next three rocks she climbed over was what looked like remains from a part of a village. Cobi-E didn’t say a word as he tried to look over to see if she needed some assistance. Her mouth was shut; she wasn’t going to say a single word. Not even to tell him that she has found what looks to be the remains of a village.

“Hello?” She called out again, her voice becoming more of a whisper.

“H-Hello?” A reply at last, she felt happy to hear another voice other than hers and Cobi-E’s.

“I’m here, I found you, are you from this village?” She continued to whisper.

“Yes, I-I fell down here. Please-please help me! They have fallen too.” The child cried out louder.

Cobi-E heard the tone of the boy’s cry for help. “Hey, Shelley? What’s going on over there?!”

Shelley sealed her lips as she came up with an excuse. “I’m just trying to cheer myself up, okay? Just trying to help myself feel better.”

“O…okay?” Cobi-E believed her as he had second thoughts on whether she was telling the truth. It made sense, making child-like voices to calm her down, it sounded like something that Shelley would do.

“I-I don’t think they can breathe like me.” The child whispered as his hand stuck out trying to grasp Shelley’s shirt.

“Calm down, just calm- okay? No need to grab me, I’m not going anywhere.” Shelley spoke to the child in a more comforting tone.

“NO, I won’t let you walk away from me. You don’t walk away from us!” He screamed.

“Shelley? Come on, I know that’s not you… joke’s over.” Cobi-E laughed at how stupid he had been to believe her the first time.

“I promise you that it’s just me making these sweet innocent voices. I love sounding like a child, kind of makes me feel happy, you know?” Shelley spoke with a whole lot of speed travelling through each word. Even some parts sounded like she was being sarcastic.

“…Right… I think I need to lie down again, my head really can’t process this.” Cobi-E placed his hand on his forehead trying to relax.

The child managed to get a grasp around Shelley’s arm as he pulled her closer. Losing footing she dropped hitting her head off the icy wall. Some of the sound blocked out for brief second, she regained hearing feeling a little dizzy. The child looked down at her as she looked up slanted. “You don’t just leave us alone. They did that, they kind of got ‘smooshed’ by the big pointy things.”

“Do you have family with you?” She groaned, her head feeling more than dizzy.

The child nodded with his face in the shadows. “Yes, they can’t breathe like me. I think they might be- um, please help…”

Shelley could feel her arm being shook like a milkshake being shook at rapid speeds. She tried to calm the child again hoping that he would let go of her. But his fear continued to break him apart forcing him to hold on tighter.

“If you keep pulling me, you could cause an avalanche. Not a very dangerous one, granted, but it will be enough to stop us from breathing.” Shelley spoke in a calm relaxed tone.

“Good. As long as it means that my family will be free, and I can then say ‘hello to Mr. Cuddles,’ and give a wave to my sister. I’m fine, ha, I hope that they make family come back.” He held tighter pulling her into the icy wall, her head hit the ice again.

“No, seriously, I don’t know what you think an avalanche is- but I swear it is nothing to be smiling about.” Shelley started to panic trying to remain calm.

Out of nowhere a loud female scream echoed throughout the icy ravine. The child started to cry as Shelley could hear tiny footsteps treading through the snow into the ice. She was thankful that the child had let go of her arm. Steady, she grabbed a chunk of the boulder that was blocking an open-space giving access to the child’s icy prison. ‘You’re going to be okay, I got you, I got you sister…’

“Oh, god, I know you had family in there, but I didn’t know it was that close of a family.” Shelley started to feel determined to push through the icy barrier.

A second scream followed through, Cobi-E had already started making his way to Shelley’s location. Shelley tried to claw through the piles of snow, the child continued to cry. Cobi-E threw himself over a slightly larger boulder to get to the remains of the village. Almost through the barrier, pushing through the clogged up narrow open-space, Shelley had managed to open enough of it to reach her arms through.

The clifftops started to shake as Cobi-E reached for Shelley with his lightning fast reaction. Dragging her out from underneath the icy deathbed, Shelley shouted out through the cold chilly winds. “No, what are you doing?! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

“Saving your life, again…” Cobi-E dragged her away from the blockage. She tried to break out from his arms, but Cobi-E wouldn’t let go of her.

“STOP, you don’t understand, there’s children in there!” Shelley cried out trying to apply pressure to her heels digging into the ground.

“W-What? No, no, no, Shelley! Don’t even joke about that, I know it’s just you playing your jokes. Listen, it’s kind of really sick… not exactly something to laugh about.” Cobi-E dragged her away.

“I saved you from- Look up there.” Cobi-E pointed up at the slanted clifftops.

“You don’t understand, that child has a sister too. I’m not making this up!” Shelley screamed.

Cobi-E let go of Shelley’s body as he fell to his knees with his hands on both sides of his forehead. Looking up shouting at the world, “I’ve had ENOUGH OF THIS, this isn’t happening, I’m dreaming… I-I must be dreaming, I have to be, I got to be.”

“You’re not dreaming, Cobi. You are forgetting where you are, you are lost with me. We are both stuck in this wasteland, we BOTH got split up from our families. We were destined to meet each other again.” Shelley sighed trying to explain it to Cobi-E.

“No way, I don’t believe you. Why would you not let me get a good night’s sleep? Why would you then help me? And why are you talking to things that aren’t there?”

“Okay, cool it, one of us is clearly losing it. I’d bet money on the person who is losing it, it’s definitely you. Serious, look at you, you are like falling to pieces here.”

“Again, you said there were kids? Well, if there is, then why the sudden ‘I don’t care about them anymore’ attitude? Explain yourself, Shelley!” Cobi-E threw himself into the wall.

“There’s another night ahead of us, that will prove to you that this isn’t a dream. I can prove it to you, just give me time. That whole ‘kids’ thing, I don’t think they’re okay.”

Cobi-E watched at the ice shattered from above with a whole mountain of snow land sliding down the snowy cliffs, more rocks and pebbles rolled down into the snow forming thick snowballs. Before Shelley could do anything to go back to digging the kids out, all of the progress was buried in a whole lot of snow and rubble.

“Noooooooo, what the heck, what the f- ‘not possible, not possible, no, no, no way.”

“Yes, way, it’s happened. This is not reality; I don’t believe you would let innocent kids be buried into their own little graves.” Cobi-E raised his eyebrow at her.

“They might still be alive, just got to get digging again, okay?” Shelley attempted to dash off to the kid’s icy prison now buried. She felt a hand latch onto her wrist, Cobi-E wasn’t going to let her go again.

“No way, sorry, Shelley, I’m doing this for your own good. If this is a dream, we’ll wake up together, right? Only one of us will remember this, and you will be off dreaming something else. Right?” Cobi-E snapped his fingers as he dragged her over the thick rocks.

“Cobi, I wouldn’t lie about this, there were kids trapped over there. Thanks all for saving me, but those kids are now buried again.”

“If it is true, the only logical explanation would be that the ice above them along with the snow had shifted, enough to allow you to hear their voices.” Cobi-E tried to process it as he came up with a theory of his own.

“Are we going back to them? I think we should, what kind of monsters leave innocent kids out here to die? Plus, I feel it’s now my responsibility, like the knife is above me now. I found them, so I should save them.” Shelley broke free again and spoke looking him dead in the eyes.

Cobi-E backed away as he nodded in agreement, his hesitation kicked in again as he wanted to pull her away from the icy depths below.

“Okay, fine, Shelley, if you go back there. Just know this; you got lucky with the slight avalanche there. I’d say if the ice takes anymore pressure, you could be sent down below where nobody would hear you. Keep that in mind, that ice is at the brim of breaking.”

Shelley’s Decision (Coming Soon)

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