December 11, 2012 § 25 Comments
As soon as I opened my eyes the crying stopped.
I looked around and except the fact that there was a great deal of rumbling going on from the wind that picked up outside, everything seemed normal. The first muscle that I tensed, not moved, just tensed, Regina opened her eyes too.
“Let’s go.” That’s all she said. No good morning, no how are you.
“Did you hear that?” I asked instead.
“No. What?” Regina answered lazily.
“The… baby?” I reluctantly said.
“Crying baby?” She answered.
“Yeah. You heard it too?” I asked again.
“No, but I woke up a minute ago and heard you doing shooshing sounds as if you were trying to calm down a crying baby. I think you were dreaming.” She put my fears to rest. But it felt really, really vivid, and I didn’t remember any dream about any baby. I remember I woke up and was consciously awake without opening my eyes, and I remember there was a crying baby.
I didn’t say anything else and we both stood up and shivered and hugged ourselves and then one another.
And with that we started zipping up layer after layer of clothes. Onions. It was already as cold inside as outside and I’m surprised to this day we didn’t freeze to death in any of those nights, during sleep.
It was so damn cold you could hear everything cracking. Rocks, our own skin and entire forests cracking and screaming at us… forests which we got rid off after the first few miles… the island became barren and lifeless. Nothing grows inland, nothing. Nothing should be alive there. It’s un-natural and we were but an anomaly that nature was desperately trying to fix.
It was still dark outside. Actually, it was mainly always dark except for 3-4 hours in the middle of the day between 10 and 14. We really, really shouldn’t have chosen the middle of the winter to go there.
In Siberia (and we were north of it) temperatures become so cold that trees explode, blue sparks fly from falling timber, mercury freezes and exhaled breath is transformed into a shower of ice crystals called “the whisper of the stars”.
Initially I didn’t know for how long we would have to walk. Regina thought we would need to go just (and just is a strong word) 10km inside the territory, from the shore, but we ended up going more than 30km in one direction because of the spot where we got left off. One thing always remained in my mind during the whole thing: Who the hell is going to pick us up?
The very few hours of dim light that we had that day were also the hours that showed us the immense whiteness and bareness we were going deeper into, and with each step, the trees were getting shorter, sparser and the snow was getting harder, taller. Everything was telling us to go back, every fiber of our bodies. Nature didn’t want us… but that’s just the thing, we were used to that feeling. I grew up with it my whole life, and Regina… she was the most un-natural thing by our standards, and I’m sure she felt a hint of what I was feeling too.
These were the last familiar shapes we would see. From here on there was nothing but white, endless flatness.
We were just past a small patch of trees when the snow started getting really, really heavy. We had to stop and clear a little patch of our own, a patch of snow, make some sort of a ditch to hold it off so we can have space to maneuver and put on these small little ski-like things to help us move more easily. We put them on, Regina looked like a cat with shoes on, she paced back and forth a few times trying to get the hang of it and before I knew it she got further and further and then disappeared into the trees behind me.
She came back shortly from the other side, all giddy and much faster.
“I think I got it!” She announced.
“Good.” I answered.
“Now let’s move, I’m freezing already.” I added.
We must have walked for another few hours when, after sundown, the mother of all snow-storms started, one of many, and even though both of us still felt like going more, we still had a bit more energy, we were forced to take shelter. This wasn’t a decision that we took rationally, more like forcibly. The wind and snow were blowing so hard in our face that we just had to lie down and start digging in the snow. There were no more rocks, there were no more woods. All that remained was pure white snow and glaciers. We dug ourselves inside the snow and formed in under 10 minutes a little space inside. We sealed off the entrance and stood there in the dark, all wrapped and tangled with each other.
There was no food for today, there was no nothing. We just stood there and waited for the storm to pass.
It was a couple of hours until it passed and meanwhile, we also managed to catch a bit of sleep, if even half an hour of it. I was once away awakened by really disturbing noises of children crying. I was having a recurring nightmare. To top it off, this time I remembered the whole dream. Wether it’s relevant to the story or not, something was happening in my head. I dreamed of the baby crying, it was me. I saw myself as a baby. I saw my mother as a young girl. I saw the two shapes of a human with their faces white as chalk and their eyes dark as tar. I saw them picking me up and closing in towards my face. I saw myself being terrified out of my bones, I saw and heard myself crying like no baby has every cried before. It was the kind of cry you hear a baby let out when he’s born. It was as scary for me as being born was. We don’t remember our moment of birth, of course we don’t, but I would pretty much bet that if we could, it would be a terrifying experience.
Nonetheless, nightmare or not, every single minute of sleep was important. After the snow passed a really eerie silence fell over the whole area, it felt like literally we were the only living beings in the whole universe.
You cannot imagine how dark such a night up there can be, especially when it’s very clouded and not a single shred of light passes through the clouds. No stars. No moon. It literally is like you’re blind-folded. Nonetheless, we had to stop and eat.
“So tell me…” I let out while still chugging in a hot tea.
“Where are we actually going? How do you even know where we’re going?” I added.
“Well we have this…” She said, and she pulled out a small rudimentary GPS unit. Don’t imagine anything with maps, colored or with a touch screen. No. It was the kind that only displays hard data, such as a compass, coordinates, altitude and others. Analog display.
“It’s not working.” I observed.
“It’s frozen.” I added.
“So now what?” I asked.
“Well we’re close anyway, all we have to do is keep the direction.” She responded.
“That still doesn’t answer my question. Where are we going?” I pushed.
“I don’t know really… I only managed to get this location out of pure… logical deduction.” She responded.
“The tale that I told you about, it speaks of magic numbers…” Regina said.
“Magic?” I responded, feeling a bit confused.
“Well of course it’s not magic. But it’s a tale. What do you expect?” She responded with an appropriate answer for the expression on my face.
“In any case. Each number has a story and a function, and if met together, form different threads of fate.” She continued.
“This sounds like a tale, and I’m starting to regret coming here… We’re following a children’s tale for Christs sake!” I shrieked.
“It’s NOT a children’s story. Listen to this:” – And as she said that she pulled out a small notebook, opened it, leaned towards me and shone some light on it. In it, her handwriting. She pointed out at the last line.
So you see, as curios as one is, one thing is sacred and should never be broken. You must follow your heart and understand that there are good numbers and evil numbers, and the most evil of them all are 81 and 95. – I was confused.
“This doesn’t make any -” I was interrupted.
“Read on.” Regina said.
You must never let them meet, you must never let them see the light of day. You must not awake the evil which they hide.
“I… have no idea what you’re thinking about, but I call bullshit.” I said while taking the last sip of tea.
“Oh…” She sighed.
“81!” She screamed.
“95!” She screamed again.
“Never let them meet!” She was louder now and shrieked as standing up. Irritated that I didn’t understand.
“What the hell does that mean?!” I responded on the same tone while also standing up. We were preparing to leave.
“It means that 81 and 95 already meet!” She responded more calmly.
“What?” I was still confused.
“Latitude! Longitude!” She exclaimed.
Holy mother of everything warm she might just be right. I pulled out the map and looked at the last position the frozen GPS indicated. We were there. We were literally another days walk from the exact place where 81 and 95 meet.