“Rudy? Are you all right?” the hunter asked, concern for his son knitted across his face. His keen ears had heard whimpering over the sounds of the raging blizzard outside.
“I can’t sleep,” the boy sniffled, sitting up in his bed. “It sounds like some beast is trying to break the walls down.”
“Ah.” The hunter nodded, gathering up his boy in a comforting hold. “The only beast out there knocking against these walls is Winter herself. Legends say that those unfortunate enough to be caught out in weather like this actually cast eyes upon her, and in her cold fury, her icy gaze is the last thing they will ever see. But I can assure you, Son, that you are completely safe here, tucked here under your blankets with the fire crackling through the night. And Lucky will keep you extra warm.”
The large dog let out a bark hearing her name.
“Now, get some rest,” the hunter said, kissing the boy on the forehead and tucking him back into bed. “There will be a warm breakfast waiting for you in the morning.”
“Goodnight, Father,” the boy yawned, curling back up with an arm around the warm fluffy body of their dog before drifting back off to sleep.
“Girl, what is it?” The boy was awakened to the sound of barking. His bleary eyes peered through the darkness, trying to find the comfort of his dog, who was no longer beside him on the bed. Finally he made out the shape of her white body looking out a frosty window.
He climbed out of bed and tip-toed across the cold floor. “Is there something actually out there, girl?” He couldn’t make out anything through the ice on the pane.
He cracked open the door to peek outside, trying to get a better view, needing to reassure himself that, just as his father had said, there was nothing outside but a winter storm. With fears of bears and mountain lions and grey wolves running through his mind, he’d never be able to go back to sleep otherwise. But the second the door was slightly ajar, the hunting dog, keen on the prey she had spotted, dashed outside, straight into the blowing snow.
“No Lucky, don’t! You can’t go out right now!” the boy yelled after his dog, but she was already too far gone, her white coat blending into the blizzard.
Grabbing his coat, mittens, and boots, the boy ran out after his dog, but Winter truly was in a rage, and the icy winds had already blown away all trace of the American Eskimo’s tracks. The boy was lost in the forest, all the landmarks he knew masked in a field of unrelenting white… and he was becoming so very, very cold.
And then he saw her. She was entirely white, as if she had been sculpted from the snow itself. Her hair sparkled like icecicles around her face, and the snow seemed to dance at her beck and call. Her eyes gleamed like ice as she turned to look at him.
His father’s words raced through his mind as he felt his body grow weaker. “Her icy gaze is the last thing they will ever see…”
“Poor child, this is no night to be out,” Winter said, resting an icy white hand against his forehead. “Come now, just go to sleep, quickly now…”
The boy could feel a chill run deeply through his body from Winter’s touch. His breathing began to slow, his heartbeat start to fade. His head rolled back, his eyes gazing up at the white woman. “It’s not icy… it’s… beautiful…” he said through his gasping breaths.
“Excuse me?” Winter seemed puzzled.
“Father… said… You have an… icy gaze. But… it’s not. It’s… gentle. You’re hands… are cold… but gentle… Mother… used to… touch me… like that. We lost her… last winter. You’re beautiful… Like she was…” he rasped, as his eyelids fluttered shut.
Winter’s icy fingers drifted away from the boy’s skin like snow blown quickly away by wind.
“Hmph. Leave it to the innocence of a child to melt this frozen heart,” she mused. “Most men simply beg to be spared in their final moments, when it is their own stupidity that leaves them out to face the Elements in the first place.”
She stood then, looking down at the child covered in the soft blanket of snow. “Winter will not take your life, Child, but you will forever feel my touch. Remember that.”
The child, however, was no longer conscious to hear Winter’s words, nor to see as she made her leave.
“Ah, it has already begun,” Winter whispered to herself, causing a quiet breeze, as she looked down at her hands, which had already started to wrinkle. Her face, too, was already showing the lines of age; she had been warmed within, and because of that, Winter’s life would be short this year.
“RUDOLF! RUDY! RUDY!” The hunter’s calls, followed by barking, echoed over the wintery forest landscape.
The snow and wind of the blizzard had faded completely by the time the dog had tracked the boy’s scent through the snow and led the hunter to him. The hunter was immediately filled with grief at the sight of his boy lying unconscious in the snow; he was terrified to check for a pulse, dreading that it was already far too late. His fingers reached under the white pile to feel against the boy’s neck.
“He’s alive!” Hot tears of relief stung against the frozen skin of his face.
He scooped his boy up, cradling him in his arms.
“Come on, Son. Let’s get you home and warmed up.”
Spring came unseasonably early that year. The heavy snows melted away, and fresh grass and flowers started to spring up across the forest landscape.
However, the boy never did feel the warmth of spring. He was healthy and well, strong and of good spirits, but there was a constant chill in his bones, as if the cold of winter had never passed for him.
On one particularly pleasant spring day, still bundled in a thick deerskin shirt against the icy feeling within that even the sun couldn’t remedy, he was playing in the yard when he saw a girl that appeared about his age.
He ran over to the girl, eager for a playmate. As he drew closer, he was surprised to see that her skin was the color of fresh foliage, she smelt of flowers and grass, and every step nearer she took, daisies sprouted beneath her feet and butterflies danced about her head.
Still, he pressed onward. The chill within him seemed to draw away in her presence.
“Hi, I’m Rudy,” introduced the boy.
The girl clasped his outstretched hand. The boy felt a warmth spread through him at the touch. Somehow, it was oddly familiar, but he wasn’t quite sure why.
“I’m called Spring,” said the girl, her voice light and airy. She giggled, and the sound seemed as if it was filled with birdsong and sunshine.
“We haven’t met before, have we?” asked the boy.
“Hmmm… no, I don’t imagine we have,” the girl said, a mischievous twinkle in her petal-shaped eyes.
The boy glanced at his hand, where he had felt Spring’s touch, feeling an odd lingering tingle on the skin. He felt warm, inside and out, the frosty touch that had been left on him suddenly gone. The snow-white locks of his hair, a remnant of Winter’s touch upon him, seemed to melt away… but the rosey pink that suddenly colored his cheeks from his meeting with Spring stayed with him for the rest of his days.
This was written for February for the Monthly Simlits Short Story Challenges thread from the Sims forums, which tasked folks to write a story in 500-2000 words using 1-15 screencaps using the theme “A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words.” This theme required creating a story using an emotion or idea tied to one of the following colors: red, white, pink, or purple. It is probably obvious from the story, but I selected white, a color which is symbolically linked to the theme of “innocence.” I used 1282 words and 14 screencaps. It is a completely stand-alone story, not using any characters from any of my other works, though Winter is a Sim I first created for my Photo Friday segment, Photo Friday #2: Ice Queen.
This was an idea I had for January’s short story but didn’t really have the time to do, so I’m glad I still had a chance to do it! The beautiful lot used in this is Severinka’s Hunting House. The biggest challenge was creating Spring, because there is no custom content available for Child Sims! Argh! I spent days I could’ve been working on the story trying to find things I could use for a Child Sim to make a plant-inspired character, only to find item after item that was adult-only. So frustrating! And since I know absolutely nothing about meshing, it isn’t like I can convert these items myself. I once had an idea for a full story involving several special races, but considering the absolute lack of cc for toddlers and children for the items I’d need to create said races, I might just have to shelf that idea entirely…