The hard frost hung in the slanted canopy of the evergreen tree, an ice sculpture as perfectly pristine as the whitest, gleaming diamond. The weight made it creak in the arctic air. Below it in the pond, frozen, steaming in the red polar sun, a single carp lay below the powdered surface dying for a way out. John stood admiring the breathless beauty. Each of the breaths he took formed a plume of frozen matter which, after a brief drift, caught the rays of the sunset and settled upon the crisp, iced grass.

Lighting the cigarette he had rolled inside, he drew a puff deep into his ice burned throat. He sat on the bench with nothing but his cigarette and the vast expanse of unbearable isolation and pristine stillness for company. He exhaled the smoke, replacing it with a surge of super cooled air, willing it to banish him from the cancer that was plaguing his deteriorated body. The house was fifty yards from his bench, though masked by the mist, the cold haze deprived a descent view, but the farm, caldecotes, was as he had admitted-as good a place as to die as any.

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Inside the Victorian building the lights, that were on (of which there were not many) shone long into the now dusking sky. Breathing to clear the condensed pain, the dull primary colours of the blazing fire warmed the very cockles of his stone-cold heart. Walking along the path, the squeak of the gate bought a nausea to his minds eye, of wishing he wasn’t there, this thought intensified by his isolation, brought a conscious awareness of the unlikely unexpected. Another puff allowed a momentary sweet relief of pulsating warmth through his veins, letting him escape the impending.

As the puff drew out, and the cold air drew in, his wish became true. A man was inside, his head lined up with the clear comparisons to the thoughts that john had earlier provocated. In his left hand the man had a black bag. In his right hand he was placing an ambiguous object of some unfathomable description into his inside jacket pocket. He tried to shout but the air failed him. The man’s head was obstructed by a hood. As the man approached he turned right towards a curbed white Volkswagen, 03 reg with one alloy wheel.

John hadn’t been that far round the house before and was oblivious to an intruder to his seclusion. A thought entered his head at that time: had it been parked there all the time, waiting? The man opened the boot, took out an object and picked up his path where he had left off. In his right hand he grasped a spade, a bucket in the left, but the bag had gone. The sheer logic of minds uncontrollable power john knew that from the way that he was carrying the bucket it was empty. With a shivering realisation, the man’s eyes were stuck on his. John lifted his cigarette, and dropped it to the floor.

The stamp on it brought a perpetual motion forward, then another: by this time their paths had nearly met, John straightened himself up for what was coming. He raised his arm in hope of a gentlemanly greeting. As john searched the surroundings for an escape should it be needed, it became apparent that the landscape was filled with stillness, and absolutely no hope of freedom. The vast pace of the shadowed figure took no discourse and his approach was brought to a halt by the direct eye contact and the full view of his, now unshadowed, face. John’s leap back was in vein.

The attack was carried out with an accurate, precise swing. The spade swung out and cut the air before crashing, the arched edge buckling his knee, splintering beneath the skin, and falling to the ground. He writhed around in silent agony. The ice made way for his body, flying into the air and gently settling onto his head and shoulders, like a sprinkling from god; but god wasn’t on his side. A hand pulled him around until he was layed flat upon the earth. A deep voice beggared the question ‘who’s this then’. His uneducated tone bought about a complacent sense of authority.

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