The Old Ice
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It was cold. Not the type of cold that the air conditioners brought into the Foundation every day of every year. It was the type of cold reserved for a dark, winter night. It was a harsh, hostile chill that was capable of freezing blood.

Sitting in this cold, cold room was a woman, or at least, the image of a woman. She was holding a doll close to her chest. The toy looked just like her: clawed hands, rabbit ears, one eye gouged out, and a grin that looked… wrong.

The room around her was coated in ice. She heard some of it crack as the door tried to open. A blast of heat hit the room, and the woman hissed, shrinking away from it, back into the doll.

Unsteadily, something stepped into the room. The doll couldn’t see it, but she could hear it. Eventually, the heat passed, and the door shut again. The woman in the doll heard the click-clack-click-clack of claws coming towards her. Eventually, she exited the doll, and stood in the corner of the room, observing the thing that had come in.

It was a cat, or something that used to be a cat. It was simply a toy, now. A stuffed animal, but far more grim than her. It had once been like her. It knew her. She felt it.

The room grew colder.

“She always loved the snow.”

“It’s all I can do now.” The woman swallowed, stepping towards the cat. “…a friend of mine made sure of that.”

“Aggie?”

“Aggie.” The woman reached out towards the cat. “…but she didn’t catch you this time, did she?”

“…it was… someone who said they were someone I loved.” The cat backed away. “This is a trick. Another trick.”

“Stuart-”

“Don’t say my name.” The cat’s skull snapped at her. “Who are you this time? Jacquelyn? Another one of those Furies? One of Donnar’s friends?”

“…you know exactly who I am, Stuart.” The woman knelt by the cat, offering a clawed hand to him. In the hand was a flower made of ice. A fig blossom. Despite the fact that it was only frozen water, it still smelled of sweet fruit and a summer breeze.

The cat sniffed at the flower, and backed away, before curling up on the icy floor, wrapping its body around the doll. It shook, but not from the cold. It couldn’t feel cold anymore. It could only feel sad, and overwhelmed.

“… When?” asked the woman.

“When what?” Stuart replied, voice cracking.

“When did you die? How long did you wait without me?”

“…1998. It never got any easier.”

The woman swallowed, placing the blossom on the ground and rubbing at her one good eye. “Aggie… she caught me right after it happened.” She reached out to pet the cat’s skull. “She made the doll for me. It’s a…” She laughed to herself. “Crap, I forgot the word.”

“Phylactery,” Stuart said, coiling tighter around the doll. “My mother taught me how to make one, a long time ago.”

The woman sighed, and scratched the cat under the chin. “Stuart?”

“Yes?”

“Do you think that we’ll ever… get proper bodies again? Are we going to stay stuck like this?”

“Not if I have anything to say about it.” Stuart started pacing around the woman, before crawling into her lap. “Shit… its been fifty three years since we saw one another.”

“… Between the two of us, that’s a hundred and six birthdays we missed.”The woman laughed a surprisingly full laugh for the body she was in. “And I didn’t even get you a card.”

“I can hardly blame you, Sarah.” The cat nuzzled close to her. “..speaking of which, it’s New Year’s, soon..”

“Yeah, 2014.” Sarah sighed. “We’ll be… 126 years old, each.”

“That’s a good, big number.” Stuart clambered onto her shoulder and nested himself on her neck. “We probably won’t get to see each other before then, though. Protocol and all that.”

“That hasn’t changed much since the 50’s, at least.” She sighed, holding herself.

An alarm buzzed. The room began to heat up, melting the ice all around. Sarah retreated back into the small, cloth doll, which remained limp on the ground.

A technician approached Stuart, who held the doll close, whispering something to it in its ears. Then, he let go, and Sarah dropped to the ground.

Stuart Hayward looked back as he was taken out of the containment chamber. He saw Sarah Crowley, waving back at him and smiling as the door sealed itself.


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