Outside, a new wave of wintery vengeance rained down upon us mere mortals, and we wept.
The old world, gone now—long disappeared behind the veil of white that covered the surface of our planet now—was but a memory. We knew not whether anything lived out there, in the frozen expanses. Perhaps some primitive species had managed to eke out a way of life by tunneling under the permafrost. Humanity would not get that far, I felt. Once our reserves of heating oil and fuel were depleted, it would be a few months—a couple years at most—before we were lost.
Well, that’s what popped into my head as I stood at The Traveler’s window on the top floor of his block. A pretty steady wall of snow flew through the air. Windows around Woolf, which, it turned out, weren’t properly built, vibrated and slammed open and shut with the wind—even if they were supposedly latched shut. On the inside of every door, there was a note by the property management, which read:
“Residents, please take care around the property as there will be strong winds WE will not be in the office until Thursday, as to remain here in this icy hell would be suicide Thank you –UPP”
It was a bit of a hyperbolic reaction, but they didn’t lie: The Pavilion was empty. The help desk was shuttered shut and mail bags piled up in front of the employee entrance door. Critter tracks littered the courtyard and the only people who moved around were dressed like sherpas.
In The Traveler’s kitchen, there wasn’t much hint of that aside from the occasional burst of cold air when the windows briefly popped free of their latches. The air in there was filled with spice and the sinus-melting scent of Diablo peppers. The Thes, we took it for granted (turned out that we were all there, except for The Writer, who was still sulking) that we would be in pain from smelling everything in the pot, and were thus able to withstand it. The two Brits in the flat—a tall, tall guy named Ross, who I think I’ve mentioned before, and a shorter guy in Psychology—weren’t faring as well. They’d tear up from the spices and have to wander out of the kitchen occasionally. Giannis and Chacko came over—Giannis was crying, but stayed around because we were blaring Jethro Tull, and Chacko laughed at everyone, saying, “My grandmother could make spicier food than this. Naturally, everyone hated him.
“Why do you want to kill us all?” asked Giannis. He was sitting at the long table against the wall, red in the face, tears welling up in his eyes, and wiping his forehead with some paper towels.
The Traveler responded by shouting, “Pain is weakness leaving the body!”
“That,” said The Stalker, “is my personal motto.”
An uncomfortable silence filled the room.
Soon, we ate and--