Frozen
A writing exercise involving Jenny and Bjorn.
2008-07-01
He was frozen.

Or freezing.

Time began to have strange meaning, in the autumn, when he wasn't quite bear and wasn't quite man.

It was tough, coming from simply living, into actually being. Everything hurt, and stretched, and breathed again. Bjorn became conscious of himself, of his thoughts, of the unusual act of being aware.

After a few hours, he even realized that he was naked, and that it was snowing.

The fur had retreated from his skin without his notice, crept back and disappeared, back to its magical source, or perhaps melted into his flesh. It was a yearly ponder, as Bjorn crawled back into his body; where did the fur go? How did a 800 pound golden grizzly become an average-sized man of 30 years? Did mass conservation mean nothing?

Bjorn was shivering, and his mind was beginning to recognize the waking process.

He would need shelter soon.

With concentration, he could sit upright, half-leaned against a young, flexible spruce tree that scratched at his numb flesh. "Ggggg..."

It was usually his first sound, that protest that somehow, though composed entirely of g's, ranged through all of the vowels.

The sky was gray and heavy above him, and Bjorn rubbed futilely at his shoulders. Snow was just beginning to sift down from above the spruces. Feeling was returning to his legs, and he stood, with great effort, and stood swaying a moment.

He put his nose in the air out of habit, but smelled nothing but the cold and the fallen leaf rot. The senses he had relied on through the summer were gone. Probably spending time with the fur and the layer of fat.

There were other senses, however, lying rusted right below the surface, and Bjorn's tired mind remembered them. Shelter would be *that* direction, it pulled at him.

Getting there was more challenging than finding where to go. Bjorn's first step ended in undignified heap on the forest floor. He was grateful to the numbness that he had never decided was from cold or from magic; he looked down to find blood oozing between narrow, shallow scratches from the downed branches he'd landed on.

How long would he walk this time? He wondered idly, making his slow careful way back up to his feet. One autumn it had taken a week of painful travel, the biting cold eating at his deathless body. One year, he'd found his consciousness on someone's doorstep.

He'd worried for six months whether his bear-self was a garbage bear and was going to get himself shot. The magic didn't work against lead, only weather. And it didn't stop pain, only death.

"Satisfied, woman?" he asked, when he could, having worked himself up to a staggering walk. "How many of these must I go through?"

There was no answer. There had been no answer for a hundred years or more. Perhaps she was dead, after all of this time, and her spell reached endlessly beyond her life. Perhaps he would be stuck in this terrible, shivering cycle from now until eternity. Perhaps this was his existence from now on, watching civilization pour past one winter at a time while his bear-self hibernated.

Or perhaps... Bjorn reached ahead to the shelter he was walking towards. Perhaps her spell would weaken in her absence. Perhaps this was the year the curse would break.


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