It is mid-afternoon and I am walking north across the potato fields. I can see the glacier ahead of me, pouring out of the mountains to the northeast. Suddenly I stumble. I look down at a row of rocks across the field in front of me. I step over the rocks, and onto the icy snow of the glacier.
I move more slowly now, careful of my footing and probing the snow ahead of me with the walking stick. Suddenly the end of the stick breaks through the snow ahead of me. I stop and move forward very slowly. I fear a deep crevasse, but what I see is a flattened section of snow about fifteen feet wide running from left to right. I frown and step into it. I see that it seems to be made up of large footprints. This must be the path of the snow monsters! Their camp must lie at the end of it. And since they always approach town from the north, their camp must be to the north of me, farther into the glacier. I turn left.
I move more confidently, since the snow monsters pound this path during every snowstorm. Soon I begin to see bones and body parts littering the path and surrounding snow. I look intently at the litter, trying to identify its origin. To my right, a human skull grins at me from the edge of the path. I flinch and stifle a shriek. I stop staring at the litter.
The litter gets thicker and I must step over and through it. I want to gag. I hold back sobs, afraid of being heard. What if I’m stepping on Erik, my beloved husband, right now? I try not to retch.
The light is dimmer now. I am surprised — it’s too early for sunset. I look up and see that the path walls have grown up around me — I am moving into a crevasse. I hear guttural noises ahead of me. The camp must be very close.
I move to the side of the path and crouch down behind a boulder. I shrug off my pack and open it up. I rummage through my belongings until I find a candle and a matchbox. On my long walk here, I have thought a lot about this moment of approaching the snow monsters’ lair. I am hoping that they will fear fire as much as they fear flame.
I replace my pack and slip the matchbox into my pocket. Carrying my candle and my stick, I sidle in the direction of the noise. Soon I see the snow monsters’ lair before me. There isn’t much to see. Hiding behind another boulder, I search for signs of civilization. I see none. No tents, no sleeping bags or blankets, no toys or tools. Just piles of bones and smooth places in the snow, and many, many snow monsters in all postures, lying, sitting, standing. Some appear to be visiting with each other, others grooming, some sleeping, some gnawing bones.
I tremble with fear. How will I get away from here alive, let alone find Erik? The candle in my hand is meager reassurance.