This weekend was a challenging one for the Tundra Tart AK-Mamma. Between not making the Wicked Winter Ball in time, and when she did (due to her excellent date, John Taylor and his packets of pepper and her ability to hit a zombie square in the forehead with one shot of her Marlin 30/30…most of the time) her brilliant and borrowed wedding dress from Sheriff Penny was covered in brains and blood. Not to mention losing one of her precious glass stilettos to her harpy of a step-sister got when the dress tripped her up after double-tapping two of the seven dwarfs. Having to kill her life long friend Snow didn’t help her mood either. From what she could gather from the lone surviving mouse, Sneezy sneezed (big surprise there) a huge zombie infected snot-ball all over Snow’s face causing her to turn.
This was all so monstrously overwhelming and it was only Friday! By the time she locked the cabin down tight (having cleared the traps of mutant squirrels and feeding them to her pet polar bear, George) she was more than ready for bed. This time she set her own alarm instead relying on the Man-Beast or the lone surviving mouse (who had his own problems tending to the animals in the barn and that damn pumpkin).
By Saturday morning she knew something was brewing over the Tundra expanse of her Alaskan home. The woods were a little too quiet as she went to fetch water down at the creek in with the stainless steel water bucket, making sure the iodine was in her pocket for purification. It was to be expected somewhat since collectively herself, John and her Man-Beast Geoff had cleared out a five-mile radius of roving hordes of zombies. But when she got to the stream the hole in the ice she had just cleared on Wednesday had already frozen over. This should not have happened, the weather didn’t seem to be that much colder. In fact none of this made sense!?
Shrugging her shoulders she took her hand-ax out of her belt loop and started hacking at the ice. She had to have water so she could do dishes and make coffee for the Man-Beast when he came home from hunting what was left of the zombie strippers who just kept on dancing even after some of the runners made it into the clubs down in the red-light district. (He had all sorts of tricks up his sleeve and apparently they were quite easy to lure into a trap, all he did was scatter a path of blood soaked singles to the cage and as soon has he had the group he would slam the door shut.
You see Zombie strippers make good perimeter guards. We had a circular corral around the three acres of woods in which we let them roam free. Their food was endless because of the mutant animals that inhabited the woods (Ft. Wainworth was testing a strain of the virus on them to try to find a cure for the what caused the zombie outbreak. Officially their escape is credited by a local PETA group, but unofficially all us locals know that some idiot specialist was to busy listing to his headphones and dancing rather than double checking the cage doors after filling their water bottles).
Up here on the Tundra between roving zombie hordes, the militant crazed survivalists over on Gold Creek Ridge and the dang squirrels (and other small animals they infected) there was never a dull moment! But AK-Mamma really wanted to have fun! SHE REALLY needed a break from all of this. When the ball became another unfulfilled affair turned into yet another fast paced zombie slaughter, to say she was stewing was a major understatement. So when she noticed the ice kept forming right after she whacked another hole in it, she became quite agitated and perplexed and down right pissed.
Stomping back up to the cabin, almost killing herself in her snow shoes, she spotted a plume of billowing smoke. After a brief moment of panic thinking this was a forest fire she realized she couldn’t smell any smoke in the air but what she could smell was moisture, the kind you smell before a rain storm. OK things had officially gone from JUST surreal to Crazyville. Had the cured meat she traded with the local militia been tainted with one of the mutated squirrels? Because you do not have moisture in the air in winter in the Tundra, not like this. It is a desert, a very cold one but a desert.
With her heart racing she called out to the mice, only remembering at the last-minute the correct phrase “should be” mouse, to saddle up her polar bear George It was time to go exploring. While he managed to do that the help of some new squeeks he found over night, she went inside and armed herself with her new winter camo survivalist gear. One cannot be to careful out there, and the color matters when hunting in the winter (in her case being undetectable by anyone else as she moved through the woods)
Man-beast also insisted that I take his new rucksack loaded with dried fruit, meat strips, two extra water bottles, a first aid kit, sun glasses and goggles. Oh and a packet of freshly soaked dollar bills in case I needed to call upon our four very special zombie ‘pets’ . These gals were a bit higher functioning, and in trade for freshly soaked dollars would defend us to the end. I mean rip a Grizzly down to his gall bladder (which since it was no longer illegal to poach if he was taken out BY ACCIDENT made a very high protein steak with lots of curative properties which we really needed) But I was hoping this would just be a false alarm or the crazed survivalist up on the ridge getting out of hand with one of their experiments again. When she was finally adjusted on George’s back, making sure that all her supplies tacked down but easily drawn (the weapons at least) Man-Beast came running out the door with a hand mirror taped to the ski pole we killed our first zombie with.
“WHAT in the wold is that you crazy hippie?”
“It’s for peaking around corners! Jo gave me the idea last night when he was using it to try and get that new batch of Zombie Hockey Mom’s into the back of the truck. They like shiny pretty things remember? Mamma, if he hadn’t had this we never would have seen the last of the runners from the catering fiasco you MISSED when you cleared the event perimeter yesterday!” he says as he waggled his eyebrows at her.
“FINE Geoffrey, I will take the g’dam mirror, but you better have those dishes cleaned up and my dinner cooking when I get home from checking this out, and do NOT forget to water the strippers this time! We only have one trained mice, the rest of his new crew is barely fit to keep the pumpkin happy!”
As she sauntered off on top of George she shook her head, bended down to scratch behind his ear and mumbled quietly,
“He really is a good duck huh?”
After about an hour into the ride and about 8 miles out, things officially went nuts, the air started swirling, there were small snow cyclones everywhere, visibility had gotten to only about 20 feet and this was no good because the area she had been heading into was well known to have random groups of walkers. The source of the smoke or whatever it was only about 1/4 of a mile away so she decided to keep going. As she pulled the compass out from under her new homespun sweater she knew she was officially screwed. Nothing in the years since the perpetual winter and the zombie apocalypse had prepared her for what she saw as she looked down. The needle was spinning non stop.
Stopping George, she quickly laced up her snow shoes and jumped down to not only get her bearings but also try to stop from having the biggest panic attack ever. She could handle almost anything, because there was a reason, an explanation.. SCIENCE! But this went beyond all that, her ODDU loop for this morning did not prepare her at all for this, nor did it prepare her for what burst out of a larger cyclone that had come barely towards her unnoticed due to the compass.
Standing before her was what could only be described as the Wicked Winter Witch gone Gandolf the White, but not it the good way! Her features were chiseled, as if some deranged Ice Sculpture had created her for a fantasy exhibit. Her hair swam around her face like tendrils of cobwebs and her eyes were ice blue and looking straight at her pointing a large and scary looking staff!
“YOU, you who hunt my creatures, who take my meat… you must pay the penance and become part of my ice menagerie!” she cackled.
Instead of freaking out, because let’s face it after this weekend of a band of dwarf zombies, running around in a wedding dress covered in blood, dealing with freaking hysterical pumpkin (we will get ‘IT’S’ issues at a later date) hearing THIS broke the spell. Mamma grabbed the first thing she could thing of, her mirror and rifle and decided if she blinded the witch she could just jump on George and go home. This obviously was not smoke, it was this ice hag gone rogue and looking for a fight. Well if it was a fight she wanted she was going to get it. Drawing her rifle and shaking her ski pole she just let a banshee like scream at the witch. And the witch stopped short looking at her like she was even crazier than herself.
But it only lasted a second, but it was the crucial second that mattered.. in that second the snow started settling, because her magic could only be focused on one element of energy at a time.. as she drew in the power to turn Mamma into ice the sky cleared and the sun hit the mirror directly.. and the Wicked Winter Witch slapped her hand in front of her face and screamed… a scream that quickly left the woods in a dull echo..followed by the sounds of wild life once again. Where the witch once stood, threatening and enraged was the form of a perfect snow angel. As Mamma put away her rifle shaking her head and muttering,
“What next… werewolves?”
Just as she was about to climb back onto George the largest and blackest of Ravens came gliding down landing next to the staff the witch dropped and cawed. Ravens were Mamma’s spirit animal so she took it as a sign. Picking up the staff she immediately felt a sense of harmony with all around her. Instinctively she new the witch had at one time been someone beautiful, not the cold and bitter thing that appeared out of billowing snow. This is what happens when you live your life alone, surrounding yourself with things that you value as beauty. When you should be out there finding the beauty that exists in the lone pine in your backyard, or in the smile your partner gives you when you come home with a full bucket of fish for dinner. Even here, in this ice and snow-covered land,with the undead and the constantly shifting dangers both in nature and in this newly forming society. The beauty that surrounded her daily kept her smiling. Well that and her Man-Beast’s special moose meat chili which she hoped would be waiting for her when she came home to her little lost cabin in the woods. Hoping back up onto George she promised herself to never question her Man-Beast Geoff’s silly self made tools again. Sure, the thing that almost brought an end to her life here in the woods was made of magic, but the magic that existed in her heart, in her own world turned out to be strong enough to beat even the Wickedest Witch of Winter.