Zara had her eyes closed and somehow that made the room seem larger and less confining. She was shuddering, struck to her core by the ice that flowed in tiny crystalline shards through the capillaries in her fingers and eyes, the veins in her legs and arms, through her back, stomach, and chest, into her heart, which was a barely throbbing iceberg in her human-shaped sea of flesh. Ships of blood ran aground there, broke free and floundered back through the diverging rivers, streams, brooks, trickles, and springs at her nail beds, running aground, then turning and seeking the adamant rock lodged among her ribs. She could not stop shuddering. Tiny mountain ranges of goose flesh ran the length and breadth of her, reaching for a sun she could not see or feel. The thought of all those bumps with their aerial hairs perched upright and rigid like prairie dogs alert at their burrows made the air seem colder still, though no wind was blowing in her darkness.
At some time in a future she could not comprehend, he would return, hungry, wanting to feed. But he did not like her blood cold, full of jagged bits and misery. He just liked the dimpled saucers of her red blood cells, warm and tender, swimming without the encumbrance, the embrace of this preternatural cold and the inevitable slivers of her frozen world. If she could just keep this up, just keep so cold, teetering on the cusp between immortality and death, he would not feed again. That would kill him. That would set her free to find her way out of her labyrinth of stillness, silence, and night.
As she sat, a slither of crackling dew started encasing her in a brittle shell, crafting tiny clear domes over each pimply hill on her skin, creeping up each bristling antenna like a fog bank and then snapping shut once it had completed its crawl, a finger of snow pointing skyward a million times over. This was new, this coat of glass, this sheath of frost. If it was fur, she would have melted. If it was silk, she would have slipped from her throne and broken into a cluster of silvery bits in this room in the vastness she had acknowledged as her prison, her life.
A millennium passed, then two. She thought slow thoughts as only the frozen can. About how the universe was vast and mostly a collection of gelatinized gases swirling slowly in clouds above the planetary masses lying somewhere below. About the once-living who, trembling and burrowing deeper in their crisp coatings, were now statues like herself. About how it once was and might never be again.In the darkness, they shared as an eternal home. Still, he hadn’t come, he hadn’t fed. He may have transformed into a statue himself, arrested in mid-tread, wrapped in the same fragile mist that had clasped her so close all this time, if time had passed but who was there to count the seconds and the years. She could no longer tell. There was no clock, there was only the dark beneath her eyelids and the chill of being awake and at rest all at once.
A pulse flashed out from some remote island in the dusk and wilderness. It was made of light and heat and clawed, then rushed, towards her tomb of immobility and sleep, breath and awareness. It cooked all that came between it and her throne, turning solids molten and liquids into a fresh and deadly air above new spheres cantering around reignited suns.
And suddenly, after all of her thinking and feeling and waiting, she was gone, a mist in the coruscating heat, a vapor in the dawn.