Axe-age, sword-age (Fimbulvetr.1)

Hoarfrost limned a spiderweb, fattening fine silk lines gone slack with disuse. Drew touched it, half-expecting to hear musical notes. “No flies this season,” said Dora, behind him, and he tugged a little too hard, tearing the long-dead spider’s trap. Something a little like sorrow came up in him, sorrow for all the people, all the beasts, all the spiders gone in this thousand-day winter.

The house had been blue, its low-maintenance siding cracked and crazed by unremitting cold. All the second-story windows had been shattered long ago, dark rectangles that beckoned like graves. Snow entombed the first story, three years’ worth of snowfall.

“Do we go in?” said Drew.

“Hard to say,” said Dora. “Never know what kind of crazy is gonna be squatting.”

The wind chose that moment to rise, blowing snow like knives into every square inch of unprotected skin. The house moaned with it, and Drew and Dora’s eyes met.

“Your call,” she said.

He unslung his rifle and chambered a round. “Let’s check it out,” he said.

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