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It was still dark outside when Gideon woke. Slowly she shook her nightly terrors away and put her about-to-freeze-off feet onto the cold wooden planks. The first breath of this devastatingly wintry morning air manifested itself as mere steam in the stagnant cabin. It was once again time for fishing.

The moment Gideon stepped foot outside, her nostrils flared with icy air that pinched every part of her exposed skin like tiny sharp needles. She carried her fishing equipment as well as a basket for prized fish she might come across today in her left hand and shone light onto the ice road ahead with a flashlight in her right one. The ice was thick, and the water underneath it was black. Gideon walked approximately seven thousand steps before finding the perfect spot where she knew she’d find fish – there was absolutely no echo, just deafening silence, and Gideon could swear she saw something swirling in the deep pitch black. Gideon put down all her stuff and made herself comfortable as much as she could in this numbing crispness. She began carving out a circle, then another, and after a few failed attempts, she managed to rip them out of their original resting places. These circles were chunky and clammy. Gideon was now left with two watery voids. She threw her fishing net in one of the bottomless pits and sat next to the other, holding her fishing rod lazily with one hand above it.

This is what every day looked like, for as long as she could remember – if she could remember. If her memory, her self-awareness was ever at least partially trustworthy.

The ice was crackling, singing – it was a ghastly, uncanny sound. Gideon thought this is how a dying woman screams or a tortured man wails – after all, it was one final song of the ice as it’s about to be murdered by spring in cold blood – even at a place like this one. It wouldn’t stay dead for long, though. Time did not exist here, but Gideon still noticed changing seasons – it was a crucial part of her torment. She noticed spring to last less than a month – this ice will be reborn and free as a Phoenix in no time.

Gideon exhaled a heated breath from deep within. The icy black water was frigid and the fish stupid – she will most definitely have caught herself breakfast and perhaps even dinner promptly. Gideon looked around nonchalantly. Absolutely nothing – no creature, no being, no essence – caught her eye. She wondered, feeling slightly frightened by that wonder when was the last time she encountered another human being. A long, long time ago. Probably never. Most likely, she was even born out of no one, out of nowhere – as far as Gideon was concerned, she was always here.

It was always just Gideon. And her silly little fish.

She stared at the murky waters, stalking patiently. Not really stalking, no. She was not a huntsman. She was no predator and fish – no prey. They were brainless and, for this sole reason, could not be hunted. Fishing was a sort of art, the art of eternal waiting and knowing exactly when to strike. Over long dark days that stretched into eternal nothingness, Gideon had become a master at it.
Time here was subjective, and the only subject here was Gideon. So, when according to her, one hour passed and not one thing had happened, and the muteness of the deep dark became unbearable, she grew impatient. The sun was about to rise, the dim morning light threatened to paint the background of overcast forest trees crimson red, and Gideon’s stomach was growling with hunger. Frustrated, she knelt on the stinging wet ice and stared intently at the black plow before her. Gideon dipped her arm into the freezing onyx water until it reached her elbow. She started mindlessly grasping liquid nothingness and flexed her fingers at the numbing cold. She reached deeper till she almost fell into the hell hole. And then she touched something. It was substance, definitely. But not slimy, not scaly, not anything she was expecting to encounter here.

Exhaustion and anger turned into curiosity. Gideon thrust her other hand in the unmoving flow and grabbed whatever was hiding underneath all that raw ice and watery void. She trusted the full weight of her body and the thing she was now pulling out to her muscular legs, and eventually, after all those efforts, she managed to take out something giant and threw it on the ice with such strength that it slid at least twenty meters before stopping abruptly. It was still grimy outside so she could not make out what she caught or, for lack of better words, came in contact with in the water, but it wasn’t fish. Giant was a grave word to name something living in a small lake. That thing was almost as big as her – and Gideon herself was far taller and wider than any average woman – so yes, giant, with four long limbs, unnaturally swollen from staying in the water for too long. Gideon moved closer as the rest of the outline was too obscure to see.

With every step Gideon took, the fragments of that which she discovered became clearer. Black leather boots, long woolen coat, enormous cowboy hat, its rubber strings wrapped around the neck. Fingers, bloated, garishly blue, with only one fingernail out of ten. Face, half of it eaten by whatever was living at the very deep end of the never-ending bottom, another part practically destroyed by water salts and minerals. Mouth open agape, with only two surviving teeth, reminded her of the two black watery voids she carved out this morning. And eyes, those white-washed glassy soulless eyes. Impossible to forget as it was impossible to reconstruct how they looked when this person was still alive.

Gideon’s heart beat just a little faster. She’d never seen anyone nearby. It was her world, her hell; not only did she never encounter anyone living here, she was also the only one dead, the only one sent here to serve her punishment. Whatever this dude was doing in her universe – maybe paying a price of trying to get to her, whatever for - it was neither her problem nor her business. This man, eaten away by time even though time here did not exist, was something Gideon could not wrap her head around. At this very moment, she had the most rational reason to pack her shit up and get the fuck out. She got right back where she came from, still hungry but too disturbed to do anything about it.

Sometimes it is better to leave things as they are.

Ice. Deep dark waters. Stupid fish. Little cabin in the middle of a mute forest. And Gideon.

Only this, and nothing more. Forever.

Time eats things.
2022-04-18 16:17
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2022-04-18 19:36
@gogo v helpful thnx
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2022-04-18 19:18
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