This story was included in the Storyblogging Carnival LX.
Dead of night in Spirit Antarctica, time rolled to stillness as the voices of Neanderthalensis faded into soundless echos of memory. Movie reels in the projection room began to hum and two surrogate suns appeared within a shimmering, bounded rectangle of flickering purple light, cast low on the horizon against the ancient snows of the polar caps of the mountains of pseudo-existence. The crunch of quiet feet breaking through crusted ice became louder as it neared, and I tossed some buttered popcorn your way knowing just who it was came to see the movie. Thanks, you said, laughing. Raisinettes? There was an empty seat.
Movies, even in Spirit Antarctica, end too soon for the price we pay for admission. Soon the suns were but tomorrow's memory and yesterday's foreknowledge, as they must always have been. I heard the squish of popcorn under your feet as we got up to leave, and remembered the sound of the Neanderthal's cry. Raisinette? Here, the last one is for you. No, bite off half and we'll share. Sated by raisin thoughts, we were ready for winter's sleep, but never for the uncertainty of what lay beyond the mask of death.
As you turned to go, you stopped. Crunch went the ice. I opened my eyes so that I could not peek, and held out my hand. From the blackness came one glimpse of a dog-eared photo postcard. A daisy! For me? Here, in Post-apocalyptic Ice Age III? Remember me, you said, frozen tears in your eyes and the smell of Raisinettes on your breath.
Reaching out, I grabbed the rough canvas of your Spirit Antarctica patrol coat. When, I asked? Remember you when we're asleep, for God's sake? Yes. Yes. Asleep, awake. Just always. And the wisps of hair around your face fluttered as you turned to fall into the snow and to the center of the earth.
Would the suns ever rise again? Would we ever feel the popcorn beneath our feet? It didn't matter. My best friend was gone. All that was left was a daisy from a postcard, freezing now as the projector bulbs cooled. The purple-blue of dawn's first whimper began to peek out above the drive-in screen and soon, the suns began to rise, coloring the sky pages with their tawny pink glow.
I reached a cold hand under my Spirit Antarctica patrol coat and gently nestled my postcard daisy next to my heart to warm it. Closing my eyes, I took one last look at the suns, turned, and fell into the hole you had left in the snow. The brilliant, bright blackness of the center of the earth engulfed me as I spun forever downward, listening for the crunch of popcorn and longing to taste the other half of the last Raisinette in Antarctica.