See that little in the weathered man’s life could match the intensity, the panting rhythms, the speed of the sled dogs across the tundra. Wielding whip, mutton, and fire in his hands, he is some craftsman forging swiftness on an anvil of ice. Does he dream himself a dual: a Hephaestus of the bitter chill?
Time has sieved his humanity through resinous pine needles, and, as he had guessed at the outset, and now knew at familiar markers, this would be his brittle frame’s final outing. The snow, the storm, seemed thicker and whiter now than he had ever seen.
Indeed, it was now that weaving lone along the frigid passes the ice nymphs appeared to the veteran and his team. They begged him, “Please, slow to your rest, and we will bring you to join us.” They said, “We have seen you” and “We know you” and “This is your Olympus.” And the musher’s heart rejoiced for he would finally be free to gust across glaciers eternally as a god.
“Slow” said the nymphs. “You must not go back. Slow and sleep. Join us. We are giving you your chance.”
And he had no real decision to make, and he welcomed the oncoming cold; he flicked the tuglines with loosening mind to order the well trained dogs to halt, the lightest smile on his lips.
And they were well trained, and they felt his signal; they felt their musher’s near dying gesture and knew it for what it was, and they sped him home through the night, barking through the town square, until his body was surrounded by the crowd and the fire and the effects of men. He was cremated there the following morning.
Originally published at willzeng.com.