An Excerpt from Liturgy of Ice: A Variation by Craig Laurance Gidney

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Liturgy of Ice--An Excerpt 

Kyle saw the strange flyer on his way to work one day. It was pasted on the side of a telephone pole. The poster had a picture of ice crystals magnified to the point where they became furry fractals, and over this almost illegible typography formed the name of the group, 'The Frost Collective,' and below that were a date and an address. It was an arresting image, but what did it mean? Was it an art collective? An underground band? A political movement? The poster gave no clues as to the purpose.

The phrase and image stayed with him throughout the day. His job at the shop was boring, since no-one came in. Ambergris was a high-end perfume shop located on a side street with very little foot traffic. In addition to selling very expensive fragrances, the store also created custom perfumes for its clients, a vapid trend that had died when the Great Recession hit the country.  Kyle could spend a week without seeing a single customer, and there were only so many times he could dust the ornate glass bottles. How Ambergris stayed in business was beyond him. The owner, the heiress to a honey company, would only pop in once a month before flitting off to another city or country.

Kyle had come to the northern city for college, after winning a minority science scholarship. After college, there had been an unpaid but prestigious internship at a pharmaceutical company. When funding for a position at the company fell through, he was forced to take a job outside his field. Meanwhile, the pharmaceutical company promised a position for him--soon, soon. Three years later of whispered promises, and here he was, using his Chemistry degree to create designer scents for bored trustfunders.

Kyle hated the northern city, where winter was a tyrant for nine months out of the year. Lakes and streams froze solid. It snowed at least once a day. Winds howled and sliced through the glittering high-rises. Kyle came from the south, from desert country where the sun baked the earth so that it cracked, and the buildings were made of warm red abode. It was open space, with mile upon mile of cactus sentries and prehistoric rock formations. People there were friendlier, and tended to be some shade of brown or red. Here, people were pale, almost translucent, and asked him, "What are you?" As a result, he had few friends and an almost hermetic social life.

He didn't see anymore posters for a week, and his online research didn't turn up anything. The Frost Collective was a distant memory when the man entered Ambergris, dressed in all white. He wore a white fur coat. Beneath his coat was a white turtleneck and white leather pants. His boots were grey, but had fringes of white fur on them. He had balls, to walk around the filthy city dressed like that. Kyle thought, He must be a member of the Frost Collective. He was probably the son of some fabulously wealthy family.

It had been snowing, so the man shook off the wet flakes, and with his fur ensemble, he resembled a large white dog on its hind legs. Then he removed his large, face-obscuring sunglasses. 

"Oh," said Kyle.

There were snowflakes in his eyes. Two identical, stylized snowflakes where his irises should have been rested against a milky blue background. It was a brain-fart second before he realized that the man wore specialized contact lenses.

"May I help you," he asked the gentleman. For some reason, he was nervous. The man's outfit and his demeanor were so--performative. Kyle was supposed to be his audience.

"Yes." The snowflake-man's voice was a deep baritone. "I am looking for a scent. Something that smells like--ice."

Kyle laughed. Clearly, this guy was a douchebag.  "You're kidding me."

"Not at all." The snowflake-man picked up one of the designer bottles, traced its shape, and put it down. "When I say ice, I mean something that smells like pure, white bleak conditions. Something that smells like Winter. Ice. Glass. Snow. That sort of thing."

An Excerpt from Liturgy of Ice: A Variation by Craig Laurance GidneyWhere stories live. Discover now