The wind was tinged with ice, it chilled through Freya’s skin and froze her to core. Just walking had become difficult as the cold had permeated through her outer layer which resulted in her shaking uncontrollably with every step she took.
The sun had dropped and the darkness of night had engulfed the landscape all around her. Leo and Parker accompanied her and made sure to assist her by avoiding any cracked ice that stood in her way. They had grown used to the harshness of their new reality and so wrapped Freya in the thick fur each of them wore on their backs.
Despite the brutal conditions, they made excellent progress on their journey. Freya wasn’t entirely sure of the general location they were heading, the purpose for which they were going there or what she would encounter when she arrived, but she instinctively trusting of her two acquaintances which was strange. She never trusted anyone.
Men had been identified as stupid, untrustworthy and to be avoided at all costs. This had been achieved by jettisoning them from the home planet which lead to their dispersal across the local solar system but also more holistically across the entire galaxy. This was done more so as an attempt to find alternative means of survival instead of purposefully.
Their dismissal and banishment from participation as part of a 2 gender ruling human race had been sudden and harsh. She knew if she encountered a certain generation of men, those who were alive during the partition, her treatment would not have been so kind.
But what choice did they have? Technology had evolved to such an extent that men simply weren't necessary. Centuries of oppression left them no alternative, or so the elders through.
As it transpired, Leo and Parker had no recollection of ever having met a woman before. The split had occurred while they were both babies and, on account of their gender, they were removed from their mothers immediately as to ensure no maternal bond. Their fathers accepted responsibility for their children and that was that. As such the only thing they knew about woman had been what they had been taught by their fathers and friends.
The landscape reared up sharply in front of them.
“Are we going to climb that, in this weather?” Freya asked in bemusement.
“If we don’t we will be stuck down here when the storm hits” replied Parker.
“You’re saying this isn’t a storm?”, Freya replied barely able to see Parker or Leo through the thick downpour of snow which chilled her face.
“This is a light flurry in comparison to what you will see if we don’t move right now”, barked Leo.
And with that they were off. In almost complete darkness they marched onward. The visibility was reduced further by the powder snow which tumbled down the face of the hill due to the increasing gradient. All Freya could hope was that it would be over soon and they would arrive at the destination, wherever that may be. As the steepness increased their progress slowed. They only clue they were afforded in relation to their path was the existing foot holes they desperately tried to recycle. As the incline increased it became a necessity to lean forward and use your hands and crawl otherwise the slope would have thrown you backwards.
As Freya’s perseverance began to falter in the face of the overwhelming tremors that had hijacked her motor skills she heard something. She continued on as she assumed the noise was simply the sounds of her cardiac system pumping blood faster to her aching exhausted muscles. Boom, boom, it continued. Deep in the dark distance the din dimly drummed acting as a beacon in the perpetual darkness.
“Is that…” began Freya.
“Yes” breathed Leo.
“We’re nearly there”, sighed Parker thankfully.
Their pace quickened as their vigour had been renewed by their impending arrival. With each step the drumming grew into a louder, prouder and more pronounced beat which matched the rhythm that their hands and feet seemed to meet the holes which led the way. The hypnotic metronomic beat was now deafening and in the distance Freya could make out a feint glow.
She thought her eyes deceived her from the picture her visual receptors had painted so she threw her head down and continued to search for the holes that guided her. Inquisitively though,she couldn’t resists looking again, so she did expecting the image to have changed but disconcertingly it had not.
“Is that drum playing itself?” Asked Freya nervously.
“It is”, replied Parker matter of factly.
“You realise that is an impossibility”, suggested Freya.
“Freya, you are about learn that potential is unlimited and that it can only be constrained by a lack of imagination. You will questions why we impose limits on our capability, accept boundaries as reality instead of dismissing them as an unwelcome irrelevance.” Leo offered profoundly as they walked past the drum playing itself.
“But First, lets eat” .
They walked up to the old oak door which diffused a scent of historical significance. The handle was large and heavy and the hinges strong and purposeful.
“What do you want” came an indistinguishable voice from an incomprehensible location.
“To get in, now open before I remove your hinges.” Barked Parker.
With that the door creaked open in protest and unveiled the most glorious warmth and brightness Freya had ever seen. The aroma of nutrition seduced her nostrils and welcomed her.
“Oh, and I didn’t want to scare you as we climbed, but if anyone in here finds out you’re a girl, they will kill you”, said Leo in a relaxed manner.
Freya’s appetite immediately disappeared.