An Excerpt from The Lord of Winter
The Lord of Winter The Elementals Part Two
Robin Frost cursed under his breath. He had to go out. There was no way around it. The damn online grocer had forgotten the paper towels and there was no way that he could wait for another order to get here. He was going to have to go to the store.
Robin shivered. He always shivered. He was always cold. Despite where he lived and the temperature outside, he was always freezing.
He hated going out.
He looked around his sparse apartment and sighed. Then he stood up from the second-hand sofa and walked over to the coat rack. He put on the heavy black pea coat. Then black gloves. Then he wrapped the red scarf around his neck and tucked the ends into the coat. Finally, he topped it all off with the black fedora.
He looked in the mirror. Had he lived in the arctic, he figured he would be under dressed. For Miami, he looked like a complete and utter freak.
"Damn," he whispered.
Robin turned the doorknob and walked out of his apartment. The knob itself was immediately coated in a layer of frost that soon melted once the door opened and the oppressive heat floated in. Outside it was 90 degrees with 100% humidity. Robin watched as people walked past in shorts, flip flops, tank tops and bathing suits. He looked up and down his street, at the dried out lawns and the sprinklers. Everything about it said - hot.
He stepped into the bright sunshine and immediately assumed his "walking-the-streets" pose. He put his head down, buried his chin in his coat, and looked at his feet. He could still feel the eyes boring into him as he walked past, though, no amount of clothing could make that go away.
He walked the four blocks to the supermarket. When he got to the parking lot, his heart sank. There was a gang of young kids, the oldest maybe twenty, standing around. They all wore bright white T-shirts, jeans, and shorts, and they were clustered around a restored classic convertible. They looked like the kind of loiterers that would be looking for trouble.
Robin tucked his head back down and walked past them as fast as he could. He was almost to the door when he heard them laugh. They called to him in a language he did not understand. However, he was soon inside the store, inside the blessed air conditioning, and walking as fast as he could through the aisles, ignoring the stares.
He had to get the paper towels. He needed them. His strange abilities meant that he was always leaving a layer of frost on things. Everything he touched immediately froze and then it would melt. He was constantly having to wipe up messes from melted water.
He walked briskly to the aisle and found a ten-pack of paper towels. That would hold him for a few days. He trotted quickly to the checkout lanes. When it was his turn, he removed one of his gloves, fished out some coins for exact change, and then endured the looks from the cashier when her fingertips closed over the frozen metal. He smiled, tipped his cap and then shuffled out the door.
The problem was that he couldn't control it. No matter how hard he tried, things around him just froze. He was constantly freezing, and the air immediately around him was always several degrees cooler. He had moved down to Miami years ago, hoping that the heat would help. It had not. Then there were the times he lost control.
That was bad.
Robin stopped. He had forgotten about the punks in the parking lot.
"Just leave me alone," Robin said to his chest. He closed his eyes and tried to blot out the world. "I'm not hurting anyone."
"Why you dressed like that?"
"Don't you know that this is Miami?"
"Please, just leave me alone," Robin said.
He started walking, moving even faster than he had been. He hoped that they would hurl insults and laugh and decide that it was too hot and humid to chase after him. He was wrong. In seconds all twenty of them surrounded him, their faces mocking, but mixed in with that, the hostility that too many young kids had these days.
"Hey, we didn't say you could leave yet."
"Yeah, why you dressed like a freak?"
"What you hiding under there?"
"Please," Robin said. He could feel it bubbling underneath. The power. The anger. "Please, for your sake, please just let me go."
"You threatening us?"
"You don't know who you're messing with. We'll mess you up, maybe take that nice coat and hat."
"Yeah, I could use a hat like that."
Someone shoved Robin from behind. It was so hard, unexpected and violent that he nearly fell on his face. He managed to stop himself, still clinging to the paper towels.
"Stop," he said, pleading. He could feel tears at his eyes, and they froze as they started to run down his cheeks. "Please."
"What're you gonna do? You gonna fight us all?"
Another one shoved his shoulder and he staggered to the right. Then another shoved him back the other way. Then one of the men standing in front of him knocked the paper towels out of his hands and slapped him hard across the face.
"STOP!" Robin screamed.
It was too late. He felt the power trigger within him. He tried to put it back into its place, but it was spilling over in a rush. It rushed out of him.
"No,no,nonononononononononono!" he put his hands to his head, but the power exploded.
Immediately the temperature all over the parking lot plummeted. Overhead the skies suddenly turned gray, then dark, dark gray. The wind picked up. The twenty young men, all dressed for summer, were immediately shivering as arctic winds pummeled their skin.
Robin looked up at them, and his eyes had turned white. The twenty young men, all of them now completely frightened and all of them shivering, backed away.
They didn't get far.
It came over the supermarket like something out of a movie. A huge billowing cloud of white.
In seconds the entire parking lot was a blizzard. Snow fell in great sheets. Robin heard screaming as the men and other people in and around the parking lot tried to run for cover, only to find themselves in white out conditions. Then the temperature got even colder, and all of them froze in place, their skin covered in a layer of ice, icicles hanging from their noses, eyelashes, eyebrows and ears.
"Stop, stop, stop!" Robin closed his eyes and tried to reel it back in. "STOP!"
And just like that the blizzard was gone.
Above him was blue sky. There was no more snow, save for the piles of it that now covered every car, every shopping cart, light pole and object in the parking lot. A layer of ice covered everything. The twenty young men were all moving, but their bodies were covered in snow and ice and Robin could see that hypothermia was already setting in, and some of them might have the early stages of frostbite.
Then Robin turned and looked back at the supermarket. The windows were covered in frost and ice (already melting), but he could see dozens of faces staring. All of them filled with fear.
"I'm sorry," Robin said. "I'm sorry!"
Robin turned and ran.
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