One was quite old, each line on his face held a thousand stories of lifetimes lived and lessons learned. The other was quite young, and so beautiful that the Sun and Moon alike fought to touch his cheek. But here the snow bit most viciously that the lines on his face were soon filled and smoothed with a sharp sheen of ice. And the winds did howl and screech creating such a tempest that their frightened eyes could no longer see further than their own fingertips, let alone the dancing rays of the Sun or the Moon. So they crawled, with a painful weary slowness, into an abandoned hut on the mountainside, too tired anymore to fight or flee. Finally, protected from some of the wind, they slumped onto the icy floor and soon embraced sleep.
Outside the wind changed, the screeching dulled to buzzing whispers and if anyone had been awake to listen they would’ve heard a soft flute dancing between buffeting currents of air. And then, she appeared. She was impossibly tall, a pillar of eerily still white robes, and translucent skin lined with streaks of bright blue veins, the people who lived in those mountains called her Yuki-Onna. Only her black hair wriggled and reacted in delight to the piercing winds, framing her round face and drawing attention to her equally blackened lips. She glided, suspended in air above legs that seemed to be missing feet, towards the two men’s shelter. A slight smile dancing on her lips, for she was quite hungry, and here were two warm snacks nicely bundled up in their own exhaustion and foolishness.
She reached the old man first, and without hesitation, leaned down and kissed his lined forehead. Instantly, he went rigid and frost covered his whole body; he was dead. Licking the leftover life off of her lips, she was pleased but not quite satiated. So slowly she slid towards the other sleeping figure, but at that moment the Moon saw his chance to slip through a crack in the window and illuminate a sliver of the young man’s face. Feeling the open door, and the touch of the moon, his eyes blinked open in surprise. He was not the only one filled with surprise, Yuki-Onna realized as she felt the hunger in her stomach replaced by an oddly warm flow of affection. This young man was so pure, and so handsome—she knew that she could not be responsible for his death.
And so she spoke “I had every intention of killing you while you slept, like the other man. But you are as beautiful as the freshly laid snow in the morning when the sun makes it gleam, so I will let you live this one time. But you may never tell anyone about tonight, if you do, I will know instantly and you will lose what you love most, your life will be forfeit.”
His eyes round with terror, he nodded, and she followed the stream of wind slipping out of the cracks in the walls into the night.
Many years went by from that night, the young man took a wife with bright blue laughing eyes and when she asked why he was afraid of the winter snow, he did not break promise and kept his secret buried in his chest. And so they lived happily married.
More years passed by from that night, and the man and the woman had three children, and when they asked why he would not go into the icy mountains, he did not break his promise and kept his secret buried in his chest. And so they lived as a happy family.
And then one night, his tongue slipped, “I love you so very much, my dearest one, and so, I am certain I can trust you with my secret.”
Her blue eyes flashed in the firelight, but she said nothing.
“The reason for my fear of snow and ice, oh my love, all that fear… I have met the ghost Yuki-Onna, once when I was very young.”
At the mention of Yuki-Onna, the wife’s lips began to darken with rage, but the young man was so absorbed in his truth telling that he did not notice.
“She was the one who killed my father but for some reason, she allowed me to live. For years the fear has burdened my heart, but I think the secret is safe in our love.”
Finally he looked up into his beloved’s face, and was met with that of Yuki-Onna. Those blue eyes he adored so much had frozen over, and her soft lips had blackened into the pucker that had stolen his father’s life. He had been married all those years to the ghost that held his life in her hands, and he had just doomed himself.
Voice full of rage, but also a tortured sorrow, twisted their way out of her lips, “I thought you had learned to keep your wagging tongue still, apparently I was wrong. I, unlike you, always keep my promises.”
She spat those last words at his cowering form in the corner of the room.
And with that, a furious gale of wind threw the front door open, and she was gone.
And he was left shivering in the corner, alone and afraid, but still very much alive.
- Barnburner: Taxidermy Love (Narrator's VO)
I have obviously left gaps for the speakers bits, come a join me in this sorrowful tale!
Concept & Direction by: tdolan
Claire Gillie-Thompson (Gilko)
Key Art by:
Special thanks to: