LIFE IN THE FREEZER: The Crystal Forest

Welcome to this page, brothers and sisters! I have inspiration for you! And I'm going to try and lead you gently by the hand into one of my worlds without spoiling things by giving away the end.


Let us try to imagine, if we can, a world that is trapped in an endless winter. I don't mean in the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe kind of way with cute inhabitants who build dams but in a wretched, freezing, trapped kind of way.

And let us try to build the scenario in which the sexes are separated. The boys are kept from the age of two in an ancient jail in which they are forced to live in cells and flogged regularly for no discernible reason but because DEMON orders it, and then, when they mature, have to go out into the wild world in search of their Mating.

The girls, on the other hand, are brought up by their mothers in a cosy log cabin provided with heat, water and rations by a mysterious automatic Grocer until they arrive at adulthood, when they are forced to venture out of their comportable cabins on their special days and search out their Princes.

There must be an escape from this madness. But it will take two special people, and a huge amount of courage.

And there must be a reason why things are the way they are.

Now for my special treat to you. Here follows a sample of the first chapter for your delectation and delight. And please don't fall in love with my heroine. She's not for you!!! Text taken from a pre-publication version (I did it again!)


Chapter One

When she woke up that morning Leena knew that it was the start of her Special Day.

There was something about the air that reminded her, some magical thing about the way it nosed into her bedroom from the frosted world outside, and teased round her face, made her pull her bed blanket right over her head and create her own special space where Mother couldn’t go.

And there was something about the light which came in with it, piercing the room from a gap in the curtains and resting on her pillow so close to her head that she knew she would have to move soon, or be half-blinded by it.

She sighed and then smiled a gentle little smile under the covers, a secret smile that only she knew about. This was her sixteenth birthday and the start of her Special Day with all the unimagined wonders that Mother had hinted at, and she intended to enjoy it to the full.

The crystal world outside her room stretched itself as the light from a rising sun breathed life into it, easing into dark corners and banishing the shadows of night.

“It’s been a long time dark,” thought Leena. She might have said it silently to Mother, like she could if she wanted to, but for a few moments needed to keep her thoughts to herself.

And it had been. The fingers on the clock in the corner had gone round the dial many times since the sun had set. The long night of winter was like that in this part of the world, and sometimes the folks, the women who lived completely out of sight and touch of Mother and Leena and each other, said to themselves that the sun would never return and snow and ice would creep into their bones and slow them down until every movement was a chore. That’s what they said, and they wished many a time during the long nights that they had someone to say it to.

But the day and its light always returned, though Mother often said, when the ice seemed to be creeping through their bones, that in the frosted depths of every cold season there were those who prophesised doom, who said the winter was here to stay. Mother would be doing her best to warn her against depression whilst at the same time boosting her own flagging morale, though Leena had no idea as to whom those who did all that prophesising might be.

So far as she knew from her own experience and the things she saw the only human being beside herself in the entire world was Mother. She’d never seen anyone else, though she had an idea, maybe she’d been told it or even dreamed it, that there were other log cabins scattered in that part of the Crystal Forest, hidden from them by thickets of frozen trees, too far away to explore without the real threat of getting lost, and anyway, who needed others when she had her home and its warmth?

“It’ll be a short day, though,” thought Leena.

Hugging the thick blanket to her shoulders she sat on the edge of her bed and smiled again.

The sun must have sensed her smile and it radiated compassion and warmth and love in a beam of such splendour that the curtain seemed to melt in front of its benevolence and let it through. And that warmth reached her fair skin and touched her face with fingers of pure light, gently and like the spirit of her smile.

Leena stood up and let the blanket fall back onto her bed.

Underneath its coarse comfort she was naked. She stood still for a moment and shivered.

The freezing temperature of what they called summer but which was as cold as most winters had been once upon a time shocked her skin and she rushed into a long woollen dress, but first she took a shivering moment of her time to examine her reflection in the mirror by the wardrobe door. She often did that, especially on warmer mornings or when her blood had been fired by wild dreams, when she would linger, gazing at her reflection until she knew it by heart. It was important to her to keep a secret mental record of the way her body was changing as her Special Day approached. And this time, like so many others, she was happy with what she saw and in that moment she let the tips of the fingers of one hand brush against one of her breasts before the cold air encouraged prudence and she swiftly pulled her winter clothing on, shivering again.

Only when she was dressed and warm did she pause and look again.

Her face was pink and smooth, like roses from the summer days in old tales told on winter nights by Mother, when the only nights had been winter nights, even the ones called summer. But Mother had told her about other summers when water had flowed, tinkling, and the trees weren’t crystal remnants. And her white teeth shone like polished ivory when she smiled at her reflection, which smiled brightly back at her.

“I suppose I really am quite pretty,” thought Leena, and she giggled. It made her happy, to think of herself as pretty, like Princesses in stories told to her at bed time by Mother were always pretty.

She heard the sound of banging accompanied by familiar rustling from the kitchen at the other end of the passage, and she walked the half a dozen or so steps to its door and flung it open. Home was a log cabin, snug and with a comfortably warm day room even in the worst of the winter, and nowhere was ever far from anywhere else.

“Good morning, mother-mine!” she said, brightly.

Her mother looked up and wiped a tear from the corner of one eye, and when she smiled there was a strange mixture of acceptance and love and hope and dread and most of all knowing in the way her lips curled up.

“It’s your Special Day, Leena,” she sighed.

“I know, Mother! Isn’t it wonderful?”

“I suppose … yes, it is – for you! I remember my Special Day, child, all those years ago.”

“Tell me about it, Mother!”

Mother was quiet when she replied, as if there was something in her memories that might run contrary to the tale that tradition bade her tell her daughter, and she prayed that Leena wouldn’t notice. “I shouldn’t, you know.”

“Go on!”

She sighed, and there was genuine reluctance in her voice as she answered, hesitantly. “Oh, all right, if it helps, darling-one.” She sighed again. One day one of us, one Mother or another, somewhere in the wilds of the world, will have the courage to tell the truth, she thought, though none of us knows the real truth. Just our own version distilled from experience, and its agony. Maybe Leena’s Special Day will be what it should be, what the stories tell it will be, it’s a hope I’ve got to cling to… She sighed, and continued.

“It was on a day like this, with the winter newly over and a New Year starting. I dressed in my Special Day finery, with my mother fussing around me, and then I went out into the forest.

“The ice still lay around, thick and cold and sharp, and the blue skies were like pale woven silk above my head. I suppose it was beautiful, but it was cold: so cold that I shivered even in my special gowns and furs! Oh, I remember it all so vividly, it might only have been yesterday.”

“Go on, Mother-mine.”

“I walked all day, following the signs.”

“What signs, Mother?”

“Little things, child, like the fractured blade of frozen grass at the foot of an old oak tree, or a tuft of white fur on an ice-sharpened bramble. Tell-tale signs that … that he had passed my way.”

“He, mother?”

She sighed. “Yes, he,” she whispered, remembering the moment and shuddering.

“What is a he, mother?” asked Leena, as innocent as she was.

“He is a creature like ourselves, Leena, but different.”

“Different, mother?”

“I don’t like to – yes, different. You will find out, sweet one. Then you will know what I mean. We are she and she is different to he and he is different to she ”

Leena knew that was as much as she would get out of Mother. She’d tried before, and failed. The older woman was always reticent about such things. So she sighed and tried a different tack. “And you found this him, Mother?”

Mother looked at her for a moment, then nodded slowly. “Night was falling, darling-child. The day was darkening and a great fear took hold of my heart, for if darkness fell completely then I knew I must surely perish in the cold, like all mortals do on cold nights, and not merely because of the stinging cold.. But I also knew that he couldn’t be far away. There were signs all round me. But if I didn’t find him before the total black of night came again I knew what my fate would be, and dreaded it. For everyone knows that the forest is filled with marauding Night Creatures once darkness has banished light from the world.”


“Anyway, it was almost dark, so close to being lightless that I can’t explain. And suddenly I saw the light!”

“The light, Mother?”

“Yes: the light. A flickering light, yellow like a candle might be yellow.”

“Was that him, Mother?”

“He is not a light, child! He is a Prince, for goodness sake! But listen! I crept towards that light, and when I got there it was to find a mountain of wood all piled up, old wood the like of which I’d never seen before. It was real wood, mind you, and not the trees of the forest! And he was sitting there by it, all tall and firm and he was trying to strike a light to burn the wood … I had never seen a Prince before, child.”

“Neither have I, Mother.”

“Of course you haven’t! Well, I went up to him until I was as close to him as I am to you right here! He noticed me, and looked my way, his eyes wide with amazement. And even though my heart was beating like no heart has the right to beat, fast and fearful, I knew from the look on his face that he was barely older than me! Barely a day, barely a minute, older!”


“And I knew something else, Leena-mine. I knew as I stood there, as my feet and legs shivered with a huge and terrible fear, that he was just as terrified as me!”


“Who are you? he asked, his voice little more than a whisper.

“I am Shoola, and this is my Special Day. I told him. I was determined to make everything I said as plain as plain. Special Days are not the kind of things with which to complicate matters with misunderstandings!”

“Of course not, mother.”

“Oh. Hello then, he muttered. My name is Davy, something like that I think, at least I think that might be what I’m called, and I’m in the wild looking for my Mating!”


“Leena, listen. Suddenly my fear left me like water flying from the back of an oil skin coat when the snows on it melt indoors in the warm, and I moved one, two, three steps closer to him until I could have touched him if I’d wanted to. Yes, I could have reached out with one hand and touched his head, for he was still seated by his huge unlit pile of timber, and I was standing.”


“But that’s enough. After all, my Special Day was many years ago, and it was my story. Not yours. No, certainly not yours. It was before you were born, for goodness’ sake! And now here we have another Special Day and this time it’s got nothing to do with me.”

“What did you do, mother? You and your Davy, together like that in the night?”

“I told you, I’ve said quite enough!” But her face was troubled as if there might be something in the memory she would prefer to forget. Leena noticed, but put it down to regrets, maybe that the day was over, or that life’d had to go on without a Prince and his magic by her side, that one day in all those years was really not enough time for adventure.


She shook the feeling off. “And don’t you mother me like that!” she said, “My Special Day was exactly that: mine. Now it’s your turn. I’ll come to your room and help you dress.” May I be forgiven the lies, poor Leena, and he didn’t say his name was Davy, I can’t say I remember him saying his name at all! But I need to give him more than he had, so I give him a name. Davy’s as good a name as any and who knows, it might even be his right one, even if I did make it up, right here, right now! For he never spoke to me, not at all, not properly, not with sweet kind words. All he did was … was….

“I am dressed, mother!”

“Dressed, child? You can’t go out in that old dress! And you need a bath with … with oils, aromatic waters, the fragrance of wild flowers, of the living forest, all over your skin so that … you must smell of sweet things, child. And you must look sweet, too.”

“What shall I wear then, mother?”

“First things first. All is prepared. Grocer has heated enough water for you to have a bath….”

“A bath? In the morning, mother?”

“A bath,” she said, firmly. “Your skin must glow with cleanliness on your Special Day! Even Grocer knows that! Now off into the parlour with you and climb into the bath!”

The bath was a huge affair. It had been carved from a single log sawn from a mighty tree long ago when such things were plentiful in the world, and its pores had been sealed with a resin which itself was wonderfully aromatic and imparted a little bit of itself, gorgeous and old like time is old, to the waters every time it was used. It steamed and filled the air with an aromatic warm fog, and Leena sighed. She pulled the woollen dress off and settled into the steaming water. It was almost too hot! Almost, but not quite. Grocer knew all about temperature, all right!

Mother had added extra spices to it, and foaming agents and other fragrances, and it was like being an old time princess from picture books, in a palace bath like in fairy stories. No princess, thought Leena, could have had a more perfect bath prepared for her. But she did wonder where the luxuries had come from and concluded that the mysterious Grocer, who filled their cupboards in the night at every turning of the moon and provided for their every need, might have had something to do with it.

She didn’t understand Grocer, just that something, a Mother maybe, but not hers, or a Prince or even a god, filled the cupboards in the night when they were getting empty of foodstuffs and clothing, even channelled warmth in winter so that they never felt the bite of its hoary old breath, and wasn’t it always winter? And he or she or it also sent energy for the lights along unseen conduits so that neither Leena nor her Mother need ever suffer the agonies of Black Night when all the monsters under creation might come out and feast off their warm flesh.

Those few minutes would stay with her forever. The way the water covered her skin, the way she could see her naked self without shivering with the cold, the lightness with which she could touch herself, and wriggle at the pleasure as her fingers wandered here and there across the perfection of her own fair flesh. And the fragrance in the air, like flowers in a springtime she had never seen, filled her heart so that she felt like singing.

She had never seen flowers or witnessed a springtime, but that fragrance told her exactly what both were like, as if the sweetness, maybe inhaled long ago, had been trapped in her memory by an ancient ancestor, carried down the generations, enhanced by being repeated a thousand times so that she, to whom flowers were unknown, could find the smell of them as familiar as the sun’s rising or the moon’s setting. It filled a vacuum in her mind and gave her a taste of what the old time folk must have had, which made her feel good.

When she was quite sure that every square inch of her body was as clean as any square inch could get and anyway the water was getting cool, Leena climbed out of the bath and rubbed herself dry on the large white towel mother had left for her. Gently she teased moisture from her long fair hair and tossed her head this way and that until it was almost dry and hung down her back and around her shoulders just as she liked it. Then she wrapped the towel about her and went back into the kitchen.

“There! You look better already!” exclaimed mother. “And so clean! You look so clean!”

“I feel good, mother, and after so long a soak I must be clean!”

“Let me get an eyeful of you, Leena. Drop that towel and let me see all of you!”


But she did drop the towel until it lay at her feet like a moist white pool. She glanced down at her body and was contented. Her stomach was flat but by no means too thin, her breasts were nearly full-sized and quite perfect, their nipples teased by a cold draught from under the closed door and standing out like jewels. And the rest of her was free of blemish and just as she knew it should be. She liked her body and for the first time felt a warm glow of satisfaction when she saw the pride shining in her mother’s eyes.

“You’re beautiful!” sighed the older woman. “And very much like I was on my Special Day,” she added.

“Isn’t life gorgeous, mother?” asked Leena.

“I suppose it is, daughter-mine. But now we must attend to your special clothes. First you must wear some fine things next to your skin, silks and the like, all fancy and … interesting and so sheer it’s as if they were made by the little magicians in the old stories I used to tell you. If you look … interesting … he’ll take more … more time with you.”

“Silks, mother? Like a queen might wear?”

“Today, child, you are more than a queen! More, even, than a goddess! Here, step into these things. And as you pull them on, feel how gentle they are where they touch you, and how fine!”

The garments were soft, so soft that Leena knew she had never touched their like before. Where the mysterious fabrics touched her skin it was as if they were as insubstantial as air. And when she was dressed in them she noted how they barely covered any of her, but seemed more designed to accentuate those parts of her body she perceived were already the most interesting, to make what was really and truly attractive even when she was totally naked into a mysterious somewhere that was mostly but not quite hidden by their sheer perfection, and ten times more fascinating because it was merely suggested.

“That’s nice,” sighed mother. “There’s not a prince in creation who wouldn’t fall head-over-heels for you! Now put these on,” and she handed more exotic clothes to her daughter. This time they covered more of her, but still emphasised what she knew were her more attractive features, as if they had been cunningly designed solely to draw attention to them. And yet they were warm, warmer than Leena’s thick winter dress, and she began to feel like deliciously toasted bread.

It took some time to complete the dressing, and by the time the last outer coat had been tied in place Leena really believed that nothing could ever make her feel cold again.

“What do I do, mother?” she asked as the older woman gazed at her with a mixture of pride and foreboding shining in her moist eyes.

“You know what you must do, dearest. You go out into the Crystal Forest, daughter-mine. You go in search of your … of your … of your Prince!”

“And when I find him?”

“That much you must discover for yourself. But I will say this much. You will receive from him what you deserve to receive. So if you go to him with a generous and a giving heart, then you will receive so much from him that the remainder of your days will seem but pale nothings in comparison. But if you go to him with a mean spirit and are intent on withholding what he seeks from you, maybe through fear of the unknown or false pride, then you will be subjected to pain and suffering almost beyond endurance.”

“Pain, mother? Suffering?”

“So it is said, child. So it is said. But if your experiences are anything like mine were…” the lie again, may the Lord of All forgive me! But maybe I was afraid that night, and the Heavens know that everything was unknown “… this should, no must, be a wonderful Special Day, Leena-mine.” Leena looked at the older woman and there was something in her eyes, some doubt, and some blankness, which she didn’t understand. But it was gone as soon as she looked, and her heart warmed to the only other human being she had ever known.

“I don’t understand, Mother!”

“Neither did I, child. But have you any idea … can you begin to understand what goes through a girl’s heart of a winter’s night in the Crystal Forest when she is dancing naked under the stars!”

“Naked, mother? In the Crystal Forest? Naked at night? When everything is so cold?”

“Tush, child! I have said too much. Forget I said naked! And pray for a blazing fire in the wilds, eh? A blazing fire chases away Night Monsters and makes a daughter’s soft flesh warm. Now is the time for feasting so that you can live the whole bright day out there without feeling hungry!”

And Leena feasted on the food her mother had stayed up much of the night preparing for her. There were all manner of sweet and savoury things, small dishes designed to tempt her palate, sweetmeats that brightened the stars in her eyes and the flush on her cheeks. It was all a great contrast to her usual diet of bread and water tempered from time to time by a thin meat paste. All too soon she sat back contented and smiled at her mother.

“That was … as if I have never eaten before, Mother!” she sighed.

“That was how I felt, sweet one, all those years ago. Now tell me: are you ready for your Great Adventure?”

“I’m excited, Mother, to meet my Prince!”

“Now be off with you! Be off into your Special Day!” The older woman sighed, and she wiped a tear from her eye.

“Now, mother? Already?”

“Well, almost now. But first, maybe, a kiss of farewell child, for your Mother. A kiss of goodbye….”


“Yes. Goodbye, Leena-mine. It is good that you should go before I have to face up to my fading years.”

“But mother! It’s my Special Day, not my special lifetime! I’ll be back!”

“Child, you’ll be back only if you fail. And then, only maybe.”

“You mean…?”

“Today is the first day of the best part of your life, Leena. Go out into it with a full heart! For that’s the reason you were born, child: to have your Special Day and grow in strength and wisdom through the years until the time comes for you in your turn to bid farewell to a daughter of your own. That is the purpose of living, child, for all of us. That is why we are here!”

“It is hard, mother, hard for me to understand.”

“All will become clear, angel-daughter, when you dance beneath the stars and the frost touches your skin with its ice and your Prince holds you warm in his arms … all will become clear.”

“I’m frightened, mother!”

“It is not a fearful time, sweet one. Not a fearful time at all. Look! The sun is almost at its ceiling! Your time is here, is on you! Your Special Day has begun!”


“Open the big door, child, and go into the world. Go and seek for love, and find it … or perish in the attempt!”

“Mother…” Pangs of doubt and confusion began to wash away the excitement that had been growing in the girl’s heart.

But the older woman had opened the door. Outside the light from a welcome sun, low in the southern sky, shone on a world so cold it ached. Nowhere, thought Leena, would she spy a blade of grass, bent or otherwise! Not out there, not in that solid world where there was only ice. She had never, not ever, seen a blade of any kind of grass even though she had spent the warmer summer days of her childhood running through the snow around her wooden home and marvelling at the motionless giants that were the substance of the Crystal Forest.

But she stepped through the doorway and reached out her hands before her as if she had to feel her way into the world. She had to. Her whole life had been shaped for this moment and its arrival suddenly confounded her. Then, when her mother finally closed the door behind her she was quite, quite alone for the first time in her life.

And so was her mother, who prepared to yield herself to the Servants of Eternity that rumour said would call for her and lead her to the place where she would spend her fading years, in peace and harmony and plenty. But there were tears in her eyes, private tears which spoke of a private sorrow, and she sat down in a hard chair and waited.

And then, and only then and for the first time in her life, which may or may not have been odd in itself, she got to wondering what it was all about, the ice, the cold, the living, the Special Days, the Crystal Forest, the everything of her world. And she had time for the thinking to be deep and hard as her waiting became a seemingly endless vigil at the very gates of hunger as moment added itself on to moment, and minutes became hours and night began to fall on the Crystal Forest.

So there we have your free gift. Use it wisely! And if you want more then why not contemplate downloading the whole thing, or even bravely buying the paperback book. Consider how your life will be enlightened by such a brave move! Go to

But first, give some thought as to why downloading a text might be a Really Good Idea. Take a peek right here to find out why I think that.