The snows come howling down from the mountains like ravenous wolves. They prowl the streets of the town and rattle the shutters and push against the doors.
The cold creeps in through the cracks and reaches out its fingers, stroking our skin and chilling us to the very bone.
On this, the longest night of the year, we lock our doors and stuff the keyholes with dried rosemary. We wear jewelry made from horseshoe nails and fill our pockets with salt.
They come out of the whirling snows; they shriek like the souls of the damned. Their wails wake us up in the night and though they strike fear into my heart Riku goes to the window to listen.
He tells me that he dreams about them, women with skin pale as the snows and just as cold. Their blue lips brush against his skin like icy butterflies, and in their wails he hears singing.
I fear that one morning I will awaken and his bed will be empty. That iron and salt and rosemary will not be enough. That we will find his body, blue and stiff and empty, lying in the snows. Like we found my father’s. Like we found my mother’s.
But more than that, I fear that once they have taken him they will come for me.
Riku is not the only one whose dreams are full of ghosts.