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by Louise Mangos

He cartwheels down and down. First his crampons and then his helmet screech against the funnel of ice. A tinnitus of noise in this narrow space. A bag of spanners tumbling in a metal drum.

He lands on a ledge with a thud. A rude searing pain precedes the exquisite relief of paralysis. Eye sockets pounding, he pulls his gaze upwards along the shimmering luminosity of the crevasse. Above him, far away, is a sliver of sky. The contrast a fuzzy yellow against the pure aquamarine of the ice.

Seconds later, a fracture. A thin black streak. The static rope, silhouetted against the brightness, snakes down to land obediently at his feet like an afterthought. A final slither, piling neatly onto the ice. Slap, slap, slap.

He cannot move, does not know how far he has fallen, how long he has left. Not long, he thinks. His broken body succumbs gradually to the trauma. The soothing clutch of the sub-zero cold gradually claims him with her gentle hands. She closes down each part of his body, like theatre lights after a performance. Clunk, clunk, clunk. She slowly sweeps her velvet curtain across his conscience.

He turns his head, the only part of his body he can still move. His bristled cheek rasps the ice. His tears freeze in jewels on his lashes before dropping to the ledge. Ting, ting, ting.

This, his final resting place.

His blue sepulchre.

English-born Louise Mangos recently won second prize in the Erewash Writers Group competition with her short story Summer of ’76. The story was also read out on BBC 3 Counties radio. She was shortlisted in the Flash 500 Opening Chapter & Synopsis competition with her novel Strangers on a Bridge. She has had flash fiction published on the Flash Flood and Ad Hoc Fiction websites. She has recently completed a second novel, a thriller entitled Palette of Lies. Louise lives in Switzerland with her Kiwi husband and two sons. You can connect with Louise on Facebook and Twitter @LouiseMangos, or visit her website www.louisemangos.com.