“Life comes in many forms, and so does death.” The students sat cross-legged under a tree, while the Headmaster of the school talked to them. Schools in villages were often conducted this way, under the open skies, for everyone to have a clear brain and of course, the fresh air did create wonders, sometimes bring the aromas of vendors crossing by as well. And then, the first leaf fell from the tree.
“See? That was the first leaf that fell off. It heralds autumn,” continued the Headmaster. Though only he, in his heart, knew what terrible things lay ahead of this, it would not be suitable to fill the children’s minds with such unwarranted fears. “Go back to your homes, tell your parents, autumn is here,” he said. There was a chill running down his spine, yet he bore the smile until the last student had left. It was only then that he picked up the leaf, studied it, and scampered down the street to his own house, barring the doors with logs, though he knew that wouldn’t really be of much help once ‘they’ arrived.
The first leaf had always been the sign of autumn, for ages. The ice-breaker they called it. Like in normal life, someone needed to first break the ice in order for the entire group to follow, similarly, the first leaf broke the ice. In this case literally. The first leaf broke almost simultaneously with the ice at the tip of the mountain breaking, and when the ice came down it brought along with it ‘things’, incomprehensible to man. They looked like skeletons of Tasmanian tigers, and flew like pterodactyls. Their screeches were louder than dragons, and they could smother the entire city with a breath of ice. However, it would take almost two years for the Things to reach their village. And once they reached, the rest was already written, over and over, time and again, in the pages of their history books.
The Things, the Headmaster thought, came once every ten millennia, and smothered everything. They were nearing the end of their ten thousand years now, with only two years left for the ten thousandth year. Everyone knew about it, they’d read lots about it in books of history, in encyclopedias, and yet nothing had ever been proved. The Headmaster wondered whether it would be proved this time. But, who would bear to testify the truth once it was over? That remained the unsolved question.