The heat was sliding slowly by the streets and avenues, invading everything with its viscous nature, covering every centimetre of the touristic city. Down there, the pavements, the beach and the sea were being invaded by cheerful tourist; up there, from the clouds, snow was falling. A shiny and pearly like snow, like little diamonds glittering colourfully, the snow was falling and piling up over the roof, over the corners.
At the outsides of the city, where the snow wasn’t cleared, the church stood out over the white landscape. Matthew kneeled over the cross, shaking. In the altar, the son of God was rising, and in the fading eyes of the statue there wasn’t mercy. The face without pupils, carved in the knotty wood, had its mouth opened making a suffer grimace, but at the eyes of the priest that expression was the only string of hope he could clung to.
In an almost ironic way, from a little crack between the tiles of the roof, a tiny stream of snowflakes was falling in a lazy way. They made patterns in the air while showing its perfect fractals, until its fall meet the end on the sacred table. They melted with a noise similar to boiling water, leaving a mark slightly black, like a burn.
There where the snow accumulated in big quantities for a long period of time, the surface burned and it made everything coal colour. Even the stones. But no one seemed to care. The tourists swarmed in the frozen landscape, carrying big and small cameras, making reportages and taking huge wallets from their pockets. Shops were already making plans for the next warm snow season.
For that, they would have to survive until the end of the year. Matthew stood up carefully, cleaning the rice from his knees and glanced at the nearly empty church. The seats were occupied only by some people, mostly older women that were there to pray thanks for the good season, for the warm snow, miracle of God. The door screeched when opened and a young man crossed the place, with his noisy shoes making echoes with every step.
-Good morning Matthew- It was Monday, early in the morning, and the city already awake –It doesn’t stop snowing, eh?- He added with half a smile.
It seemed like it was at dawn when you could take the best photos of this phenomenon, with the orange colours of the sky looking like kaleidoscopes through the snow full clouds.
Matthew answered with a serious expression and gave his helper the key.
-It won’t stop snowing- He repeated. Since it started to fall that it wouldn’t stop snowing –I’m going now, so take care of the church- He adjusted his black clothes and went to the door.
The church boy looked at him with an inner smile. Even if he helped him, he was sure that all priests ended up being crazy. It was the lack of sex, he used to say. He polished the table and lighted the golden candles.
The day had an early start. The kids played in the snow, still in swimsuits, making angels while their parents sunbathed in the beach. More well-off couples had breakfast in a restaurant. The man walked between the crowd that carried parasols, bags and seats. In the middle of the central square there was an amphitheatre, a platform that stood over a metre from the grass, which was white from the warm freeze.
A snowflake seeped by his neck shirt, making him to shake. He stood there, looked at his papers once more and cleared his throat. With a solemn and loud voice he started to speak.
-The end of the world is here and it’s dressed up as white snow. This is a symptom of the apocalypse, the fever of the infection! – Matthew was slightly aware that he was being ignored, but even then he waved the paper in his hand, making wide arch.
-Don’t thank the warm snow!-
The priest couldn’t compete. The summery water with small snowflakes shining over the foam, the hot, white and smooth sand, the crunch that the ice made when stepping on it, the snowy atmosphere, and the good weather weren’t going to let the people get concerned.
He had a little flock of sheep. A few nervous animals that would tremble with every bleat. If they wouldn’t look so amusing with its chestnut wool, they would give him a sad and miserable impression of themselves. The man was seventy year olds, of which fifty-five were spent on working the farm. Because of financial reasons his lands got small with the years, and now he only had medium plot.
At some part of that long process, he decided he would stop worrying so much, as long he had money for beer every week. He walked the little flock by friendly fields and by the route, where the animals were free to chew the fresh grass.
That morning he woke up earlier than sunrise, uncomfortable by the heat. He greeted the picture of his late wife and walked to the old fridge, where he found leftover of rice, chicken, and water. He had breakfast, he put himself an old shirt and he saved a bit of the food for lunch. He did all this ritual with nervous calm. He locked the door and he left with his loyal dogs.
The landscape was changing at his glance. The lonely path had been pretty full due to the weather wonder, so much that a few days ago he almost lost one of his sheep to an unaware driver.
-Look what you do with your animals!- The man shouted at him from the car.
He could feed them inside the barn but it wasn’t the same, simply because he needed the sheep to exercise. He knew his animals and he knew that they were happy with the walk. Also, he needed it too, even though he didn’t walk, he did horse riding; the exercise would help him stretch his bones. He spurred on the flock with a loud scream to the route, which was empty as the moment.
It was dawn. The warm fog didn’t clear, it became even thicker. The path was still empty, which was weird, but it didn’t last long when the traffic slowly started to flow. The morning arrived and then midday. This didn’t dissolved the fog either, but it compacted it to a lower high. It looked like an opaque cloud as high as his knees. He looked, weirdly, how the cars tried to exit the city, just to change their minds and return.
He spurred on the flock, that was acting strangely nervous, and he made them walk by the side of the street. At first he thought it was mirage, and he ignored it until he was too close to it. The snow wall stood tall, taller than two men, like a white barrier, like a finite horizon. He looked to the sides, but the snow extended even farer than his sight.
He pressed his cap over his head, incredulous.
Going to Part 2