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Heart of Ice: A Franklin Expedition Dating Sim

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You grin as you leave a flourish—just the right proper touch—to this portion of your manuscript. For weeks now, you’ve toiled and laboured alongside your noble (and voracious in multiple definitions of the word ‘appetite’) companions, carefully constructing the narrative of the adventurous and sometimes scandalous Robert Fucks, proletariat hero extraordinaire. Every evening, you’ve sat around in a circle of your friends, allowing them to cast little heart tokens in votes controlling your protagonist’s very actions and thoughts. With each vote came a heart-swaying declaration of love, a dramatic twist, and—more often than not—something plainly ridiculous. All in good fun, of course.


This evening, you labour away in the local park, editing your plot and giving it the last details to pique your group’s imagination. Just wait until they hear about what you have in store!


Then, quite suddenly, you are assailed by a blur of blue and white, followed by a sharp guffawing series of squawks. Paper and feathers rustle violently, and by the time you get your head about you and look up in the direction of the grand commotion, you see an oddly small blue bird perched on a tree branch above your head, your manuscript in its teeny tiny talons.


“Hey!” you shout. “Those are mine! Give them back!”


The peculiar little bird—and peculiar indeed, as it wears a size-appropriate wide-brimmed hat the likes of which might be seen on a desperado—gives you a look. Then, it rapidly pecks at your manuscript, pocking it thoroughly with little beak-shaped holes. The cry of rage you level toward it would shake mountains. As it is, all you do is cause the bird to squawk again and rain shredded parchment confetti upon your furious head. Soon, you are crowned in the remnants of Robert Fucks’ exploit, and the bird looks a little too happy about that.


You use a few colourful terms for the bird, but, as it is just a bird in a hat, it appears completely unfazed. Once or twice, it fluffs up its little blue capeau of feathers as if in indignance, or perhaps in an attempt to preen out fleas or ants. You like to think that it feels some semblance of shame, but alas—it’s a bird.


Right at the peak of your rant (you curse the name of every corvid before it and call its grandmother a gossipy old crow), the little bird takes flight—manuscript and all—and flies off in a northwesterly direction.


You stand alone in the park, tarred and feathered with ink and scraps of paper, and feeling just as much a fool as anyone who has every undergone such treatment. You worked so hard on that story; your friends did as well! But—


Oh, but alas, isn’t the nature of all good stories its ending? To leave something open-ended is to leave it open-hearted! It is just as capable of love from another as it was from you and your friends. What more, the memories are so very pleasant! Even as you are now, you can still happily recall the sensation of writing Robert Fucks’ first romantic interaction with Lieutenant Irving, or the delight at increasing Terrance’s costume closet in his little crab palace. More than that, you feel you’ve gotten closer to your friends through this! How lovely!


Perhaps the strange blue bird will take your story elsewhere, to drop it into the lap of some hapless person. Your story may yet continue! Or, perhaps, it will fall into a lonely, stagnant pond and be slowly picked apart by opportunistic fish puzzled by the introduction of it into their algae-thick world. Regardless of what happens, your story has literally taken flight, and you’re better off in the world for it!


You look out toward the northwest, imagination shimmering like the Arctic sea in the paling sunlight—and you wish your story well.


When you finally leave the park, you fail to notice a little crab in a top hat skittering across the pavement toward your former seat. In his right claw is a folded piece of paper, sealed in wax, with your name on it.


Well, he can only move as quick as a crab, but maybe someday the note will get to you.