It is snowing. Snowman's mind takes awhile to register this; it needs time to realize that these cold white things from the sky are indeed snowflakes. He has spent too long on the coast, he muses, too long in the milder climates, to properly remember what inland weather was like. He is freezing, though he has supplemented his sheet with a blanket, he did not truly remember the cold. It's piercing, reaching down to his very core, and already his feet are numb.
Why, he thinks, did I not bring shoes? But the answer is all too obvious. His new life—that's what he calls it now, the incarnation of Snowman—is so radically different that he never thought of needing them. Now that he's traveling further north, he regrets it. His feet may have become tough enough to withstand any sort of terrain, but they are not conditioned to cold. Ever step in the gathering snow sends needles of pain shooting through his feet and up his legs. It's ironic, he thinks, that he is being disabled by the snow. Will the Abominable Snowman find his final resting spot in the ice where he belongs? Not for the first time, Snowman wishes he hadn't chosen to come on this journey, but maybe it was for the best. The Crakers can take care of themselves now, after all, between their circles of piss and their prayers to Oryx, and he was wasting away in their small utopian world.
Here, at least, he knows there are people…well, they're not like him, but at least of the same species. In the last two weeks of following them, he's been able to steal more edible food than he had throughout his time with the Crakers. They hardly notice, these people, and what they do discover missing they pin on the pigoons. It should be obvious that the pigoons are not at fault; the food is stored in the trees where it should be safe from them. The fact that these people do not realize this tells Snowman that they have not lived a life like his. He doesn't mind the misconceptions because they give him a better chance of survival, but he does wonder how these three have remained so human. From the scraps of conversation he's caught, it seems that up until recently they had a home. The word home seems so ridiculous to Snowman, yet he finds himself longing for one and also wondering what happened that would displace these three, after they had managed to survive everything else. And that, that more than anything else, keeps him following these people wherever they go. He realizes that returning to the Crakers, no matter how much he may miss them or dislike where he's going now, is not an option. He left them behind telling himself he wouldn't return, and he won't. Whatever a home may be, his no longer lies with the Crakers.
If he's ever going to have human company again, Snowman knows he has to find a way to approach this group he's been following. He's been shadowing them for so long that he knows their names now…Ceecee, Michael, and a Jimmy, like him. But being able to address them by name is not likely to help him; in fact, it will probably scare them. For him to have been following them for this long, he must be less sane than he thought.
The real trick, he thinks, will be getting them to not run away when he reveals himself. They are still young, these three, and confident despite the tragedy that surrounds them. Wrapped in his blanket with bare feet and a tattered hat on his head, Snowman will look foreign to them. He has seen himself, briefly, in shop windows as he's walked through various pleeblands. He looks like a man escaped from an asylum. To Snowman, sanity isn't a concern anymore. For him, it's do whatever you need in order to survive. But these three that he's following aren't so desperate yet, and they have no need of another companion. They will see that Snowman is so much older and slower than them, and cast him away. They will be able to do everything faster without him, and while they are not desperate, they will surely have enough sense to turn away this unwelcome addition. He can't let on that he knows this in case they do not; he needs them to think they need him.
He steps on a branch, which cracks loudly under his foot; he moves quickly into the shadows in case he has been heard. As soon as he can ascertain that it is safe to continue, he unfolds himself from the crevice he tucked himself into. A stream of warmth trickles down the back of his ankle. When he looks back, he sees a small pool of blood forming. Though his scrape is small, it bleeds profusely, and Snowman no longer has anything that can be used to bandage it. He wipes the blood away with his blanket, and a red smear joins the various stains on his makeshift garment. Blood continues to flow out of the wound and Snowman knows he should take a break from walking so a scab can form. But he is too scared to stop, because surely hypothermia will set in the moment he ceases to move. So he continues to walk, at a safe distance behind those he is following, and the blood continues to make its way slowly to the ground.
Snowman wonders as he walks how to best introduce himself to the humans he is trailing. If he doesn't do something soon he will surely die, but after so long with the Crakers, he has almost forgotten how normal people interact. He should start by giving them his name, but Abominable Snowman will not do. Even presenting himself as Snowman would make their rejection all the more likely. They call each other by their given names, but since there is already a Jimmy, that, too, is out of the question. Snowman considers making up a name but that would be too hard; after so long of answering to either Jimmy or Snowman, he would forget who he was supposed to be. He could steal a name, though. He could introduce himself as Crake, which he would certainly remember. But what if the people had known Crake? As unlikely as it was, he couldn't take the chance. Besides, if they had figured out that Crake was behind the disease, they would want revenge. Crake was a name best left to the history books.
Snowman thinks of his the other identities he's had in his life. He was once Thickney; twice actually, but both times the name failed him. If he was going to steal a name from Extinctathon, he'd need to find a new one. The only problem is that he doesn't know the names of any extinct species besides Thickney, Oryx, and Crake. Suddenly he is hit with a thought and smiles. What if, he thinks, he names himself after a species that he considered extinct as he led the Crakers to their coast home? He knows they are not yet gone, but they surely will be soon. The smile fades as he imagines introducing himself as Homo Sapiens, and his mind once again begins the search for a suitable name.
He nearly stumbles over a rock in his path, and he looks up, noting that the sun has already set and darkness in spreading fast over the sky. Soon he will be able to—no, have to—stop for the night, and who knows what will happen then. Since he left his bed behind, it is harder for him to sleep and colder, too. He looks at the blood still trickling out of his ankle and realizes that it may well be his life deserting him. He is cold; he is hungry; he is exhausted; he is alone. What a way to die.
Ahead, the group of three have dropped their packs and are trying to start a fire. Snowman briefly considers introducing himself as is and finding a way to cope with the outcome, but just as quickly decides against it. He's not ready. Instead, he finds the most comfortable place he can among the rocks and trees and sits back, watching them prepare their meal. Regardless of his hunger and fears of hypothermia, his eyes begin to droop, and not even the bright light from the now blazing fire can keep them open.
Snowman's last thought before he falls asleep is that it's a good thing he kept his distance, because warmth always melts the snow.
A/N This is the first thing I've written for anything remotely like Oryx and Crake, and I'm not sure how it turned out. I'm aware that the title is also the name of a chapter in her book, but apologies, there was nothing else I could call it.
If you see any mistakes, let me know, because I didn't have Oryx and Crake on hand when I was writing this and also I've been having issues making sense lately.
Thanks so much for reading!