They came when Jamie was seven. They came out of nowhere, or at least that was what it seemed like to everyone. They came when the Earth shook so hard buildings started to break and crumble, fall to the ground as if they were made out of thin glass. Big buildings too; the Empire State Building, the Sydney opera, the bridges across the Thames, the Eiffel Tower, three pyramids in Egypt, the leaning tower of Pisa … all collapsed into piles of stone or iron.
The Earth shook and shuddered for three minutes, three whole minutes, but they didn't know that exact time back then - that information started to come later.
The Great Earthquake of 2014 wasn't expected, wasn't a prophecy of the Mayans or Nostradamus or anything like that, so there had been really no way of preparing for it – as much as one could prepare to what most called 'nonsense'. It just … happened. One second life was same old same old and then the very next second the ground was literally swept from under some people's feet.
The White House had no idea how the hell it happened, Brussels was clueless, Kremlin didn't know, Africa, well the dictators were having a blast, while others had no clue, China said 'it was not us', North Korea said 'no', Australia was screaming for help, floods erasing towns and cities along the coastline, South America was chanting of Mayans and Incas and their prophecies and while the governments were trying to make sense of everything and all kind of scientists were having a field day, life moved on. Many turned to religion, calling upon God and angels, speaking of the apocalypse and the end of days, but it didn't help.
Truthfully, no one really knew what the heck had happened. It was a puzzle not solved by looking either up into space and seeking out an alien attack or looking at anyone on the planet, because everyone was just as clueless as everyone else.
It had been described as weird, crazy, what the hell, the apocalypse is upon us and the mildest one – strange, so strange.
But it happened. It caused some things to change, but life moved on. So what if some buildings fell and crumbled. So what if the Earth's surface cracked and spit in some places, so what if Mount St. Helens and Vesuvius and Krakatoa erupted, spewing smoke and lava everywhere, drowning acres of land in fire and darkness. So what? It didn't change the fact that economic status of some was still nonexistent, mortgages had to be paid, work and school had to be attended, wars had to go on, money had to roll in and roll out. Not many people paid that much attention on the Earth collapsing, because earthquakes happen, volcanoes explode, cracks happen.
It all just happens.
And in the state of disarray and life just carrying on, they came.
One by one - not in groups - not to invade and take the Earth as their prey, as their captive. They didn't come to destroy or rule or kill everyone and everything they met. It didn't happen like it happened in the movies.
They didn't come to change anything.
Yet everything changed.
They slithered into society, like shadows. Invisible, undetectable, unseen.
They came to observe, to take notes. To live among humans.
They looked like everyone else. Looked human; with a human body, human needs.
But they weren't human.
It was when Jamie was twelve, five years after the Great Earthquake of 2014, that the Grand Canyon started to all but split North America in two, the Atlantic started to flood New York City and the entire East coast. The Pacific covered the whole of Japan, erasing it from the surface of the planet, also flooding Los Angeles and the whole of the West Coast, reaching all the way up to Nevada. Las Vegas was now a coastline city. The Sahara turned from beautiful sand into a lush jungle, Greenland and Iceland were no more, as were Hawaii, Madagascar and all the islands in the Indian Ocean.
The Earth started cracking. Started to wither, bend into something no one expected five, six years ago. Changed.
Life as it had been just six years ago, normal life of nine to five job, dinners and movies and BBQ parties and hanging on Facebook and Twitter and watching TV, watching movies and having a job, rushing down the street to the best coffee shop, making food … all that was gone like a puff of air. And it would never come back. Ever.
Because who would be able to uncrack Earth? Un-bend it? Make it whole again? Un-flood the cities, make the deserts deserts again and the Amazon a rain forest once more? Who would be able to pull islands out of the oceans again? Who would be able to raise up the Himalaya after it had collapsed onto the ground, forming nothing but small hills?
No one and especially not them.
They ... revealed themselves when they saw what they'd caused. They threw away their masks and people - those who survived those three minutes so long ago - saw them. Saw who, what had been hiding among them, who, what had been their neighbor, their boss, their doctor or their teacher. The guy at the counter at Walmart, the girl leading the tours at the Louvre, the person one sat next to on the bus or the subway.
They had been everywhere, and no one had known. No one had fucking known.
Of course, people started with the usual: 'How the fucking hell have I not known this?' or 'How could I have been so blind? And other blahblahblah crazy shit.
But really, deep down, people were scared, pissed, terrified, angry, betrayed. Started blaming them for everything, and people were right.
It had all been their fault. That the oceans were flooding, that the rivers were starting to disappear or worse, started to run into the other direction, that the Niagara Falls were cliffs now, no more water there, dry rocks, that the fucking ocean was reaching all the way up to Mongolia, only leaving some high places in China as lonely islands.
Simple, normal life was gone and it had all been their fault.The Ice People's fault.
PROLOGUE _II_ CHAPTER 1a