In Russia, north to the city of Norilsk and beyond Lake Labaz there is a small village isolated from the rest of society. Few dare venture this far north, as it is infamous for its nefarious winters. Even the locals are wary of the rampant blizzards and turbulent gales. So every year, without fail, before the most brutal weathers engulfed their village, they would stock food, water and firewood to outlast the winter.
About a 20 minutes' walk from the village was a small hut. And in the small hut lived a man by the name of Ivan Leo Chekhov. At 5"9' with short curly black hair, piercing ice-blue eyes, a missing index finger on his left hand and a slight limp in his walk, Ivan Leo Chekhov was an funny man indeed.
He was well popular amongst the villagers. Children would swarm around him like bees to honey, women would laugh at his lame jokes and men would often chat over drinks with him. With the children, he would narrate stories of how he lost his finger, or how he got the limp in his leg. When he laughed, he had this strange ring to it that made it addictive. People would stop in mid step just to hear his quaint laughter. But Ivan was undoubtedly the most entertaining when he was drunk. Yes, he was enthralling. Often hopping on tables imitating random villagers, or singing horribly off-tune, yet it was never harsh to the ears. Ivan Leo Chekhov was an interesting man indeed.
However, Ivan was also very flawed. He was a lazy man. While other men were actively herding the livestock he would be sleeping in the shade of a tree. When other women were occupied, doing the housework, he would be lying on his back cloud-watching. And when other children were eagerly helping around, here and there, Ivan would be watching the world go by. And whilst he was very helpful in many things, if there was any work to be done, he would be the last person you'd ask; always concocting excuses or putting it off to the absolute last millisecond. Ivan Leo Chekhov was a very, very lazy man indeed.
Three weeks from winter, the entire village was busy stocking up food, chopping firewood, piling warm clothes in anticipation for winter. Ivan Leo Chekhov was busy too. Busy inventing excuses for him to avoid work. Every morning he would wake up, determined to gather food, chop firewood and purchase clothing, only to be distracted the minute he set foot on village grounds. He would look up at the sky and sight clouds too interesting to ignore. Or he would decide to have a short nap only to wake up and find he slept through half the day before deciding he might as well sleep through the other half. He did this for days and days. Three weeks became two. Two weeks became one. And one week became a mere few days.
However, winter seemed to be running late. The harsh winters should have already settled in a couple of days ago. Sure it cold, colder than usual, but nowhere near the typical gnawing chills of winter. So everyone decided they would continue mustering provisions until the real winter hit. Everyone that is, except Ivan.
Ivan concluded, since winter was delayed, he could spend it observing the others. He watched
horse-drawn sledges glide over the ice, he watched men, women and children trudge through the snow, and he watched as black puffs of smoke escape from the gaping mouths of chimneys. Villagers warned him of the imminent savage storms but he shrugged it off. If winter was already a week belated, surely it could be postponed a few more?
One day, Ivan woke up to a morning colder than the others. "Ah, winter must be close by. Today is the day I will begin to collect necessities for winter," Ivan reasoned to himself.
He then proceeded to change into his snuggest clothing and advanced towards the door. Latching onto the handle and with a firm twist…he couldn't open it. Why couldn't he open the door? Did the hinge need oiling? Did he get a new door stopper he forgot about? No, so why wouldn't it open? Ivan pushed and pulled. He heaved and hoed. He jostled and he jolted. But nothing seemed to work. The door wouldn't budge. He didn't want stay locked up in here, so he went for the next best thing. He strode towards his window.
Ivan was about to open it, when he ceased to gawk at the view through the glass pane. He was snowed in! It must have happened through the night during his sleep. But this can't be happening. He had yet to collect the firewood, accumulate food and obtain warmer clothing. Goodness, he had yet to repair his chimney! He would freeze to death! And if that didn't happen, he would starve to death! Either way he would die. Why couldn't winter be late another day? Ivan shivered. Whether it was from the cold or the fear of death he did not know, but all he could do now was try and wait the winter out.
He stared at the walls - these four walls that kept him entombed. He suddenly felt a lot colder. His stomach was pitted with fear. His hands were trembling from despair. These four walls…these four walls that trapped him in his icy prison grew taller by the second. Those menacing walls shot higher and further from reach – more claustrophobic. Quiet. Everything was quiet. No sound, no life, no movement – no hope.
This winter was more ruthless than any other experienced by the village. It was long and cold. And when it was finally over, it was of a great relief to the entire village. Copious amounts of infrastructure were ruined, many more buried. But by this time Ivan was already dead. Ivan Leo Chekhov was a very, very dead man indeed.