Freezing air seeped in through the cracks in the window frame, as the dying fire slowly cooled behind him. He picked up the axe that leant by the door and walked out of the cabin.
Tree stumps lay like rotten teeth spreading out to the horizon. With the axe slung over his shoulder, he carefully picked his way among the tree roots towards the last standing tree.
When he was within reach, he dropped the axe on the floor, headfirst – the handle leaning against his leg. After spitting into his hands, he rubbed them together, before picking up the axe and swinging it with a grunt.
Splinters flew into the freezing air as a notch was cleaved in the trunk. The sound of the thud echoed across the desolation, causing ravens to abandon the tree, croaking as they went. He watched them flying off into the distance before looking down and examining the ground around him.
Satisfied with what he saw, he wrenched the axe out of the trunk and took a second swing. The sound rumbled in his ears, as the cold air slowed the movement of his hands. Behind him, dirt and stones shuffled and jostled around the protruding roots.
Holding the axe high, he twisted round as far as his back permitted and swung again – a shard of wood flew careening past his head. A root emerged from the ground and whipped itself around his leg. Wide eyed he swung again at the tree- the root wrapped tighter.
His lungs burned and his arms cried out, as he swung again and again, almost there – as he threw himself against the trunk. His hand cramped and he dropped the axe. He scrambled to retrieve it and cried out as it squeezed tighter.
More roots shot up and cocooned his torso. He swung wildly at the roots, as they darted out of the way. One gripped his head and began twisting and jerking, his vision spinning as he tried to focus. Another swing at the trunk, and he was down.
The axe lay buried in the trunk as the ashes in the fire turned cold.