On the fifth day, the first snows of winter fell, deadening Artur’s mood along with the city. The traffic grew muffled and sluggish along with the dark slick of river – even the smoke from the refinery’s chimney grew leaden with the cold, sitting hunched over the rooftops.
He spent the next three days anxiously watching the snow settle and harden, the ploughs turn the roads into grey-walled canyons. Then despite his careful planning, the promises he’d made to himself, the waiting became too much.
Buka darted ahead when he opened the apartment door, the little terrier leading the way, following his nose along the beaten snow path between lines of garages, until they reached the One. At the padlocked door, Buka held back, sniffing, cautious, fuzzy tail drooping.
For a moment, Artur paused, key in hand. Then he heard movement inside followed by wet cough.
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