The Professor climbed back in the window with a pan of fresh snow for her morning tea. She set it on top of the stove to melt and shoved few more compressed sticks of shredded paper into the glowing embers.
Not that she had an actual Doctorate, of course. It was a title awarded by the last survivors who had shared the city with her before they too fled south. She had always felt it was accurate enough. She had grown up here, after all, amongst the university’s treasures, as the Snows came, and stayed with them now, even in the face of the encroaching Ice. She had done her best to pass as much of her haphazard array of humanity’s legacy on to the refugees and their children, too. She rather felt that had to outweigh a roll of paper or two, in the grand scheme of things.
The melting snow hissed in the kettle. She sat back on a pile of different editions of Shakespeare and absently patted the slightly motheaten ears of a stuffed Bengal tiger she had rescued from the zoology museum before the glass walls had given way under the weight of snow. Her cat, Edward, was out somewhere, though he would almost certainly return when she starting heating breakfast.
The kettle began to sing. She poured it out into the teapot. This was probably the last pot these leaves would do, so best to leave it to brew awhile.
She pulled her gloves back on and her scarf up over her mouth and nose as she climbed the cramped spiral staircase to her observation tower. Before she even reached the telescope, the gleam beyond the dark horizon told her the glaciers had grown closer.
She sat down anyway and began to focus the telescope. Another month, perhaps?
She was the Professor, after all. Knowledge her been her life. These observations might mean everything to the scientists in the south, and she had cut the electric heater to make sure she could power the data uplink for at least an hour a day. The knowledge would survive beyond her.
There was a soft miaow by her ankle. Edward had padded up silently along the rooftops and was rubbing his head affectionately against her knee. “Ten minutes, sweetheart, then tuna time,” she promised him as she gathered him up. He immediately climbed onto her shoulders and slunk into the neck of her anorak; a warm, purring scarf. She had tried to send him off with the Alis when they left, but he had come back on his own. Cats go where they will, she supposed.
A truth for the end of the world. She nestled his soft fur against her cheek as she focused the scope on the humped shapes of the far hills on the horizon.
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