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The hooded woman looked about eighty years old but she was barely fifty. A lifetime in the underground had taken its toll. A lifetime of illness had taken its toll. Her back bent, Zoe moved painfully slowly along the frozen path. Dressed in rags and filthy furs against the chill, grim
determination was written across her decaying face. Her head bowed by deformity, she could see only the ground for a few metres ahead. Frail, she stopped to regain her breath and ease the cramp. To look ahead, to see how far she still had to drag herself, she leaned back from the waist. Zoe’s waist was one of the few parts of her body that remained supple. The icy wind stung her face and the hood fell back from her head. Her unruly mass of grey hair was alive with lice. She looked like a twisted abandoned scarecrow. Her left arm was fixed into position, crooked across her sunken belly. With her good right arm, she pulled the hood back over her head and held on to it. Her long sigh was whisked away by the breeze.
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