Red Snow

Warning: This is what happens when Jess reads too much true crime while holed up in a snowstorm. 

Writing Prompt: Red Snow

The first major snowfall of the season has finally arrived. When the worst of it lets up, you bundle up, pull on your warmest boots, and venture into the whiteness of the back yard. You’re admiring gently falling flakes, when you spot something startlingly red amid the drifts at the back of the yard.

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126 thoughts on “Red Snow

  1. RavenFox

    THE CAVE

    I am Aria, and I have something I want to share with you. It happened about three years ago, 1963, in the quiet little town of Newport Haven, Utah. I had a quaint little cabin that sat on five acres. It was perfect for me, my dog, and my three horses.
    George, my bull mastiff, was two years old at the time. His fur blended in perfectly with the newly fallen snow, except for a black shoe on his right front paw. We have a bond so strong, that was tested to its limits that winter.
    It was one of the harshest winters I can remember. I woke late again that morning, thinking I may be able to dig myself out. I was reaching the point of desperation. The water was gone, I was down to my last meal, and George ran out of food three days prior. I spent the last few nights trying to figure out what was wandering the back part of my property.
    Whatever it was, it was big and unfamiliar to me. I had never heard anything like it before. I could feel the house shake as it moved around. It sort of hissed, but it was so loud it sounded more like a shrilled screech. George was terrified to go out after dark. He doesn’t scare easily, if at all, but when the sun was setting, you would find him under blankets, whimpering.
    In the morning, when I opened the door to the back patio, I saw George run along a path made by something huge. I decided to follow him, to investigate what could have made this bloody trail. I looked down and saw tracks I had never seen before. I’m no tracker, but these were no ordinary footprints in the snow. They looked oddly like bird feet, meaning there were three distinct toes, with what looked like talons at the end of each one. The only difference was the size. The middle toe was easily two feet long.
    When we reached the end of the blood-soaked path, there were a pile of dead animals and bones at the entrance to a cave I’ve never seen before, or since. Once the snow was gone, so was the cave, the carnage, and the creature…

  2. MattH

    Amaze

    My daughter, Stephanie, was sick in bed, running a fever. After I had finished reading her Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood, she turned her head toward the frosted windows, watching the whirling snow and sighed. She was looking forward to the first snowfall because I had promised her that I would help her build a snowman, a snowman like my Dad had helped me to build, with all the accouterments of the hat, the necktie, and my Dad’s pipe. Instead of a pipe, which I had thrown away years ago, I planned on putting my last nicotine patch on Frosty’s arm. I promised Stephanie that I would collect snowflakes for her as an entomologist would collect insects, but snowflakes were ephemeral. I would have to hurry up the stairs before the unique specimens were reduced to a mere drop. I explained that no two snowflakes were identical like a person’s fingerprint. I lifted her index finger and held it close to mine. She giggled and smiled. She said it looked like a maze. Then, with her imagination kicking in, she started to trace the lines on her other fingers, squeezing her four fingers together, plotting an escape route for her imaginary heroine.

    I put my boots on, several layers of clothing, and trudged outside. First I had to shovel out a pathway. I shaded my eyes from the glistening snow. The wind stung my cheeks as if someone had slapped me. A red blur flashed by. I dismissed it, rationalizing that my eyes were playing tricks on me. Then the red image appeared again. This time it lingered. The form was that of a little girl dressed all in red. I leaned my shovel against my house and followed her as she skipped, disappearing behind a neighbor’s house. Of course I knew the neighborhood, living in the same house for nearly twenty years, or so I thought I did. For when I turned the corner, I was standing at the entrance of a maze. A wolf howled. The girl screamed. I sprinted to the sound of her screams, turning right, left, then another right, then I forgot how many turns I had made and in what direction. I was lost, nothing looked familiar. The snow covered my tracks. The sound of Stephanie’s voice broke through the thick cold air. She guided me back to the entrance. Everything became familiar.

    When I returned to Stephanie’s room, she was sound asleep. The two fairly tale books that I had read to her earlier sat on the table – one word from each title was visible: Red Snow.

  3. RafTriesToWrite

    The snow had finally simmered down on this cloudy morning, but there’s no sun yet to be seen. Benny’s been irking to go outside ever since that snow storm started. It’s been days since we last saw something close to sunshine, but I’ll take what I can get.

    “You hungry boy?” I said to Benny, he let out a little whimper as I grabbed his dog food. He loves this stuff and I don’t know why. I tried one before – for science – but I didn’t liked it, I guess it’s a dog thing. After feeding Benny, I also poured me some whiskey that my dad left the other day when my folks were here. Good thing they weren’t caught by that blasted snow storm. Benny kept scratching the kitchen door that leads to the backyard, telling me he wanted to go pee.

    “Okay okay, hurry back.” I said to him as I opened the door, he immediately ran to his “potty” place which was near that broken wooden fence next to the woods. I quietly finished my glass of whiskey then thought of Benny. He’s been out for a while, why hasn’t he come back yet?

    I looked outside the kitchen window and I couldn’t see him. Maybe he’s stuck in the snow or something?

    I started to bundle up, put on my warmest boots that my mom got me two Christmases ago and started venturing through the whiteness of my backyard.

    “Benny, come here boy!” I called once, but no answer. That was unusual, he always answers, or comes running towards me at the very least.

    “Benny?” I called again, but like before, there was no answer.

    I admired this one snowflake that happen to catch my eye and immediately illuminating something red from the distance as I followed the falling snowflake. My heart dropped and quickly thought of the worst. I ran towards the red snow and sure enough this is Benny’s potty spot and the fence is now completely broken.

    I can see a trail of snow going into the woods. Without hesitating, I instinctively ran and followed the trail until I caught up to the most devastating thing that I’ll ever see in my life.

    My dead dog being carried by the neck by this abomination of an animal.

    “BENNY!” I yelled, my blood rushing through my body I grabbed a tree branch and ran towards the over sized cat and kicked it with all my might and swatted it with the branch. It immediately dropped my Benny but I couldn’t control my impulses for revenge. The predator started running so I chased after it and caught it by the tail. That’s when I yanked it back and slammed it for I don’t know how many times on the ground, on the tree, on the rocks and I stabbed it with my branch until its eyes stopped glowing and its body stopped twitching.

    I was covered in blood when I went back to my dog.

    I knelt in front of Benny, my eyes covered in tears as I hugged my good boy and best friend.

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Oh this is so heart sad of a story. I can not think of the shock to find your best friend. Perhaps he not mortally wounded maybe. Other wise I am in for a nightmare thinking about it.. Full of emotion and pain. Very well written.Raf

    2. ReathaThomasOakley

      Oh, Raf, I was so pleased to see you’d posted, but now I’m very sad, and that means your writing moved me. Very well done. One question, because I know you live where it’s warm, have you ever actually seen snow? As a child I only saw it once.

  4. Clark13

    A blanket of fresh snow was covering the backyard of our new home. We had just finished unpacking the last box when the national weather service warned of the inbound blizzard. We rushed to the grocery store and got the last of the eggs, milk and bread. We were happy to have moved everything in and looked forward to the days ahead; admiring the snow from the comfort of our new home while we unpacked.

    With a lot of work still to be done, Maggie and I needed a break from unpacking but the roads were closed. Our new home sat on 20 acres so luckily we didn’t need roads to get out of the house and go exploring our new surroundings. When the worst of the blizzard let up, and wind settled down, we pulled on our warmest boots, bundled up and ventured into the whiteness of our new 20 acre back yard.

    The fresh snow crunched under out boots as we wandered deeper into the wooded property. The wind was slowing as we trekked farther and farther, we were plenty warm to keep this pace for quite some time; and luckily so as we really needed to get out of the house. With full cell service we didn’t worry too much about getting lost, we could use our phones to navigate back through the thickening woods. Maggie began to express some concern as the wide paths became nothing more than deer trails. I ensured her there was nothing to worry about and insisted we keep walking.

    It was at that moment, while admiring the whitest of white snow, freshly fallen upon our new purchase, that the sun peeked from the clearing sky that I caught a glimpse of color that stood out boldly against the snow. “What’s that” I exclaimed, my tone startled. Maggie and she stopped in her tracks.

    “What’s what?” she replied, it was obvious she did not see what I was referring to.

    “That red shit in the snow” I pointed toward it, about 10 feet left of the deer trail we were on, in a small clearing.

    “Looks like blood babe, what the fuck!” she exclaimed. “But how the fuck? it just snowed like 10 inches, how is it so fresh on top of the snow?” Her inner investigative skills shone through.

    “What the hell, babe lets check this shit out” and we both headed in that direction, pushing our way through the dense thickets. We noticed no undisturbed snow in any direction which immediately led our gaze upwards into the large black pine looming over the clearing in the woods.

    At that moment we both noticed a drop of red liquid add to the growing and melting puddle at our feet’s. “Jesus. Christ.” Maggie exclaimed, “you’re seeing what I’m seeing right?”

    “Uh, yeah – what the fuck man?” About 25 feet up we saw what was unmistakably a person who looked to be stuck in the tree, still and lifeless. I reached for my phone to call 9-1-1 and saw that I had no service. Maggie checked her phone simultaneously with the same luck I had. “What the fuck babe, how did he get up there and what the fuck happened?!”

    “I don’t know and I don’t have service, what the fuck are we going to do?” She asked desperately. “HEY!” she yelled upwards as blood continued to drip down from his body. She received no response. Almost at the same time we heard a loud snap, and his body shifted. “OH FUCK!” Maggie grabbed my arm and led me from the area just a few feet away. We both shielded our faces with our arms as the man, and the branch he was resting on fell, violently from the tree.

    The bloody man came crashing down, the weight of him and the branch he was on took a few more smaller branches down with him. This all came to a rest right at our feet. “Are you okay babe?” I asked, as I had been scratched up by some of the debris.

    “Yeah I’m good,” we looked at each other, “fuck babe you’re bleeding.” She stated as she wiped a bit of blood from my face.

    “I’m good, just a little scratched up.” We focused our attention to what now lay before us. This was strange, what initially appeared to a person in cold weather clothing, revealed to us to be something very different. Having worked in law enforcement for a number of years, we immediately took photos with our phones before disturbing what lay before us. With some crude photos taken we approached closer and decided to move the layers of clothing from the…. thing?

    Before this moment I never believed in aliens, not like the big eyed, green Hollywood martians that are routinely depicted……

    “BABE!” Maggie jolted me by my shoulders. “Fuck dude you can sleep through anything! Are you going to help me unpack these boxes or what? I wanna get this shit done so we can go enjoy the weather at the park with the kids.”

    The A/C snapped on and blasted me in the face. “Yeah sorry I didn’t realize I was that tired.” I got up off the couch and continued to help her unpack our things into our new Manhattan apartment.

  5. JRSimmang

    THE MIGRATION OF BIRDS

    Winter became an ominous warning as the years progressed. The first year left the McCoy boys with little more than a prayer. The next winter left them cursing God, which is something they never thought they’d do, mama being a preacher’s wife and papa being a preacher. Johnathan McCoy was a watcher, waiting for the summer arrival of the migratory birds. Michael was an optimist.

    “You wanna finish it?” Michael, the younger brother sat proudly at the dinner table, shuffling a deck of cards, glancing at the two fingers left in the bottle of bourbon and nodding toward his brother.

    Johnathan inhaled deeply and checked his glass. “I’m empty,” was all he said, and he stood up, wandered to the kitchen, put his glass in the sink, and checked his almost-reflection in the mirror overlooking his back yard.

    He could hear the hushing of shuffling cards, the faint patter of snowflakes on the glass of the window. His fingers betrayed a slight tremor, and he attributed it to the cold. He knew it wasn’t, though. There are only a handful of live things out in the snow like that, and he could barely make out anything past his patio for the weather. He knew, also, that this was a barren frost, the kind that banishes everything with a breath to the eternal unknown.

    The birds would be back… someday.

    He kept a pistol hidden in his underwear drawer. When he heard Michael humming an old hymn, he waltzed to his room, walked outside in the snowdrifts, and shot himself.

    ***

    Michael had planned the funerals for his parents, and now, in the bleak of winter, he had to plan another one. It’s hard work digging six feet when the ground had been frozen solid for three weeks. So, they figured they’d keep Johnathan on ice until the soil was easier to work. Luckily, the snow didn’t show any sign of stopping soon.

    He couldn’t work out the worst of it. People do strange things when they’re holed up in a house with no sunlight or animal sounds. There’s a lot to be said about the people who wind up surviving the cold only to have it completely change them. It does things to the mind.

    Johnathan shot himself in the back of the yard, out near the shed, out under the wisteria. Michael wasn’t sure it was still alive, though he wouldn’t uproot it if it had died.

    The house was now empty, Michael thought to himself after seeing Johnathan’s body off to the morgue. The almost drained bottle of bourbon still sat on the dining room table; he hadn’t been able to finish it yet. There was only one light in the house that still worked, so he had his lanterns lit. They added some much needed warmth. Michael liked the way flame made the shadows dance. Something he didn’t get with incandescent bulbs.

    He picked up his deck of cards, cut them with one hand, then slumped into his chair.

    He slept at the table that night with his fingers of one hand curled around his glass, and the fingers of the other gripping the cards.

    He woke up before the sun came up with a crick in his neck and a puddle of drool under his arm. The still unempty bottle of bourbon sat still in the center of the table, and the world was silent. He was always the one that preferred the cold, who liked to chop wood at the peak of the morning, who wanted to catch the afternoon in the trails and in the streams. Johnathan liked his journals and the dappled sunshine.

    He needed the life.

    His watch was sitting on the kitchen sink. His glasses were on his nightstand.

    Michael wandered back to the kitchen sink and stared out at the wisteria as the sun came up.

    There, under the early morning goldenrod shade, he made out a blossoming red. A spirit reminder of the last time he would see his brother.

    He gathered his robe, and trudged out into the snow.

    He remembered a conversation he had with his dad many years ago. The snow was cleansing. It would settle out and slowly erase all that shit on top. It was progress, it was slow, it was ritual, it was rite.

    The snow fell on top of his head, and he could feel it melting into his hair.

    He walked slowly to the spot his brother shot himself, and there, frozen from the night, was a carcass of a robin. Odd, Michael thought, that a robin would be out in the winter. Odder still that the robin would build a nest in the wisteria. He picked it up and turned it over in his hands. Then, without a thought, carried it inside, set it in a box, and vowed to bury it once the grounds were soft enough to turn.

    -JR Simmang

    1. Kerry Charlton

      Missed you JR and your writing. This story is just what I would expect from you. It is eye-opening to read with its detail, emotion and pain. I think it may be the best thing I have read in awhile, perhaps back to your last story I read. Please stay around for a spell at the least. .

  6. Critique

    Red Snow

    Angie threw the afghan aside where she had been napping on the couch, walked into the kitchen, and looked out. It was late afternoon on Saturday and heavy snow had started to fall, swirling crazily in the wind. She couldn’t see much past the periphery of the yard but as her gaze shifted towards the skating rink her husband Earl had constructed for the children a week ago she could see that the huge plastic cover from the rink was now billowing over the sidewalk and looked like it could soon be out on the street. Strange. Earl was always careful about securing things.

    Outside snow pellets stung her cheeks as she tried to gather up the stiff plastic into a bundle but it blew from her freezing hands back into the yard. Stumbling through the drifts and wishing she had more on then a thin sweater she was shocked to see a rather large patch of bright red on the ice slowly being obliterated under a blanket of snow. Instinctively she knew it was blood.

    Fright propelled her frantic dash back to the house in the deepening snow, slipping and falling several times and losing Earl’s big winter boots she’d jumped into and hadn’t bothered to do up. She locked the door behind her, hunched over trapping her frozen hands under her armpits and gasped for air. Should she call the police? Earl wouldn’t be home for at least two hours. The kids, Sean and Maggie were away at winter camp until Sunday. Someone had to be badly hurt or worse, dead. Was there a body out there by the skating rink? Even worse – Angie let out a whimper and clapped her hands over her mouth – what if an intruder slipped into the house when she was outside?

    Floor boards creaked overhead. Angie stopped breathing. They creaked again. She needed to leave. Tiptoeing she carefully unhooked the van keys hanging on the board above the entry bench and opened the adjoining door to the garage.

    “Angie, hon are you there?”

    Earl? Angie dropped the keys and they clanked loudly on the ceramic floor.

    “Earl is that you?” Angie called sagging onto the bench.

    Angie watched as her husband appeared at the top of the stairway holding a towel to his face.

    “I didn’t know you were home?” Angie asked. “What happened?’

    “I could ask you the same question?” Earl said eying his barefoot snowy disheveled wife.

    “You first.” Angie said brushing snow from her hair.

    “I finished up early at the office. You were sleeping and I thought I would flood the rink one more time.” Earl walked slowly down the stairs and ruefully held the bloodied towel aloft displaying a gaping gash on his chin. “I fell, hit my chin on the shovel.”

    “Let me see that.” Angie inspected the wound. “I think you might need stitches.”

    Later snuggled in front of the blazing fireplace – Earl sporting a bandaged chin covering five stitches – they munched on salsa and chips and Angie recounted the terrified thoughts she had on seeing the blood on the snow and her frenzied scramble to get to the house.

    “I’m sorry hon.” Earl pulled Angie closer to his side. “That must have been scary.”

    “I must have looked like a madwoman.” Angie laughed. “I’m sorry too. I lost your boots.”

    1. ReathaThomasOakley

      Details made this come alive for me. I could feel the cold, stiff plastic and the unbuckled boots slipping off. I even tasted the salsa and chips. Nicely done.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Very nice, Critique. Perfectly written with continued suspense. Also very believable that this could happen. Description of the snow and cold just added to the suspense.

  7. Charlie Bear

    Red Cashmere

    There aren’t many people who Cathy didn’t like. Really. She was fine with almost everyone, including the guy yelling profanities on the street. He was just drunk, maybe had too much fun last night, no harm done.

    She liked to think that she was easy going, happy go lucky, Winnie the Pooh type character. Her coworkers described her as friendly and helpful.

    Or so she liked to delude herself.

    There were brief moments at work where her true character showed. In the mornings when someone took all the hot water in the kettle before she could get to it, she would curse them under her breath and peer through the office in search of a hot mug. Then in meetings when someone went on and on she’d impatiently start tapping her foot, yawning rudely, and smirk at Linda. Then there was the gossip. There was nothing more she loved than listening in to a coworker’s grudge against another co-worker, then adding in her own two cents.

    Most of Cathy’s ill intentions was towards Tracy. No one else could irritated her as much as Tracy, though if you asked for the exact reason why, you’d get a series of thoughts with no concrete reason. In reality, Cathy’s animosity towards Tracy was nothing more than a familiar case of being around a person whose air you disagreed with.

    After the holidays, Tracy came to work with a red, cashmere scarf. It caught Cathy’s attention because it was uncharacteristic of Tracy. She explained that the scarf was an expensive gift from her loving husband before they went on holiday in the Caribbeans, hence her tan and beach selfies.

    Tracy hung that red scarf on her chair, which seemed unnecessary to Cathy since everyone hung their scarves on the coat rack. It seemed to Cathy that Tracy was just trying to flaunt it, as she did whenever someone passed by her desk.

    Although there are a few good reasons for anyone to ever be upset at a scarf, Cathy found herself hating that bright red cashmere. It started a domino effect in a series of other annoyances. Little things really, but it all accumulated the afternoon the city was to receive its first major snowfall.

    The forecast called for 15-20 cm of snow, starting at 11 am that morning. The window overlooking the back field of the building exhibited a fury of snowflakes. Around noon the wind arrived. The snow flew in circles, going from harsh to severe. A delivery truck arrived outside the window, and the snow never fully settled on it. The lid on the garbage bin banged open and shut. Around 2 pm, 5 cm of snow had already accumulated and the wind grew more relentless, slapping pedestrians in the face with wet snow. Around 3 pm the snow turned for the worst, the sun disappeared, and everything appeared white. This was when Tracy announced she was leaving for the day.

    “You’re leaving early?”

    “Yeah, heading home before the traffic gets worst. It would really suck to be stuck in traffic for so long. I think I’m going to make chili for my husband tonight.”

    “Chili sounds good.”

    Cathy indignantly watched Tracy through the window as she disappeared in the whiteout.

    Around five, enough snow had accumulated that Cathy wished she left when Tracy did. It would be a brutal drive home. She bundled up and put on her boots to brace the snow.

    As she crossed the backfield something red caught her eye and her first instinct that it was Tracy’s scarf proved to be right. After a half second debate, she took it and put in her car.

    The drive home was as bad as she thought it would be. Everyone was bumper to bumper, and the snow hadn’t been plowed. She ran out of podcasts to listen to and had to rely on the radio. By the fifth time she heard Selena Gomez’s latest single, she was about to pull her hair out. It was cold and unrelenting. Her butt began to feel uncomfortable at the 1.5 hour mark. At two hours she was almost home but there had been an accident and she had to exit the highway into an unfamiliar road, causing her to get lost.

    As she was navigating her way through unfamiliar streets in the city, her agitation increased. Plus she was starving. All the while Tracy’s scarf sat on the passenger seat. Cathy’s anger swelled at the sight of it, everything about Tracy just annoyed her. Without thinking, she tossed the scarf out the window.

    She instantly felt better.

    Before guilt could catch up to her, she was home.

  8. ellevee

    “Jesus, Kate, I told you not to go.”

    My hands worked fast, tearing off my daughter’s pink snow suit. Blood gurgled from her mouth, the same blood slicking my fingers.
    “Nga…brnguh…”

    “Shh, okay? Don’t talk.”

    And she didn’t. Instead, her green eyes, ones that hadn’t seen violence or death or suffering, kept their focus on me, the sad shit who let this happen in the first place. Outrageously, the idea that she was experiencing all three at once brought a giggle to my throat.

    About ten minutes earlier I stood on our back deck, smoking down a cigarette in the cold, looking out into the woods butting up to our property. White flakes fell like they always did, all off them different despite everything feeling monotonous. On the very last drag, I noticed him. A limping, disjointed man twitching his way towards the house. 300 feet out is when he saw me. A constricted grunt, then a roar, and by the time he was full on screaming he was at the stairs, his bare feet going thunk thunk thunk on the wood.

    Not a thought went through my mind as I drew my pistol. Two pops and he was out, collapsed at the top steps. They were so loud I could almost feel the sound of the gunshots ricochet off the trees and onto my face. Despite the cold air, the guy stunk like something that had been dead for hours in the sun. Just like Iraq. Rolling him over with the toe of my boot I found the odor’s source and I knew we were in for some shit.

    My wife pushed the screen door open.

    “What was that?!”

    I stepped aside so she could see and her mouth dropped opened, her green eyes, same as our Kate’s, popping from their sockets.

    “Holy hell,” she said, “It’s really happening.”

    “Looks like. Go get the rifle and keep Kate inside.” Before she could take off I grabbed her hand. “I love you, Maria.”

    She looked down at our fingers.

    “I…I love you too.” It was the first time she said it since I got back. The transition since the last deployment had been hard.

    There was a slight rattling of metal as my wife opened our gun safe and handled the rifle. “Stay in here, baby,” Maria said, her voice muffled. “Keep Spot next to you.”

    In that time, two more had approached, twitching, rotting, and not registering yet that there was live flesh nearby. Spot whined from inside while Maria cracked the door. “Here, Oscar.” She held out the rifle and we exchaned firearms as Kate squeeked from behind us.

    “No, Spot,” she said as the dog ripped from her grip, “Stay here!” A white blur passed through Maria’s legs and I tried to catch him, I really did. But he had just gotten groomed and his dam coat was so slick.

    “Spot, wait!” our daughter screamed, following him, as she somehow slipped by me too.

    “Kate!” I bellowed, hoping the sound of her father yelling would give her pause. “Get back here!” But it didnt do anything, because I technically wasn’t. I was a stranger who’d been gone for the first four years of her life.

    They took Spot out in a matter of seconds. Maria managed to kill one with the pistol and moved on to the other, unloading every bullet with out sticking a single one. As I brought the lever action rifle up to my cheek, the thing launched itself through the air right at Kates chest, devouring the arm she held out in defense. I lined up my shot and BOOM, the thing was finally motionless, half its head coating the nearby tree trunks.

    “Cover me,” I said, handing the rifle to Maria who could barely grip the barrel and ran to my only child, a pink and red spot at the back of the yard.

    ***

    “How’s your arm, baby?” Maria asked. All three of us sat, hydrated and fed, at one of our assigned cots.

    “It’s good. It matches Daddy’s leg,” Kate said proudly. She rested her metal arm on my metal thigh. Kate was warm and solid, tucked under my armpit. She still went to Maria for the bulk of her physical affection but this was a start. Between the two of us, she felt safe enough to lean on me.

    Hundreds of cots were arranged around us where families just like mine licked their wounds and held their loved ones close. Seeing this gave me the courage to hug my daughter who was alive and healthy next to me. During the rebuild, I would not be a stranger anymore.

    1. writeroftheking

      There’s just something about apocalypse stories…the problem solving, the suspense, the emotional reactions to life as we know it getting tossed in the air…it’s all so morbidly intriguing. I loved this piece. It’s not so gory that people would think i’m crazy and keep a wary distance from me, but still keeps a reader interested. I hope you have a part 2 floating around somewhere…

    2. hillsworth

      Nice job, ellevee. Did Oscar lose his leg to the undead in Iraq or just in the war? I like the fact that they don’t automatically turn into zombies themselves if they get bit, that they can possibly have those ‘infected’ parts replaced??? I’d read more if you choose to continue next week.

  9. MichaelPerry

    A FRIEND WITH CHOCOLATE

    When I peeked out the kitchen window the morning of the first snowfall, I knew right away something was wrong. The fresh coating of snow covering the ground in my backyard glimmered in red flashing light. The red light pulsated through my window in short bursts, the kind of visual cue that’s etched into our minds and puts us on notice something urgent is happening.

    With my heart in my throat, I pulled on boots, gloves, and a heavy wool coat, along with a dose of dread and burst out the back door reciting a silent prayer I memorized as a child when my mother was dying with cancer.
    As I trudged through the red snow, fragments of the past twelve years, like scenes from a black and white movie rolled through my mind.

    I will never forget the first time I met Lil Adams, a seventy-five-year-old widow with the energy of a teenager and a heart as vast as an ocean. It was a warm June day and we had just moved into our first house. Andy and I had scrimped and saved every penny we could for the down payment. I was six months pregnant with our first child.

    On that first day, I stood in our kitchen and gazed out the window into our threadbare backyard. On the other side of the fence (a swinging gate had been conveniently installed in the middle), a woman covered in a floppy hat and dark sunglasses stood on a pristine lawn, a garden hose snaked across the grass, spraying a lush paradise filled with purple and yellow flowers and bright green and red trees.

    Overcoming my anxiety, I bravely walked across the yard and introduced myself. Lil opened the gate and invited me in. Before I left, she gave me a chocolate Hersey’s Kiss for the walk home. Lil loved chocolate. Every time we got together, she always gave me something chocolate. I tell myself to this day she was an angel and it was fate we ended up here.

    Over the next twelve-years, Lil not only became my friend but also a surrogate mother, teaching a clueless twenty-two-year-old the subtleties of handling a colicky baby, cooking a variety of Italian and Polish dishes, and distinguishing the difference between annuals, biennials, and perennials . We played bingo every Wednesday night and captured the neighborhood Uker championship five years running.

    When I finally got her to tell me who installed the swinging gate in the fence and why (when her beloved Herb died, she and the widower who had lived in our house had a little fling. It kept their relationship incognito) her health had taken a bad turn.

    When I reached the EMS vehicle parked in her driveway, the cold wind sucked the air from my lungs. Several of the neighbors stood around somber-faced and spoke in hushed tones. The front door was open and emergency personnel were inside the house.

    I felt a hand on my shoulder. Edith from across the street.

    “I’m so sorry Abby. I know she hasn’t been feeling well so I came over to drop off some chicken soup—”

    “What happened?”

    “When she didn’t answer the door, I peeked in the kitchen window. She was lying on the floor—” As she looked away, I glimpsed the tears welling in her eyes.

    I knew right then Lil was gone.

    I remembered something Lil told me the first day we first met. She said, “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.” Maybe Lil figured out the complicated meaning of friendship or perhaps, even life itself. It’s such a simple concept if you think about it. I get it, not everyone likes chocolate. But instead of chocolate, it might be a kind word, a smile, a hello, a shoulder to lean on, or a sympatric ear to listen.

    I know what it was like to have such a friend. I hope and pray I can find another.

    1. GrahamLewis

      Very clever using the pulsing red lights to respond to the prompt. I wish I’d thought of it. Reminded me of my 90-year-old neighbor across the street; one night I awoke to those lights, only to find later it had been a false alarm triggered by a faulty monitor. But the immediate response was the same as in your story.

    2. hillsworth

      Brought back memories of the elderly couple that lived next door to our first home so many years ago. They treated my wife and I like we were their grandkids…ahhhh, memories. Thank you!

  10. Kerry Charlton

    ANASTASIA

    The snow started to fall around two in the afternoon on a cold January day so I let the construction crews leave early with their paychecks. The city turned quiet and picturesque as the snow continued. I drove past my office and up Arcadia Lane, in a central part of San Antonio. Children burst from houses to see God’s miracle. There had been no measurable snow fall in our city in over twenty five years.

    I was fortunate to get home early enough to make it up the hill to my house. Anastasia was waiting on the front porch, excitedly waving her tail in delight. A pure-bred Samoyed, she weighed 85 pounds and her thick white coat made it difficult to see her bound across the yard toward me. She kicked through the snow as she ran like a thrashing machine in a field of wheat ready for harvest.

    Anna headed for a large storm drain as she saw a red object. I watched also as I was curious. She put her large jaw on a black length of steel as if a handle and pulled out a large wood wagon with wood slats on each side. The children loved her as she would allow a collar to be placed on her neck with a long length of rawhide held by the children. We lived second house from a cross street and I had seen Anna pull a boy on a skate board around a corner at twenty five miles an hour at the curb.

    Late Saturday afternoon with over nine inches of snow on the ground, the mayor announced a three day weekend which included Monday as a holiday. Snow continued to fall through Saturday night until daylight. Outside the sound of bagpipes split the cold air as a teenage boy walked past our house playing traditional Irish songs. I of course had listened to his music for at least two years but the sound of pipes was haunting over fourteen inches of stone white snow on the ground.

    Not another sound could be heard and when he switched to Amazing Grace with Anna and all the children by his side, tears started to fall. Lanore and I watched for an hour at least as the boy walked up and down Arcadia Place playing every Irish song I was familiar with. I’m not sure how Anna felt or the boy that day but for me it was the essence of complete happiness.

    Monday I decided to build a snow woman in the image of Marilyn on the front lawn for the world to admire and for the sake of art, I left her bathing suit off. Artist privileges were used to keep the Terrell Hills police at bay. Fire department and police department were side by side down my street two blocks away. Anna visited the fire department on a regular basis at least once a month. One time, she stayed four hours and I started to worry but the fire chief called and asked if she could stay two more hours.

    One little tidbit you might like to know. Two weeks before our historic snowfall, on ‘The Tonight Show’, Johnny was being teased about his new beach side romance…

    “Johnny, are you going to marry a fourth wife?”

    “Well, not until it snows in San Antonio.” A direct quote.

    “Heeerrreers Johnny!”

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you John
        Yes, the memories are safely there waiting for me to rewrite my autobiography
        Anna was an amazing companion, sweet and gentle as can be. I miss her so but after fourteen years and cancer she left us. Hope all is well with you. Kerry.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thanks Bushkill. You know it’s the small things in life that are worth remembering. I think God built us to remember the joyous and bury the sad. The older I get, the harder is is to do but I’ll work at it everyday.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        THank you Reatha. Bagpipes are haunting enough to hear and awake the Irish in me. But in the whiteness of the snow it was awesome to see and hear. When I started writing at a very old age, the flood of memories started to flood my mind and they’re still coming. Great fun. .

    1. Critique

      The poignant bagpipe element in your wonderful story reminded me of a similar event that happened in October 2018 in Alberta, Canada. The trans Canada highway between Banff and Calgary was in chaos due to heavy snowfall. A professional trumpet player stood on the side of the road and put on a mini jam session for the stranded motorists (stranded for over 13 hours). You can google the account if interested. Music is therapy.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Thank you Michael for stopping by and your wonderful compliment. The memory get into unbelievable detail when I start a story. It amazes me also since I can’t remember where I put my car keys.

        Detail

  11. ShamelessHack

    “Sergeant O’Malley to base. Sergeant O’Malley to base. Over.”
    “We copy, O’Malley. Any luck yet? Over.”
    “Maybe. We ran into a group of Eskimos a few miles back. Two of them, an old fellow and his grandson, they think they saw something last night. They’re with our search party now, escorting us to the spot. Over.”
    “What’s the weather like, Sergeant? Over.”
    “Sixty below, but clear. And…wait a minute! The old man and the kid are running across the glacier. They’ve spotted something. Over.”
    “Can you see what it is Sergeant? What is it? Over.”
    “I can’t quite make it out, base. But it looks like something startlingly red in the snow up ahead. The kid and the old man are almost there. Over.”
    “Catch up to them, O’Malley. Over.”
    “They’ve come to a stop at the red spot, base. And…holy mackerel! The kid has started singing and the old man is dancing! Over.”
    “Singing? Dancing?”
    “Yes, base. It seems like some kind of Eskimo song or an Aleut chant. Not only that, but our search is now officially over. It’s her. Over.”
    “She’s not alive, is she? Over.”
    “No. the runners left an awful red mess, base. Over.”
    “Did you figure out what the Eskimo kid was singing, Sergeant?”
    “We may never know, base. We’ll probably never know what that eerie Eskimo song means. Never. Over.”
    ***
    …and as the Northern Lights cast rainbows across the winter sky, the young boy and the old man returned to their village on the ice floe. And the old man would dance as the boy sang the chant in the village, a chant that would last through the night and would then be handed down to generations to come…

    Grandma got run over by a reindeer
    Coming home from our igloo Christmas Eve.
    Some say that there’s no such thing as Santa.
    But as for me and Grandpa we believe.

    Over…and out.

  12. hillsworth

    ***Chapter 3 in my ‘quest for a novel’***

    Lady McQuiston stood stiffly in front of the window in the gathering room of their Spanish Colonial house in the town of Heck. Four months have passed since their arrival and the death of their ward, John ‘Sully’ Sullivan, and now gazing through the opaque glass as the first snowfall of the year began to cover the back yard, she shivered involuntarily.

    Her husband, John McQuiston, saw this, set his mug of hot coffee on the table and rose from his seat, stepping in behind her, wrapping his big, strong arms around her shoulders. She shivered again and snuggled into his embrace.

    “What are you thinking, my Lady? ”

    “Lot’s of things.” A quiet pause, one that John knows not to interupt. “I’m thinking of Sully, of how young he was when we left Texas and headed to Oregon.”

    “Mmm… he must’ve only been about what? Twenty-four? Twenty-five, maybe?”

    “About that, I guess. He was amazed at everyrhing.” Lady shivered once more and John rubbed his palms up and down her arms, warming her.

    “What got you thinking about him?”

    “The snow, John.” She spun in his embrace and faced him, wrapping her pale arms around his neck. “Remember when we saw the pink snow? Up in the mountains?”

    John nodded. “I remember.”

    “Sully was the first one to see it. We were going through the pass and just as we crossed over and saw the meadow sprawled out below us, that’s when he stopped the wagon.”

    Johns eyes took on a far away stare as he recalled the scene just fifteen years earlier. “The first pink snow was just a small spot. He thought something had been killed there. He jumped down from the springseat and darted over to it, expecting to find hair or feathers, but there was nothing there. No footprints or nothing.”

    “I remember he stepped in it and it turned a dark, crimson red, just like blood, John.”

    “Yes, my dear, just like blood. It wasn’t until we rounded the point that we saw it all.”

    “It was beautiful.” A tear trickled out of Lady’s eye and slid down her cheek. “All that pink snow. And the way Sullys face glowed when he looked at it, it was like he was mesmerized by it.”

    “What did the people of Dorris Bridge call it? Strawberry Snow?”

    “No, John, they called it Watermelon Snow. Remember, one of Sullys favorite foods was watermelon.”

    “How could I forget.” John smiled down at Lady as he wiped away her tear. “He spent half his youth out in Old Man Campbells patch. That boy sure could eat a ton of it.”

    “Let’s get bundled up and ride out to the cemetery, John.”

    “If you wish, my Lady.” John stoked the fire and grabbed his coat and hat and headed for the stable to hitch up the horses.

    “Just wish there was some watermelon around to take. Sully would’ve liked that.”

    “He sure would have, my Lady, he sure would have.”

  13. Moon2

    The cold nipped my nose as I made my way across the snow covered field. It was as if a white blanket had been draped over the world, covering all of the ugly blemishes. The trees glistened with a frozen beauty only found in the heart of winter. It was the perfect day, a day worth waiting for. My Laurie was coming home.

    My pace quickened with anticipation, and my layers of skirts brushed the white dust off my path. A figure appeared in the distance, drawing closer and closer with each step I took. All etiquette left me as I hitched up my skirts and ran towards him. We collided into each other’s’ arms, and his calloused hands gripped my waist as he lifted me into the air and spun me around.

    “Oh, Rose,” he whispered in my ear. “I’ve been waiting for this day for as long as I can remember.”

    “Me, too,” I whispered back before I pressed my lips to his. He pulled me in closer, deepening the kiss. I wrapped my arms around his neck, fingers tangling in his hair. His lips formed a trail of kissed down my jaw, ending at the base of my neck. Then, before I could take another breath, they were back on my own, capturing them in another perfect kiss.

    A sharp bang interrupted the moment. Laurie collapsed in my arms, and I struggled to hold him up, but the weight was too much. He collapsed in the snow, a blanket of red already forming around him.

    “No!” the cry escaped my lips. “Laurie! Stay with me, Laurie. Please.”

    My hand cupped his cheek. “Don’t you dare leave me now, Laurie. I forbid it.”

    He took a labored breath and struggled to form the words. “Rose,” he said.

    Tears streamed down my cheeks as he uttered his next words. “I… I love…”

    A final white breath escaped his lips before he could finish his last sentence. Unfocused eyes gazed into nothingness. He was gone.

    I collapsed on top of him, my body numb. Sobs wracked through me, and I clutched his jacket, willing for him to come back. All I could see was that red snow. That bright red snow. That was all I could think about as I drew my gaze up and met the dark eyes of Laurie’s killer.

  14. Bushkill

    Oops

    My ears adjusted to the muted silence. The roar of the snow-blower shaking winter out of my driveway now replaced by the sound of flakes sleuthing through the air. I can hear them striking leaves not fallen. I can hear their rasp as they tink (faintly) off tree branches on their way to join their fallen fellows.

    The silence swallows everything. The trees in the empty lot next to my house are sentinels against settlement. In my yard, the empty lot, the neighbors on the other side, lie their fallen heroes. Trees uprooted and left for dead by other storms.
    By we mortals sharing the space with them.

    Everywhere, the world is white. Everything is covered in white. Mounds of pillowing softness rest atop every up-facing surface. The softness, the silence, the stillness all whisper of sanctuary and calm.

    My meager mind muses over the meanings of such things when my eye falls to rest on a blemish in the white-cloaked world. In the back of the yard, behind a stalwart oak, a stain moves across the surface of the snow.

    Crimson tendrils extend from its center. They knife through the snow’s purity screaming for attention in a world grown tranquil and languid. I move in its direction, every step a transgression of its own; every footfall a crushing imprint on this virgin world.

    I have to cross one of the fallen sentinels. It is a challenge to maneuver in the cold and the snow. There are dangers under the pristine coverlet; traps lying in hiding for the unwary. Still, I master the stillness and the unknown. I master my soul to push it forward as the silence of the world around me screams at the pulse pounding in my ears. Is it real? This internal sound of rushing heat?

    I find the stain where I thought, burgeoning outward and crawling toward me. Its contagion is spreading, like a living thing. The snow around it is melting, slithering away in fear and anxiety as the pulsing red mark thrives. Its mark in the snow is arcing back away from me now, on a crusade to surround me.

    I sense my peril but stand transfixed by this harbinger. The other side now races, too. Together they speed away in loops, one to the right, one to the left. I turn, my place in the picture they draw a dagger to the heart.

    I cannot believe it. I cannot have been so subtly beguiled. I look up at the deck of my house. It leans out over the yard, perched and waiting. And not very close. I am in it thick, now. I can see it clearly.

    My wife pulls in the driveway the same instant the looping stain completes its encirclement. I am undone, unprepared, uncollected. I pull out my phone. I must check. It can’t be. I couldn’t have. Imprisoned in the crimson sided heart, my phone confirms my failure. February 14, 2019.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Whow, this is a work of art in description. The feeling of the snow and the stillness is an amazing thing to experience. I flew there with my magic shoos to check it out. Good job on this one..

      2. GrahamLewis

        When I was a kid I literally could not stand to see an undisturbed blanket of snow and would wander the neighborhood tracking across neighbors’ lawns– they must have hated me, though no one said anything I like your descriptions of the snowscape.

      1. Bushkill

        All’s fair in love and words, right? I think I have that quote correct.

        Thanks for the comment. I love standing in my yard listening to the snow. Of the things these mountains bring me, whispering snowflakes are among the most serene.

  15. William

    Snow? In South Texas? I’d only seen it once before, back when I was a kid. I watched as wispy flakes drifted down and, by some miracle, stuck instead of melting. Soon the grass, pecan trees, and live oaks were blanketed in layers of soft white, transforming the lawn into a magical winter landscape, all the more beautiful due to its rarity in that part of the world.

    “Babe! Kids! Wake up!” Their joyful gasps as I opened the door amplified my own excitement. In a moment, we were dressed in our warmest coats. The kids rushed into the back yard while I searched for the scarves and gloves we’d bought on our trip to Colorado.

    “Daddy watch!” Amy, our four year old, demanded.

    “Wow! That’s great baby girl!” She’d made not one, but eight different snow angels in the shallow drifts.

    “I need a hat daddy.” Sadie, our oldest, was trying her hand at building a snowman. I offered Sadie my ball cap, but she shook her head emphatically. “That’s not a snowman hat! It has to be black and like this!” She indicated with swirling hand gestures that the hat must have a brim. We owned no such hat.

    “Those are for normal snowmen, honey,” I tried to convince her. “This is a Texas snowman. He needs a Texas hat!” Sadie mulled it over a fast second before accepting my argument, and soon the “Texas snowman” was wearing not only a ball cap, but a bandana and a pair of sunglasses as well.

    “Finished!” Sadie announced proudly.

    “No! Wait!” Our son Stew had been sculpting snowballs for an upcoming assault, but was suddenly off like a shot. He returned carrying a large Nerf gun.
    “A Texas snowman needs a hunting rifle!” he explained. Sadie smiled, and the two began adding snow arms to help the Texas snowman hold his hunting rifle.

    “What’s that, babe?” my wife was pointing to a bright red object half buried in the snow near the barbed wire fence. I made my way through the slush, cursing my inadequate footwear as icy water seeped through my tennis-shoes and onto my toes.

    The buried object turned out to be Stew’s old firetruck. I smiled, thinking back to the day we bought it for him. It was the day he’d turned three. I still remembered how excited he’d been when he opened it, and the hours he’d spent scooting around the house making siren noises with his mouth.

    I wiped away a nostalgic tear, and watched my family play in the snow. Sadie was making the Texas snowman a smile with rocks from the driveway. Amy had bored of snow angels and was building a “sand castle” for mommy. I didn’t see Stew. Then, out of nowhere, a snowball exploded across my neck, followed by insidious laughter.

    “Oh you want to play?” I taunted as Stew ran. “You’ll never defeat daddy!” The other kids joined in, and the backyard scene turned into a brutal, delightful, massacre.

    1. MichaelPerry

      Nicely done.. Smooth descriptions and dialogue.
      This is priceless: “This is a Texas snowman. He needs a Texas hat!” Didn’t know there was such a thing as a Texas snowman but a bandana and sunglasses makes perfect sense.

  16. GrahamLewis

    RED ON WHITE

    Snow gets old soon enough, but its first real real appearance is welcome, the way it covers the browns and pale scraggly greens, smooths the blemishes, and makes all so fresh and white. This snow rode in on brisk winds, so it not only cover the ground, it piled upon itself and into steep ridges and magnificent mounds. A literal winter wonderland, to use that trite and tried phrase. Hard to remember that those words were once fresh and new, like this snow. Or that this snow will soon enough grow tiresome as that.

    For now though, it’s all sparkling white under a crisp blue sky. But not all. There’s one place, way in the back, along the fence row. At the edge of one monstrous drift, a spot of bright red. And another. And another. Something sinister could be inferred, perhaps some scene of “nature, red in tooth and claw,” to borrow words from Tennyson. As though some rabbit, or squirrel, maybe, its dark form highlighted by the fresh snow, had met its end at the teeth or talons of a hungry, lurking predator.

    I’ve seen that often enough, and carnivore though I am, my sympathies always lie with the fallen, because so many of these seemingly innocent animals have become semi-tame, and I feel with them a bond born of familiarity. The hunters, though we share a lot, always lurk at the wicked edge of my awareness. I’d rather not be reminded of their savagery, of, perhaps, my own. If those red spots are remnants of that, it would be hours, or more, before I regained my sense of winter wonder.

    But not, anyway, this time. That’s no scene of carnage or desperate struggle. Instead, this red warms me, brings back memories of summer warmth and gentle sun, breezes and greens and comfort. That’s the way it is with these Winter Holly plants, the way they survive the harshest blasts winter can offer and, though their green leaves have long turned brown and been swept away by the wind, their bright red berries shine through, offering welcome food to their comrade cardinals and the other birds, and offering me reminders that though winter comes in so savagely, it’s never here to stay. They always offer a welcome spark of red midst the smothering white of even the deepest winter snow.

    1. MichaelPerry

      The spot on descriptions captured the true brutality of winter. Great rhythm and flow to your narrative. Your words created pictures in my mind as I read.
      Nicely done.

  17. freelancewriter0972

    Danielle brought her camera along as she ventured to her back yard. She wanted to capture the freshly fallen snow and post it to her blog. After lunch, she would bring her son Michael, 7, outside to build a snowman. Just as she was ready to snap the first photo, Danielle noticed something bright red. That’s odd, she thought, and decided to investigate. She dug around the snow, and soon discovered that what she had noticed was a woman’s glove. She didn’t own any red gloves though, and initially thought it might belong to one of her neighbors. It’s been really windy out, Danielle rationalized, Maybe the wind blew it into our yard.

    She took three photos for her blog, then went inside to get lunch ready for her family. Her husband, Terrence, was teleworking today because of the weather. And Michael’s school was closed. Danielle placed the glove on her kitchen table. She would call a couple of the women on her street to see if they were missing a red glove. She washed her hands, and prepared chicken soup. Once the soup was simmering on the stove, Danielle went to the basement and began a load of laundry.

    After the laundry was started, she went back upstairs to check on the soup. Terrence and Michael were talking. Michael noticed the red glove on the table and said “Daddy, that’s the same glove that was in your car the other day.” Terrence ignored the comment about the glove and said nervously “Come on son, just eat these crackers your mother set out. It will probably be a while before the soup is ready.” “But Daddy, is that Mom’s glove? Did she lose it?” Michael was still fascinated with the glove.

    Danielle stood behind the kitchen door, listening. She felt as if the wind had been knocked out of her. What was a glove that didn’t belong to her, doing in her husband’s car? How did it end up in their back yard? Who did it belong to? Her mind was racing, and she had an uneasy feeling. The red glove. Terrence coming home later than usual in recent weeks, saying he was helping out on a major project at work.

    She needed answers. And Danielle decided she would have them soon. She would stop by Radio Shack tomorrow. She had an old college friend who worked there. And Danielle would need her friend’s help to find the best surveillance equipment to put in her husband’s car.

    1. Critique

      There will be a sequel? Can’t say I’m sorry Terrence was caught if in fact his is actually being unfaithful. But the rest of the story will reveal right? 🙂

  18. Jennifer Park

    99. The Snow

    [This is a timeline skip to the third-to-the-last chapter, followed by “The Styx”, posted under “Oh, Heck”. You can see a listing of the Darth Barbara saga chapters—all of which are posted under WD prompts—by clicking on my name above. Only 26 chapters to go! Still open to suggestions for what to do with this when it’s done…]

    It rarely snowed on Kryzlak. It rarely rained. It was not that the planet was dry. The sun did not warm up the ground as much as Earth’s sun did, which kept the temperature coolish, and the atmosphere tranquil. Ideal for growing wheat. Terrible for snow.

    Having spent much of her last days on Earth near the Swiss Alps, Barbara had a special attachment to snow, and General Amu-Amu allowed her to venture out of the castle and into the mountains on snow days.

    Aviva was a young Earthling female that Mikhail had kindly dispatched to help Barbara. She was small and delicate, but oddly strong, enough to deftly toss Barbara out of her seat. Still, Aviva helped Barbara ease herself up, giving her just enough support that she could believe that she could have done everything herself. Certainly, she could not have, at all. Her joints’ days were numbered.

    As they reached the exit platform, Aviva asked again, “Do you still want to go out onto the snow? We can just watch from the shaft.”

    Barbara gave a clear answer with a look.

    The platform started its descent, upon whose completion the shaft wall lifted.

    Barbara felt a little chill, but decided not to complain about it. She took a step forward, and Aviva made it feel easy, natural. “Over there,” Barbara requested, pointing at a rock that was not snow-covered. Aviva helped her onto it.

    The wind was calm, and the view was sweeping, beautiful. Snow, snow, snow, as far as the eyes could see, blanketing over the rising and falling rolls of the ancient mountains, undisturbed by geological upheavals for eons, having eroded into gentle, drolling giants.

    Not at all like the youthful, energetic mountains of the Alps.

    The air was calm, quiet, eerily so. It almost felt warm, comforting, and left the fallen crystals of water where they lay.

    Not at all like the turbulence of the Alps, littering the hillsides with sastrugi and cornices.

    For a moment, Barbara missed Earth.

    The snow was light, fluffy, dry, and stirred up easily with every wiggle of her feet, lifting a child-like spirit within her.

    Then, a sudden gust of wind. More wind. Wind… Wind… Wind…

    Snow everywhere, filling up the air like a thick wall of fog.

    “Ambassador? Are you OK?” Aviva’s voice was a bit distant. She had wandered away, and was struggling to wade her way back.

    Barbara did not answer. As the snow settled back down, she saw something approaching her. Dark and red.

    The redness floated toward her improbably. It was an animal. It was not a live animal. More like an animal spirit.

    Then its visage emerged into clarity.

    “Is… Is that a cat?” Aviva asked unnecessarily.

    It was. An Earthling cat, a very large cat, perhaps 20 kilograms. In its mouth was the bloodied body of a local herbivore. The cat peered into Barbara’s eyes for a moment, perhaps in suspicion, perhaps in kinship, and then darted off.

    1. William

      I really like that last line. “Perhaps in suspicion, perhaps in kinship” says so much. Well done!

      I don’t feel like I’ve earned the right to vote though. I’ve only been a part of the community a couple of months, and haven’t been able to read the saga in its entirety yet. If I had a vote it would probably be lame, like “Follow your heart and screw the critics!” or something.

    2. Jennifer Park

      Thanks!

      @William, I tried to think what my heart says, and it seems to want comic books, so I added it as an option. I am working on a mock-up with a friend (who is a bit more artistically talented than me), and also drafting a first chapter, to see if either option really works. I might merge comic books and screenplay, since a comic book and a TV episode usually can handle the same amount of stuff.

  19. brookesmith

    (this is a part two to last weeks prompt, under character construction)

    When I let go of the fairy’s hand, we were there.
    Fairyland.
    I had heard of this place from my teachers, the older fae hunters. A place that no human had dared to go, because the only way to get there was to shake hands with a fairy.
    Make a deal.
    I had given my name to a fairy by accident, and therefore, he could come back at any time to request a favor from me. But, in order for the deal to be solidified, I had to stay in Fairyland until he wanted my favor.
    When I looked up, the fairy was gone, leaving me and Ben all alone in the snow covered forest, light filtering in from the treetops.
    “Kayla. I. Hate. You.” I heard from behind me, and turned around to see a startlingly red color, the likes of which I’d never seen.
    Ben’s face was so red, it would’ve made strawberries look pale. He was clenching his fists, and veins were bulging out of his head.
    I waved my hand in nonchalance, “I know you love me.” Whether or not he wanted to admit it, we were best friends.
    Ben stomped over to me, and somehow, his face turned redder with anger, “WE’RE STUCK IN FAIRYLAND NOW, KAYLA! DID YOU EVER LISTEN? THAT’S THE NUMBER ONE THING NOT TO DO! MAKE A DEAL WITH A FAIRY!”
    I stood my ground, choosing to focus on the positives, “It’s not all that bad. Now that we’re in Fairyland, we can track down Oberon.”
    His red face finally changed color, going pale with fear, “Oberon?”
    “Yeah. Oberon. King of the Fae?”
    Ben swallowed hard, clasping his hands together, “How could we possibly hunt Oberon? We couldn’t even track down that simple fairy!”
    I smiled mockingly large, then grabbed his hand and began walking.
    “Like this.”

  20. rlk67

    “Hey! Ross!” I hear my brother shout from the bottom of the hill.

    “What’s a-matter?” I yell, annoyed.

    “Come down! You gotta see this!” Oh, come on. The blizzard finally stops, and we take forever lugging our sleds to Botcham Hill. Now he wants to do show-and-tell!

    I sled down, barely missing his legs. Maybe next time.

    “Yeah? What is it?”

    My brother just stares at something by the tree. “What is ThIS?”

    Sigh. “What is wh–?” Ohhhh…its…reddish. Quick, think of something.

    “It’s not blood.”

    “IT’S BLOOD!”

    “It’s NOT blood,” I say not reassuringly. “Ketchup.”

    “Blood.”

    “Spaghetti sauce?”

    “BLOOD!” he shouts. “What else can it be?”

    “Jam. People were having a picnic, and…”

    “IN A BLIZZARD?! IT”S BLOOD!” My brother is getting edgy.

    “Now let’s not get nervous. Ok, maybe it might be perhaps possible blood, but so what?”

    He starts pacing. “A murder! Let’s look for clues! Footprints!”

    I get edgy. “No, it’s not…”

    “Weapon! Buried! Let’s dig!” He’s getting delirious. My brother is digging in the snow. For a weapon. To a murder. I just want to sled.

    “Start digging! NOW!” Whoa…this isn’t going well. I start going up the hill.

    My brother runs after me and grabs my collar, pulling me down. I tackle him. He pulls off my hat and slaps me with it. We are growling. I am disowning him tomorrow.

    Suddenly we freeze. A small voice. We turn our heads which are currently in the weirdest positions.

    A little boy holding his nose. “Thcuse me. I loth my glubs after I thledded intho a three. My doze is bleeding. Can you help me findth my glubs…oh, here they are, under your headth. Thankth.”

    He takes his gloves, and his bloody tissue.

    My brother glares at me. “Spaghetti sauce?” I disown disowning him.

    We trudge back up the hill.

    1. Bushkill

      I think I had that banter with my best friend. For kicks, we would go sledding over at Valley Forge … interesting tale of what might stain the snow at an old winter battlefield. Might be something in there for someone to pen

  21. writeroftheking

    The pasture was a solid sheen of white as sunlight, which had not proved its existence for the past five days, flitted down to glare off the snow. The trees were a good three feet shorter due to the pileup of snow around their bases, and the sight, quite simply, took my breath away.
    Or…maybe that was because I was slogging through a knee-high river of slush. Trying not to slip, and all the while balancing several flakes of hay in my arms, I made my way over to the fence-line, where I tossed the flakes over and brushed the bits of hay off my clothes. I leaned against the fence to watch my snow-dusted, shaggy horses come trotting towards their breakfast.
    My eyes instinctively slid over them, checking for any gashes. And that’s when I saw it, on the perfect whiteness of the ground: blood. A boot-sized patch of it, tarnishing the snow that was trying to be pure.
    In two seconds, I had hauled myself over the fence, and was kneeling down next to the patch of blood, examining it. I hadn’t noticed it sooner because the horses had tramped right over it in their rush to the hay, so it was marred with hoofprints.
    Looking up, I swung my gaze back to where the herd stood, tails swishing and mouths munching, and did a head count.
    “Of course,” I muttered, seeing that my 28-year-old Thoroughbred mare, Athena, was missing. Athena was NEVER late for a meal.
    Standing up, I scanned the blanketed pasture, looking for more blood that could lead me to my horse. Another, smaller, blot of red lay about thirty yards away from me, leading away from the fence.
    Anyone who’s tried to run through two feet of snow knows it’s pretty much impossible. I, however, proved it IS possible.
    It didn’t take long for me to find my mare, as she hadn’t been able to get very far; she had just barely made it to the other side of the hill.
    A sigh escaped my lips, and dread filled every crevice of my body at the sight of the pool of blood that had gathered in the snow her muzzle rested on. Her body, overly hairy with its winter coat, had fallen on the side of the hill and her long, muscled legs were tangled together as a result of her thrashing. She was laying still, now, almost gone.
    I sucked in a breath as tears bloomed in my eyes, and I dropped to my knees beside her head, thinking of all the special moments we had shared together throughout the years.
    She had always been there for me. I could’ve sworn the pain in her eyes eased just a little at the sight of me, at the feel of my tears splashing onto her head and mingling with her mane. It was as if she had been waiting for me, waiting to say goodbye, and now she could finally let go.

  22. ReathaThomasOakley

    Apologies in advance for reposting this from Snow Shoveling Showdown, February 19, 2015, prompt. When I read this week’s prompt I remembered the boy I abandoned. The Girl is another character I should get back to more often.

    The Girl’s Cousin

    I hate Wyoming, hate snow. Dad’s from Florida, won’t say why he left, says things like, “The 30s was bad for the family.” I know I got a grandmother, an Aunt Myrtis, and a girl cousin my age.

    Today I hate Wyoming because I’ve got to shovel our sidewalk, plus Mrs. Taylor’s. I don’t mind, just don’t like being told what to do. She’s a nice lady, has baked me cookies almost every week since Mom left. Dad won’t talk about that either. When I asked if she went to Florida, he laughed like it’s not funny, and said, “Ain’t hardly likely.” I love Dad, but wish he didn’t sound like The Real Mccoys. Dad’s smart, but the way he talks…

    I was thinking about snow and Florida so didn’t notice anything until,

    “Well, if it ain’t Dummy,” I’d know Butch Koltiska’s voice anyplace, thinks he’s a hotshot because he can score touchdowns at every game. He’s not that good, just bigger, because he’s older than any player in the state. If Butch is behind me so is Duffy Legerski. I don’t talk much in school, don’t need to, I learn more by listening. Butch thinks it’s funny to call me Dummy.

    “Dummy, me and Duffy got a business going. We’re gonna shovel sidewalks on this street and people are gonna pay us.”

    “Yeah, and if they don’t pay Butch, he’s gonna break windows.”

    “Duffy, shut up!”

    “Oh, sorry.”

    “Well, most everybody shovels their own walks and I do Mrs. Taylor’s.” I went back to shoveling, but Butch came up behind me and pushed me into the snow.

    “Dummy, better stay down, don’t make me hurt ya.”

    “Yeah, don’t make Butch hurt ya. Dummy’s dumb ’cause he’s got extra teeth.” And, they both laughed.

    Dad’s told me since I was little don’t get really mad, but this was different. I’d been teased about my teeth since third grade, one teacher’d said they should be taken out, but Dad just said, “You ain’t never gonna understand.” I was proud of my extra teeth, even when Dad would catch me smiling in the mirror and say things like, “Iffen I hadn’t seen it…” and shake his head.

    Now, Butch and Duffy, the stupidest boys in town were on my street, making fun of my teeth.

    “Apologize,” I said as I stood up and brushed off the snow. “Apologize and leave.” But I knew that wasn’t going to happen. I could feel the bubbling inside. Behind Butch I saw the red fog coming up fast. “Will you please apologize?” Butch just laughed and was still laughing when he and Duffy sort of melted into the red.

    I hurried to finish shoveling, it was getting colder, if that was possible. As I took off my boots by the back door Dad called from the basement. “What was that commotion I heared?”

    “Nothing, Dad,” I really wish he wouldn’t talk like that. “Just boys making fun of my teeth.”

    “That’s what I figgered.”

    1. jhowe

      I don’t read the prompt stories every week, I’m afraid, and I hadn’t encountered this boy yet. I like him, despite his seeming power with the red fog. Your stories always amaze me in how they flow so effortlessly. Well done.

    2. Bushkill

      I’m with JH. Love the fog. That’s a neat little trick for a character.

      And I miss a few of these prompts because I am trying to get the writing thing going as a significant part of my retirement … when it gets here that is. i got a few years left. I am always penning something somewhere.

  23. jhowe

    Linda trudged through the fresh snow with a bucket of bird seed for the feeders. She loved the snow, much to the chagrin of her daughters who begged her to move south to be near them. She cleared the troughs of snow and poured the seed into each feeder while humming a nameless tune. Her song ended abruptly when she saw the mass of red gore at the fence line. That damn Cooper’s hawk must have taken another of her beloved squirrels.

    With tears streaming her cheeks, she got a shovel from the garage and went to pick up the remains of one of her friends. When she got to the site, she shockingly saw a trail of blood and strange prints in the snow leading toward the patio door she’d left unlocked.

    The police were unable to find any trails other than Linda’s prints leading to the bird feeders. Nor did a search of the house prove fruitful. With assurances from Linda that all was well, they left her alone. She immediately checked the garage and found the shovel hanging undisturbed in its spot.

    Linda boiled water and made tea. Sitting at the table she watched the birds feed and almost smiled. The old girl must be losing it. She sipped the tea with her left hand. The right one didn’t work as well as it once did. She often had to steady it when it shook a bit.

    The calendar beckoned and Linda saw she had canceled her doctor appointment four times in the past eight months. Of course, she knew. At first it was easy to write it off as nerves. Perhaps she’d overdone it with the yard work, making her a little shaky with fatigue. But it wasn’t nerves. And it wasn’t fatigue.

    The following month, Linda and her youngest daughter drank tea at the table. Much of the snow had melted and patches of brown grass dotted the yard.

    “Mom, it’s really not a bad place.”

    “I’m sure it’s fine, Peg. But the birds need me.” A cardinal landed on the heated bird feeder and splashed about.

    “I know you’re having more hallucinations.” She took a sip of tea. “You don’t mess around with Parkinson’s.”

    “Not that many. I’ll be fine.”

    “One is too many, Mom. I worry so much.”

    “As long as I take my medicine, I’ll be fine.”

    Two nights later, Linda awoke screaming. The red mass of gore soaked the bed sheets and pulsated against her leg. She ran from the room and out the front door, falling hard from the concrete stoop.

    At River Haven, she accepted her medication in a paper cup. The nurse watched as she swallowed it. Linda adjusted her sling and gingerly got out of bed. She watched a small bird feeder that hung empty on a scrawny tree outside her window.

      1. Kerry Charlton

        Understanding and love sometimes works wonders to those fighting Parkinson’s Iti so sad to do this and not be able to do much about the illness. Soneay, we will be able to stop the pain and confusion. Well written John. Sounds real, but I hope not. Look forward to reading you every week.

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