Early Winter

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic
This story starts out as a pleasant atmospheric winter
story but soon turns into something much more haunting as
the pieces fall into place.

Submitted: November 09, 2008

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Submitted: November 09, 2008

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Early Winter
The morning was as clear as crystal. The sun burned
red in a pure blue sky and all of the hills, fields, and
hollows were covered in a deep blanket of crisp
winter snow. It was shaded blue where it ran under
the hemlocks and spruces but in the open fields it
was pure and white and seemed to glisten like
tiny jewels in the morning sunlight.
In the forest, on a sunlit snow-covered path, walked
a solitary man wearing a heavy down jacket, gloves,
a cherry-red scarf, blue jeans, and heavy black boots.
The only sounds he could hear was the snow
crunching beneath his boots and the sounds of the
forest. Above him, sparrows and blackbirds perched
on the shivering branches of the frigid pines
simultaneously sang their sad winter songs while
staring down at him. Somewhere nearby, a fox barked
while a woodpecker hammered against a tree
searching for food.
The man came across an old wooden bridge that
looked ready to collapse. Beneath it was a clear
sunlit stream where small forest animals sometimes
quenched their thirst. After noticing the stream, he
slowly, carefully walked across the bridge before
making his way down to the stream where he looked
into the pure, icy water at his reflection.
It had been a while since he saw his reflection and
he was curious. He gasped. A corpse stared back
at him from the water. A pale, haunted face with
all the life drained from it. He quickly got up and
continued on his way, walking in silence along
down the isolated road shaded by Evergreens,
Oaks, and Maples.
Some time later he stood on the outskirts of a
perfect jewel of a town that resembled the small
towns seen in the Currier & Ives illustrations. It
looked like it had no more than 600 people living
in it and was composed of a downtown area
where all the shops and small businesses were;
and shady streets lined with cozy looking farm
houses. A few even had smoke curling from the
chimneys.
The wind blew mournfully across the outlying
fields and meadows. Behind him, a tree branch
heavy with snow crashed onto the forest floor
and he quickened his pace. Looking at the small
town he noticed it seemed quiet and deserted.
A sense of dread entered his heart as he slowly
walked towards it.
It was just as he expected. Walking along the snow
covered streets he found himself in an empty, desolate
place. Everywhere, he was greeted only by silence and
shadows. He thought it must have looked like this after
the liberation of Dachau. The first house he entered
was utterly deserted. Most of the food, clothes, and
furniture was missing. In the second house he entered,
a large blue house with white shudders that looked
like a doll-house, he saw the skeleton of a woman
wearing a white dress with floral patterns on it sitting
on a rocking chair.
The bones were cold and brittle, completely devoid
of flesh. Ugly black rats could be seen, and heard,
scurrying and scampering in the walls and along
the cold wooden floor. Staying in the darkness
and away from the strong morning sunlight that
filtered through the dusty window panes. The man
saw one of them was gnawing on a human finger
bone.
He cautiously entered six other houses. Two of them
were completely deserted and in the other four he
discovered other human skeletons lying on beds and
sitting on floors, grinning at him from the shadows.
He entered a tall, white church and saw seven other
skeletons sitting silently in the pews and looking
towards the pulpit, where an eighth skeleton dressed
as a minister sat and stared down at him. The place
was filled with darkness, and he imagined how they
must have felt before they died, feeling that god had
forsaken them.
He walked outside and screamed loudly, hoping
that someone, anyone, would come and console
him. But no one came. There were no police to call
and no shrinks to talk to if he felt he was losing his
mind. All he heard were the simple sounds of nature;
Birds chirping, the wind blowing, the frozen snow
crunching beneath his feet.
It was the same story everywhere. Angry and
frustrated, he pounded his fist against a mailbox
and screamed at the sky. This was just too much.
The solitude was really starting to get to him.
Sometimes he imagined he heard whispering
voices, or saw people who vanished like ghosts
when he came towards them. Now he knew
how all those people in solitary confinement must
have felt.
But he wouldn't give up. He had come a long way
and he couldn't give up now. He remembered
all too well epidemic became a plague and they
began carting people off in mass graves and
burning their diseased bodies to prevent it from
spreading. It, the horrible virus from the research
facility in Siberia that spread across the world
like a pall and killed all his family and friends.
He hadn't seen another human being alive since
leaving his small town in New York, but that
didn't mean there weren't other survivors. He had
survived somehow, and that meant there had to
be others that somehow survived. And he meant
to find them. He would search every town, city,
mountain, desert, and forest he came across if it
came to that.
The world was a very big place indeed. Just because
he hadn't met anyone else yet didn't mean there
wasn't anyone else out there. Not by a long shot.
He remained in the town a while longer and raided
a grocery store for food and drinks before continuing
on. Hours later, his appetite satisfied and his new
duffel bag filled with extra food, medicine, and
supplies, he continued on his way.
It was getting late. He stood on the snow covered
road that led out of town and saw a sign that said
Now Leaving
Cloverdale, Mass.
Established 1712
Come Back Soon!
I don't think I will,” the man said to himself.
But thanks for the offer.”
The road led up a steep hill and when he reached
the top he paused for a moment and looked back
to marvel at the vivid red sunset as it slowly faded
to cold gray dusk. The way the sunlight struck the
winter hills and meadows as it dipped below the
horizon made it look like something out of a
painting.
With a faint smile, he turned back towards the
road and continued on his way, hoping that
whatever place the road led him would provide him
with some answers, or at least a little hope.


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