Short Story
                     Snowmen
                                    By Benjamin Thierfelder


Jessie loved the snow.  Every time it snowed, she would burst out the front
door and dance around, holding her arms out wide while sticking her tongue
out to catch snowflakes.  The precocious ten-year old would run around in
circles until she tired herself out.  Breathing hard, she would then fall
backwards and make snow angels.  If she had enough energy leftover, she
would roll and pack snow into big round balls and make snowmen.  They
weren’t the best snowmen; their smiles were always crooked and their black
coal eyes misplaced, with one noticeably higher on the snowman’s head than
the other.  Still, they were hers, and she loved them nonetheless.

One dark, cold night Jessie decided to make a snowman.  It was late March
but winter refused to loosen its icy grip on Flint, Michigan.  Snow still covered
the ground, saturating every inch of every surface in the street she lived on.  
Crime and poverty plagued her neighborhood so her parents only let her play
in the backyard.  It was ridiculous to believe the flimsy, warped chain-link
fence that separated their yard from the rest of the neighborhood offered her
any real protection from the desperation of the streets, but they let out her
out nonetheless.

Jessie stepped outside and glanced around.  It was very dark with not a star
in the sky.  Dusty yellow vapor-lights flooded in from the front yard, painting
the faded white walls a dirty brown color.  Black electric lines cast shadows
against the purple-colored snow, and the dull metal fence glinted in the
moonlight.  She breathed in, her chipmunk cheeks swelling, and then
breathed out a long, cloudy wisp of smoke.  The warm air fogged her glasses
and she giggled and wiped them clean.  She looked past her yard at the long
stretch of naked trees; a small wooded area in the city that many in the
neighborhood said was haunted.  In fact, as the rumors go, some people who
enter are never seen from again.

She went to work building her snowman, rolling the first piece into a big lop-
sided ball then made a smaller one for the torso and the head.  She dug her
pudgy fingers into the snow and fetched out two sticks for arms and then a
handful of dirty rocks for its eyes, nose and mouth.  Excited to see her work,
she leapt backwards, her arms pin-wheeling as she fell onto her bottom.  
Jessie let out a huff and looked up at her snowman.  It loomed like a crooked
building, every imperfection glaring in the moonlight.  She jumped up and but
her hands on her hips, then kicked the snowman over.

“Why can’t I make a good snowman?” Jessie huffed then looked over at the
tall, looming wooden fence posts that divided her yard from her neighbors.  
“Like him.”

Jessie crept over to the fence and peered through a small hole at the bottom
of the fence.  She sucked in her breath as she saw them; six perfectly shaped
snowmen piled in his dark, dirty and otherwise unremarkable backyard.  They
were immaculate; completely round and smooth, the coal eyes, mouth and
nose were lined seamlessly next to one another.  Each arm was covered by a
coat and each hand had a glove on each end so they looked real.

“How does he do it?” she asked herself, thoughtfully putting one finger on her
lips.  She looked back at her house and saw the window in the kitchen was
empty.  Her mother was done with the dishes.  Jessie looked nervously at the
yard again, her heart pounding in her chest.  Her momma always told her not
to go into that man’s yard.  He was a strange fellow who always kept to
himself.  She wanted to see the snowmen up close, though.  Find out his
secret.  Even though she was scared she had to find out how he did it.  
Jessie sucked in her breath and stepped through the hole under the fence
and into his yard.

His yard seemed darker and colder than hers.  Jessie felt herself step on
many slippery, squishy things but was too afraid to look down and see what
they were.  She kept her eyes on the nearest snowman, or snowwoman;
somehow he managed to shape its torso and its face in just a way that Jessie
could tell it was a girl.

“Wow.” Jessie mouthed.  “How does he do it?”  Jessie reached up and
touched the arm, which felt solid yet soft under the black hooded sleeve.  “It
feels real.”  She ran her fingers up to the brown leather glove over the hand.  
It felt real.  Too real.  “No way.” She said to herself, giving it a solid squeeze.  
“This can’t be.”  She looked back at his house, which seemed dark and
empty.  Her heart pounded in her chest as she reached up pinched one of
the fingers and tugged it off.

Jessie screamed and fell backwards, staring up in horror.  It was a hand; a
pale, thin woman’s hand sticking out the side of the snowman.  The flesh
under the nails looked blue and a silver ring glinted in the moonlight.  Jessie
scuttled backwards and bumped into something hard.  She looked up and
saw a heavy leather boot and black snow pants standing right behind her.  
The rest of the man was covered in shadows.  Jessie screamed and lunged
forward, barely dodging a gloved hand from reaching down and grabbing
her.  She clipped the snowwoman with her shoulder and tumbled to the
ground with it, white powdery snow spraying everywhere.  Jessie screamed as
a blond woman’s head and legs and arms rolled out from the snow, her pale
white eyes staring up at her with an expression of horror.

Jessie vaulted to her feet and dodged another grab from the man, bursting
through the gate at the back of his house.  The tall and silent forest towered
above, and out of instinct, she ran toward them.  Jessie screamed as the
dark, dead trees whizzed by in a single blur of black and gray.  The snow was
hard and slippery, and Jessie fell forward and landed hard on her knees
before leaping to her feet again.  The man was always just behind her, his
heavy boots crunching through the snow.  She ran and ran until she came to
a thick line of trees and saw several deep dark holes in the ground.  She
skidded to a stop just before one of them.

“Oh my God that was clos…” she began until a hard shove from behind sent
her tumbling into a pit.

It was cold and dark, and the frozen dirt was hard as rock.  She hit the bottom
with a hard thud and cried out.  Her glasses flew off and landed in a big pile
of snow.  She patted for them, trying to find them when a long shadow fell
over her.  She looked up and saw the man silhouetted against the black night
sky, a pale white halo of moonlight glowing around him.

“What’s happening?  Why you doing this?” she asked.  The silhouette made
a quick, jerky motion and she felt a rush of ice cold snow punch her in the
face.

“I want them to be real.” said the man.  His voice was high and gentle.  
Another patch of snow hit her in the face.  “My children are just bits of snow
and coal.  They have a body but they lack a soul!”

“I- I- I don’t get-get it-i…” Jessie said through tears of terror.  More and more
snow fell upon her, covering her up to her neck.  She stuck her arms up
toward him, reaching.

“You’re not like me. You’re not alone.” The snow reached up to her mouth.  
“They walk  past me.  Like I’m not even there.  They just ignore me.  They
don’t even care.”  The snow was up her eyes, which ached from the cold.  
She couldn’t even scream anymore.  “They’re mostly hollow on the inside,
just like ice and snow.  They may be empty but at least they have a soul.  By
bits and pieces my children grow and grow.  As long as I have my family  I’m
never alone.”  Jessie cried out one last time as snow filled her mouth until,
finally, everything turned white.    

            *****************************************************

Hours later police arrived at Jessie’s house and looked around the
neighborhood for the missing girl.  No one reported seeing her but some
remember a girl screaming somewhere in the woods.  They searched every
corner and every house.  They searched the woods last and found nothing
but cold, empty pits.  As her mother cried frantically and her father stared
numbly out the window, the police even searched their neighbor’s yard.  All
they found was six snowmen.  Five were regular sized and a sixth was small.  
It was perfectly shaped and had big puffy snow cheeks and, over its little
eyes, there was a pair of dark rimmed glasses.
To read other short stories,
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About Benjamin
Thierfelder

My name is Benjamin
Thierfelder and I am a
Detroit-area writer of
novels, short stories,
screenplays and videogame
scripts.  I recently
graduated from U of M-
Dearborn with honors with a
degree in Communications,
a broader Journalistic
concentration.  I also
worked for Schoolcraft
College’s Connection paper
as the Arts and
Entertainment Editor where
my editorial, Sea Kittens?
Seriously?, earned third
place for Best Editorial by
the Michigan Press
Association (MPA).  
Recently, your very own
Blood Moon Rising
magazine decided to
publish my short story
Heaven in their January
2014 edition of your online
magazine.