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  • Danni Petrilak

Snowman

This story was inspired by the surreal quiet that blankets a usually busy city during a snowstorm. I had to walk around the town one night and it felt eerie and dark... like I wasn't supposed to see this side of the city. This short story was written for The Haunted Horrorstorian Podcast, my first story to be read from a series of 3. I hope you enjoy their audio recording of my story, Snowman, published on Spotify in July 2021.



The cold wind slices against my face, forcing shivers to crawl up my spine. The laughing

whistle through the trees mocks me as I walk forward down the slanted icy sidewalk. My feet

thump in my brown boots, slipping forward until the space between my toes and the tip collide.


I draw in a sharp breath, stopping at the crosswalk. The orange hand taunts me, making

the ice mend itself against my joints, freezing me in place without the warmth of movement.

Cars fly by, spraying freshly laid slush against my jacket. I shiver, my blue lips cracking as I part my mouth to take in a deep breath of the frozen air.


Suddenly I feel a presence behind me, colder than the temperature scratching its way

underneath my skin and taking control of me. I zip my jacket up closer to my neck, hoping to hide every inch of my skin. A whisper, almost like a calling out to me rustles against my hair, twisting it around my ears. A faint "turn around."


And I do. But when I do nothing is there. I shake my head, hearing the ticking of the

crosswalk forcing me to move my feet against the slick pavement. I keep my head down,

focusing on each solid white line through the yellow lights in between each snowfall across my eyes.

I turn the corner, picking up my pace. The snow falls faster, nearly shielding my eyes against the snow. I push through, tripping somewhat over a crack in the sidewalk. Home should be just around the corner in front of me.


Turn around.


I turn quickly, searching the area around me for the source of the voice. No one is there. I shake my head, smiling to myself. I’m just being paranoid, that’s all. Nothing is wrong. I’m

almost home.


I focus my gaze across the street, or what little of it I can see, to a man walking on the

opposite side of the sidewalk as me. He’s tall, wrapped completely in a black jacket, jeans,

hands in his pockets all tied up together with a grey beanie atop his head. He stands across the street, facing me. Staring at me. I shutter.

Pressing forward, I attempt to forget about the man watching me from a distance. I focus my attention on each step I take on the crunch of each footstep against the freezing snow. Without intention, I turn to look behind me, unable to shake the feeling that something is just...wrong in this situation.


The man is no longer on the other side of the street. I see his silhouette standing

underneath the streetlight next to the crosswalk. He’s walking the same path as me now, always staying the same set pace back. I turn back, keeping my head down.


All forms of options run through my head, debating on what I should do. If this man is

really following me, should I head to my apartment? Should I show him where I live or take a

different route to see if it really is him following me and not just my imagination blowing up a

situation that isn’t anything that I should be worried about?


I rezip the falling zipper on my jacket, holding it against the soft skin of my neck. I push

my lips into the warmth of the cotton, hoping to ease the numbness pulsing through my veins. It’s getting darker and colder by the second. I have to go home. The wind picks up again, singing its chants of numbing sleep into my face, forcefully shutting my eyes with the sting of each bead of water coming in contact through my squinting eyelids.


Ahead, RoseMary Apartment Complex comes into view and I can’t help but sigh in

relief. I’ve made it home, the warm fire awaiting me inside. I reach the tall iron bars, move to

the keycard scanner and lean the chest of my jacket against the buzzer, scanning my entry

without needing to remove my hands from their warm home in my pockets. I stand still, waiting to hear the latch shut behind me, but not gathering the courage to turn around and look back, in fear of seeing the man standing behind me. I focus on the barren front lawns surrounded by nothing other than the protection of a few pine trees and that iron gate.


Nothing can get in without a key.


I climb up the stairs of the sullen, bare walls to the entryway of my rented home and into the dull heat, melting away all fear from inside me and my clothes. Yet, after being trapped in the cold and moving to the heat, the difference in temperature doesn’t change the tugging at the back of my head, the pit in the bottom of my stomach. Something still isn’t how it should be.


I check the lock on the door three times for good measure before doing the same with

each window and blind. I keep my eyes focused on my task, influencing each direction I look

with thoughts of looking anywhere but outside into the dusk winter darkness. I walk up the

staircase to my bedroom.

Turn around.


Even if every ounce of my body wants me to look behind me, I’m too much of a wimp, a

damn coward, to do so. Instead, like the child I am, I quickly sprint up the stairs and slam my

bedroom door shut behind me.


Nothing can get me in here.


My sigh is the loudest noise uttered through my house. Not a peep from any nearby

neighbors like usual. I find their loud conversations at night somewhat comforting; something to break the silence. My eyes dart to the street light hidden but shining lighting through my closed blinds. There’s nothing else for me to do, so I close my eyes and drift into the safe embrace of sleep.


But something isn’t right.


~


He should have called me hours ago. I trek angrily up the hill in the bright, sunlit

morning. The clear sky shines down on the freshly fallen snow from last night’s storm,

illuminating each flake in a masterpiece of craftsmanship. What I wouldn’t give to see all the

different kinds of flakes in the world.


Ahead, police lights disrupt the natural order, surrounding the house of my destination.

That’s odd. Why is everyone around Brendon’s new apartment? I hope someone didn’t try to

break down the gate again.


Walking closer, I notice a line of yellow police tape and a crowd growing outside despite the cold itching the air. I tighten my pink and yellow scarf, the rough texture scratching my skin as I do. Reaching the tape, I look beyond the iron bars and into the open door of Brendon’s apartment. Police enter and exit through the door in multiples of two then one then three then none come back out. I swallow my fear into the pit of my stomach.


Nothing is different from the last time I saw this place yesterday morning. I glance

around further, hoping to spot something with a second glance now that I have an objective.

Trees, iron gates, snowman, nothing.


Something about that snowman near the front door of the apartment doesn’t sit well with me. The smile and eyes stared directly into my soul, licking up every secret and every inch of me with its naked head and neck. The hair on the back of my neck tingles. I reach my hand up, rubbing away the uncomfortable feeling but can’t seem to shake it.


Turn.


Around.

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