The Christmas Blogathon of Doom was something that happened last year. It was participated in by folks like Briane Pagel, the ubiquitous Pat Dilloway, Andrew Leon, Vanna Smythe, and Lara Schiffbauer as a shameless and innovative way to promote creative projects. At the time, you may or may not recall, we thought the Mayans had doomed us all with their poor calendar-making skills. We're still here (or perhaps we're someplace else and we're just waiting for M. Night Shyamalan to explain), so I figured that was excuse enough to do a reprise. That and I wanted a reason to write a story that occurred to me the other day...
I don't know what we were expecting at the time. I'm sure I knew then, but too much has happened since. I'm rattled. I'm pretty sure I'm going to die. And how these things often seem to go, it all seemed so innocent at the start...
Jimmy, Lucy and I were just some kids playing in the snow. Even kids get cold after a while. They remember that they're outside in the middle of winter. We ducked into this antique shop and had a look around. I don't remember the name of the place. Maybe it's just as well. God knows what else lurks precariously in its apparently harmless trinkets of years gone by.
The hat, the stupid hat, the ridiculous top hat. It was out of our reach. We should have kept it that way. The shop owner, who didn't have anything better to do, had been watching us. He had a musty odor. He asked if we could use some help. Probably he thought we were trying to steal things. I'm sure Jimmy did, but that was no longer important after what happened. Lucy eagerly accepted the hat. She looked adorable when she put it on. I didn't realize how cute she was at the time. I probably would have married her.
We walked back out into the gusty air. It was flurrying. I said we should make a snowman. I should have kept my stupid mouth shut.
By the time we were done, I found myself looking at the hat that still sat perched on Lucy's head. I should have just been like every other boy, nursing a childhood crush on the girl I was lucky enough to call my best friend. But I was looking at that stupid hat. I said, "Why don't we put it on the snowman's head?" And so we did.
The snowman came to life. It began to dance and sing. Jimmy and I actually joined in, and then so did Lucy. For one brief magical moment, the world was exactly the fantasy you can only really believe in when you're young.
And then, just as childhood itself is always threatening, the looming awareness you can only fight if you contradict everyone else around you, the real world reared its head. The snowman turned toward us. And then he ran away.
He ran so fast that it was all we could do to keep him just in sight, keenly aware that our boots were not at all like our summer sneakers. Jimmy was laughing, Lucy giggling, and I'm sure I had a huge grin on my face. We thought this was the greatest development yet. How were we to know that the snowman would so quickly develop a mind of its own, or that it would be resentful that it owed its whole existence to a fluke, or that the hat had once belonged to a serial killer?
That's the explanation for the Snowman Murders. It was actually a snowman. The snowman. The explanation no one would believe except the lunatic fringe. When Jimmy died, I didn't believe it myself. When I was holding Lucy in my arms, the years having passed and her having become really a great beauty, I started to believe. I didn't want to, but now I had to. And it was all my fault.
The snowman is coming for me, isn't he? Perhaps this is how it will finally end. If I'm lucky.