Winter Winds

A Sci-Fi Short Story written by Joseph Carrabis

Winter Winds

by Joseph Carrabis

Joseph Carrabis has been everything from a long-haul trucker to a Chief Research Scientist and holds patents covering mathematics, anthropology, neuroscience, and linguistics. He served as Senior Research Fellow and Board Advisor to the Society for New Communications Research and The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future; Editorial Board Member on the Journal of Cultural Marketing Strategy; Advisory Board Member to the Center for Multicultural Science; served on the UN/NYAS Scientists Without Borders program; and was selected as an International Ambassador for Psychological Science in 2010. He created a technology in his basement that’s in use in over 120 countries. Now he spends his time writing fiction based on his experiences.
You can find Joseph’s fiction at http://nlb.pub/amazon

 

It occurred to me, as I sat watching, that the scene was not as it should be. The winds played oddly on the landscape, and even the patterns of the falling snow were different. However, it wasn’t until I turned off the floodlights, which are white, and turned on the ground lights, which are pink, that the entire scene was revealed to me.

You must remember that this was a very typical wintry night. The snow was falling in one of the worst – or best, according to my son – blizzards of the decade. But it was one of the heaviest snowfalls in the century, according to the weather service.

Anyway, my son and I stood by the glass doors that led to the backyard patio. we were watching the snow fall. He and I talked about skiing and sledding and tobogganing – I from memory and he from anticipation. As we talked, he pointed to something out in the field. We looked, but I couldn’t see anything. He wasn’t sure that he had seen anything, either, so we went back to a discussion of which broom to use to sweep off the pond.

We fell silent then, the late-night stillness of the house being interrupted only by the slurps of hot cider. We had pulled my big lounge chair around so that we could be comfortable. Suddenly David leapt to his feet and pointed out to the field. “Dad! Dad, look! What is that?”

His excitement startled me, and I jumped up from the lounge chair, nearly spilling my hot cider. I rubbed my eyes and looked. Then I rubbed my eyes and looked again. Something was moving out there on the field. Something…

“What is it, Dad?”

My first reaction was to take off my glasses and clean them. When I put them back on I saw the same basic picture. Only now the form – whatever it was – had moved farther across the field. “I’m not sure, Dave.” That was an understatement.

I pressed myself up against the door to get a better look. It didn’t help. David came up beside me. He sipped his hot cider, evidently more curious that frightened. That was good. At least one of us wasn’t alarmed.

Whatever it was, it was huge. I couldn’t make anything out clearly, but the snow formed a silhouette, and I could judge its size by the trees that it was near. The thing stood about twelve feet high. At one point, I remember, I wished that I were outside so I could see its shadow. Maybe then I could have had a better view of it, perhaps a better idea of what it was.

We stood there, watching, and it stopped. I swear if it had moved toward the house I would have been out the front door in seconds. There was more turbulence in the air around it. Once again Dave’s eyes were better than mine. “Over There, Dad! Look!” This time I could tell that David was fascinated.

Now something moved in the snow over by the edge of the field. I hoped that it was just the snow swirling. No. I could see more clearly now. There were several of them! Most of them were as large as the first one I’d seen. Others were shorter; only eight feet tall. They all moved across the field in some kind of slow march.

At this point I turned on the pink lights and shut off the white ones. “What do you think they are, Dave?” I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.

“They’re snow giants.”

His reply was too calm, too knowing. “What makes you say that, Dave?”

“Just watch. You’ll see.”

Ok, I figured, maybe I would see. In the pink light their shapes were more defined. They appeared to be bipeds, but the proportions were a bit off.

In the midst of my analysis, Dave said, “See, Dad, I told you they were snow giants!”

I saw more agitation in the air. More gusts of wind? No, the pink lights showed differently. “What are they?”

“Those are the storm gnomes, Dad!” His voice was taking on that childhood air of contempt at their parents’ ignorance.

As the snow swirled into the lighted area, I saw more shapes, different from the first ones. These were small – perhaps four to five feet long – and they were flying on leathery, batlike wings. At that point I became glad that I couldn’t make out any features. Things really got bizarre then.

It seemed there was a battle going on in my field – some kind of invisible warfare. But why? I played coy. “My eyes aren’t as good as yours, Dave. What are they doing out there?”

“Oh, come on, Dad. What do you think?”

“David, Don’t talk to me like that.”

“Well, gee, Dad. You mean you don’t know?”

“Son, tell me what you see.”

“Ok,” David sighed. “In the winter, when snow has covered the ground and the temperature stays below freezing for a long time, the snow giants can move south. The snow giants – large, powerful, hairy beasts – move like men and are very friendly. Few reports, however, have been made as to actual encounters with humans, as snow giants tend to prefer the company of their own kind. At first it was proposed that they moved south for food or shelter. This was dismissed since their natural habitat is the extreme north. Only after close observation was the reason for their seasonal migration discovered.”

I nearly laughed at this – it sounded so farfetched.

“One observation team,” Dave continued, “noticed that the snow giants come out of hiding only during heavy storms. When they do, they either attack or are attacked by another set of creatures – the storm gnomes. These creatures ride the winds of the winter storms, existing in ice-laded clouds. When heavy snows come, the storm gnomes ride the winds to the ground to do damage; knocking down trees, tearing shingles off houses, breaking windows, breaking off gutters, and in more recent times pulling down transmission lines and towers, satellite receivers and the like.

Why the show giants travel south to destroy the storm gnomes is not fully understood. No storm gnomes have been reported in the pole regions, so it is not known if these two groups are natural enemies. However, fortunate observers have reported seeing disturbances in the storms of winter and have noted the actions of these creatures.”

Previously I had been too fascinated by the lecture and the display to look at David. But this was a bit much. Children are supposed to have imaginations, but this? Then I noticed that he had his reader in his hands.

“What are you reading?” I asked.

“I couldn’t remember everything from class, so I was reading to you from the book. Come on, Dad, this is break time!”

I was having a hard time remaining calm. “All right, son, you’ve done well. May I see that for a minute?” He gratefully handed his reader to me.

Animals of the World was in the titlebar. Are there some I didn’t know about? Didn’t know about, sure, but this? Whatever happened to lions and tigers and bears? I tapped the reader to the page he’d been reading. Sure enough, there was a list of the observed habits of the snow giant. On the next page was a list of the habits of the storm gnome. I looked from the reader to the scene out on the field and back to the reader. Everything fit. I looked at the title again, read the jacket chart, and looked outside once more. Just as the reader said, the snow giants were catching the storm gnomes as the gnomes flew to the ground. They didn’t eat them; they just threw them down. After a while the dead bodies began to pile up. Do you know what they were forming?

Snowdrifts!

I thought I was dreaming. Dave and I watched the whole night. At some point we much have fallen asleep because Janet woke us up in the morning. She said that we looked cute – David curled up with his face buried in my beard and the comforter pulled around us as we snuggled together in the lounge chair.

The first thing that David said was, “Come on, Dad, let’s go see the tracks before the sun melts everything.”

“What tracks?” asked Janet.

“Railroad tracks,” I answered.

She looked at me and laughed. “No, really, what tracks?”

“Dave and I thought we saw something out in the field last night, that’s all.” I didn’t look at her, but started pulling on my boots.

“What was it, Dave? Snow giants, maybe?” she asked very nonchalantly.

Was I the only one who didn’t know? It must have shown on my face.

She laughed at me while helping David on with his suit. “Don’t be upset, Jeff. I was born on Mars, remember? You’ve lived here a mere two years.” She put on her own boots and tossed me my suit. “You’re not expected to know everything about the place.”

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