Story challenge 5

Gillian Cross

It snowed in the night. By the time I woke up, the snow was so deep that it came halfway up the windows, filling the house with a strange, eerie light. The fields around were white and smooth, all the way to the dark woods beyond, and the road was completely hidden. We were snowed in.

‘Fantastic!’ said my brother. ‘Let’s dig our way out and make an igloo!’

He was already opening the door when I grabbed his arm. ‘Wait!’ I said. ‘Look!’

I pointed out of the window. Across the surface of the snow was a line of footprints. Huge, deep footprints, like nothing I’d ever seen before. What kind of creature had made them?

And where was it now?

I slowly started to look around, subconsciously. It was like another power was taking control of me, not will, but fear. The footprints went across our gaze of view, and trailed off behind the house. My immediate reaction was to run around to the other window of the hall and see where they went. I started to dread as the footprints kept going further and further around the house, whichever outward facing window I looked at, it seemed like the footprints went no further.

It was almost like the “beast” was circling the house.

I quickly turned round to the other face of the house, dreading as I go, where, I found to my surprise, the footprints did not continue.  I was starting to feel scared as my mind put pieces of the puzzle together.

My hands started to shiver, my mouth started to taste a metallic taste and I could feel my heart rate starting to increase all over my body as my fear took over.

“I think that the thing that made the footprints hasn’t gone yet,” I said to my confused brother.

“What do you think made the footprints?” he asked.

“I don’t know, but you must promise that you will keep calm,”

“I swear,” I could see confusion in his eyes because he didn’t know what I knew, and if, or more precisely when, he does he would be more scared than I ever could be.

“Something large, something tall, something that could hurt us, or worse,”

At that moment, with all my worries and fears for my only sibling and myself, a loud crashing sound started to the corner of the house where I just was. I thought that the beast was moving, but I was so wrong.

“What’s it doing?” my bother asked, with tears in his eyes.

“I..I think it’s started walking again,” I replied, and my brother tried to hide behind our umbrella rack, and I thought about hiding too, because this was too much.

I was wrong.

It was not walking.

I knew this because I saw chunks of red and orange fall just beyond the door. As I overcame my fears, I saw that the chunks were the….

Bricks of our house?!

I realised that the monster was breaking in, and cluttering my room. I loved that room, and as I felt adrenaline course throughout my veins, I thought. I thought something that may well get us out of this.

Where were my parents? Why didn’t they come downstairs when the beast started to crash through? Their room is on the other side of the house.

While my brother cowered in the corner, I darted upstairs, ignoring all temptations that fear was giving me. I barged my way into my parents room, and to my astonishment, my parents were sleeping.

 “HELLO! WAKEY WAKEY! THERES A MONSTER ATTACKING OUR HOUSE!” I tried to say without tears falling onto their undisturbed mattress.  As I tried to wake them, a thought that my parents had told me the day before:

“Tomorrow, early in the morning, me and your father are driving down to Kent to go to your aunt’s wedding,”

And the sun was high in the sky. It filled my mind with confusion, and the ringing from the thumps did not help either. I checked the clock. 3:00 in the morning.

How could that be? I remember getting up early, no, hold on, I can’t. All I remember is that I looked out on the snow. How could I not remember? The only thing that came to my mind was when I was watching “Inception”, an amazing film, and they said:

“You can’t remember how you got to a dream,”

This planted a seed for a massive spring of ideas in my mind. What if I was dreaming? I just realised that the screams my brother was screaming when I entered, weren’t happening anymore. How could that be? He screamed more than that when he stubbed his toe at the beach.

I bit my lip. But weirdly, it didn’t hurt, or bleed. I overcame all the fear I had, and ran towards the thumping sound.

I saw a massive beast, at least 15m high, and double wide. I then realised this was a beast that I am drawing for art. My puzzled look seemed to disorientate the beast, and then it just vanished. I was relieved, but I knew that this wasn’t real, and that the damage done was false. I knew how to get out, and I did the only thing I knew how to do.

I jumped out of the debris.

I woke to see my mother standing there. I was filled with relief, and happiness, so much that I just hugged her.

“Are you alright, sweetie? You were fidgeting and mumbling and sweating all over,”

“Bad dream mum,”

I just saw the beast again, but this time as my unfinished art work.

William Mann, Wellington College


'Actually, never mind that' I said with a shiver. 'What I could really do with is a nice hot cup of coffee and some blueberry muffins.' You go and investigate, and I'll bring the goodies out in about an hour. This is definitely a day for baking, not plodding around in the snow.'

'Typical of you Abigail to take the easy option! Oh well, do we have any thermal wellie liners?' asked William.' And where are my heated gloves?'

An hour later, William was suitably wrapped up in his thermal long-johns, skiiing socks, double-thickness knitted hat from Scandinavia and Hunter wellies with sheep-skin liners, as well as his thermal heated gloves. The batteries for these took half an hour to charge up, which was why he took so long getting ready.

By this time I had already drunk 2 cups of Taylors of Harrogate Italian blend coffee and made two batches of muffins - cheese and bacon ones with dijon mustard, and blueberry and maple syrup for a sweet fix. 'William, would you like a cup of coffee before you go out?'

'Oh go on then! You've persuaded me; after all you cannot be too careful in this weather.'

So we sat drinking coffee and eating muffins, and then decided that it was so cosy indoors that we may as well stay in for a bit longer and listen to 'Woman's Hour.' This would be very useful for my Home Economics project; the main topic of the day was to be an interesting discussion about the growing problem of more women cooking the family meals on a regular basis which does not correlate at all with the increasingly high proportion of male chefs in top hotels. As luck would have it, one of the recent Master Chef winners was also doing the 'Cook the Perfect' slot and today's recipe was Eggs Benedict. 

'Gosh, that recipe was really interesting with the addition of the truffle oil and wilted spinach salad' I said. 'Would you like me to make that for lunch William? Then I could post a picture of it on my blog. By the way William, aren't you getting a bit warm with all those layers on? Why are you dressed up as if you going on an Arctic adventure?

'Well I was supposed to be investigating Mr Bigfoot out there in the snow until you distracted me!'

At that moment, there was a loud rap rap at the door. We looked out of the window to see our friendly village postman waving to us.

'What are you doing here?' we both asked after we had opened the door to him.

'Well, funnily enough I am delivering your post. I know that your parents are in Switzerland skiing at the moment, so I thought you might appreciate reading this postcard from them. It sound as if they are having a great time. Your mother has only fallen off her skis twice. They were a bit worried, as they have been reading the weather reports and thought they might not have left enough food supplies for you.'

'Oh we're fine,' said William. The shed is absolutely stuffed with spare supplies. Abigail hates the cold, so she has been spending all her time making casseroles and putting them in the freezer. But how did you get through the snow with the post today? And did you see those huge footprints?'

'Mr Grundy, up at Apple Barn Farm, lent me his tractor for delivering the mail today. I also have eggs, potatoes and some sausages from his Gloucester Old Spot pigs if anyone in the village is short of food.'

Rob, the postman, was looking so cold that we decided to invite him in to join us for lunch. Dad had brought in a huge basket of logs and filled the coal skuttle, to make sure that we would not have to go chopping any more wood for fires whilst they were away. So William made some more coffee whilst Rob laid a fresh fire. It looked so cosy that we decided we may as well settle down by it to eat our eggs benedict. 

'By the way, you mentioned some huge footprints earlier,' said Rob. 'How about we go out after lunch and investigate?' 

At that moment, we all looked out of the window to realise to our amazement that it was snowing again. The footprints had disappeared, and so there would be no way of doing any forensic examination to discover who or what had been out there!

To be honest... did we care? Not when there was the afternoon play on the radio to look forward to, followed by a relaxed evening of Gloucester Old Spot casserole after listening to the latest thrilling installment of 'The Archers.' Have the flood waters subsided yet?............

Sarah Seddon age 50 The Piggott School

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