TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:
A blizzard raged outside, battering the cozy ski lodge. Merry skiers drank hot chocolate and hot toddies, excited about the fresh white powder they’d be conquering tomorrow. Smiling, she took another sip, her eyes briefly wandering from the man sitting before her, to a different gentleman across the room. He was sitting alone, and staring at…
(Entries must touch on the topic in some way to qualify.)
“We should have done this years ago,” Mary lifted her mug of steaming hot chocolate and breathed in the aroma deeply.
“I can’t imagine why we never thought of this before,” agreed Charles.
She smiled, reveling in the sounds of merriment that filled the ski lodge. Glasses clinked, voices laughed, and the roaring fireplaces crackled in the background. The blizzard hurled its essence at the dark window next to their table. Mary felt the touch of a draft seeping in through the sill, but she didn’t mind.
Her gaze swept past her husband, taking the first sip of his hot toddy. Revelers of all shapes and sizes had come in from the cold, dressed in the finest they had. A young woman with a disproportionately large bust was fingering her beads and flirting with a handsome fellow twice her age. Three hearty bachelors laughed uproariously at a table in the corner, a bold-nosed woman storming away from them.
Before a fireplace sat a man with a comb moustache opposite what must have been the thinnest woman Mary had ever seen. The man held her dainty arm in his hands and spoke to her softly, concern clearly present in his expression. Without warning, the woman toppled out of her chair. Her arm pulled free from her body with a slurp.
The man stared down at the disembodied arm he still held, shock freezing him in place.
Mary’s terror rose from deep within her and burst forth as a shrill scream. Her mug fell from her limp grasp and shattered at her feet. She stood, unsure if she was moving to aid the couple or flee the scene.
All heads turned to see the grisly display.
Mary’s husband mumbled something, but she was too mortified to answer. His hand grasped hers, tugging urgently. He mumbled again, slurring his speech. She looked down at him. The lower half of his face was missing. Her jawless husband clawed at her, clutching, pleading.
The sight was too much for Mary. She wretched and spun, jerking free her arm and stumbling into the table behind her.
A sickness, she thought, a deadly assailant working its destruction at a molecular level. It worked quickly, whatever it was that had attacked both her husband and the woman by the fire.
Mary turned in desperation to the two closest women. She cried out in horror when she saw their faces dripping off, their features distorted like reflections in a rippling pond.
The dissolution spread more quickly than an avalanche. Cries and pleadings sounded from all around as every man and woman appeared to melt before Mary’s eyes. She had to escape, had to get free, before the sickness reached her as well. She lurched towards the door, but suddenly there flowed a throng of mindless mutants. The groaning masses rushed into her, also straining for escape. Impulses prevailed over reason; bodies slammed into bodies. Pushing, shoving, trampling, rolling—Mary found herself on the floor amidst the chaos. A man tripped on another prostrate body—pieces of it anyway—and fell on top of Mary. She put up her hands to defend herself, but her fingers sank through his face.
Mary shrieked and tried to shake him off without success. His right eye popped free from his head and bounced off her face. She sobbed and pushed him back, but he disintegrated before her eyes, coming to pieces on top of her.
She brushed frantically to remove the gentleman’s remains, but her indelicate fingers left deep gashes in her own body. Mary yelped and scrambled to right herself, but the floor was slick with bodily fluids and chunks of the unfortunate victims. She propped up her left hand and her arm fell free from its socket, dropping her to the floor with a sickening splat.
Something was wrong with her eyes, but in time she viewed the open door. She reached out with her remaining arm and clawed at the ground. The floor was slick with discharge, but she eventually found a grip and pulled herself in the direction of the open doorway and the blizzard. Inch by inch she made her way, dragging her body and face through filth she dared not consider.
The doorway. Freedom. Her thoughts were sluggish, but she kept that goal firmly in mind. Occasionally she felt small chunks of her own body crumble and fall, but she left them behind, concerned only with the open door.
Mary had heard that a bright light acted as greeter in death, but she saw only darkness. She felt no pain even though there was so little of her left that she could hardly be alive. The darkness was calming, cooling, soothing. Fleeting white speckles danced to and fro and broke up the darkness. Snow. She smiled, or attempted to with what was left of her face. If there was snow, then she was outside. She had made it! She was not dead!
Two men appeared from the darkness and bent over her. Although both were in disarray, they were whole. One had such a thick head that his scarf barely reached around him, and the other had the most handsome nose she had ever seen. Perhaps they had not caught the sickness. Perhaps she could escape it?
“You’re safe now,” the scarfed man said, “There’s nothing more to worry about.”
Mary said nothing. She was too grateful to speak.
“Nasty business in there,” said the other man. “I wish they had listened to us in the first place.”
“Yes,” the first nodded solemnly, “if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: the indoors is no place for us snowmen.”