It’s Cold Outside

I don’t know if this is going to scare you guys, but it sure has me freaked out.

    My family just moved here a few months ago from the coast and this winter has been the first time I’ve ever seen snow. Growing up on the beach, you take great weather and sandy beaches for granted. I know a lot of people dream of vacationing in what was my backyard, but to me the most exotic thing in the world is snow. So I was pretty excited when we moved here and even more so when we got our first real snow just a few days ago. It began snowing while we were in class and the first thing I did when we got out was try to start a snowball fight. This only pissed off my friends who are sick of the stuff after having spent their whole lives surrounded by it, but I loved it. I didn’t even mind learning the hard way that snow will still melt and you’ll have to walk the entire way home with freezing wet clothes.
    As soon as I got home I changed my clothes and hung my red, light jacket in my closet in favor of only heavy coat. Even though I’m a teenager now and probably a bit too old for this kind of thing, I immediately ran back outside and began building a snowman. Our house is at the end of a cul-de-sac, so I wasn’t worried about anyone seeing me and spent the rest of the afternoon sculpting my frozen dopplegänger. The end result was slightly misshapen, but I thought it was perfect for my first attempt.
    Later that evening, my parents went out a Christmas party and told me that they would not be back until late. I didn’t think much of this because I usually spend my nights in my room either watching television or on the internet. It was the same story this night and it was sometime after midnight when I fell asleep. I wasn’t asleep for long though before a loud banging on the back door woke me up. My parents had come home drunk before, but never so drunk that they couldn’t open the door. I began to head downstairs when I glanced out the window. Their car wasn’t in the driveway. I paused. The knocking got louder and faster. It sounded angry; almost desperate. I moved back towards my bed where my phone was in case I was going to need to call the police. The knocking was now so loud that I thought the door was going to give way. I turned on my phone and began punching in the numbers when the noise suddenly stopped. In the dreadful silence, I tried to hear any sounds over the thunder of my pulse. Nothing. Were they waiting outside the door? The I heard the sound. A shrill, high-pitched moan, almost like air being slowed released from a balloon. It only sounded once, and I’m still not sure that it wasn’t my own breath caught in my tightened throat, but it left me shaking. For the rest of the night I sat in my bed listening to the darkness and fighting the thought that whoever it was hadn’t really left. Eventually my parents came home, but they were drunk and I knew that there was no use in trying to explain what had happened.
    The next morning I woke up to find that someone had destroyed my snowman. Probably some of my friends, I thought. In a way, I was actually relieved. It made sense of the night before. Some of my friends must have come over, knocked down my snowman, and then banged on the door trying to scare me because they knew that my parents weren’t home. I couldn’t believe that I had let them scare me like that. The only thing that puzzled me was that they had written “It’s so cold outside” in the snow around my snowman.
    After school, I ran home and began rebuilding my snowman. I was not going to let my friends have the last laugh. That night my parents stayed home and I didn’t give a second thought to my friends’ pranks. Since it was a Friday night, I was still awake long after my parents had gone to sleep. I was sitting at my computer when the knocking began again. It was quiet at first, but still sharp. Like dry bone striking the door. I looked at the clock. It read 4:00 a.m.. The knocking grew louder. I moved towards the window and looked out over our back porch. I could see a shadow standing at the door. It appeared to be wrapped in black rags and very thin. I heard my dad moving downstairs. “Is somebody knocking at the door?” he asked in a voice that let me know he still wasn’t fully awake. “Yes, I can see someone out there!” I yelled down the stairs. I heard him turn on the porch light and I looked back out the window. Nothing. The shadow had vanished. I saw my dad step out onto the porch. He stood there for a moment, looking around, before swearing at the cold and going back to bed. The next morning my snowman again lay in pieces, surrounded by the words, “It’s so cold outside.”
    I wasn’t sure what my friend were up to, but I nearly panicked when my parents told me that they were going to another Christmas party that night. I spent my Saturday afternoon rebuilding my snowman and even added a mother and father to make a snow family. As the sun began to set, I tried calling some of my friends to see if I could stay the night at their house, but all of them said they were busy. “I’ll bet you are,” I thought to myself. As soon as it got dark, I turned on the porch light and went upstairs to my room, confident that no one would dare knock on the door with the light on. I watch some television and then fell asleep.
    I woke up to the sound of heavy breathing. In the darkness of my room it took me several seconds to realize that it was my own breathing. I took a deep breath, but my pulse continued to race wildly. My eyes began to adjust to the darkness. My room appeared to be empty, but I feel something, a presence, weighing down upon me. I knew that the television remote was beside my bed, but I also knew that if I moved even a single muscle, it would alert whatever was in my room that I was awake. I remained frozen. Even though I couldn’t see anything, I knew that something was moving, shifting in the darkness. I felt faint, as if I would pass out from the terror. My heart was palpitating and threatening to stop altogether. As my head began to spin from the lack of oxygen being carried to it, I felt a cold blast of air on my feet. The sensation crept slowly up my paralyzed body from legs to my chest to my constricted throat. It paused there. I felt as though I was choking. It was too much. I don’t know if was my heart or my brain that gave out first, but in that final moment of terror I slipped into unconsciousness.
    The sun was shining when I awoke the next morning. I had headache as I made my way to the bathroom and then down to the kitchen. My parents were eating breakfast and looking slightly hungover.  Everything appeared to be perfectly normal. I looked out the front window to see if my snow family had survived the night. The mother and father were missing, as if someone had carried them off, and my original snowman was covered in something red. Still in my pajamas, I ran out into the snow to find that it was my red jacket. The one I had hung in my closet the first day it snowed. A new message had been written in the snow: “We’re still cold.”

by Ward Hocut

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