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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #2312101
A snowman in New Orleans!
A snowman on a southern veranda.


The thing about snowmen is that they have never understood the concept of north and south. I know this because I often hang around on the outskirts of snowman groups, listening to their chatter and opinions on current events. It’s the only way to really get to the heart of minority groups such as the snowmen.

It was one particular conversation that I eavesdropped on that highlighted this weakness in the area of polar directions in snowmen. There were several involved in this, as I recall, perhaps as many as a dozen. And they were discussing vacations - whether to take them at all and the best places to visit if ventured upon.

One snowman, a fellow by the name of Fred Kuhlman, maintained that he had heard humans discussing going south for the winter. The others were amazed at this, for it is tradition among snowmen to head north when winter approaches its end. The idea of reversing this migration clearly shocked them at first but, as Fred warned that they should be more open-minded in their approach to new suggestions, they warmed to the notion.

As the conversation moved from there to possible destinations of such southern vacations, one snowman mentioned that he had heard that New Orleans was a great place to visit. The others fastened on this, mostly because of the sound of its name, I think. In time their talk became a competition as to who could best mimic the correct way to say “Nawlins.”

It came as no surprise to me, therefore, when Fred asked me for help in planning a vacation for himself in that southern city. He had been chosen by the group as an ambassador to decide on such a destination’s feasibility for future vacations. I arranged the whole trip for him.

Thus it was that Fred set off for the south that winter, with myself as travel companion and occasional interpreter. We felt it likely that snowmen would not be easily understood in so unaccustomed a milieu. I should have known that the language barrier might prove the least of poor Fred’s difficulties down there.

We checked into a fine old hotel in downtown New Orleans. I attended to all the formalities and Fred was not too bothered by the surprised stares thrown at him by passersby while he waited. Our rooms were more luxurious than we had expected, although Fred was beginning to feel the heat and had broken out in a cold sweat.

“It seems a little stuffy in here,” he announced. “I think I’ll just take a brief walk outside in the cool night air to catch my breath.”

I was too busy flipping through a local guidebook to pay much attention. “Okay, seeya later,” I said. He left and, for a few minutes, I was absorbed in the matter of touristy things to do in the city.

It was a good ten minutes later that I noticed Fred’s continued absence. The whole point of reading the guidebook had been to see if our location was deemed safe for tourists to walk abroad at night, so I was annoyed at myself for having allowed Fred to wander off alone. I hurried downstairs to the hotel entrance.

He was there, just a little way off, standing alone on the veranda and looking straight ahead as if transfixed by the sight of the street. I approached quietly, relieved to see him unharmed, but wondering what held his attention so firmly. He said nothing but continued to gaze in the same direction.

Once right next to him, I spoke quietly, so as not to startle him. “Is everything okay, Fred?”

“Mmf,” said Fred.

Stepping in front of him, I could see that some of the little coals that formed his mouth had fallen down and now rested on his chest, just below the neck. It seemed that the coals that remained were insufficient to allow him to speak.

I replaced them quickly, noticing that they sunk rather deeply into his soft facial snow, and asked again.

“I feel awful,” he said. “The heat is terrible. I thought it would be cooler out here but it isn’t. It’s so much hotter than our room.”

A memory of the hum of air conditioning in the room returned to me. “I’m sorry, Fred, I should have thought. But why didn’t you come straight back upstairs?”

“Couldn’t move,” he said. “I think my feet are stuck to the deck.”

I looked down. A great pool of melted slush was spreading from the base of the snowman and the shoes that had indicated the existence of his feet had floated a little way off and now lay together, pinch-toed and awkward, at the edge of the veranda. Of his feet there was no sign.

“You’re melting, Fred. We’d better get you inside quickly.” I could see now that his face glistened with the sparkles of snow melt and a tiny rivulet of water was running from underneath his hat, down his cheek, and into a hole it had burrowed in his shoulder.

Quickly, I put my arms around him and tried to lift. I felt the snow giving way under his coat and Fred screamed in pain.

“No, no, don’t do that. You’ll crush me.”

“But how am I going to get you inside,” I asked.

“You need something like a stretcher. Maybe the hotel has one.”

I hurried inside and explained the problem to the lady at Reception. It seemed the hotel did not have a stretcher or similar appliance but that, if we could get help from a couple of the staff, we might be able to carry Fred up to the room on a sheet. The bellboy ran off to find a suitable sheet.

Five minutes later, a crowd of us, two waiters, the bellboy and myself, returned to the scene of Fred’s collapse.

It was a scene of disaster. Fred’s hat perched drunkenly on top of a pile of clothing, his coat and a scarf, draped soddenly over a little pile of swiftly melting snow. The pool of water was larger now and contained little islands made of the coals from his eyes and mouth, the carrot that once formed his nose, and an old pipe that had escaped from his pocket. Fred was no more.

I have not eavesdropped on snowmen’s conversations since.

Word count: 1,062
For SCREAMS!!! January 15 2024
Prompt: As per illustration.
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