When Winter Comes

Summary: An spiteful man attempts to offend his neighbors with an obscene snow sculpture and mock ritual, only to encounter unexpected results.

It started after the first real snow of the winter, when I had the brilliant idea of making an offensive snowman. Due to the increasingly mild winters we've been having, I was at first excited to be home from work on a good old fashioned snow-day. After digging out the car, I walked out into the backyard and peered over the chain-link fence to Patrick Parson's yard.

The Parson household was always more organized than my own, with a carefully placed pile of firewood, a small greenhouse blooming even in winter, and a pear tree that loomed at the edge of his property like a wayward sentry. His home was already paid for, on account of smart savings and austere living. He lived with his wife Isobel, whom he met during volunteer work abroad. They lived alone with a sickeningly friendly golden retriever, Sam. They appeared as the very paragons of charity and guileless altruism.

Nevertheless, I found their exuberant personalities incessantly annoying. From the way they diligently sorted trash, recycle, and organics for their compost pile, to the way they volunteered at a local Catholic parish and soup kitchen, to the way they'd diligently exercise, their very existence was a grating contrast to my own. I'd always assumed them a degree of conservativism and underlying current of religiosity, at least given their activities.

Furthermore, they'd always seemed oblivious to my efforts to annoy them. I'd throw dead birds over the fence. I'd "accidentally" bump into their cans on mornings before trash collection. I'd even paid the townies to leave a bag of steaming dog turds on their front door. Either they had the patience of saints, the brains of simpletons, or both. Nevertheless, I took my failure to provoke a reaction out of them as shortcomings on my part.

If they were Godliness and cleanliness, I was their polar opposite. I'd acquired my house after high school, shortly before my girlfriend at the time left me for college. Embittered, I studied coding on my own, and I ended up with a modest income. However, my own debts were constantly at my heels, necessitating I forsake the ample and apparent leisure time of the fools next door. I didn't have the time to clean, cook, or garden, so my own backyard was an overgrown expanse of grass and dead appliances.

I took care of myself in the barest means possible. I ate quick and cheap stuff, and I rarely exercised. When I did read, it was books my deceased grandfather left me, a hefty collection of rare tomes I'd stupidly sold for pittances before I knew their true worth. His collection was one of the country's largest ones in blasphemous grimoires and occult lore. Due to the debts that incessantly hammered me, I constantly had to sell, even pawn, those ancient tomes to stay afloat. After I'd forced myself to research each and every one of them, from the Cook copy of the Pnakotic Manuscripts to the Smith translation of the Book of Eibon.

With such knowledge secure, I felt myself more confident in commanding a worthwhile price for these weight volumes. While I'd never put much stock in occultism, my own curiosity drove me to skim through the few sections I could read. While I was no polyglot in dead tongues, I nevertheless tried to pick up a few things. As I thumbed through those forgotten pages of eldritch lore, I saw all manner of peculiar symbols and characters. While I'd never seen most of them, a delightfully twisted idea crossed my mind.

As I'd presumed the Parsons were religious, or at least stodgy, I'd use the symbols and debauched imagery of these accursed tomes to grossly violate their sense of taste. Trolling and offending others was something I'd done intermittently since high school, limited by the laws and responsibilities of adulthood. On the few occasions since adolescence I've done them, I greatly savored the chance to break the composure of the haughty. When I read the weather forecast, I knew immediately what I'd have to do.

The snow came down the following day, and I got to work before the sun came up. I moved in that biting, frigid air with an alacrity I could scarcely believe myself capable of. I smelt the smoke of a wood fire coming out of the Parsons' chimney, and I imagined them as soft, coddled creatures before compared to my own travails. I worked like a hellion fixated upon completing an infernal masterpiece, obsessively adding each minute detail. I removed my gloves for greater finesse in packing the snow, even as my fingers went numb. It was a glorious suffering, all in service of a greater cause.

I finished the project just before noon, when I decided to put the final touch upon my masterwork. I had three erected three snowmen standing at the edges of a pentagram etched beneath them. Occult symbols lined the edge of the circle, but the part I was most proud of was the erotic element. Each snowman was comprised of three packed snowballs, but each bore a carrot to signify an erect member, with two potatoes beneath it for a scrotum. A fourth snowman bent over before the tallest of them, the tallest one's carrot embedded in his rear. I used dildos, each bearing Christ's image or crucifix iconography, to use as noses for all of my debauched snowmen. With two twig arms placed near the member on the other snowmen, I made it seem as the two snowmen were masturbating into the fourth's face.

I aptly named the resultant work, "When Winter Comes." I took several pictures of it, so I'd remember it long after they'd turned to slush. More importantly, I was preoccupied with what would happen when the Parsons saw it. As it was a weekend, I recalled they'd be walking their dog just before dusk. In the meantime, I decided to prepare my own part in the scene, a mock ritual I'd cobbled together from the occult texts. In order to prepare, I took a fistful of certain hallucinogens I'd saved for such an occasion.

I realized too late that I'd grabbed the wrong bag after experiencing the sour taste crawling down my throat. I momentarily considered trying to purge it, but I decided to role with it. After all, I was supremely confident in my ability to withstand any half-forgotten concoction I'd thrown together. It was when I started splashing myself with cold water that I thought otherwise. The kitchen sink's drain started to hiss like a somnolent serpent, and I remember sticking my fingers towards it for some reason.

I thought I heard my late uncle's deep, throaty laugh coming from the backyard. As though under some diabolical mesmerism, I found myself shambling through the backdoor. I saw the snowmen before me seeming to sway gently, as though dancing to an inaudible rhythm. I thought I heard my uncle admonishing me for selling his books, and my own callous and lackadaisical attitude towards their contents. I responded to his imagined orders as though a hypnotized cobra before a snake charmer, and I stepped into the center of the circle.

I knelt down, and I felt a freezing wind blow across my uncovered face and hands. I folded my hands for warming across my chest, just as I considered heading back to the house. I tried to force myself to stand up, only to feel a pricking on the back of my neck like the grasp of a skeletal hand. I looked back to see the stick hands of a nearby snowman shifted from his vegetable member to the back of my neck. I tried to chalk it up to melting snow causing it to loosen, but I knew I was only fulling myself. I turned my head to examine the snowman further, but I felt a similarly bony grasp on the other side of my throat.

"Where do you think you're going, boy?" came my uncle's voice from the tallest snowman.

"Don't you know the price?" said another snowman in Patrick Parson's voice.

"You might even enjoy it," said the third in Isobel Parson's voice.

The fourth snowman seemed to have vanished entirely from the circle, but I felt I would soon take my snow sculpture's place. I saw snow-people of similar design filling in the gaps in the circle, so I was now completely encircled by them. The tallest of them rammed his member into his mouth. I tasted a strangely warm carrot against my tongue, which throbbed like a worm on a fishhook. My lips moved up and down the vegetable, moistened by saliva and melted water. I was tempted to bite down, but never able to fully command my own facilities.

I felt a carrot enter my rear, moving back and forth as I fellated the tallest snowman. I was spun around, and I found myself penetrated from both ends by another set of moist, writhing taproots. My vision became a blur, as another set entered and exited before I could collect my bearings. Then came another set, and then another. I saw everything beyond them dissolve into a nondescript blur, as I spun around. I heard demoniac laughter in the background, and then I saw myself staring up at the sky.

The snowmen were not done with me. They clutched the dildos that comprised their noses, and they began to sing hymns I recalled from the few times I'd attended church. The dildos began to curl upright and erect of their own volition, in contrast to natural law. I pulled myself to my knees, and I found myself opening my mouth wide. The snowmen uttered savage ululations, and then a cacophonous, shrill laughter. In unison, they blasted their load from their erect noses into my face. The cold taste of winter coming was like that of a torrent of melt-water from an alpine glacier. For a moment, I was overwhelmed by the sensation of falling, and then something small landed on the back of my head.

After a seeming eternity of Lethean shambling, I myself face down in the snow-sculpture, unsure of the reality of what transpired. As I stood up, I saw that I'd crashed into the fourth snowman in the center of the orgiastic ritual circle, and the nose from the tallest one fell onto my face. I presumed I'd stumbled around outside under the influence of the drugs, destroying part of the sculpture in the process. I wondered exactly how my subconscious came to dream up such peculiar imagery. Tracking the sun's movement across the sky, I saw that I'd have to hurry if I wanted to fix it by the time the Parsons came out.

"Are you doing okay, neighbor?" came the nasally voice of Patrick Parson. I looked up to see him and Isobel, both trim and lean paragons of fitness. "I was worried when you started wandering around with no coat on."

"No, I'm fine," I said, half cursing to myself for failing to notice them.

"Shame, too, because you worked on that sculpture all morning," Isobel said, her voice becoming intrigued. "Still, you have quite a dildo collection. If you want, we can lend you some of ours."

"Wait, what?" I asked.

"Yeah. We have plenty to spare," Patrick said with calm smile. "We use a few in our monthly orgies."

It was then I would have screamed, had I been able to overcome the shock that rendered me catatonic. I only had my prejudiced notions to justify my spite to myself, but they'd both blown my image of them out of the water. The spurious reasons I loathed them swirled in my head like water down a drain. As they flushed away, I succumbed to accepting their kind favor.