's 2015 Horror Write-off:

" The Snow Never Melts "

Submitted by Austin Brooks

The snow never melts. It lays thick on the ground, on the limbs of trees and the roofs of the village, about a foot deep. For almost eleven months a year, all is dark and still. We go about our lives in the cold and the dark, chopping wood for our fires and hunting game for our meals.

But once a year the peace is broken. The sky is filled with light and color, swirling reds and golds and greens, and constellations of multicolored lights. The snow is swept up into mighty blizzards, and the ground buckles and quakes beneath our feet. Anything that isn’t held down risks being hurled into the air and carried off by the raging wind. We huddle in our homes, living of whatever larder we have saved, only venturing out when the storms and earthquakes have ceased and the lights have dimmed. The elders watch the skys for signs from the gods and to read the fates, sending up prayers to the Greatmother and her pantheon brood. The oldest tell legends of a far off world were the snow ebbs and flows and even vanishes altogether for a time, were light and dark shift in even cadence.

Now that I am fifteen, a man grown, I have begun an apprenticeship with the Carpenter’s Guild. I am wheeling a cart of scrap wood through the snow to the town fire, when I feel a tremble beneath my feet. A scar of golden light streaks across the sky, growing ever wider.

But it is impossible. The lights have come and gone for this year, not even a month ago. Though even the elders cannot predict exactly when the light will begin, all know it only lasts a month or two, once many years ago lingering for three, but always only once a year, with many months of darkness in-between.

But now the sky is filled with color once more. Already the snow around me is swirling, rising up into the crisp air to revel in the sky. The world surges upward, and loose twigs and splinters fly from my cart to join the deadly flurry. I rush to the doors of my neighbors, but they are already barred to me. No one dares open their home to this freak tantrum of the gods.  The earth rejects me, tossing me into the night air. I hit the ground roughly a few times as I scramble to find shelter in awkward leaps and hurdles. It is too late. I reach in vain for handholds on the roofs of houses, then the treetops, but my fingers find no purchase.

As I am swept away into the sky, I resign myself to my fate, looking fondly down at the lights of the village, never before as beautiful as seen from above. I can see the bodies of a few other unfortunates caught in the storm, but they are too far off to reach or even greet in death. I was content to freeze to death up in the sky, or even embrace the sweet relief of a swift reunion with the ground, when the tumult reached unknown crescendo.

I find myself in a vast open plain. Soft brown strands cushioned me, and spread across the lands in all directions. Could these be the “amber waves of grain” the grand elder speaks of when he enters his trances? I feel my body going stiff and nub. I spot the ruined remains of one of my legs a few yards away. As my eyes refocus, I began to make out massive shapes that must have been a million miles away.

 Nearest and smallest of them, I can see my village, the entire world, torn asunder and toppled on its side, the very atmosphere shattered, pouring out into this otherworldly aether.  Looming above it is a misshapen giant, a babbling idiot god bobbling its swollen head and sucking on its horrid digits with a drooling, toothless mouth. In the far distance, a figure I recognize as one of the lesser goddesses reclines upon a massive plateau, engrossed in a divine text.

What on Earth happened here?”

With what little strength I have, I crane my neck to see the source of the divine voice. The Greatmother herself strides across the endless field, utterly massive. The minor goddess looks up, unperturbed.

                “Skyler got into the Christmas decoration stuff.”

The Greatmother plucks the infant godling from the ground, handing it to her lesser. She kneels at the remains of my broken world, and stifles a sob

                “That was my favorite snowglobe…