's 2017 Horror Write-off:

Hot Ice Cream for Cold Days

Submitted by Thomas Wisdom

When Maria looked at the snow outside her window, she could swear it was summer.

It was sweltering, she knew that much, but when she peered out onto her porch she saw what looked like sleet and frost. She extended one hesitant foot and drew it back, swearing; it was burning hot. She stayed inside for a few hours, peering outside; nobody else seemed to notice the heat. She figured the "snow" was some sort of organism, altering their behavior; she had read about things like cordyceps. Giggling, Maria began to associate this threat with a simple image, the common snowman - children were building one even now, laughing as their hands sloughed off their bodies. Maria watched a man slip on his ass and burst into flames even as he tried to get up; she peeled herself away from the sight before she couldn't take it anymore. It's the heat, of course it is, she thought, deliriously dragging herself to the freezer. She knew she had some ice cream left, ought to cool herself down a bit, but when she swung the door open she was assaulted by a wave of heat.

She swore up a storm, stomping over to her closet and changing into some summer clothes. "I'm going out," she yelled, shooting a glance at her phone for the time and noticing something. December? That's - her eyes flickered - that's summer.

Maria stepped out and gazed at the mountains, barely even registering the growing heat on her bare soles. It's in the mountains, she reasoned. That's where the snow is. Whatever's causing this - the Big Snowman or whatever - it's in the mountains.

She set off, legs burning in tottery steps.

Case file created: Dec. 25, 2017 Case type: probable non-anomalous threat to human life

Human corpse discovered on Dec. 24, 2017 in Siskiyou Mountains region. Corpse was severely underdressed, and appears to have expired from severe hypothermia. Corpse appears to have been partially consumed by wildlife, likely bears, at some point between expiration and discovery. Corpse was positively identified through both DNA testing and visual match as that of Maria Solome, resident of Ashland, Oregon, age 16. Organisms were found in corpse that appear to be a hithero unknown species of hairworm. All organisms were deceased on discovery; organisms were present in brain, spinal column, and remaining gastro-intestinal organs.