's 2018 Horror Write-off:

I Hate Snowmen

Submitted by Gareth Barsby

In fact, I hate everything related to snowmen. I hate top hats, I hate brooms, I hate carrots, in fact, I even hate water. My current plan is to hide in a cave somewhere…maybe hide away somewhere in the desert until I die of dehydration.

Why? Because I heard a snowman talking.

You’ve heard stories of snowmen coming to life, dancing and giggling and smiling. So had this snowman.

He asked why he couldn’t move his mouth.

He asked why he couldn’t move his arms, or use the broom he was holding.

When I first heard him, I thought it was a prank. I was tempted to sigh, say ‘Ha ha’ and look behind the snowman to see if there was a mischievous boy behind him, but I didn’t hear the words. The words just appeared into my mind, and it seemed the snowman was transmitting them.

He could talk, but he couldn’t move his mouth; stuck in a permanent smile.

‘I’m supposed to dance,’ he said, ‘I’m supposed to walk down the street. I want to go to the forest with my new friend.

‘That’s what they told me. That’s what the book said.

‘I’m Charlie the Snowman.’

When he said that, I realised why I could hear him and no-one else could.

Charlie the Snowman was the title character of a book I wrote and published. Whoever built this snowman must have read my book and named this snowman after him.

In the book I wrote, a little girl named Sally builds a snowman and calls him Charlie. As soon as her snowman is complete, Charlie springs to life and he and Sally have merry adventures; they dance down the street, watch the squirrels and robins and all the children in the town join them in their fun. At the end, because everybody in the town loves Charlie and his fun-loving ways, he doesn’t even melt when the sun comes up.

The “real” Charlie wasn’t granted that luxury.

He couldn’t sing. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t dance.

He couldn’t survive the sun.

That Charlie that told me he couldn’t dance or walk down the street was reduced to water, just like all snowmen out of picture books.

I remember the first few months after Charlie the Snowman was published, I received a letter from a reader. She asked why, after naming her snowmen after Charlie, that he didn’t come to life or withstand the sun.

Reading that letter felt like my heart being shredded, and hearing another Charlie speak to me stung even worse. I don’t know if it was the actual “voice” of the snowman or my own mind playing tricks on me, but I swore I heard 'Liar' coming from water.

I was a mother, bringing life to something that wasn't meant to last long. I don't know if that Charlie is dead or still living and sentient as water, and I don't know which is worse.

Apparently, that’s the way things are. If you name an inanimate object and personify it enough with your mind, it comes to life. Some move, but only if they were meant to move. If it happens to a vehicle, it can move on its own accord.

Snowmen weren’t meant to move. Snowmen weren’t meant to dance or have adventures.

When an inanimate object is brought to life, it speaks, but only with a voice a select few can hear. Since I inspired Charlie’s name, I was one of those lucky few.

How do I know this? Well, someone told me.

Who, you might ask? Well, I’ve also written a book called Big Betty Saves the Day…