|The Transformation Story Archive||Mythical Beings|
A lone figure walked on the cliff top. It was a desolate December day. A gale was blowing from the east throwing giant waves onto the cliffs. Boom ... boom. The ground vibrated with the impacts. Low grey clouds scudded overhead and pellets of snow stung the skin.
David was taking a break from his work for a few days by returning to his childhood home on the east coast of England. He particularly enjoyed taking lonely walks like this, where he could clear his mind of daily concerns, and either think about deeper matters, or simply about nothing at all except the hypnotic motion of the sea.
He was staying in a caravan site with some of the caravans situated precariously near to the crumbling clay cliff edges. Luckily David's rented caravan was safely set well back. Although why he was staying in this lonely place was something he hadn't quite worked out. The caravan site was empty at this time of year and his parents had moved away from their old house in the nearby inland village many years ago.
Of course you couldn't remain isolated completely from the outside world. David was no different. The caravan was equipped with a TV and a 'net connection as well as all the other modern conveniences.
It was just getting dark when he returned from his walk. He threw a quick meal together and ate it in front of a TV quiz show. Later he checked his Email which all appeared to be related to his work and so could wait.
David was an atmospheric physicist by profession and at the moment he was studying recent concerns about climate change. Not global warming, that was old hat, but a quite sudden and sharp reversal in the temperature trend. The cause was well known. The amount of solar energy reaching the earth had dropped significantly in the space of a few years. Why this had happened and what would be the effect on the world's climate were exercising the minds of scientists, like David, the world over.
Soon, having dismissed all thoughts of work from his mind, he was ready for bed. He fell asleep quickly. He didn't sleep well though, waking up in the night feeling strangely hot and itchy. Strange because the caravan was rather cold. However the feeling soon passed and he returned to his fitful sleep.
The next day he woke early. Sunlight was streaming in the window. Looking out he saw a landscape clothed in white and not a single cloud in the sky. The sun shone brilliantly, but weakly, over the sea, which was showing only a slight swell in sharp contrast to the previous day.
Later, he thought, he would go into the village to buy some provisions. However first he needed a refreshing walk on the beach. Outside it was obviously bitterly cold, however the air was still and the weak sunshine made it feel quite pleasant.
The steps down to the beach were taken down at this time of year so that they weren't washed away during the winter storms. So he had to climb down the cliff. Strange ice sculptures clung the cliffs where sea water had frozen onto them. On the beach itself there was a light sprinkling of snow forming into small drifts near the cliffs. He was entirely alone the silence only broken by the gentle wash of waves onto the beach. The overall effect was like being on an alien shore of some alien world.
Wait a minute what was that? A print in the sand attracted David's attention. It was a bare human footprint. Who would be walking around with no shoes on in this weather? It made no sense to him. The prints formed a track following the shore line. Perhaps, he reasoned, if he followed them the mystery of who or what made them could be solved. For they were surely made very recently otherwise the sea would have already washed them away. After following the prints for half a mile or so they disappeared into the advancing tide. He continued on the way the tracks seemed to have been leading. This was getting weird the person couldn't have just vanished into the sea. However searching around for another hour brought no sign of further tracks. And now the tide was coming in so he made his way back onto the cliff top still puzzling about the mysterious footprints.
Meanwhile the sun was being obscured by high cloud and an icy breeze off the sea had developed. David decided it was time he returned to the caravan. By the time he reached large feathery flakes of snow were falling and sky was a dark steely grey. Not long after he had settled down with a book in front of the electric fire the view through the windows had turned into a blizzard. He could barely see to the next caravan the snow was falling so thickly.
Later whilst making himself a cup of tea he noticed a figure trudging around outside. Strange, he thought, who would be wandering around in this weather. He couldn't make out any features of the figure so assumed it must be the owner of the site, checking on his caravans, and thought no more about it.
By nightfall the wind was blowing a gale causing the caravan to rattle on its solid foundations. Suddenly all the lights went out. It looked as if a power line had come down. Lighting a candle David pondered on what a ridiculous idea this break was turning out to have been. How he longed to be in his warm room in the city. It was going to be a long cold night.
He was also now out of touch with the outside world. TV, computer and phone connections were all not functioning. However he did have a little portable battery powered radio. On trying it, though, he could pick up no FM signals. Probably all the local stations were affected by the power cuts. On medium wave there were a few stations operating and all the talk was of the weather. "Worst conditions for more than a century", "many roads closed all over the country", "eastern counties affected particularly badly". He turned the radio off. It seemed like it would be a good idea to get out of here as soon as possible before things got any worse. He obviously couldn't go anywhere this evening, that would be far too dangerous, so he would settle down in the caravan and consider his options tomorrow.
The next morning snow was still falling but not as heavily as it had been. The power was still off as he suspected it would be. Isolated areas like this would be low on the priority for restoration of electrical power. He switched on the radio which was still talking about the "unprecedented weather" and linking it to the changes in the climate. David thought the analysis a little premature. It seemed rather like pundits during the last decade who seemed to think a few hot days in the summer constituted evidence for global warming.
Then, interrupting his thoughts, the weather forecast came on. It was not good, another storm. Clearly this morning was a respite and he should take the opportunity to leave before it disappeared. He wolfed down breakfast and went out to check on his car.
The car was virtually invisible covered in a thick mantle of snow. It was also trapped by a large snow drift. Luckily he had come prepared with a shovel and cleared the snow from and around the vehicle. He flopped into the car and attempted to start it. The power came on but nothing happened. Opening the bonnet he found it stuffed with hard packed snow blown in from underneath by the wind. After clearing it out he eventually got the car to start. However he really wasn't going to get far because the road was extremely slippery and he had no snow chains. You simply didn't need them in the normal British winter. And finally the only road out was covered in rather large snow drifts and in fact you couldn't tell where the road was at all in places. It would take days to clear the road with his small shovel. He was stuck.
Depression sank over him. Why oh why was he here? In the summer this was a pleasant little seaside resort with tourist from the nearby towns coming to enjoy a break from their normal routines. In weather like this, however, it was a trap in the middle of nowhere.
He now had decide what to do next. He had enough food to last a few days but no power save that in his car. And he had no guarantee that if he tried to sit it out conditions would improve. The best course of action would be to find some other people and then decide what to do next. The problem he had was that the site, in off season was empty. The site office should have been open during the day. However on checking it was closed, the staff having obviously been unable to make it there.
Just then, he saw the footprint in the snow. It wasn't his, somebody else had been here. Suddenly he felt watched. He was here all alone except for an unknown stranger stalking him. This is absurd, he thought, adding to everything else I'm getting paranoid. It showed the blackness of his mood that discovering signs of another person here should be a depressing rather than a hopeful sign. He trudged back to the caravan which was by now just as cold as outside, but at least he was sheltered from the wind. The weather, as forecast, had taken a turn for the worse and snow was falling heavily outside his window. Tomorrow he resolved to walk inland to the village.
Just as he was settling down in a chair, with his thoughts, he saw something move out of the corner of eye. His heart started thumping. It was his unknown stranger just outside his window. He turned to look at the figure straight on, but it must have seen him because it had gone. Who or what was it? It moved more like a wild animal than a person. And why hadn't it attempted to communicate when it saw him. He ran out of the door shouting into the snowy scene. "Hello. Who are you? ... Come back!"
Getting no response he walked out a bit further and tried again. Suddenly he shivered as fear got the better of him and he jogged back to the safety of his caravan.
Back in the caravan he realised he could make no sense of what he had briefly seen. The mystery stranger seemed to be wearing some kind of white fur suit. Who wore anything like that these days? Perhaps Eskimos, but then Eastern England wasn't well known for being Eskimo country. Perhaps there was a lot of imagination in what he had seen. He'd only had a brief view after all. Though the behaviour of the stranger was still very unusual.
He didn't sleep well that night. Nightmares of being attacked by knife wielding Eskimos in white furs assailed him. Just when he was about to be caught, the Eskimos stopped short. Then the snow gave way under him and he dropped down on top of a shambling white ape-creature. Just as he was about to be torn apart, he awoke. Eventually he returned to sleep with the winds raging outside. Later that night the storm really began to set in with hurricane force winds. A particularly strong gust picked up an old caravan near the cliff face. The wind tossed it onto its side and then smashed it into David's caravan causing it to break off of its foundation and turn over onto its side as well. This resulted in David waking for a second time as he was thrown from his bed. He landed on the floor with a crack, and was knocked back into blissful unconsciousness.
All this had not gone unobserved. A pair of sharp eyes had watched the whole drama. They had been watching David for a few days now. Slowly the owner of the sharp eyes moved from its hiding place down towards the caravan.
David awoke the next morning wishing he'd stayed asleep. Light was streaming in through a great gash in his caravan. His head and body were throbbing with pain. For a moment he had no idea where he was. Gradually, however, he began to recognise his situation. He asked himself once again why he had taken this ill fated break, and what he could do now.
Noticing the floor where the side of the caravan should have been and looking up to see the windows of the side forming the new ceiling didn't improve his mood. Cupboards and fitments hung open their contents scattered and smashed all over the new caravan floor. "Damn, damn caravan. How I hate you", he muttered to himself as he began to take in what had happened.
He started to rise but pain enveloped his head and back so he settled back onto his bed. Something was very odd here. He found it hard to believe that having been thrown from his bed as the caravan turned onto its side his duvet and sheets would have arranged themselves neatly on top of him. What had happened last night?
Later that morning he finally managed to raise himself out of bed and began to inspect the damage to himself and the caravan. His head was throbbing and a small amount of blood was weeping from his scalp. His body was bruised but no bones appeared to be broken.
Staggering outside he tried to piece together the events of the previous night. But wait what was that. A footprint. The mysterious stranger had been right up to caravan last night maybe even inside. Snooping around whilst he was helpless. Just then he spotted the stranger partly hidden near another caravan, watching him. He was going to find out what was going on once and for all, he resolved. So he immediately started to chase it, his bruised muscles screaming with every stride.
The creature, for it couldn't be human, was covered in a thick white pelt. It moved gracefully on two legs. He soon realised he wasn't going to catch it, because whilst he was rapidly running out of energy, it seemed to be effortlessly moving away, as though it could maintain this pace for days.
Eventually, defeated, he flopped down into the snow exhausted from his efforts. Soon after he had stopped, the creature sensing that it was no longer being chased, stopped also. It sat down on its haunches and looked intently at the spot where David had fallen.
Meanwhile David was more and more comfortable in his little snow hole. He found himself drifting into unconsciousness. Dimly his mind attempted to stay awake, aware that falling asleep out here was probably fatal. But he was so tired and it was strangely warm there. Finally his eyes closed and he drifted into a deep sleep.
The wind picked up the snow and swirled it around the David's body in the snow covering him in a light dusting of white. In the distance the creature watched a while, the wind ruffling its white fur. Then, satisfied, it began to move.
David lived in a world of dreams. Images of gliding above the snowy landscape on strong wings. Following the crystalline white cliff edge looking down onto the dark brooding sea.
Later running through the snow on four strong legs. The scent of snow and of hare in his nose.
Then swimming in the murky waters. Powerful tail fluke pushing his smooth body through it. A quick movement. Then breaking the surface and taking a breath of the icy air. Then back to womb of the sea.
Later still branches reaching into the sky. His sap rising and leaves sprouting then falling again with the change of the seasons.
Now trapped at the bottom of a well. An angelic face looking down on him. Wanting to get out. But she can't or won't help. He grips the slick icy wall and begins to climb.
He tries to open his eyes but the light is blinding. "Am I dead?" He wonders aloud.
"No you are not dead", responds the angel's voice.
"Am I dreaming?"
"No you are not. Now try to relax, everything's fine."
He opened his eyes on the inside of a cave. His bed was made up blankets from his caravan. He wondered briefly how he had got here. He moved his head to get a better view of his surroundings, then stopped dead. The creature was in here with him.
It was speaking to him. He whipped his head around the room. No there was no one else here. Or perhaps, correcting himself, he thought, SHE was speaking to him. For the creature had the voice of a young woman.
"How?" He spluttered.
"I know what you're thinking. You think you are talking to some kind of animal. But you aren't. I'm as human as you are."
Her voice rose, "don't believe me." She came towards the bed. He cringed back as she lifted his arm out from beneath the covers. "Well look at that then."
No, it couldn't be true. I have to hide ... can't be seen like this, he thought, as he slid back under the covers.
His arm, and the rest of his body, was covered in a thick coat of white fur.
Snowman copyright 1996 by Dan Lea.
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