Mon. Jun 24th, 2024

I had 48 hours to write this and the prompts were…

Winter Survival – Glassblower – Christmas Ornament

The earthquake went against all logic. When Cole fell, he went up instead of down. Snow swirled about him as he rose like a bird over a vast tundra. Gravity became jealous that the sky had taken her man and sought to reclaim him. She brought Cole back to her embrace. Hard. He slammed into the ground with an ‘Oof’ escaping from the compressed accordion bellows of his lungs. Before he could catch a breath, the sky pulled him back up again, playing a game of tug-of-war with the earth below. Cole had sense enough to grab hold of a tree this time and hug it for dear life. He looked to the sun for a point of orientation, but instead of the sun, he saw a great, big eyeball looking at him from over the peak of a mountaintop. It blinked out of existence, and everything returned to normal. The shaking stopped, and gravity beat the sky into retreat.

Cole climbed down from the tree, and it took his heart a beat to climb down with him. His clothes offered scant protection against the cold as they were a casual combination of a t-shirt, shorts, socks, and sandals. He couldn’t remember getting dressed or how he came to be in a frozen hellscape with not even a mitten for warmth. All he could remember was his name. Not that it mattered if he couldn’t find shelter before he froze to death.

He turned 360° and squinted through a blizzard for signs of civilisation. Perhaps a town or some remote outpost of Arctic explorers. He even would have settled for an empty road with the promise of somewhere miles away. But Cole had no such luck. Snow, snow, and more snow. It surrounded him everywhere he looked. He did wonder where it came from as he looked up at a clear, blue sky with a blazing sun. There should have been heat, but he felt only the cold. Nothing made sense. Not the gravity, not the weather, not his lack of memory – nothing! And just like that, the snowfall stopped. It settled into a blanket, and the world became eerily still, with not even a wisp of wind to ruffle his hair. Cole saw further without the snow obscuring his vision. On the side of the mountain, he spied a cabin with smoke billowing out of its chimney. If he could make it that far, he could ask for shelter or, at the very least, food and supplies.

The climb up the mountain proved to be treacherous. Twice more the ground shook, and twice more the eye appeared above the mountaintop to stare down at Cole and his struggle. It required every ounce of grip strength to stop himself from falling. With every earthquake came a blizzard that lasted for a few minutes. Cole knew the two were connected but couldn’t figure out how.

At last, he reached the cabin and took a moment to catch his breath. He tried the door, but the building turned out to be a fake hunk of plastic with no actual interior. The chimney smoke just a cheap effect that didn’t look as convincing up close. A plastic Santa statue stood in front of the cabin, with its leg propped up on a wooden stump and an axe embedded in the same stump beside the boot. The statue waved at some unseen thing in the sky and smiled warmly with a touch of red on its cheeks. Santa may have been plastic, but his coat sure wasn’t. Cole looked at its wool-lined fabric covetously before stripping it off for himself, leaving Santa in nothing but a shirt and suspenders. Plastic eyes moved, and a jolly smile turned sour as Cole wrapped himself up, oblivious to his imminent danger.

“Naughty!” Santa roared as he lifted the axe and brandished it at Cole. “Very naughty!”

Cole fled, running further up the mountain as Santa swung the axe with manic ferocity. His plastic arms never tired, and his artificial legs never slowed. A human body could never compete with a Christmas killing machine. Cole collapsed, already exhausted from a long walk and mountain climb. Santa towered overhead, ready to chop him up like wood, but the eye appeared above him, and an earthquake followed. Santa and Cole both flew into the air, and Cole used his flight to guide himself onto the mountain’s summit. Santa followed straight after him, surfing the sky like the reindeer he commanded. At the mountaintop, the great eye was so close that Cole tried to reach out and touch it, but his fingers met the barrier of a curved glass dome.

“Help me!” Cole pleaded to the figure, who must have been some kind of god. He could hear a child’s laughter as Santa closed in with the axe right before their world tumbled to its apocalypse. The glass dome shattered, and Cole fell out of a Christmas ornament and into another world. His body became a bug splat on the pavement of a garden patio.

“I broke daddy!” a giant girl shrieked above his miniature body.

 “Hush now,” said an even larger mother. “I told you that your father would never be able to leave us again, and I meant it. I just wish his memory survived getting brought back. Resurrection magic is tricky.”

 “I wanna play again!”

The mother conjured a ball of molten hot glass which she then inflated into the dome of a snow globe with her magic glassblowing pipe. The daughter spoke an enchantment onto the setting glass as her father got trapped inside and resurrected.

“What game now?” the mother asked.

“Zombie city,” said the daughter, eyes wide with excitement.

If Cole still had memory, he’d tell you all about the day he broke a djinn’s heart by trying to walk out on her and their daughter. He’d also tell you how he lived to regret it every day thereafter. If he could remember, that is.

By Michael