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BEWARE, THE SNOWMAN
Goosebumps - 51 R.L. Stine (An Undead Scan v1.5)
When the snows blow wild And the day grows old, Beware, the snowman, my child. Beware, the snowman. He brings the cold. Why did that rhyme return to me? It was a rhyme my mother used to whisper to me when I was a little girl. I could almost hear Mom’s soft voice, a voice I haven’t heard since I was five…. Beware, the snowman. He brings the cold. Mom died when I was five, and I went to live with my aunt Greta. I’m twelve now, and my aunt never read that rhyme to me. So what made it run through my mind as Aunt Greta and I climbed out of the van and gazed at our snowcovered new home? “Jaclyn, you look troubled,” Aunt Greta said, placing a hand on the shoulder of my blue parka. “What are you thinking about, dear?”
She is tall and skinny. sad dark eyes. dark brown hair and brown eyes. Not from Aunt Greta’s touch. I thought.” I murmured. There is a second verse to that rhyme. Aunt Greta’s normally pale cheeks were red from the cold. She wears it long. Snow clung to the windowsills and filled the cracks between the shingles. And kind of pretty. but she has had white hair for as long as I can remember. Cozy. always tied behind her head in a single braid that falls nearly all the way down her back. And I never knew my father. flat roof. so terribly unhappy. with a delicate round face and big. I am . But I forced a smile to my face. Aunt Greta told me he disappeared soon after I was born. “What a cozy little home. Beware. “Yes. I don’t remember my mom that well. but from the chill of the steady wind that blew down from the mountain.” Aunt Greta said. Why can’t I remember it? I wondered if we still had the old poetry book that Mom used to read to me from. I have wavy. A mound of snow rested on the low. the snowman. She still had her hand on my shoulder. I don’t look at all like my aunt.I shivered. I don’t know who I look like. I felt so sad. She isn’t very old. I stared at the flat-roofed cabin that was to be our new home.
tall and athletic. My boots crunched over the hard snow. Snow. I couldn’t tell where the mountain ended and the clouds began. I’m going to need someone to talk to. “Time to move on. snow everywhere. It was my life. As if I had stepped into some kind of fairy tale.” It was so hard to get her to say more than a few words at a time. I helped my aunt pull bags from the van. I thought sadly. Except it wasn’t a fairy tale. They looked as if they were made of gingerbread. frozen mountain village? Aunt Greta never really explained. The little square houses along the road didn’t look real to me. Sometimes I wish she were easier to talk to. But I already missed my friends. I mean. I was the star basketball player on the girls’ team at my school back in Chicago. How am I going to make friends in this tiny village on the edge of the Arctic Circle? I wondered. why did we have to move from the United States to this tiny. “Time for a change. My totally weird life. Aunt Greta can go a whole day without barely saying a word. I like to talk a lot and dance and sing. but she’s so stern and silent…. We had left Chicago only yesterday.” she muttered. . I love her. I gazed up at the snow-covered mountain.
The whole village is practically deserted! I wondered if there was anyone here my age. the snowman started to move. She’s thin. I turned and stared at it. Then she struggled to open the door.I knew that she and Mom grew up in a village like this one. “The wood is warped. What is that? A snowman? A snowman with a scar? As I squinted across the road at it. but she’s tough. What kind of a name is Sherpia? Can you imagine moving from Chicago to Sherpia? Lucky. But something standing in the snowy yard across the road caught my eye. Aunt Greta kicked snow away from the front door of our new house. I gasped as it came into focus. She lowered her shoulder to the door—and pushed it open. huh? No way. It isn’t even a skiing town.” she grunted. I started to carry the bags into the house. But why did we have to move here now? Why did I have to leave my school and all of my friends? Sherpia. Curious. .
Each tree limb had three twig fingers poking out from it. A crooked carrot nose. “Weird. I hurried back across the road to my new house. The snowman wasn’t moving. The snowman had two dark. It was long and deep. sneering mouth of smaller pebbles. What a weird snowman. One arm poked out to the side. But how else would you describe a nasty-looking. And a down-turned. No.” I muttered out loud.2 I blinked. round stones for eyes. sneering snowman with a scar on its face? “Jaclyn—come help!” Aunt Greta’s call made me turn away from the snowman. Why did they make it so mean looking? I wondered. It had slender tree limbs for arms. My boots crunched loudly as I stepped up to the snowman and examined it carefully. The other arm stood straight up. I couldn’t take my eyes off the scar. . as if waving to me. Aunt Greta is always saying I need a bigger vocabulary. Its red scarf was fluttering in the swirling breeze. My favorite word. cut down the right side of the snowman’s face.
. “Cozy. “I’m going to check it out. oldfashioned stove in the kitchen. I think she was trying to see if I was unhappy. there probably aren’t enough kids in the village for a team! “You’ll be warm up there. The only way to reach my room was a metal ladder that stood against the wall. She pointed up to the low ceiling. It scraped on the hardwood floor. That was my aunt’s room.” Aunt Greta said. I wanted to cheer up. Her cheeks were still red from the cold. When we lugged the final carton into the cabin.It took a long while to unpack the van. Then she made us hot chocolate on the little. But her dark eyes studied my face. I won’t be playing much basketball here. But I just couldn’t. The house had only one bedroom. then pushed away the flat board in the ceiling and pulled myself into the low attic. wrapping her bony fingers around the white hot-chocolate mug. I nodded sullenly. “At least it’s warm in here. Even if they play basketball. My room was the low attic beneath the roof. pushing back my chair.” she said. I thought unhappily.” I said. I wondered if they were going to a Bulls game tonight. My friends were all into basketball. Aunt Greta found a pot. cutting into my thoughts.” she repeated. I kept thinking about my friends back home. She smiled. I climbed the ladder.
Three or four? Just me? And will they all speak English? I swallowed hard. My aunt had picked the right word. A small. Snow speckled the windowpane. I’ll bet they’ve all gone to Florida. Jaclyn. round window at the far end of the room. I couldn’t stand up. Aunt Greta and I had passed it on our way through the village. That will brighten this attic a lot. But I could see the road and the two rows of little houses curving up the mountainside. I made my way back to the ladder. Crouching. I’m going to cover the ceiling with posters. Not a soul. The school here was closed. Cheer up. I thought. And scolded myself for being so down. Pale. I didn’t see anyone out there. The ceiling was so low. too. How many kids will be in my class? I wondered. white light streamed in through the one small.It was cozy. “Can I help unpack?” I asked Aunt Greta as I climbed down the ladder. I thought glumly. Ducking my head. You might meet some really neat kids here. I decided. I made my way to the window and peered out. And maybe help cheer me up. all right. Sherpia is a beautiful little village. . It was midwinter break. not much bigger than a two-car garage. gray stone building.
I want to work in the kitchen first. Tire tracks cut twin ruts down the middle of the road. a small church. A yellow-eyed. An old-fashioned wooden sled. stone house had a Jeep parked in the driveway. I decided to walk in one of them. Which way should I walk? I wondered. I had already seen the school. I found myself outside. The houses were set farther apart. The snow sparkled as clouds rolled away from the . The snow was hard and crusty. The wind whistled and grew colder as I climbed. I still hadn’t seen any other humans. I passed a couple of houses about the same size as ours. I adjusted my furlined gloves and waited for my eyes to adjust to the white glare of the snow. The road grew steeper as it curved up. My boots hardly made a dent in it as I leaned into the wind and started to walk. toward the mountaintop. A tall. black cat stared out at me from the living-room window. pulling the drawstrings of my parka hood tight. “No. It didn’t move.She pushed her long. I saw a kid’s sled in the front yard. So I decided to head up the road. and the post office down the road. I waved a gloved hand at it. white braid off her shoulder.” A few minutes later. the general store. They both appeared dark and empty. Why don’t you take a walk or something? Do a little exploring.
sun. It’s so pretty. I thought. Maybe I will get to like it here. “Ohh!” I cried out as I felt icy fingers wrap themselves around my neck. little gingerbread houses nestled in the snow. . It was suddenly so beautiful! I turned and gazed down at the houses I had passed.
I decided they must be brother and sister. Their names were Rolonda and Eli Browning. “Don’t mind Eli. and bright. His grin faded. . They both had round faces. Before I could answer.” Eli grinned. rolling her eyes. His grin grew wider. sky-blue eyes. “He’s a total creep. “My little brother is a riot. What a weird thing to say. isn’t he?” “Being scared is about all there is to do in Sherpia.” Eli said. And stared at a grinning boy in a brown sheepskin jacket and a red-and-green wool ski cap.3 I spun around and pulled free of the frozen grip. “Did I scare you?” he asked. straight black hair. “You’re new.” his sister told me. squinting at me.” she said.” “Thanks for the compliment. “Eli thinks it’s funny to scare any new kids. I thought. I introduced myself. a girl about my age stepped out from behind a broad evergreen bush.” Eli said. “I’m Jaclyn DeForest. She wore a purple down coat and purple gloves.” I told them. tossing her hair off her face.
They didn’t reply. Eli lowered his eyes to the snow.” I told him. And it had a deep scar cut down the right side of its face. His blue eyes widened in fear.” “No!” Eli gasped. Finally. “Really?” he muttered. “Why did you make it like that?” I demanded. It had a red scarf wrapped under its head.” I replied. “It’s so strange looking. Was she lying? Why didn’t she want to answer me? “Where are you walking?” Eli asked.“We live there. “It looks just like one I saw across the street from me. It had one arm out and one arm up.” she murmured. “Farther down. tightening the snowman’s red scarf. “Do you guys want to come with me? I thought I’d walk up to the top of the mountain. She blushed.” Eli said. I started to ask them something—but stopped when I saw the snowman they were building. pointing to the white house. “I really don’t know. “You can’t!” . Rolonda shrugged.” Rolonda’s smile faded. “You can’t!” Rolonda cried. “Where do you live?” I pointed down the road. “That s-snowman—” I stammered. “Just walking. Why did you put that scar on its face?” They glanced at each other tensely.
You would turn to ice in thirty seconds.4 “Excuse me?” I gaped at them in shock. Rolonda tossed back her black hair. “Ha ha. “That’s why. “You can’t go because it’s closed for repairs. It’s just too cold up there for humans to survive. They suddenly seemed so tense and worried. “Uh… well… we just never go up there.” Rolonda stammered. glancing at her brother.” Eli added. “It’s kind of like a tradition.” “It’s too cold. But he didn’t. Eli pretended to be busy with the red snowman scarf. “I mean… well… we just don’t go up there. The fear faded quickly from their faces. What was their problem? “Why can’t I go up to the top?” I demanded.” Rolonda continued. . “So what’s the real reason?” I demanded. Remind me to laugh later.” Eli finally replied. I knew that wasn’t the real reason. She waited for Eli to add something.” I knew he was lying. But I decided to drop the subject.” Rolonda sneered. avoiding my eyes.
“Lots and lots of snow!” We all laughed. “The next village?” “No.” I called back. I said. And Aunt Greta decided to move here. I learned that they had lived in Sherpia their entire lives. rolling my eyes. I crunched my way past a wide. woodsy lot filled with pine trees nearly as thin as pencils. The trees tilted at all angles.” Rolonda told me.” I told her. “See you guys later.” The road curved higher. I pulled my hood tight. . “No. “I live with my aunt.” Eli added. “We lived in an apartment right on the lake. Not one of them stood straight up. “You’re not going to the top—are you?” Eli called. “And it’s nice if you like snow. Chicago. We talked for a few more minutes. You get used to not seeing many people. “It isn’t so bad. I’ll just go a little farther.” I muttered.“Where are you from?” Rolonda asked. He sounded really frightened again.” “And you moved here?” Eli cried.” and started walking up the road. She dug her gloved hands deep into her coat pockets. So…” I couldn’t keep the sadness from my voice. “It’s getting kind of windy. see. “From Chicago to Sherpia? Why?” “Good question.
Same tree-branch arms. Should I head back or keep going? I remembered the fear on Eli’s face when I said I was climbing to the top. But why didn’t Rolonda and Eli want to tell me about it? Heavy gray clouds rolled over the sun. Same red scarf.I saw animal tracks in the snow. The snowman’s shadow appeared to stretch until it swept over me. Deer tracks? I couldn’t tell. The sky quickly turned evening dark. I stared at the long scar cut deep in its face. Its twig arms waved in the wind. Same scar. And I remembered Rolonda’s cry: “You can’t!” . Raccoon or squirrel? No. “Why do they build these creepy snowmen?” I asked out loud. I decided. Another sneering snowman stared back at me with its twisted carrot nose and coal-black eyes. I felt a sudden chill. Its red scarf fluttered in the strong wind. I turned—and saw another one in the front yard across the street. It must be some kind of village decoration. as if greeting me. Too big. Clumps of pine trees hid the top from view. I raised my eyes—and cried out in surprise. I stepped back. I gazed up to the top of the mountain.
I rubbed my cheeks and nose to warm them. cleared-out area. Clumps of slender pine trees tilted in every direction. I didn’t see any car or sled. Large white rocks jutted up from the snow. I imagined that I was walking on another planet. I could see only trees and snow-covered shrubs and jutting rocks. There were no houses up this high. tilting pine trees. The road climbed steeper.It only made me more curious. . I followed the road as it curved away from the houses. My boots sank in as I walked. The wind whistled. It looked as if it hadn’t been driven all winter. The road curved again. I shielded my eyes with a gloved hand and stared at it. What were they afraid of? What was up there? I decided to keep going. Then I leaned into the wind and kept walking. The snow became deeper and softer. A van in the next driveway was buried under a thick sheet of snow. I didn’t see any boot-prints in the snow. A cabin way up here? Why would anyone want to live this high up. a planet never explored before. surrounded by scraggly. I stopped when a small log cabin came into view. away from everyone? The cabin stood in a square.
The snow had been so bright outside. my heart pounding. The wind whistled around the corner of the cabin. “Hello?” I stepped inside. But I couldn’t see in. “Weird. And before I could focus. A growling white blur. I leaned my arms on a windowsill and pressed my nose against the glass. I just pushed it lightly. Hot breath. I peeked beyond the door. It leaped on me. Hot breath on my face. But I did. white creature tackled me to the floor. Dark in there.” I muttered. I stepped closer. I knocked on the door.I crept closer to the cabin. . My eyes adjusted slowly to the dim light. The windows were steamed over. I saw a white blur. Just to take a look. “Anyone home?” I called in. I couldn’t tell if there were lights on inside or not. I tried the door. I felt a rush of warm air from inside. Silence. “Hello?” No reply. And a snarling. “Anyone home?” I called. Maybe I shouldn’t have. The door slid open.
“Down. pure-white beard. Gasping for breath. tongue snaking down nearly to the cabin floor. The creature backed off. his eerie eyes not . The wolf was breathing hard. His eyes glowed like steel marbles. his expression stern. jaws open. too. And a thick. Wolfbane!” The snarling stopped instantly. And realized I was staring up at a white-furred wolf. “Is that… really a wolf?” I demanded. “Down. I wiped hot saliva off my face. silver-gray eyes. Two hands reached down to grab my hands and tug me to my feet. dark brown eyes locked on me suspiciously. gray hair tied back in a short ponytail. He had long. Wolfbane. He was tall and thin. He nodded.” I rolled away from the panting creature and climbed to my knees. Its head was lowered as if preparing to attack again. I could almost feel them burning into me. dressed all in denim. “Are you okay?” The man studied me with round. Its round. boy.5 “Down! Down. Wolfbane!” a man’s voice ordered sternly. It’s okay.
eyes locked on me. “I didn’t know anyone was in here. taking a step toward me. Something very angry. Behind the bushy white beard. “I just—” “You broke into my house. still not blinking. “You startled us. Wolfbane is well trained. If only my heart weren’t pounding so hard. “Don’t you . “He won’t hurt you.moving. “We were in the back room. “Sorry.” he insisted. “I was taking a walk. I realized.” the man said. There’s something very strange about him. The white wolf uttered a low growl. not looking away. He narrowed his silvery eyes at me.” He motioned toward a doorway in the back wall. “Why did you break into my house?” the man demanded.” I started. head lowered. If only my mouth weren’t so dry. as if waiting for a command to attack. not blinking.” I murmured. He’s dangerous.” I struggled to explain. his slender face reddened. “I didn’t mean to—” “Who are you?” he repeated.” “But he—” My mouth suddenly felt so dry it was hard to talk. It stood tensely. I thought—” “ Who a r e you?” the man demanded angrily. “I didn’t break in.
He still hadn’t blinked those weird. Then I spun around—and ran out the door. Could I get away? .realize how dangerous that is? Wolfbane is trained to attack strangers. My chest tightened in fright. round eyes. What did he plan to do? I didn’t want to find out. He took another step toward me.” “S-sorry—!” I choked out. I took a deep breath.
Behind me, the door slammed hard against the cabin wall. I glanced back—and saw him burst out of the cabin after me. “Where are you going?” he cried. “Hey—stop! Where are you going?” I pointed. “Up to the top!” I cried. “No, you’re not!” he shouted back furiously. “You will not go up there!” He’s crazy! I realized. He has no right to shout at me like that! I can go anywhere I want to! He’s crazy. It had started to snow, large wet flakes, blowing hard in swirls of wind. I brushed a snowflake from my forehead and ran to the road. To my horror, the bearded man followed me, halfwalking, half-running over the deep snow. “Beware, the snowman!” he called. “Huh?” I turned back to face him. “What did you say?” I cried breathlessly. The old rhyme flew through my mind for the second
time that day… When the snows blow wild And the day grows old, Beware, the snowman, my child. Beware, the snowman. He brings the cold. I don’t believe this! I thought. I haven’t thought about that rhyme since I was five. And now it has run through my mind twice in one day! We stood staring at each other from opposite sides of the road. I saw the man shiver. He wore only his denim workshirt, no coat. Big snowflakes clung to his gray hair and his shoulders. “What did you say?” I asked. “The snowman lives in the ice cave,” he called, cupping his hands around his mouth to be heard over the wind. “Huh? A snowman?” He’s really nuts! I decided. Why am I standing here listening to him? The man lives in a cabin on a mountaintop all by himself except for a white wolf! And now he’s yelling insane things about a snowman! “Beware, the snowman!” he repeated. “You cannot go up to the top! You cannot!”
“Why not?” I demanded. My voice came out higher and more shrill than I had intended. “You do not want to meet the snowman!” the man cried. The big snowflakes covered his beard. His silvery eyes glowed eerily. “If you meet the snowman,” he called, “you will never return!” Totally nuts, I realized. That’s why he lives all alone up here. I spun away. I knew I had stayed too long. Slipping and sliding, I ran through the deep snow. Ran as fast as I could. Cold snowflakes slapping my hot face. Heart pounding. Down the road. Down the curving mountain road. Panting… panting. Was that me breathing so hard? Were those my thudding footsteps? No. Glancing back, I saw the white wolf chasing me. Gaining fast. Teeth bared. Head lowered to attack. “Noooo!” I wailed. The big snowflakes stung my eyes as I ran. The white ground tilted. I stumbled but kept running. I suddenly felt as if I were trapped in one of those glass balls that snows inside when you shake them. I tumbled downhill. The snowflakes flew at me in all
But I kept running. . Stumbled forward. My boots sank into deep drifts. The steady thud of the wolf’s heavy paws in my ears. I gasped for breath.directions. I didn’t see the smooth rocks jutting up along the side of the road. easily over the snowdrifts. The fall knocked the wind out of me. My boot caught on one. I watched helplessly as the white wolf closed in on me. The whole mountainside seemed to quiver and shake. I glanced back and saw it gaining on me. Puffs of steam rose from its open mouth. I lost my balance. Down… down. Scrambling to my knees. “Ohhhh!” I let out a cry as pain shot up my leg. The road! Where was the road? I lost it in the falling snow. Its teeth were bared. Running hard. moving rhythmically. Landed hard on my stomach in the deep snow.
I was afraid to take my eyes off it. breathing hard. Snowflakes melted on its tongue. Such human eyes. It lowered its head and stared. I started to back up. Tensed its back. I pushed myself to my feet. Staring at it in fear. Yes! I had found the road! I kept backing up. Then another. Was the wolf just catching its breath? Would it attack the moment I tried to run? “Go home. The white wolf stared up at me. its chest heaved up and down.” I whispered. I took one step back.” My voice barely carried over the wind and snow. boy. Lowered its tail. “Go home. white fur. still panting. I brushed my hair back.7 To my surprise. The wolf stood taller. My boots crunched onto the road. . Beneath the thick. Its brown eyes followed me. The wolf watched me but didn’t move. the wolf stopped a few feet away. and brushed snow off the front of my parka.
What was it thinking? Why did it chase after me? Was it just making sure that I went down the mountain? Did the strange man send it to keep me from heading to the mountaintop? I took another step back. I started to pass houses on both sides of the road. I passed one of the strange. The snow came down hard. One house had a blazing fire going in a fireplace. He appeared to be waving at me as I passed. scar-faced snowmen. And continued walking fast toward the village and my new house. But the wolf didn’t follow me. . I had been gone a lot longer than I had planned. His tree-limb arms trembled in the wind. I could see lights on in some of them. I held it with both hands and started to trot along the road. “Whew!” I uttered a loud sigh of relief. The wolf didn’t move. The sky became nearly as black as night. Then another. I pulled my parka hood over my hair. Black smoke curled up from the chimney. I kept backing up until I was out of the creature’s sight. The snow-covered road curved away. Low snow clouds hid the sun. I glanced back. Every few seconds. I wondered if Aunt Greta would be worried about me. Turned.
Never! Why did Aunt Greta bring us here? A thudding sound behind me forced away my unhappy thoughts. . I spun around to face him. Taking a deep breath.I broke into a run. Human footsteps. Too weird! I’m never going to be happy here. Another snowman greeted me as I rounded the next curve. It’s too weird. I hate this village! I thought. The wolf? No. bearded man—he followed me! “Ohhh!” A frightened moan escaped my lips. The crazy. I’m being followed! I realized. These heavy footsteps were different.
I squinted hard at Rolonda. “Are you okay?” Rolonda demanded.8 “Jaclyn—hi!” I gasped—and stared through the falling snow at Rolonda. Snowflakes dotted her black hair. He has a cabin near the top. “No. He and that animal he . and—” I stammered. Eli. Jaclyn—” “Warn me?” I interrupted. His wolf chased me and he—” “You ran into Conrad?” Rolonda cried. I meant to warn you before. “A white wolf chased me. “Is that his name?” She nodded. “Didn’t you see us?” I glanced over her shoulder and saw her brother. waving to me from their driveway. “He has a cabin that he built himself. “A crazy man. To stay away from him. “Huh? Conrad?” The wind blew my hood off my head. “Yeah.” I blurted out. And he keeps a white wolf named Wolfbane.” she said breathlessly. “You ran right past our house. She jogged across the road to me. I… uh… the snow was falling so hard. pointing to her yard. “Well…” I hesitated.
Rolonda? He works for the snowman? What do you mean? What does that mean?” She didn’t answer. I mean…” Her voice trailed off.” she whispered. “Is that why you and Eli never go up to the mountaintop?” Rolonda lowered her eyes.” I demanded.” she answered finally. Behind her.keeps—they’re both really strange. “I can’t. She glanced back tensely at her brother. “But first you have to explain.” “Tell me about it!” I groaned. What do you mean?” I insisted. why does Conrad live up there so far away from everyone?” I demanded. “Because of Eli. he works for the snowman?” She backed away. “I’ve got to go inside. I rolled my eyes. “Well… it’s one of the reasons. Rolonda hesitated. Again.” she said. Rolonda. Eli stood watching us. brushing snowflakes from her hair. “He—maybe he works for the snowman. She kicked a clump of wet snow off one boot with the other. She continued to stare down at the snow. “Come on. “Well. “It’s almost dinnertime. He’s too .” I waited for her to go on. his hands jammed into his coat pockets. “No one knows for sure. “What do you mean.” I followed after her. I was sure I hadn’t heard her correctly. But she didn’t. “Excuse me?” I cried. “What did you say. she glanced back nervously at Eli.
” . Jaclyn. “Go home. okay.” “Not until you tell me what you meant.frightened. “Meet me tomorrow night.” she whispered. okay? Meet me tomorrow night at the church—and I’ll tell you everything.” Rolonda snapped. “Just go home.” “But. “Okay. I saw Eli watching us intently from the driveway.” I can be stubborn when I want to be. Rolonda—” I started. glancing over her shoulder at Eli.
pulling out coffee mugs and placing them in a cabinet. “Aunt Greta. I nodded my head furiously. rubbing the sleeves of my sweater.” I pulled off my coat and carried it to the front closet. Then I walked back into the kitchen. But there were no hangers in the closet yet. Aunt Greta frowned. Aunt Greta bit her bottom lip. do you know anything about a snowman?” I asked. tossing snowflakes from my hair. . She spun around as I walked in. “Snowman?” “Do you know anything about a snowman on top of the mountain?” I asked. So I tossed the wet coat on top of a stack of cartons.” I replied breathlessly. I didn’t even look out the window. I heard her gasp. “I’ve been so busy in here. “Is it snowing?” she asked.9 “Hi—I’m back!” I burst into the house. “No. But when she turned to me. her face was a blank. No. “The biggest flakes I ever saw. Aunt Greta was bending over a carton in the small kitchen. I don’t.
” “Fun?” I frowned. white-bearded guy. dry laugh. No way. “A snowman who lives up there. He was serious. She straightened up and stretched.” Her voice trembled.” I told her. Conrad. He wasn’t having a little fun.” I continued. “Rhyme?” “I remembered a rhyme today. “I don’t think so. He was threatening me. Someone was just having fun. had screamed at me that I couldn’t go up to the mountaintop. She handed me two mugs. Why did she look so tense? She bent down to pull more mugs from the carton. “Village superstition.Jaclyn. “Someone told me I shouldn’t go to the top of the mountain because of a snowman. My aunt let out a short. From when I was . “Really?” “Of course.” Aunt Greta didn’t say anything. I lifted them onto the cabinet shelf. “This man told me that if I met the snowman up there.” she muttered. I knew he wasn’t joking.” That weird. “These tiny villages all have their scary stories. I would never return.” she replied. He wasn’t joking. I crossed the room to help her unpack them. giving you a little scare. “Aunt Greta. do you remember a rhyme about a snowman?” I asked. pushing her hands against her back. I squinted at her.
my child. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before. the snowman. Help me finish up in here so I can begin dinner. Jaclyn. I looked up to find the strangest expression on Aunt Greta’s face. “I only remember the first verse. She glanced away. “I don’t think I remember any rhyme. avoiding my eyes. “Of course I’m sure. “Nothing at all. come on.” she replied sharply. the snowman. Her cheeks were even paler than usual. But I don’t remember that rhyme. “What’s wrong?” “Nothing.” She fiddled nervously with her long.little.” When I finished.” she said. turning her face away from me. It just popped into my head.” What is wrong? I wondered. Her eyes had gone all watery.” Aunt Greta chewed her lip again fretfully. Beware. “Are you sure?” I asked timidly.” she snapped. white braid. And her chin trembled.” I told her. He brings the cold. “Aunt Greta—are you okay?” I asked. And then I recited it: “When the snows blow wild And the day grows old. Why is she suddenly . Beware. “Now.
Why is she acting so strange now? .angry at me? And why do I have the feeling that she isn’t telling the truth? Aunt Greta has never lied to me before.
I couldn’t sleep that night. My new bed felt hard. I kept imagining that the low ceiling was sinking, dropping down on me. The snow clouds had drifted away, and a half moon appeared, low in the sky. The moonlight washed in through my round window, casting long, shifting shadows over my room. I shuddered under my quilt. It was all so new and strange. I wondered if I’d ever be able to sleep up here. I shut my eyes and tried to think nice, soothing thoughts. I pictured my friends back in Chicago. I called up their faces one by one. I wondered what they were all doing today while I was having my frightening adventure on the mountain. I wondered if they missed me. I had just about fallen asleep when the howls began. Wolf howls? I climbed out of bed and made my way to the window. Down below, the moonlight made the snow sparkle, almost as bright as during the day. Bushes trembled in a soft breeze. The wind carried another frightening howl. I raised my eyes to the mountain.
But I could see only houses, dark and silent, and the silvery road that curved its way to the top. My whole body tingled. I knew I couldn’t fall asleep. It was chilly up here in my little attic room, and the air felt heavy and damp. I decided to take a walk. Maybe it will help me relax, I told myself. I pulled on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. Then I crept downstairs—careful not to wake Aunt Greta—and found my parka and boots. Stepping out into the night, I silently closed the front door behind me. My eyes swept over the glittering snow of the small front yard. I made my way to the road, my breath streaming up in wisps of fog. “Wow!” I murmured. “Wow!” The cold, fresh air felt so good on my face. The wind had stopped. The whole world seemed still and silent. No cars, I realized. No horns honking. No buses roaring past. No people laughing and shouting on the street. I’m all alone out here, I told myself. The whole world is mine. A long, frightening howl brought me out of my crazy thoughts. I shivered and raised my eyes to the mountaintop. Was the white wolf howling up there? Did it howl like
that every night? Why did the howls sound so human? I took a deep breath of cold air and held it. Then I began walking slowly along the road. My boots crunched on the hard, crusty snow. I passed a few houses and kept walking. I stopped as a shadow slid over my path.
But another shadow fell over me. But then I realized I was staring at a long shadow of a snowman. I stepped over the shadow and crossed the street. I thought someone was following me. appeared long and menacing. I decided. I suddenly felt as if I were walking in a black-andwhite world of shadowy heads. . and sticklike arms—all saluting. one raised.11 I gasped. fluttering scarves. I turned. An identical snowman. Time to head home. At first. Another snowman. My heart was pounding now. Why were there so many of them? Why did the people in this village build them all alike? Another howl made me raise my eyes from the crisscrossing shadows over the snow. The shadows of the strange snowmen fell over each other. The shadow tilted over the road. one out to the side. And it definitely sounded human! A chill ran down my back. This howl sounded closer. The tree branch arms. all waving. The howl—so near— had really frightened me.
It flapped in a gust of cold wind. And I gasped when it nodded its head at me.I started to walk fast. Snowmen lining the street like night watchmen. And cracked apart with a soft thud. It nodded. feeling panic . “Noooo!” A low cry escaped my lips. A snowman in each yard. This walk was a crazy idea. I gazed across the yard at the headless snowman. But I stopped when I saw the scarfaced snowman in the driveway up ahead. What am I doing out here? I asked myself. I turned and ran toward home. But the scarf had remained on top of the round body. And I realized the wind had made its head nod. My boots crunched over the shadows of their waving arms. I felt another shiver. their scarred heads. Ran through the blue-black shadows of snowmen. I thought. leaning into the gusting wind. And some kind of creature nearby is howling its head off. The head was a shattered clump of white at the snowman’s base. The wind had blown the scarred head off the body. It’s late and it’s cold. The snowman nodded! Then the head rolled to the ground. And it’s weird. swinging my arms as I walked.
I sucked in a deep breath and ran harder. “When the snows blow wild And the day grows old. No wolf. I want to be home now. No human. A snowman waved its three-fingered limb at me and sneered its coal-dark sneer as I ran past. Beware. I want to be back in the safety of my new home. new home. I searched the road and the frozen yards. I had to find the second verse of the poem. followed me to my strange. He brings the cold.” My house came into view down the road. The old rhyme had been haunting me ever since I arrived in the village. sounded so close behind me I spun around. my child. An eerie howl. The old rhyme had followed me from my childhood. the snowman. . And as I scrambled for home. Beware. rising like an ambulance siren. the rhyme forced its way back into my mind….tighten my chest. No one there. the snowman. Why did I suddenly remember it today? What was it trying to tell me? Why had the cold words returned after being forgotten for so many years? I had to find the rest of it.
Pushed. No! The door didn’t budge. I had locked myself out! .Another howl sounded even closer. Was someone following me? I held my hands over my ears to keep out the frightening sounds—and I flew over the snow. I realized. Closer. I twisted again. The other way. Someone is following me! I grabbed the doorknob. Twisted it. This way. Pushed the door. flew the rest of the way home. Locked. Pulled it. I reached the narrow front door as another long howl sent a chill down my body. It’s so close.
I tumbled headfirst into the house. Grabbed the . And saw that the front window—the only window on this side of the house—was open a crack. So close. So close. From the side of my house! My whole body trembled. Uttering a loud groan. up—as another howl rang through the night air. To my surprise. Then I sucked in a deep breath—and hurtled to the window. I grabbed the snowy wooden frame. With a gasp. I pushed it all the way up. Landed hard on my hands and knees on the wooden floor. So close and frightening. I stumbled back from the front door. Panic tightened my throat. Then I grabbed the sill with both hands. Pushed up with all my strength. I scrambled to my feet. Snow streaked the windowpanes and clumped on the narrow sill. the window slid up easily. I hoisted myself up. I stared at the tiny opening at the window bottom.12 Another frightening howl. I pushed.
Had I awakened Aunt Greta? No. I found the book carton on top of a stack and pulled it down to the floor. I had packed a bunch of paperbacks on the top. Another howl. shallow breathing. White moonlight flooded in from the window against the back wall. Making my way slowly through the darkness. distant this time. I stepped away from the front wall. leaning against the wall. I have to find that poem. Waiting to catch my breath. My books were still stuffed in one of the cartons. listening. Then I stood. I tugged open the carton and began pulling out books. I told myself.window and pulled it shut. carried by the wind? Still breathing hard. Had I only imagined that I was being followed? Were the terrifying howls rolling down from the mountaintop. My hands trembled as I struggled to pull off the heavy packing tape and open the box. I was sure that I had packed the old poetry book Mom used to read to me. I found some textbooks and anthologies I had used at . I have to read the second verse of that rhyme. The only sound I could hear was my rapid. Underneath them. I headed to the little back room where we had piled all of the packing cartons. The house stood dark and silent.
I heard a cough. Someone else is in here! I realized. “What are you doing?” a strange voice demanded in a raspy whisper. “Aunt Greta? Is that you?” I cried. And then a footstep. . As I pulled them out and stacked them carefully on the floor. But the voice that replied wasn’t Aunt Greta’s.school.
“You frightened me. “That old poem. And stared up at Aunt Greta. She yawned. And my throat hurts so badly. I blinked. I jumped to my feet. brushing out tangles with one hand. Swallowed hard. Jaclyn!” she croaked.” She suddenly appeared so tiny and frail. “Horrible sore throat. too!” I replied. Jaclyn? Why are you down here in the middle of the night?” she croaked. I’m not used to the cold of this village yet. “I want to find it. “What are you doing. I can’t remember the second verse. Let’s try to get some sleep. white hair hung loose behind her. I—” “We’ll unpack the books tomorrow.13 The ceiling light flashed on. “You frightened me. She tugged it off the collar of her flannel nightshirt. “What happened to your voice?” Aunt Greta rubbed her pale throat. .” Her straight. “I’m so tired.” she cut in. “I’ve lost it. waiting for my heart to stop pounding.” I replied.” she rasped. It must be the cold.
” “I’d roll home!” I joked. “It’s just dangerous. I had the strong feeling she had something else on her mind. spinning to face me. But she didn’t want to say it.“I’m sorry. I could see alarm on her face. Did it have anything to do with the animal howls? Did it have something to do with the snowman on the mountain that Conrad had warned me about? The snowman that Aunt Greta said was just a village superstition? . following her from the room. She wasn’t worried about me falling down. “I didn’t mean to wake you up. That’s all. so…” Her eyes fell on my parka. chewing her lower lip the way she always does when she’s thinking hard. “What if you fell in the snow or something? What if you broke your leg? There is no one outside to help you.” she whispered finally. “I thought maybe a short walk…” “You shouldn’t go out in the middle of the night. which I had tossed onto a living room chair. “You went out?” she cried. “What’s the big deal.” I said. I laughed but she didn’t join in.” she scolded. Her eyes narrowed at me. “Sorry.” I muttered. She rubbed her sore throat. I couldn’t sleep.” I confessed. “Well… yes. She was worried about something else. anyway? What’s so terrible about going out at night?” She hesitated.
“Sorry I woke you. I put my arm around Aunt Greta’s slender shoulders and walked her across the hall to her room. “Beware. I snuggled my head into my soft pillow. I had just about drifted off to sleep when the whispered words floated into the room…. the snowman. I pulled off my jeans and sweatshirt and tossed them on the floor.” I whispered. Then I jumped into bed and pulled the quilt up to my chin. Yawning. Beware.” . Pale moonlight washed in from the round window at the other end of the room. Too sleepy to think any more about these questions. But I was too tired to care. Jaclyn…. Then I said good night and climbed the ladder to my attic bedroom. No howls outside. I shut my eyes. the snowman…. No sounds at all. I finally felt sleepy.I yawned. My new bed still felt hard.
“Who are you?” My cry so tiny and shrill. I stared across the room at the window. “How do you know my name?” Sitting up in the strange bed. Silence. squeezing it. ghostlike in the white moonlight. waiting for a reply. The next morning I told Aunt Greta about the whispered . “Who are you?” Silence… I don’t know how long I sat there. And I listened. But after a while. I somehow drifted off to sleep. beware. the snowman…” the whispered words were repeated.14 I sat straight up with a gasp. I grabbed the end of the quilt. Silence now. the snowman. “Huh? Who’s there?” I choked out. The unfamiliar shapes of my furniture appeared silvery.” “Who are you?” I cried. “Jaclyn. “Beware. gripping it tightly in both hands.
last night. She said she would tell me the truth about the snowman tonight. So much fear here in this village. She sipped her coffee before replying. Such a small house. “Do you think it was a dream?” Aunt Greta nodded and took another long sip of coffee. watching Rolonda and me. Then she reached across the table and squeezed my hand. too. And I remembered how frightened they became when I told them I was walking to the mountaintop. “Of course. I found myself thinking about Rolonda.warning. I didn’t realize how much stuff we had brought from our apartment in Chicago. I searched every carton for the poetry book. “I had bad dreams. As we worked. “Dream?” I replied.” she said. It was a real struggle to find a place for everything. still whispering because of her sore throat. I pulled on my parka and my boots and prepared to meet Rolonda. but I couldn’t find it. . She had promised to meet me at the little village church after dinner.” she croaked. I spent the day helping my aunt unpack the cartons and arrange our new house. Was it all because of silly superstitions? After I washed and dried the dinner dishes. The truth… I pictured her brother Eli’s frightened expression as he stood in the snowy driveway.
. shaking my head. “Don’t stay out late. “I’m going to freeze!” I cried out loud. it seemed miles away. Snowflakes blew into my face and stung my eyes. As if trying to make me turn around. tugged on my gloves. Nothing moved. Does it snow here every day? I asked myself. I passed a brightly-lit house. and stepped outside. but I couldn’t see anyone inside. I stepped into a deep drift. Keeping my head down. soaking my sock. But enough already! The snow came down hard. I could barely see. The snow blew against my face. I lowered my head and trudged down the road toward the church. But walking into the blowing snow. Then I pulled up my hood.” Aunt Greta said in her raspy whisper. I told her I was meeting a village girl my age I’d met during my walk. I’ve always liked snow. Jaclyn.” I let out a shuddering groan. What a blizzard! I wondered if Rolonda would show up. The road stood empty. my coat. as if trying to push me back. in sheets driven by a strong wind. The little stone church stood across from the post office.I told Aunt Greta the truth. “It’s snowing really hard. It wasn’t far down the road from my house. Cold snow dropped into my boot. “Ohhh. There was no one around to hear me.” I promised I’d be home before nine.
Ducking my head. No way Rolonda will meet me tonight. “Crazy. I saw the steeple of the church. I ran across the road—and thudded into something hard.” I said out loud.” Squinting into the gray evening light. . Evil black eyes glared into mine.” I murmured. And I started to scream.“This is crazy. And very cold. white against the falling snow. “I hope it’s open.
We stepped inside and stamped the snow off . wet snow. hands jerked me away. What is wrong with me. “Yeah. I squinted through the falling snow at the snowman. Fine. at his dark eyes. “I—I just freaked. And a voice cried. I stumbled back. Then I followed Rolonda to a wooden door on the side of the small church. “But why did you scream?” “I—I—” I sputtered.” I took one last glance at the sneering snowman. “Jaclyn—what’s wrong?” My scream caught in my throat. Her dark eyes peered into mine. Now Rolonda must think I’m a real jerk. my boots slipping in the slick.” she said.” I stammered. “Are you okay?” she asked. Rolonda didn’t reply. Let’s get out of this snow. at the scar down his round face. I turned to see Rolonda. tugging on my coat sleeve. I scolded myself for acting so stupid.15 A second later. I nodded. I thought unhappily. “I saw you run right into that snowman. anyway? Screaming because I bumped into a snowman! “Why did someone build a snowman like that in front of the church?” I asked.
our boots on a straw mat. “It’s a nice. “Does it e v e r stop snowing here?” I grumbled. She was whispering . “Especially to talk about things that are… kind of scary. He doesn’t like to be cold. A long wooden bench stood against the back wall. Two lights shaped like old-fashioned gas lamps hung on the wall beside the bench. rubbing my ears. “Sure. It stopped once for ten minutes. “Anything about the history of the village?” I had to lean closer to hear her.” Rolonda said. keeping her voice low. We dropped our coats beside the bench and sat down. I glanced around. My cheeks burned. Uncomfortable. We all took a summer vacation!” Rolonda joked.” Rolonda continued.” “Who does?” I murmured. “It’s nice and warm in here. giving off a soft glow. I rubbed my hands. trying to warm them. quiet place to talk. “The pastor keeps the heat up really high. She shook out her long. “Did your aunt tell you anything about the village?” Rolonda whispered. We were in some kind of waiting room. She glanced around the small.” “Scary?” I replied. black hair. She suddenly seemed tense. white-walled room. trying to return some feeling to them. pulling back my hood and unzipping my parka.
“Beats me. That’s why I met you here at the church. He doesn’t like for me to talk about the snowman. is terrified all the time.” “Why not?” I interrupted. Eli.” “Then why did you move here?” Rolonda demanded. Why is she so nervous? I wondered. “Not a thing. I stared at her eagerly.” “Snowman?” I demanded.so softly. I really don’t think Aunt Greta knows much about this village at all. “No.” Rolonda replied. I shrugged. She said it was time for us to leave Chicago. “The history of this village is very strange. Aunt Greta never explained. People don’t talk about it much.” she whispered. “What about the snowman?” . “I’ll tell you the story. “My brother. “Because it’s so frightening. He doesn’t like for me to talk about any of this. We’re the only ones in the entire church.” I replied.” Rolonda leaned forward tensely and brought her face close to mine.
Jaclyn. she continued her story in a whisper. Leaning close to me. “Years ago. And the snowman came to life. A man and a woman. Rolonda shook her head. Everyone knew they were sorcerers. The wooden bench creaked beneath us. I settled back against the bench and waited impatiently for her to continue. She took a deep breath and began her story. But then they lost control of it. don’t interrupt. “Please. “No.16 Rolonda shifted her weight. the two sorcerers were fooling around. I don’t think they meant to be. . But everyone left them alone. “The sorcerers used their magic to bring the snowman to life.” She glanced around the room again.” I apologized. I don’t think they were evil. having fun.” I gasped. two sorcerers lived in this village. “One day. At least.” “Were they evil sorcerers?” I interrupted. They cast a spell on a snowman. “Really?” Rolonda narrowed her eyes at me. Please let me tell the whole story first.
He built a cabin just beneath the ice cave. “The two sorcerers probably left.“The snowman was powerful. “The villagers chased the evil snowman into the ice cave. “Conrad? The weird guy with the white beard?” Rolonda nodded. whispering so softly I could barely hear her.” Rolonda said. I stared at her. too. But their magic wasn’t powerful enough. “And that’s when Conrad comes into the story. Everyone calls it the ice cave. The cave is cut in ice. Conrad moved up there. Few people wanted to stay. But they didn’t really know what they were doing. And they didn’t know that the snowman would try to destroy the village and everyone in it. Somehow they managed to force the snowman up to the top of the mountain. “After the evil snowman was chased into the ice cave. “There is a big cave at the very top of the mountain.” Rolonda continued. “The sorcerers tried to use magic to put the snowman back to sleep. No one really knows what happened to them. And it was evil. The sorcerers had given it life. “So most people left. No one could figure out . Then most people moved away from the village. knowing that the evil creature was alive at the top of the mountain. “The villagers all gathered together.
Snowmen that look like him. “Why is there one in just . Everyone in the village builds them.” Rolonda continued. “Some nights. “Why do you build the snowmen?” I demanded. Conrad very seldom comes down from the mountaintop. “we can hear the snowman up there on top of the mountain.” she continued. “No one has anything to do with Conrad. Some nights. as if she didn’t want anyone else to know that she was telling me the history of the village. Rolonda raised a finger to her lips. Once again.” She sighed. “We’ve all built snowmen. “So that’s why I see those weird snowmen everywhere!” I cried. She motioned for me to sit back down. howling like a wolf. “Does he work for the snowman? Does he help the snowman? Or does he think that living so close to the evil snowman will keep him safe? “No one knows. we can hear him howling. “No one knows for sure who he is or why he stays up there. I dropped back onto the bench.” I jumped to my feet. She seemed so nervous. “Is Conrad trying to protect the town?” Rolonda continued. We don’t know if he’s crazy or evil. her eyes darted around the room.why. Some nights we can hear him roaring and bellowing with rage. he doesn’t talk to anyone. And when he does come into the village.
about every single yard?” “To honor him. “Huh? Honor him?” I cried. “You know what I mean. “N o w do you understand?” she whispered. Her dark eyes burned into mine. “Now do you understand why we’re all so afraid?” I stared back at her—and burst out laughing. . he’ll see the little snowmen that look like him.” she said sharply. “People hope that if the evil snowman comes down from the ice cave.” Rolonda replied. It will make him happy and keep him from doing any harm.” Rolonda squeezed my hand.
“Hey.” Rolonda replied in a low. She couldn’t really believe that story—could she? It’s a joke. do you?” I demanded. Such serious eyes. I stopped laughing when I saw the startled expression on Rolonda’s face. And everyone in the village believes it.” I said. I decided.17 I shouldn’t have laughed. I believe it. The ceiling creaked. “You’re kidding—right?” She shook her head solemnly. probably from the weight of the snow on the roof. My voice echoed shrilly in the small room. “You don’t really believe that a snowman can be alive!” “I believe it. Her dark eyes glowed in the dim light. I mean. “It’s not a joke. A story the villagers tell to scare people who move here. trembling voice. “Have you ever seen the snowman walk?” .” I stared at her. “You don’t really believe that a snowman can walk. But I just couldn’t help it. I shifted my weight on the hard wooden bench. Rolonda seemed like a really smart girl. “But have you ever seen it?” I asked. Jaclyn. come on.
But a gusting wind blew down from the mountain. I walked Rolonda home. I could see the fear in her eyes. Then the two of us made our way out of the church.” she said. I’m too afraid. Just talking about the snowman had frightened her. Jaclyn. “Well… no. Rolonda—” I started. The snow had stopped. I pulled my hood over my hair and lowered my head into the wind.” She climbed to her feet.” she confessed. I’ve heard his howls and his angry cries. She might be my only friend here. I stood up and pulled on my coat. We didn’t talk. our boots sinking into the powdery. I wanted to tell her that it sounded like a silly superstition.” “But.She blinked. A fairy tale. I thought. Her chin trembled. “I won’t go close enough to see him. “I won’t go up to the ice cave. Why doesn’t Rolonda see how crazy it is? We made our way up the road. I thought. I wanted to tell her that the story couldn’t be true. No way I could ever believe such a wild story. The wind made the fresh snow swirl and dance around our boots. Our voices wouldn’t carry over the loud rush of the wind. “But I’ve heard him late at night. But I didn’t want to insult her. We stopped at the bottom of . Then I stopped. fresh snow. No one will.
It’s true.her snow-covered driveway. “Thanks for telling me about the snowman. leaning into the wind. I was nearly there when I heard a sound over the roaring wind. . And then she added. Her eyes locked on mine. All of it. Then I turned and. A heavy THUD THUD THUD coming up rapidly behind me. headed for my house. Jaclyn. I said good night.” I said. “You’ve g o t to believe me.” I didn’t reply. “You had to be told.” she said solemnly.
“Rolonda told you—didn’t she?” he repeated. His sheepskin coat was open. And saw Rolonda’s brother. flapping out as he ran. For a moment. Eli. “What are you doing out here?” He didn’t reply. Breathing hard. I thought it was my imagination. “Eli—it’s late!” I cried. “Huh?” We moved behind a wide tree. “She told you—didn’t she?” he demanded breathlessly. running up to me. “She told you about the snowman. I pictured an enormous. he eyed me suspiciously.” He pointed toward the mountaintop. out of the wind. lumbering after me. “Eli. And spun around. “Well… yeah. evil snowman.18 I froze. I brushed it away. as tall as a house. A clump of snow dropped from the tree onto the front of my parka. “No!” I murmured. are you crazy? It’s freezing out here! Zip up . “Eli—what is your problem?” I demanded. his chest heaving up and down under his sweater. His heavy workboots thudded over the snow.” I replied.
your coat.” Eli continued. “Rolonda doesn’t know one thing. . I saw the snowman. “She doesn’t know that I saw it. I saw him. still breathing hard.” “Eli—what is the scary part?” I demanded. “Yes.” I stared at him.” I scolded. But that’s not the scary part. “You saw the snowman? You saw the living snowman?” Eli nodded.
The snowman stared at me. “The scary part. The wind ruffled his dark hair. And that’s why I’m so afraid of it. I dragged Eli to the side of the nearest house. “Then you can decide if it’s crazy or not. We wanted to see the ice cave.” He took a deep breath. Jaclyn. “Wait. It knows who I am. hard.19 He stared at me.” I insisted.” He shivered again.” I said.” “But. It knows that I saw it. but his eyes remained steady. he finally zipped up his coat. “What is the scary part?” I repeated. “Eli—the story is crazy. “I really don’t think—” “Just let me tell you what happened. Please. Shivering. “It saw me. “It happened a few weeks ago. My two friends and I—we climbed up the mountain. It saw me. “What does Conrad have to do . So we sneaked around Conrad’s cabin. He raised a gloved hand to silence me. Eli—” I started.” Eli replied. “is that the snowman saw me!” The wind howled around the tree.” “I don’t get it. We pressed against the wall.” he pleaded.
And we climbed up close to the ice cave.” I murmured.” “Yeah. He protects the snowman by keeping everyone from the village away. But I stayed.” “But you sneaked past Conrad?” I asked. “He keeps everyone away. In a way. I had never seen the cave before. With points as sharp as knives.” “Wow.with it?” “He won’t let anyone near the ice cave. “My friends started to run down the mountain. We thought it was an earthquake or an avalanche or something. studying his face. It looks like glass. “It’s a huge cave.” he said. outlining the shape of the cave for me. All smooth and shiny. And I saw it. Some people think he works for the snowman. “You really saw a snowman walking?” I demanded. And it has huge icicles hanging down all along the front. “The cave entrance is wide and totally black. Eli made a sweeping motion with both hands. “Yeah. “It’s made of ice. My friends and I. “We heard a rumbling sound. cut into the side of the mountain.” Eli agreed. My friends and I got scared. “But we didn’t think it was pretty when the snowman came out. The snowman poked his head out of . “It sounds kind of pretty. Conrad is so weird. Eli nodded.” “What does it look like?” I asked.” I stared hard at Eli.” Eli replied. Eli nodded. The ground started to shake.
” “What about your friends?” I asked. We never talked about it. From the cold? I wondered.” Eli said. I ran all the way down the mountain. “The snowman stared at me. “Too afraid. you didn’t tell Rolonda about this.the cave.” “Why not?” I demanded. Why . Then they stopped on me. “Bad dreams about the snowman. And he had a scar cut deep into his face. “I ran past Conrad’s cabin.” He raised his eyes to me. Or from being so afraid? He gazed back at me. “Eli. He was as big as a grizzly bear. “We never talked about it.” Eli replied. unsure of what to say. glancing down. The ground shook.” he confessed. waiting for me to say something.” I stared at him. He—he—” Eli took a deep breath. I never even told Rolonda. Every night. I guess. “But now I have dreams. And—and I took off. And his mouth opened in an angry roar.” Eli continued breathlessly. “They were waiting for me down at the bottom. We never mentioned it. Then he started again. “We just went to our houses. And he roared again. His whole body was trembling. “His eyes searched around. “The snowman stepped out of the cave. It really did. It was just too frightening to talk about. Snow blew all over the place. And I never looked back.
“I waited to tell you my story. Then I started to jog over the snow toward my house.” “But. Eli—” I started.” he replied solemnly. Do you believe me.” “Well…” I hesitated. “Go home. “Jaclyn.” I called back. My whole face was numb. “You’re new. “Please. believe my story.” I pulled my arm away. don’t go up to the ice cave. “That’s why I waited for you. By the time I reached home. Jaclyn. The wind swirled around the wall of the house. My boots kept slipping on the slick.” I told him. “Go home before you freeze. Eli. hard surface underneath.” I said. Breathing hard. I pushed open the front door.are you telling me?” I asked. “I’ve got to get home. my legs ached.” he pleaded. It felt good to run and not think about anything. It’s true. I felt my nose and cheeks. “So you will believe the story.” I jogged all the way home.” he explained. powdery snow was difficult. “You didn’t believe her story. Jogging on fresh. “You didn’t believe my sister— d i d you!” he accused. Eli grabbed my parka sleeve. But you have to stay away from the ice cave. To my . Jaclyn? Do you believe that I saw the snowman?” “I—I don’t know. You probably think it’s all silly.
Something cold and wet soaked through my sock. A magazine lay open on the couch. I quickly made my way across the room and peeked into my aunt’s bedroom. the house was totally dark. Nothing else was out of place. Then I tugged off my parka and dropped it onto the couch. Darkness beyond the door. “Aunt Greta—?” No. Leaning against the front door. The door stood open. “Aunt Greta—are you home?” I called loudly. Not in her room. I headed out of her room. My eyes stopped at the door to Aunt Greta’s bedroom. Did Aunt Greta go to bed so early? She usually stays up until at least midnight. “Ohh!” I cried out when I stepped in something. “Aunt Greta?” I called softly. Only nine o’clock. “Aunt Greta? Are you in here?” I fumbled at the lamp on her dresser and finally managed to click it on.surprise. Not in bed. I clicked on the ceiling light and glanced around the small living room. I stepped into the room. No reply. I pulled off a glove and squinted at my wrist-watch. . I pulled off my wet boots and stood them in the corner.
“Aunt Greta?” I called.“Huh?” I lowered my gaze to see a wide puddle of cold water on the bedroom floor. “Aunt Greta? Where are you?” . hurrying back into the living room. I suddenly felt worried. “How did that get there?” I murmured.
brushing snow off her long. But her smile instantly died when she saw my expression.” “Oh.” She pulled off her coat. That’s nice. Where could she be? I started for the kitchen—when a rattling at the front door made me stop. hanging her coat in the front closet. “Aunt Greta—where were you? I got so scared. “I met a nice couple this morning at the general store. Was someone breaking in? I gasped as the door slowly creaked open. “Jaclyn—what’s wrong?” “I—I—I—” I sputtered. She smiled at me. “Why did you get scared?” Aunt Greta demanded. black coat.” she said. She straightened her . And Aunt Greta came bustling in.20 Panic swept over me.” I choked out. My heart still pounded in my chest. “Didn’t you see my note?” “Huh? Note?” “I left it for you on the refrigerator. They came by and invited me over for dessert and coffee.
but I thought he had been here. And I stepped in a cold puddle on the floor. “Maybe the roof leaks. They said—” “It’s all superstition. Jaclyn. None of it is true.” I agreed. “It’s all old tales that have been handed down. “Jaclyn—what are you talking about?” she demanded.” I replied. And Eli begged me not to go up to the ice cave.” Aunt Greta demanded. “Well. I was in your room.” I confessed. I led the way to the bedroom and pointed to the wide wet spot on the floor. Aunt Greta gazed up at the ceiling. the two village kids I met. “Rolonda and Eli.” Aunt Greta interrupted. “Puddle? Show me.” Aunt Greta said.” she murmured.” I blurted out. “I know it’s crazy. Looking for you.” “Yes. She . white braid behind her sweater. I thought he’d broken into the house and—” I stopped when I saw the shock on my aunt’s face. “What have your friends been telling you? More nonsense about a snowman?” “Yes.long. You’re smart enough to know that. “We’ll have to examine it tomorrow morning. Her mouth dropped open and she uttered a silent gasp. “But Rolonda and Eli seem so frightened. They really believe the story.” “I—I thought it was the snowman. They both told me a crazy story about a living snowman who stays in an ice cave at the top of the mountain.” “Probably good advice.
“All the snowmen with scars on their faces and red scarves? Don’t you think they’re spooky?” “It’s a strange village tradition. Then the story changed each time it was told. Something bad happened on the mountaintop. no one remembers what really happened. It probably is a very dangerous place. “Promise?” “Promise me you won’t go running up to the mountaintop to explore the ice cave. dear.crossed the room and placed a hand tenderly on my shoulder.” she said. yawning. make me a promise. .” She sighed. “Very quaint. But something else dangerous. “There must be some kind of real danger up there. “Why not?” I demanded.” she said softly. “Have you seen all the strange snowmen in this village?” I asked her.” “Well…” I hesitated. “That’s how these old stories get started. And now everyone believes a crazy story about a living snowman. I think they’re very interesting looking. “Well. “You probably shouldn’t go up to the mountaintop.” She shook her head.” “Interesting?” I frowned at her.” she replied. “Not a living snowman.” Aunt Greta confessed. Years later.
“Promise. But a few minutes later.” I agreed. I decided to break that promise. I decided. I’m going up there. Were they animal? Were they human? I hate mysteries. Listening to the strange howls from the mountaintop. I promise. rolling my eyes. I was lying in my attic bed. my eyes shut tight.” Aunt Greta urged sternly. I’m climbing up to the ice cave. Tomorrow. I don’t care what I promised my aunt. . “Okay. I hav e to know the answers to things. Listening.
I didn’t want to think about it anymore.21 I didn’t dream of snowmen that night. I could smell bacon frying downstairs. white-bearded guy Conrad was a problem. . They began climbing over one another. I dreamed about fluffy white kittens with sky-blue eyes. The whitest kittens I ever saw. I decided to climb the mountain right after breakfast. If he saw me. Suddenly they all wore red scarves around their necks. Yellow morning sunlight poured through the round window at the other end of my bedroom. A frightening. But I had a plan to take care of Conrad. He and his wolf. I wanted to go up there and solve the mystery. Silently at first. I knew that strange. Until I woke up. Hissing and screeching. ugly sound. They clawed at each other. he’d try to stop me. Aunt Greta was already up and about. Dozens of them. And then they started to screech and hiss. arching their pure white backs.
guys…” I started.” . “Uh… nowhere really. Aunt Greta needed me to hang curtains with her. “Where are you going?” Aunt Greta called as I pulled on my parka and gloves and started out the door. “Listen. “What’s that for?” I asked. She dropped them at my feet.” As I said their names. “Excuse me?” I cried. Eli and I brought everything we need.” Rolonda reported. “What are you guys doing here?” “We have to build your snowman. The house was tiny and cramped.” I lied. “Just going to hang out with Rolonda and Eli. It shouldn’t take long. “The snow is very wet. “You won’t be safe until you have a snowman in your yard. And then we put up the paintings and posters she had brought from Chicago. I didn’t get out of the house till after lunch. Rolonda dragged two slender tree branches. I closed the front door behind me and hurried out to greet them. Eli carried a snow shovel. “Good packing snow. But it was starting to feel a little more like home. I saw them walking up my front yard.” Rolonda replied solemnly.” Eli said.If only Rolonda and Eli would help… As it turned out.
Eli gripped the shovel handle and gaped at me. We won’t go with you. “I want to climb up to the ice cave this morning.” I told them. “You know we won’t go up to the ice cave. “No!” they both cried.” I said. “No. I warned you—” Rolonda said. “Okay.” “No deal. “I’ll make a deal with you.” They eyed me suspiciously. Rolonda just shook her head. Jaclyn. “I want you to come with me. Staring at them. “What kind of deal?” Rolonda demanded.” I said.” “But if we all go together…” I urged.” I protested. Jaclyn.” I told them.” Eli added sternly. I suddenly had an idea.” They both gasped. “I’ll stay here and build the snowman—if you will help me when we’re done. “You can’t get us to go up to the ice cave.“But I don’t have time to build a snowman.” “No!” Eli gasped. “Jaclyn. okay. “You can’t—!” Eli cried. And we don’t want you to go. “You don’t have to go up to the ice cave. “I have to see it for myself. I could see real fear on their faces. either. And then I added.” Rolonda insisted. “You just have to keep Conrad busy so I can sneak .
“But we won’t go any farther than Conrad’s cabin. maybe I can sneak past and get up to the cave.” Eli added. I wanted to tell them that building a snowman wouldn’t protect me against anything. Then Rolonda turned to me.” Rolonda promised.” I agreed. “Will you build the snowman first?” she asked. But I needed their help.” I told her. I knew I could never get past Conrad and his wolf without them. “We’ll think of something when we get up there. “You won’t be safe without the snowman. Rolonda whispered something back.” “But we don’t want you to go to the ice cave!” Rolonda insisted.past him. “Okay. leaning on the shovel. Eli whispered something to his sister. “If you can keep him talking to you.” . First. “I’m going to do it one way or the other. So are you going to help me or not?” They glanced tensely at each other.” I replied. I wanted to tell them how silly the whole thing was. we’ll build the snowman. “With or without you. “Then Eli and I will help you. Fine.” “Huh? How are we going to do that?” Eli asked.
The arms bobbed softly in the wind. too. “Great!” I replied. I’m sure!” I declared loudly. Should I be afraid? I wondered. and we wrapped it under the scarred head. “Now let’s get going.Eli insisted in a trembling voice. Rolonda and I worked on the body. I rolled the ball across my snowy yard until it was big enough for two of us to roll.” I bent down and started rolling a snowball for the snowman’s body. Rolonda pulled a red scarf from her coat pocket.” I motioned toward the mountaintop. The mouth was turned down in an angry sneer. Eli worked on the snowball for the head. I felt as if I had become part of the superstition. I was taking part in some kind of ancient village tradition. “Sure. But as we started making our way along the road. It was good packing snow. “Let’s get started. I . The snowman’s dark eyes seemed to glare at me. building one. And now here I was.” I told my two new friends. Building one of the strange snowmen gave me a creepy feeling. Good job. I felt glad when the snowman was finished. “Okay. Rolonda was right. The people of the village all built these snowmen because they were afraid. “Are you sure you want to do this?” Eli asked in a tiny voice. A tradition built on fear.
I tried to keep my mind calm and clear. But question after question whirred through my brain. The air grew colder as we climbed. Blue shadows stretched over the snow. We didn’t talk. When Conrad’s low cabin came into view. The road curved up the mountain. Was Conrad inside the cabin? Where was the white wolf? Would my plan work? . We kept our eyes straight ahead. my heart began to pound. The afternoon sun was slowly lowering itself behind the trees. Soon the houses ended and we were walking through snowy woods.didn’t feel as sure as I pretended.
” Eli suggested. I’m not going back. “Are you going to help me or not?” I gasped when I heard a low growl from the cabin.” “This isn’t going to work. “Maybe we should come back in the morning. “It’s getting kind of dark. his eyes on the cabin. I saw his chin quiver. covered in snow. “Hey—you promised!” I exclaimed.” “Maybe we should forget the whole idea. “You run up to the cabin and keep Conrad and the wolf from seeing me. To the left of the cabin.” I told Rolonda and Eli. “I came this far. “I’ll hide behind those shrubs. They both stared across the gray snow at the dark cabin up ahead. .” Rolonda fretted. He shuddered.” Eli muttered. I saw a row of low evergreen shrubs. The late afternoon sun had fallen behind the trees.” I said sharply. “A promise is a promise—right?” They didn’t reply. The snow billowed in front of us in shades of gray.22 All three of us stopped at the end of the road and stared at the cabin up ahead.
listening to Rolonda. I couldn’t hear what they were saying. “Come on!” I urged in a loud whisper. The wolf lowered its head. It was time for me to make a run for it. I watched Rolonda and Eli go running up to Conrad.The wolf must have heard or smelled us. They’re keeping his attention. Time for me to make a run for it. “Hi!” Eli echoed. my heart pounding. They’re doing it! I told myself. Conrad was scratching his gray hair. The wolf had its back to me. I knew he didn’t get any visitors. both talking at once. I glanced over the top of the bush. watching them carefully. I couldn’t see his expression. I could hear Rolonda talking to Conrad. But I imagined he was very confused and surprised. Time for me to move. He must be wondering what Rolonda and Eli were doing up here! I forced all of these thoughts from my mind. chattering with Conrad. And I took off for the snow-covered shrubs. I knew it would come running out any second. “Hello!” Rolonda cried to Conrad. I ducked out of view just as Conrad and the wolf burst out of the cabin. . I saw Rolonda and Eli.
Up. I darted up the steep mountainside. My legs felt like Jell-O. I began to run. up. wait!” . Then.I took a deep breath. still crouching. I had just passed the bushes when I heard Conrad’s angry shout—“Hey. My boots sank into the deep snow. Ducking my head.
23 I stopped so suddenly. staring at the spot where they had just been. I had to keep going. So steep I wasn’t sure I could make it. I found myself on a . he wasn’t coming after me. This was my chance. The snow seemed to fly up in my face. surround me. I’m caught. But then the ground leveled off. Everything went white. I heard the wolf utter a high growl. I stood up and turned to face Conrad. To my shock. I stood frozen in place. This was the plan. He and the wolf were running downhill. I turned and started to run up the mountainside. The climb was steep for a while. I realized. I fell over backward! I landed hard. Would Conrad harm Rolonda and Eli? Should I run after them and try to help them? No. sweep over me. Taking another deep breath. Chasing after Rolonda and Eli. Then they disappeared around a curve. My plan didn’t work.
My boots slipped on the ice. it reflected the clouds in the sky above it. The whole mountain seemed to shake! The sound came from the cave. Another low rumble made me cry out in fear. “Don’t look down!” I murmured out loud. I kept my back pressed against the wall and slowly— step by step—inched my way toward the top. The ledge trembled again. rumbling sound made me jump! I grabbed the mountainside with both hands to keep from falling. But as soon as I said it. I had to look. I was staring at one of the sides. Yes! There it stood above me. If I slipped and fell… I’m not going to slip and fall! I told myself. I pressed my back against the mountain wall.wide ledge. A cave as tall as a building. Smooth and glassy. . I couldn’t see the entrance from here. The ledge was slick. It was a deep drop from the ledge to the ground far. far below. And gazed up at the ice cave. A deep. The ledge narrowed as it curled up to the cave. The ledge trembled beneath me.
Or is it the normal sound of a mountaintop in the wind? I gathered my courage and moved forward. But then the cave opening came into view. Another rumbling noise made me gasp. . as it curved around. Somehow I held on.Is something moving up there? I wondered. The ledge grew narrower. I saw the most terrifying sight of my life. I refused to retreat now. It seemed to take forever. slipperier. Inch by inch. I had come this far. And followed the ledge around. And after that.
Sharply pointed icicles stabbed down from the roof of the cave opening. And a tall. Afraid I might slip off. white figure lumbered out from the blackness of the cave entrance. I saw the layer of solid ice that covered the ledge. An enormous snowman! I gasped—and stared in horror as the mountain of snow moved toward me. . They reminded me of sharpened teeth about to close.24 I didn’t see it at first. “Nooooo!” I wailed. The glassy cave rose up behind the ledge. I stood staring into the darkness. I didn’t have to wait long. Trying to catch my breath. The gaping entrance to the cave was blacker than the darkest night. I stared into the black cave opening and waited. They made the cave appear to move. I dropped to my knees. A rumble as loud as thunder made the ledge quake. First. Waited to see if anything would appear. Trying to slow my pounding heart. The rumble grew to a roar. Clouds reflected in the glassy ice drifted rapidly to the right.
I forgot where I was. Forgot I was perched on a narrow ice ledge. And felt myself fall. . And I slipped. And started to back up. to back away from the tall creature. Slipped off the ledge.
A cold I’d never felt before. I could see frozen waves floating from the snowman’s wide body. And the scar. Its blood-red scarf flapped in the wind. black eyes were as big as doorknobs. My entire body shaking. And then the big. And the snowman bellowed in a deep roar of a voice: “WHO ARE YOU?” . Held on. Its round. Shot up and dug into the ledge. Its dark mouth turned down in a fierce. “Ohhhhhh. I gripped the icy ledge. angry sneer. round head tilted. frantic gasps. I huddled on my knees on the icy ledge and watched the snowman as it glared down at me. With a terrified groan.25 My hands shot up. My breaths escaping in short. long and curling. deep cold. I shivered in a sudden. The black eyes bulged even wider. The scar cut deeply into the side of its round head. Trembling. I scrambled back up to safety. like a black snake.” I uttered another moan as its tree branch arms reached for me. Held on.
“I—I—” My voice came out in a quivering squeak. Jaclyn DeForest. I—” “WHO ARE YOU?” the huge snow creature thundered for the third time. Its dark mouth gaped open in surprise. I couldn’t back up.” I repeated in my tiny.I trembled in the waves of cold that floated off its body. “My name?” I squeaked. Its round eyes locked on mine. “Please—I didn’t mean to bother you. “Please—” I managed to choke out. I couldn’t escape from it. But it had me frozen there. I couldn’t stand. the big snowman moved closer. . I wanted to run. white sides. “My name is Jaclyn. The snowman stared down at me in silence for a long while. It lowered its arms to its round. It talks! The stories Rolonda and Eli told me are true. frightened voice.” it ordered.” The snowman’s tree branch arms shot up. It’s all true. I shivered in the waves of cold. “WHO ARE YOU?” the snowman bellowed again. And the whole mountain shook. I wanted to stand up. Closer. “Jaclyn DeForest. “SAY IT AGAIN.
I opened my mouth to answer. . but no sound came out.” I squeaked. “No. “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” the snowman thundered. I swallowed hard. “Who are you?” “I AM YOUR FATHER!” the snowman cried.“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?” it demanded. The question took me totally by surprise.
I wanted to run. “You’re a snowman! You can’t be my father!” “Listen to me!” the snowman roared. Your mother was a sorceress. round glassy eyes. To slide down the mountain. I wanted to get away from there. “I am your father. You’re lying!” The snowman bobbed from side to side. Froze me in wave after wave of cold. His arms raised up. His lies made me gather my courage. “Jaclyn—I am your father. The ledge shook beneath me. “Believe me. “That’s not true!” I cried angrily. But I couldn’t move. .” “Th-that’s impossible!” I stammered. He stared down at me with those frightening.” he insisted. I nearly lost my balance. And so is your aunt. Held me there on the ledge. To fly away. Your aunt practices all sorts of magic. The snowman trapped me in his icy grip. I hugged myself. “I do not lie.” “No—!” I protested. lowering his booming voice.” the snowman repeated. I climbed to my feet. “I’ve never seen Aunt Greta do any magic.26 “Nooooooo!” A long wail escaped my throat. trying to stop my body from trembling. Jaclyn.
It was hard to think. “I’ve lived with her most of my life.” “But—but—” I sputtered. “After ten years.” I stammered. And I’ve never seen her do any kind of magic. “Your mother did this to me. why did we move back here? Why did Aunt Greta bring us back to the village?” “Your aunt had a good reason for coming back. “She used her magic and turned me into a snowman. the magic spell starts to fade. I’m .” the snowman explained. She wants to keep me prisoner up here forever. “If what you say is true.” the snowman said.” the snowman repeated. She wants to make sure I don’t tell the world what happened to me. And she wants to keep you to herself!” “Aunt Greta is not a sorceress!” I protested. the spell fades. You were two years old. She wants me to stay a snowman. Then she and your aunt Greta took you and ran away from the village.” “Your story doesn’t make any sense!” I cried. “Your aunt came back to renew the spell. She tried to turn me back. I struggled to make sense of what he was telling me. My head felt frozen.” “I—I don’t understand. “I’m telling the truth. She turned me into a snowman. raising a tree branch arm to silence me. But she failed. She doesn’t—” “PLEASE!” the snowman bellowed. “She knows that after ten years.as if he were pleading with me. “There isn’t much time.
But I can give you a hint.” I said softly. “But I cannot tell you how.” the snowman pleaded. Beware. I couldn’t think straight. If you don’t save me. “I cannot tell you how to save me. He brings the cold. But you’ve got to hurry.” he continued. “I’m not a sorceress. I hugged myself more tightly. “You can get me out of this. I can’t do magic.” He uttered a bitter sigh.” the snowman replied.your father. You’ve g o t to believe me. It was all too… crazy. “You can save me. my child. Your real father. Jaclyn.” “But. the snowman. “I can give you a hint.” “Huh? But how?” I demanded.” the giant snow creature insisted. in his deep rumble of a voice. I’ll be a snowman for another ten years. “If I tell you how to save me. the snowman. “You’ve got to figure it out for yourself.” .” “Okay. And I listened as. it will only strengthen the spell.” “But what can I do?” I cried. Beware. Your aunt Greta will renew the spell soon. What can I do?” “You can save me. the snowman recited the familiar rhyme: “When the snows blow wild And the day grows old. I—I—” I didn’t know what to say.
“You—you know the poem!” I stammered. Jaclyn. The secret had to be in the second verse. Should I believe him? Should I help him? .” The snowman gazed down at me.” I stared back at him.” I already knew how to rescue him. Now you must figure out how to rescue me. Trying to decide. “Please. “That is your clue. pleading.I stared up at him in shock.” the snowman said softly. Help me. The verse I couldn’t remember. “Please. I’m your father. The second verse. I knew instantly when he recited the old rhyme. “That is the only hint I can give you. I’m really your father. Jaclyn. Trying so hard to decide.
black book in one hand above her head. “Jaclyn—is t h i s what you’re looking for?” she demanded shrilly. pulled myself out of his invisible. cold grip. To keep you from coming up here. Yes. I decided. Her normally pale face was bright red! Her long. “Aunt Greta—is it true?” I asked. Jaclyn.27 Yes. black coat was open and flapped behind her in the wind. She held the book high above her. I’ll find the old poetry book.” So. “I tried to warn you!” she called to me. And I’ll read the second verse of the rhyme. “I’m coming back!” I called up to the snowman. “The poetry book?” I cried. She raised a large. glancing back at . I started to run down the ledge. And gasped when I nearly ran into Aunt Greta! “Aunt Greta—!” I cried in shock. I’ll run home. I spun away from him. it was Aunt Greta who whispered up to my room late at night. who warned me to beware of the snowman! Her dark eyes were wild. My aunt nodded. “I tried to scare you.
the huge snowman. “Jaclyn. “When your parents saw what they had done. they were horrified. Your mother and I took you and ran from the village. “Your mother and father were sorcerers. “Save me—please! I am your father.” Aunt Greta continued. But they went too far. The whole mountain shook from his protest. “He’s an evil monster. I jumped. “It’s a lie. don’t believe her!” the snowman pleaded. Wave after wave of cold shot off his bulging body. They created him accidentally. A horrible lie!” “NOOOOOO!” the snowman boomed.” she repeated through gritted teeth. But Aunt Greta ignored the thunderous cry. “He isn’t your father. Soon after. her face bitter. His scarf blew out at his sides like hawk wings. He’s an evil monster!” “NOOOOO!” the snowman bellowed again. They froze the monster inside the snowman body. glaring angrily at the snowman. “They practiced their magic night and day. your father disappeared. He waved his stick arms wildly in the air. Jaclyn. “What a lie! Is that what he told you? That he’s your father? It’s a lie.” she repeated. We ran to be safe from the monster’s horrible evil!” “YOU ARE A LIAR!” the snowman raged.” Aunt Greta pointed to the snowman. ignoring him.” . “Is he really my father?” My aunt’s face twisted in surprise. “Huh? Your father?” she cried.
. But I brought this book because I know its secret. Who should I believe? Which one was telling the truth? Suddenly. as if ready to throw it at him. “Please. then back to him. “I’m not a sorceress. I know what I need to do to make sure you stay frozen in that snowman body forever!” The snowman continued to reach out to me. She gripped the big book angrily in both hands. I turned from him to my aunt. Please—” “Liar!” Aunt Greta shrieked. Save me now. “I know no magic!” Aunt Greta cried. “Jaclyn. “I know it is hard for you to believe.” he begged. “I know no spells! I am not a sorceress!” She opened the book and began frantically shuffling through the pages.His arms reached out to me. I am not evil. She is a sorceress. She and your mother and I—we were all sorcerers. I had an idea. But your aunt is the evil one.” he pleaded. save me. I am not a monster.
28 I grabbed the open poetry book from my aunt’s hands. “I’m telling you the truth. The heavy cover cracked. DAUGHTER!” the snowman bellowed. She moved quickly to wrestle it away from me. “I have taken care of you all these years. We both tugged at it. Aunt Greta uttered a wail of protest. Jaclyn!” she cried. But I pulled it away from her. . I would not lie to you. “Jaclyn—you’re making a big mistake!” Aunt Greta warned. “I’m going to read the second verse. Leaning against the smooth cave wall. Aunt Greta took a step toward me. The old pages tore and flew out. “I’m going to find the poem. “What are you doing?” she shrieked. I flipped frantically through the pages of the old book.” “THANK YOU.” But I’d made up my mind. Aunt Greta made a desperate swipe at it. It’s the only way to know the truth. Then she gazed up at the snowman and decided not to come that close to him. Then I backed up against the wall of the ice cave.” I told her.
” Aunt Greta repeated. The page fluttered in her hand. a smile spread over her face. “He’s a monster!” Aunt Greta cried.I had to read the second verse. The wind blew her coat behind her. I can’t let you read the rhyme. “I can’t let you read it. It was the only way I could find out who was lying and who was telling the truth. The snowman stood still and silent. “You—you have it in your hand?” I cried. “Aunt Greta—?” She bent down and picked up a torn page from the snow.” she said. watching me furiously shuffle through the pages. “Jaclyn. Where was that rhyme? Where? I glanced up. . As her eyes moved over the page. Her eyes were wild. And tossed the page over the ledge.
I raised the page to my face and started to read the second verse of the rhyme out loud: “When the snows melt And the warm sun is with thee. The swirling wind will carry it down the mountain. Beware.29 I let out a shriek. Up. I watched the page float out over the ledge. And into my hand! I grabbed it out of the air. It will never be seen again. I stared at it in amazement. She dove toward . the snowman—” “Noooooo!” Aunt Greta wailed. And then. It’s lost. I realized. I cried out again—as the wind carried the page up. down the steep drop. Back up. I watched it fly up. And before Aunt Greta could grab it back. The second verse is lost forever. then start to drop.
reaching out to me. she pulled the page from my hand.” she insisted. I have to know the truth. I took a deep breath. With a desperate swipe.” “Don’t—” my aunt pleaded. “I—I saw the last line of the poem. And ripped it to shreds. She wants to leave me trapped in this frozen cave forever. “Aunt Greta—why?” I choked out.” I told her.” I turned back to my aunt. Jaclyn. He’s not your father. The jagged strips of paper fluttered to the snow. “He’s a monster. She stared back at me coldly. I couldn’t let you free him. and I recited the rhyme from memory: .me. “She does not want you to know me. “I have to know for myself. “Aunt Greta. He bent.” “She’s lying.” I replied. I know the whole poem. Reached out to grab Aunt Greta. “I couldn’t let you do it. Too late.” the snowman insisted. But I backed up against the icy cave wall. Her face had grown stern and hard. The snowman uttered a horrified groan. Before you grabbed it and tore it up. She doesn’t want you to know your own father. Jaclyn.” she replied. Aunt Greta. “I’ve told you the truth.
. The snow poured off the round body. melted onto the body.“When the snows melt And the warm sun is with thee. Jaclyn! No! No! No!” Aunt Greta wailed. I stared as the snow dripped away. The white snow oozed down his face and body like melting ice cream. Beware. And then I opened my mouth in a shrill scream of horror. The face melted. The black eyes dropped to the snow. She pressed her hands to the sides of her face and repeated her cry. Slowly his body emerged from under the snow. Slowly his real face came into view. The tree branch arms thudded heavily to the ground. the snowman— For the snowman shall go free!” “No. “No! No! No!” I turned to the snowman and saw him begin to melt.
“You’re next!” he roared at me. “No—please!” I begged. Not my father. red-skinned monster stomped out from under the oozing snow. The monster tossed back its head in a throaty laugh. snarling. He picked the poetry book off the snow in his scaly. A monster was trapped inside the snowman. threefingered hands. “No! No! No! No!” Aunt Greta chanted.30 A monster! An ugly. A monster… such a hideous monster! Its head and body were covered with crusty red scales. still pressing both hands against her face. Aunt Greta had told the truth. A purple tongue flapped from its jagged-toothed mouth. “What have I done?” I wailed. Tears ran down her cheeks and over her hands. Not my father. And he heaved it over the side of the mountain. Its yellow eyes rolled wildly in its bull-shaped head. I grabbed Aunt Greta by the shoulders and tugged her .
raspy groan.” the monster grunted. That is your reward.” “But I saved you!” I pleaded. “Yes.away from the ledge. all. Squeezing it so tightly I couldn’t breathe. And held us over the side of the mountain. Squeezing my waist. He picked Aunt Greta up in his other hand. We pressed ourselves against the icy wall of the cave. An ugly grin revealed more jagged teeth. “Is that my reward? To be thrown over the side of the mountain?” The red-scaled beast nodded. “Good-bye. “Good-bye. .” He picked me up in one powerful hand. Raised us above his head. Let out an ugly.
They were marching up to the ice cave in a single line. And saw what had startled the monster. He had stopped paying attention to Aunt Greta and me. To my surprise. He swung around and dropped my aunt and me back onto the ledge. A parade! A parade of snowmen. And saved my life. I peered down. they came marching up to us. “Huh?” I uttered a startled gasp. Struggling to catch my breath. the monster didn’t let go. The monster was staring down the ledge now. Like soldiers. I turned and followed his gaze. Their sticklike arms bobbed up and down as they rumbled up the mountainside. at the snowy ground that appeared to be miles below. . down at the sheer drop. All of the snowmen of the village.31 His powerful hands swung us out over the cliff edge. Their red scarves waved in the wind.
thudding. I grabbed Aunt Greta’s arm. “I—I don’t believe it!” I stammered. All identical. “We’re doomed. rumbling forward.Bouncing. “They’re all coming to serve the monster. Doomed. All scarred and stern-faced and sneering. We stared at the marching snowmen in horror. Jaclyn.” .” Aunt Greta whispered.
The sound echoed off the snowy mountaintop until it sounded as if a thousand snowmen were marching to attack us. Then two. Pushed him back. We raised our hands as if to shield ourselves. dark eyes glowing. Closer came the snowmen. Aunt Greta and I shrank back against the glassy cave wall. They rumbled up to the monster. Closer. Close enough to see the anger in their round. Then ten. The monster blocked the cave entrance. Thudding over the ice. And pushed him. One snowman. Aunt Greta and I couldn’t move. black eyes. And then we gasped in surprise as the snowmen marched right past us. The snowmen crushed up against him. Bounced up to the startled monster. The marching snowmen cut off any escape down the ledge. We had nowhere to run. Close enough to see the snakelike scars cut into their faces. Arms waving. Bouncing fast.32 The snowmen rumbled up the icy ledge. . The steady thud thud thud grew louder as they neared.
“Did you do it. the monster stood frozen. We were still holding on to each other. The monster tossed its head in an angry roar. But the roar was smothered as a snowman rolled over the monster’s head. Pushing him back. Aunt Greta and I gasped in amazement as the snowmen swarmed over the monster. And then the monster disappeared behind a crush of snowmen. Frozen inside the ice wall. Aunt Greta?” . Not moving. And when they finally stepped back. A prisoner. Aunt Greta and I stood trembling beside the cave entrance. thrashing wildly. We saw the monster’s powerful arms flail the air. My legs felt weak and rubbery. red body. The snowmen had pushed him into the wall. The snowmen pushed forward. “What brought all the snowmen up here?” I asked her.They crushed against his scaly. Pushed hard. arms stretched out as if to attack. I could feel Aunt Greta trembling beneath her coat. Trapped him inside the glassy wall of ice. Pushed him back against the cave wall. Pushed silently. Helplessly. Like a silent avalanche. Back.
” “Then who made them climb the mountain to rescue us?” I demanded.She shook her head. Jaclyn. “I didn’t bring them here. “I did!” a voice cried.” she said softly. her eyes still wide with amazement. I have no magic. But not me. . “I told you the truth. Your mother and father were sorcerers.
He is here.” he told my aunt. tears welling in her eyes. “You made the snowmen march?” I cried. “Yes. too?” Conrad nodded. “You!” Aunt Greta cried. His gray hair blew wildly in the wind.” she said softly. Aunt Greta narrowed her eyes at Conrad. “I moved back here because I thought he might still be here. . her mouth dropped open.33 I turned to the ledge—and saw Conrad standing there.” he said. As she studied his face. “Yes. The white wolf stood at his side. I was right. Aunt Greta turned to me and placed a hand on my shoulder. He gazed at the monster trapped in the ice and a smile spread over his face.” She squeezed my shoulder and smiled at me. And yes.” Aunt Greta whispered. “Jaclyn. “Who—who is he?” I demanded. I sent them to rescue you. “It’s you!” Conrad’s smile grew even wider. Conrad and I both cried out at the same time. “You are a sorcerer. “Conrad is your father.
His long beard scratched my face as he pressed his cheek against mine. your mother and I were . seeing the monster frozen in the ice. Conrad pointed to Rolonda and Eli. Jaclyn. “They told me that you planned to climb to the ice cave. As soon as I heard that. Rolonda and Eli came running up to us.” “Wow!” Eli exclaimed.” Conrad explained to them. “Look at that!” “That was the evil snowman. I turned to my father.” Rolonda and Eli stepped closer to view the frozen monster close up. “Why did you stay behind in the village when Mom and Aunt Greta left? Why do you live up here near the ice cave?” He scratched his beard and sighed. “I don’t believe it!” he cried. “He’ll never threaten the village again.He rushed across the icy ledge and wrapped me in a hug. I’m so glad that Greta brought you back to the village. “I don’t understand. “It’s kind of a long story. “They saved your lives!” he told Aunt Greta and me. When you were little. I worked my magic. “Are you okay?” they cried.” I said. stepping back with tears in his eyes. “It’s been so many years—I didn’t recognize you. Conrad didn’t have a chance to answer. I sent the snowmen up to rescue you.” “You—you’re really my father?” I stammered.
“I always dreamed that someday I could leave the mountain and go find you.” He uttered another sad sigh. “We froze the monster inside the body of a snowman. “I owed it to them to keep the snowman in his cave. his beard scratched my face. And Greta has brought you back. was the hardest thing I ever had to do!” He wrapped his arm around my shoulders. She was so frightened and upset. “I stayed because I thought I owed it to the people of the village. “Your mother—she wanted to leave. Again. We accidentally created this monster.” he said softly. The horror is finally over. Our magic got out of control. She wanted to move as far away from the village as she could. Jaclyn.” He kept his arm around me as we turned to go down the mountain.” he explained. Perhaps…” His voice broke.” He motioned to the monster and shook his head.” “And why did you stay?” I demanded. To keep him from harming people. “And now the monster is dead. He smiled at Aunt Greta and then at me. “Perhaps… we can try to be a family again.” he explained. “Hey—!” I cried out as I saw the snowmen move to . “And so I stayed up here. close to the monster we created. He took a breath and tried again. She wanted to forget it ever happened. But… but… leaving you.practicing powerful magic.
one of the snowmen came thumping out of the group.block our path. I’d completely forgotten about all the snowmen! Now they circled us. eyes flashing. formatting and basic proofing by Undead. No chance to run away. The snowmen had us totally surrounded. He rumbled up to us. Nowhere to move. . “Can we go back down now?” the snowman asked. arms twitching. Before my father could answer. “Wh-what are they going to do?” I stammered. Staring at us with their glowing coal eyes. Surrounded us. Staring at us so coldly. In all the excitement of finding my father. The snowman stopped inches from my father—and opened his mouth to speak. I grabbed Dad’s arm. “It’s really cold up here!” Scanning.
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