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Red Snow

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Calliope Lovelace shook the doorknobs. The wolf's paws scraped against the marble floor. She didn't dare turn her head. She tilted back with her feet on the door. The veins on her forehead jumped out. A light had begun to glow around the doorframe. She saw the light through her closed eyes and drooped. She shook her head. She released her grip, fell onto the flood and slid away.

She bumped into something furry. She froze, her shoulders at her ears. On the back of her neck, she felt a breath. A growl filled the air. She flinched. She smelt blood and had to hold back a scream. She waited until the growling stopped, scrambled to her feet and ran. She was caught by the skirt of her dress. She screamed. She ripped off the dress and ran. Without the dress weighing her down, she sprinted into the adjoining room. The door slammed on the wolf's muzzle.




"YOU DAMNED HELL HOUND!"

She could hear it still whimpering on the other side of the door.

It was dark inside the room. She couldn't see anything and groped the wall for a light switch. There was a glow in the darkness. She gasped. The glow shaped itself into a square of light. A side table beside the chair held a radio. It started to glow. It turned itself on and the hiss of static was audible.

"Sit down, Calliope", said the radio.

She pressed herself against the wall.

"Now I won't have any of this nonsense, dear Calliope. This room has only one exit and a wolf is on the other side of it. You aren't going any place now, are you dear?"

"I'm tired of running and never finding an exit! I'm sick of your games; I don't want to play anymore!"

"No reason to yell, dear. Calm down, the game is almost done..."

"Where are you?"

The fireplace grew teeth out of its brick frame and the two paintings atop it slanted over. All the paint collected into the center of the frame. The wall bulged out between the fireplace mouth and the painting eyes to form a nose. Two long bulges popped out atop each painting eye, to form eyebrows. The floor under her feet shuddered and the walls cracked. The fireplace face smiled.

"I'm right here, dear Calliope", the face said. "The walls are my body and the radio is my voice."

"Stop doing that, the house will collapse!"

"And crush you to death along with my living house? No, I have a better idea. You climb up into the chimney of this fireplace and meet me in my hiding place instead trying to find a way out of Richmond Manor."

"Do you think I'm dumb enough to climb into a chimney with you in full control of the house?"

"Oh dear, dear Calliope, you don't have another option. You either come to me or I come to you. You get five minutes my dearest before I decide to open the door." The radio clicked off and the face became lifeless.

She could hear the wolf in the silence. She hurried to the fireplace and crawled in. The chimney climbed into darkness. She stood up and saw that there were handholds mounted into the concert. She began to climb. Below she could hear the door flying open and growling. As she ascended, her bare skin goose pimpled. Above she started to see a faint spot of light.

She had reached the end of the handholds. The reek of metallic filled her nose and she swallowed to keep down the bile rising in her throat. Stiff fabric brushed against her crown. She could see light through the fabric when she looked up. She reached her hand up to push it out of the way and felt something with a velvety cover like fine leather, under the fabric. She jerked her hand back, covering her gapping mouth. Biting her lip, she pushed the thing off to the side and climbed up into the light of the sun.

Red snow was the first things she saw when her vision came back. The snow was splatter with red.

"Paul..." she said and fell on her knees.

Her skin was red and her hands were numb but she crawled over to him lying in the red snow. He was lying faced down. His body had left a path where he slid near the cliff of the roof; the thick snow had stopped his body from falling over the edge. She turned him over and put his head in her lap.

"Pa-ul." She was weeping. "Why...Why did we have to come here after the dance? Why couldn't we have just stayed at home like they told us to... not meddle... I'm sorry...I'm so sorry, Paul...I'm so sorry for running when the house came to live...leaving you...I was so selfish...and now you're...dead."

Her lower lip trembled. All the blood rushed into her face and hot tears burned in her eyes. There was a pricking at the back of her throat where a large lump had developed. Her sobbing echoed in the forest below.

"But you know what, Paul? I'm going to avenge you. I'm going to find that sick, son of a gun and I'm going to kill him. I'm not going to run anymore, Paul", she said looking at his bloated sleeping face. "For you, I won't run anymore."

She made the sign of the cross and said a prayer. She stroked his cold cheek with gentle hands. Her short hair bushed against his face as she leaned over him. She kissed him on the forehead.

"I'll love you forever", she whispered in his ear.

She saw in the distance a man sitting atop the largest of the chimney. He was ginning. Under him, the chimney was in the shape of a high-backed chair and smoke curled in the air above him. She was disgusted. He was spitting a cup of red tea and dipping a scone.

"You look very comfortable for someone who's going to die soon", she yelled across the roof. She walked over to where he sat. She lost her footing but caught herself.

"I was just enjoying dinner with a view. Luckily, I get both from the same provider", he said rising to his feet.

"You're disgusting!"

She ran at him. He took a step to the right. She tried to stop and slipped. Her teeth bite through her cheek from the fall and blood gushed into her mouth. She saved herself by grabbing the armrest of the chimney chair. She spat the blood into his face.

His eyes became luminous and he grabbed her by the hair. She screamed and tried to twist out of his grip. He punched her in the stomach, knocking the air out of her. Her head swam. She lost her footing. He let go of her hair. Falling onto her back, she grabbed him by his leg and he collapsed onto his back.

The snow burned her skin as she slid down the roof. She held him tight. The bump at the edge of the roof hurt her back and threw her into the air. A sense of falling. A thud.



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