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Footprints in the Snow
At last, it was moving day. Gwen had been waiting for this new and exciting chapter in her life to arrive for months now. Her charcoal grey Jeep Grand Cherokee was packed to capacity with heavy luggage and valuables the young woman had accumulated over the years. She put her fingers to her lips and blew through them, letting out a loud whistle. Within an instance, two beautiful Siberian huskies came sprinting out the open front door, racing each other to the loaded car before hopping in. With a smile, Gwen closed all the doors, slipped into the driver’s seat, and drove off without a word.
“You two excited?” Gwen asked in a gleeful tone, glancing into the back seat.
Two joyous barks followed her question in a humorous and seemingly perfectly timed manner.
The girl laughed and returned her eyes to the road.
After four entire hours of driving (only three were expected) and a countless number of bathroom breaks, they finally arrived. The new home of the family of three was a cabin on the side of a mountain in the woods of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. It was an absolutely breathtaking area, covered in trees and filled with wildlife of all kinds. It had been her dream since she was a small child to move to such an extraordinary place. Today, that dream was becoming a reality and with every minute, it became more and more real to her. While Gwen exited the car to access their new home, her very enthusiastic huskies were not shy to show their impatience. Jade sat contently in the back seat, but smiled wide, wagging her large, fluffy tail, while Max was jumping up and down beside her, absolutely ecstatic; it was evident that they were both very pleased with their surroundings and were eager to explore the new area. This was brand new and thrilling for all three of them.
It was January at this time, so snow was not uncommon, but this night, the weather called for eight to nine inches. Knowing it’d be dark soon, Gwen unpacked her car in a timely manner and collapsed on the couch when she was finished, exhausted. Her huskies piled on top of her and she couldn’t help but laugh. Every room was filled with loads of boxes and totes, but she didn’t care. Unpacking was for another day. For now, she bathed in her happiness and success that was painted all around her. They had finally made it. After all the work and dreaming put into this big change in her life, Gwen had finally accomplished everything she had hoped for and more. With a deep, blissful sigh, she was fast asleep.
This cabin was absolutely gorgeous. Located in the living room were these beautiful French sliding glass doors that lead to the back patio. Gwen had always wanted a house with these doors. She’d had them in her childhood home and as she grew, she fit those French sliding glass doors perfectly into the future dream house that was located in the back of her mind. The first morning in her brand new home seemed to arrive quickly. When she woke up, she headed straight for the only things in the kitchen that she had unpacked already, her coffee maker and a mug. She yawned and glanced out the window as her coffee brewed. She smiled at the beautiful white ground. Although, her smile quickly vanished as she noticed something haunting in the snow. There were footprints. She froze, her eyes glued to the deep, oblong holes leading to those precious French sliding glass doors.
The young woman raced into her living room to examine the horrifying site. Her heart was beating a thousand thumps a minute. Gwen was more than frightened. She was petrified. Who could the footprints possibly belong to? Was it a serial killer? Was it a thief looking for cabins to raid? Was it some mad man searching for his next victim? She dropped to her knees and was beginning to hyperventilate. Her eyes were wide with astonishment and her body was trembling in fear. At this moment, the husky duo noticed her panic and came to comfort her. It was at this moment that Gwen realized what she needed to do.
She told herself, taking a deep breath in and letting it out slowly, “Calm down… There must be a rational explanation for this.” The girl began to relax, calming herself with the help of her canines.
Jade placed a paw on her thigh, nodding at her sweetly as Max was at her other side, letting out a soft, worrisome cry for her. It was as if they were understanding of her emotional alarm.
After a few more deep breaths, Gwen stood and decided to observe the footprints. The first pair of tracks appeared to lead to her door, and then a second led away from it. It was evident they were human footprints, for they were long and resembled her own. It was impossible to tell how deep into the woods the footprints went; there was snow everywhere she looked. However, from what she could see, they looked to span at least five to six yards away from the cabin. Gwen began to think whom these footprints could’ve belonged to. She remembered the cabin was rented out to families on vacation before it was put up for sale, but she wasn’t sure how long ago that was. Could someone have just assumed it was still empty and decided to see if it was an ideal location to rent, then realized someone had moved in and left? Could it have been some sort of hunter who came across a cabin on accident?
She thought maybe she should call the police. Even if it was someone harmless, she simply had to be sure. Gwen went to retrieve her phone in the kitchen and happened to look out the window. It was snowing again, and fast too. Even if she did call the police, by the time they would arrive, the footprints would be covered in snow and would vanish, along with any evidence that they’d even been there in the first place. There’s no way they’d believe her. She suddenly got an idea. Gwen let Max and Jade outside. Not only did they need to go out anyways, but she thought that if they could catch a scent on those footprints, maybe she could find who made them in the first place. She let the pair outside and they did their business without skipping a beat. Gwen found this confusing. Wouldn’t they naturally pick up even the slightest kind of smell from the footprints? This dug her even deeper into a pit of mystery that she would struggle so hard to get out of.
As the day passed, Gwen unpacked the majority of her boxes and kept an eye on the footprints, which slowly faded throughout the day until they had finally disappeared. When the prints did indeed vanish, she felt a sense of relief. An anxious weight was lifted off of her shoulders. If it was some sort of serial killer or something, wouldn’t she already be killed? If it was a thief, wouldn’t there be something missing? These reassuring thoughts filled her mind and it was truly alleviating. When the day finally came to an end, Gwen curled up in her cozy, comfortable bed with the two loves of her life. She felt so lucky to finally have the life she’d always wanted. As she lay there still, in her bed, Gwen was silent. She felt safe and secure. The footprints outside of that French sliding glass door were the last thing she was letting herself worry about. Peaceful and untroubled, she had no trouble finding slumber. It wasn’t a single minute before she was asleep.
This night, the young woman found so much rest that when she woke up the following morning, the footprints didn’t even cross her mind in the slightest. This morning was quite different from the one before. Since most of the moving boxes and totes were unpacked, Gwen was able to finally start each morning from this one on with her old, usual routine. Every morning, she got up and out of bed, took a shower, brushed her teeth, got dressed, woke up her sleepy canines, took them outside, and most importantly, got herself some coffee. Although, this morning, the step after waking up Max and Jade did not go as planned. When Gwen went to open those French sliding glass doors, she noticed something disturbingly familiar.
There were a fresh set of footprints in the same place they were the day before, looking to be the same depth and the same distance. Her stomach dropped to the floor. Her heart felt like it was beating out of her chest. She could not believe her eyes. All of the questions and suspicions Gwen had yesterday were certainly possibilities now. What was happening? This was no longer a friendly visit. This was no longer an accident. This was something purposeful and threatening. She feared for her life now. What would happen next? The feeling of safety and security she felt so strongly before was now nowhere to be found.
Snow began to fall once again… The young woman, gradually coming down from her state of panic, had a sudden burst of reason. She pulled out her journal and wrote down the times at which she found the tracks this morning and the morning before. That had to be something, right? She scrolled through the weather app on her phone to get the weather patterns for the night before and the night before that. She calculated the times of the snowfall as well as the amount of snow that fell. Yet, she still couldn’t figure it out. Before long, she had a whole two pages of notes and still no clue as to what was going on. Tears filled her eyes. It all became too much. She thought about leaving, but every time that thought came to mind, she realized the snow was too deep and the roads were too icy. There was just no way she could possibly leave, especially on a mountain like this one.
There was simply no perfect explanation. Even if the footprints did belong to some crazed madman, why would he be outside in these freezing temperatures? Why would he stomp through at least 10 inches of snow at night just to walk up to those French sliding glass doors and not even try to get in? There’s no signs of forced entry or anything of that sort, so why would someone even have the interest? What kind of sick human being would just walk up to someone’s window just to scare them? Her biggest question was why didn’t the dogs seem bothered at night? Max nor Jade had barked once during either nights. She wasn’t sure, but she was convinced both of them got up frequently during the night. Wouldn’t they have seen something? Wouldn’t they have alerted her if they did see someone walking towards the back door? So many questions filled her mind and not one of them was answered now.
Gwen decided to sleep in the living room that night. She’d go about her day unpacking boxes and organizing her things, but this night, she’d be ready. She’d stay up through the night and wait for whomever was leaving these footprints to come back up to her precious French sliding glass doors just so that she could get a good look at them and so that they could get a look at her large dogs ready to attack. Since, that’s what she had them for, after all. Don’t get her wrong, her favorite breed in the world was the Siberian husky and she’d had Max and Jade for years, but moving up in the mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee all alone was not a flattering idea. At least with these big, protective dogs, she’d have some defense against anyone who wasn’t quite welcomed.
So, the day passed. Music was blared and boxes were unpacked. Anything productive to keep her busy and distracted was exactly what she was doing. When the sun set, Gwen brewed herself a strong pot of coffee and snuggled up with her dogs in the living room, flipping on the TV to find a movie. A marathon of one of her favorites movie series was on and she figured whatever was long and entertaining would be ideal for this late night experiment. She watched for hours, but it wasn’t long before her eyes were beginning to feel heavy. Despite drinking the whole pot of coffee and half of another, she was growing sleepy. It wasn’t long at all before she fell asleep. Just before she closed her eyes, the certainty that Jade and Max would see what would happen was simply enough for her.
The next morning, Gwen woke up late. She opened her eyes and realized what had happened. Her experiment had failed. The girl glanced out those beautiful French sliding glass doors and she cursed herself for falling asleep. The fresh snow on the ground had a new pair of footprints in the same place, yet again… A heavy feeling of anger, stress, and anxiety covered her completely. What was happening? Gwen felt as if she was losing her mind. Her heart was racing so fast, she could actually feel it pulsing through her chest. Everything was so quiet; all she could hear was her frightened breaths, struggling to get in and out of her lungs. Her hands covered her mouth so tightly, there was no doubt a handprint would be left when she finally let go. Her eyes remained so wide that they began to burn.
This night was going to be different. The day passed similarly to the one before, only, Gwen was beyond paranoid. She spent half of her day staring outside at those footprints that were deeper than ever, given the snowfall. She devised a plan to catch whoever was making these footprints by videoing them. When night fell, she placed her video camera in the living room, facing those French sliding glass doors. When she hit record, she retired to her room with her two dogs and locked the door behind her, just in case. Given her paranoid mental state this night, it took a while for her to fall asleep, but when she finally did, morning came quick.
The first thing Gwen did was check the recording. Of course, she noticed again, another set of footprints outside those French sliding glass doors on her way to the video camera, but this time, she didn’t feel as much fear. She was nervous to check what had been recorded, yes, but she was also hopeful and prepared to finally have all of those questions answered. When she picked up that camera and played the video, she fast forwarded to any sign of movement. As soon as she noticed what appeared to be a figure, she paused the video. There was a woman. It was Gwen. The young woman, all alone with her two dogs in the snowy mountains of Gatlinburg, Tennessee had been sleepwalking every night since she arrived. Only, where was she going?