In the deep, dark night

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Under the Snow.”

It’s not quite what I expected when I started writing this one.

The rumble and grind as the wall of snow fell, the cracking echoed through the valley. The kids looked up the valley and ran for the house.

“Dad!” Greta screamed as they slammed the door open. She stood on the doorstep panting for breath.

“Get inside!” Hans pushed his sister inside, “We need to get to the cellar.”

“What are you doing? Shut that door and shut your noise.” Their step-mother grabbed the children by the arms and tried to shove them back outside.

“Where’s Dad?”

“Out.” Their step-mother was exasperated by the children who had run inside, shouting while she tried to rest, probably because they still resented her for marrying their father. It was so obvious really, though the poor things probably didn’t realise that. And now here they were with some story about an avalanche? How incredulous did they think she was?

“Where? There’s an avalanche.” The creaking, rumbling was getting louder; they had to get to the cellar quickly. The children were becoming frantic; Hans pushed their dad’s wife out of the way and rushed across the kitchen to the cellar door, “Come on Greta!”

“Where’s dad?” Greta refused to move until she knew where her father was.

“He’s gone in to town. Get out of the cellar Hans; we will be fine, the forest between us and the mountain will protect us.”

“Dad says we have to get in the cellar whenever there’s an avalanche just in case.”

“Oh if you must, just don’t touch anything.”

“You’ve got to get in the cellar with us.” Greta plead, pulling at her step-mother’s sleeve.

The second Mistress Woods removed her step-daughter’s fist from the lace of her sleeve and delicately smoothed the material to remove the creases. “Don’t be ridiculous; I’ve just changed in to this dress, I’m not going in to the dirty cellar in it.”

“The cellar isn’t dirty, we cleaned it out in the summer.”

“We have to get inside. Come on Greta!” Hans shouted over the increasingly loud rumbling behind the house.

Greta took a last pleading look at their dad’s wife before rushing across the room to her brother. Hans lifted the trap door open and jumped in to the cellar.

“Come down step-mother, it’s not safe.” Greta begged as she climbed down the steps, pulling the door shut behind her. Unlike Hans she didn’t particularly fancy breaking an ankle jumping in to the cellar.

Mrs Woods shook her head at their silly fear, as the building started to shake.

“Silly children! Nothi…” Her response was drowned out by the increasingly loud roar of the avalanche.

The wall of snow ploughed through the wooden walls; Greta shrieked as the children heard the hammering of snow and ploughed up forestry knock down their house.

The children sat on the third from bottom step of the cellar stairs, waiting for the creaking above to stop.

“I suppose she’s dead?”

“I suppose so. Dad won’t be happy.”

“Not my fault, I tried to get her into the cellar.”

“True. So, what should we do now?”

“Have tea? I’m hungry Greta.” Hans whined. He’d got them in this situation, and now he was complaining about it.

“Light the stove then.” Greta thought for a few seconds, before asking, “Do you think the chimney still works?”

“It usually does.”

“Do you think it’ll be blocked up by the snow?”

“Definitely not. It hasn’t since you made that baffle for where the stove pipe comes out in the woods, and the avalanche didn’t go in that direction.”

“You’re certain?”

“Of course I am. I know what I’m doing.” Hans rolled his eyes at his sister.

“Well make yourself useful and light the fire, it’s getting chilly down here.”

“It’s always chilly down here Greta, it’s a pantry cellar. If you’d wanted to be warm we should have thought up a different way to get rid of the snob.”

“We couldn’t do the ‘push the witch in the stove’ move again, people would have got suspicious. Once is an acceptable means of escape from a witch, twice is a pattern.”

The psychopathic twins settled down around the stove for a quiet night in.


Author’s Note

I thought I’d try to explain where this came from. The brief, briefly, was to write about what would get me through the night if I were awaiting rescue after an avalanche.

Considering the prompt, I decided that thoughts of my niece and nephew would keep me going. After all, when I’ve been close to the edge, even to the point of having the knife in my hand, thoughts of leaving them have pulled me back. I couldn’t do that to them, couldn’t leave them when they need me. If thoughts of them can get me past a crisis point repeatedly, then they could certainly get me through a night under an avalanche.

So that’s where two children warning their family about the avalanche comes from.

Initially I was going to write about a fictional family winter holiday, that by some miracle I’d taken with my sisters and their husbands, and the children. It would have to be in Europe or possibly Canada because we don’t get much of that sort of thing in Lincolnshire. Thus, the cabin, the woods, the snow etc.

And my brain just went from there.
I worry about my imagination sometimes…


  1. Tim Pepper says:

    My favorite post of the day (besides mine, of course). I enjoyed the twist on the classic tale. Nicely done.

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