S: Christopher and the Snow Globe by Carolyn Gair
BC: Copyright Rhino Publishing Los Angeles, December 2012
FC: by Carolyn Gair | Christopher and the Snow Globe
2: It was a compelling scene. The black wolf, poised and motionless, staring unblinking at the tree. The woman, tense and terrified, her breath held as she stood frozen against the tree's trunk, hoping her beating heart wouldn't give her away. Wolf and woman, tiny figures caught in a frozen moment, waiting, waiting, while the snow danced and drifted around them. Inside the snow globe, it was forever snowing. Forever night.
4: Christopher stared at the snow globe in his hand, reading the caption on it: "Traveler 63 At Night". He let his breath out. It was such a curious item. He could hear the murmurs of his parents on the other side of the antique shop as they admired an old harmonium. The air in the shop was warm and smelled of sandalwood and dust. Christopher turned his attention to the scene inside the snow globe again, intrigued by the mystery.
6: He held the glass orb to his cheek. It was as cold as the snowstorm inside. He closed his eyes for a moment, imaging the world within.
7: And then there came a strange sensation of falling and the sudden impact one feels when one wakes too quickly from a dream.
8: Christopher opened his eyes. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. It was snowing.
9: Scrambling to his feet he ran forward to find curved cold glass. Was it possible? How or why, he couldn't fathom, but he'd somehow fallen into the snow globe.
10: Thick flakes fell around him, muffling all sound save the beating of his heart. Through the glass he could see his parents calling for him inside the shop. Inside the shop... in another world.
11: A woman's strangled sob made him turn sharply in time to see a figure in an aquamarine coat running for her life. A motionless wolf stood nearby, its gaze fixed on Christopher now.
12: Fear and panic gripped him at once. He was there! Inside the snow globe scene! Turning, he looked for cover and fled for a stand of nearby trees, the wolf hot on his heels.
14: Inside the forest, Christopher ran towards a large old elm tree and slid behind it, trying to catch his breath. The wolf entered the woods seconds later and Christopher heard its soft steps slow to a walk as it paused to sniff the ground for his scent. The fresh tracks in the snow alone would lead it right to him! It was only a matter of time....
16: It was a compelling scene. The black wolf, poised and motionless, staring unblinking at the tree. The boy, tense and terrified, his breath held as he stood frozen against the tree's trunk, hoping his beating heart wouldn't give him away. Wolf and boy, frozen figures trapped in the same moment, waiting, waiting, while the snow dance and drifted around them.
18: Minutes passed. All was silent, save for the thudding of his heart in his chest. Christopher could not stand the suspense any longer. With a deep breath he thrust his head around the tree.
19: Christopher stared in disbelief at the giant arctic rabbits, if indeed there was an arctic in this strange winter world. They must have scared off the wolf, he thought with great relief. What a lucky break for him!
20: Christopher caught a glimpse of the wolf as the rabbits carried him safely away. He got the feeling this wasn't the last he'd be seeing it.
21: The rabbits let him off miles away in a strange sort of park, at the center of which was a single statue. Christopher stepped through the snow for a closer look. It was a man with a pleasant face, his arms weighed down by two large suitcases. "The Traveler" read the inscription. Nothing more.
22: The cry of a woman made him turn. A short distance away there was a woman in red, struggling against the wind, her long train snapping in the breeze. Christopher tried to help her by catching at the end of it, when a gust of wind picked him up off his feet!
23: Christopher hung on with all his might but the wind and the snow stung his eyes. Then came the sharp rending tear of fabric and with a sudden jolt he was air born! Another gust carried him high, high above the trees and into the sky and the snowy night.
24: Hours later, a thick minded beast raised its dull eyes to the heavens to watch as a strange bright red sail descended on its pasture. The bulls, who had gathered there to help their wounded friend had been hypnotized by the color of the bright red blood on the snow. The crimson stain had triggered a more menacing side of their tiny brains and they now began to move in with a darker purpose. It was only the wounded bull's luck, or Christopher's fate, that the wind picked that very moment to set the red parachute down.
26: Christopher froze in horror at the horned black shapes that stared at him. The red cape flapped and snapped in the sudden breeze that had come up again. Christopher could see the reflection of the crimson ripple in each of the bulls' steely black eyes. One by one they stepped away from the wounded bull and surrounded him. The red cape had turned Christopher from lucky aviator to unlucky toreador. The beasts shifted impatiently, their steamy breath clouded their noses, and hooves began to paw the snowy ground. The red cape seemed excited by the growing tension and danced and writhed in the cold air. The bulls' eyes- hypnotized by the color and movement- widened until their whites showed.
28: Christopher was no bull fighter and the distance to the trees was too great. He'd never outrun the ebony herd. The largest bull broke the silence with a loud bellow and lowered its head to charge, muscles bunching, steam rippling in the air. Fear gripped Christopher like a vice and he closed his eyes in silent prayer. And then the wind, sharp and purposeful, took his fear from him. The red cape was torn from his fingers and sailed into the air, twirling like a crimson dervish, beckoning the beasts to flight. Then a new breeze caught it up and bore it away across the pine grove. As one, the heaving bulls tore after it. Christopher crouched low -hands over his head as the stampede enveloped him in a thunder of hooves- and was gone.
30: Christopher approached the wounded bull who seemed to have recovered somewhat. Christopher did not speak Bull, nor the beast Human English. Yet they looked into each others' eyes with silent understanding, knowing they had to put a few miles between themselves and this pasture.
32: The bull deposited Christopher near a snowy lane where he was quickly approached by a mailman with a letter for him. The envelope bore a bright red stamp and within was an invitation in red print to come at once to Winter Castle.
33: Lady Scarlet, sister of the Crimson Lady, had heard of his adventures and was holding a Winter's Ball in his honor for thanks in aiding her sister when she was in need. The castle and the guests were very fine and Christopher ate and drank to his heart's content until he could hold his eyes open no longer.
34: When he finally awoke, he was greatly surprised to find the wolf waiting for him. Fear seemed to have left him in the night while he slept, as is often the case, and he looked at the wolf with new eyes. He'd assumed the wolf had meant harm, and like his fear, he'd tried to escape it. Now it was time to make friends with it and hope it would help him find his way back home.
36: They walked for miles, wolf and boy, as there seemed to be a purpose to their journey. Presently they arrived at a clearing where a house sat at an odd kilter. A man sat on the edge of his deck, grieving his poor choice of foundation on which to build his home. The wolf nudged Christopher and together they approached the man whose red suitcases lay packed at his feet, ready to move on but as yet directionless. Christopher explained that they were on a journey of sorts, to find a way home and perhaps the man might join them along the way? With a last look of regret at his sagging house, the man picked up his bags and followed.
38: And so they set off across the winter landscape and after a time they were joined by another traveler. And another. And another.
39: Suddenly the man with the red suitcases stopped sharply with a cry. "The way back! Surely it's here!" And dropping his suitcases in the snow he bolted forward over a snowy crest and disappeared from sight.
40: Christopher grabbed a bag in each hand and bolted after him but when he breasted the crest of the hill, the man was nowhere in sight.
42: The man was gone and there was nothing to be seen of him save his hat that sat on the snowy ground at the base of an old dead tree. It was all very curious.
43: Behind him the other travelers had gathered and were watching him. Christopher knew it was up to him to keep them moving forward. With a last glance at the tree, he dropped the hat and left.
44: Meanwhile, farther south, the snow had begun to melt and ice had given way to great swaths of open water. Rocks dotted the lake like broken teeth, a smile that mocked, "How will you cross me?" Christopher stared at the blue horizon, the land just visible on the other side. They'd come so far. He hadn't counted on a thaw, though their southward travel should have prepared him. Behind him the crowd began murmuring restlessly. Then something caught Christopher's eye. A bird was swimming in graceful circles just below the surface of the lake. But birds don't swim, thought Christopher, and he raised his gaze in time to see a heron circling above the water, it's reflection on the mirrored surface below. He watched it land, blue grey and long legged, as it began to search the reeds for frogs, its long stilt-like legs carrying it through the water. Christopher turned to the other travelers. "The trees!" he called, "Cut them down!" There was a way across after all.
46: There was no way to take their bags along with them, the stilts alone required all their hands and legs. And so the travelers left their baggage behind to move forward and perhaps, home. When they reached the other side they were beyond the winterlands, and like a Greyhound bus at the last stop, they descended and departed, leaving Christopher alone. He knew his own path home lay in the snowy lands they'd left behind and it was time for him to renew his search there. The last traveler remained long enough to tell him to seek out the statue in the park. "We've all seen it. It's the reason we followed you. Seek out the statue of The Traveler. The answer might lie there."
48: He found it again just before dark as the snow began to fall once more. He gazed up at the kind white marble face and wondered why he hadn't recognized it the first time. It was him. He was the fabled Traveler.
49: Now what? He was back where he started. He sat down heavily at the foot of the statue. His old friend the wolf approached silently, a hat hanging from his mouth. It was the man with the red suitcases. And then Christopher remembered the tree. Had he disappeared through there? Was it the way back?
50: The tree was right where he'd left it. Old and dead with a yawning opening in the trunk. The falling snow had covered the man's footprints but Christopher felt sure it was the right one. "Wish me luck", he whispered to the wolf, "This might be goodbye!"
51: Slowly, cautiously, he stuck his head through the opening and peered into the gloomy interior. Before he knew it, the trunk had closed tightly around him and was pulling him inside. And then all at once he was falling, the air rushing past him, warmer now and smelling of sandalwood and dust.
52: He hit the floor of the antique shop with all the velocity of one who has simply fallen off of a couch mid nap. There was a second thud as something rolled from his hand. Christopher lifted his head and gazed at it with wonder. The snow globe. His father paused in calling for him a third time. "Ah there you are, Christopher! We're ready to leave now." His mother noticed the glass orb on the floor beside him. "Did you find something you wanted to buy?" Christopher sat up and gave the snow globe an appraising look. The woman was gone from the scene and the wolf sat at the base of the tree looking out at him with something like fond approval.
54: "Yes", said Christopher thoughtfully, "I think I rather did." And holding the snow globe tightly in his hand, he and his family left the antique shop.
55: the end