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They move slower in the snow. Their limbs freeze like the the tin man. I never liked the tin man. Snow falls from the sky in endless heaps and covers the dead until they forget what they’re looking for. Roads are covered, cars are buried, buildings wear blankets of white and the dead stop moving. Like bears in hibernation. You scavenge for food quietly careful not to wake the sleeping zombies. They are still there beneath the snow. It only takes one sound to make them remember, to awaken their want, to will their dead souls to move. Don’t be that sound. 

When I was little I had a babysitter that loved to watch Dr. Zhivago. She would just sit on the couch all day watching and smoking Virginia Slims. Sometimes she’d cry. I remember the house in the movie covered in snow. Snow everywhere. It was like a palace. I remember thinking that’s what heaven looked like. I would ask her why she was crying and she’d always say “It’s just so beautiful.” I hear her words in my mind as I stand in the dining room of a home that is not mine. The remnants of an unfinished meal are frozen to the grand mahogany dining table. Through the big bay window the yard is a flawless sea of alabaster only stopping to meet the bare trees of the surrounding forrest. The limbs of the trees look black in contrast with the field of white that washes up to them like waves greeting the sand. I can see my breath I’m so cold but for the first time in a long time I feel safe. The quiet is almost deafening except for the sound of my steady breathing. I savor it because I realize it is the first steady breath I have taken since that day. An amazing calm runs through me because for the first time I can’t hear the screams anymore. I feel the knot that has been in my belly for the past four months loosen. I move from the dark of the room into the spot where the afternoon glows through the window, lighting the floor. As I move closer the overcast sun shines though the clouds and reflects off the snow. It shines the whitest light into my eyes making me squint. In a second my eyes adjust. I am bathed in the white light. I feel the warmth of the sun on my face. It’s like what heaven looks like. I step further into the light. It feels like heaven. I think this as I hear my sister call my name in a loud whisper from the kitchen and I turn to look for her. When I meet her eyes she looks at me oddly and I realize I am smiling. She smiles back to me. We smile at each other. I cannot remember the last time I shared a smile with my sister. But it ends in a second when she breaks eye contact to look down to the kitchen sink she is about to turn on. Before I can tell her to stop I hear a loud knocking in the pipes and the house feels like it’s vibrating. The knocking gets louder and the pipes burst. In comparison with the earlier silence it is like the house is moaning.  Like the whole world is crying out in pain. She quickly turns the faucet off and I feel the knot in my stomach tighten again. I return my gaze to the blanket of snow wanting to find the heaven of just moments ago. I see something in the yard cause a blemish in the perfect sea of white and before I can wonder what it is four more blemishes pop up and destroy my heaven. The specks get bigger as their slow movements allow their shapes to take form. I look back to my sister who is white with fear as she turns her gaze from the kitchen window to me. This time we don’t smile. We share one instantaneous thought. We woke the dead. In the yard they start to rise from the snow. Moving towards the thing they now remember they need. US. I realize it wasn’t heaven at all. It was just hell frozen over. Ain’t it just like hell to trick you into thinking it’s heaven.

They are harder to kill in the snow. Like trying to break open a bowling ball instead of a melon. The roads are slippery. There is nothing to hold onto. It’s like trying to run in quicksand. They are angrier, hungrier, mad they forgot, mad they stopped looking. Like bears awoken from their slumber. It’s hunting time. It only takes one sound to make them remember, to awaken their want, to will their dead souls to move. Don’t be that sound. We head west.

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