I pulled on a gray sweatshirt and shivered. Outside there were several large drifts of snow. I rubbed my eyes sufficiently awake.
Snow had fallen unexpectedly on Kansas and left about two feet of snow, and it was still going, but a little lighter. School got canceled, even though the people on the radio were complaining that this sort of thing never happened to them, they always had to go to school.
I grabbed a blanket and wrapped myself in it. Dad was supposed to be here, but he probably came in when I slept.
Boston looked like a floating cocoon. He had snatched up the sheets and wrapped himself in them, looking like a ball of flowers with black ears and a black muzzle poking out.
“Don’t they get the heat fixed?! It’s freezing!” He chattered. I tapped the window so that the snow fell off of it and was rewarded by an icy slap of wind in the face.
“No wonder we’re freezing!” I grumbled as I trooped downstairs. At the end of the second floor was a closet that Mom had stuffed the summer blankets she had bought. A little digging found an old stained (I have no idea nor do I want to have one as to what the stain is) blanket that was probably bought at a two for one sale. I dragged it back upstairs with me and began using it to block the window so no more cold air would come in.
After five minutes of struggling with cold fingers, I let it drop to the ground and wandered back downstairs, this time all the way down to the kitchen, where I heard Mom clicking her tongue when the stove wouldn’t work.
I opened one of the drawers and pulled out some heavy duty masking tape. Mom turned to watch me walk back to the stairs, wrapped in two blankets and looking like I just woke from the dead, which was what I felt like. I went back to my room, forced the blanket up to the window, and taped the entire thing in place. It took me ten minutes by the watch on my dresser, but when I was done no cold air was drifting into the room and the ice sickles on the arch of the ceiling were beginning to drip as they melted. Boston poked more of his head out of the sheets and got more active. I, on the other hand, plopped face first into the bed, still holding the almost empty tape roll.
I curled up into a little ball, which wasn’t too hard, and let the blankets just pile over me.
Why, mother, why?
“Helena, get up honey.” She gave me a little shake. My eyes flew open when I realized she was in my room.
I shot straight up and saw Mom staring at my handiwork on the window. Boston was nowhere in sight.
“Honey, why did you tape the blanket to the window?”
“It was cold.”
“The window was cold?”
“No,” I rubbed my eyes awake. “The room was cold. Air was coming in. It was freezing.”
“Oh.” She nodded at that. “But couldn’t you have just said something?”
“Easier this way.”
“Whatever you say, honey.” She shook her head. “Well, get up sweetheart. Your father and I are going out for some breakfast, and I need you to be awake incase something happens.”
“Okay.” I said, pulling myself and the blankets off the bed and wrapping them around me. “You going to bring me back something?”
“How about some chocolate donuts? You like those, right?”
I nodded, yawned, and stood in front of Mom while she related the rules of the household to me.
I almost jumped when something furred brushed my ankle, but luckily, Mom had just glanced at her watch, and had not caught my surprised expression. I quickly wiped it off and replaced my tired, let-me-go-back-to-bed-forever look.
“Feel free to watch T.V. I have my cell phone, so don’t hesitate to call.”
“What if the storm gets worse and I can’t call?” I asked, not really expecting problems.
“Call one of the departments, they’ll know what to do.” She walked out of my room and went down the stairs. I picked up my choker from the dresser, put on a pair of hideous yet incredibly warm slippers, and let the blankets brush the ground as I followed, hiding Boston as he followed me so closely that he could have tripped me numerous times.
We stopped in the living room, where Dad, impatiently jingling his keys, waited to get going.
“We’ll be back soon, sweety.” She kissed me on the forehead. Dad patted me on the head before holding the door open for Mom, and they both went out in the light snowfall, shutting and locking the door behind them.
I stood by the window, watching the drive, which had been cleared as a courtesy by the snow shovelers that were also helping clear the road. I counted two, waving as the old car pulled out of the drive and rumbled down the street. Then they went back to attacking a piece of ice that was blocking a storm drain, cracking off pieces so that the snow, when it melted, had a place to go other than freeze in the road and ditches.
Once the last bit of sound from my Mom’s car disappeared, I lifted up the blanket to see Boston blink owlishly at me. Then he lick his paw and brought it across the ruffled fur on his head, patting the hair back into place.
“Why were you hiding under my blankets?”
“Well, when your mother came in, I was hiding under the bed, but I needed to get out of there because the roaches were giving me odd looks. And there was a little dust, and I was afraid I would start sneezing. So while Mother dearest was speaking with you, I used my cat like reflexes to hide under the covers.”
“You could have gotten us caught. What are you afraid of a few roaches?”
“You’d be afraid of them too, if they were as big as your feet.” He said sulkily.
I thought about that. “Okay, I’ll give you that. Wanna watch T.V with me?”
“Yep!” His ears flicked back up, no longer upset. He waited until I was curled up on the couch in my blankets with the remote in one hand before he leaped up and snuggled against me with his head drooped over my shoulder.
I flipped channels, pausing a couple minutes to catch the end of a cartoon I’d never heard of.
“I used to hate the morning cartoons because it was just Scooby-Doo and I’d seen all of them.”
“Scooby-Doo, is that the one with the dog with a speech impediment?”
I grinned. I had said that to my Mom one time, when she asked me what I thought was my favorite cartoon and why. But I don’t watch cartoons anymore. “Yeah. But it got to the point where I could watch the beginning to the show and know who was the bad guy and why and whether or not they would go after the wrong guy and stuff.”
“You liked it that much?”
“I guess, I don’t really remember anymore.” I flipped through the channels till I got to a home cooking network. “I wonder if Mom knows this is here.”
“That’s depressing. What are they cooking?”
“No clue. It looks like cabbage…lettuce…radishes? What IS that?” I stared at the leaves as they wrapped up what looked like…
“I think she has been watching this. Change the channel.” Boston stretched his paw down to the remote and changed the channel. It was sports.
“College tennis.” I read the little lines at the bottom. “I think this is just a practice or a rerun.” I started channel surfing again.
“Two hundred and fifty four channels and so far all that’s been interesting is a cartoon, a bad cooking show, and College tennis. Speaks volumes for the programming, hunh?” He said languidly.
“Yeah.” I hit a news channel and prepared to pass it when I noticed the headline. “Strange Occurrences All Over the World.” I put the remote down to listen to the middle aged woman.
“—and even though most of the high seated stations won’t bring you these breaking reports, the Eight Points Studio is bringing you all the scoops, with no censorship or strings attached.”
“Is that because no one else will take the stories?” Boston whispered.
“Our first story is about several sightings by sailors on the east coast by a large, silver snake.”
A quick shot of a reporter talking to a fisherman, who along with his cronies, were gesturing how big the snake they saw was, and whether or not it had horns. As far as I could tell, it was between fifteen and five hundred feet long, and had forty horns, all of which were pointy and sharp.
“I wonder if they were drunk?” Boston said raising an eyebrow.
It returned to the studio.
“Also in news, sighting across the US of strange creatures and odd happenings. In Ohio, there has been a reported sight of a winged man. In New York, there has been mass hysteria amongst the homeless of a monster living in the sewers. In a report from Mexico and South America from our sources, similar happenings have surfaced.”
That struck a sort of warning chord in my mind, but I couldn’t figure out why. I shook it off.
Suddenly she looked pensive, hand halfway to her ear. I noticed that she was wearing an earpiece.
“Getting a call from the mother ship, you think?” Boston snickered. I had to laugh too.
“This just in from our reporter in the field. Lakegate, Kansas, is having extremely odd weather patterns.”
I stopped laughing. I turned my head to lock eyes with Boston. “That is creepy.”
“A completely circular area including the area around Lakegate and a one mile radius around the city is experiencing record amounts of snowfall.”
“Snow doesn’t fall in a circle.” I said. Boston still had his eyes glued to the screen.
“We now bring you some pictures from the scene.”
The screen immediately cut to the inside of a helicopter, where a reporter, obviously freezing, was gripping his seat and gesturing out the window and yelling.
“As you can see the snow is falling in an extremely odd manner, get a picture of this!” The cameraman zoomed the camera in on the cloud hanging oddly in the air.
It didn’t even look like a cloud. It looked like someone had grabbed a marshmallow, made it float, then afterwards got the idea to make it look like a cloud. And from the giant cloud, came a torrent of snow. But, whatever wind they were caught in that made the helicopter sway, it didn’t seem to affect the snow, which fell straight down like an extremely heavy rain.
“That is not natural.”
“No it isn’t.” Boston was frowning.
“Thanks, Rob. Well, you heard it here first, and we will be checking in with more information when it comes to us.” Then she started babbling about chickens born with three legs, and an entire hatchery of chickens that had hatched ducks from their chicken eggs.
I turned to Boston. “What do you think?”
He looked out the window at the snow. “I think that network is full of it. A lot of the things they mark as conspiracy is probably just mistakes. But something like that…and judging the fact that neither of us know exactly how the weather is here regularly, I’d say we shouldn’t judge so fast, but we shouldn’t keep it out of our minds, either. There is definitely something going on. Like you said, snow doesn’t fall in circles.”
“And weather is not that predictable, especially where clouds are concerned.” I said with a frown.
We sat quietly for awhile, then I changed the channel until I found a real T.V station.
“They don’t have a thing on us.” I said, after watching for twenty minutes. I checked the clock on the wall and frowned. “They should have been home by now.”
“Think they got stuck in the snow?”
“I hope not.” I chewed on my thumbnail. Usually I don’t worry…not about anything really. But my parents, I always tried to keep an eye on them, even if they don’t notice. I figure someone should watch after them, they aren’t exactly adept at doing it themselves.
The snow was starting to fall harder now. I got up and looked out the window. The sky was dark, and snow was falling in sheets.
I gripped the sheets a little tighter.
Boston wrapped his paws around my neck from behind soothingly. “They’re probably just driving slow and being careful.”
“I hope so.”
A loud ringing noise surprised us both, and Boston left some scratches on my neck when he leaped onto the top of my head, bristling like an alley cat.
I ran through the house until I found the phone, under several magazines. I picked it up and held it too my ear. Boston held his head down to the earpiece, listening in.
“Mom!” I let a sigh of relief out.
“Hey baby, I’m sorry, but we’ve been snowed in at the mall.”
“Why were you at the mall?” I asked, confused.
“That’s where we were getting breakfast, honey. Look, we can’t get back to the car. We don’t know how long we’ll be snowed in, so…there’s some food in the cupboard, and try to keep warm, sweetie. Don’t go outside, the snow is really bad.” Mom was sniffling.
“I’ll be okay Mom. I’m sure the snow won’t be that long, and you’ll be home in no time. I’ll see you when you get back.”
“Okay, Sweetie, just be careful, if you have to go outside make sure you’re bundle up real good, okay? Don’t go outside if you don’t have to.”
“I love you.”
“I know Mom.” I felt a little lump interfering my speech. “I-I love you too. And Dad too.”
“I’ll tell him you said so, Helena, bye honey.”
“Bye Mom.” I waited until she hung up to put my phone down. The phones were still up for now, but if it got any worse, we’d probably lose electricity with the phones. And no electricity meant no heater.
“Well, at least they’re safe, right?” Boston asked, peering at me sideways.
“Right. We’ll probably have a harder time of it than them.” I hugged the blanket. “We’ll have to hope it doesn’t get worse.”
Just then someone knocked on the door.
“You were saying?” Boston asked before he floated over to the curtains. I walked up to the door and spied through the eyehole. Some person in an Eskimo like jacket was beating on the door, almost covered in snow. Behind the person I could see the bent over shape of two others.
“You wanna open it?” Boston asked. “Remember what your Mom said about alley freaks.”
“They aren’t in an alley.”
“Maybe they were scared out of the alley by the snow, like when you set fire to a bug nest.”
“We need to cut back on National geographic.” I unlocked the door and opened it, getting chilled to the bone when a blast of below freezing air blew in through the open door. “Get in! Quick!”
They hurried in, and I had to push hard against the door to get it closed. If t hadn’t been for the help of the Eskimo hooded person, I would have never gotten it closed.
“Thanks!” The muffled voice from Eskimo said, covered in a scarf and goggles. “We thought you were our last chance!”
“Who are you? Have we met?” I asked as I locked the door behind me.
“Helena!” One of the people dragged off their hats, revealing a Pepper that was redder than her namesake. “Oh gosh…it’s freezing! So cold…”
“Pepper? Holy cow, were you guys walking around in that? You guys better get out of those clothes, I’ll get you some blankets.” I threw my blankets on the couch. “Use these after you get your jackets off, I’ll try to get some extra clothes, too.” I ran up the stairs, and dragged as many of the blankets out of the closet as I could, and ran back down the stairs, the slight bite of cold air hurrying me up.
Pepper, a man in his thirties, and a guy my age all huddled together, stripped to their pants and shirts, shivering violently.
I threw the stack of blankets on the couch. “There’s more, I’ll be back soon.” I took two more trips, the last one raiding my parents room, ignoring the dresses and expensive suits- they weren’t all that warm- and picking up all the jeans, shirts, and so on I could, and also dragged off their bear rug like comforter. None of my clothes would fit them, so I didn’t try to look for any.
Pepper had jumped on the clothes, and ran off to the bathroom to change, with the two young men right behind her.
“Odd coincidence.” A voice commented above me.
The living room has some rafters, and Boston was peering from overhead at me.
“Why do you say that?”
“They knew you’d be here? What would have happened if we had left with your mother?”
“I don’t know. I’ll ask Pepper.”
Pepper chose that precise moment to walk in. “Who are you talking to?”
I looked over at her. “No one. Why did you come here?”
“No one else was home! We needed someone to take us in, and I thought of you.”
“Really.” I stated, beginning to have sneaking suspicions. She just looked back at me with big, innocent eyes.
“I think you’re lying.” I said calmly, rocking back on the heel of my slippers. “But I won’t say anything more on it. I’ll see if I have some hot chocolate in the kitchen to fix you guys, it’ll probably help warm you up.”
“Thanks a lot Helena.” She said enthusiastically. She grabbed some blankets. “Just for the record, if I’m lying, so are you.”
“And what makes you say that?”
“Intuition.” She said happily as she wrapped herself up in five blankets and plopped down where I’d been sitting. “But we’ll act like it never happened, deal?”
I walked into the kitchen as the thirty year old and the young man, who had dark skin, ear length black hair, and strange eyes, more grey than blue, walked into the living room. The older man was a gruff looking guy with a three day growth and sort of wild short hair.
I pulled the box of Instant cocoa and glanced up to see the glowing eyes of a cat watching me.
Something ruffles my fur about that group. His voice whispered in my ear. I want to see what they say when no one thinks you listen.
I nodded, careful not to make so much of a motion, in case someone in the living room, which while not visible to me was slightly visible to them, saw the movement.
I almost smiled. It was like some really bad spy movie where the agent sends his fly to sit on the wall to listen in while his suspects talk without having to worry about him, or so they thought.
I sighed. When did my life change from a sleepy kid who goes to school into a sleepy kid that uses a magical flying cat to spy on acquaintances?