About The Winter Knife:
The bags thumped against his thighs as he took them to the dumpster behind the duplex, down at the end of the driveway and parking area shared by the two units. At 6:30 p.m. the sun had been down for a couple hours, but the city lights bouncing between low cloud cover and fallen snow made the night sky bright. A streetlight at the end of the alley added to the glow. No problem seeing where he was going.
The night held its breath on these residential side streets, so still and quiet. Hardly any traffic. No birds or dogs out in the cold. His home, like those of surrounding neighbors, stayed sealed tight against the killing cold. Everyone had windows of insulating glass, with another layer of storm windows inside that, then more layers of blinds and heavy drapes. His mother worked in the kitchen, radio tuned loud to the college jazz station. Dad hid in his den. Every house on the block would be as closed and insulated as theirs.
A door slammed somewhere down the block as he lifted the lid of the dumpster. The first bag went in fine, but, as he hefted the second, the dumpster lurched to the side and he barely snatched his hand out of the way in time as the lid slammed down again.
He didn’t have time to curse. Whatever had moved the dumpster rushed him, something white as the snow. He saw only gaping jaws lined with sharp white teeth, before those jaws closed on his leg.
He fell backward, scrabbling ineffectually at the icy tarmac beneath him while an unrelenting strength dragged him deep into the heavy snow piled behind the dumpster. He had barely time to cry out. Pain drove all else from his mind. In a split second George’s scream cut off as the snow closed over his head. That single, choked-off cry echoed on the chill night air and faded to silence.
The piled snowdrift was far from soft or fluffy. Thick chunks and clods of packed snow had been shoveled from the drive and piled into a miniature mountain. It made hard going, but the jaws clamped on his leg held tremendous strength. That grip cut into his leg like knives. Tears started in George’s eyes, but tears weren’t his concern as the looser snow blocked his nose and pressed against his mouth. He gasped, but it only got snow into his mouth. He tried to struggle, but the weight of the thick drift above proved too great. He couldn’t breathe. The knifing pain in his leg encompassed his chest and lungs now.