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Whiteout

whiteout


Estimated reading time — 5 minutes

The lanky man rolled a blunt with one hand, a trick only the most committed stoners can manage. After pinching the two ends together he lit up in his car. Smoke saturated the claustrophobic space, filling the car with a dim haze.

He leaned his seat back watching the freshly fallen snow melt on the surface of his windshield. The lattice work of water droplets formed a mosaic. It was art to be appreciated by those who could see past the mundane.

The man fancied himself a deep thinker. He enjoyed periods of lonesome contemplation, rather than the busy to-do’s of this noisy world. They have no appreciation for the beauty all around them, preoccupied by the worries of tedious life.

Cal Windrope, only truly abhorred one thing, routine. For this reason, he found himself parked on the side of the road in front of a large sign saying, “Thank you for visiting Titusville.”

Titusville is one of many backroad-towns Cal found himself passing through on his journey for self-discovery. No one thing caught his eyes. The town was seemingly identical to hundreds he had seen before, yet he found himself parked on the edge of the city limits.

It had proven to be impossible to pass the sign. Not physically of course, all it would take is one press with his foot and his car would roar right past it. All the same, the man was struggling with something.
It was almost as if he was caught in some sort of tractor beam like in the cheesy Star Trek movies.

“Beam me up Scotty,” said the amused Cal.

Silly as it may sound, the more he thought of it the more the analogy seemed to stick. He had been parked on the side of the street for nearly two hours now, yet he was no closer to making a decision.

In fact, the idea of staying stationary seemed to call to him.

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Cal felt as if he left now, he would be missing something monumental. As if this was his only chance to meet the true him.

This line of thought left him hungry in a way. Cal had been feeling empty, his year long sabbatical didn’t fulfill him. He felt all the more tired. No revelation, no life altering understanding, no epiphany; just emptiness.

He had been successful in the real estate business. He made a name and a sizable fortune for himself. Women, he had them. People loved him. He didn’t even try, yet it seemed as if he could do no wrong.
Still, the man felt as if something was missing. His drive across the states was nearly over. He was on the last leg of his journey, but he could not shake the idea that somehow, he was failing.

This was the full reason why he found himself smoking in his car, alone, unable to pass the godforsaken sign on the side of the street in a worsening snow storm. Yet even this understanding did him no good. He could not continue his trek until he understood what he was meant to understand.

As a result, the man remained still as a deer caught in headlights.

Similar to the creature, a feeling of dread seemed to wash over him. Danger was nearby, yet the man was powerless to take action.

Looking around Cal could not determine any immediate danger. Still, he couldn’t dispel the idea that if decisive action wasn’t taken, it would be too late.

Each moment brought a terror unmatched by anything he had experienced since. It seemed to be riding on the winds, brewing in the worsening storm clouds, and raining down on the man with each snowflake.

The fear the man experienced was not based on anything concrete.

There was no monster barreling towards him. There was no man holding a gun. There was nothing to indicate fear.

He was sitting in his car in the late afternoon in the rolling hills of Tennessee. Beauty indescribable all around him. In spite of this rational thought, it did not quell his concerns.

Cal was a child again, laying in his bed tormented by the thought of some bloodthirsty creature lurking in his closet. Some monster lying in wait for his underdeveloped legs to swing off his bed to grab, pull down, and devour.

It was irrational, there was no reason to be scared like this. He had convinced himself he had outgrown such childish fears.

Yet, here he was trembling in his car in the middle of the day for no apparent reason.

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Cal shut his eyes, shaking his head to rid himself of his fears.

The snow drifting slowly on his windshield, the sound of the wipers swishing back and forth, the crisp air of the plunging temperature, and the hazy smoke lazily dispersing; were the only things the frightened man paid any attention to. The man’s efforts were in vain. His fear didn’t lessen, in fact, they worsened.

The fear was radiating from the storm, like a sinister heart pumping poison throughout the whole.
The snow, white and refreshing, didn’t ease his nerves. They compounded it, a twisted man’s ledger.

In the dim light; shadows became monsters, rustling leaves became hiding places for horrors, and above all there was the glistening snow. It fell steadily, coating everything in sight. Heaps of it. It transformed the countryside, turning it from green pastures into a frozen tundra. The snow didn’t bring with it joy and happiness, rather its softness suffocated the air. It froze his heart with fear. It was beautiful to the eye, but dangerous to the touch.

The snow seemed to call to the man. It pleaded with him to come enjoy it. Get lost in the uniformity of each snowflake. Step outside and inspect the beauty up close. Leave warmth and safety for the mysteries shrouded in the fluffiness of the falling precipitation.

The snow obscured the landscape beneath, yet Cal felt as if that was just the beginning of the secrets to be found. All the tormented man would have to do is remove his clothes and lay in that blinding whiteness. It held the secrets of life. He knew it. Absolute certainty clouded his mind. All the answers he desired, at the touch of his fingertips. With each flake melting on his exposed skin, realization would diffuse into the man’s consciousness.

Self-discovery doesn’t need to make sense. Men are not rational creatures. Emotions and feelings muddy the waters. Inspiration comes from the oddest sources sometimes.

The man’s clothes slid off, he stepped outside mesmerized by the furious flurries whipping about.
Cal didn’t feel the wind or the ice pelting against his exposed body. There was a cold pulsing throughout him. From his fingertips to his toes, the naked man felt the heart of the storm coursing through him. It was the rhythm of the snow. The song of life flooded over him.

His life came into focus. Realization dawned on him like the peaking of the sun from behind the clouds. He was one snowflake falling. Distinct and individual, yet with one step back he was nothing more than one flake amongst many. Each flake from a distance looked like the other. One human from a distance looks much like the next. Individuality is a lie.

There is only the storm and the snowflakes belong to it. We fall have our day in the light, yet as quickly we melt and become no more.

The lone man in the heart of the storm went mad. Driven insane by the realization. Blinded by the whiteness of the storm.

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For a brief second, he was one with the storm. He saw life through the fleetingness of the snowflake falling.
He lived, he died as just another flake descending on the earth.

Snow buried him. The bellowing of the rushing wind, a funeral dirge. The clouds in the sky wept for the fallen man. The storm howled its outrage, it stopped, dumping its frozen load on the countryside.

Never to this day has there been a snowstorm so severe; never again will there ever be a storm so severe.

Two weeks later the snow melted and life in rural Tennessee went back to normal.

A pair of state troopers found a car on the side of the road near the exit sign. No man or woman was found, and no one claimed the car. Oddly enough there was a pair of clothes folded neatly in the passenger seat. Shoes included.

It was as if some mad man decided to remove everything he was wearing and run rampant through the storm.

The troopers had a few good laughs at the owner’s expense.

After everything, they filled out a missing person’s form. Cal was lost in the anonymity of paperwork forgotten.

No body was ever discovered.

It was as if the owner, Cal Windrope, melted with the passing snow.

Credit: John Westrick

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