A fat, bearded man walks down the street. He’s dirty, in a ragged red coat, holding a large, yet almost empty sack in one hand and a flask of vodka in his other hand. He walks in the stumbling, disoriented gait unique only to a drunk man, but his steps have a purpose to them. He doesn’t disturb the small town around him, and as he walks, he smiles at what he’s about to do. It is not a friendly smile, but a mean, sadistic, amused smile. He arrives at an alley, and from his sack he produces a silk top hat. It’s old, but it also has a sort of dignified elegance to it. He places in carefully on the ground, and walks away, ready to come back.
The children left their school, eager to play in beautiful white snow. This snow was soft, fluffy and white, the kind that you only find in a small town, and not the grey sludge you see in cities. This snow was perfect for packing, and the children got to their play immediately. They engaged in intense snowball fights, created winged snow angels, and sled quickly down the slopes of the hills. As well, some of the children started to pack together larger snowballs, not for throwing, but for building. For creating a vague semblance of a man. However, while most of the children created snowmen just as, if not bigger than themselves, a small group of children endeavored to create the tallest snowman they could. This wasn’t very tall, but the snowman, at a height of roughly four feet, was impressive for them.
They started to add some details, but with a little bit of support and a boost from each other, they added its forked stick arms, two coal eyes, a nose from one of their spare buttons, an indent into the head in the shape of a smile, and a cigar from a corncob one of the children had saved from lunch for this purpose. It was well made, and the children were proud of their work. Something was missing though, a hat. The children searched around, and one of the girls, Emily, found something. It was an old, but still good, top hat. The children agreed that it was perfect, and they made the biggest mistake of their little lives. They put the hat on the snowman’s head. The children were proud of their work, and they had to leave for supper. They agreed they would come back and take their parents to show their creation. They all left, and as all of the little children had their supper, night fell, and everyone left the park. The snowman was alone.
Within the hat lies a creature. A creature, not of flesh and blood, but of shadow and spirit; of thought and will. This creature, once the humans have left, extends itself from the hat in which it lives. It moves into its new body of ice and frozen crystal, bringing it to life. It animates its new vessel, and its essence permeates it and alters it. Its bottom section grows a pair of small ice feet. From its dead branch arms grow new twigs on its end, making complete hands. The indent of its smile becomes a toothy maw with pointed teeth of ice, twisted into a fiendish smile. It bites down on the corncob in its mouth, and cuts it in half effortlessly. It leaves on the commands for its master and creator, to assess the land before it begins its dark mission.
The children who built the snowman ran to the park, their parents struggling to keep up. They were excited to play in the snow again, but more than that, they were excited to show their parents the snowman they had built and were so proud of. However, when they arrived, they were met with a shock. The snowman, which they had worked so hard on, was gone. There was no scattered snow, it hadn’t been knocked down, it was just gone. Their parents thought the children had just been joking, but the children swore that they weren’t. They were curious, and they decided to find out where their snowman had gone. The searched, and eventually they found something. There were little indents in the snow. They looked like footprints that had been snowed on overnight. The snow on them made them almost invisible, but they could still be seen. The children weren’t sure how this could’ve been, they didn’t even know had a snowman could grow feet, but they told their parents. Their parents decided humor them, they were just children after all.
The children followed the footprints, trailed by their parents, and they went all over town, and they passed by every house. Strangely enough, each time the trail passed by a house, it curved to a window of the house before going back to the street. However, after hours and hours, they found the snowman. It was different though. It seemed to have little feet supporting it made of ice, its corncob was missing, its branches were longer, thicker, with more twigs, its mouth was deeper, but still the same shape, and it was taller, at 6 feet tall. The parents were impressed, thinking this had all been planned, and they went back to the park. The children didn’t know what to think though. They pretended that they planned it, but they didn’t know how this had happened. They all played, went home, and went to bed, but they didn’t know what was going on.
The spirit reenters its body, and it immediately sets to work. Its mouth reopens, revealing its maw of teeth once again. It walks over to the nearest house, and peers in through the window. The window frosts over, and it walks to the door. It puts its wooden hand on the door, and the doorknob frosts over as well. The snowman turns the doorknob and with a loud snap, the door gives way easily. The snowman walks in, its presence chilling the air such that, if you had a glass of water, it would freeze immediately. The snowman makes its way to the bedroom of the child it has seen lived there and opens the door. It walks to the child, and picks it up. Its branch arms don’t break, and frost starts to spread on the child’s skin. It is only its sheer icy presence that keeps the boy from waking from the pain. The snowman leaves, not bothering to close the door. It leaves to deliver the child to its master and continue to the next child.
The next day, many parents got up in bitter cold, and found that their children were missing. They immediately called the police, and when eleven pairs of panicked parents were frantically calling the police, it was obvious that something wasn’t right. With the help of police statements and journalists, the word spread throughout the whole town like wildfire. Most parents wouldn’t let their kids leave their sight. Both children and adults were scared, staying close together, ready to fight anything that so much as breathed on their windows. The children slept with the lights on, and the adults were always more than willing to allow this, and most even got sleeping bags and slept in the same room.
The spirit in the hat knows that it will acquire more children for its master in the future. For now though, it will hold off. Its master has further plans, and it mustn’t overdo it and give things away too quickly. It leaves to hide in the town…
The fat man in the coat with the sack is satisfied with the chaos and confusion that his first gift to this town has caused. His sack is now bulging with eleven struggling, wriggling forms. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out another small something. He leaves it in the dumpster, and walks away.