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Silent Snow, Secret Snow
by [?]

Oh, what’s the use, Steven"–

Quite suddenly, everyone was silent. And without precisely facing them, nevertheless he was aware that all three of them were watching him with extraordinary intensity-staring hard at him-as if he had done something monstrous, or was himself some kind of monster. He could hear the soft irregular flutter of the flames; the tic-toc-tic-toc-tic of the clock; far and faint, two sudden spurts of laughter from the kitchen, as quickly cut off as begun, a murmur of water in the pipes; and then, the silence seemed to deepen, to spread out, to become worldlong and worldwide, to become timeless and shapeless, and to the center inevitably and rightly, with a slow and sleepy but enormous concentration of all power, on the beginning of a new sound. What this new sound was going to be, he knew perfectly well. It might begin with a hiss, but it would end with a roar-there was no time to lose-he must escape. It mustn’t happen here-

Without another word, he turned and ran up the stairs.


Not a moment to soon. The darkness was coming in long white waves. A prolonged sibilance filled the night- a great seamless seethe of wild influence went abruptly across it- a cold low humming shook the windows. He shut the door and flung off his clothes in the dark. The bare black floor was like a little raft tossed in waves of snow, almost overwhelmed, washed under whitely, up again, smothered in curled billows of white. The snow was laughing: it spoke from all sides at once: it pressed closer to him as he ran and jumped exulting into his bed.

"Listen to us!" it said. "Listen We have come to tell you the story we told you about. You remember? Lie down. Shut your eyes, now-you will no longer see much-in this white darkness who could see, or want to see? We will take the place of everything…Listen–"

A beautiful varying dance of snow began at the front of the room, came forward and then retreated, flattened out toward the floor, then rose fountain-like to the ceiling, swayed, recruited itself from a new stream of flakes which poured laughing in through the humming window, advanced again, lifted long white arms. It said peace, it said remoteness, it said cold-it said-

But then a gash of horrible light fell brutally across the room from the opening door-the snow drew back hissing-something alien had come into the room-something hostile. This thing rushed at him, clutched at him, shook him-and he was not merely horrified, he was filled with such a loathing as he had never known. What was this? This cruel disturbance? This act of anger and hate? It was as if he had to reach up a hand toward another world for any understanding of it- an effort of which he was only barely capable. But of that other world he still remembered just enough to know the exorcising words. They tore themselves from his other life suddenly-

“Mother! Mother! Go away! I hate you!”

And with that effort, everything was solved, everything became all right: the seamless hiss advanced once more, the long white wavering lines rose and fell like enormous whispering sea-waves, the whisper becoming louder, the laughter more intensely maniacal.

“Listen!” it said. “We’ll tell you the last, the most beautiful and secret story-shut your eyes-it is a very small story-a story that gets smaller and smaller-it comes inward instead of opening like a flower-it is a flower becoming a seed-a little cold seed-do you hear” We are leaning closer to you”-

The hiss was now becoming a roar-the whole world was a vast moving screen of snow-but even now it said peace, it said remoteness, it said cold, it said sleep.