Friday, April 30, 2010

Short Story: Stoker's Gift

The Snowstorm

by C.J. Heck

Little Stoker had never felt so alone. He was freezing and he missed Mama.

It was dark where he was, and it was bouncing up and down so bad that it was hard to sit still.

There were huge tears in his big brown eyes. Tears were even overflowing his eyes and making trails down both cheeks, just like before. It was cold and he was glad he had his warm winter coat. The tear trails were freezing up and that made his face feel funny when he moved.

He didn’t like this place and he wanted to go home. He wanted Mama. All he could do was sit here and remember. Remembering was sad. Remembering hurt.

The snowstorm had begun right after dinner yesterday. It was the most frightening thing Stoker had ever seen. He had been afraid, so afraid that his fear was like a real thing that he could almost reach out and touch.

The wind had been terrible and loud and long. It didn’t even snow like any snow he had seen before. This snow had come at him sideways and when it touched him, it was like a thousand fingers burning him with fire.

He was thankful Mama was there. She had coaxed him down into the place where they hid from the storm. She held him tightly, and enveloped in her hug, he almost felt safe. When he remembered the warm secure feel of her love, new tears slid down his face.

During the long, scary night, the awful storm showed no signs of letting up. Even the friendly moon had hidden from the wind and snow. Usually he could see it peeking between the branches of the trees high above their home. The wind blew wildly. It had made such an awful sound, like a lot of someones screaming and moaning.

The Blizzard at Night
He had sat huddled with Mama that long night in what used to be their home. Now there was nothing. Home had buckled under the weight of the snow.

Here and there, he heard parts of it being thrown all around them by the screaming, blowing wind.

Above them, he remembered seeing one large part of home that had fallen. It was leaning, teetering against something, and right below that was where they sat huddled together in its shelter.

Each new time he thought about how frightened he was, more tears overflowed his eyes, following all of the others on their trip down to his chin.

“Mama, I’m so scared! Hold me tighter!” Stoker had cried. “When will it end?”

“I know, Stoker, I know. I‘m frightened, too.” His mother had answered with the wind carrying her words off in other directions. He had to listen closely to hear the rest of what she said. “I don’t know when it will stop, son. We’ll be all right if we just stay together. Don’t move from here, no matter what happens, little Stoker. Promise me.”

Although Stoker had no way of knowing why she would ask for his promise, he agreed. “Okay, Mama. I’ll stay right here, I promise.”

All through the night, the wind raged and the snow came at them sideways. Mama pulled Stoker tightly to her, wrapping her arms around him to keep him safe and warm. Whenever he cried out, she did her best to comfort him. “Hush now, little Stoker, try to sleep. Mama’s here, and I love you.”

Just before dawn, there had been an enormous crash. Stoker suddenly felt a heavy weight come down on him -- it had been so heavy he could hardly breathe. He called out to his mother, “Mama! Mama, where are you?” But all he could hear in return was the screaming of the wind. “Mama, what was that loud noise?” Again, the only sound he heard was the wind and the pounding of his own heart.

Stoker wanted to run, but he remembered his promise to Mama. He would not move from this spot, no matter what happened. He wanted to scream and yell and run as fast as the wind all around him, but Stoker kept his promise. He didn’t try to get out from under this heavy thing. He sat quietly, listening for Mama with fear in every part of his body making him wish he could run, but he stayed right where she made him promise to stay. Mama would be proud.

Stoker didn’t know how long he had waited -- maybe he even fell asleep for awhile. He did know he couldn’t feel the sideways snow any more and he was warm. All of a sudden, he was aware of voices. They were loud and he could hear them above the wind which had now died down to only whistle.

The voices frightened him and he remembered calling out to his mother again. “Mama! Mama! Please, Mama, I’m here! I’m here where you told me to stay, no matter what happened! Please, Mama!” He waited, listening for her answer. When it didn’t come, he started all over again, calling and pleading.

“Over here, Johnny! Here! It’s coming from under this fallen tree! Help me get this cable attached and we‘ll pull the tree off.”

“You got it, Mike!”

Stoker continued to call his mother. He could hear a lot of sounds coming from above. Some were sounds of someone moving, someone’s feet crunching in the snow. Some sounds were mechanical sounds, like big machines, and that made him call out louder. He was terrified, but he kept his promise to Mama. He stayed there.

“Okay, Johnny. Now, pull!” The winch screeched into gear and the heavy wire cable began to do its job.

Slowly, the huge weight was lifted from Stoker. His eyes were shut tight and he was too frightened to open them.

“What have you got there, Mike?” Johnny called. “Can you see what’s making the noise?”

“Aw, Johnny, get over here! You’ve got to see this. ” Mike answered, above Stoker‘s cries for his mother. “C’mere, and hurry!“

Johnny ran to where Mike stood looking down into the hollowed out area. Mike glanced over at Johnny. “Well, I’ll be ... never saw anything like it. We’d better call Frank up at the Ranger Station. You have a cell phone in the truck, don't you?”

Johnny said he had one right there in his pocket and he handed it over. He dialed the number for the Park Ranger. Like Mike, his eyes never left the hollowed out area where the tree had rested only minutes before.

Stoker continued to call for his mother. Where was she? Why didn’t she answer him? He was still too afraid to open his eyes.

With a series of beeps, Johnny got through on the cell phone. “Hello Frank. John here. Well, sir ... what we’ve got here is the dangedest thing. We have a mother bear and her cub. No, sir, the mother bear is dead -- crushed by a huge tree which we removed. No sir. Cub’s okay. She shielded the cub. He was safely tucked in under her. Frank, she still has her arms, er ... paws wrapped around him, and him bawling like that!  It’s like she knew.”

There was a pause, then Johnny continued. “Can you get the Animal Control people out here right away -- maybe make some arrangements for a new home for the little guy? Yeah, I agree. Thanks, Frank.” With that, Johnny pushed the button and ended the call.

“Johnny? What’d Frank say?” Mike asked, since he could only hear Johnny’s side of the conversation.

Johnny wiped at his eyes with his shirt sleeve. “He's going to make some calls, Mike, and get a truck up here with a cage to transport him.

This little guy will be sad for awhile, but he'll be okay. Frank said what you and I have been only thinkin' ... this bear cub received the ultimate gift of a mother‘s love.”

[From the book, "Bits and Pieces from a Writer's Soul", by CJ Heck]

"A writer soon learns that easy to read is hard to write." ~CJ Heck

1 comment:


What a beautiful story! I had no idea they were critters until the end!