Four Views of the Big Cigar in Winter
by Charlie Bookout
She watched him tromp away and quickly disappear into the blizzard. Had he survived a little longer, she would have given him the big news he was dreading. But a madman with a hammer would find him that afternoon and mercifully spare him the trouble.
Her tears were starting to freeze on her cheeks. She yawned and looked to the east. Snowflakes swirled against the fragile glow like volcanic ash.
No one would see her. Everyone else was indoors: listening to the weather guy for closings, checking the cocoa supply, planning snow forts. She had observed that Arkansans, as a rule, did not prepare for snow—not like their neighbors to the north—and that the residents of Cedar Hill were particularly myopic. They would weave along slick streets like drunkards. They would entrust their children to the talents of school bus drivers who had established records of vehicular homicide. They would neither chain their tires nor salt their bridges. They would pretend that nothing had changed. But only to a point. When a storm like this one came around, even Cedar Hill gave up and stayed home. Bone-aching winter had assailed the Ozark Plateau like a nocturnal predator, and all the other rabbits were snug in their warrens. No one would see her.
No one but the crow on the branch above her.
About the Author
Charlie Bookout lives with his family in Gentry, Arkansas—a stone’s throw from the hillbilly infested Ozark Mountains. His fiction is set in (or refers to) Cedar Hill, Arkansas, a weird take on his already weird hometown. His stories can also be found on Pseudopod. The reading of one of them was a Parsec Award finalist a while back, so now his name shows up if you search for it in Wikipedia. When he isn’t writing, Charlie hangs out with his buddies in Gentry’s abandoned mortuary. There they compose and record funky music, make funny and scary short films, and throughout the month of October, operate a wicked haunted attraction. More at his website Mortuary Studios, and Charlie’s music can be purchased at his CD baby website.
About the Narrators
Matt Franklin is a narrative developer and vocal talent working in the game design industry. He would like to thank his director, Pauline Lu, for continued support
Emily Smith is a physician living in the Central Valley of California. She’s not afraid to put you to sleep but she is terrified of black widow spiders, heights, and that sudden silence that means a child is up to no good. She lives in constant danger of being eaten by cats, tripped by a baby, choked by a wisteria vine or smothered by wild birds. The wisteria vine is currently the most likely cause of her demise as it is the only thing not dependent on her for sustenance and her death dovetails nicely into its plan for world domination.
You can occasionally find her as Fireturtle on the Escape Artists forums, particularly if there is a flash contest in the offing.