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SNOWFLAKE stretch road long private

========================================================
The following piece of fiction contains strong sexual
content and is meant to be read only by adults. If you
are not at least 18 years old, or if you are offended by
this type of material, please do not read any further.
========================================================
"Snow Flake"

by DG
Christmas Eve in the Adirondacks, and the snow was coming
down hard, big fat flakes that reflected the light from my
headlights into a sparkling display. The flakes were swirling
gently toward the ground, since the night was perfectly still,
but the motion of my truck made them stream past the windshield
in a mesmerizing rush, like that computer screensaver that was so
popular a few years back.

This thought reminded me of my own computer and monitor,
firmly belted into the back seats like a pair of precious
children, and from there my thoughts turned once again to my
thesis, and to the mountain of work that awaited me over the next
two weeks.

It had all happened so suddenly: I was a typical lazy grad
student, finishing up my Ph.D. research at a leisurely pace and
just starting to think about writing it all up, and then, out of
the blue, I get offered a great job. A dream job. Just one
catch: they need me report to work in less than a month, Ph.D.
certificate in hand. I had reluctantly decided that my only hope
of writing a 200 page dissertation in such a short time was to
seclude myself in my parent's cabin, away from the distractions
of the holiday season.

The truck shimmied and started to slide off to the right as
I hit a deeper snowdrift, and I reluctantly slowed down again.
For the first time, I admitted to myself that I was getting
nervous about the snow. I still had several miles to go, and the
last stretch of road, a long private driveway, was going to be
very hairy. I turned on the radio to search for a weather
report, twisting the dial several times before finding anything
but static.
"...power outages throughout the area have put police,
fire, and rescue services on full alert. Once again, the
National Weather Service predicts additional accumulations
of up to three feet by morning for most of the southern
Adirondack region. Police are cautioning people not to go
out onto the roads for any reason..."
That was just great. I turned the radio off in disgust,
deciding to concentrate fully on driving. As long as I didn't
slide off the road, I should be fine. My four-wheel-drive truck
was designed for just these sort of conditions, if you could
believe the commercials, and once I got to the cabin I would be
set for days. Surrounded by a cocoon of snow, there would be
nothing to distract me from pounding out my thesis.

Something caught my eye off the right, outside of the
bright cone of my headlights. A yellowish glow, apparently
coming from the ground near the treeline. I drove for another
few seconds while my brain processed what I had seen, and then I
swore out loud and carefully braked to a stop.

After grabbing the flashlight out of the glove compartment,
I hurriedly got out of the truck, feeling like I was wasting
precious time. It was well after sunset, and the combination of
the snowstorm and the distance from any civilization created a
suffocating blanket of darkness and silence that city dwellers
never experience. I swung the flashlight back and forth as I
jogged back along my own tire tracks, hearing my heart pound in
my ears.

Then I saw it: a diffuse yellow glow coming from under a
large, rounded drift of snow. The car had probably gone off the
road within the last few hours, and it was already completely
buried, only its headlights giving any clue as to its presence.

I scrambled down off the roadway and found myself wading
through chest-high drifts as I approached the eerie patch of
glowing snow. There was something sticking up a bit from the
rest of the shape, and when I brushed the snow away I saw it was
a tire. Wonderful: the car was upside down.

Working quickly, I dug down into the snow along the side of
the car with my hands and feet, exposing a door and then a window
of what appeared to be a late model sports-utility vehicle. I
lay on my stomach, leaned down into the hole I had just cleared,
and shone the flashlight into the window. An upside-down face,
as white as a sheet, was inches away on the other side of the
glass, and I was so startled that I let out a high-pitched
shriek.

It took me another five minutes to clear enough snow away
from the door to wedge it open. The person, whose age or gender
I hadn't yet determined, was hanging upside down, firmly belted
into the driver's seat. I wormed my way into the car, almost
losing my flashlight at one point, and determined that there was
only the one occupant.

"Are you all right?" I shouted, feeling like an idiot. No
response. 'Are you alive' was more to the point. The face
looked chalky and stiff, and the eyes were half open and staring
straight ahead unresponsively - the close resemblance to a corpse
couldn't be ignored. On the other hand, the car didn't appear to
badly damaged so it seemed likely that the belted-in person
hadn't been injured in the original accident.

I fumbled for the seatbelt release, and quickly discovered
what the situation was. The woman (yes, I had decided the person
was a young female) had fastened her belt with the release button
facing inward instead of outward. No big deal, unless you get
happen to get flipped upside down. The weight of her body
against the belt had made it impossible for her to press the
button, and so she had dangled here helplessly, like a side of
beef slowly cooling inside a meat locker, as the snow buried her
car.

My fingers quickly grew numb as I tried unsuccessfully to
reach the button, and a wave of panic and claustrophobia started
building inside me. Finally I stopped, took a few deep breaths,
and realized what I had to do. I put my hand on her stomach and
pushed upward, taking enough of the load off the belt so that
finally, with a feeling of triumph, I was able to pop open the
release. The body then fell on top of me, flattening me against
the roof of the car and knocking the wind out of me.

Under much different circumstances it might have been funny:
my moment of success immediately followed by an easily
foreseeable pratfall. I wasn't laughing, though. I rolled the
body off me and inched my way back out the partly-open door,
dragging the victim along feet-first behind me.

By the time I staggered back to my own truck with the woman
awkwardly slung over my shoulder there was six inches of snow on
it. Using the surge of strength that desperation conveniently
provides, I opened the passenger door and positioned the woman
inside. Then I ran around to the driver's side, started the
engine, and turned the heater on full blast.

Driving slowly, I made it to the turnoff leading up to my
parent's cabin without incident.

"Here goes nothing," I said out loud. I aimed the truck at
the narrow opening and gunned the engine to plow through the
large drift left by an earlier snowplow. Once I made it onto the
winding driveway, I found the traction better than I had
expected. Concentrating fiercely, I swung the truck along the
path, anticipating each turn as much as possible so as not to
lose valuable momentum. If I had to stop, it was unlikely I
would be able to start up again.

Just when I was starting to feel optimistic, I felt the
truck sink into a patch of softer snow. My speed dropped, until
I was just crawling along, and then there was the sickening whine
of tires spinning with no traction.

"Fuck!" I pounded the steering wheel in frustration. The
inside of the car was sweltering now, and I felt a bead of sweat
run down the side of my face.

"N-N-N-ow what?" Despite the chattering teeth, the voice
was calm, with a hint of humor in it. Normally I would have been
intrigued.

"Jesus! That's twice you've startled me. How long have you
been awake?"

"I-I-I'm n-not sure. A few minutes, I g-guess. Y-You
seemed so int...intent on d-driving, I d-didn't want to bother
you."

I took a closer look at my passenger: a small white face,
with pink spots of color just appearing on her cheeks. Short
brown hair, brown eyes. Probably very pretty, when she was above
room temperature.

"Well, this is the end of the line," I said. "We won't get
out of this drift without a shovel and some daylight to see what
we're doing."

"W-Where are we? A-Are we going to die?"

"Die? No, I don't think so." I took a closer look out the
window, and realized we were closer to the cabin than I had
thought. "It's only about a quarter of a mile farther. I think
I can carry you from here."

"M-m-my hero." Her smile was sweet, and unexpectedly wide,
like Julia Roberts. Then her eyes closed, and her small body
seemed to slump down into the seat. I summoned to mind what I
knew about hypothermia, and realized she wasn't out of the woods.
Literally or figuratively.
******
The cabin was originally built by my great-grandfather in
the 1920s, and it has been a work in progress ever since. What
started as a rustic two-room shack has been expanded and updated
by each succeeding generation, and the current version is a
comfortable four-room structure with indoor plumbing and
electricity. I carried the unconscious woman (who's name I
hadn't yet gleaned) up to the porch and managed to unlock and
open the door, causing a huge drift of snow collapse into the
kitchen. To my relief, the electricity was working.

After laying the cold, limp body on the couch, I quickly
built a fire in the Franklin stove, filling it up with prime, dry
oak. I waited until it was roaring and crackling cheerfully, and
then I adjusted the flues to let the stove heat up and went into
the bathroom to find a thermometer.

Before I even finished taking her temperature, the bluish
tinge to her lips told me all I needed to know. Ninety-one
degrees, about eight degrees below normal, and well into the
range for hypothermia. When the human body temperature falls
below a certain level, natural responses like an increased heart
rate and shivering no longer work, and piling on blankets is
ineffective. More aggressive measures are needed, or the person
could die. Yes, I was a boy Scout.

"I hope I can explain this to you later," I said. I sat her
up and took off her sweater, and then her shoes. She was wearing
jeans and a loose white t-shirt underneath. Feeling like a
criminal, I unbuttoned her jeans and slid them down, making sure
to leave her panties in place. She opened her eyes and stared at
me dully, but didn't say anything.

I quickly took off my own clothes, leaving just my
underwear, and then I lifted off her t-shirt. She wasn't wearing
a bra, and I felt a jolt of guilty pleasure when I saw her small,
round breasts.

"I'm going to share my body heat with you now," I said
brightly. "Got to get your temperature up!" I sounded like a
nurse cajoling a balky Alzheimer's patent.

I lay down next to her on the couch and pulled her up
against me, face-to-face.

"Holy shit!"

It was like hugging a block of ice. On the plus side, I no
longer felt quite so guilty - this was going to be an ordeal
after all. Gritting my teeth, I pulled a thick blanket over us
and maximized our flesh-on-flesh contact.

Well, it was an ordeal for the first hour or so. Then, as
our body temperatures equilibrated and the living room warmed up,
I finally fell asleep, lulled by the crackling fire and tired
from the tense drive.
******
"Excuse me..."

I found myself looking into a big brown pair of female eyes
just a few inches away from my own. My patient appeared to have
pulled through. I had my left arm encircled around her slim
body, and I could feel her breasts pressed against my chest, skin
on skin. Pretty cozy for a couple of strangers.

"Oh, you're awake," I said. Nice opener.

"Yeah, finally." She smiled at me, and my heart did a
little flip-flop. She had a great smile. "Thanks for rescuing
me, Alan."

"You're very welcome. How're you feeling?"

"I was shivering like crazy for over an hour - I'm surprised
that didn't wake you up. But I feel fine now."

"You certainly feel a lot warmer than before." As I came
fully awake I realized that not only were our torsos in contact,
but our legs were intertwined as well, and that I had an
erection. Embarrassed, I tried to subtly shift my hips to keep
from poking her.

"You saved my life, Alan. Thank you." She kissed me on the
cheek.

I realized what had been nagging at me. "I don't remember
telling you my name..."

"It is Alan, isn't it?"

"Yep. But when did I tell you?"

"I guess you didn't." She paused for a second, and then
said "I'm psychic. Just so we're even, my name is Dee."

She didn't seem to be kidding.

"Um, psychic? Really? You read my mind to get my name?"

"You don't believe me." She didn't seem offended.
"Well...I'm a scientist. We don't believe in that sort of
thing," I said carefully.

"I know."

"Uh-huh, I guess you would. So tell me, Dee, what else have
you figured out about me?"

She looked at me seriously. "Well, let's see. You're very
nice and very intelligent. But lately you've been under a lot of
pressure, and you haven't quite been yourself. You feel like
you're at a crossroads in your life - and you have a very
important decision to make."

Not bad, actually. "That's true as far as it goes," I said.
"But that's pretty vague. Could just be good guesses based on
observation."

She wrinkled her nose playfully. "You science types are the
toughest to convince." She put her hand on the side of my face
and closed her eyes. "Let's see..."

The movement caused the blanket to fall away from her
shoulder, and I could see her right breast, firm and round like a
young girl's, a tan areola and a small brown nipple. I gave up
on controlling my erection.

After a few seconds she gave me a funny look and said "I'm
not really getting anything else right now."

"Well, let me know if you come up with anything."

"I will. Oh wait...now I'm getting something..." Her
other hand closed around my cock through the thin cotton of my
underwear, and I gasped and froze, taken completely by surprise.

"You're attracted to me!" She giggled like a little girl,
her whole face contorted with mischievous delight. Her smile was
so infectious that I was smiling back at her without even
realizing it.

"Brilliant deduction, Ms. Holmes."

"Thank you." Her hand left my cock, and I felt a flash of
disappointment, but it was only to slip it under the waistband
and touch me directly.

"This is moving rather quickly, isn't it?" I regretted it
as soon as I said it. One of my many faults is a tendency to be
overcautious and analytical. Why couldn't I just react like a
man and let nature take its course?

"I want to give you a reward," she said. Under the blanket
her touch was feathery and just slightly cool, making my cock
twitch and strain. Although I had engaged in my share of casual
sex over the years, I had never slept with what could fairly be
described as a complete stranger. But something about Dee made
it seem natural and right. Maybe it was the utter lack of self-
consciousness on her part - her uncomplicated delight in the
prospect of sharing physical pleasure. Or maybe it was the
crackling firelight and the blanket of snow that insulated us
from the rest of the world. And on some level I probably felt
that I did deserve a reward, according to a sort of caveman code
of ethics that predated the age of chivalry by thousands of
years.

I brushed my hand across her breasts, playing with the
nipples that I had been feeling against my chest, making them
grow and harden. She wriggled out of her panties, and helped me
out of my underwear, and then she lay on top me, her body seeming
to conform itself against mine. My cock was an anxious pole
between her thighs, and she slowly slid herself back against it,
aligning herself by feel, until I felt the head pressing against
her warm sex.

When I was fully inside her she sat up, and we squirmed
against each other, my cock never sliding very far out of her
tight, warm embrace, until, sensing my impending climax, she
reached around and massaged by balls as they emptied themselves
inside her.

"Now that we have that out of the way," she said a little
while later, as we were eating peanut butter sandwiches and
drinking hot cider, "I have a little confession to make."

"What's that?"

"Before, when I said I wasn't getting a reading from
you...that wasn't true. I actually sensed something troubling
you deeply. But I wanted to give you your reward before I
mentioned it."

"Well I can certainly forgive you for that," I said, meaning
every word. "I'm not surprised you got some negative vibes -
I've got to really put my nose to the grindstone to get my
dissertation finished." I explained to her about my graduate
research, and about the recent job offer with an expiration date
shorter than ground beef.

She daintily licked a smudge of peanut butter off her finger
and took a sip of cider. "Maybe it's none of my business, but I
sensed something else besides your worry about finishing your
thesis. Something darker...more sinister."

"Sinister?" I tried to keep my voice light, but I couldn't
seem to look her in the eye. I kept having to remind myself that
I didn't believe in psychic abilities. How the hell had she
known my name, anyway?

"I sensed a deep moral ambiguity about something to do with
your research. And when a scientist has a deep moral ambiguity,
that to me is sinister. Tell me about your research - what
exactly are you doing?"

"I study the replication of viruses. My research is aimed
at developing ways to synthesize large amounts of a virus in a
laboratory. It should help in the search for vaccinations, cures
for deadly viral infections - any research involving viruses."

"Sounds like messing with mother Nature to me."

I shrugged. "In a way, that's true. Messing with mother
Nature has given us modern medicine."

"And the atomic bomb."

I decided to change the subject. "Your turn to tell me
something about yourself. All I know about you is that you're
generous and warmhearted, but a lousy driver. Oh yes, and
psychic."

"Not so fast...we're not finished with you yet." She rubbed
her bare foot along the inside of my leg. "I still want to know
what's troubling you. Tell me about this job you're going to
take."

I sighed, not really wanting to get into it. "It's a
prestigious research lab outside Washington. They've developed
hundreds of patents and made several major breakthroughs in
genetic research. They get hundreds of applications from
scientists to work there; I was lucky to get an offer."

"What do they do with viruses?"

I didn't answer for a few seconds. What, indeed, did
GenTech want with a viral researcher? "To learn how to design
new types of viruses," I said. Had I ever really thought this
through?

"Why would anyone want to do that? What benefit would new
viruses have?"

"It's not that simple...viruses are the most basic form of
life, and we need to understand how to manipulate them, to lay
the groundwork for future advances in genetics."

"But couldn't someone use this research to design deadly
viruses that could be used against people?"

"Theoretically, that would be possible, I guess. But that's
not what it will be used for, believe me."

"I wish I could believe you," she said softly, looking very
sad. "But you don't believe it yourself. This is what's
creating all the negative psychic energy that I'm sensing."

I marshalled my thoughts, preparing to defend myself with
rational arguments, but she let out a huge yawn and leaned her
head on my shoulder, and I realized she was completely exhausted.

"Let's go to sleep," I said, kissing the top of her head.
"We can talk about it more in the morning."

We climbed into the big oak bed and she fell asleep
instantly. It wasn't quite so easy for me, and when I did
finally fall asleep I was plagued by strange dreams.
******
I woke up with bright sunshine in my eyes and the sound of
flowing water gurgling in my ears. I lay motionless for a few
moments, warm and comfortable under the goosedown comforter, yet
strangely disoriented. Eventually I figured out that the slim,
brown-haired girl snoring gently next to me was my grateful ward,
and that the sound was melting snow from the roof dripping into
the gutters.

I slipped out of bed and looked out the window. Last
night's dark, suffocating landscape, glimpsed occasionally
through flickering artificial light, had been transformed into a
brilliant, sparkling wonderland. The virgin snow lay perched in
thick, improbably-balanced piles on every vertical surface,
giving a comical appearance to the surrounding forest.

I slipped back into bed and Dee opened her eyes and smiled
sleepily at me.

"Merry Christmas," I said, smiling back. "Or whatever you
like to celebrate this time of year."

"Happy Winter Solstice, Alan."

"No offense, but that doesn't have much of a ring to it.
How does one celebrate the winter solstice?"

"I was hoping you would ask me that..."

She proceeded to explain to me, with extensive physical
demonstrations, how ancient peoples had long held uninhibited
celebrations and performed acts of fertility to mark the shortest
day of the year and to ensure the return of spring and another
growing season.

When I finished pumping my last ounce of semen into her
warm, inviting loins, we threw our clothes on and ventured
outside. The temperature was well into the forties, a true
winter thaw directly on the heels of the worst snowstorm I had
experienced. The snow, although still several feet thick, had
compacted into a firm, glistening carpet that we could walk on
easily.

"It's so beautiful!" she gasped. She turned around
completely, almost losing her balance, her mouth open with
childlike wonder. "This day is like a gift. Or maybe it's a
sign."

I looked at the section of woods that I had been
tramping around in all my life, that had been in my family for
generations. Squinting against the glare, I tried to see it
through her eyes. To my surprise, I was successful - it looked
like a magical land out of a fairy tale. For a moment I felt the
beauty and complexity of nature all around me, and I had a sense
of my own place in the greater scheme of life. I suddenly felt
as if a great weight had been lifted off me.

"I've been thinking," I said. "Maybe I won't take that job
after all. Let some other schmuck figure out how to wipe out the
human race."

"Oh, Alan..." She jumped into my arms, almost knocking me
over, and gave me a long kiss. "I'm so happy...for your sake."

We wandered around the property for an hour or so, laughing
and joking, and I showed her the first tree I had ever climbed,
the place where owls had been nesting for as long as anyone could
remember, and the little clearing where deer gathered early in
the morning.

After a while we began to feel cold despite the sunshine,
and we went back inside, holding hands. Dee went into bathroom
to take a shower, and I put on a pot of coffee and sat down on
the couch to try to sort out my thoughts, which were spinning
wildly in a hundred different directions.
As the coffee finished perking I noticed a low-pitched
whining sound, faint but steadily growing louder. I looked out
the window and saw a man on a snowmobile approaching. He stopped
and dismounted a good hundred yards away, and proceeded to
inspect the cabin carefully through a pair of binoculars. There
was something vaguely familiar about him, particularly the odd,
turned-up style of his fur hat, and I realized it was the local
sheriff, whom my family had known for years.

I opened the front door, waved, and called out "Sheriff
Braxton, hello."

He dropped his binoculars in surprise and then waved back.
"Why hello, Alan, I didn't expect to find you here."

"I drove up from Cornell last night to work on my Ph.D.
thesis. Thought I would be more productive if I got away from
the campus. I guess I should have checked the weather forecast
first."

He came up and shook my hand, breathing heavily, a red-faced
man in his late fifties who looked more like a banker or a lawyer
than a cop.

"That was a hell of blizzard wasn't it? Almost a record
breaker. And now today it's more like Easter than Christmas.
That El Nino thing, no doubt. Anyway, I saw the smoke from your
chimney this morning and thought maybe I had myself an escapee."

"What?"

"Somebody escaped from the Van Sigel complex last night.
They had a power outage during the storm and when they got things
sorted out they were one short on the head count and a staff
vehicle was missing."

I smiled. "Must be a pretty low security prison if the guy
could just drive off."

"No, no, it's not a prison, it's more of a, how should I
say, a mental health facility. A loony bin, if you'll pardon the
expression. And it wasn't a man, it was a woman, if you can
believe that."

"A woman...?" My knees suddenly felt weak, and my heart
turned over heavily in my chest. Behind me, through the open
front door, I could hear the faint sound of the shower running.

"Ayup. Caucasian female, aged twenty-seven, presumed to be
driving a white Jeep Cherokee. Your place is one of the few
turnoffs before the roadblock we had set up, so when I saw
someone was here..."

So she's the same age as me - that's funny, she seems
younger, I thought to myself. I wanted very badly to sit down.

The sheriff had a polite, expectant look on his face, and
I realized he had asked me something. Had I seen a woman
driving a white Jeep last night?

"Um, no, I didn't see much of anything last night -
visibility was close to zero. Almost didn't make it up here -
truck got stuck on the driveway, had to walk the rest of the
way."

He nodded sympathetically. "Didn't think so. Oh well,
she'll turn up soon, I'm sure, once her medication wears off,
unless she wandered off into the woods and got herself froze to
death."

I swallowed hard, and said "These patients...are they
dangerous?"

He shrugged. "Wouldn't think so, no. They aren't violent,
I don't think, they just aren't in touch with reality.
Psychotic, I guess is the term. You know..." He twirled his
finger next to his head and winked at me.

I gave him a weak smile in return. "Sorry you wasted a
trip."

"Oh, no, that's all right. It was nice to see you again,
Alan. Give your folks my best."

He trudged back to the snowmobile, but before he reached it
he turned and took a few steps back toward me.

"Oh, Alan, one more thing - I almost forgot..."

He wants to come inside, I thought, with absolute
certainty. He wants to use the phone, or maybe the bathroom.
Part of me was relieved, part of me tried to think of an excuse
to send him away.

"Merry Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas to you too, sir."

He climbed awkwardly onto the snowmobile, gunned it to life,
and followed his own tracks back into the woods and out of sight.
Dee came out of the bathroom a few minutes later, wrapped in
a big, fluffy towel, her hair still damp. "Your turn," she said
gaily. "Hurry up and get clean, so we can go into the bedroom
and get all messy again." She poured herself a cup of coffee
while I just stood and watched her.

"Aren't you expected somewhere? Isn't someone going to be
worried about you?"

She shook her head. "Not really. I wasn't going to arrive
at my aunt's house until late today. I can just call her and
explain the situation. Why, is something wrong?"

"You just haven't told me very much about yourself, that's
all. I'm not psychic, remember? Or maybe I am...wait, lets
see..." I put my fingers to my forehead. "Yes, I'm getting
something...you're twenty-seven years old. Not much of an
insight, I know, but I'm new at this." My voice was dripping
with sarcasm.

"What a strange thing to say...what's going on, why are you
acting like this all of a sudden?"

"You didn't tell me if I was right."

"For your information, I'm only twenty-three, so don't quit
your day job. I'd show you my driver's license, but my purse is
still in the car." She was getting agitated now.

"Right, I guess I forgot to grab it when I was dragging you
out - sorry."

"I didn't say you should have grabbed it - that's
ridiculous! Alan, I told you how grateful I am for saving my
life - why are you so hostile all of a sudden?"

I opened my mouth to tell her about Sheriff Braxton's visit,
to tell her that I knew the truth. But I took a deep breath
instead, and then said "I'm sorry, Dee. This has been a very
confusing twenty-four hours for me. I need to do some thinking."

She nodded wordlessly, her eyes glistening with tears.

"Why don't you get dressed and have some breakfast," I said.
"I'm going to go see if I can get my truck the rest of the way up
here now that the snow is melting. My computer and all my
supplies are still in the back."

"OK." She turned and walked into the bedroom. I felt
hollow and deflated, like I had just come down from a wonderful
high. Whatever magic we had shared was gone.

I grabbed a shovel and headed down the driveway, filled with
anger and confusion. I do something good, save someone's life,
and now I'm the one who's going to be in trouble for harboring a
fugitive. I thought about Dee's evasive answers regarding her
past, and her ridiculous claims to be psychic. Just add two
letters to psychic and you get psychotic. I thought about
GenTech, a perfectly respectable company with no plans whatsoever
to destroy mankind. And I though about how right it had felt
when Dee and I made love that first time on the couch.

The truck was stuck on the outside edge of a sharp right
turn, at the top of an embankment. I had been lucky not to go
right off the driveway. It looked like it would be pretty easy
to get it moving - I just needed to dig out around the wheels. I
went to work, glad to have something physical to do, but the snow
was heavy and slippery, and the digging was harder than I had
expected.

"Damn her and her stupid psychic intuitions," I said,
slamming the shovel into the snow.

"Damn my stupid research project." I yanked out a heaping
shovel-full.

"And God-damn this fucking snow..." I turned and hurled the
snow down the embankment, almost wrenching my back. It landed on
a big mound of snow at the base of a tree with a strange, wet
thud. Then, like a miniature avalanche, a big pile of snow slid
off the side of the mound, revealing the back end of a white Jeep
Cherokee.

Time stood still for a few seconds, and then my mind slowly
began working again. I remembered Sheriff Braxton saying that
our turnoff was one of the last ones before the roadblock. I
also remembered how the drive had been easier than I expected,
until I reached this particular curve. Because someone had
already been this way, clearing a path through the snow.

I stumbled down to the Jeep and looked in the back window,
feeling a sense of deja vu. But this truck was empty.

"I'm such a fucking idiot!" I shouted. The words echoed
mockingly through the woods. I clawed my way back up the
embankment and started running back up the driveway, my feet
sliding around on the slick wet snow and my breath rasping in my
ears.

When I was within sight of the cabin I started shouting her
name, and she came to the front door as I approached.

"Alan, what is it?"

I was so out of breath that all I could do was look at her
and pant. Finally I gasped "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry."

She walked out into the snow in her bare feet and put her
arms around me, and held me patiently as my gasps turned into
sobs. Eventually I was able to explain the situation to her, and
she turned pale and held me even closer.
******
Dee's Aunt Carmen lived in a comfortable Victorian house
with a wooden sign out front that read "Psychic Readings, Dream
Interpretations, Past-Life Regressions."

Carmen turned out to be an attractive woman in her middle
forties with smooth, light-olive skin and a friendly smile. If
she was surprised or dismayed to see her niece show up for dinner
escorted by a strange man, she didn't show it. She welcomed me
inside her home with a hug and a kiss on both cheeks, and I
embarked on my next research project, which was to learn all
there was to know about Deanna Frazier, my Christmas angel.

They found the frozen body of the runaway mental patient the
day after Christmas, in the woods about a mile from the Jeep,
just as Sheriff Braxton had predicted.
The End, "Snow Flake"

1997 by DG. All rights reserved.

Author's notes:

1) "Jeep" is a trademark of the Chrysler Corporation. Jeeps
have a nasty tendency to hurtle off the road into snowbanks.
Just kidding.

2) The Adirondacks are a mountain range in northern New York
State, which give their name to the surrounding region.
Adirondack State Park is the largest state park in the US.

3) I took the sign in front of Aunt Carmen's house from an
Elmore Leonard book. In fact, several of my stories have
something from an Elmore Leonard book in them. Somehow I doubt
Dutch will ever find out.

4) Thanks to Baird Allen, I have a nice web page with all my
stories on it. Please drop by and check it out some time:
http://baird.pair.com/dg.htm

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