Snowy Scene from my Brother's Novel . . .
Here's a calm snowy scene in the dark, peaceful hours of early morning, as depicted in my brother Shan's novel:
Bob woke at 5:15 A.M. and forced himself from bed. He had long ago learned that the secret to early workouts was in ignoring his body's protestations. Heating a cup of water in the third-hand microwave Steve had given him, he prepared for his initial caffeine fix. He had learned over the years that morning runs were the most efficient way of doing his workout. The weather "woman" on NPR -- actually a computer generated voice -- had accurately predicted snow. Glancing out of the window as he dipped his tea bag, he watched absently as large flakes blotted out the streetlight. He sighed and thought for at least the millionth time that coming to Minnesota very possibly represented the worst mistake in his life -- quite a statement, given his life.If you like this scene, which reveals some of the thriller aspect of Shan's mystery novel, you might also like the rest of the story.
He finished the tea, stretched and, zipping his nylon running jacket on, headed out into the street. His old knit polyester red-and-white North Arkansas Pioneers cap, ugly as it was useful, kept his head warm. Beginning very slowly he headed for campus. The snow created a soft padding for his feet and at times it seemed he hardly touched the ground. Rounding the front entrance of the campus, he thought again just how beautiful the space was, like one of those water-filled paperweights with pastoral scenes. The orphanage school principal had such a scene on his desk. It had been the only concession to beauty the violent, corporal-punishment-loving man had possessed.
The Biltmore College campus was in a small valley, surrounded by rolling hills and postcard-scenic Lake Chaska. The view today made braving the darkness and the elements worth every agonizing moment. Rounding the old, red-brick football and soccer complex, Bob picked up speed and shot through the parallel columns facing Armstrong Library. Losing himself in the workout, he almost failed to register the small sedan that was idling at the east entrance to campus. He paid it little mind when he entered campus. But, brushing back the cobwebs, it suddenly dawned on him: Why would a car be idling this early in the morning when nothing was open and there was no traffic? Subtly, he wound his path towards the Memorial Garden to generate distance. Like a large cat stalking prey, the dark, sleek car crept silently forward. Whoever it was sensed no reason to hurry. Bob kept his speed constant so as not to alert the driver that he was on to him. Unfortunately, his path led to the public library, where he would be in the open with the path flanked on both sides by steep hills, unscalable in the slick snow. Darting his eyes back and forth, he looked for options. Could he scale the tall snow walls and evade the car? Would the person have a gun? As he hugged the snow bank, partly obscured by the shadows of the dim light, his senses were on hyper alert as adrenaline coursed through his veins. The car sat silently idling despite the light being green, exhaust fumes billowing about. The iced-over windows gave the small, dark vehicle a more sinister look, like something from a Stephen King novel. For reasons he could not understand, Bob's legs propelled him forward. The car door opened slightly but offered no light as the dome light was evidently disabled. With no place left to turn he felt naked and vulnerable. As the door opened wide, a dark-clad figure stepped out, face obscured by a large hood. Bob feared his heart might burst through his rib cage. But, at that moment, a small dog on a leash scurried across the snowy pavement. Bob's eyes nearly bulged out in relief. Just someone with their dog. Jeez, I am getting paranoid, he decided, legs almost collapsing in relief.
His pace slowed as he passed within ten feet of the pair. The tall, slim, shrouded, faceless figure in a fur-lined hood paid him no mind, as if such predawn encounters were common place.
"Hi," Bob called out.
The hooded figure turned ever so slightly towards him but did not return the greeting. The large, hood-obscured face reminded Bob of a monk's cowl -- or that of an executioner. The small dog just peed into the snow embankment.
Sighing with relief, Bob turned toward the apartment and the promise of a hot shower. Damn! This cloak-and-dagger stuff has me totally off kilter, he thought. Geez, just someone and their dog, he chided himself. Instinctively, he turned back to catch a glimpse. The car, dog and fur-hooded person had vanished. He blinked. Had he imagined it all? Shaking his head, he turned for home. (Shannon Hodges, City of Shadows, 2012, pp. 107-109)