Coldest Winter Night

       Quintin Fortune / Actions & Adventure
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Coldest Winter Night

Quintin Fortune

Published by Quintin Fortune at Smashwords

Copyright 2017 Quintin Fortune

Smashwords Edition, License Notes
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FEBRUARY, SOME YEARS AGO
Arthur Inverno left the warm comfort of the theater for the harsh winter darkness. It was later than he intended, but the champagne flows freely after a successful run. The wind began to kick up as he stumbled in the direction he thought was home.
The snow and ice began to build into a frantic flurry. A few feet in front of him became a mere few inches, then all he could see was white. In the midst of this wintery maelstrom, something stabbed into his side. He collapsed onto the snowy bank, feeling his body grow cold just before he blacked out.

FEBRUARY, THIS YEAR.
Deadguy looked over his work with pride: an exact replica of the Battle of Chibi. If everyone involved looked like typical tiny snowmen and everyone fought with twigs. He scrunched his face as if he heard someone say something disparaging, but quickly forgot it once his phone rang. “This should be fun,” he remarked.
He looked at the unknown number. “Who the hell are you,” he answered.
“Deadguy! How the hell are ya,” a thick Brooklyn accent said through a-pack-a-day voice.
“Still didn't answer my question.”
“Randy the Rock,” the voice answered.
“Was 'Billy the Boulder' already taken?”
Randy started laughing until he began to hack. “Still got that famous wit,” he stated. “Look, I'll get right to the point. When I heard you got fired from the Professional Heroes, I told myself 'I need to get this guy'.”
“I was fired back in December,” Our Hero stated. “What took you so long?”
“Well, news travels a bit slower in certain circles, ya know?”
“Then how did you get my number?”
“A little birdie gave it to me,” he replied. “She was more like a raven,” he could hear Randy mutter under his breath.
“I'm sorry. What was that?”
“Nothin'! Nothin'. So, you interested or what?”
“Let me think about it. I can reach you at this number, right?”
“Sure! Sure!”
Deadguy hung up before Randy could say anything else. As annoying as the guy sounded, a job's a job. 'Hold on,' he thought. 'He mentioned a woman like a raven...' He pulled up Lilith's number on his phone and called it.
“Hello,” Lilith answered after a few rings.
“Lilith,” Our Hero questioned. “Who's Randy the Rock.”
“A super villain, maybe? Or a porn star?”
Deadguy jerked his head away from his phone and looked at it for a moment. “When did you start using sarcasm?”
“I learned it from you, okay?”
“Did you give that man my number?”
There was a sigh from the other end. “Deadguy, you haven't had a job in two months. I'm beginning to get worried about you,” she answered.
“Thank you,” he said warily. “But I got this. I'll get a job once everything settles down a bit. Jill kind of did me wrong.”
“Okay. In the meantime, I need your help with something. Can you meet me at Emerson Street? It's the 400 block.”
He huffed. “Alright. It's not like these snowmen are going to do anything.”

Our Hero followed Lilith through a back ally to a snow-covered vacant lot. “Is this your secret place,” he asked, looking around. “Where you come to get away from it all? Is that your rock? That's a nice rock.”
The necromancer looked at him with the normal level of confusion people always looked at him with. “No,” she answered. “There has been a spike in spectral energy lately coming from this area.”
“Define, 'lately',” DG questioned.
“Past few years,” she responded, making it sound like more of a question than an answer. “The NecroShip had it buried under 'Insignificant'.”
“And you took it anyway. Why?”
Lilith looked him in the eyes. He saw conflicting emotions battling behind those tiny steel gray portals of her soul. “Because of you,” she answered softly. Deadguy jerked his head back, not expecting this response. “There's something about you that makes people want to help others. To be better. To...to save the world!”
Our Hero made a face as if to say 'not bad', then nodded in agreement. “I have that affect on people.”
The necromancer slugged him in the chest. “Well stop it,” she fumed. “I was perfectly happy living in the NecroShip's Library before you came along.”
“First, you hunted me down,” DG stated. “Second, you can't say we're not having fun.”
Lilith turned her attention back to the vacant lot. “Anyway, there have been reports of sightings that have grown more...problematic,” she explained.
“Problematic as in violent,” DG asked.
The necromancer nodded.
“One question. How am I suppose to punch a ghost?”
“You don't. In fact, all you need to do is be here,” she explained.
“I'm bait, aren't I?”
“No,” Lilith responded. “No no no. Maybe. Yes.” She pulled Gregory out of her medicine bag. “Just trust me on this one, okay?”
Our Hero threw his hands up in defeat. “Not the worse use of my abilities,” he remarked.
As Lilith used Gregory to search around, Deadguy heard the faint sound of something rustling in the snow. He glanced over his shoulder to see several mounds of snow beginning to form. The mounds popped up as average snowmen. He looked back to see the vacant lot covered in them.
Lilith was oblivious to this all, still using Gregory. A snowman starting waddling towards her. Our Hero ran up and punched the snowman's head off. The snowy body crumpled to the ground.
A few more snowmen began to converge on her. Deadguy grabbed a fallen tree branch and swung, knocking the snowmen into powdery remains.
“Getting anything,” DG asked, punching another snowman's head off.
“This takes time,” she replied, eyes still closed. “Go build a snowman.”
Our Hero stared down five more snowmen. Their movement sounded like crushed snow. “Really bad choice of words,” he commented.
He growled internally, then charged into the awaiting snowman army. Punches and kicks knocked off heads and caused the bodies to fall into more piles of snow. When one went down, two more took it's place. Our Hero started swinging with the fallen tree branch again, which helped stem the tide of snowmen a bit.
Deadguy stood, panting hard as the mounds of defeated snowmen scattered the vacant lot. “I think I have something,” Lilith announced.
“Really,” he huffed. “Does it have anything to do with the malevolent snowmen?”
“Hm,” she questioned, then shook her head. “Nevermind. Someone is buried under this tree.”
Our Hero looked over at the young Western Hemlock that had grown out of the destroyed remains of concrete. “Who killed 'em? Poison Ivy?”
“All I need to do is aid in freeing the spirit and help it to move on,” she explained, ignoring his comment. She held up Gregory and began to chant. The energy in the vacant lot began to rise as the temperature dropped greatly.
Deadguy flipped the collar of his long coat up. “Next time, I bring a scarf,” he remarked.
The tree shook violently. Deadguy pulled Lilith away and stood in front of her, shielding her from whatever was about to happen.
“What's going on,” they asked at the same time. He looked back at the necromancer, worried, then rolled his eyes as he turned back to the tree.
“Oh this is going to suck,” he grumbled just before the tree erupted. A blue-white light spilled out from inside the trunk as something shot out. He wasn't able to catch a glimpse as he tried to block the incoming splinted timber from hitting his face.
He pulled his arms down as the light started to fade. Only the shattered trunk and a mess of leaves were all that remained of the tree. “Okay,” he said slowly. “What just happened?”
“I couldn't say,”Lilith replied, peaking out from behind him. “I have never seen anything like it before.”
“Have you ever heard of it?”
The necromancer thought for a moment. “I'll need to check the library,” she said finally, turning to leave. “I'll call if I find anything.”
“And just like that, I'm alone again,” Deadguy commented. “This keeps up, I'm going to have abandonment issues.”

# # #

Deadguy collapsed into one of the booths at Lupie's. Snow fluttered off his long coat and plopped into tiny wet puddles. “Hey Deadguy,” a singsong voice greeted him. He looked up at the woman with navy blue hair and random comic book-themed shirt.
“Hey Steph,” he replied. “How's everything?”
“It's alright,” she replied. “What can I get you?”
“The usual. Coffee and Hero Nachos.”
She jotted the order down and walked off to get the coffee as Our Hero looked out the giant window to the snowy street beyond. 'There's something between this murder victim and the snow. But what? Did he have snow powers to begin with? Was he murdered by snow? Did he eat radioactive snow?' The coffee cup hitting the table momentarily broke him from his thoughts. “Thanks,” he replied, then turned back to the window. “If this had happened a week ago, we could have just blamed it on January James and called it a day,” he commented to
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