By J. David Thayer
The snow fell continually. Blizzard followed blizzard. The wind shook more than just the trees in the forest. It also seemed to shake the ground and the mountain and even the sky itself. The whole of creation suffered from violent winter without end.
In the village there were whispers of a new god. The god king who hears their prayers and blesses them must be away on business, leaving the god prince behind to mind the store. But goodness of the tree had not been passed on to its fruit. The god prince is cruel, they said. A gladiator and a warmonger. Story goes, this god prince frequents a coliseum of sorts where he takes on new skins and fights with other gods to the death. Sometimes to his death and sometimes to theirs. But gods never truly die, and so the games simply begin anew in endless loops of ritualistic and pointless bloodshed. And when he finally tires of those trivial contests, the god prince aims his boredom at vexing their quiet mountain village. The white plagues are his doing and for his pleasure. A kid with a magnifying glass burning ants. Talk of it filled the streets and pubs and diners. But Daphne had no interest in superstitions.
“God king. God prince. Makes no difference to me,” she said. “I still gotta eat.”
More than a handful of villagers blamed the blizzards on Daphne and her blasphemy. That likewise made no difference to her. They were always on about one thing or another and she had work to do.
Staying fed in the winter was no easy feat. Much too cold for crops and no game to shoot. In fact, not even the oldtimers could remember seeing deer or rabbits or hogs or even birds. A forested mountain desolate and empty. But the lake was altogether different. It was thick with fish.
Daphne’s father taught her to find fish under the frozen surface. Even gossips get hungry and they watched her. Made careful mental notes. How many mornings did she return to the honey hole sawed the night before only to find one of her loudest critics encamped along its edge! The same would usually cite the village charter, granting equal lake access to all townsfolk, and on like that. But that was unnecessary. Daphne never answered or argued. It was all the same to her. In such instances she would simply core out another portal and find more fish waiting for her there. And the former spot, now in the custody of the opinionated squatter, seemed to dry up instantaneously. As if the fish were offended for her. Schools gathered wherever Daphne happened to be like metal filings under a magnet. She might have had the same result fishing a stagnant drainage ditch. It was just in her blood. Her scoffers assumed this skill witchcraft and added it to her list of sins, when they weren’t trying to annex her spots and steal her fish.
On this particular day, Daphne happened upon two of her preteen critics whose father was the loudest man in any room. Holding court on a barstool inside the thatched tavern, Mort Hershaw continually pondefecated on all sorts of topics including theology and politics and the many faults of Daphne Jeffers. He was often wrong but he was never in doubt. Sons Chad Hershaw and Paul Hershaw were progressing nicely along this same trajectory. They were delighted to begin cutting their dogmatic teeth on Daphne that morning.
“Hey, brainless. Our daddy says all this snow is your fault! Whacha think about that?”
She continued pushing her fishing cart along the crystal shore.
“Hear me? I say ever’ time it kicks up another storm it’s on account a you don’t go to church of a Sunday. That was okay with the god king but the god prince don’t like it none. When you gonna go to church, huh? It’s freezin’ out here!”
Daphne knew responding was beneath her. Sometimes you just have to respond anyway.
“Listen, Chad. If your god prince is so insecure he smites the whole mountain ‘cause I don’t go to his building and tell him how great he is ever’ week, then I’m glad I don’t go! And I never will go. Now stand aside. I’d like to make me some walleye nuggets come suppertime.”
The sky grew dark.
“Look!” Shouted Paul Hershaw. “Now you’ve done it! I can see his hand comin’ outta the clouds! Curse you, Daphne Jeffers! Ya kindled his wrath! We’re all doomed ‘cause of you!”
The stories were true.
The whole village, including a suddenly repentant Daphne, witnessed the hand of the god prince filling the sky and blocking out the sun entirely. Then came the angriest tempest of all. This blizzard blew with the most violent winds the townsfolk ever saw or would ever see. Daphne repented her lack of faith and promised to attend church every Sunday and promised to catch as many fish as possible and share them with the whole village! She begged the god prince to slake his anger and forgive her for the sake of the townsfolk! But he would not heed her cries. The storm raged on even worse than before!
The actual snowfall, however, was exactly the same. And it was the same as the snowfall before that. The accumulation never changed, right down to the number of individual flakes. In fact, even the snowflakes themselves were identical. No matter the winds, whether by the hand of the god king or the god prince, each new storm covered the village in a fresh reshuffling of the exact same blanket.
After many fervent prayers by all the villagers and even Daphne, the benevolent god king returned. He looked upon the deeds of the wicked god prince and he was sorely angered.
“Caden! Keep shaking that snow globe like that and you’ll drop it! Then you’ll be buying it instead of one of our customers! Now put it down and go back up to the office and play some more Fortnite or something!”
“Fine!” said his son and heir. “Our store sucks anyway. Amazon has these things for like two bucks and here we charge $4.99. So… LOL Deuces, Dad.”
Caden, the malevolent god prince, flossed his way back upstairs and returned to the coliseum via Xbox.
The god prince was dethroned, the kindly god king returned to his usual duties, and the angry and swirling winds relented at last. And though the snow refused to melt, the village enjoyed an extended season of absolute stillness. Except for Mort Hershaw inside the thatched tavern. That wind continued to blow and stronger than ever.
About the Author: J. David Thayer is an educator living in Texas. His works have appeared in 24-Hour Short Story Contest (2nd Place), The First Line, The Last Line, Fantasy/Sci-Fi Film Festival, Flash Fiction Magazine, Bewildering Stories, 101 Word Stories, Tall Tale TV, Black Petals, Farther Stars Than These, Terror House Magazine, 50-Word Stories, The Drabble, 365 Tomorrows, 42 Stories Anthology, Scarlet Leaf Review, Sirens Call eZine, and Pilcrow & Dagger.
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