I set a lot of my horror stories in the winter.
That’s not intentional, it’s just something I noticed today. I love spring and summer. The vibrant greens and signs of animal life and growth just make me happy in the most basic of senses. A lot of people love autumn, but the dying trees and cold just remind me that winter is coming. Yeah I just did that.
Many times when I think up monsters or creatures prowling the night, it’s the winter when I get creeped out the most. My imagination at this point at conjuring monsters for my stories, that I actually do scare myself sometimes. It’s kind of weird to say. I know they’re a figment of my imagination, but whenever the house creaks due to the wind, or the door rattles from the pressure change and the dogs freak out, I’m just glad to be inside.
Fear of the winter makes sense. Our ancestors had to make sure that they were prepared for the winter in a way they didn’t have to in other months, or else they’d pretty much flat out die. Ships like the Erebus and the Terror being trapped in the ice in Canada was a death sentence back then.
Now we have logistics that can move food from one end of the continent to the other in mere days that the needs of starvation and helplessness slowly start to disappear. There are people still stuck on the streets, but as a society overall most of the conditions from winter have been taken care of. We don’t have to worry about resorting to cannibalism to survive in our day to day lives, or losing limbs to the cold.
When you go outside though, away from the heat and light of indoors, it’s a different story. At night you can see much further than you ever could in the summer. The moon reflects off the white snow, giving an eerie twilight that allows you to see anyone, or anyone to see you, in that empty forest or field.
You leave tracks in the winter, and there’s nowhere really to hide. Your passage marked by the footprints in the snow. The cold itself feels like it has its own agenda, its own motives.
I guess the reason this struck me is because I’m going snow camping in Michigan soon. I’m not scared of freezing to death, or cannibalism or anything like that. I am scared of what my mind conjures up when it thinks of those frozen lands.
The real reason I’m writing this though is because the dogs have been on edge the past few days, and I found footprints in the snow leading from the street to our back porch, and then out of our yard. It doesn’t match any of our boots, and we haven’t gone into the street just to double back into a random section of our backyard and then back out.
I know that the dogs are just getting nervous from the bad wind and the house settling, but this isn’t the first time I’ve found footprints leading to our back door and away again. This isn’t me exaggerating or coming up with horror fiction either, this is something that actually has been happening a few times over the past few months.
Either way, next time I see them I’ll try to remember to take a picture. There’s nothing creepier than finding one set of footprints in the snow when they don’t match your own.