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Snow Bunnys

J Campbell

By Joshua CampbellPublished 3 months ago 12 min read

Washington State is a spot known for its snowy vistas and picturesque scenery this time of year, and my husky Max and I love it. The snow was part of the reason I moved here after doing my eight years in the military, not wanting to see sand or feel the heat for the rest of my natural life. I thought strongly about Alaska, but I wasn't in love with the price of supplies or the cost of living.

So, I moved here last February and got to enjoy a couple months of snow before spring came on like a lion.

The spring and summer were pretty mild that year, but I was eager to see the snow make a return appearance. By August I was making preparations, winterizing the house, making sure I had ample firewood, and laying by supplies in case Max and I got snowed in. Ya know, the whole nine yards.

So when I woke up one morning to snow pattering down on my front yard, I was excited.

Max and I liked to take walks, usually in the evenings after my shift at the pop-up storage I work security, and today Max was extra excited about the prospect of playing in the snow. He was waiting by the door when I got home, leash in his mouth and bushy tail wagging as he looked at me expectantly. The look made it very clear that he had waited patiently all day to go for his walk, and he was ready to go blundering through the snow like the oversized puppy he was.

He had to wait for me to get out of my uniform and put on some walking clothes, but he bore it well.

Soon we were traipsing through a winter wonderland and Max was loving it.

We stayed on leash until we got to a spot near the woods where I had taken him before. It was a big open field that no one owned, to my knowledge, and when I let him off leash, he was all smiles as he barrelled into the snow. I had brought a tennis ball with me, but after a few throws, he seemed to be more interested in something in the woods. I too had seen some slight movement from the woodline and as I watched him sniff around, something told me to clip his lead back on. Max was a good boy, but he was still prone to chasing. It wasn't too big a problem out here, but if he went blundering aimlessly in the snow he could get hurt.

I had taken up the end of the leash, calling his name as I prepared to hook him back up, when suddenly a perfectly white rabbit came bursting from a snow drift. It was beautiful, its fur so white it was almost no color. There were some flecks on it, but I began to suspect that they might be dirt sticking to him. I was enchanted by the creature for half a second, but that was half a second too long for Max. He barked and ran at it, the rabbit taking off into the woods as Max ran off behind it.

I took off, cursing all the way as my feet crunched in the snow. I should have been faster to leash him, I should have known he would chase once I saw the rabbit, but my hesitation at the sight of it had cost me. Max's footprints were pretty easy to find, a blind man could have trailed my dog pretty easily, and as I went deeper into the woods I could hear him barking as he kept chasing that damn rabbit. I kept calling his name, hoping he would come back, but the deeper I went the more I thought I had lost him.

It took some time, my adrenaline was running high and I was worried about my dog, but as the sun started getting low and the woods started getting less visible, I began to feel something on the back of my neck. Not the snow, I had been feeling that for a while, but it was a feeling that something was watching me. As the sun sank lower and lower in the sky, I could see something big moving in the trees just behind or to the side of me. I thought wolves at first, but I hadn't seen any reports of wolves in the area. I knew there were bears, but didn't bears usually hibernate when the snow fell? Whatever this was, it was bigger than any bear I had ever heard of. I wondered if it might be a moose, they came down from Canada sometimes, but I couldn't think why a moose would be stalking me through the woods.

Whatever it was, it was solid white and making no effort to hide itself. It was like a moving snowbank and whenever it saw me looking at it, the creature seemed to blend in with the white surrounding it, making me second guess whether I had actually seen it or not. I knew I had, I knew what I had seen, but looking back to see nothing but all that white made me feel like I couldn't trust myself.

I felt hunted, and that brought my survival instincts to the surface.

A lot of my friends had come back from the war with PTSD or nervous conditions, but I had been lucky in that respect. Instead, I had developed a kind of sixth sense when it came to danger and it put me in a state of heightened awareness. It had served me well in my time overseas, and now I felt myself slip into it as whatever had my scent was stalking me.

I kept calling Max, whistling and shaking his leash, but I was also being careful to listen for sounds of pursuit. A broken branch, the crunch of snow, the fall of powder as something brushed a tree, I was listening for them all and the deeper in I went, the more of it I heard. Whatever was following me was not being particularly stealthy, and I got the feeling that it wasn't used to being challenged out here. I put a hand to my waist where I had a small hunting knife strapped to my belt and was very happy I had remembered it.

It wouldn't do much against something that big, but it would give me some semblance of a fighting chance.

I stopped often, listening for Max even as I listened for my mysterious pursuer. Every tenth step I would stop and listen, call my dog, and proceed again. The crunching of snow remained a constant, but it seemed that whatever it was had decided to keep its distance. I didn't know why, it could easily have taken me at a run and buried me under its weight, but it was being cautious and that gave me a little hope. If it was unsure about me, then maybe I could scare it away with one of the usual tricks. I was trying to remember what the best way was to scare a bear away, and landed on making yourself big before I remembered that was for black bears. Back Bears were native to the area, but I couldn't see one following me this far. If it was a grizzly bear then I was probably already in real danger. The method of avoiding brown bears was to play dead, but if it was hungry enough I doubted even that would work.

If it was a curious moose then God only knew what I was going to do.

I didn't want to think about something like a mountain lion or a cougar. I knew they had big cats here too, but I wasn't sure what kind and whether they would come out in the snow or not. The western United States had a veritable grab bag of predators to choose from, and I was now ankle-deep in the snow being pursued by one of them. I stopped and called again, whistling loudly as I listened for Max, and when I heard a faint, familiar bark, I felt a flutter of happiness. He was alive, something I hadn't been entirely sure of, but before I could take a step I heard a very different noise break the ice behind me.

It was followed by a second something to my left, and I felt my heart flutter mutinously.

It wasn't alone.

I broke into a run then, hearing them pursue me and not caring. I wanted to find Max, get him on a lead, and get out of there as quickly as possible. As scared as I was, and I was very scared, I still didn't want anything to happen to my buddy. Max was just a big dumb dog, he didn't know that chasing rabbits could get him on the wrong side of something out here. I should have foreseen this when I was getting obedience training for him. If I was lucky, this would be a live-and-learn situation.

If I wasn't, then I guess Max's next owner would have to do better, if he made it out.

As I ran, I could hear them getting closer. It sounded like there were more than two now, and the more I ran the more of them there seemed to be. It sounded like a whole herd of whatevers by the time I caught sight of Max, and as I put on a burst of speed, my lungs burning as something loomed up before me. I got a good look at my pursuer and if it hadn't been so damn cold, I would have screamed.

Standing between me and my dog, looking huge on its back legs, was a polar bear.

It looked bigger than any polar bear I had ever seen, a Kodiak-sized polar bear, and as it opened its mouth to roar, nothing came out. It lifted its paws to swipe me down, looking to bury me under its bulk, and I was helpless to stop. I could no more have come to a halt than I could have taken a sharp right turn, and I threw my hands up in some feeble attempt to defend myself.

As I collided with the massive bear, however, I was surprised to feel not warm, wet fur, but cold, hardpacked snow. Hard-packed or not, my velocity took me right through it, and the snow bear fell to pieces as I landed on the other side. I looked back, watching it break apart in total awe, and that's when I saw them.

A pack had been right.

There were twenty of the solid white snow bears behind me, and they had frozen like a perfect array of snow sculptures amidst the trees. Each was as intricately carved as a prize-winning contestant in a winter contest, and each had chunky white teeth that looked anything but inviting. As I stood crouched in the snow, I wondered why they hadn't charged? Why were they just standing there? Did it only work if I wasn't looking at them?

I didn't know, and I didn't care.

Right then, I could see Max barking and jumping around happily, and I wanted to get him back on his leash as fast as possible.

Max was busy chasing the rabbit from earlier, but as he caught him and shook him viciously, I saw him fall to snowy pieces all around my dog. I ran up, wanting to get a leash on him before he could move off, and maybe save the bunny if it was possible. As I came up to him, however, I saw that any body that might have existed there was gone and a new rabbit was slowly forming from the snowy ground. Max had bent to snap at this one too, but seemed to sense the approaching snow creatures even as I attempted to coax him into leaving. He growled, showing his teeth as his hackles came up, but I really didn't have time for him to test the stability of these snow animals.

I had barrelled through one of them, but who knew if that was the norm.

He acted confused as we ran off into the woods, clearly not understanding why we were leaving, but as we ran he seemed to think this was just another game. We ran flat out, trees whipping past us, and I could hear the animals coming on behind us. They weren't even trying to be subtle now. They were crunching through the snow like a pack of hungry animals, and when we broke through the trees and onto the road, I turned for home and kept hoofing until our front door was in sight.

I didn't let myself stop moving until the door was behind me and the locks were thrown.

I don't go out as often as I used to, and after some research, I found a dog park in the neighborhood that I could take Max to. It was nowhere near the woods, and that seemed to suit both of us just fine. We had both had about enough of the woods and decided that the snowy park was just fine.

I did a little research and discovered that the woods I had run through often saw bodies turn up in the spring beneath snow drifts. No one is quite sure why this is, but I feel like I may have some idea. It isn't just people either. I read the reports and they found a lot of dogs out there as well. Some of them have collars, some of them are strays, but there are a lot of missing persons that are found with leashes in hand.

I couldn't tell you what we found in the woods, but I am glad to have survived it.

It was one of the most frightening experiences of my life, and eight years of that life were spent in an active warzone.

No fear of death compares to being pursued through the woods by something that's hunting you for no better reason than sport, and there's nothing quite like being the prey as the winter wind deadens your lungs and the chill conquers your senses.

Keep your eyes peeled if you walk the woods once the snows fall.

Otherwise, they might find you too once the snows melt in the spring.

urban legendsupernaturalslasherpsychologicalmonsterfiction

About the Creator

Joshua Campbell

Writer, reader, game crafter, screen writer, comedian, playwright, aging hipster, and writer of fine horror.

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran3 months ago

    Whoaaa, what are these snow bear thingys? That just so terrifying!

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