Shadows in the Snow (celeb scifi)

This story is copyrighted by the author, and is not intended to infringe on any copyrights held by the producers of Dark Shadows. Comments welcome at [email protected].

This story is part of a larger history; some of it has been told, some is yet to be revealed. Put your eye to the stereopticon, and watch the images flicker by...


Octavia clutched the baby tighter to her breast, panic rising within her. “You cannot mean that you would turn us away? We have come so far... ”

Elias’ Collins’ face was grim, the firelight bringing no more warmth to it than it gave to the drawing room’s shadowed corners. “The fact that my late father was senile enough to marry you does not make you a member of this family. There is no place at Collinwood for a woman of your... type.”

She looked pleadingly to Rebecca, but that lady’s haughty stare offered no hope that she would side against her husband. “Please,” Octavia begged, “whatever you may think of me, you could not reject my child. Your father’s child - ”

Elias’ cheek twitched. “Isaac Collins abandoned his family thirty-five years ago. He had no need for his children then; I have no need for his child now. Take your brat and get out.”

“Wait.” Rebecca rose to face her husband challengingly. “The woman is a wanton, or a fortune-hunter. Let her go. But the child is still a Collins. He belongs here.”

Elias reddened. “Do you dispute me, madame?”

“Aye!” Sudden bitterness throbbed in her voice. “You have no heir, Elias Collins! Your hatred robbed me of my son. Now Fate has brought me a second chance - and you will not rob me of this one! Never!”

Elias took a step backward, startled by her vehemence. There was a dangerous look in her eyes. He glanced at the infant, scowling. “Very good,” he said at last, thickly. “Take him, then - and be damned to you!” He stalked out of the room and stamped noisily on the stairs.

Rebecca turned to Octavia expectantly. The girl cringed. “My baby... ” she protested weakly.

“You cannot provide for him,” the older woman said firmly. “You said so yourself. I can. If you truly love him, you will give him up to me.”

Octavia whirled and ran to the front doors, pressing the infant to her protectively. She tugged one door open - and a blast of arctic wind nearly knocked them over, scattering snow across the narrow foyer. It began to pile around her feet.

“He will not survive a night in that,” said Rebecca in a low voice.

Slowly, painfully, Octavia turned. “His name is Nahum,” she said, tears on her cheeks. “Isaac chose it.”

Rebecca nodded. “He will be raised as befits a Collins. He will be heir to this house.” She held out her arms, and Octavia slowly surrendered her son. Wordlessly, she started to leave.

Rebecca spoke from behind her. “My husband’s brother, Theodore, lives in a house called Seaview. It lies along the cliff path, some miles south of here. We do not speak to them.”

The door shut behind Octavia. Violent winds tore at her, blinding her with clouds of snow. Icy water soaked through her thin boots. Miles...

Slowly, hopelessly, she began to trudge toward the cliff path.

And the snow continued to fall...


Michael Collins was lost. In all his six years, he had never had such a disturbing experience. He had only gone for a little walk in the snow, not so very far at all - and now suddenly Seaview was nowhere in sight, and the air was starting to grow very cold... and the sky was beginning to get dark.

Michael remembered stories he had heard, and was afraid. There were wolves in the woods at night, and big black bears, and a Dark Man who wanted people’s soles. He glanced at his own boots fearfully.

“Help!” he called out. “I am lost! Help!”

“Hallo!” a distant voice answered.

Relieved, Michael bellowed, “Help! I am lost! Help! Help!” He heard footsteps crunching in the snow, branches being pushed aside, and at length two figures appeared through the trees. They were Master Nahum Collins’ twin sons, Joshua and Ezekiel.

Michael stopped shouting, eyeing the big fifteen-year-olds warily. He did not understand about the Collinwood people, how they could be part of the family and yet treat his parents almost like strangers. He was supposed to greet them politely at church, yet he could tell that his father and Master Nahum Collins did not like each other. It all had to do with someone named “Old Elias” who had done something awful a long time ago... he thought.

Ezekiel and Joshua returned his gaze for a silent moment, their faces reflecting the suspicion and dislike that their parents felt for Michael’s. Then they slowly exchanged a crafty glance as realization sank in.

There were no adults here to say “no”.

“Well, well,” exclaimed Ezekiel, “can this be who it seems?”

“Why, it is!” Joshua followed his lead, as always. “What can little Cousin Michael be doing out here?”

“I am lost,” said Michael uneasily.

“Lost!” cried Ezekiel. “Dear Lord, child, do you not know your danger? A small fellow like you could die of the cold! Look, the snow is beginning again!”

“Aye,” agreed Joshua. “Had we not happened by, you could have wandered in vain forever.”

“Till Judgment Day,” Ezekiel nodded. “Or worse! You could fall into a deep, deep mountain of snow and never get out. Ever.” With a sudden swift pounce he grabbed Michael by the scruff of the neck, lifting the struggling boy high into the air.

“Let me go!” he screamed. “Let me go! My father - ”

“Your father will never know!” laughed Ezekiel wildly. “You will never be found, little cousin!”

“Never be found, never be found,” chanted Joshua wickedly.

“Tally-ho!” cried his brother, flinging his flailing captive into the center of a huge, partly hardened snowdrift.

“Aaaaah!” Michael’s yells became a wordless shriek.

“Bury him!” whooped Ezekiel, scooping huge armfuls of snow and dumping them on Michael’s head as he sank deeper with every frantic movement. Joshua joined in, shouting laughter and making faces.

Michael could no longer scream. The snow covered his mouth. His arms were pinned against his sides by its entombing weight. His legs were buried. All of him was buried.

From somewhere a muffled voice taunted him.

“The north wind doth blow
And we shall have snow,
And what will cock robin do then, poor thing?”

Then silence. He was all alone in the terrible enclosing whiteness - alone with the certainty that he was going to die here. Alone with the heart-clutching fear. All alone...

And he couldn’t get out. The snow was too heavy. He couldn’t move. Even if he could, the terrible cousins would only be waiting to bury him again. Or maybe they would kill him outright.

He never knew how long he lay there, numbness creeping into his bones, horror eating away at his mind. It could have been hours. It could have been a lifetime.

Then, finally, in a swift unstoppable wave, came the panic of hysteria. His mouth filled with snow, but he screamed anyway. His limbs were buried, but he thrashed insanely - kicked and clawed and pushed and heaved until, impossibly, the white tomb trembled - then shook - then exploded outward! Air, freezing but wonderful, blew into his face, pelted him with still-falling snowflakes. Night darkness enveloped him, thank God for the darkness! He flopped on his belly and lay sobbing soundlessly, not even trying to rise.

The Collinwood boys were no longer there. But someone else had come.

Slowly, he looked up and saw the lady.

“Help me... ” she moaned softly.

He whimpered.

Snow was in her stiff, matted hair, and on her face, and on her dress, and on her shoes. She spoke, and there was snow in her mouth.

“I am lost,” she whispered hollowly. “Lost... Please help me.”

He shrank back, back into the snow, shaking his head wordlessly.

Slowly, stiffly, she took a step nearer. There was ice in her eyes.

“Please... ” she sighed. “Where is... Seaview?”


“How much farther?” snapped John Robert Collins.

“Just ahead,” said Joshua guiltily. To Ezekiel’s disgust, he had confessed their “joke” as soon as they got home. He glanced nervously at his father, but Nahum Collins’ expression was as grim as Cousin John Robert’s.

“I am certain that he is all right,” Joshua ventured.

The shriek split the night sky, a frenzied, barely human wail that went on and on without end.

“My God!” cried John Robert. “That is my son!” He dashed ahead through the trees, Nahum and Joshua close upon his heels.

Michael sat in a corner of the clearing, his head slowly moving from side to side, his eyes staring wildly. From his mouth the unearthly scream flowed mindlessly, never stopping when his father came rushing to his side... never stopping until long after his voice gave out completely and only soundless air emerged.

And the snow continued to fall...


Ezekiel Collins stumbled on a snow-buried root, cursed savagely, and took out his aggravation on his hapless companion. “Stop lagging, damn your eyes!” he barked over his shoulder. “You move like a cripple!”

Michael, whose eyes were nearly always fixed on the ground, managed to lower them even more. He bit his lip sullenly.

Why was he out here in this frozen mess at all, Ezekiel wondered again, when he could be snug at home with a series of rum toddies, or bouncing Betsy on his knee at the Eagle Tavern? Who cared if some stupid farmers had lost their chickens to a lynx? What made it the special province of the Collins family to hunt it down? He was a gentleman, not some pelt-peddling mountain boy!

He could have borne it, perhaps, if the weather were decent, or if he had a proper human being for company - brother Joshua, finest of companions, or Emory of the keen eye and steady arm. But Joshua and Emory had gone off to do battle with the French - fighting frogs in Canada when they were needed at home. And so he was left with Michael - mumbling, whey-faced little Michael, who would not look a rabbit in the eye, let alone a wildcat. He could barely abide the little lickspigot at the best of times.

And it began to snow again. Wonderful!

Ezekiel cast a jaundiced eye at the ravine ahead, rather hoping that the trail they were following would be totally obscured and he would have an excuse to turn homeward. But wait... He squinted. A few moments more and the new snow would have covered them - but there was a heavy criss-crossing of tracks down below, and a pile of fresh fewmets. They were close, very close.

“Stay here,” he ordered Michael in a low voice. “And keep a sharp watch. It may be near.”

He began to carefully pick his way down the steep hillside, booted feet clinging as best they could to the half-hardened snow. He did not really expect any help from Michael should the lynx appear; it all rested with Ezekiel’s own skill and quick action.

He tripped on another root, flailed wildly for a moment, and pitched forward helplessly, rolling and bumping his way to the bottom of the rocky gulch. He landed in a mound of snow, but there was hard, pointed stone underneath, and he hit it with one leg beneath him. There was a snap like a pistol shot, and agony exploded in his thigh.

Pain leapt like fire in the broken leg as Ezekiel forced himself up onto his elbows. Through tear-blurred eyes he could see his worthless cousin looking down from the ridge, unmoving.

“Michael!” he bawled. “Get down here! Can you not see that I am hurt!”

A snarl. He knew what it was before he turned his head. The lynx crouched not ten feet away, claws extended, yellow eyes glaring. He had fallen right into its lair.

His flintlock had landed a dozen feet away. He could not move to reach it. He tried to inch an arm just a little nearer, and the cat hissed, tufted ears twitching.

“Michael,” he quavered, not daring to shout. “Shoot it. In God’s name, boy!”

Michael raised his rifle, sighted, and fired.

Ezekiel shrieked in anguish as the bullet tore through his good leg, shattering bone. The lynx bounded away with a yowl, panicked.

“You moron!” screamed Ezekiel. “You utter imbecile! You hit me!”

“Yes,” said Michael. “I know.” He smiled, and the look in his eyes choked the words in Ezekiel’s throat.

“You... ” he whispered at last. “You little bastard.”

“The north wind doth blow

And we shall have snow,” said Michael, smiling.

Ezekiel’s face turned as white as the falling snow that flecked it.

Michael’s voice was soft. “And what will cock robin do then, poor thing?” He turned and walked away.

“Michael!” screamed a voice somewhere behind him. “Come back! Don’t do this! Don’t leave me here! Michael! Michael!”

Michael Collins continued to walk; and for the first time in his life he walked with his head held high, with the firm and decisive stride of a man. Lightning-bugs danced in his John Thomas, and he looked down to see his trousers bulging in the oddest manner.

And the snow continued to fall...

... covering everything.