Groundhog Day


Day 1

Day 2

Everything you do, every decision you make from now on, will open doors to the future.

He’s standing at the base of the retreat, and the white snow is innocently blanketing the world around him. He’s standing at the base of the retreat and the snow is pure.

He can see Chris walking towards him.

This time yesterday, he’d stood in this exact spot and dreamt of losing his ‘friends’. Had it been a dream?

Now he remembers, and it had played out exactly as he’d imagined. Had chris looked so tired last time? Had his smile been so small?

He didn’t want to remember. Had Chris died?. Josh doesn’t know. First had been Jessica; cruel, irreverent Jessica who’s prank had gotten his sisters killed! Had his prank gotten her killed? He wasn’t sure who’d been next, maybe Matt or Emily. Lost on his little scavenger hunt. He couldn’t be sure about the others, Mike left him to die, but he hopes Sam and Chris made it.

Death had been different in reality. In his dream, nightmare, his sister had recognised him. She’d snatched him away, and he’d felt what was left of himself begin to fade. Chased away by an all consuming hunger. He didn’t want to remember what he’d needed, what his every thought had turned towards.

He’d dreamt that Hannah had recognised him, but when she’d grasped at him all he could picture had been the ending of his dream. He’d been turning hadn’t he? Could it still be inside him? Waiting to tear its way out?  Josh could still feel the remnants of his mania scrapping at his throat. It had been agonising. Could it be worse for Hannah? Could any part of her have escaped its reach? The hunger wasn’t real, it couldn’t be.

In that moment Josh had existed between two realities:

He called to her, and she’d recognised him. She had! And she’d damned him for it. NO! He’d deserved it for failing to protect her.

He opened his mouth but no sound escaped. She was gone, nothing left but a monster wearing his sisters skin. A monster that had crushed his head against the rocks. He tries to avoid acknowledging the thought that he’d preferred dying as himself.

“Man I feel like this mountain gets bigger every time I climb it.”

Was he really standing here? Had that entire night been one of his episodes? He didn’t want to accept that his brain had chosen to turn Hannah, his sweet little sister, into a monster like that. Grimacing Josh try’s to recall the words he’d used all those hours ago. Had any time actually passed?

“Weird, feels the same to me.”

While we are sure that today is Groundhog Day here in the U.S., there is a [not at all adequately cited] legend that the Romans introduced the idea of using an animal’s reaction to its shadow to predict the advent of Spring. Groundhogs not being native to Europe, the story is that hedgehogs were observed.
I don’t know about you, but if I were going to pick an animal who casts an easily observable shadow, I might choose something slightly taller than a hedgehog.

Image taken from volume 1 of Albertus Seba’s “Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio…” (1734).