Jack Frost – Document #8400

Categories: Items of Mutual Interest

By Shane Ivey, ©1999

The road sign is plain and green, the sort mandated by state law and never supplemented with anything more decorative: “Willis, Ala.,” it reads, “Pop. 819.” State Highway 19 runs past the sign through deep forest and high hills. A long, narrow bridge stretches across an expanse of swampy water: always a land of endless natural waterways, the region was inundated with new lakes and streams after the TVA began damming up the rivers. A sliver of December moon is hidden, high overhead, beyond thick clouds, and the swamp and the hills and the trees are barely visible in its ghostly light.

The hills flatten out, slowly, gradually, and the forest thins to either side. Then, ahead, comes a yellow glow blinking in the air, the strobe of an ordinary street light to signal caution. Other lamps shine beyond it, silvery-pink and constant, illuminating the shop fronts of a handful of two-story buildings. The post office is easily seen and easily the finest structure, with sculpted concrete pillars of a Classical design that seem ostentatious among the simple businesses of Willis. Christmas lights blink cheerfully in red and green in several windows and the limbs of trees.

Slowing for the blinking cautionary light, one can see silhouettes within a building near the road (“Hank’s House,” proclaims the shingle), the shadows of men and women gathered here for a nightcap, perhaps, before they join their families. At least they seem to be patrons; but perhaps that is a trick of the light, to make shadows look like the men and women one would expect. There is no movement to be seen, not in Hank’s House, not in the streets, nowhere but for the swaying yellow light. But there, ahead, on the covered sidewalk leading to Hank’s, someone is waiting.

Closer. . .

It is a man, perhaps fifty years old and heavy-jowled in worn denim overalls and a thick fleece coat. He seems to be waiting; certainly he is not moving. He does not look to the newly-arrived car. Closer: no fog of breath billows in the shadows from his opened mouth. His eyes stare, watching, empty, dry, and a strand of ice hangs unattended from his mouth. Then other men and women can be seen more clearly inside the tavern, sitting at drinks long since gone flat in the cool air or lying on the floor in strange positions, as if caught in the moment of a footstep and then falling in that same pose to the ground. Outside, again, shapes can be seen on the ground; a dog lies on its side, legs stiff and straight. Feathery clumps lie where birds fell in mid-flight to the earth. All are frozen, through and through; all are dead with a cold that will not go away.

Looks like Jack Frost came down to town again.

You are cordially invited to a night at the opera.



TO:       “L” Cell
FROM:     Alphonse
SUBJECT:  Mission Briefing
DATE:     25 DECEMBER xxxx, 0745 CST

As your cell leader has by now advised you, your cell has been activated for a mission of great sensitivity. A paranormal incident has resulted in numerous deaths, requiring, if possible, our investigation and intervention. In this case, however, another organization has initiated an investigation before us.

Willis, Alabama, was a rural town of approximately eight hundred residents. Nine hours ago, an unexplained event swept across the town and county, apparently causing the death by freezing of every living creature in its area. Our group was not initially aware of this event; it was reported to us by a source within another covert organization, a unit of the Defense Department operating under the auspices of the Federal Emergency Management Agency which has already begun an investigation.

Our source within this group has arranged access. False identities have been developed for each of you, using the security clearances necessary (TS/WEATHERWATCHER) for consultants to the investigating FEMA task force, either fully-briefed or external operatives used to provide analysis or cover for their covert activity.

Your assignment is to infiltrate the operation, conduct an investigation from within, and minimize any further harm which may be caused by the Willis incident. We are particularly concerned that elements of the investigating group will attempt to harness technologies or forces beyond their control.

Your cell will be incommunicado for the duration of this mission. You must assume that any attempts you make to contact us from within the investigating task force’s security parameters will be compromised. In such a case, we will respond if possible, but circumstances may allow your team no outside assistance. It is therefore imperative that you maintain secrecy as long as possible while undertaking your mission. Interaction between members of your cell should appear no different than your interaction with other members of the team. It is highly unlikely that you will have access to any resources beyond those provided by the task force–or those denied by them should your cover be compromised.

Your cell leader will provide transit details for you to rendezvous with the FEMA team at Maxwell AFB at 1100 CST. This will be our last communiqué until this assignment is completed.

Good luck.


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