Heavy snow melted into growing pools in Anthony’s wake. Their path led from where he stood at the window, across his spartan living room, through the door, down the hall, past the resident assistant’s lobby desk, and out into the blizzard where his taxi was pulling away for safer harbors. He’d made it fourteen blocks before the airport was declared closed. In the hour it took for the driver to get him back to Anderson Hall word was that it would be at least a day, maybe two, before air travel resumed. Monstrous snowflakes fell ponderously behind his reflection in his dorm room window. The clichéd line from too many holiday specials floated through his mind.
“Christmas is cancelled.”
He sighed. He should phone them; tell them he wasn’t coming but he couldn’t. All he could do was stare out the window, lost in his thoughts.
At first, the knocking went unnoticed. Only the third, most frantic, rapping caught his attention. But it wasn’t its increasing rapidity that drew his notice as much as its source. The knocking came from neither the hall door nor the entrance to his tiny, darkened bedroom. Rather, it echoed from the closed, closet door next to his stacked, damp luggage. He scowled. Not in the mood for visitors or pranks, he crossed the room and jerked the door open. Ready to lay into whoever had broken into his room and hidden in his closet, he stopped, mouth agape.
Cold, snowy air swirled into his room from a dark forest that should not—could not—exist. Icicles hung from evergreen branches aside willowy birch trees. They stood like white sentinels in deep drifts of snow. Before them, hand raised in a knocking position, stood the most impossible element of the tableau: a satyr.
As if stepped from the pages of a book on Greek myth, he was a goat from the waist down standing on digitigrade legs ending in cloven hooves. His upper body appeared human, lean, and sported a curling, pointed beard on his chin. Two large horns, like those of a ram, curved from his forehead back over his pointed, animal ears. He wore a dark brown tunic, belted at the waist above a woolen kilt, and had a snow-covered, green cloak across his shoulders. About a foot shorter than Anthony, he smiled as he looked up, eyes sparkling.