In the coldest winter the world had ever seen, ice coated the roads in every state – except the southern tip of Florida where the balmy air never dipped below 45 degrees. Arizona and Southern California were blanketed with two feet of snow – they were the lucky ones. Most regions were trapped, or completely hidden, under ten, fifteen, and twenty feet of densely packed ice and snow, which didn’t have the misfortune of turning mushy and gray because no one dared to venture outside their homes.
In the nation’s capital, politicians paced the halls of their opulent McMansions and moaned about the sinking stocks on Wall Street. With three-fourths of their citizens unable to report for work, the economy was spiraling at lightning speed toward a devastating depression. The fact that almost half the country was blacked off the grid from extensive power outages, which couldn’t be patched until the snow was cleared, didn’t unnerve them as much as their personal loss of wealth, but they would not admit that out loud. At least not while they were stuck – literally – in this wintry mess beyond their control.
Nature’s frigid vengeance didn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon as she dumped piles of snow into front yards across the midwest like a wife enraged by her husband’s latest affair. She shrieked and howled; her frenzied outbursts kept the neighbors awake at night. The more nosy ones peeked through the curtains every now and then to witness her insane destruction. By mid-January, even the agnostics found themselves praying every night for reprieve from the madness.
Around this time the mayor of Philadelphia received a call from the White House, which was as white as it could be in fifteen feet of snow. The mayor stuttered with shock when he heard the President command, “Dan, we have to give the American people hope. I don’t care what you have to do to make this happen, but on February second, your groundhog has to stay above ground. Consider this an executive order!”
With the weight of a nation on his shoulder, Mayor Dan couldn’t sleep more than an hour each night for the two weeks leading up to his annual groundhog event. His groundhog Phil, on the other hand, had no problem continuing his hibernation in the underground hut where he resided each winter. Nevertheless, Dan visited the slumbering animal every day and begged for his help.
“Phil, if you can hear me in your groundhog dreams, I need you to work with me. Please don’t run inside you hutch on Saturday. I can’t promise you much, but I’ll do my best to set you up in a groundhog palace for the rest of your days if you can do this one little thing for me.”
On the big day, the Mayor’s neighbors relocated Phil to a small hutch and lugged him outside to an icy clearing, which they had been shoveling for weeks. Despite their best efforts to find grass, the ground was still covered in three feet of ice, but with a news camera focused on their expressions as they carried the hutch to its spot, they pretended this didn’t worry them in the least. Besides, Mayor Dan had a back-up plan to keep Phil distracted – behind the cameras, he’d placed a bowl of peanut butter crackers, which he knew the groundhog loved to eat, in hope of luring him outside the box for more than two seconds.
Nevertheless those with power held their breath when the mayor opened the hutch door and prodded Phil to come outside. When the sleepy groundhog staggered from his box, he peered at the glistening white walls ten feet away and sniffed the 10-degree air. A trace of peanut butter wafted to his nose, enticing him to take one cautious step on the strange-looking ground. When the cold ice stung his paw, he glanced down, and shuddered with alarm. Without giving a second thought to the peanut butter, he turned and bolted for safety in his wooden cave. While everyone outside groaned and mourned six more weeks of frozen hell, Phil squealed and shook with fear at the horror he’d seen, for the ground had displayed something worse than a shadow to the groundhog – it had revealed his reflection.
– Written by Miss A