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I'm back, sort of. Actually, I'm going mostly off line again for a couple of days for various reasons, but I've returned from my trip to Missouri; Emily's back in college, and the trip was relatively uneventful except for almost hitting a hawk the size of a small dragon while going 70 mph on the interstate.

The next day I walked outside to go to work and my car wouldn't start. For the third time this winter. I don't understand, it's only 10 years old ... Maybe I should replace it. *checks wallet* Maybe I should get it fixed.

Anyway, before I forget, happy birthday to parlour_songs, and happy belated birthday to whitecable, bitterfig (also known as bitterfic, and hieispike!!!!! I hope your special days went better than ... well, than my days have been going this week. Stay warm!

Also on the brighter side, my story "To Start the Day" was nominated for best GenFic over at the Rogue Poet Awards -- thanks to whoever nominated me! All the great nominated stories can be found here: http://awards.rogue-poet.com/



Finally, appropriately, and just in case some of you aren't clear on exactly how I really feel about this time of year, here's a repost of a story I wrote about this time last year. It just felt ... appropriate, for a morning when it's 7 degrees and my decript old Nissan is home while I'm at work:


Title: Frozen Dinner
Author: ozma914
Summary: Xander discovers that while facing vampires is bad, facing Cleveland is worse.
Rating: PG
Length: 960 words
Notes: Special thanks to vichan and gillo for giving me the idea, and to the lovely strangexgirl for the beta. I own nothing except a hatred of winter.



Xander shoved the car’s transmission into drive again and hit the gas, getting the same results as last time – maybe a foot of movement in the knee deep snow. Quickly shifting to reverse, he once more pushed down the accelerator, rocking the car. Outside he heard the tires continue to spin even after he let off the gas, but he slammed the gear shift back and forth.

Andrew’s words, spoken over the phone from the nice, centrally heated Watcher’s Headquarters, mocked him. “Don’t worry about the weather, Xander,” he repeated to himself. “The locals get around fine in Cleveland storms, Xander.”

There was no movement in any of the cars parked around him; apparently everyone else had decided to stay in the convention center, but he was supposed to be back at the formerly closed-down motel where their so-called school was located. Everyone else could spend a happy night geeking out among the various booths at the First Annual Cleveland Science Fiction Blowout, but a dozen teenage slayers could not be trusted to spend a night alone without tearing the place apart. Too bad Buffy had picked this weekend for an overnight trip to Fort Wayne, where it was not frakking snowing, leaving him in charge.

The car moved, gaining maybe an inch. The weak winter sun was just vanishing beneath the horizon, and Xander had no confidence in his night driving ability, what with the one eye, and the six or eight inches of snow that fell while he was waiting in line for Masi Oka’s autograph.

“The weatherman’s always wrong, Xander. Bring me back an authentic Cylon helmet, Xander.”

Another shift, another rock.

“Andrew dies. I get back to Chicago, Andrew dies. This was the worst convention ever. George Takei didn’t show up. Neil Gaiman didn’t get any of his books signed. The hot Asian chick from Battlestar Galactica is stuck at the airport. If they hadn’t sold out, I’d use a Cylon helmet to crack Andrew’s little troll skull.”

The car’s passenger side door opened and Xander jerked his head around, half expecting to see Buffy ready to tease him -- even more than she had before he left. Instead, a solidly built man in a flannel shirt and jeans stood there, looking in with a grin. “Having trouble?” Despite a lack of coat or hat, he seemed perfectly comfortable in the driving snow.

Without bothering to answer, Xander jerked at his coat’s zipper, reaching for the hard wooden cylinder in an inside pocket. But the intruder was too fast, and before Xander could reach a weapon or a door handle the man was on him, face changing and fangs growing out as he clutched for Xander’s arms.

There was no fighting it in this close space. Xander jammed both feet into the floorboard, trying to break free as the vampire used one hand to pin him and another to bend his head to the side. The car’s tires spun wildly, making a violent whirring sound as the car settled further into the snow, but there was no movement. The vamp opened its jaws wide and bit down.

Then it jerked back, choking and spitting out chunks of cloth and a little cloud of feathers. “What the hell --?” It tried again, tearing at the layers of material, then jerked Xander’s hood off to reveal – another hood. “What’s the matter with you, man? This is Cleveland – you’re not used to the cold yet?”

“Hey, I’m from California!” Xander could barely hear his own voice over the screaming tires. He whacked at the horn, hoping the noise would attract help. The vamp just laughed.

“You’re kiddin’ me. No wonder you were too stupid to stay home – I’ll bet you were the only nerd at this convention who didn’t bring a sleeping bag and a day’s supply of food.”

How humiliating. He hadn’t given all those backpacks a thought.

“And now you’re my frozen dinner!” The vamp yanked back Xander’s hoodie, then jerked off the stocking cap beneath. Then, mouth open, it froze.

“Ow. Ow. Ow!” It jerked around, slapping at its legs.

Released, Xander grabbed at the door latch. He shoved the door open, then tumbled out into the snow. Only after scrabbling a few feet through a drift did he turn around, jerking the stake from his inner pocket.

But the demon had forgotten him, intent on saving itself. Flames from somewhere under the car’s engine compartment had spread up into the open door, setting the vamp’s jeans on fire, and as Xander watched more flames broke through the dashboard and licked at its shirt. The vamp tried to dive into the back seat, but it was too late – it caught, then flashed, and was gone.

Smoke billowed out of the car’s passenger compartment. A moment later, with a whoosh, flames engulfed the area. Xander stood there, his front half uncomfortably warm, while snow began to drift down his neck.

“I caught Buffy’s car on fire.” Granted that she never drove it, but still. And there was the vampire, but what proof did he have of that? The dust was ashes by now. Oh, this was so going to come out of his pay.

Turning, he stomped toward the convention center, hoping against hope that someone had an extra sleeping bag, or maybe a blanket. And chips, or a hot dog. Water that didn’t have to be melted. Behind him, the car popped and crackled; distant sirens were muffled by falling snow.

“Frakking Cleveland. Freaking Midwest winter frakking weather. This sucks! I’m going back to Africa, I swear! On the next plane!”

But all the flights had been canceled, of course.

“I swear to God, the next time one of these streets collapse I’m going to jump in after it, and just start digging.”

Comments

( 26 comments — Leave a comment )
petzipellepingo
Jan. 21st, 2009 11:40 am (UTC)
Hee!

And congrats on the nomination. Sending along good car vibes as well.
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:23 am (UTC)
The vibes must have worked -- after some effort, I was able to get the car going again. But do I have to go through this for the rest of winter? *sigh*
frickangel
Jan. 21st, 2009 11:53 am (UTC)
Welcome back! Sort of. =)
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:24 am (UTC)
Thanks! It was warmer down there, though ...
desdemonaspace
Jan. 21st, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC)
I know from experience how hard fight scenes are to write, and yours looks effortless. Well done!
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:25 am (UTC)
Thanks! Fight scenes don't come naturally to me, so I have to work hard on them.
(Deleted comment)
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:26 am (UTC)
Thanks, and great to hear!
winsomeone
Jan. 21st, 2009 12:28 pm (UTC)

Bad Nissan sends smack upside its head

I remember this story, too- it's so cute it stuck in my head which is high praise with my memory :-)

Stay warm up there.
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:27 am (UTC)
Wow -- when you smacked my car, a bunch of rust fell off! ;-)

Glad you remembered the story! I'm surprised it still seems funny after all this time -- I wasn't exactly in good humor when I wrote it.
curiouswombat
Jan. 21st, 2009 12:38 pm (UTC)
almost hitting a hawk the size of a small dragon while going 70 mph on the interstate.

Thank goodness you didn't!
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:29 am (UTC)
No -- at the very least I'd have lost a headlight, or if it rose up a few inches it might even have shattered the windshield.
vichan
Jan. 21st, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
Someday Xander will figure out our public transportation system. :)
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:30 am (UTC)
I have to admit, I didn't even consider a public transit system -- that's what I get for living in a town too small to have one.
angelus2hot
Jan. 21st, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
Congrats on the nomination!!

Poor Xander! Love the fic!

Winter isn't too bad as long as you get to stay inside :D
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:30 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it, and thanks!

Boy, I wish I could just stay inside ...
kevenn
Jan. 21st, 2009 02:09 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on your story's nomination! I hope your car starts to behave soon.

Cleveland winter weather TOTALLY sucks. Especially this year's. :(
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:31 am (UTC)
I'm very much afraid that Cleveland winter isn't all that much different than northern Indiana winter .... :-(
tessarin
Jan. 21st, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC)
Strange I don't remember this. Great story as usual. Xander should be more worried that Buffy will make him go car shopping with her, what with winter test drives and a certain slayer. Congratulations on the nomination.
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:31 am (UTC)
Thanks -- and you're right, going car shopping with Buffy is probably much more terrifying than anything Mother Nature could do.
lmzjewel
Jan. 21st, 2009 02:46 pm (UTC)
Hey! (:

Congratulations on the story nomination. And the fic "Frozen Dinner" is hilarious. I can definately see Xander doing that. And the story is quite appropriate considering that it is freezing cold here.

Oh! And I hope that your car will recover soon. I have a 9 year old Toyota Sienna and I cross my fingers everytime I get in the thing. So, I can definately sympathize with the whole car not starting thing.
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:32 am (UTC)
Thanks! Yep, it was freezing cold when I wrote the story originally, too -- not the kind of inspiration I'd like to experience!

My car's running -- for now. It's 10 years old and has about every minor problem under the sun, but usually I can get it going.
gillo
Jan. 21st, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
How could I not remember this? I love all the fangeek detail, and shiver vicariously when reminded of your winter. We've just got a lot of chilly rain here.

Congratulations on your well-deserved nom.
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:33 am (UTC)
Thanks! I don't know, for some reason this story kind of ran under the radar for a lot of people last year. Maybe they just didn't want to experience anything that had snow in it!
aadler
Jan. 22nd, 2009 04:07 am (UTC)
I read this awhile back, but I’d forgotten its resolution, and how basically funny it is. Somehow I half-expected that he would stake the interloper and then use the resulting ashes under his wheels for traction. That would have been semi-ghoulish, but not unlike Xander.

A pleasure seeing it again.
ozma914
Jan. 22nd, 2009 05:34 am (UTC)
Gah ... that's a much better ending than what I came up with!

My ending was actually based on real life: Just before I wrote this story, a car in Cleveland really did catch fire and burn up, after being overheated during an attempt to rock it out of a snow drift.
( 26 comments — Leave a comment )

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