Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
THE SNOWMAN by Richard Karsmakers
This Christmas faerytale was clearly inspired by a nice
Christmas demo that everyone on Microdeal's review mailing list
received recently. I would therefore like to dedicate just this
tiny piece of ST NEWS to Ms. Joanne Sharp of Microdeal Ltd:
Thanks for this touching demo, and a happy new year to you!!
Once upon a time there was a little boy. John was his name, but
everybody always called him Johnny. As a matter of fact, he was
thoroughly disgusted by the fact that everybody always called him
this, since he also turned out to be small. Not just small, but
VERY small. Plain tiny. Only his mother, a lady of considerable
sweetness and understanding, called him by his real name.
Johnny lived in a medium-sized cottage near a village called St.
Austell in Cornwall, England, together with his parents. It was a
nice cottage - one of those typical English ones with woodwork, a
thatched roof and a thin line of smoke slowly ascending from the
It was already darkening outside, and the whole family sat by a
cosy and warm woodfire in the house. Father was reading "The Sun"
(something about the third page seemed to have his complete
attention), mother was knitting at the table and John was reading
a comic book.
Father looked up from his paper and glanced outside.
"I bet it'll go snowing tonight," he sighed, "just like last
Johnny now looked up from his comic, too. Last year had been
great; he had built the biggest snowman in town, and he had even
won a City's Council prize with it. For a little time he, little
Johnny, had been the centrepoint of the community.
Everybody somehow seemed to have forgotten about him some weeks
later, leaving Johnny behind - alone.
He sighed deeply, remembering those few days. Would they return
again this year?
Later that night... Everybody had already gone to bed and was
dreaming about next day's presents, eating huge amounts of turkey
or having nightmares of whether or not the oven would work well
The wind grew to stormy proportions, and howled through the
trees and down the chimney. The large clock in the hall ticked
heavily and gently. It was several minutes past two, on Christmas
If someone would have been awake and would have looked outside,
he would have seen large snowflakes gently floating towards the
earth, covering it with a thick layer of crispy, dry snow. It was
as though the whole world was coloured light red.
The next morning, Johnny was awake earlier than usual. It was as
if something inside him, maybe an additional sense, had noticed
that there was snow outside.
He was overwhelmed by joy, and to anyone else his facial
expression might have hinted at a sight of a candy mountain of
considerable dimensions. He spontaneously cried cries of
happiness, dressed as fast as he could and ran outside.
His feet left little prints in the virginal snow. He felt as if
he was the first man on a new planet, a new and even wonderful
planet with all shapes and forms covered by a soft white layer.
His breath condensed in the cold morning air. A Blue Tit hung
upside down on a string of peanuts at the bird's feeding site.
The whole world looked pure, serene, untouched and unharmed in
the eyes of this small boy. His fondest wish was that it
would always be winter and that there would always be snow.
He took a deep breath and rolled as big a ball of snow as he
could handle. He then carefully rolled it to the centre of the
garden in front of the cottage. He looked up to his parent's
bedroom window, and saw his mother standing there, holding her
hand against the frostbitten window.
If Johnny would have been standing nearer, he would have seen
the tears in her eyes.
A little over an hour later, Johnny had succeeded in creating a
monumental snowman - complete with a carrot nose, a hat, a broom,
two large black eyes and even a mouth. He took off his own scarf
and put it around the snowman's neck. Then he stepped back and
looked at his snowman with admiration.
His parents came outside to compliment little Johnny on his
achievement when they saw the enormous snowy monster standing on
their lawn. Not with little pride they halted near the enormous
creature, almost twice as high as Johnny himself that was
standing next to it, gleaming with joy.
"Swell job you did there, Johnny! It'll teach them kids another
lesson or two!" Father patted him firmly on the shoulder.
His mother just held her son, stroking softly through his hair.
"He's beautiful, John," she said, "I think he's even better than
They stood for a while, gazing at the snowman with awe. Johnny
felt as if he wouldn't be hurt if the whole world would collide.
"Come on, let's get inside," said father while rubbing his
hands, "and unwrap those Christmas presents!"
The rest of the morning was spent in a very homely atmosphere.
Whilst drinking mugs of hot chocolate, the Christmas presents
were unpacked. Johnny got one of those incredibly fashionable
hoops - everybody was trundling hoops nowadays, so he really
liked his present.
But his thoughts were with his giant snowman rather than his
Christmas present, no matter how much he liked it. He did not
dare to think what would happen when it would start to thaw. His
snowman would melt away and vanish; and he would just be plain
little Johnny again.
Christmas diner was reasonable. Somehow, just like last year,
mother had not been able to prepare the turkey like it should
have been prepared, due to alleged problems with the oven. But
the meat still tasted exquisite when compared with what they
usually ate every day. The dessert was simply awful, but that was
probably just because Johnny particularly disliked Christmas
After diner, aunt Edna came to visit them: "Oh golly, how much
has your little Johnny grown!", "Oh dear, what a huge and
adorable snowman you made, Johnny", "Hell's teeth, what's that
awful burny smell coming from your kitchen, darling!?"
The whole family, but especially Johnny, was very pleased to see
her leave at dusk. On the garden path, she stood still and looked
at the enormous snowman for a moment or two. She looked back and
stuck up her thumb.
Then, she turned around and left through the small gate. The
porch cracked a bit when she opened it. It cracked again when she
The land was moonlit; the sky was littered with thousands of
stars. There was no wind and it was beginning to feel REALLY
cold. It would be a very cold night; freezing cold.
They went inside when they lost sight of the slightly bent
silhouette of aunt Edna in the distance.
It must have been midnight, and just about everybody was again
fast asleep, when Johnny was still tossing about in bed.
He got out and looked outside. His snowman was still there,
standing rigid in the cold of the night. He was planning to go to
bed again when he saw something flying through the sky. Was it
just his imagination, was he just dreaming, or did he see a
sleigh in the distance, pulled across the winter sky by many a
A flash suddenly split the sky apart. Johnny leapt back and
closed his eyes. When he opened them again, it seemed as if his
snowman was aflame - a light was coming forth from the spot in
the middle of the lawn, and when he looked again he saw that it
were no flames. It looked like...like his snowman was radiating
Next moment, the light ceased. For some moments, Johnny could
see nothing but darkness. When his eyes got used to that again,
however, he really couldn't tell if he was awake or dreaming.
His snowman - the very same one that he had built himself that
very morning - was actually beckoning him to come outside! He
shook his head in utter amazement, blinked his eyes several
times, and still saw the same: His snowman signing him to come
Johnny quickly put on his dressing gown and rushed down the
stairs as fast as possible and yet as silent as he could.
The snowman smiled broadly as Johnny came nearer, step by step.
The little boy wasn't really scared but....let's say he was
cautious. A snowman with such a disarming smile, he thought,
however, could never have evil in mind.
"I am Sylvester," the snowman said in a soft, low voice, while
bowing low and taking off his hat, "Sylvester the snowman. What
is your name, lad?" He rose his eyebrows.
"Er...I'm Johnny...er...no...John. I live here."
"I know you do," said the snowman reassuringly, "and I also know
that you made me into the sturdy and stout snowman that I am now.
I want to do something to thank you."
Johnny was stricken by silence. Never, not even in his wildest
dreams and imagination, had he thought this possible. He mumbled
"Take my hand," said the snowman gently, "and I'll show you
something that you'll never forget."
A bit hesitant, Johnny put his hand in that of the snowman. Next
thing he knew, Sylvester held him tight and they were flying
through the winter sky. Johnny still didn't know if he was
dreaming or not - but he knew this was GREAT and he enjoyed every
second of it. They soared through the night, and he looked around
"Up here, it almost appears as though you can take the stars,"
said Sylvester, "and the moon seems but a stone's throw away."
Johnny heard the words, but was too excited to be able to give
them a meaning. He just closed his eyes and let the cold wind
brush through his hair. He wasn't cold at all, in spite of the
fact that he was held by a snowman and the fact that it was
After flying like that for some minutes, Johnny noticed he
didn't recognize the country anymore that passed under them.
Where were they? He asked the snowman.
"You are about to enter a country that man has but seldomly set
foot on before," he answered, "the country where the snowmen
The boy didn't ask any more, although he wondered why he was
allowed to enter it now. It was as if Sylvester had read Johnny's
thoughts: "You may enter it because you have built this year's
most beautiful snowman."
Now this was something else than the City Council's prize!
A large forest loomed up in the distance. Sylvester now flew a
bit lower as it drew nearer. Just before the first trees, he
gently released Johnny from his firm grip and put the boy back on
"This is it, John. This is going to be one night you'll not
forget easily," Sylvester whispered.
Out of the forest, the sounds of deer neighing arose. Some
moments later, a large sleigh appeared from under the trees,
pulled by six reindeer. Johnny's mouth fell wide open when he
recognized who was at the reigns.
"Santa...." the boy said with the ultimate amazement in his
"Ho ho! Ho ho! Hop on the sledge dear boy, for here we go!"
Santa cried, while holding out a hand to help Johnny climbing on
it. Sylvester hopped easily in the back, in between some bags
with presents that were left over from last night.
"You must be John," Santa said in a low voice as he directed his
carriage through the trees at a dazzling speed, "Sylvester
already told me much about you. Aren't you the boy that I gave
a...let's remember...a hoop? Yeah. I seem to know it fairly sure
now." Johnny nodded excitingly. "Didn't I give a year's
subscription to 'The Sun' to your dad and a 'How to prepare
Turkey' book to your mother?" Santa added. Again, Johnny nodded.
"Ho ho! Ho ho! Off the sleigh we go! We're where we want to be,
open your eyes and you will see!" Santa suddenly cried again as
he halted his majestic carriage.
They were now on a large open spot in the forest. There were
trees on all sides, as far as they could see. Their tops could
only be seen as dim silhouettes against the star spangled sky. He
could not even see any such place in the forest as where they
must have come through with the sleigh.
There was a fire burning in the centre of the spot. The light of
its flames licked the trees and the heat melted the snow in its
Santa and Sylvester sat down.
"Listen, John!" Sylvester said, as he signalled Johnny to sit
down next to Santa, too.
From all directions, other snowmen now came onto the open spot
in the forest. They weren't as big and as beautiful as Sylvester,
but they were all proud snowmen, with large carrot-noses, brooms,
large black eyes and even mouths. They all hummed a familiar
tune, and Johnny noticed that Sylvester was humming it, too.
It sounded like something from one of those full feature Walt
After a while there were about thirty snowmen, sitting in a
large circle around the fire. Santa arose, and they all looked at
this rather small man with his white beard.
"We are gathered here tonight to honour a small boy who did
great deeds, sitting here right next to me," said Santa solemnly,
"John is his name, and large will be his fame! He built
Sylvester arose, too, now standing next to Santa Claus.
The air was filled with ooohs and aaahs as they saw the immense
size of Sylvester and the minute size of Johnny. Johnny
"Ho ho! Ho ho!" Santa cried after these moments of admiration,
"now is the time for dancing and chanting!"
All the snowmen now stood up and held hands, humming that
familiar tune again. Johnny stood between Sylvester and Santa,
and he hummed, too.
The circle of snowmen, Santa and Johnny now danced around the
fire; the humming had transformed to a loud chanting of songs
involving jingling bells and sleighs, cold frost and skating.
Johnny had never ever had such a good time in his life before;
not even when he had been the centrepoint of the community - same
time last year.
They danced and sung for hours, or at least so it seemed. Then,
there was a sudden silence as Santa held up his hand.
"It is time," he said, "time to bring our dear friend John back
to his home." He looked at Johnny, who was yawning and barely
able to stand on his feet.
Sylvester put him on Santa's sleigh again, and took the reigns
himself. Before Johnny fell asleep quite spontaneously, he heard
all snowmen and Santa yell: "Goodbye John! 'Till next time! Have
a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"
The next moment, he heard nothing, saw nothing, smelled nothing,
The morning had already advanced to as much as eleven'o'clock
when Johnny opened his eyes again. He jumped out of bed to see if
Sylvester was still on the middle of the lawn.
Sylvester wasn't. Thaw had made the snow disappear. On the spot
where his beautiful snowman-friend had been now only a hat, a
broom, two large black eyes and a carrot-nose lay together with
his scarf in the middle of some wet snow remains.
He ran outside, crying. He even forgot to put on his dressing
"Sylvester!" he cried, "Sylvester!"
He kneeled down over what was left of his best friend and took
the scarf, only to hold it vacantly in his hands.
"Why?" he sobbed.
T H E E N D
P.S. The actual "Snowman" demo is very touching as well. The only
strange thing about it is the author, who calls himself
Modnoc. Swap the word around and you'll note that there's
someone with a little lack of taste at Microdeal...
The "Snowman" demo should be available soon through all well
sorted Public Domain libraries. It works on color monitors
and 1 Megabyte (or more) only, with double-sided diskdrives.
P.P.S. This story was written in a lost sentimental hour, with
some "Napalm Death" ("Kill kill kill kill!!") trash
slammed on my CD player. Quite inspiring (though it can be
quite unhandy typing while banging your head at 500 BPM!).
Additional inspiration was supplied by a half-empty bottle
of Pisang Ambon and a letter from Patricia I received
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.