The following scene from Snowflake by Heide Goody and Iain Grant is where Lori first meets Ashbert. She doesn’t yet realise that he’s the man she has accidentally brought to life from a collage that she made as a teenager. We join Lori as she has been baking with her friend Cookie...
Cookie took the bread out of the oven while I wafted smoke away from the smoke detector in the ceiling. The bread had overcooked a bit while we were putting out the fire, but my stomach still rumbled. The burning smell was unpleasantly sharp and acrid, but it was hard to tell if it was from the bread or the fire in the lounge.
Cookie tapped the base of the loaf. “You can tell when bread is cooked because it will sound hollow when you do this,” she said.
It didn’t sound hollow, it sounded dead and solid. I took it off her wordlessly and banged it on the counter to see if it made a better sound, but I was a bit worried that we might shatter the granite.
“The road of trials is littered with obstacles,” she said with a frown.
“And rock-hard loaves,” I said.
“I need to think on this.”
Cookie took herself into the lounge. I placed the loaf on a plate, found a long, serrated knife and attempted to cut a slice. Five minutes sawing produced a lot of shard-like crumbs but made virtually no impact on the bread. I tried to break the loaf with my hands, but I just wasn’t strong enough.
Suddenly, I wasn’t hungry anymore.
I went through to the lounge. It turned out that having a think meant passing out on the settee. A joint burned in Cookie’s right hand and a glass of raki lolled toward the cushions in her left. I tutted slightly and took them off her, keeping them well apart to avoid igniting the powerful spirits.
I was wondering whether it was worth trying the bread again when I heard a sound. It was a light creak, coming from outside. I crept over to the window and looked out into the rear yard of the building.
It was a naked man.
Definitely a man and definitely naked, his body pale and golden in the streetlights from the next road over. And he was coming up the fire escape.
I went into the kitchen to look out of the window, turning out the lights as I entered to improve my view of what was outside. Was the naked guy returning to one of the other flats? Why was he naked? In the moments that it took me to get to the kitchen window he’d disappeared. He’d either climbed up to the next floor, gone down to the ground, or entered the building. I swallowed hard as I realised that the most likely explanation for him vanishing so quickly was that he’d entered the building somewhere.
The lounge window was open. I had left it open. I had stupidly left the lounge window open. Was he inside the flat? This flat? My flat? I crept back to the door to the lounge and put my ear to it. I could definitely hear some sort of movement. I willed myself not to panic, took out my phone, dialled 999 but didn’t yet press the call button. Cookie was asleep in the lounge. If a crazed naked man was in there, she was in danger. It didn’t really cross my mind that it might be a sane naked man. I’m not sure there are such things.
I risked opening the door a crack.
Oh, God! He was there! A white and – oh, yeah – definitely naked torso moving slowly across the room.
I hit the call button and backed away.
“I think there’s an intruder in my flat,” I said, when I got through. “I mean, I know there’s an intruder in the flat.”
In a voice that suggested they received naked intruder calls all day long, the operator asked me for the address.
“Can you get out?” he asked.
“No, not without going past where they are,” I said.
“Try to secure yourself or hide,” said the operator.
“But my friend is in the lounge.”
“Secure yourself and hide. We’ll be there very shortly.”
Secure myself and hide? Even if there was somewhere to hide in the kitchen, could I leave Cookie in the clutches of a nude lunatic? Of course not. I crept back to the door and peeked through the gap. The lounge was empty and there was Cookie’s foot poking over the edge of the sofa. I had to go and wake her. But I needed protection.
I momentarily considered the bread knife but then the headline ‘LOCAL WOMAN SENTENCED TO LIFE FOR UNPROVOKED NUDE STABBING’ flashed through my mind and I thought better of it. A non-lethal bludgeoning weapon would be much better.
Ten seconds later, armed with a rock-hard loaf of bread, I crept into the lounge. No. No naked men lurking in corners. He must have moved on. My limbs shivering with fear, I took hold of Cookie’s knee and tried to shake her awake.
She gave a small grunt and shifted position.
“Wake up, damn you,” I hissed.
There was the sound of something being dropped. The door to the largest bedroom, which opened directly onto the lounge, was open! There! This was an old building with many of the original features, including interior doors with locks and bolts. All I needed to do was to pull the door closed and lock it and the man would be trapped until the police arrived.
“You can do this,” I told myself.
I stole quickly across the room and tugged the door shut. The handle rattled from the other side as I turned the key in the lock.
“You’re trapped now, mofo!” I shouted and turned away from the door.
And, as I did, I realised I had trapped my onesie in the door. A section of leg material caught in the gap.
The man started to pound on the door from the other side. I’m not normally one for whimpering but I let out a trembling cry.
The pounding continued, shaking me with each blow. It was a solid door, but I could hear a splintering sound coming from somewhere. I had to get away. There was only one solution and I had no choice. Down came the zip and I wriggled free. I headed across the room. I hadn’t gone two steps when the door gave way and the man burst through like that man with the axe in that film. You know the one. I turned to him with my only weapon: the remains of the indestructible loaf I let out a primal roar of pure, bear-flattening rage and swung the loaf with all my might at the attacker’s head.
The bread connected with his head with deadly, bone-shattering force and he dropped like a stone. My arm even ached from the impact.
Two thoughts collided in my mind: the first was that I’d surely killed him. The second was that he looked familiar. Bizarrely familiar.
The doorbell rang.
His face was one I’d seen in the very recent past.
There was a thump at the door.
“Police! Open up!”
In fact, his face was my own creation. Robert Pattinson’s eyes. Ashton Kutcher’s smile. Channing Tatum’s jawline. He was the man from the picture I had made as a teenager. He was teen Lori’s dream man, so very recently cast into the fire.
Snowflake Authors: Heide Goody and Iain Grant Publisher: Pigeon Park Press, July 20, 2018 Format: Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 320 pages List Price: US$12.99 (print); US$4.59 (Kindle eBook) ISBN: 9780995749764 (print); ASIN: B07F3X4XF2 (Kindle eBook)
Lori Belkin has been dumped. By her parents.
They moved out while she was away on holiday, and now, at the tender age of twenty-five, she's been cruelly forced to stand on her own two feet.
While she's getting to grips with basic adulting, Lori magically brings to life the super-sexy man she created from celebrity photos as a teenager.
Lori learns very quickly that having your ideal man is not as satisfying as it ought to be and that being an adult is far harder than it looks.
Snowflake is a story about prehistoric pets, delinquent donkeys and becoming the person you want to be, not the person everyone else expects you to be.
Lori arrives back from her holiday in Crete to discover her parents have moved away without telling her. Now she has to go it alone with only her wits and her brother's luxury flat to keep her safe. Little did she realise that a straw goat, mouldering sausage and a bottle of raki weren't the only things she brought back with her. Lori thought it was just a pretty necklace that she bought in a random store in Crete but it turned out it had the power to bring to inanimate objects to life - like the magazine cut out of her ideal man, a long extinct bug, foxes, and so much more. At the tender age of 25 Lori has some serious 'adulting' to do and there is a lot of trouble she can get into the meantime.
Snowflake by the writing duo of Heide Goody and Iain Grant is another lighthearted romp through the trials and tribulations of being a millennial with a magical necklace. Lori's name should be officially changed to Trouble Belkin because, boy, she gets into enough of it. From almost burning down her brother's flat to chasing a donkey through Ikea Lori has more exploits than the normal 20 something. In fact Lori can barely cross the street without triggering a major disaster. Goody and Grant are experts at getting their characters into ridiculous situations and giving them hilarious lines. One specific scene where Lori and her magically created perfect man Ashbert go to the theatre was very amusing, especially the Iron Man reference. There are a number of English 'in jokes' and I am not sure whether you will get all them if you aren't from the UK but it's worth a go.
This is a very good book if you want a lighthearted read or need to be cheered up. My one tiny criticism is that Lori was a bit too ignorant of almost everything and the number of outrageous situations she got herself into was relentless. I felt a bit exhausted when I got to the end of the book. I feel this situational 'naivety' worked well with Goody and Grant's former prince of darkness Clovenhoof (funniest books ever!) but with Lori she came across too self-involved and borderline inconsiderate. Some of the jokes make up for Lori's personality quirks so if you are looking for something funny, quite kooky and with a happy ending give Snowflake a go.