The corridor had a single bare bulb, glaringly bright and swinging from the ceiling. He quietly made his way towards the steel door at the end, curiosity having got the better of him at last. Through the cracks around the door, a muted haze of colours bled through. Grasping its handle, he pulled and it swung open easily. The room was dimly lit, but his eyes slowly adjusted to the faint glow and he noticed that its walls were studded with pinpricks of colour, in every shade and hue known to man. Still more incredible were the objects that the lights were illuminating. They were snowflakes, hundreds of them sticking out from the walls, poised on long, thin needles, their icy shapes glittering like rare jewels as the lights suffused them. It was as if the stars in the night sky had been magnified, only to be revealed as a vast constellation of frozen water. Some of the shapes he recognised as the familiar stellar dendrites that featured as decorations on so many Christmas trees. These were marvellously complex, each one unique in its crystalline patterning, many so delicately wrought that they had the appearance of hexagonal ferns. Others came in the form of plates, always cleanly divided into six identical sectors and no less beautiful. It was the more unusual specimens, however, which fascinated him when his roaming gaze encountered them. Some of these had formed as columns, some capped at each end with a thin sheet, some with air bubbles trapped in them that tapered to a point. The shorter capped columns looked almost like glass thimbles, only missing finely spun thread to complete the illusion. Then there were rosettes formed out of bullet-shaped snowflakes, joined at their tips to form peculiarly fragile shapes that jutted at odd angles. Finally, there were the needles, almost indistinguishable from their metal cousins, except for the way in which they caught each pinpoint radiance of colour and threw it back to the eye, piercing. Reaching out a hand to the nearest one, he was about to touch it when the door’s clicking shut startled him, causing him to prick his index finger, his blood forming tiny black drops on the floor as the snowflake shattered and began to melt beside it. ‘So. You’ve found my collection. How do you like it?’
This is a reprint of work originally published in Weirdyear.