Here’s an advance look at my forthcoming novel, called White as Snow. It’s a “Rock and roll fairytale murder mystery” which uses the Snow White story as a very loose backdrop. The “Snow White” character and her “dwarf-like” college friends are being killed, one at a time, by a person or persons unknown. Who would do such a thing?

Here’s Chapter One.


White as Snow

Chapter One: Ice Ice Baby

On a frigid winter’s night in Providence, Rhode Island, chubby flakes of snow are dancing around an attractive college sophomore as she trudges across campus. Suddenly, she stops, removes a compact mirror from her pocket, and gazes at her reflection. With her ebony hair and fiery red lipstick, her skin appears to glow a frosty white. She smiles with satisfaction.

As the young woman puts her mirror away, she notices three beads of crimson blood falling onto the field of silvery powder. She looks down at her scratched wrist and curses to herself, “That goddamn bitch!” Digging into her pockets, she finds a couple tissues and wraps them around the wound. After peering again at the perfect triangle formed by the blood droplets, she continues on her way.

With each step, Bianca Snowden converges with her unfortunate fate. Although there have been plenty of opportunities for providence to intervene in her favor that evening, none have materialized. Tonight, Providence is anything but divine. If only they had never met. If only she hadn’t agreed. If only she hadn’t drunk so much. If only she hadn’t walked home by herself. If only it hadn’t snowed. If only, just once upon a time, any of these things had been different. Yet not all fairy tales have happy endings. Or, in this case, beginnings.

Bianca’s gait is unsteady as she passes through one of the two smaller side entrances of the Van Wickle Gates and enters the area known as the Quiet Green. The large center gates are unlocked only twice a year. They swing inward when the new freshmen arrive at Brown University in the fall, and they open outward as the graduates and faculty march through them on commencement day. Superstition has it that a student who walks through the main gates more than twice will not graduate.

As she negotiates the snow-covered walkway, to her left is the elegant belfry called Carrie Tower, a rectangular clock column constructed of red brick and white stone, standing ninety-five feet tall. A businessman gifted it to the college in 1904 to memorialize his wife, who happened to be the granddaughter of the college’s namesake, Nicholas Brown. Bianca notes the inscription on the base, which reads, “Love is as strong as death.” She smirks and thinks, That may be, but death always wins in the end. Indeed, sometimes its victory comes much sooner than expected.

Even in her inebriated condition, Bianca appreciates the eclectic architecture of Brown University’s main campus. The English Georgian facade of University Hall looms over and heartens her. The building was the first one constructed for the college and was used as a barracks for American soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Now it houses the college administration offices. Someone had placed electric candles in the windows for the holiday season, and the four-story redbrick building glows comfortingly in the falling snow. Bianca wishes she had her camera with her so she could capture the scene.

Perhaps it would have been better if Miss Snowden were less enamored with the edifice and more focused on her foot placement, as she trips for the third time since starting her climb up College Hill and tumbles into the snow. She is back on her feet in a moment, laughing instead of cursing this time, due to some internal logic known only to her.

Bianca’s thoughts, usually well-ordered and insightful, skip all over the place. Life’s just a story and we all play a part, she thinks. Frigging McDuck. What a poor excuse for a leading man. That surly son of a bitch doesn’t even know what he’s screwed up. Oh, someone made a snow angel over there. Almost home now. God, the wind. It will serve him right when I’m not around anymore. Snowflakes. How they dance! They’ll all be sorry. All the supporting characters. Surly, Sleazy, Breezy, Lazy, Drowsy, Queasy, and Dud. Screw them. Whoa. Black ice beneath the snow. I need to watch my step. Where’s my Walkman? Time for some tunes.

She stops again for a moment, removes her bright-red backpack, and rifles through it, finally pulling out her prized Sony Walkman. She purchased this wonder of modern technology just after its release to the market in March 1979. That was almost a year ago, and now she can’t remember how she had managed to cope before the thing had been invented. She takes it pretty much everywhere she goes.

Bianca puts on the headphones, flips over the cassette tape, and punches the play button. The sounds of Foreigner flood her head. That’s more like it. That’s what I’m talking about. I love this album. I’m glad I made this tape. “Long, Long Way from Home” begins to play, and she thinks, No, it’s not really that long. My dorm’s only a few minutes away. Oh, my God. This headache is killing me. S_he looks in her bag and finds an aspirin bottle. _Only one left. Shit. She swallows it and drops the empty bottle into the snow.

Bianca re-shoulders her backpack and starts to walk again, passing between University Hall and Manning Chapel (somewhat ironically modeled after the Greek Temple of Diana) to emerge onto the College Green.

And don’t get me started about some of the professors here. What role do they think they play in this fairy tale? Almighty wizards? Doesn’t Gandalf the Gray realize how goddamn awesome and talented I am? No appreciation. He takes me for granted, just like McDuck. And Saruman the White dared to place his hand on my knee. They think they can take whatever they want. Thieving bastards.

The next Foreigner song on the tape, “Feels Like the First Time,” starts to play.

First time. Oh, yeah, And then there’s The Little Prince. Every fairy tale needs a prince. I wonder what the Evil Queen would do if she found out? It wouldn’t be pretty, that’s for sure. She’s got the King wrapped around her little finger. Conniving bitch.

As Bianca crosses the College Green (now, temporarily, the College White), she examines several of the ice sculptures that students had created. Some are amateurish, but others are sublime. There is a four-foot-tall ice dragon with a tail that stretches for seven feet. Beyond it lies a sleeping tiger and the Taj Mahal. Unfortunately, all the sculptures are now covered in a layer of new snow, and it won’t be long before the work is lost. Then the artists will return to fix them or, more likely, create something entirely new. Bianca thinks that maybe she should try it. Then she recalls that she has other priorities.

“The Damage Is Done” is next on the playlist. The music begins, and Bianca sings along for a while. Then her thoughts start racing again.

Yeah, the damage is done. You got that right. They stole my Honor. My Pride. My Achievement. It’s my Loss. Loss of Virginity. How dare they take that, and why did I allow it? But the story’s not over. It’s just beginning, in fact. I made a decision. I’ll show them. They’ll be sorry. All of them will. They’ll regret what they did to me. Each in his or her own way.

Having crossed the College Green, Bianca continues down the path leading to the Lower Green, which runs between Sayles Hall and Wilson Hall, both of which were constructed in the Romanesque style during the late 1800s. Bianca likes Sayles Hall much more, with its impressive granite central tower flanked by two smaller turrets on either side. The interior of the structure is quite beautiful, she thinks, and its central hall is large enough to hold dances. Last year, she attended an open lecture given there by a professor of history, whose name she can’t recall. His talk was entitled “Captain Kirk and the Moonies,” and it dealt with the dichotomy between offering assistance to other cultures and interfering with their principles and ability to self-govern. Fascinating stuff, and good jokes. The room also contains a marvelous old pipe organ, which is still played on occasion.

Behind Sayles Hall stands the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor and author of a philosophical treatise on Stoicism called The Meditations, written around 150 AD. Bianca had heard a rumor that a few years ago some frat boys had drilled a hole in the top of the hollow bronze statue and filled it with water during the following several nights. Then they drilled a small hole in the bottom of the horse. The horse reportedly pissed for a week, although she assumes that was an exaggeration.

As Bianca passes the statue and emerges into the Lower Green, she spots an ice sculpture that she hadn’t seen before and staggers across the snowy lawn toward the object. As she gets closer, she recognizes the form as a sleeping woman. S_leeping Beauty, perhaps? Or Snow White?_ It had been wonderfully rendered. It’s a shame that the falling snow is covering her, Bianca thinks. She’ll soon be unrecognizable.

As Bianca turns to leave, her foot gets caught on a piece of the sculpture that was already buried, and she falls heavily to the ground. She laughs and starts to get up, but the quad seems to be spinning around her. I’ll just rest here for a bit, she thinks. Lying back in the snow, she looks up at the drifting flakes lit by the streetlamp on the path. It’s beautiful. Foreigner’s still playing in her ears, and she grows calm as her thoughts dampen.

Betrayal …

Theft …

Loss of …

Virginity …

I want …

… it back.

The final song on Bianca’s cassette, “Cold as Ice,” begins to play.

So tired.

“Cold …”

I’ll just

“… as …”

have a little

“… ice.”


The snow continues to fall.

A snowflake lands on Bianca’s bloodred upper lip. It does not melt.

The music is loud enough to be faintly heard by anyone standing close by. But no one is there.

“Cold … as … ice.”

The last notes trail away. After a few more seconds, the tape clicks off.

The snow falls harder. By five o’clock that morning there’s an extra eighteen inches of fresh powder on the ground, and her body is completely covered. Due to the strong winds, not even a bulge in the snow remains to indicate her presence. It will be several days before Bianca’s face—by then as white as snow—will be seen by anyone again.

And in the silence of the dawn, the snowflakes continue their frantic dance.

They do not care that Bianca Snowden’s song has ended.


Pete Simons

(I expect to publish White as Snow within the next few months. Watch my webpage or Facebook page for further developments.)