Okay so here’s how we’re doing this: I have two parts to post and I want them both up before Christmas. I had originally planned to just combine them into one part, but I don’t think that’s going to be possible with my current schedule. So today I’m posting Part 3, and Part 4 will come either tomorrow or Sunday. Let’s get this thing out the door! I’m also going to have a mini-giveaway on Sunday, so keep your eyes open for that. For those who might not be back until after the holidays: have a happy one, from us to you. You helped us give close to $200 to the Capital Area Food Bank, and it means a lot. Now, on with the show…
Oh, and click here to read Part 2.
Bill couldn’t – wouldn’t – believe what he saw when he opened the cabin door. Ally’s initial screams, even muffled though the cabin walls, had shaken him to the core. His hand shook and his stomach rebelled as he turned the doorknob. What he saw on the other side of the threshold, though, that hit him fast and hard. He heard himself shouting (though not a scream, he would never do something so histrionic as a scream) out as the snowy thing lifted the axe above Ally.
She’ll be all right. She always gets out of things like this, he thought. She would get out of the way just in time, and run back to the cabin, just as he yelled for her to do.
No miraculous save this time. No last-minute intervention. Nothing but the ax completing its horrifying arc, burying itself square in the center of Ally’s beautiful face with a thick, sickening schwack.
This time, he might have screamed. He couldn’t be certain of much once she had fallen backwards into the snow. He wanted to run for her and destroy whatever that thing might be, but Jen held him back.
“You can’t help her now. You’ll just get killed,” she whispered.
He knew this to be the truth, but how. How could he let that pass without doing something? He found a certain sick fascination in observing this: though his intellect knew that he could do nothing, his emotions insisted that she could still be saved, if only he…
The thing pulled the axe from Ally’s forehead and swung again, this time separating her head from her body in one clean swing.
There could be no other word for it: Bill shrieked and did the only thing that he could think to do, slamming the cabin door and throwing his weight against it as he stared into Jen’s steady eyes.
She’s taking this remarkably well, he thought, moments before something heavy threw itself into the door, jolting his body.
“Help me!” he cried out, reaching for her.
She shrugged, her eyes wide. . “What am I supposed to do?”
He waved his hand toward the table. “Get a chair or something. We can stick it under the handle.”
She moved, though not as quickly as he would have liked, strolling from her spot near him toward the table.
Another blow and the door shivered in its frame; he felt the contents of his stomach quivering with the shot. “This is not good, this is not good,” he muttered, over and over.
If Jen heard him, she didn’t indicate it. She was in a world of her own as she chose one of the old wooden chairs and dragged it across the floor.
“What are you, in slow motion? Come on,” he said, and ripped it from her hands.
Her best response was, “Sorry.” She backed away, playing with the charm on her necklace, watching him as the door buckled for a moment and he did all that he could to close it again.
With the beast repelled for a short moment, he whirled, cramming the chair under the knob. He’d only seen this done in TV shows and movies and knew well the line between fiction and reality, but it had to work. The basic physics of it made sense.
He backed away from the door, wiping his hands on his pants. The chair seemed so flimsy compared to that…
Whatever that is. Whoever that is. Because it can’t be what I thought I saw. That’s impossible.
A new blow rattled not just the door but the wall itself. He swore that the wall bowed as he watched it, giving three times as the beast beat against the door.
At last, when he had become sure that the wall couldn’t possibly hold up to the beast’s ferocious attacks, that the whole side of the cabin would cave in, allowing the beast to waltz in and feast on their blood, the blows stopped.
They stopped, and the beast went silent.
He and Jen stood frozen for a long time, waiting for the next blow, but it never came. Soon the only sound from outside was a gust of wind, rattling the eaves as it blasted toward the roof.
He chuckled and patted his shaking hands together. “There. That’ll show…”
A thump silenced him. They turned toward the source of the noise to discover a thick layer of snow at the bottom of the fireplace. The wind must have dislodged it from above, spilling it down the chimney and snuffing out the fire that they had built.
You wish that’s what happened, he thought.
His heartbeat strengthened in the back of his throat. He backed away from the fireplace, glancing at Jen. “That didn’t just happen.”
She walked toward the fireplace and knelt down, running a finger through the melting snow. She nodded and turned toward him, extending a finger loaded with snow. “Sure looks like it did, honey.”
Again he noticed her overwhelming sense of calmness. Even accounting for shock, he couldn’t understand her reaction. “Get away from it,” he said.
She shrugged and stood up, raising her eyebrows. “Okay, but I don’t think it can –”
The fireplace exploded with the wind that they had heard passing over the roof.
Of course. The bastard didn’t give up. He found another way.
This, too, coiled in his brain in the most logical of fashions; he watched himself backing away as if from a long distance. More snow blew down through the chimney and out into the room, piling itself on the edge of the hearth. Jen backed away slowly, retreating to the far wall, well away from Bill.
He whipped his head around, his mind grasping for a weapon that would stop this beast in its tracks. It had to be impossible. How could you fight something made of pure snow?
The snow began to coalesce, going from amorphous blob to familiar patterns – an arm here, a leg there. He knew that it would be complete soon, and ready to kill them both. He had to do something.
He tried to get Jen’s attention, but she had become focused on the monster, rubbing that god-awful charm between her hands, muttering something under her breath. He shouted her name, but it disappeared into the roar of the coalescing beast.
He hated to do it, but she would have to take care of herself for now. God knows he had tried to get her away from the thing.
Now defense – how…
His eyes fell on a can of WD40 that sat, neglected, in the far corner of the cabin. He hadn’t run at full speed for close to ten years, but he did it now, practically sliding as he reached down for the WD40 can, narrowly avoiding the beast’s swinging fist, which smashed into the mirror on the wall.
The mirror made a horrible crashing sound, falling into a thousand pieces that scattered across the floor. It confounded the thing for a few moments, giving Bill time to sweep his Zippo from the dining room table.
He whirled, turning the can and lighter on the monster. He pressed the trigger on the canister and snapped the Zippo’s wheel, gasping as an arc of flame spread out ahead of him, touching the beast in several places. It coated the snow, setting the beast alight where-ever it touched.
The beast remained utterly silent as the flames ate away its white flesh; Bill thought this might be the most unsettling thing about the whole experience, as if it were nothing more than a killing machine, refusing to slow or swerve from its purpose. It didn’t even flail as the flames consumed it. It continued to come at Bill, its strides a study in single-minded, deadly focus. Bill staggered backward, but he kept his finger on the trigger. He knew it meant the difference between life and death.
He gave a whoop of victory as the flames spread to the beast’s legs, halting its steady forward progress. Bill had only to take one step, then another, to avoid it. At last it stopped altogether, trying to hold its form. Its dying body extinguished the remaining flames, but by then the melting had progressed too far for the beast to pull its body back together.
Laughing, Bill turned off the makeshift blowtorch and kicked the beast in its soft head, sending snow, ice, and water skittering across the floor. Frenzied with power, he stomped his foot on the remains until nothing remained but a small pond of water in the middle of the floor.
When he had finished, he threw his head back, pushing his hair back on his skull with one hand. He winked at Jen. “That, my dear, is how you do it. That’s a man at work.”
Jen said nothing; she simply circled the puddle, rubbing her charm, her eyes staring at nothing and everything at once.
“Well aren’t you going to thank me?” he said.
She remained silent.
How dare she rob him of this triumph? The feeling had already begun to slip away, , replaced by a sick, shaky feeling. This was no joke. This…thing…had killed the woman he really loved. They would never get back together. There would be no happy ending for them.
He opened his mouth to speak, though he had no idea what he would say. Would he accuse her? Would he apologize?
It didn’t matter, for the words died when he noticed something at his feet. He recoiled, throwing his hands over his face.
It was the puddle; it had begun to quiver, slowly at first, but becoming more energetic by the second.
No, that’s impossible, he thought, and found the thought immediately fascinating. Even after all he’d seen he still believed this to be impossible. He would have chuckled had his stomach not been consumed by a gnawing sense of dread.
As he took a step away from the puddle, the chair beneath the door knob fell to the floor with a loud thump. The front door burst open, bringing with it a fierce, roaring wind that rose from nowhere and blasted through the cabin, cutting through his exposed flesh.
He watched in horror as the puddle rippled, catching the wind. It began to crack, the telltale sounds of freezing water. Within moments the water began to climb upwards over itself, rising in columns that resembled the beast’s legs. As the water climbed, so it froze; one moment its legs were water, the next solid, translucent ice. Then followed the beast’s abdomen, climbing upward toward its head and outward to its arms.
The beast – now made of solid ice – rose before him, extending its right arm as it solidified. That arm lengthened, growing into an angular hand with fingers that continued to extend, forming foot-long icicles that resembled razor claws.
Bill made a sound in the back of his throat, stumbling backwards. He thought he would fall on his ass, but he never got the chance. Instead, pain seared through his body as the ice beast thrust its arm forward. He looked down, his mouth spreading in dismay and disbelief. The beast had skewered him, its ice claws cutting through his upper belly and into his chest cavity; he could feel the cold, sharp things moving in there.
He tried to speak, but it must have pierced one of his lungs. He could do nothing but flap his lips. He knew that shock must be setting in, but he couldn’t do anything about it.
The beast grinned at him with its insane face and made another snapping motion.
Bill’s world went dark.
Click here for the chilling conclusion!