Okay so I am trying out this new schedule of mine and that means since it is Monday I am posting part one of a short story. I’m still working on this one so it’ll continue and I promise not to leave you hanging too much. This is a first draft of Blackridge River (well part of it anyway) and I hope you enjoy reading it.
Blackridge River – part one (of chapter one)
Feeling the ice beginning to break beneath him Jack starts to crawl faster across the frozen river towards the shoreline that is littered with the remains of those who refused to listen to the warnings. He had also been warned not come out here alone. But Jack is adventurous and thought the stories to be only that, stories. Stories in the same vein of fairy tales meant to scare children into obeying their parents.
The people who live here year round told him the stories about missing people, hikers and visitors mostly. He was shown the pictures of the bodies that had been tossed up onto the shoreline, the shoreline he was now hoping to reach. Jack thought that they had fun using photo editing software to create the photos.
Jack soon found that the warnings and stories were not scare tactics meant to keep him away from this place. They were not made up nonsense about death by cold water, they are real. He didn’t realize then that the warnings were not about the ice breaking and you just simply drowning in the near freezing water.
Hypothermia is the least of his worries.
The real warning is about what breaks the ice beneath you as you are attempting to walk across the river. Jack wanted to see for himself what haunts the river, if indeed it was anything besides stories. He considers himself to be in good shape and able to take care of himself no matter what life hands him. Or in this case throws at him. But he is wrong. The kind of wrong that may rend him limb from limb.
Jack feels the danger starting to close in on him and he crawls faster, seeing the shoreline as some kind of safety net. He tries to keep himself from looking down at the ice, tries to keep his focus on the shore. The tree limbs hanging out over the river seeming to reach out to him. But he feels a rumbling in the ice and he looks …down.
A show swims beneath him. More like it’s crawling along with him on the underside of the ice. It moves when he moves and stops when he stops. Teasing and taunting him with whispers of death and pain. Jack thought it was his own mind giving voice to the fear that is rising faster through his body. Now he can hear it, the shadow, beneath him.
He can hear the water starting to churn under him in the ice. And his fear threatens to consume him, to eat away at the resolve he has fought to keep. Pulling faster with fingers that are bleeding and half-frozen from the ice he tries to go faster. Making the shoreline is the only way he can see to be saved.
Jack can hear laughing, the shadow is laughing at him now. And that laughter is causing the ice to shift under his hands. A slight undulation of the water moving in perfect time with the shadow’s voice and movements makes it harder for Jack to continue his crawl to safety. Jack has to stop again to regain his balance and that is when he hears a sound that freezes his body in a way that the water cannot.
A low rumbling coming from the river behind him vibrates through the ice then with a crack of wild thunder the ices starts to split behind him. Jacks cries out realizing that a thin fissure has opened in the ice and the water is freezing the skin where it touches his stomach. He pushes up from the ice looking over his shoulder and sees the water coming up from the fissure. It slithers across the ice snaking towards him as if the water itself is a living thing.
The water touches his foot and begins to slither up onto his back then under to his stomach freezing his flesh as it caresses him. It follows his veins across his skin towards his heart then stops there as if waiting for a signal to continue.
“No! I’m almost there, this is not happening to me. Get away from me.” Jack cries out trying to move faster as the ice starts to separate, widening the fissure allowing more living water out. “I have to make it. I don’t want to die like this. I don’t want to die.” Jack tries in vain to hold back tears. Refusing to just quit, Jack forces his body to move.
He doesn’t see the shadow reaching for him, doesn’t see the smoke like appendages coming up from the splitting ice. His body aching from the stress of freezing and being forced to move, his mind grasping for a way to survive, Jack can hear something else slithering towards him. He doesn’t want to look, his only thought now to keep moving.
As if movement alone can save him Jack continues his crawl although now it is a belly crawl across the ice. He feels more water covering him, “I can’t quit, I can’t quit”, the mantra repeating itself over and over in his half-frozen mind. The shadow admires the resolve of this one, the strength of his mind is curious to it.
Jack looks up to see that he is nearly within reach of the branches that hang over the river. His mind finds a spark of warmth in this and spurs his body to move faster towards those branches. All he has to do now is reach out and grab hold of the ‘hands’ and pull himself out to the safety of the shore. A few more feet and he will be safe.
Though the water is trying to pull him away from the branch, Jack reaches, stretching as far as his body will allow. His fingers brush across the tips of the branches, he lets out a faint whisper of relief as his fingers start to find a better hold. He doesn’t see the clawed hand reaching for him, reaching up from the gap in the ice. Brushing across his ankle the icy hand tries to find a better hold on his body.
Jack lunges forward with a surge of strength born of the will to survive to firmly grasp the branch and pull that strength. Yelling out with a cry of would be triumph he falls short of his escape. Jack realizing in that moment what is happening as he feels the icy hand grasp his ankle and pull him away from the shore. It is pulling him away from his escape, from safety.
He looks down to see the shadow’s other hand reaching up through the ice to grab his other ankle. Those hands hold him in place as other tendrils of shadow come up from the split in the ice to coil around him, squeezing out the air in his lungs. The next moment is cold, terrifying and filled with anguish.
See that was an okay place to end for this first post. Right? Part two will be posted on Thursday
(c) Joelle Wilson
All rights reserved. No part of this writing may be reproduced by any means anywhere without permission from the author