Bogleech.com's 2018 Horror Write-off:
Submitted by Shakara
The further North you go, the colder it gets. That’s what you’ve been told, haven’t you? It is true. You’re headed away from the Equator, so that means the sunlight has more atmosphere to travel through to get to the ground. And that longer travel time means that more sunlight is spread over a wider area, so it’s colder.
It’s the same for the South, at the South Pole. Since the Earth is tilted on its axis, it’s not heated equally.
Well, I don’t live at the North or South Pole. … But that’s what it damn well feels like!
Look, I live in Ireland. Always did. Specifically, Northern Ireland. Of course, it’s going to be cold. Even in the summer! It’s uncanny.
Honestly, you go outside with the sun splitting the trees, the flowers blooming, the birds singing, and then you’re hit by a bitter wind.
And the rain. Lord, the rain. I’ve been told that’s why it’s so green here, but sometimes I think we’d do better without having Noah’s Flood every other week.
… This winter, it’s gotten much colder. Which is odd, considering global warming. Last year, it rained throughout the entirety of December and February. But now? Try having to chip icicles off your car door each time you wake up.
Ah, I’m only joking. … Work is closed. The trains aren’t running anymore. I don’t see any cars outside. Nobody wants to drive on the black ice. I’ve seen people walking to the shops, and you’d swear they were going on a journey with bleedin’ Sir Henry Shackleton! Thick coats, scarves, gloves, boots- I saw a few men wearing goggles once. I laughed at him. Then I tried going to get a set of keys cut, and I’d wished I’d not mocked him. I swear, I nearly suffocated trying to walk against the snow.
I have to walk with a salt-shaker each time I’m out now. Salt melts ice. Technically, it lowers the freezing point of water— Oh, sod it. You didn’t come here to listen to a Physics lecture.
Snow. Ice. Frost. … It’s pretty damn cold here. And without work, what else can I do but write? I tried watching some TV, but the satellites must be damaged with the wind. I got a few glimpses of a weather channel, and red warnings for ice—go figure—So I just decided I’d write.
Even the radio ain’t working. But I never much cared for the Christmas carols. If I hear Mariah Carey one more time, I’m jumping out a bleedin’ window. You see if I don’t!
Oh, and the lights flicker. I’m only thankful my biofuel boiler is working.
The Met Office are telling people to start stockpiling canned food and whatnot. I’m running out of willow pellets, and I don’t want to go out. Even through the intermittent static, I can see footage of people flooding the shops. Just as well I have these trusty homespun blankets.
I don’t really mind staying at home. I have lots of books I’ve been meaning to read.
But one thing is seriously bothering me. No, it isn’t the snow. It isn’t my shortage of pellets.
It isn’t the crowds of people hunting for resources. … I keep seeing this odd… shine… in the storm. Every time I look out, I see this weird light. It isn’t car headlights. It isn’t a torch. It isn’t a street-lamp. I don’t know how to describe it. Maybe it’s the sunlight reflecting off the ice crystals in the snow. I know that’s how you get snow-blindness.
… I’m tired. Perhaps I should make some cocoa.
Late night entry: Cold water don’t make good cocoa.
Carob doesn’t work either.
Just stick to chocolate milk. Here’s hoping the fridge still works.
Hush my big, fat mouth. The power’s out! For good, I think.
And it happened in the middle of the damn night. Talk about timing…
Canned and dried foods, thankfully, stay fresher for longer.
… Hey, I wonder if I can use the snow to keep some stuff cold?
I expected the bottles of Glenfiddich to explode with the cold. Turns out I was wrong.
… Well, one got totally covered in frost, but the alcohol inside isn’t turned to ice yet.
I don’t know where the other bottle is. … Maybe someone took it.
I don’t blame them, honestly. With these bottles sticking up out of the ground, as if to say ‘Hey, take us’… I wonder how my neighbours are doing?
It couldn’t have been Audrey, she doesn’t drink. Leo prefers stout. Hm. Someone else?
I found that bottle broken open, shards of glass littering the ground. Except, they looked more like ice than glass. It had been frozen with the cold, and the bottle had cracked open, spilling over the snow.
Huh. It’s much colder than I thought.
I had expected to see footprints out there, next to the bottles.
No. But, what I did see was even stranger. Above the smooth snow- I don’t know how I missed it- there was a thick swathe of ice. Not frost. Pure ice. It was shining clear white, with a tinge of blue. How did I miss that? The sunlight was shining right off it!
I want to say ‘ice age’. It seems cold enough.
The car won’t work. The engine is just much too cold.
Thankfully, it’s not snowing as much. I’m actually starting to see more sunlight.
My food supply is… running out. Time for a crash diet.
Cold beans aren’t nice.
Lit the fireplace earlier. I entirely forgot about those peat briquettes. I feel dirty about using non-renewable energy, but I don’t want to freeze to death…
I burnt some marshmallows.
I can’t sleep. Maybe I built the fire too hot? Am I sick? I feel this nausea in my gut.
Couldn’t be a deficiency disease. I’ve got multivitamin tablets.
Anxiety? Could be. … But why? I have food, I have heat, I have shelter from the snow…
… Is the window broken? I can see a lot of cracks. It looks like frost. Very, very thick frost.
Have the windows frozen over now? Why is it shining so much?
The window is not frozen over.
Then what did I see?
Ice doesn’t reflect that much light. I know it doesn’t. Not thin, hoarfrost-y ice.
Is someone playing a trick on me?
I’ve had enough of this damn cold. I went outside today and poured all the salt I had on the frost around my house. Then, I trudged my way to the shops, sprinkling salt as I went. The shop was empty of workers, and a fair amount of the resources had been taken.
I snatched up as much cans and packets as I could fit in the remaining plastic bags, and a boat-load of saltshakers. Then I made my way back. Damn hurt my arms, it was so heavy.
I then noticed that the snow outside everyone’s houses… wasn’t like regular snow…
The snow had turned to thick ice. Even through my parka and layers upon layers of clothing, I felt cold, like I had stepped out naked.
Snow to ice… It’s so cold.
I’m leaving. I don’t know how, but I plan to leave. I’m going to get my supplies together and get out. I’ll walk if I have to.
Salt, salt, and more salt. Table salt, kosher salt, sea salt, Himalayan pink salt… I’ve been pouring it like crazy. I woke up at dawn, and I had to wade through thick mist. I have saltshakers in my pockets, like the holsters a cowboy wears.
From dawn to dusk, I poured. I had a pack of beef jerky in my pocket, eating as I poured.
I went around the whole town, pouring on every bit of ice I found. I didn’t care if I trod on someone’s lawn or frozen flowers- I had to melt the ice.
… Then I discovered something horrid.
My neighbours. They weren’t in their houses. They weren’t huddling up against the cold.
They were gone.
Kidnapped? Did they leave to somewhere hotter?
There I stood, clueless, in the cold light of day. Where had they gone?
… Why was I the only one left?
I checked the doors and windows-- all unlocked. The locks had been frozen, then… smashed.
I mean it. They looked as if someone had taken a massive hammer to them, obliterating them. Doorframes were crooked, windows were cracked, gateways were bent…
Everyone. Every damn house was broken into. I saw nobody. No infant, no elder. Nobody.
Food was still there, untouched, unopened. Phones and wallets were left behind. Even their coats. They were gone entirely.
The only house that was left untouched was mine.
Who was doing this? Who had taken my neighbours?
I pondered as I poured the salt. Eventually, I ran out. Right at the exit of the cul-de-sac. There, was the main road. The ice was especially thick there, as if a river had scythed through the tarmac, and had promptly froze.
I went home and sat in front of the fire, still in my parka, watching the peat briquettes burn. Hurriedly, I stuffed packets of dried seeds and meats into all my inside pockets, and put cans of energy drink into my trouser pockets.
I watched as the red tongues of flame licked at the carbonised plant matter, immolating it, crackling and burning it away.
I found my last bottle of Glenfiddich. I stuffed a handkerchief into it and found an old lighter. Too small to provide heat, but it would provide some light. And if someone wanted to try and get me, then they’d sure as hell burn. I was not going down easy.
Walking outside, I looked out into the night. It was a half-moon, but I could clearly see the ocean of white stretching before me. Snow fell, yet it could not touch the salt.
Clearly, this person- this kidnapper- was using the storm as a cover.
“Come on out, you bastard!” I shouted. As if in response, the wind became stronger, threatening to blow me back.
Shivers of electricity ran up and down my spine as something came across the pale landscape. Something… shining. I stared on as someone walked forth. No… Glided.
They didn’t look like any person I had seen before. They were tall. Almost too tall.
I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman from the distance.
They wore this… strange shimmering outfit, like a long dress of mirrors. The moonlight danced off their glittering form, white tinged with palest blue.
They came closer. I didn’t move. I couldn’t. There was something about this… thing that was just wrong. Yet I didn’t know what. I wanted to move. I wanted to scream. I wanted to lift that fire-poker and go to town on that wretch.
I just couldn’t move. I was… frozen.
Finally, they were but a metre away from me. They stood there, staring, and I could see them in their horrid glory.
It came closer. Their face was long and gaunt, with diamond-like eyes that glowed, glowering.
Their body was all wrong, too. I thought they were wearing a robe, but I soon realised they didn’t have legs. Just a single, serpentine limb that pushed them forward. There was a sliding, scratching noise as they moved, like ice shifting. Their face was as clear and as smooth as glass. Behind their head was a mane of sharp, shining needles. The fingers on their hands were like icicles, viciously sharp.
Their arms were like solid chunks of broken glass, warped into the shape of limbs.
It was made of ice.
They bent down to look at me, with a noise like glaciers cracking, my own terrified face reflected in their skin. Their eyes were fractals of cold, silver light- sharp, geometric, perfect and pure.
They spoke, jaw cracking open with a whistling creak, their voice like the night wind.
“I am rime. I am frost. I am gelid. I am here to take back the land. Yet you, Man, destroy my work. My perfect and clear garden of ice, and you salt it. All of you do, breaking my flesh and blood with fire and stone. Summer has passed. Winter has come.”
They stretched out a blade-like hand. I could feel my nose go numb, along with my lips.
Awoken by agony, I shrieked from the pain of frostbite and frantically lit the lighter, burning the handkerchief. I threw the bottle of whiskey at the creature, and it erupted in a glorious explosion of burning malted rye.
“KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!” it howled, its voice ripping through the night wind and deep into my soul.
I turned and ran, sprinting along the path I had salted. I ran like a maniac, with that… thing right on my tail. Wafts of burning cold air blew down my neck, with the creature breathing heavily, furiously.
I took a sharp turn, hoping to lose the creature, hoping it would trip and fall. But it didn’t. The ice was its road, and it clung to the frozen path like a demon. I kept on running, burning under my many layers. I smelt frozen rye. The fire hadn’t even affected it.
I ran on and on, sticking to the salted path. The snow became heavier. Flakes of white buffeted my eyelids, trying to blind me. Knives of ice ripped at my shoulders, finding only purchase on torn cotton.
The creature growled in a crackling voice.
I was so busy running, I didn’t even know where I was going. I was making frantic rounds across the whole cul-de-sac, trying to lose them. I wasn’t succeeding.
Eventually, I managed to make my way back to my house. I slammed the door in the bastard’s face, and heard ice shattering. I locked it and shoved an heirloom cabinet in front of it. It wouldn’t hold for long.
Scarcely pausing to breathe, I chugged down an energy drink and made my way to the garage. There was the car, a total wreck. The metal was frozen, and I reckon the engine was dead. No matter. I kicked on the boiler, burning the last of the willow pellets, hoping to summon some heat. I turned on old space heaters, gas lamps, anything- in order to get the room hot enough. I leapt into the car and turned the keys desperately.
The engine whined and spluttered as I tried to get it to tick over, swearing.
“Come on, you stupid machine!” I wept. I could feel my tears freeze on my face.
With a sound comparable to a banshee, the ice-creature ripped open the iron door to the garage, snarling viciously. Their face was a mess of split ice and rage.
Miraculously, the engine burst to life, and I floored it.
The creature was pinned to the bonnet as I tore into the frozen road. The tires span like mad as they attempted to find a grip on the black ice. I almost laughed as the creature shrieked in fear, trying to hold onto the car. I fumbled with the glove box, trying to find something to throw at him.
An old map, a pair of weathered gloves, a tin of mints, half a pack of cigarettes… Nothing useful.
It glared at me as it crouched on the bonnet. I yelped as it raised its fingers and stabbed its claws into the engine.
“No more games, little ape!”
I felt the power leave the machine as it began to choke and sputter.
It spat hot oil at the beast, and it pushed its claws further in, the wounded engine finally dying. The reek of burning metal and diesel rose into the air.
Ferocious inspiration welled within me and I took out my lighter.
I threw it at the beast and leapt out of the car.
The world went white as there was a mighty explosion.
After lying there for what felt like hours, I awoke to the grey light of dawn. The snow had stopped.
My car was a burning heap of broken metal. The beast was nowhere to be seen.
“Take that, Frosty!”
I punched the air in triumph and slowly shambled back to my house. I had little food packed, but I didn’t care. I took everything I needed- wallet, phone, the last of the salt, and made my way out. I had to walk quite a while before I made it to the neighbouring city.
Hope welled in my heart as I strode down the frosty road to Gleann Dubh.
Lights shone bright, like beacons of hope. I smelt coal smoke and hot metal, that distinct city smell. Ozone, nicotine and caffeine. Civilisation. I stepped past the border and walked down the dark grey pavement. Oblivious citizens walked about, stuck in traffic, in shops, in cafes, talking…
I booked a night in a hotel, trying to scan over the recent events in my mind. I so dearly wanted to think of it as a dream. A hallucination. That I got blind drunk off whiskey and imagined the whole thing. Lucid dream. Sleep-walking. Sleep paralysis. Hypnagogia.
Pangs of grief rose as I remembered my neighbours, and I tried to quell the growing madness within me. What was that creature? What had it done?
It couldn’t have been real, but deep in my primal mind, I knew it was.
It’s snowing here now.
I refuse to go outside. I’m having enough trouble keeping my head together as it is.
Swear to god, a bit of hailstone struck off the window and I almost swallowed my own tongue.
Ah. What a fool I was.
My neighbours were not kidnapped, nor did they just get up and leave.
No. I was entirely wrong.
It’s snowing again today. I decided to take a walk, buy some food, probably some coffee.
I looked up and about the city.
The snow wasn’t coming from the sky.
I saw it.
I looked up at the skyscrapers. There it was. Looking right at me.
In one hand, a pile of snowy ice crystals.
In the other, a bug-eyed corpse, skin blue and paper-thin. That glassy creature, taking huge chunks of flesh out of the body with its claws, freezing and turning it into… the snow…
All of it.
And another thing I failed to realise.
Despite the heat of the sun, the burning fire, or plain deliberate destruction of nature, water will turn back to ice once it gets cold.
The further North you go, the colder it gets. That’s what you’ve been told, haven’t you?