Bogleech.com's 2019 Horror Write-off:
Submitted by Shakara
Tammy was cold. Very, very cold. She had only meant to play in the woods for a little while, maybe make some snowmen, glide across the frozen lake, write her name in the snow with a stick… Now she had lost her way home and was very lost indeed.
Tammy buried her hands ever deeper into her pockets, hoping to get some warmth into her curled fingers. Her fingertips had become numbed with the chill air, and her nose was tingling in frosty pain. Her cheeks burnt as she panted, trying to find the path home. Every way in the forest looked the same. She could’ve sworn there was that simple path of cobbles led back to her garden, back to town. The thick white blanket of snow buried all traces of any path out of the boscage. Where was she now?
She stamped her feet, her toes smarting as they stung with the cold. She regretted not putting on more socks. With every breath she shivered. No hat and no gloves. Even with her coat on, she felt naked.
“I’m an idiot.” She whined as another blast of icy wind scythed into her cheeks. It wasn’t this cold earlier. Not at all. Now she was stuck here. Tammy felt as if her tears would freeze on her eyelashes. She sniffled, spitting out snowflakes. Eventually, she couldn’t hold it back anymore, letting out big sobs as she cried, sitting on her haunches. Her throat hurt from breathing in the cold, her eyes stung, her teeth chattered with each sigh and she was sure it was getting late. Through the thick clouds, she could see the orange sun slowly sinking.
She wandered past hoar-coated trees, wanting nothing more to be back in her cosy home, mug of tea in hand, fireplace lit, papa reading with her, Berenice playing the harpsichord…
“Oh, my, my! Where did you come from, little one?”
Tammy looked up to see a tall woman in a thick, fur coat. It was a rather old-fashioned coat, like one her grandmother would wear, only brighter. It was coloured deep red, a smoky ruby colour. She wore a fur cap and a long scarf, complete one of those cylindrical, furry things you put your hands in.
“Poor thing, you look frozen half to death! Oh, come here, child. I’ll bring you back into town.”
Ordinarily Tammy was taught not to trust strangers, but she was currently too cold and too lost to care. She needed a way out, and although this woman looked odd, she gave off a peaceful air. She needed all the help she could get.
“Come, dear one. You can huddle in my warm coat. Yours looks rather thin.”
Tammy rushed forward, gripping the hem of the red coat. It was soft, like cashmere. Like standing near a fireplace, she could feel the warmth coming off in waves.
“Don’t worry. I’ll keep you safe, darling.”
She felt the red coat close in around her, bathing her in soft warmth. All the frost melted from her skin, and her fingers didn’t hurt anymore. It was so warm, like the blankets of her bed. She felt much, much better, her tears drying up. She breathed a sigh of relief and felt herself being lulled to sleep by the gentle cooing of the red-coated woman.
“Tammy? Tammy, where are you?”
Bernice walked outside, pulling up her green coat hood. Tammy had been gone for a good long while now. She walked into the boscage. Tammy had gone in there earlier to play. Was she still playing? Surely, she would’ve returned for some hot tea. It was the perfect weather for hot chocolate and a massively fluffy blanket.
“Tammy? You’ve got to come inside now. Father’s making stew. Come along, you’ll freeze out here!”
She stepped into the frozen forest, shivering at how cold it was. Her boots crunched into the thick snow, an ocean of crystal white. There was no way anybody could stay out here. Even under three shirts and thick mittens, it was too frosty.
“Tammy? … Where are you?”
Scouring the forest was fruitless. The small footprints twisted in circles, this way and that way, until they finally vanished altogether into the snow.
The girl would've wept, if a flurry of bitter wind didn't strike her face and freeze her tears.
Berenice was cold. Very, very cold.