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The Cold

By christopher.harn

The last things she saw were the brittle branches of the icy maple trees that loomed over her head. Her breath had fogged her view, but in that last second before the snow devoured her, it was as clear and still as a painting. Where was he? Where had they all gone?


 


He was getting ready to leave. His anxiety only cost him more time as he fiddled with his stubborn shoelaces in vain. Finally, he knotted his scarf around his neck and walked outside into the immutable sea of snow. He knew she’d already left for the cabin; she was following a boy she’d had her eye on for a few weeks now. Maybe they were going there to party- he wasn’t sure- but it didn’t matter. Teenage jealousy boiled inside him, and it had single handedly dragged him out the door and into the cold. He walked down the icy street as quickly as he could without slipping.


 


“Hey!”


 


A high-pitched voice came from behind him. He turned around; it was a girl from school. She was bundled up from head to toe, but her wide eyes and her unrelenting smile shined through. He’d forgotten her name, but he knew she’d had her eye on him.


 


“Hi,” he replied flatly.


 


“What’s up?” she asked.


 


“I’m going to a thing in the woods. There’s a path out of town by the old spring, and apparently if you go far enough, there’s a cabin. I’m actually in a hurry.”


 


He edged away, trying his best to stop the conversation in its tracks.


 


“Oh,” she replied. “Okay. See you.” She silently moped away, and he resumed his passion-fueled march.


 


The trail was freckled with the vague footprints of others. It must be a party, he thought, for there to be so many tracks on such an obscure path. She must have gone this way. Time seemed to meander at its own pace, and before he knew it, the tracks had thinned. The path had narrowed considerably, and the trees seemed to bend over him as if to hold him in their grasp. Still he persevered, driven on by the intolerable fear of letting youthful love slip through his fingers.


 


It took him a while to realize that his were the only tracks in the snow. Confused and frightened, he began to follow his footprints back with his head hung low.


 


But the snow and trees and wind would not be shrugged off so easily. Soon, he found that his old footprints were becoming fainter. Before long, he realized that his footprints had disappeared, eaten away by the elements. 


 


He wandered for hours and hours, searching for the path or a road. But the wind grew more furious, and his clothes became soaked and frigid. He leaned against a tree and curled up, shivering; there was nothing more he could do. The cold was too merciless.


 


Just before the end, his body gave out. He slumped over to the side, the sun shining into his dilated pupils.


 


The last thing he saw were the brittle branches of the icy maple trees that loomed over his head. His breath had fogged his view, but in that last second before the snow devoured him, it was as clear and still as a painting. Where was she? Where had they all gone?

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The Cold

Created: Jan 01, 2013

Tags: snow, fiction, horror, loop

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