Login   Sign Up 


Cold As Ice

by scriever 

Posted: 04 November 2016
Word Count: 1010
Summary: Inspired by a very cold weekend in the Scottish Borders last winter

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

It had been freezing for two weeks now, and the ice on the old curling pond was thick. My breath hung in the air as I picked a spot on the far side, crouched low, took a couple of steps, and with a single, fluid movement released the stone. It stopped about a foot short of its target. Not bad, but it showed I needed this practice.

After an hour and a half my arm was aching. It was already starting to get dark. Time for one last throw. Two quick steps, right knee on the ice, then, as the stone slid across the ice, a creak, loud in the stillness. A dark, jagged crack snaked towards me. It opened in an instant and I plunged into the water. So cold the breath left my body. I scrabbled frantically, couldn't get purchase. A single thought: this is it - I'm going to die. Then a shout: 'Grab the branch! To your right!' A figure at the edge of the pool; a long, crooked branch snaked towards me. A despairing lunge and my right hand closed on wood. With a huge effort I managed to grab the branch with my left hand, and start to heave myself out of the water. After what seemed an age, I was kneeling on solid ground, breathless and exhausted. Someone was holding me. 'Thought that was it, thank you, thank you...'

'Never mind that now, we need to get you warm, get these wet clothes off you. Come on!'

A stumbling run through the woods, to an old, dark house. Into a large room lit and warmed by a roaring fire. My rescuer hurried away, reappeared with a huge towel. 'Get these wet things off, dry yourself. I'll make you a hot drink.' I stripped off, wrapped myself in the sort warmth of the towel, kneeled in front of the fire. When I stopped shivering I became aware of a woman, the woman that saved my life, standing watching me. She handed me a steaming mug. Hot chocolate. It burned my throat, but it felt good. Suddenly exhausted, I lent back against a chair and looked up at my saviour. Her face was unlined and looked incongruously young under grey hair. Her eyes were a strange colour, a pale grey only slightly darker than her hair. She smiled, and sat facing me on the other side of the fire.
'You're all right.' She could be talking about the fact that I wasn't dead, or she could have been making a comment on my appearance. I smiled back. 'You're not so bad yourself. Thank you, for all of this. Is this the old Carstairs house? I thought it was empty.'

'It's been empty for years, I've only been using it for a short time. What were you doing at the pond on your own? That was a bit daft, wasn't it?'

'Practising my curling. I like practising on my own. Although it does seems pretty stupid now. I thought that old pond would be well frozen, it hasn't thawed for the last two weeks.'

She smiled again, a warm smile that made me feel good. I felt something else, too; something moved slightly, deep inside. Embarrassed and more than a little confused, I looked down, into the darkness of the hot chocolate. I felt a wave of tiredness wash over me.

A vertical strip of light woke me. It took me a while to realise what it was: daylight through heavy curtains. I was in a bed, with no idea how I got there. I was naked. There was someone in bed with me. An arm, across my shoulder. A warm body pressed against my back. A woman, my rescuer, presumably. Also naked. I could feel her soft breath against my neck. I could recall sitting by the fire, drinking hot chocolate, feeling exhausted. I remembered her smile. Slowly, carefully, I inched towards the edge of the bed. My clothes were piled on a chair, I started to pull them on.

'Good morning. Sleep well?' She was sitting up in bed, watching me with a sleepy smile. Her gaze was direct, open, and I saw something in her eyes. A longing. She seemed to look straight into my soul. I saw myself in that bed, holding her close. I wanted to be there, more than anything I had ever wanted, but I took a deep breath. 

'I need to get home, get a change of clothes. Shower, that sort of thing. I want to thank you, for, you know, everything, but I don't really know what happened last night. I remember the hot chocolate, the fire, feeling sleepy. Did you put me to bed? Did we..'

She laughed, and then she was standing beside me, swathed in a blanket. How did she do that? She reached out, touched my cheek. 'You were exhausted. And I think you might have been in shock. I was worried, thought you needed rest, so I took you to my bed, kept you warm." She stopped, looked serious. She stared into my eyes for what seemed a long time.   'But there's something you need to know. Something you have to see.' She took my hand, led me gently towards the door.

Meek as a lamb, I allowed myself to be led out of the house, down the driveway, and back towards the woods. Our feet crunched through freshly fallen snow. As we neared the pond she turned to me, and stopped. 'Remember, I'm here. I'll always be here.' She let go of my hand, stepped aside. The pond was silent, peaceful. The ice was heavily ridged where it had resealed after I'd fallen through it. And then I saw something else. Something under the ice. I moved as close as I dared. It was a body. It hung in the freezing water, lifeless and still. The ice was clear enough to make out a face. I cried out, and she caught me as my knees buckled. The face was mine.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

TassieDevil at 22:43 on 04 November 2016  Report this post
Hi Ross,
Must admit I didn't see that coming. My congratulations on a deft bit of misdirection. The pace was good, packing a lot into the narrative with a dramatic opening sequence. I might have been tempted to begin with the incident though and bring in the first para later. Enjoyed this topical piece a lot.

Bazz at 17:21 on 05 November 2016  Report this post
Hi Scriever, definately a chilling piece! Love the very subtle sense of unease, the vague strangeness of the woman and the house, and the ending is a lovely sharp lurch of a twist. I like that who she is is entirely open to interpretation, along with how she found him and what she is. Definately spooky!

Cliff Hanger at 12:29 on 06 November 2016  Report this post
A very atmospheric story with an icy chill. I like how it seems familiar but not predictable. The curling was a great way into that. The first paragraph drew me right in. I felt he knew he was in danger but competitiveness took over. Clever use of throw in relation to his last delivery of the stone because that intimates to me that he was courting trouble. His rescuer is sublty drawn with a mysterious but romantic edge. 

It burned my throat but it felt good

You mamage to make that simple statement quite unsettling. The only thing that struck me were was it necessary to have the woman say it was all very innocent? It might work better to leave that hanging.

An unusual story that I thought was quite spooky to be honest and perfect for the prompt.



scriever at 20:20 on 10 November 2016  Report this post
Thanks for all the kind comments. I've taken on what you suggested Jane, you're right, it does make it better, and I did a bit of tidying and editing when I was in there.


To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .