I've got something special for you. My good friend J.B. Murray has given us the gift of this incredible short piece of dark fiction. I truly hope you enjoy this little slice of the macabre.....stay tuned for something else coming down the hallway......
By: JB Murray © Dec 2011-12-15
knew the roads were icy before they had even left the lodge.
Weatherman said a storm was rising, blowing in from Canada, crashing
into another front coming from the west, and was surely to blanket the
northeast in a centuries new record snowfall. The day had been warm
though, very pleasant. But as the clouds rolled in, they brought with
them the slightest rain. Then the temperatures dropped. Then the snow
started. But it had been a great holiday get away from the rest of the
never stopping world he and Samantha were accustomed to.
It was a
light, soft fluffy blanket at first; the flakes being whisked away from
the tires of Jarrod’s SUV. Jarrod had both hands on the wheel. The
traction control on his vehicle managed the occasional slippage here and
there as they winded through the endless roads in this back country, a
canopy of trees lining either side of them. His wife sat quietly in the
passenger’s seat, a book opened on her lap, her glasses hanging just on
the tip of her nose as she often did when she read, as if she weren’t
really looking through them at all, but rather over them. It was an
endearing trait that he always found amusing. Somehow, it was the
simple things like that, that always felt like home, even though their
home was relatively new. They had dated only a year, marrying the year
after, and now on their third. But nothing felt quite like home to him,
as his Samantha.
A slight smiled appeared on her face, her
cheeks crawling upward as she turned her head and glanced at him over
her glasses. Like always, she had know he had been watching her. He
smiled back, and winked. Samantha giggled that one of a kind giggle,
where she shook her head in the slightest from side to side, and covered
her mouth with her fingers. It was an almost child-like gesture,
almost purely innocent. She mouthed the words I love you through that
smile of hers. He took one hand from the wheel and reached over,
grabbing hers. He pulled it to him, kissed the top of her hand, and held
it to his cheek, closing his eyes for just a moment, breathing in the
smell of her skin, and the warmth of her caress.
His hand on the
steering wheel slipped violently to the left as the wheels caught a long
patch of ice. Everything that happened next was slowed down more than
just a fraction. It was like living a lifetime in a matter of seconds.
let go her hand and reached for the wheel, his unconscious mind
preparing to take over and steer them to safety. He glanced over as
Samantha’s glasses fell from her face and she gripped the dashboard with
one hand, the passenger’s side door with the other. Her smile had
contorted into a mask of fear; eyes bulging wide, mouth perched to
scream. The SUV skid sideways for a moment, and next he knew they were
backwards and he was looking out the windshield at the road they had
just traversed. The force of the skid kept him pinned against the
armrest. He was then looking at the tree-lined roadway, the forest,
sparse at first, but growing denser the deeper you looked, the whitest
blanket of covering on the forest floor. The road again. And as the
vehicle swung around once more he caught only a glimpse of it. But the
glimpse was all he needed. The outcropping of boulders by the roadside,
peaking out from under the snow, maybe just a bit higher than the tires
on his SUV. How fast were they spinning? 30? 40? 50? Faster? He
had been going at least 40 before the wheels tore out from under him
just moments before. The truck was sideways again. He craned his neck,
working against the force of the spin, the cords on his neck
standing out, in an attempt to look at Samantha. She, herself was
pinned to the passenger’s side door. Jarrod closed his eyes. He knew
it was coming. And then suddenly it was as if someone had turned off
the volume to the world. The screams, the whooshing of the wind, the
SUV engine, all fell silent for just a second. Then there was a CRACK!
Metal bent. And the force of the spin changed in that instant as they
were both pulled upward against their seatbelts. Jarrod watched the
world turn upside down as the SUV struck the boulders and flipped. The
forest whirled by, a kaleidoscope of pine greens, bare brown branches
and flutters of snow. The SUV flipped into the woods, and he knew they
were now at the mercy of fate, and fate alone. In all that forest, the
SUV found a lesser dense part, and flipped into the woods, down a
gradual descent. The roof concaved and windows exploded; the hood
bounced open like a trapdoor and ripped off as the front axle snapped
and a tire went rolling ahead. The truck turned over and over and
Jarrod could swear, looking to his right that he could see the immense
pine coming toward them at breakneck speed. Then the SUV smashed into
the tree, just beyond the front tire of the passenger’s side. There,
the truck lurched, and fell back into place, stopping abruptly.
took a moment for the haze to lift. Jarrod shook his head and looked
up, the cobwebs falling from his vision, not quickly enough. There was a
ringing in his ears, and he was freezing. His window had been smashed,
and snow was blowing in through it. Frantically he looked to his
right. Samantha was not there in the passenger’s seat. He coughed,
swallowed back something coppery and sweet. He reached for the door
handle and tugged at it. Amazingly enough, the door was free and swung
open. Jarrod didn’t as much as step out of the truck as much as he fell
out, landing on his hands and knees. The snow was considerably deeper
now. He wrenched his neck up. Even in the dense wood, he could see it
was coming down much faster now. Stumbling, he got to his feet, and,
using the truck as a crutch, he walked around to the passenger’s side
and pried open the door. His senses were starting to come back to him
now, adrenalin rushing through him, warming him slightly making his
thoughts that more coherent. The passenger’s seat was empty. He stood,
looked around him and the wreckage. There in the snow, just past the
tree with which the SUV had collided, sat her book. The one she was
reading on the trip back. He stammered forward and picked it from the
ground. There were specs of crimson on the cover. That’s when he saw
it; a trail. Droplets of red were spattered here and there on the snowy
white linen of the forest flow, leading deeper into the woods. Had she
gotten out by herself and walked off in that direction? But there were
He slipped the paperback into his back pocket,
and without thinking much now for his own safety, the matter of finding
Samantha winning over, trudged out into the woods to find her.
couldn’t tell how long he’d been walking. But the silence in the woods
made everything deafening. Each time the wind picked up he could feel
it to his core. Clumps of snow falling from the branches almost seemed
to echo in the infinity of the forest. He walked at first, then his
pace quickened and his heart raced. Little by little he sped faster and
faster into the unknown. And then, without warning, the trail ceased.
He looked to his left, his right, ahead and behind. The ground was
untouched. The trees around began to spin a little as a brief bout of
panic set in. He turned this way and that. Where the hell was he? He
screamed. Jarrod then fell to his knees and began to cry. His tears
were nearly freezing to his face, when moments later, he felt the
oddest of things. It was the warmest of breezes. Almost like breath
against his skin. In it he could smell embers, cinnamon and pine.
Warm, like home. He looked up, confused. The breeze had halted. But
ahead in the woods stood a man? Was it a man? Tall, dark hair, with
eyes of a crystal blue he’d swear. He couldn’t quite make out his
clothes. Jarrod rubbed his eyes, once, then twice. The man was still
there. He smiled at Jarrod. Was he pointing? Yes, yes he was. He
was directing Jarrod. Hastily Jarrod jumped to his feet, stumbling over
a bit. When he stood the man was gone. Had he imagined him? No,
certainly not. His feet were moving before he could command them to.
He trotted off in the direction in which the man had pointed.
ran now. He ran hard and fast as the woods around grew denser and
denser still. He was running full as the trees closed in around him.
And then he bounced off of one with his shoulder. They were surrounding
him. He was walking, as briskly as he could, skirting this was and
that through the trees, each only a matter of a foot apart, their trunks
stretching into the heavens, their branches now covered in snow, nearly
strangling all the light of day. He looked back and could not see
behind him. He was caught in this labyrinth. But still he moved
forward, something pulling him, almost beckoning. And then, just as
sudden as the SUV slamming against the boulder, he came to a clearing.
The space was huge, vacant, and he could see the trees circling around
the outer creating a cul de sac of sorts. And there, in the middle,
something lay. He need not see it up close, as he knew what it was. He
knew the light brown jacket and the feathery hood even from here. He
knew the long black hair fanned out against the snow.
off at an unbelievable pace. Snow kicked up behind him off his boots.
His Samantha. Yes. He knew it without even knowing. And then he was
upon her. He skidded to a halt and looked away, his breath caught in
his throat, a sickening feeling clutching at his gut. His eyes filled
with tears. He looked back slowly, and there she lay, sprawled out on
the snow like a rag doll. A crimson halo circled her body, her face
contorted and frozen in a disgusting, vile grimace. Jarrod sobbed as he
knelt near her, and scooped her up in his arms. The warmth had left
her completely now, and she was stiff, heavy. He screamed again and
lowered his face to hers. He cried an eternity’s worth of tears.
warm breeze flittered by. Cinnamon. Pine. Embers. Jarrod looked up
from his wife’s corpse. The man was standing over him. Only he looked
older this close up. He was tall, yes. His hair dark? Yes. But his
face was sunken, shallow, almost cutting. His eyes were vacant and
hollow. He smiled down at Jarrod. Jarrod smiled back. Was this a
hallucination? Was this man an angel, leading him to his Samantha?
you,” Jarrod stuttered against the cold, breathing in the warmth that
seemed to surround this man that stood before him. “Are you… an angel?”
The man spoke back, though his lips never parted, nor
his mouth moved. The words flowed not from him exactly as they seemed
to more or less come from the howling wind. The smile never left the
“Not exactly,” he returned as he reached behind him and pulled a black hood up over his head.