Wrapped up tightly in a thick wool blanket, I huddled on the couch in front of the fireplace. Shivering, I clenched my teeth to keep them from chattering and resisted the urge to tell Zack to hurry up and light the fire. He was fumbling with matches; his big beefy hands had trouble enough, but he was shaking hard. Finally, he struck the match and flames roared to life.
“Ha! Who’s the king of fire?” Zack grinned, flexing his guns like some big shot.
“Not you,” I quipped. “How hard is it to light a stupid match?”
“Shut up,” he spat back, shooting me a glare so intense it could’ve started the fire quicker than that match. It was no secret he hated me. Well, no love lost there.
While he plopped down into his armchair and kicked his feet up on the coffee table, I watched the flames dancing in the fireplace, captivated. I always loved fire. A strange wind blew the windows open, sending a flurry of snow in with it. Quickly, I scrambled from the couch, flinging the blanket off to slam the windows closed. It was too late. The fire was blown out.
“Son of a bitch,” Zack swore furiously. I couldn’t help but laugh at him, and it was no surprise when he heaved his beer can at me. I dodged it easily, but the earful of bitching that followed was unavoidable. “Shut up, moron! Go get me some more firewood from the shed, like a good boy.”
“You get it,” I threw back, feeling bolder than usual. “I’m not your delivery boy.”
“My cabin; my rules. I can kick your sorry ass out in the snow for the night!” he spat, even more of a jerk than usual. “Go on, chop chop.”
I gritted my teeth but shoved my hands into my pockets, giving in for the sake of keeping the peace. “Fine,” I grumbled, hating how I was always the one being ordered around.
“That’s right, go fetch some wood,” Zack sneered as I angrily tugged on my boots and thrust my arms into my jacket. I decided to ignore him so I wouldn’t turn around and punch him in the mouth. I really hated him. He wasn’t my friend, just a friend of my brother’s who I got stuck with, when he ran off with chicks and left me here with this worthless jackass.
The cold bit into my cheeks and a gust of wind nearly knocked me over. I hunched my shoulders to brace against the gale, swearing under my breath. As my boots crunched over the snow, I tucked my hands deep into my pockets and looked around. The wind picked up again, shaking the branches of the evergreen trees violently. Snow fell in flurries around me, catching in my lashes. The cold seemed to pierce straight through my jacket.
This winter really sucked.
I was almost to the shed, when the wind tore my hat right off my head. The frigid air viciously bit my exposed ears and scraped across my close-shaved scalp. My arms flew up to catch my hat, but it seemed to dodge my reach with a mind of its own. It flew several feet away before landing in the clearing. I started toward it, when I heard a creaking under my boot. Under the snow, there was ice.
What looked like a clearing was really a pond. My hat laid in the middle of it; if I tried to retrieve it, the ice would certainly give way and I would fall into a watery grave. The sight unnerved me as the wind lashed my cheeks. It was like…like a trap. Of course, that was ridiculous. The wind couldn’t set a trap, because it was just wind; a mindless force of nature.
Shaking my head, I said goodbye to my hat and resumed my mission to retrieve firewood. At the shed, I swore, seeing the lock and realizing I forgot the key. I almost jumped into the frozen pond of death for being such an idiot. With a groan, I turned back to the cabin to grab the key. That’s when I saw her.
A girl not much older than me, around eighteen or nineteen, stood between me and the cabin. She was tall and slender, with long blue hair that whipped around her face in the violent gusts. Her snow-white dress cut off above her knees, the skirt flowing loose while the cinch tightly hugged her waist. Her bust was mostly covered, offering a small glimpse of cleavage. A leather jacket covered her shoulders and arms, unzipped, with silver spikes jutting from the shoulders and lining the collar. On her feet were black leather boots with spiked toes.
“Hey,” I called, taking slow, cautious steps toward her. “Are you okay?” She was shivering violently, her arms jerking and knees threatening to give way. That’s all I could see from where I stood, but as I got closer, her skin was pale. Deathly pale. “Oh my god! What are you doing out here? You’re freezing to death!”
The girl didn’t answer me. She just stood there staring back at me, shaking, but slowly her face came into focus and I stopped dead on my feet. Dread writhed like a grotesque parasite in my gut. Her skin wasn’t just pale, it was blue, like the corpse of someone who froze to death. Her face was beautiful but terrifying at the same time. Her large eyes were rimmed with black, with frost clinging to her thick lashes. Those eyes were blank white, devoid of an iris or pupil, piercing straight through me like the cold winter bite.
“Come here, handsome,” she called, her voice chilling and alluring at the same time. It seemed to carry on the wind itself, whispering right into my ear. An eerie smile captured her purple lips. The violent jerking of her body stopped. With a frostbitten black hand, she beckoned me and called, “Come give me a kiss.”
The piercing stare of her eyes chilled me to the bone. Somehow, I broke out of my paralyzed trance and turned to run faster than I ever ran in my life. The wind lashed my face like icy whips but I ran, compelled by fear and the sense of doom clinging to the atmosphere. She was behind me. I could feel her blank white eyes, peering straight into my soul.
I resisted the urge to look back as I hurtled over a log, but when I landed, a thick sheet of ice formed on the ground beneath my boots. I slipped, falling forward. My chest struck the ground hard and I rolled down the slope, crying out in pain when rocks and sticks stabbed and pounded my flesh. My thick winter clothes protected my skin, but the impact bruised and cracked my ribs. At the end of the hill, I finally rolled to a halt and laid there, in too much pain and too disoriented to move.
Then her face loomed over mine, materializing out of the snow as it drifted from the sky. Those white eyes peered deep into mine. Fear strangled me, making it hard to breathe, preventing me from calling out for help. As I stared up at the girl, I knew she was dead, and she was no longer human. She was something else. Something more powerful and sinister than I could ever comprehend.
Every breath sent a stabbing pain through me while tears leaked from my eyes, crystallizing in my short hair. The dead girl knelt down behind my head and leaned her face directly over mine, leaving me no choice but to look right into her dead white eyes.
“Why did you run, silly? ” she asked, peering down at me almost fondly. “I only wanted to kiss you.”
Her blue hair tickled my cheeks as she leaned her face even closer, so close I could feel the chill of her breath ghosting over my lips. “Here’s something to remember me by,” she whispered sweetly, before pressing her soft, cold lips to my cheek.
Then, a gust of wind made me screw my eyes shut. When I opened them again, the girl was gone, leaving me alone at the end of the hill. The pain of my broken ribs and sprained wrists became too much. The last thing I heard was an agonized scream before I slipped into blackness.
I woke up in a hospital bed. When my eyes opened, my brother leapt out of his chair immediately to stand beside me. “I’m so sorry, Danny,” he apologized, his eyes bloodshot and a little puffy from crying earlier. “I should’ve stayed!”
“‘S okay,” I slurred, even though I had no idea what he was talking about, doped up on pain medications. Then, slowly, a vague understanding dawned on me. I was in the hospital with broken ribs and severe bruising.
“No, it’s not okay!” my brother snapped, but he was angry with himself, not me. “Don’t worry little bro, we’ll find that sick bastard! He won’t get away with this. I promise.”
“Who? What’re you talkin’ ’bout?”
“The bastard that killed Zack! And who almost killed you, too.”
“Zack’s dead?” I asked incredulously. The news made me lurch upright, but I quickly fell back down as the motion jarred my broken ribs. My brother grabbed onto me and held me still.
“It’s okay,” he assured me, squeezing my hand as I rode out the pain the medication couldn’t numb. Then he told me all about what he found when he returned to the cabin.
He found Zack lying in a pool of blood in the snow outside the cabin. Icicles had impaled his body, four of them staking his arms and legs to the ground, while a large one pierced straight through his chest. His skin was pale blue and his eyes were open wide, his lips chapped and frostbitten a sickly black. When the clean-up crew had to pack him into a body-bag, he shattered like glass. His body was frozen to the core, as if he was freeze-dried in liquid nitrogen.
“There was a girl,” I blurted out, remembering the dead girl.
“A girl? You think she did that?” my brother pressed, eager to hear any details he could learn about the person who killed his friend. “Who was she?”
I held my tongue that time. The drugs pumping through my blood clouded my brain, but I realized that I couldn’t say anything else without sounding like a lunatic. It was already determined that I had a minor concussion. There was no way anyone would believe a word I said.
“On TV,” I said instead, deciding I’d rather sound scatter-brained than delusional. “Zack was going on about how hot she was, and the fire went out, so I went to get firewood…that’s all I remember.”
Watching the hope drain from his face, I felt guilty, but it wasn’t like I could send the police after a ghost or whatever the dead girl was. What was her name again?
Juliet Frost. The name came to mind and I almost heard her whispering it in my ear. Remember me. Absently, I touched my cheek where she kissed me before she disappeared. There, my fingertips felt it; the mark her frozen lips left on my skin. Quickly, I reached for the mirror on the table beside me and held it up in front of my face. There, on my cheek, was the dark mark of frostbite, in the shape of her lips. Something to remember her by…
Weeks passed and the mark on my cheek healed, fading away. The police searched, tearing the town and nearby forest apart in search of the mystery killer. They came up empty handed. They did, however, find a black truck broken down not too far from Zack’s cabin. It belonged to a girl named Amy-something; her purse and all of her identification were in her truck, but she had disappeared without a trace. Upon further investigation for this missing girl, the police discovered her body buried in the snow not too far from his cabin. The frantic search for his killer ceased.
I never saw Juliet Frost again, but I knew she never really went away. She was the frost that blackened fingers and toes. She was the harsh wind that pierced through the thickest coats. She was the ice that hid under the snow, waiting for the unsuspecting victim to slip and crack their skull. A dark part of me missed her and those piercing white eyes. On the coldest winter nights, I would wander out into the snow to look for her.
To my despair, I never found her, but she sure found me. My hands and feet belong to her, now. She kissed them black, the cold piercing so deep into my flesh the doctors had to chop most of my fingers and toes off to save my life. Despite all I sacrificed for one more glimpse of the frozen maiden, she had moved on. The night after my frostbitten appendages were removed, a man was rolled into the room and laid in the bed beside mine. Before the curtain was drawn, I saw it. The black mark on his cheek, where her lips gently pressed to his skin.
A stab of jealousy struck my heart like an icicle. When the doctors left, I listened to their footsteps fading away. The man was sleeping; I heard him snoring behind the curtain. Listening hard, I made sure no one was coming. Then, I rolled off my cot. My legs gave out underneath me, unable to stand with half my toes missing. Grunting from the effort, I dragged myself across the cold floor, underneath the curtain. There the bastard was, with his amputated leg and swollen fingertips.
Panting like a rabid animal, I grabbed onto the guard-rail of the bed frame and hauled myself up. I glared down at his sleeping face, where the black kiss mark stood out against his pale complexion, mocking me. Without thinking, I reached out to touch it. My fingertips brushed his cheek lightly, but the contact startled him awake. His eyes snapped open, glazed with confusion before they widened in terror. I was growling between ragged breaths, like a raging bull. By the look of fear in his eyes, my angry face must have been terrifying.
I was never a man of violence. But seeing the mark of her lips on his cheek drove me into a murderous rage. My hand clamped over his mouth to muffle any cries for help. He grabbed me, trying to fight me off, but his body was weaker than mine, especially after having his leg amputated. While I pushed my hand harder over his mouth, my other hand crushed down on his throat. That mark on his face! Something inside my brain just shattered, like an icicle on pavement.
His agonized screams broke free, alerting the hospital staff. I heard them burst into the room, crying out in horror before they rushed toward me. Strong arms pried me off the screaming man. But it was too late! I spat the chunk of flesh from my mouth and laughed, while blood gushed from the gaping wound on his face where her kiss had been. I didn’t fight as the strong men strapped me down to the bed and injected a sedative into my vein. The job was done. Now she’d know. She was mine, all mine, no one could have her kisses but me.
Credit To – Rissa Renee Wolverton
Credit Link – Facebook.com