1st Place Short Story: Frozen

Artwork by Andrew Butcher

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Lights.

They stab at my eyes as I float to the top of my consciousness. The noises around me sound as if they’re blocked, like I’m in a secluded bubble of my own world, waiting to burst into reality. I feel nothing around me. It’s like I’m floating in black space. And suddenly, I burst.

“Oh my God. She’s awake,” I hear as my eyes creak open. Fluorescent lights swirl around my head before they finally come into focus. The beige walls and the sickening smell of cleaning products alert me that I’m in a hospital. How I got here, I have no idea. I can’t remember anything.

“Nicky, how are you feeling?” the voice says. I focus my eyes again on the speaker. “Do you feel any pain at all?”

I say nothing.

“Sweetie, you know who I am, right? Nicky, please,” the blonde woman starts to cry.

I look at her again, straining myself to remember. She looks at me with tears escaping down her face.

“I’m sorry,” I say. She buries her face in her hands.

 

 

Two Weeks Earlier

 

“I got it!” I yelled as Austin knocked on my front door. Putting the earring in my ear, I sprinted to the door, just beating my mother.

“Be careful out there, okay?” she told me, combing out her blonde hair. “I know how you kids can be.”

“Yeah, I’ll be fine, don’t worry,” I reassured her.

“Love you,” she said, but I was already out of the door, holding Austin’s hand, nearly dragging him back to his car.

Halloween was finally here, and with it came the perfect weather. It was cold enough to wear a sweater, but not enough that you’re freezing your butt off, you know? So, as I walked to open the car door, I made sure to step on every leaf, hearing each one crunch with crispy delight.

“So, where are we going?” I asked him, watching the last bit of sun dip below the horizon.

“Don’t worry about the details,” he replied with a smile. After a few minutes of driving, he stopped the car. I noticed that darkness had completely usurped the last light in the sky.

“A graveyard?” I questioned. “How very predictable on Halloween.”

“I thought you would enjoy a nice, plain, predictable Halloween graveyard date,” he said as he pulled several blankets, flashlights, and plastic bags full of food out from his trunk.

“Sometimes I forget how amazing you can be,” I told him, grinning.

After we ate our gourmet meal of Lunchables and candy, we sat together, looking at the stars. The more I looked at it, though, the more I realized that the sky looked different that night.

“Doesn’t the sky look weird?” I wondered out loud.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, just look at it. Usually, when you walk outside at night, the sky is just black, with the white starts twinkling. But it looks different tonight. It seems purple, almost. Like behind the sky there’s trapped light, trying to peek its way through. Kind of like a daytime sky that was captured by the night.”

“It’s always like that on Halloween night,” he replied simply. And he was right. There’s something beautiful about the night sky on Halloween. Something hauntingly beautiful.

As I was pondering on this, I heard something a crunch of leaves breaking. I looked up quickly.

“What was that?” I asked. Austin looked at me and shrugged.

“Probably a squirrel or something.” Slowing my heart rate down, I put my head back on his chest, listening to the thump of each heartbeat. But then I heard the crackle again. This time it was closer.

Ignore it, Nicky, I told myself. You’re just paranoid because it’s Halloween. It’s naïve of you to be scared like this. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.

“Mommy?” a child’s chilling voice said. I shot up. A boy who looked no older than seven years old was standing in front of us. He was dressed in old-fashioned formal children’s clothes, and his black hair was slicked back. His eyes were dark and sullen.

“Where’s my Mommy? Will you help me find my mommy? Mommy?” the little boy repeated. Austin and I exchanged looks.

“Uh, it’s okay,” Austin said to the boy as he got up. He leaned towards the boy. “We’ll help you. Where did you see her last?”

The boy locked his eyes with mine, and dread and remorse filled my veins. His eyes were black with not a single glint of light. I froze.

“Were you trick-or-treating?” Austin tried to help. He went to pat the boy’s shoulder, and then something happened. I couldn’t tell who was where or what anything was doing, but I know saw the eyes of the boy enlarge. They grew, within a second, to an inhuman length.  Then his teeth started growing. It happened all so quickly. He gained teeth, and the teeth he had before sharpened to spear-like points.

The next part was all a blur.

All I saw were grey-scaled shadows, like I was watching the scene behind a screen. I saw the mutant child attack Austin, throwing him against a tombstone with a sickly crack. I tried to scream out, but my voice caught and my breath escaped me. The boy eyed Austin, grinning with a malicious smile. His head turned suddenly, smiling at me with the same expression.

I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. I was stuck, frozen in time. Frozen in the space between the day sky and the night sky. Frozen between the bubbles of consciousness. Frozen between the film of what is, what was, and what will be.

Frozen.

Then all was done.