by Tara Dempsey
The lake had been frozen over for years. Nobody knew why or how but it was. Nobody dared go near it. It was cold almost cold enough to be fatal. The lake was surrounded by forest. There were no tourists, no towns or villages. Nothing lived in the forest except the plants. Only the pine trees that spread evenly around the lake.
Alice lived above the lake on a small mountain in an isolated hut. The entire front wall of the house was made of glass. This gave her a good view of the lake. It also gave the lake a good view of her.
Everyday she was greeted with the same hazy mist that spread across the lake’s surface. The mist swirled in and out of the trees and around the icy lake. It was the only thing that moved. Well, the only thing that moved that anyone could see anyways.
Alice had an odd hobby. Everyday Alice took a picture of the lake. She’d stand behind her camera, snap a picture or two then walk off, a bothered look on her face.
Alice would load the pictures onto her laptop daily, starring out the window (sometimes for hours) while she waited for them to load.
Eventually they would be projected on a large screen. Large enough for anyone near the mountain to see.
They all seemed the same. Even if the pictures were taken in the dark, or early in the morning, the pictures remained a dull, grey swirl of mist, ice and trees.
After a thorough analysis, Alice, with one last feeble glance towards her window, would leave her project till the next day.
This cycle continued everyday until one night near the end of her 3rd year. She saw it at 2am. There was a crack, not on the picture but on the lake. A small crack that spread across the lake into the trees.
She rushed to her window and saw it. The lake was illuminated by the moon. The bright moonbeams shone through the mist, lighting up the ice.
Dark human like figures appeared and disappeared on the surface of the lake. Alice’s eyebrows shot up and in a state of delirium she shrugged on her coat and hat. Nobody lived with her in that house. She didn’t leave a note.
She took the broken ski lifts (which just happened to work again) down the mountain and hurried towards the lake. Unlike the other times she’d attempted to venture into the forest she didn’t stop.
Alice staggered through the trees, tripping over every nook and cranny as she ran. She didn’t stop to notice the shadows in the trees.
When the wood opened up and the lake became visible she stopped and hesitated. In the middle of the frozen lake, covered by the mist were giant ice cubes.
She stood still for a moment then her eyes widened and her mouth shaped itself into an O. The ice cubes weren’t just ice cubes, they were people.
People frozen in the ice, sliding slowly across the lake as the water underneath shifted and flowed. She shuddered inwardly.
The people in the ice cubes looked unnaturally normal. They looked happy. Unnaturally happy. Most of their eyes were closed, those with eyes open looked droopy. They all smiled serenely. Everything about them looked peaceful, except for their hands.
Alice began to back away.
The shadowy figure flew out of the pine trees and flew across the lake. They shadowy figure? Me? It was all the same.
I grabbed her arm and pulled her across the lake amongst the blocks of ice. Yanking the camera from around her neck, I spun her across the lakes surface away from me.
“Do you want pictures, my dear? Very well. You can have your pictures. When I’m done with you!”
She screamed a blood curdling scream. I grabbed her by the hair and the process began. Her face melted into a happy daze as the ice spread down her body, instantly causing her to relax.
The last part of her body to relax were her hands. By then, her entire hands were covered in blood. They twisted into claws then froze in place. I kept my promise. I took the pictures of the lake but not in the way she saw it.
I left them in her house for the next person. Alice should have known better. After all she’d seen the exact same picture 3 years before.