With blind fear she ran through the woods. There was nothing left there for her, but plenty were following, she was sure of it. She wasn’t sure how long she had been running. Every nerve in her body was pleading with her to stop, but she was more afraid of the consequences if she were to rest, for even a moment. Well, at least the snow had stopped falling, and the wind had died down a bit. She was sure to run in the direction of immaculate snow. No sign of life (she couldn’t help but laugh to herself) was a good sign. Nothing had been this way yet.”Thank goodness for the snow”, she thought to herself. It was the only alert she needed. They were clumsy, shambling masses to begin with– and the snow only slowed them down even more. She had a tendency to let her mind wander, even though in this circumstance, it could be deadly. She knew well enough she had to stay focused if she wanted to live to see the next day. But then what? There was no way of telling when this nightmare might end. If it would ever end. . .
Suddenly, everything went white. Lost in her own thoughts, she was careless and didn’t notice the fallen sapling sticking out of the snow. She stumbled over it and had landed face first into the soft white powder. Dazed from the impact, she pushed herself up and for the first time, regretted second guessing the jacket. Then again, when your only shelter from not only the harsh winter, but also from your friends and family and everyone else in town gets breached, the thought of slipping on your parka before making a desperate flee tends to escape the mind.
As she pushed herself up from the frozen ground, a small gasp escaped her. There was a slight smear of red where she had fallen. Her breath quickened as she recalled where the blood had come from. The cold had hazed her memory slightly, but she would never be able to forget the screaming of the loved ones she was unable to save. Shaking off the thought and cold, she shuttered faintly and pushed herself up into a crouching position, ready to get moving again, when suddenly she heard something coming from the direction she had been running in. Frozen this time by fear and not the harsh cold nipping at bare face, she could only stay still and hope whatever was making the noise would go away. She heard the noise she had come to know all to well. The faint moaning and shuffling that haunted her subconscious and denied her sleep for nights at a time. The moaning and shuffling that was followed by clawing and banging. The noises that turned into panic as glass was heard breaking, and led to the desperate cries of her loved ones as she escaped through the attic window. She forced herself back into the present as the stumbling moans grew closer.
She sprung to her feet and began running again in her current direction. Suddenly, she was atop the hill on the edge of the forest. Looking out over the field below, she saw a house. A hunting lodge, perhaps. No place was safe for long, but it was better than nothing. Hopefully there was someone with a taste for something other than flesh hiding inside, someone who could help her. Suddenly, something grazed her forearm. She looked to the left of her in horror as a man sunk his pallid fingers into her pale flesh. He was gripping her feebly, trying to pull her back as she shook him off and screamed. She began to run down the hill as more of the putrid things gathered after her. She had yet again gotten careless, and as she looked at her grazed arm, she realized how close she had come yet again to meeting her fate. A few stumbled down the hill after her, and she noticed a woman stumble and slide down the hill past her. Even with a broken arm, the woman stood up unfazed and tried to climb back up the hill at her.
She was almost at the bottom when she came across a patch of ice and lost her footing. Faltering, she fought to retain balance, but gravity won and she also went tumbling down the rest of the way to the bottom of the hill. She was greeted by the woman with the broken arm, lunging after her. The others were almost at the base of the incline themselves. The girl picked herself up and got her footing, shoving the woman back and made her way to the field. It was good and flat, and she knew she could easily outrun them to the cottage. There were only about four or five chasing after her, so she figured she could handle them once she got inside the lodging.
As she was surefooted and sprinting towards her new shelter, she heard a noise come from under the snow. She stopped dead in her tracks, ignoring the lumbering danger closing in on her. She took another step and heard the horrifying noise again. She felt as a new type of terror crept up on her, as the current ones were creeping as well. As they got closer, the crackling sound grew louder. She now knew the extent of the situation– she was literally on thin ice. As the decaying ruins of what were once people drew closer, she decided to make a run for it. As she turned away from them to run, the ground from under her began to give way. She saw an older man with half of his face missing fall through the ice first, and he brought another portly man with deep lacerations on his throat and stomach down with him. Ahead of them were the young man who grabbed her back atop the hill and an apparently middle-aged woman with a severely wounded leg. They continued towards her and she stood as still as she could, hoping the ice under her would hold long enough for the other three corpses to fall into the freezing water. The woman with the broken arm stumbled onto the frozen pond and shambled right into the newly formed trench in the ice. She clawed uselessly at the edge of the ice, trying to pull herself back up, all while staring longingly at the girl.
She looked in horror as the young man shuffled carelessly at her, as the ice could be heard giving way beneath his dead and dragging feet. He slipped on the ice and went crashing down, knocking the middle-aged woman down, and sending her sliding across the brittle pond towards the girl. The soulless shell of a woman tried to get to her feet, but could not gain the proper traction. If she was not stunned into fear, the girl might have even found the whole scene humorous. The two remaining moving bodies where almost pitifully attempting to crawl after her, but were making no head way, due to the slipperiness of the ice. Finally, the woman started to crawl towards her, and the young man somehow got to his feet, only to lose his balance again and fall, crashing through to the deep and dark water. The woman with the broken arm had gotten herself halfway up on the ice miraculously, when suddenly her good arm broke off from her body. It was still clutching desperately onto the surface, as the rest of her splashed back into the depths.
Only the woman and girl were left on the surface of the ice. The girl got on her hands and knees and started to crawl away. She was crying now, for she knew that if the ice didn’t give way first, then the woman would catch up to her. And what if the ice did give way first? Were the others below the surface waiting for her? She stopped briefly and stared at the bare ice below her, inches from the cold as death water, knowing that it harbored hell, and was waiting for her. She was startled backwards and fell off balance as the face of the man with lacerations stared up at her through the ice. She could see him clawing away from the other side at her. A few inches of frozen pond were all that were keeping her alive right now.
In her moment of bewilderment, a grip colder than the ice she sat on closed in around her wrist. A scream broke the silence of the early February morning, as the two bodies broke the surface of the girl’s fragile haven. She felt the ice give way, just as she felt the cold water rushing in around her and swallow her screams. The hand that gripped her wrist was still colder than the dark water, and the girl knew she was staring death in the face. The assimilated bodies closed in on her as she thought for the last time. The dead know nothing of fear, of the cold. They do not know of the beauty of nature, or the feeling of hope. They know only of hunger. She pitied them, for even though she faced death by their hands, she was able to get lost in her thoughts for the final time. She embraced the cold and the fear, as she saw the light of the surface slowly slip out of reach as they dragged her down into the abyss.