Some people call me a hero. I can’t disagree with them, because it’s actually kind of true. Believe it or not, I’ve saved a drowning man, pulled a girl from a burning building, and I even saved a dog from being swept away by a nasty flood. My friends thought I was crazy, but I thought I was just exercising my humanity. That and I was kind of an adrenaline junkie. It was my guilty pleasure. I’ve been sky diving and bungee jumping on more than one occasion. I’ve jumped off the ledge of a huge waterfall hoping that I didn’t hit shallow water. I’ve got a couple of scars to show for my endeavors. I don’t really do the adventurous things that I used to anymore. Not after what happened.
About seven years ago, a couple of friends and I were just heading out from a New Year’s party. It was freezing outside, and we had to walk six blocks to get back to our dorms. We all started walking, dreading the next twenty minutes or so of minus twenty-degree weather.
“Hey, w – wait a minute,” Jarrod said in his drunken stammer, “it’d be faster if we cut through the park.” We all took a moment to think about it. The city made it a point to close the park down for some reason. Something about there being too many hazards, like falling trees or people drowning in the pond. Michelle cringed at the thought of walking through a knock-off cemetery. Jarrod, Ellisia and I chuckled at her. The cold wind blew and stung my cheeks. It would save us an extra eighteen minutes, so we decided to go through the park.
We quickly made our way to the entrance, hopped the gate, and started walking. It was quite beautiful at two in the morning. The light from the moon glistened off of the frost that clung to the tree branches. I remembered walking through this park with my parents as a child. Walking by the pond in the summertime to see tourists in their rented boats, enjoying the day. I was kind of excited to see what the pond would look like in the moonlight. It had been so long since I’d seen it, let alone in the middle of winter and in the dead of night. It would have been a very peaceful walk if Michelle and Jarrod weren’t rambling on about who could drink more and not puke all over everybody. Since Ellisia and I were the two most sober people of the group, we held them up and made sure they didn’t slip on the path and crack their heads open.
We approached the pond, and it looked absolutely stunning in the moonlight. Even better than I remembered. We all stopped to take in the beautiful view when Michelle noticed something.
“What the hell is that?” she queried, pointing to something out on the ice. We all looked closely and saw something that, I’m pretty sure made all our hearts jump into our throats. A little girl stuck out on the frozen wasteland. In a panic, we immediately ran towards the water’s edge, cell phones at the ready. Ellisia was the first to get anybody on the line. She frantically told the officer what was going on. All the while, the girl was just standing there. Not moving, not shouting out for help.
“Are you okay?!” I shouted, cupping my hands around my mouth to amplify my voice. She still stood there in silence. While we panicked on the shoreline, I heard something. Something faint, but noticeable. I told everyone to be quiet and listen. I cupped my ear with my hand and listened in the direction of the girl. I couldn’t quite make out what the sound was. Then it hit me.
“The ice is breaking,” I said. Someone had to go out there and get her now. My friends paced back and forth wondering what to do now. If they weren’t going to act on it, I was. I took a couple of deep breaths, braced myself, and then cautiously stepped out onto the ice. My trio of friends stopped pacing and saw that I was going out onto the pond.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Jarrod asked, in a somewhat shocked manner.
“Don’t go out there, please, just wait until the police get here.” Ellisia beckoned. But I couldn’t wait. If I did, she would fall through.
The adrenaline was really flowing now. I couldn’t help but smile just a little bit, and let out a nervous chuckle. I tried to walk as fast as I could, but it seemed like I wasn’t going fast enough. I tried to keep calm, and proceeded to step cautiously. My eyes were fixated on the ice below my feet.
“Wow, you really are quite the crazy individual, aren’t you?” I muttered under my breath. I heard it crack again. The goofy grin I wore suddenly vanished. I stopped for second only to notice that the ice wasn’t cracking below me. I sped up just a little bit more, still watching the ice, making sure that I didn’t make it crack in the process. As I got closer, I looked up and saw the girl with a little more definition. She was so pale. Almost as white as the snow. I thought maybe it was a trick of the light from the moon, but it looked like she was shining. It looked like she was covered with ice or frost or something. I questioned whether or not if she was even alive at this point. But then, how else would she be standing on the ice? I asked myself. Just then, she let out a noise. Something that was barely audible, but nonetheless a noise. I tore off my jacket and extended the warm article of clothing hoping she would take it. “Don’t worry sweetie, everything’s going to be all right,” I said reassuringly. I was almost close enough to put the jacket on her, and that’s when I noticed something that made me stop dead in my tracks.
She wasn’t standing on the ice. There was a patch of ice that I failed to see before, right behind her that was broken. There was something protruding from the frigid water holding her up. This pale, grey, spiked tentacle. My eyes widened as it squeezed her. That’s when I came to the realization that it wasn’t the ice that was about to break, when I heard her ribs snap and a wet gurgle escape her mouth. As it squeezed her, blood dripped from her mouth and from the wounds that the spikes had made in her torso. I looked down at the gaping hole in the ice. To this day, I still don’t know what the hell I saw. It was this pale grey… thing, covered head to toe with pitch-black veins, and jagged spikes covered its entire body. It had these huge crimson eyes bordered in black. And when it smiled, I saw two sets of rotted, yellow fangs. I dropped my jacket. I could hear my heart pounding louder and louder. I wanted to run, but my feet wouldn’t allow me. The corpse of the young girl was suddenly pulled through the hole that the creature had made, and I saw it swim off. My eyes darted back and forth across the ice, wondering where it went. It didn’t even dawn on me that my friends were halfway across the ice when I saw them making their way toward me. I tried to yell at them – I tried to tell them to run, but all that came out was this pathetic whimper. They called my name, pleading that I hurry and come to shore with them before I fall through the ice too. I pushed passed my fear and made my feet move. I ran as fast as I could, trying not to slip on the ice.
“Run! Get the hell off the ice!” I warned them. They extended their hands to me and started walking my way again.
“Come on, hurry up!” Jarrod yelled back.
“Just go! Just go – get off the ice now!” I hollered back, desperately pleading for them to run.
Just then, I felt cold water and a jagged edge at my ankle. I fell and bumped my head on the cold surface. Before I knew it, I was being pulled into the icy depths of the pond. When my body was submerged in the water, it felt like a thousand daggers cutting into my skin. When the water hit my eyes, I thought the liquid inside was going to freeze. I immediately closed them. I tried not to scream from the pain. I had to conserve my air. But then I felt the tentacle cut into my ankle and another tentacle reach around my shoulder and squeeze. It kept pulling and pulling – it dislocated my shoulder. I couldn’t do it anymore. I screamed, letting out almost all of my air. I thrashed trying to break free. That only caused its spikes to cut deeper, allowing the frigid water to freeze my bloodstream even faster. I felt the warm tears behind my eyelids, and the burning in my lungs. I tried to scream one last time, but it started choking me with its tentacle. The spikes tore into my throat, and I opened my eyes again. Then I saw it. Those red eyes looked even more menacing now that it was up close. It wore a sinister smile as it licked my face. I started to feel light-headed. This was the end.
No, I thought to myself. I am not dying like this. I pushed passed the pain in my shoulder, raised my hands to its mouth and started widening its jaw. It squirmed, trying to shake me. I felt the tentacles loosen, and its teeth cut into my hands. I looked up and saw three hands submerged into the water. I was so exhausted by that point, but I had to keep fighting. I kicked, I squirmed, and I did what I had to in order to free myself. I used more force on its jaw, and I felt it crack. It let out this God awful screech, let me go, and swam off into the cold darkness below. I could feel the water start to enter my lungs. I tried to swim to the surface, but I was just so tired. I was barely able to extend my hand toward my friends. The last thing I remember seeing was the light of the moon before everything went dark.
* * * * * *
I awoke the next morning to the beeping of a heart monitor. I was in the hospital. I was covered with the thickest, warmest blankets ever. I tried to move, but when I did, pain shot through my entire body. My head, shoulder, throat, ankle, everything was just throbbing from the pain. My friends walked into the room, saw that I was awake and rushed over. They told me that they were able to grab ahold of me, pulled me from the water and rushed me to the hospital. They then bombarded me with questions pertaining to what pulled me into the water.
“Trust me,” I said, very weakly. “You don’t want to know.”
“Well, are you going to tell the cops what happened?” Michelle asked. I decided to just tell the police that I was drunk, and felt like doing something adventurous. ‘Cause, let’s face it, would they seriously believe me if I told them some water monster lured me out there and tried to kill me? Yeah, given the right state of mind, I wouldn’t fall for it either.
Needless to say, I don’t partake in any more heroic acts. I also haven’t been anywhere near water since. I’ve obtained a phobia of it, as you can well imagine. After college, my friends and I went our separate ways, did our own things. I have a family now, and so does Ellisia. We get together sometimes for playdates, and reminisce about old times. Some parts are left out. It doesn’t really matter though. I still have nightmares about that night. That thing under the ice. Its crimson eyes. I always tell myself that it happened a long time ago, and I try to put it behind me. It usually helps. Up until two weeks ago. Ellisia had taken her boys, my son and my daughter ice skating. She took them to her late father’s house by the lake. It was just them there. When she brought them home, my son said something that sent a chill up my spine. He said that he saw a very pale girl standing on the ice. And by her feet was a pale grey bump with two red dots.
This story is preserved in loving memory of Emma Froh (September 13, 1992 – December 6, 2014)
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