I was just a normal man, nothing out of the ordinary seemed to be destined for my life and with that I was content. I never feared the unknown since I never took the time to consider it, till one day… There was the latest breaking news crackling from the old static bound tv that sat in the corner of the apartment. The old legend of the frozen mist never seemed to be anything more than folklore to me, that reaction seemed to be common among the folks in this modest town. From our small population, I’ve only ever observed two types of people: the average and the superstitious. My grandfather had always been the superstitious type, ever since my parents died years ago in a tragic accident, but later on my grandfather would be taken from me as well. The sudden abandonment had placed an ember of fear that resides in my heart, but I refuse to fan it into flames.
~ ~ ~ The day my grandfather passed, he warned me to fear the mist. I insisted to him that I couldn’t be harmed by an old town legend, but the look of clarity in his steely eyes left me with a sense of uncertainty welling in the pit of my stomach. The conversation had drifted from topic to topic, but all I would come to look back on was the one question that would shatter my sense of pure ignorant bliss. He asked me a question that I had wondered about since I was a young boy, and I couldn’t resist.
“Boy, haven’t you ever wondered how your parents died?” My grandfather’s raspy voice croaked, startling me out of my mundane drifting thoughts.
“Yes!” I nearly shouted, choking as I sprung out of my seat. My jaw had gone slack as I was hit with the pure gravity of this one moment.
“I’m sure you’ll recall that ol’ crash the police talked to you about, but that wasn’t what took em’ both.” The glint in his eyes dimmed as he went on. “Your mother had been trapped in the car as it went over that ol’ icy bridge, but your father escaped her frigid fate. He made it back to the shoreline-”
“Wait, j- just a minute” I interjected, tears prickling in the corner of my eyes. “You mean to say that he could have come home all this time! I wasn’t left orphaned, he chose to abandon me?” My voiced cracked, and my pierced heart achingly displayed on my sleeve. I looked to my saddened frail grandfather for reassurance, for the words to take away the pain of betrayal, for anything.
“Are you done interrupting? You’ll be working yourself into a hissy fit at this rate.” He huffed in mild annoyance bristling at the thought of continuing the conversation. “Now you listen here boy, and you listen good. Your father escaped your mother’s fate, but his was to be much worse.” A tear dripped down his weathered cheek as he gruffly brushed it away, his breathing becoming more erratic as he fought to force the words out.
I was near frantic. The most important words my grandfather could tell me and he was stalling. Panic swelled in my chest. “Please-” I softened as his face appeared to pale, “just tell me, I can take it.” I looked into his eyes, those once steely eyes, and realized how faded and dazed they’ve become.
“Your father had been found frozen solid at the lake’s edge.” He said with a shaky breath. “The mist is real, boy.” His dimmed eyes staring daggers into my own uncertain pair. “I thought I could shelter you, but I haven’t much time left, you hear?” His voice quavering as his cold pale hands grasped my shoulders. “You need to run, don’t come back for me boy. You don’t need to see what is to come. The mist- it’s you it wants. Save yourself boy. Damnit go!”
I stepped back baffled. He’s finally lost it. He’s crazy. I looked around the old wood house and looked back to my grandfather who was spouting nonsense. I can’t believe this. Slowly backing away towards the door, I couldn’t stand to see my beloved grandfather this way. “I- I’ll be back tomorrow to check on you, and make sure you take your meds” I sighed shaking my head, my shoulders unknowingly sunk. He didn’t ask me to stay, he just mouthed a silent GO.
The next day I returned to my grandfather’s old wood house despite his futile warnings. He was exactly where I left him, sitting across the room in the tattered worn recliner facing the open window. It felt like a tundra in there. My chest tightened as I forced my legs to take me forward not wanting my growing suspicions to be true. His body was pale and rigid, his fingers were a stiff blue, and all I could process was that he was gone. My jaw remained slack and my hands trembled upon the discovery of his frozen corpse. The lingering frost hinted that he may as well have been a statue. I numbly dialed the police and was finally able to leave once they were done. The cops decided upon calling it on the case. Inconclusive, it rattled my dazed mind- like any new evidence would pop up. I recall what the chief had said, but in reality I know the case is closed.
~ ~ ~ Years later the news crackled on my old static bound tv in the corner of the apartment. There had been a steadily increasing murder spree; a few young men who bore a striking resemblance to myself found frozen, just like my grandfather, were flashing across the screen. My grandfather’s last words played through my mind on a loop, “The mist- it’s you it wants. Save yourself boy. Damnit go!” I knew his words to be true as the sudden bust of fear fanned the embers into flames. It was as if I temporarily lost my grip on sanity for the next thing I knew I was out the door and running. I ran and ran till my lungs ached, yet I pressed on. When I stopped, I finally looked at my surroundings. I was at the bridge. I knew I should leave, but I was compelled to stay.
I felt the chilled breath gently caressing the back of my neck feeling as if electricity had shot down my trembling spine like frozen daggers. I instinctively knew not to turn around to gaze into those eyes, those heartless frozen eyes that have not even the slightest shred of humanity left within. The beast that had been the undoing of far greater men than I’s daunting presence looking upon my puny existence. The burning desire to look took hold of my mind, I was losing control. Barely holding on to my last glimmer of sanity, each millisecond was my internal struggle. The dreaded conflict between my impending doom and embracing it was consuming my mind, insanity threatening to take its hold. The frost consumed my throat just as morning dew turns to crystals of ice. I took my last aching breath, the frost bitten air too much for one frozen man to endure.
The pain was long lasting and ever consuming as the fire of the cold burned my soft flesh while I continued my fruitless struggle to breathe. The icy flames spread through my lungs freezing all it touched, my blood felt as if it were lead in my veins, my heart’s weak thud in my chest was all I had left to hold on to knowing that each beat could be its last as I struggle to regain control of my unresponsive body. The eyes beaming from the frost bitten mist glared down into my own as I finally collapsed. The extreme pain was blinding, turning myself into the very mist that has consumed my being. As I opened my frozen eyes, I now know that my death had been of mere insignificance. Nothing could quench the thirst for warmth in the pitiless heart of ice, the burning need to consume it all.