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John Carpenter's



By Blair Claxton                                                                                                   


Ryper couldn't tell whether it was day or night. He guessed it had been
at least four days since he first locked himself in the kitchen freezer; or
maybe, maybe it had been five. He could not tell what was real anymore.
Inside,he sucked on chunks of the crystallized ice from the walls. He was
surrounded by food, but he couldn’t open the tins. Even if he could he
wouldn’t dare take his gloves off. It seem liked a good idea: to hide
in the fridge. Who would think to check inside the icebox? Besides, it was the
same temperature as the rest of the rooms by now, since it, that thing, had
started tearing through the exterior walls.

He had heard the snow machines. He had heard their engines (more than
one) roar off from the compound. He had been sitting in his snowsuit:
boots, fur hat, gloves and goggles, in the complete dark of the fridge
for days. Confused at the sound of the retreating sleds he decided to go
out, despite the images that remained in his mind; the images that drove him
to madness within the locked fridge.

The door clicked open and darkness gave way only to darkness.
There was no light in the kitchen. No fires burned. No camp lights lit
his surroundings. There was only the cold and the constant dark. Overcome,
Ryper fell to his knees and began to pray. His world spun in the darkness.
The cold of the exposed kitchen burned the exposed skin on his face under
his goggles. He tore his gloves off and ripped open the outer layer off his
parker, with his bare hand, already stinging in the air, he shoved his
hand down his shirt and pulled out his tiny cross, the chain instantly
freezing and fusing to his skin. He pressed the cross to his lips.
it stuck. He could not move his lips to pray. As he tore the cross away
he felt the skin go with it. The blood was freezing his lips together as
he saw it…

A flare flew by the shattered window; Faster than a man can move. In
the instant the kitchen lit up he caught a glimpse of snowsuits by the
first window. Bodies in a drift of snow. As quickly as it was lit, the
kitchen was black again.

Ryper’s heart was racing. The beating was so fast it felt like it would
smash the air from his lungs. In the darkness he jumped up and ran.
After a few feet he smashed into the island counter and winded himself. The
shock was disorienting. As he hit, his gloves fell from his hands and
disappeared in the blackness. He reached forward and pushed a pile of pans off the
edge of the counter. The deafening noise
shattered what was left of his wits and he started to shake. Crying
withouttears, without breathing. His freezing hand fell upon something plastic
ashis mind scrambled. It was a gas stove lighter.

Ryper clicked down the button. The flame lit. The kitchen was bright
around him for 6 feet or so and he moved to the window. The bodies were frozen
in place, staring out the open window. Their open eyes shimmered,
reflecting the candlelight in a thin layer of ice. The frost on their skin was so
thick; there was no telling who they were.

His hands were starting to freeze as he stood there. Shifting his grip
on the lighter he released the button. The flame went out, but the room
remained lit. A sulfurous light lit the room. Light from a flare
outside the next window down. The silence was intense now. Only the burn of the
flare could be heard. The bodies and the room danced as the flame burned.
Ryper was frozen in place, watching the light not ten feet from him. He could
not call out. Not now. He just watched the flare outside burn, as if in a
trance until it sputtered and went out.

The darkness returned. Silence for a moment. Another. Ryper did not
even breathe a breath. The snow outside began to crunch. Footsteps. They
moved slowly, steadily. They stopped outside the window in front of him. In
the blinding darkness his mind danced all sorts of beings that could be
standing before him. Only a foot, maybe less separated him and whatever it was
that was at the window. He could here breathing. They were face to face in
utter blackness and silence.

Ryper ran. He ran away. He turned and ran through the dark
Kitchen. Slamming into the wall he slid along it until he fell through
thedoor into the hallway. His legs were stiff but they weren't his legs
anymore. He was out of his body. The panic made him run, blind down the
hall. He ran from memory: five doors on the left; three on the right.
Turn right. Mechanical on the right. Turn left. At the end of the hall he
sawthe light, the blue winter light from outside and ran to it. He ran
outside the open storm doors into the paddock.

A snow machine was in front of him on its side. He grabbed the
handlebars; the lighter was still in his hand, fused to his skin. He put all his
strength into it and pulled. The machine righted and he jumped on.
Mashing the ignition on the dash the engine fired. His hands were screaming. He
tried for the gas but the lighter made it impossible. Jamming the
lighter between the fuel hose and the tank he cranked it sideways and pulled.
The lighter tore free, ripping half of his palm off. The open wound froze
instantly. The pain was nothing compared to the fear of possible
assailants his mind created for himself. Ryper hit the gas.

All feeling was gone. His hands were gone. The light of the sled shone
40 feet into nothing. The black ice flew under him, and blackness was all
around him. A small chariot of light flying through a frozen eternity.
He raced against his madness until he came upon them. There lights by the
open water. Ryper released the gas.

The light from his snow machine lit them well. Two sleds were over
turned in front of him. Piled one on top of the other. Beyond them the black
opening in the ice shimmered with reflected light. A third snow machine was
half submerged in the water. Their drivers lay together by the edge of the
ice. Ryper watched through the clouds of his breath as they began to lift
their heads from the fourth body that they were consuming. The circle opened
up and grew in the dim orange light. As their eyes fixed on him Ryper
felts the icy claw of madness grip him. He watched them move. All of their mouths
opened simultaneously and let out scream – long and distorted. The
scream he had heard as he bolted the freezer door so long ago echoed into the
night. He tried to turn away. Not to run, but to turn his back to that thing
so he would not have to look at its horror. He tried to turn but his bare
hands were frozen to the handles. Frost and ice covered them. They were
frozen solid in place, and he was stuck watching them come. Frozen, as they
climbed towards him, onto the sled and over the handlebars. Their claws smashed
the lamp at put them all back into total darkness. In the black and the
cold, he was frozen in place as they began to eat him.



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