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BabaYaga
December 8th, 2011, 04:30 PM
Warning: Disturbing content and references to sex. No swearing though.

This was written in response to a prompt and then it kind of went... awry. I still sort of like it though.

Ice Angel

The lake road that lead back from Waterford was potholed, poorly lit and utterly unpopulated. Tom hated it. It was, by far, the worst part of the delivery route he had been driving three times a week for the last six months. He had never dreamed of being a truck driver as a boy, and that sentiment had remained into adulthood. But moving hundreds of cans of beans, pilchards, spaghetti and creamed corn between the factory and the depot was the only job he’d managed to hold down since his mother had left him in the house all alone, so he didn’t say anything. Not to anyone. Not ever.


What he did like about driving the truck was that it was quiet. No one expected him to laugh at the jokes he didn’t understand, or contribute to the conversations that went over his head. There was no one to give him puzzled stares, ask him what was wrong with him or call him ‘spaz’ when he did something wrong. There was just him, the truck and the road. And as creepy as the lake road was, the quiet and the loneliness was something he could live with. In fact, it was something he fully expected to live with- until he met her.


He had just turned onto the lake road and a familiar feeling of anxiety had started freezing the hairs on the back of his neck. When he first started driving the route, he had been hyper-aware of every tree, ditch and road-kill carcass that made up his view through the windshield. In time though, everything had started to blend together as he raced for the intersection that would lead him back to the main road. It was only because of the high contrast between her pale skin and the darkly rotten heap of Autumn leaves that she lay on that he even saw her.


He drove a few meters more, his eyes locked on the rear view mirror, before he decided to pull over the truck and see if she was ok. She was lying there on the side of the road like she might have been hurt, and Tom didn’t want to leave a hurt lady on the side of the road. He took a deep breath, jumped from the driver’s seat of the truck onto the slimy leaves and approached her with trepidation. From his previous experience with women, he almost expected her to cringe, look away or jump up and run from him as he grew closer, but she waited for him, watching. “Are you okay?” he asked. She stared up at him, silent. He looked her over, embarrassed by her nudity, and saw that she had indeed been hurt. A number of thin, red lacerations criss-crossed her unnaturally white skin, like twine across a frozen turkey. Tom mentally congratulated himself for stopping. His mother would have told him he was ‘a real gentleman’ for coming to the lady’s aid. “Do you need help?” he asked her. Again, he was met with silence. He tentatively touched her shoulder, expecting her to flinch. She didn’t. Her blue-white skin was cold to the touch, colder even than the brisk breeze that nipped at his exposed ears and nose. She felt frozen. “Do you want to come with me?” Tom watched her for a response and, although she still said nothing, he was sure he noticed a demure lowering of her eyelids. It was enough for him to take it as a 'yes'.


If he was completely honest with himself, he was grateful for the company on the Waterford road. She didn’t say anything for the duration of the trip, but just having her there, huddled in a blanket and staring blankly out the passenger window, made him feel a little better. The winter sunlight died quickly, and they did the last stretch of the route home in almost total darkness. Tom stole frequent glances at his companion, hoping that she might say something about her home or her family, but her lips remained sealed. Tom didn’t blame her, he didn’t like talking to strangers either. His mother used to force him to speak to her, and to their visitors, and to the doctors. But ever since she died, he didn’t have to speak to anyone he didn’t want to, so why should the girl in his truck be any different.


He had meant to take her to the hospital first, he really had. But as they entered his darkened home town, highlighted only by the occasional neon sign, he knew from experience that the cold floors, bright fluorescents and stony faces of the doctors might all be a little too much for her to take right now, especially after whatever she had been through. He decided he would take her home first, to the house he had shared with his mother. He would run her a hot bath, serve her a home-cooked meal and let her sleep in a soft bed tonight. They could try the hospital in the morning. He drove on. She said nothing.


At home, she barely ate. In fact, she didn’t eat at all. Tom was initially worried, but he guessed he would have also lost his appetite if he’d had to live through whatever she’d just survived. She still wouldn’t talk about it, even as she leaned against the sink while he tested her bath water. He felt improper seeing her naked again, even after they way they’d met, so he turned his head away as he slid the blanket- now just as cold as she was- off her slim shoulders and lifted her into the bath. He sat with her for a little while, to make sure that she was okay, but decided after a few minutes to give her some privacy.


He didn’t move far from the door, not because he was wanted to listen to her clean herself, but because he was worried about her falling asleep in the warm water and drowning. It was a good thing he returned to her when he did, as her face had slipped beneath the surface of the bubbles he had added to her bath. “You must be tired.” Tom said to her. He lifted her out, wrapped her in a towel and carefully carried her to his mother’s bed, where he dressed her in one of the dead woman’s night gowns and tucked her under the covers. It wasn’t easy. She was a small woman, but heavy in her lethargy. Tom was happy to feel that the bath had indeed taken most of the chill off her skin and he hoped that this would be the first step of her recovery. Perhaps after a night’s rest, he thought, she might be a little more willing to talk. He went to his own bed to lie down, but wasn’t able to sleep after the days events.


Tom cooked a hearty breakfast the next morning. Pancakes, sausages and eggs filled the kitchen with a thick, fatty ambience. He was sure the smell alone would be enough to rouse her from her sleep and bring her bleary-eyed down the stairs. It wasn’t.


He took her breakfast up to her room, where she lay in the exact same position as he’d left her. Her eyes were open, but they looked glassy, watery and sore. He tried to close them, but her eyelids snapped back open. She wasn’t speaking, but she obviously still wanted to see what was happening around her. “I brought you breakfast.” Tom said. He looked at her slim, pale hand lying motionless on the bedspread. Unable to stop himself, he reached out and touched her fingers. Her skin felt icy-cold again. But she did not pull her hand away. Tom wrapped his warm fingers around her frozen ones and looked at her. It was the longest contact he’d ever had with anyone other than his mother. “Can I kiss you?” he asked, possessed with an uncommon audacity. As usual, she said nothing, and only looked up at him with red-rimmed eyes. He leaned forward and she did not pull away as he gently pressed his lips to hers. She was so cold. Tom swept a hand across her forehead and, without asking, crawled into bed next to her. He had only meant to warm her up, but lying there, in the bed with her, his hot skin pressed against this exquisite ice angel, he started to feel something more than the initial kindness that had originally compelled him to help her. Something more urgent. Something his mother would have never approved of. “But she’s dead,” he whispered to his ice angel, kissing her again.


They made love then. It was Tom’s first time and from the way she lay, poised like a stiff arrow while he did it to her, he guessed it might have been hers as well. Afterwards, they lay there for a long time. It seemed that the girl was slowly losing her frozen pallor and Tom felt happy that he had had some small part in that. It was his day off and he wanted to do something nice for her, for his ice angel. His girlfriend. The word gave him a secret thrill. He couldn’t wait to introduce her to everyone he knew. Which, aside from the doctors, really only included Mr. Henry, the green grocer and Mrs. Withers from next door.
At about noon, he thought he would go down to the green grocer and get them both an ice-cream stick. She still hadn’t eaten her breakfast and Tom had heard that things like ice-cream, jelly and custard were good for sick people- which she surely was. “I’ll be back soon.” He’d said, pressing a kiss to her forehead as he buckled up his pants.
Mr. Henry smiled when he saw Tom. “You’re looking well, young man. Glad to see you’re taking care of yourself.” Tom smiled back at the comment.
“Actually, I’m taking care of more than just myself, Mr. Henry.”
‘Oh yes?”
“I’ve got a girlfriend. She’s staying with me. I’m looking after her.” Tom couldn’t help but beam at the confession. He was sure the guilt from their recent love-making would show on his face, but Mr. Henry seemed happy for him.
“That’s great son, must be nice to have some company after… after everything.”
Tom frowned at the memory. “Yeah.”
Mr. Henry glanced up at the static ridden TV that hung from a bracket in the corner of his store. There was something on the news about a man who had been arrested for murder. The picture was terrible, but Tom could see the man was about his age, maybe a little older. He was being guided into a police van by two solemn looking officers.
"Good.” Said Mr. Henry, practically spitting on the floor.
"Who’s that?” Tom asked, not really caring, but knowing that it was polite to ask about the things that other people clearly cared about.
“He’s the bastard that killed four girls between here and Langley. Raped them and cut them up and then just threw them away like they were garbage. They’re still looking for the body of one of the girls. Can you imagine the kind of bastard who would do that?” Mr. Henry looked overcome with rage at that moment and it frightened Tom a little. Tom shook his head and Mr. Henry’s face softened. "Well, Tom, you just look after your own little lady- there are a lot of sickos out there.” Tom nodded, paid for his ice-creams and walked back home.Along the way he started thinking about the girl lying there, so cold in his mother’s bed.


Perhaps today she would tell him her name.

WriterJohnB
December 8th, 2011, 05:16 PM
Very good. Well-written and you get just far enough into his head. Noticed a typo, wear for where.

Take care,

JohnB

felix
December 8th, 2011, 06:03 PM
I thoroughly enjoyed this piece. As stated by JohnB, just the 'wear' instead of 'where' typo to be found.

I'm looking forward to seeing some more of your stuff.

QDOS
December 8th, 2011, 06:51 PM
Hi
I like your descriptions and build up. There are however a number of places that would benefit from formatting as New Paragraphs, especially where dialogue is used.

Her opalesque blue-white skin was cold to the touch.

I would have used a more commonly known word such as iridescent. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to your own use.
A quick check = Opalesque – adjective 1. Being tabby. 2. Being iridescent.3. Being dull.
Is a common misspelling or typo for: Odalisque, Odalisques. Noun1. A woman slave in a harem 2. A woman who cohabits with an important man. 3. A female slave or concubine in the harem of the Turkish sultan.
Also happens to be the name of the world's largest subscription-based publisher on alternative investments.

Tom watched her for a response and, although she still said nothing, he was sure he noticed a demure lowering of her eyelids. He took that as a yes.

I went back and re-read this sentence. It could be a pivotal moment to what comes later, a simple yes, conveying modesty or shyness, but in a provocative way.

Great piece

QDOS 8)

BabaYaga
December 9th, 2011, 09:07 AM
Much thanks for your responses JohnB, felix and QDOS, I can't believe my typo! Ran it past my copy editor boyfriend first- so technically his fault :P And Q, I was trying to be clever and turn the word 'opal' into an adjective. Sometimes when I'm trying to be clever I fail. Will go back and make those much needed tweaks, thanks again for taking the time!

Kyle R
December 9th, 2011, 01:12 PM
Hello, YabaGaba! : )

This was fun in that creepy sort of way. I enjoyed the way you made Tom misinterpret her condition with his own innocent conclusions. And I found the sex quite humorous.

It was a good little horror story, almost like a satire with the comical manner in which Tom is so detached from reality.

I can't help but think, though, that you missed an opportunity during the Big Reveal at the end, when Mr. Henry explains about the girls, and the missing body. It's a moment where you can have Tom struggle with the information he's receiving, maybe something in his mind alerts him to the correlation between his Ice Angel and what Mr. Henry is saying.. he begins to see his own madness.. but then he stuffs the feeling down, buries it deep down inside like so many cans of beans and spaghetti packed into the recesses of a delivery truck (I'm searching for a thematic image that you could circle back on), and returns to his child-like blissful ignorance.

You know what I mean?

That's just a suggestion, of course, and your piece stands perfectly fine as is. I just thought I'd throw it out there anyways.

Oh and, one little thing I noticed:


He couldn’t wait to introduce her to everyone he knew. Which, aside from the doctors, including Mr. Henry from the green grocer and Mrs. Withers from next door.

The second sentence doesn't makes sense. Perhaps "including" is a wrong word.

Other than that, I thought this was good stuff. Cheers!

Peter Daniels
December 10th, 2011, 01:19 AM
Hey GabaHaba!

This was a good read! As someone who is in no position to give a really professional critique, I will let you know that it reads well to an amateur. Look forward to reading more!

Pete

Robdemanc
December 10th, 2011, 11:00 PM
That was quite freaky. But brilliantly written. Just the odd sprinkling of humour to lighten things which worked well. As others say, apart from the odd typo I can't fault it. It would be a great short, or a great opening chapter.

Robdemanc
December 10th, 2011, 11:03 PM
I can't help but think, though, that you missed an opportunity during the Big Reveal at the end, when Mr. Henry explains about the girls, and the missing body. It's a moment where you can have Tom struggle with the information he's receiving, maybe something in his mind alerts him to the correlation between his Ice Angel and what Mr. Henry is saying.. he begins to see his own madness.. but then he stuffs the feeling down, buries it deep down inside like so many cans of beans and spaghetti packed into the recesses of a delivery truck (I'm searching for a thematic image that you could circle back on), and returns to his child-like blissful ignorance.

You know what I mean?

That's just a suggestion, of course, and your piece stands perfectly fine as is. I just thought I'd throw it out there anyways.

!

I wondered about that too, that perhaps Tom should have a response about his own insanity, but I think it works well that Tom just carries on regardless and is only thinking of getting to know his ice angel.

Punnikin
December 11th, 2011, 08:32 PM
It's a good story, interesting character development, and quite entertaining. Not wholly original, but it's hard to be totally original any more. Thanks a lot Stephen King. :)

However, I have a few critiques to offer.

When Tom arrives at the grocery, he and Mr. Henry exchange a bit of conversation, and it's all clumped together. With a few exceptions, such as argumentative or interrogative situations, having two people speaking in the same paragraph is usually regarded as a "no-no" and it makes reading difficult. At times it makes it seem that one person is speaking to himself in the voice of another character. Separating the portions of conversation into their own paragraphs, even a one word reply, doesn't interrupt the story, and it makes it easier to follow the conversation as it was meant to be read.

One more thing... he drove for half a mile before checking on this ghostly pale woman lying naked on the roadside, but he didn't drive back first? :)

themooresho
December 16th, 2011, 11:47 PM
If I were you, I would give more of a background to Tom. Does he suffer from some kind of mental illness? Is he on some kind of work program for the disabled or something? I can assume that is the case simply because the story isn't believable otherwise. You make a few references to childlike behavior, which helps, but I would make sure that it's clear to the reader.

bazz cargo
January 15th, 2012, 01:37 AM
Hi Baba,
Very smooth, with a rather obvious twist, I was hoping for aliens.

One small nit to add

jumped from the driver’s seat of the car
Only he was in a truck!

I liked this a lot. It is worth checking out your back catalogue.
Bazz

Keldaros
January 15th, 2012, 04:22 PM
Hello BabaYaga,

Great story, i quite liked it!

There is one sentence that confused me, which KyleColorado pointed out already.


He couldn’t wait to introduce her to everyone he knew. Which, aside from the doctors, including Mr. Henry from the green grocer and Mrs. Withers from next door.

Perhaps it's because english isn't my first language but shouldnt it be 'included' instead of 'including'?

BabaYaga
January 16th, 2012, 08:09 AM
Wow, I missed a lot of responses to this story. Much thanks for the notes all, it's always appreciated! I'm going to go back and edit where necessary. Sick as a dog at the moment so it may take a while...

KyleC and Keldaros, right you both are- thanks for the catch! I usually write a fat, purple pile of prose and then go back to edit the hell out of it. Sometimes in the process, I chop out words I don't mean to. It's a bad habit, but I'm trying to get better at not reading from memory. (And Keldaros, it seems your English might be better than mine!)

I thought about doing a 'Big Reveal', down to someone finding the girl in his house, but then decided that I quite liked the unassuming ending. He's more concerned about the ice-creams melting than listening to what the green grocer says.... hmmmm.... maybe I should add that.

Punnikin, Thanks for the pick up on the dialogue- A formatting thing I overlooked when when I copied and pasted, but I'll go back and make sure it's laid out better now. And the half a mile thing- yeah I guess it is kind of far (and rather unlike me, considering I grew up using the Imperial system) so I have amended accordingly.

Themooresho- I kind of wanted to leave it open to interpretation. You know that he lived with him mom until she died, that he had to go see doctors at some point, that he finds it difficult to work with others, and that he has really good manners. That seems like a natural amount of information for us to get from him. I like the ambiguity of his character because, for me at least, it makes him easier to relate to. It is a weird little piece of fiction, so I was more concerned with it being entertaining than believable.

Bazz, It was a car that then turned into a truck... Really? You didn't get that from reading it? It was kind of vital to the story.... Geez :P Thanks for checking out my back catalogue and picking up on my past errors. Aliens in the next one, you got it.

You guys all rock,

Thanks for reading :)

alanmt
February 26th, 2012, 02:53 PM
Oh my gosh, baba, this was creepy! Please tell me that for Valentine's Day you got a barbie doll, tossed her little clothes in the fitch on the way home and painted her skin white with red slice lines, and gave your boyfirend his own ice angel doll to look after!

This story has that quintiessential mark of good horror - the gentle seducing of the reader with a mundane reality which starts slipping as more and more disturbing details are revealed, but the reader, curious and revolted, cannot look away/stop reading. I like how the end is not conclusive. The imagining how it plays out after is a feature, not a bug.

Not too much to offer, just a couple phrasing suggestions. The phrase "as winter grew near" seems awkward. I understand you are syaing darkness came early because of shortening days, but the phrasing caught me up. I think "Tom didn''t want to leave a potentially hurt lady on the side of the road" reads better with "potentially" removed.

I am glad this prompt when awry. Great example of starting with something inmind and ending up wit something different but fantastic.

BabaYaga
February 27th, 2012, 09:29 AM
Hi Alan,

I hope you're only commenting because you're taking a break from writing your fantasy story! Thanks very much for the suggestions, I agree that the phrasing works better with the amendments you've suggested. Thanks also for the horror compliment- I really enjoy the creepy shorts, and while I'm work on a longer, realistic piece, I'm really missing the surreal world. Then again, I still owe Bazz aliens...

tputnik
March 10th, 2012, 08:31 PM
Very, Very good work. Please keep it up.

isaiah
March 11th, 2012, 01:07 AM
Such an utterly creepy and disturbing story you have here. You did a good job at keeping my attention throughout, which can be a challenge for such a short attention spanned individual like me. I like how you slowly eased the reader into grips with Tom. It makes him that much more disturbing.

There were a few word usage issues that have mostly been pointed out, however there are a few things I noticed that seemed slightly odd.

First, this part here, sounds strange to me because first you say she barely ate, implying that she ate at least some, and then you say she didn't eat at all. Maybe that's just me though.
At home, she barely ate. In fact, she didn’t eat at all.

When you mentioned the people Tom knew to introduce her to, you spoke of doctors. I'm wondering if this is because he visits doctors regularly, or just generally speaking.

Which, aside from the doctors, really only included Mr. Henry, the green grocer and Mrs. Withers from next door.

Another thing, when Tom encounters Mr. Henry for the first time (the exchange of dialogue), I wasn't initially aware Tom had actually traveled anywhere. I thought he was still in his home. Perhaps that's just my misunderstanding again.

When Mr. Henry looked at the television, I was really hoping Tom was the murderer, and maybe he was forgetting his actions through some sort of mental illness. Like a dual personality. Of course, Mr. Henry would be unaware, and only the reader would suspect. That would have been a neat twist for me. Although, it's still good the way it is. I do agree with some of the other replies saying you could give Tom some sort of mental response to the way Mr. Henry spoke of the murderer.

This did disturb me indeed, and I didn't find Tom's personality and child-like behavior comical. It enhanced his disturbing character more for me, made him all that more creepy. Overall good job, and this is definitely something you could expand upon if you wished. Please don't abandon this.

SamanthaMarie
March 12th, 2012, 04:04 AM
This was unexpected! Hahah, I really thought she was alive...up until the whole bedroom scenario. I was thinking...What the hell happened to this girl, she's still isn't talking? Ahhh, sometimes I wonder about myself. Thank you for a refreshingly creepy piece!

Rustgold
March 12th, 2012, 05:15 AM
He decided he would take her home first, to the house he had shared with his mother.
As you already stated his mother was dead, I'd change this to 'once'.


where she lay in the exact same position as he’d left her.
Unnecessary word.


He couldn’t wait to introduce her to everyone he knew. Which, aside from the doctors,
I don't read a full stop there. Maybe omit 'which'.


Mr. Henry looked overcome with rage at that moment and it frightened Tom a little.
I'd consider a pang of thought from Tom here. Just maybe though.

I think Tom's general mental state etc is perfectly clear, and attempting to make it more obvious would be a detraction from the excellent piece of work.

RedSky
March 12th, 2012, 07:37 PM
Well written, and very descriptive. I also like the suspense leading up to the end which was shocking.

J.Scarlett
March 12th, 2012, 08:38 PM
Hiya. I love this so far, even if I think Tom is a bit inconsiderate to make love with a girl who, for all he knows, may have a mental problem. He seems to be taking advantage. Other than that, the plot is very interesting and I'm interested enough to read the next part so post soon.

BabaYaga
March 13th, 2012, 08:52 AM
Hiya

Tputnik -You are too kind, actually- you're just kind enough, I really needed that, thanks so much!

SamanthaMarie - No worries, I have a lot of moments like that. I have, in fact, perfected the awkwardly polite 'I have no idea what you just said' laugh. I use it often.

Rustgold- Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, I do so appreciate it. I will have a look through your suggestions when I've got a little more time, but will most likely make them to the master doc on my blog and not this copy- I think it's useful to leave the 'errors' in the original submission sometimes.

Isiah-Thanks for the comments! I wanted to keep Tom's thinking patterns very short and isolated. He has social issues, but he also has trouble consolidating the 'should be' which he has been taught and the reality of what is actually happening. He 'should be' rescuing a lady in distress and his inability to process reality in all of its gruesome truth leaves him worrying more about getting eggshells in the breakfast then why she hasn't moved in 2 days. He's not a killer, but he's also not fully prepared for the world without his mum. I wanted to show that through the things that he does think about and worry about, than focusing on breaking down every thought and motivation.

Redsky- Thanks for reading, yo! Glad you liked.

J. Scarlett- Thanks for reading and welcome to the forums! Tom is the one who has a bit of a mental issue, the girl's fine in a very post-mortem kind of way. I was going to make this story a lot longer, but after the scene at the grocery store, I just wanted to leave it there. A 'happy ending' for Tom in way. It can only end badly for him now, so I wanted to stop it here, where there's still hope in his heart and he hasn't been shipped off to the funny farm yet. I don't know, I'm just a romantic like that ;P

Thanks again all, I really appreciate the time taken to read and comment.

Wilson Edward Burroughs
March 28th, 2012, 06:14 AM
I adore your writing style. Huh, I'm looking forward to reading more of your work. Keep up the good work. Bleh, I feel like such a loser when saying that.