“I’m not going to make it to my meeting, am I?” Ian asked his assistant as she came out of the gas station’s convenience store with a bag of gummy eyeballs in hand. The actor was staring at their car, a burgundy, sub-compact rental piece of crap, as it sat parked with its hood open and the engine steaming.
The tearing of plastic drew his attention. Ian turned to Sarah, who had removed two of the treats from the bag and placed them up to her own eyes. She looked like her eyes had popped out of her head. She squished them between her fingers in a mocking way.
“This is a casting you just aren’t going to make, boss,” she giggled, but let her arms drop with the candy in hand, when Ian continued to frown at her. “Not even a crack of a smile, huh?”
“This role would be an opportunity of a lifetime,” he said, looking longingly down the road, where the town he needed to reach was still fifty miles away. It was ten o’clock at night and thunder boomed in the distance, lightning streaking across the night sky in the fields beyond.
Ian’s agent came around the edge of the car with an oily rag in hand and splotches of black on her pink “I love you, Mommy” tee her daughter made for her at school. Crap, Ian thought, it was a garment with sentimental value that he could not replace. Sarah popped the eyeballs in her mouth, chewing contently, unaffected in the least by their bad luck. Luckily, Jen was a mechanic before she had gotten into entertainment.
“We blew a gasket. Coolant leaked everywhere, and the engine won’t turn over when I try and start it,” Jen said with an even deeper frown than her client’s on her face. “Sorry Ian. We’ll be lucky finding a place to sleep tonight, much less make your casting meeting tomorrow. Our best bet is to sleep in the car and call a wrecker in the morning.”
Ian sighed heavily, looking into the gloom surrounding the rusty old gas station in the middle of nowhere. No houses, no lights, there was just emptiness as far as the eye could see. He dropped his head in defeat.
The throaty purr of a motorcycle reached their ears before its lights appeared on the horizon. Sarah smacked Ian on the shoulder, leaving sticky fingerprints in its wake on his white V-neck t-shirt. He glared at her, while lightly touching the nasty mix of saliva and candy with his fingertips.
“Really?” Ian asked incredulously, looking from his sticky fingers to his assistant.
“Oh, I’m sorry boss. Did your skinny jeans get all in a twist?” Sarah replied, making a pouty face at Ian. “Anyway,” she continued, pointing at the pearl-colored motorcycle as it pulled into the gas station. “There’s your ride.”
Ian watched the motorcyclist, a slender female in a white, leather riding getup that matched her bike. She got off her bike, and then with a key turn popped up seat and the front trunk on the Can-Am Spyder to get at her wallet. The woman casually regarded them, as she swiped her credit card, started fueling her bike, and put her wallet away. When she turned and bent over to put the nozzle in under the bike’s seat, the tip of a black holstered handgun peeked out under her jacket on her belt.
“I am off to get you that ride, boss,” Sarah said and walked over to the stranger. Ian and Jen rolled their eyes at his assistant, who was now talking to the biker chick.
“She isn’t, is she?” Ian asked Jen.
“Oh, I think she is…” Jen grinned. “If she is willing, you could go on alone.” Ian stared shocked at Jen, who simply shrugged. “Like you said, this is role would be an opportunity of a lifetime. If you don’t show, they will find someone else. Have you even been on a motorcycle before?”
“No,” he said blandly.
“Well, she looks nice enough,” Jen replied.
“More like a stormtrooper…” Ian added before his agent shushed him.
Sarah approached with the stranger in tow, after she had finished gassing up.
“She’ll take you,” Jen stated and opened the trunk of the car, pulling out Ian’s suitcase. Ian’s heart began to pound, as he stood befuddled before the biker. The woman had a spare, black full helmet in her hand and offered it to Ian. Sarah put his suitcase in the front trunk of the bike.
“I’m Katherine,” she said in a pleasant voice. “Let’s see how many miles we can go before the rain starts, shall we?” She asked him. He took the helmet.
The rain was pouring in sheets now. The sky threatened to crash down with every boom of thunder, and his biker savior had had no choice but to stop. Katherine returned from the front desk with a vintage key to the last available room in a roadside motel, where they stopped. They went into the room with Ian’s suitcase and one of Katherine’s saddlebags. His rescuer decided to rinse the road dirt off with a quick shower.
His first motorcycle ride had been heart-pounding and later exhilarating, but now Ian just was just tired from the tribulations of the day. Hearing the shower going and deeming it safe to disrobe, he kicked off his shoes, slid into his green, plaid flannel pajama pants, and lay on the bed… away from the orange Cheetos stain on the comforter that was left by the room’s previous occupants. Eww, he thought and closed his eyes.
“I’ve waited a long time to be alone in a room with a sexy actor,” Ian heard a woman say. He opened his eyes to see Katherine sitting on the bed next to him, wearing just a towel, and running her freezing fingers along the toned lines of his bare chest. He must have nodded off; he felt her weight on the mattress as she sat down. Also, her hands are really cold! He thought.
“Are you okay?” he asked nervously and sat up, pulling away from Katherine. “Can I get you a blanket or something?”
The bathroom door opened and Katherine walked out with a white towel tied around her body.
“Who are you talking to?” she asked. Ian did a double take from Katherine in the doorway to… the empty spot on the bed.
“Uh, what the…” Ian said, his heart thumping in panic. Katherine reacted immediately, lunging to the foot of the bed where her things were and drew her gun. She thumbed off the safety and scanned the room for an intruder.
A flake of snow fell onto Ian’s stomach, its coolness just as real the other Katherine’s touch. The biker chick took one hand off her gun and held it out, catching a snowflake in her palm. They looked bewilderingly at each other, and then at the snow as more began to fall.
The room fell away to an ice-covered pond, surrounded by trees heavy with powdery snow. Because of the position Ian had been propped up on the bed, his feet went out from under him, his butt landing hard as he fell to the ice.
The pond cracked, where he fell, and a white hand broke through the surface of the ice from below. It grabbed Ian’s ankle and was trying to pull him under. Katherine stepped closer and fired two rounds from her gun into the hand, which disappeared under the ice, and a high pitched scream came from the hole. The danger gone for the moment, she extended a hand to Ian and helped him up. They were both shivering and held onto each other, Katherine’s arm sliding from under his armpit to around his waist. She held her gun close in her other hand, still aiming it at the hole where the hand had emerged.
The water swirled under the ice. Ian swiped some snow away from the surface with afoot, as if it were fog on a steamed up mirror, trying to get a better look at what lurked below. Dark strands of hair appeared in the water and then a hand pressed upwards right under the ice. There was a squeaking sound like bare fingers sliding on a glass window, as it moved to the cracked hole in the pond. From its depths the face of a frozen woman appeared, her opalescent eyes glazed over and tinged in blue. Katherine dropped her hand from around Ian, taking aim at the woman with two hands on the gun, as a corpse climbed out the lake. At one time, she had worn a white nightgown, but it was now dirty, tattered and wetly clung onto her emaciated carcass.
“Oh, hell no!” Katherine said and unloaded the rest of the magazine into the thing, walking towards them. Shots clearly showed in its head and chest, but she kept walking forward. The corpse drew a deep breath, its tornado-like strength pulling the snow at their feet into her mouth, and its intensity increasing with frightening power. Katherine’s gun, extended between her two hands, was sucked away and then filaments of white began to rise from her skin.
Katherine turned her head to Ian, her eyes scared and a warning on her blue lips, and then her body dissolved into dust and was sucked in as well. The creature’s mouth closed, as she swallowed Katherine, her head lowering to her chest. A pulse of light momentarily obscured its face. A mini cyclone swirled around its body as it looked up, locking eyes with Ian..
Standing in front of him was Katherine, again in her white bath towel, and her auburn locks wet against her bare shoulders. She had a sultry smile on her lips and put a hand on her hip.
“I’ve waited a long time to be alone in a room with a sexy actor,” she drawled. She closed the distance between them in two quick steps, kissing him lightly on the lips. Ian felt the skin of his face began to freeze, starting with his lips, and her kiss became more forceful, as her tongue pressed into his mouth. The kiss tasted like someone had shoved maggots in his mouth. He opened his eyes wide in his fear, and then they too froze, perfectly preserving his terror.
She wrapped her arms around him in a tight embrace, while waiting for his whole body to turn as solid as the iced pond at their feet. The thing finally stepped back, admiring her handiwork. The sound of cracking ice filled the air, as the pond groaned under his frozen increased mass.
Ian fell through the ice with a splash. With his darkening vision, he saw her dive in after him, her dark hair fanning out as she took long strokes with her arms, following him down into the darkness.
Mother, homemaker, ordained Wiccan priestess, writer, MMA enthusiast, and budding motorcyclist, Katie also enjoys the boring things taken for granted like spending time with family and going to movies. She was born in Atlanta, GA, got her BA in English: Creative Writing from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She currently resides with her husband, two children, and four rescue cats in Roswell, GA. Katie also co-writes with her husband, Jay Barber. Their pen name is J. K. Barber and have written an epic fantasy trilogy entitled, Chronicles of Aronshae.