COLD LAKE

Written by David Halbe

 He went to his preferred online dating site and entered his credentials, “CherryOrchards69 – you’re about to get a face lift” he snickered.

1

The old Ford F150 moved slowly down the desolate road. The snow-covered night was clear, the moon reflecting off the windshield glass.

“You know, I’m new to Alaska. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the tips.” said Lana, a blonde thirty-something stripper sitting in the passenger seat.

“Can you make a lot of money dancing topless?” asked Daniel, a middle-aged man with a buzz cut and bomber jacket.

“Are you serious? Those pipe fitters dump a lot of money.” she replied.

“I believe you. Work hard, play hard, that seems to be the motto around here.” said Daniel.

“I’ve never been this far from Portage before, where are we?” Lana asked.

“We’re in Unalakleet, it means ‘from the southern side’. It’s an isolated town, one of the smallest in America, the population is just under eight hundred. It wasn’t always that way though, back in the 1800’s the town was a major trade center for the Athabascan and Inupiat Indians.”

“You’re so smart Daniel.”

“Thanks.”

“So, what are you doing out here anyway?” Lana asked.

“I’ve been working on a book these past few months. It’s nearly finished. I just need to come up with an ending.” Daniel replied.

“And you think taking me outdoors will help?”

“Possibly, keep that blindfold tight. I don’t want to you to see my surprise.”

Lana adjusted her blindfold as the Ford pulled down a dilapidated driveway leading to a rundown farmhouse.

Daniel opened the door to his truck and helped Lana out. The hard-packed snow was crunchy under their feet. The crisp cool air was refreshing.

“This is the most fun I have ever had on an online date!”

“Just wait, the best part is still to come.”

“Why Daniel? You plan on getting lucky tonight?” she giggled.

He guided her away from the house and towards a nearby lake. The body of water was froze but a circular cut was visible near the center of it.

“It’s cold baby, how much longer?”

“Just another couple of feet, we’re almost there.”

Daniel pulled the blindfold off and yelled “Surprise!”

Lana opened her eyes. A desolate lake with a hole in front of her cut into the ice.

Lana took a step back, she bumped into the muscled body of Daniel who grabbed her arms. His lock was like a vice.

“I don’t get it. Are we going fishing?” she asked.

Daniel spun her around smiling, the façade was over. His eyes shone with malice.

“No. Dying!” he said as he pushed her into the hole!

Lana fell into the water, she quickly disappeared into the cold black abyss. Daniel covered the hole back over with the ice block he removed earlier.

He pulled out a small notebook and wrote a line: “I don’t get it. Are we going fishing?”

Lana struggled for air. She looked up at the frozen sheet of water, there was no obvious way out. The moon’s reflection gave the lake an eerie glow. She quickly took in her surroundings, looking for a stick or anything she could use to break the ice. That’s when she saw them, corpses of young women, more than a dozen. She realized the true hopelessness of her situation just as she took her final breath.

2

Daniel filled up the old rusty bathtub with ice cold water and sat down naked in it. He set his stopwatch and laid down under the water. The icy temperature meant nothing to him. His body was used to it. He’d been practicing for weeks, trying to feel what his victims felt.  He had become a serial killer. It wasn’t intentional, his new book had led him to it. The extreme isolation had infected his mind. It began with the cold lake, imaging himself drowning in it. The terrible plotline had blossomed from there. How would it all end? He didn’t know, he’d assumed all serial killers were eventually caught but his plan and execution seemed fool proof. Nobody suspected a thing. Maybe that was the problem he thought, I’ve been killing bimbos, none of them have been much of a challenge and they were the kind of women nobody missed. Was he secretly afraid? Afraid if he went after somebody smart, he’d get caught?

Daniel burst out of the water and stopped his watch. “An extra fifteen seconds” he said out loud. “Almost three full minutes under water!” He knew from his research that Navy Seals could last under water equal to this time. The world record was held by a man from Germany who did it for twenty but the conditions he worked in were nowhere near the extremity Daniel had been subjecting himself to. He dried himself off and moved to his computer. His novel was nearly finished. Would this tale of morbidity end with the killer getting away scot-free? It seemed likely but victim number fourteen would decide that. He wanted one more victim to complete his book but somebody challenging this time. He needed to prove to himself that he wasn’t afraid. No one could escape his icy graveyard and live to tell the tale. It had to be a woman with roots in the community and a real IQ. He’d have to change his façade to hook a fish with brains. Danny ‘the lonely stoner with a boner’ would no longer do. He knew he was good looking enough to attract women but he needed to add some sophistication in order to net the type he wanted.

He went to his preferred online dating site and entered his credentials, “CherryOrchards69 – you’re about to get a face lift” he snickered.

Keeping it simple, he eliminated all the surfer/stoner images, keeping only the ones of himself in business dress and a few shirtless shots.  He used phrases like: Ready to be free, no more games, take a new step and ready to discard the mask. His blatant honesty held a devious quality but only for someone in my line of work he thought. When he was satisfied, he uploaded the new bio and waited for someone to fall into his trap.

3

Allison, a mousy blond divorcee, read the man’s bio again. ‘Ready to be free, no games’ she read. He defiantly fit the bill physically. A nice muscular build, black hair and blue eyes but the words, that’s what struck a chord inside her. She was ready to move forward. This man seemed a glorious upgrade to her abusive ex-husband. Allison had spent her whole life trying to live up to the great Jack Warren’s standards. An alcoholic vice president of his daddy’s oil company, the bastard had spent all his free time drinking and trying to keep Allison down. It was a miracle she was able to complete college and land a nursing job. Now a thirty-two year old divorcee she was ready to find Mr. Right.

“Tiffany, I think I got one.”

Tiffany, a curvy thirty-three year old self-proclaimed lesbian, popped her head up from her work station. “Finally ready for a woman?” she asked.

“No! You goof! I think I found my Mr. Perfect.”

“I’ve got to see this.” Tiffany made her way over to Allison’s desk. She hovered over her shoulder and gazed at the computer screen.

“Are you sure he’s real? A man that hot makes me not want to be gay.”

Allison giggled. “He’s real alright. We made a date. He wants to take me to his cabin by the lake.”

“Cabin by the lake huh? Have you seen the movie, you’ll end up a part of his flesh garden.”

Allison closed her eyes and started to purr, “Flesh garden, it sounds so sexy.”

“Well, it’s not. It’s twisted and dangerous. When are you going to meet him?”

“Tonight.”

“Oh Jesus Allison, that’s way too soon.”

Allison just shrugged her shoulders in response.

Tiffany walked away in a huff. Her mind was racing. She brought up the man’s bio on her own computer screen. The words were so real but also blatantly fake, reading this near-perfect summary gave her a creepy feeling. Allison obviously didn’t watch slasher films but Tiffany did and this man screamed Lifetime movie.

There was no way in hell she’d be able to talk Allison out of going, her friend was desperate to move on, so she decided to follow her. Just in case, Tiffany thought.

4

His plan was working perfectly. He hadn’t expected a response so soon but the petite blonde would make the perfect victim. A college graduate and a registered nurse, he couldn’t wait to see her body sink beneath the ice. Only things began to unravel before they’d even begun.

It was difficult to pinpoint where things started to go wrong. She’d been eating out of his hand during drinks and dinner. She wanted him so bad he probably could have banged her in the parking lot. It must have been the blindfold; the ride gave her time to work things out. She bolted out the door as soon as the farmhouse came into sight. Luckily, for him she headed right for her grave, the lake was only a few feet ahead. He tripped her up and bashed her head against the ice until she blacked out. Temporarily subdued, he dragged her body towards the opening.

Tiffany had been following right from the start. She watched her friend fawn all over the man at the bar and during dinner. She’d practically thrown herself at him in the parking lot. Tiffany had half expected the man to drop his drawers right then and there but he’d shown a reserve seldom seen in men, especially around a beautiful woman.

The blindfold had been unexpected but she didn’t consider things dangerous until Allison dove out of the truck. Following at a safe distance, she quickly veered off the road and killed the lights.

When she saw him dragging her friend towards the hole in the ice she broke out into a run.

“Time to die!” he grabbed Allison by the shoulders and pushed her towards hole. The blow to the head had rendered her helpless, if Tiffany was going to act, it had to be now.

The crunchiness of the snow announced her arrival, the man turned just as Tiffany arrived. He tossed Allison aside and prepared to grab her.

Tiffany wasn’t always a lesbian. There was a time when she liked men, strong men, professional football player types, who had shown her how to use her curvy body like a linebacker. She ran up and swung her body to the side, using the full force of her hips, she body checked the bastard right into the hole!

Daniel didn’t know what hit him. He felt his body splash down into the ice, unexpectedly trapped in the water. He looked up to see Tiffany closing him in with the ice block lid. It took everything he had to force his body to calm, this eventuality was what he’d been training for. The insulated body suit he was wearing kept him warm. He swam over towards his victims. This was the first time he’d seen his collection underwater, free flowing in the icy depths like sugar plum fairies on a string. The frigid temperatures kept the decomposition to a minimum, it was as if they’d all just been killed.

Satisfied, he pulled a small knife out of his jacket and moved further down the lake. He’d faced both intelligence and the unexpected and finally had a proper ending for his book.

5

“What made you suspect him?” the policeman asked.

“I remembered this old movie I saw on T.V. when I was a kid, something just struck a chord.” said Tiffany.

“Uh, huh” mumbled the cop as he wrote her explanation down in a tiny notebook.

She turned and watched as Allison was loaded into the back of an ambulance. She was going to be ok.

“Wish you guys would find his body already!” Tiffany hissed at the policeman. The cop shrank back, her wild look had obviously scared him.

“Oh, we will. The average person can only hold their breath underwater for thirty seconds, in extreme conditions, it’s more like twenty.”

He extended his arm out over the frozen tundra, “Unless he was a professional, there’s no way in hell he’d make it.”

Daniel watched the policeman speak to Tiffany through his binoculars. He was a good mile down the river at an offshoot which fed the great lake, the light snow would surly cover my tracks and scent he thought. He was cold, wet and tired but very much alive. The best part of all, he’d just had a brilliant idea for his sequel…

Happy Valentine’s Day 2020!

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