Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write for the SUSPENSE and/or THRILLER Genre (10/23/14)
- TITLE: In the Middle of Nowhere
By Francy Judge
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Justin lifted Jenny’s chin until her eyes locked with his. “You know, we could go down below on the heated deck.”
“Then we wouldn’t be alone. This is the only honeymoon we’ll ever have.”
“You’re right, and I want you all to myself.”
Jenny kissed his red earlobe, the only part of him not covered in multiple layers. “You better pull your hat down or you might lose that ear to frostbite.”
“That would be horrible—not to hear your musical voice again.”
“I hope you’re not being sarcastic.”
“Never. I love all of you.”
The blizzard wasn’t supposed to reach Barrow until the next morning, but by early evening strong gusts of wind carried six inches of snow. The lights flickered threatening to shut off in their rented cabin, thirty minutes from the nearest town. Cell phones had no signal in the storm. They’d have to wait it out, thankful they had a kitchen and supplies.
“Will everything be okay? Will we be stuck here for weeks?” Jenny shivered in the chilly room and pulled a blanket over her shoulders.
“Of course not. Alaska is used to severe weather. I’m sure roads will be clear in a day. Let’s enjoy the silence.”
“It is romantic snuggling by the fire with not a soul for miles. Just us, beginning our life together.”
They drifted off in each other’s arms, cuddling by the fire’s heat. Their bodies together shielded the chill.
Out of a dream, Jenny jumped to her feet. “Did you hear something?”
“Nothing but you screaming in my ear. You scared me to death.”
“I swear I heard feet stomping outside.”
“An intruder would sneak in, not stomp his feet.”
“Sure, that makes me feel safer.”
Then they both heard a gentle knock at the door. “See!” said Jenny. “I wasn’t hearing things.”
As they walked to the door, the person knocked faster as if to hurry them.
The man looked frozen, dressed in a sweater with a down vest and fur hat. His gloves and boots looked soaked through to his skin. “Can I come in?” He asked with a foot already past the door frame. “My car died a mile from here, and I’m almost frostbitten all over my body.”
“Of course. Come in,” said Justin.
“I’ll heat water for tea or instant soup if you’d like.”
“Both, please. Are you two from around here? You don’t sound it.”
“No, we’re on vacation.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to intrude. I’m sure I’ll be able to leave in a few days when the roads are cleared and the phones are working again.”
Jenny snuck a frustrated look to Justin. He shrugged his shoulders.
“Do you think it’ll be that long?”
“At least. This is a nasty blizzard.” He took off his boots and outer clothing and stretched out on the sofa.
When the sky got dark, they retreated to the bedroom and left Max on the couch with an extra pillow and blanket they found in the closet.
They tried to relax, but could hear the man pacing around the room.
Justin pulled the quilt off and hopped out of bed.
“Where are you going?”
“I’m going to see if he needs anything, so we can all get some sleep.”
“Max, can I get you something?”
“No, why do you ask?”
“You seem to be having trouble sleeping.”
“No, I don’t sleep much. Don’t worry about me. Go back to bed.”
At 5:00 AM, they heard loud banging like pots and pans dropped repeatedly.
“What is he doing?”
Justin walked out to see, but the man was gone.
“Hello, Max? Are you still here?”
His wet clothes pile was taken, and the boots were gone. “Jenny, come here.”
Her mouth dropped when she looked at the small kitchen. Drawers were pulled open. Silverware scattered on the floor. The curtain was knocked off the pole. Every cabinet was ajar. The knife holder was emptied.
On the refrigerator, hung a note, taped with a chunk of duct tape. It read:
“Don’t worry. I’ll be back.”
Jenny rushed to the door and bolted it shut. The snow covered the window. Only a small hole had been wiped away. From the outside looking in.
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