Tuesday, July 20, 2010

TRAPPED UNDER ICE ~ By Eric J. Krause in cool BIJOU Debut

  By ~ Eric J. Krause

Other than off a cliff or the top of a skyscraper, I couldn't have picked a worse place to trip and fall. I'd hoped the ice would hold, but I didn't even stay above surface for a second. It shattered and dropped me through into the freezing water below.
I tried to scream, but the air in my lungs was wrenched from my body.
I'd been known to hold my breath for well over a minute when I swam with my buddies. If you're going to prank anyone in the pool, you have to stay under for awhile. None of that helped now. I'd be lucky to last fifteen seconds.
Though I'd only been under for a couple of heartbeats, feeling already
drained from my extremities. I tried to push to the surface, but at the very best I treaded water. More likely I sunk a few feet closer to the bottom.
No, I wouldn't end like this. I thrashed about for another second or
two, and then concentrated on propelling myself up. Easier said than done. The parts of me that weren't already numb felt like they had tiny needles pushing through them. I swam up and saw where the night air and icy water met. That surface moved ever so closer. I braced myself for the cold air to rush into my lungs when I hit the ice sheet over the pond.
In my short foray underwater, I'd drifted away from the opening. I
pushed at the ice, but it didn't budge. I had to be close to where I fell in, and that bit of ice had proven fragile enough, but further efforts were no more successful in getting me to precious oxygen.
I did my best to remain calm. My lungs burned. I'd passed out once
before, as a child, so I knew all about the unpleasant black rim around my vision. I gave a quick glance left, then right, but I couldn't see the opening. I'd have to choose a way and hope for the best. If I picked wrong . . . well, it was the same as if I didn't pick at all.
Since my body is right side dominant, I figured I'd pushed myself to
the left when I fell in. I could maneuver back to the right and find the hole. I was sure of it. Before I moved, though, someone above the surface looked down at me. A savior? Though I should have been moving,
I took the time to see who it was.

# # #
"Little Tiddle likes to piddle right in his pants! Little Tiddle likes
to piddle right in his pants!" Every child in the neighborhood except poor Ronnie Tiddle yelled the chant at the top of their lungs. To his credit, he didn't run away crying, a sure way for the teasing to never end. Instead, he stood still, staring at everyone, one at a time. When his eyes met mine, I stuck out my tongue and continued the chant. I was proud of myself at the time, but that didn't last. Only life-long bullies and psychopaths look back at the playground mentality of their childhood and smile.
Ronnie Tiddle brought that lesson home early.

I don't remember how our group bullying ended. I'm sure an adult, be
it a teacher or parent, came onto the scene and shooed us away. No one paid any mind to little Ronnie Tiddle. I later learned everyone figured he wandered home like the rest of us.
He didn't show up for school the next day. The day after that his
parents put up missing child posters. We -- the neighborhood kids -- looked at each other with a mixture of fear and pride. We'd forced him to run away. We'd won, but had we really wanted to?
All pride drained from us a few days later when the police dredged the
pond and found his bloated corpse. The adults kept the truth from us, so I never heard the full story. From what I've gathered, as Ronnie wandered home, a drifter snatched him up and killed him. I'm sure there were horrific acts that went on in-between the kidnapping and the murder, but I don't like to think about it. Even as a hateful, self-centered little boy who'd been the instigator against him, I knew Ronnie Tiddle didn't deserve such a fate. Hell, I don't even remember why I picked on him in the first place.

# # #
Little Ronnie Tiddle stood on the hard surface and stared down at me
through the ice. He looked exactly as I remembered him that fateful day. I wanted to yell up at him, tell him how sorry I was, but the cold had drained all air, all possibility, out of my lungs. I knew I should move to search for the opening, but I couldn't tear my eyes off of his translucent form.
All hope I had of him coming to my rescue vanished. He looked down at
me, gave that half-smile I'd always despised, shrugged, and turned away. I couldn't tell if he disappeared or kept walking. The black overtook me. 


(c) 2010 ~ Author Eric J. Krause
Absolutely*Kate's Visualization on ice  ala talented Gregory, 2004
It's the end of a terrifically terrible story but not the glory of ERIC KRAUSE showing up AT THE BIJOU to rouse the house for where the spotlights and kliegs like to melt the ice.  

Eric J. Krause pens stories from Orange County, California, just minutes away from Disneyland. He's had over two dozen short stories published in The Absent Willow Review, Trail of Indiscretion, Allegory, and Nocturnal Ooze, just to name a few. You can visit his blog on writing at ERIC J. KRAUSE'S WRITING SPOT. From giving out some zing in spectulative fiction prompts weekly to how he Flashes Fiction when a Friday turns the calendar, you're gonna want to click that link, sip a little more coffee, browse around and let your mind go to simmer. 

Yep, he's that inspirational. One cool guy (pun intended, absolutely).  
Eric lives with his wife, Amber, their dog, Spike.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE:  So Eric, why does this sensation of scribing show us a great glimpse of You, oh {cool} Writer Man? 
AUTHOR ERIC:  Well Kate, I'm glad you asked that question. This story is a good indicator of my work because I like to take something that can happen to anyone (in this case, being clumsy and falling into a lake, albeit a frozen over one) and then add an element of horror to it -- sometimes natural, and sometimes supernatural; or in the case of this one, a bit of both. I'm proud of this one, and I hope people enjoy it as much as I do. 
ABSOLUTELY*KATE:  Eric, it gave me the creeps which makes me all the more proud you let this one play up on the stage AT THE BIJOU. It's a stunner and we look forward (with the house lights on) to many more of your {cool} scribe-gems!

Cool Thanks, with more than a half-smile
from our fine staff of renown . . .


Laurita said...

Brrrr. This gave me cold shivers. A very cool story indeed.

Desiree60 said...

Great story, Love the photograph at the top of it. Did you take that one.. it is beautiful?. Ingrid

Cat Russell said...

Amazing how our childhood haunts us throughout our lives, and apparently (in this story) at our death too. This makes me think of how your life is supposed to flash in front of your eyes.

Chilling tale! (Yes I meant to pun). :D

Anonymous said...

Quite the chilling ta-- aw, darn. Someone beat me to it.

Nevertheless, Eric, a GREAT debut and a great piece. I love the tone and the almost conversational narrator as he's about to drown in sub-freezing water. It adds to the creep-factor.

Job well done!

Harry said...

Nice work Eric!

Anonymous said...

Another great story, Eric! And I love the photo.

Marisa Birns said...

Because I am not a swimmer, I found this to be truly horrifying!

Great story though. :)

XPM said...

Chillin'! Ha! Rock on Eric.

Unknown said...

Eric brings the goods yet again... Glad you popped up over here Eric.

Walt said...

Creepy stuff. I suppose this character received a first hand lesson on Karma.

I loved the nonchalant way Ronnie Tiddle smirked, shrugged, and walked off.

Joz Varlo said...

I'm with Marisa. I can't swim, either and reading this story was like reading a nightmare. Great job, Eric!

Anonymous said...

I used to fight for the kids that everyone picked on. Then we moved and I didn't know anyone. I stood by and watched something horrible.
My heart was broken for that child and to this day I'm mad at myself for not trying to do something.

Great write, welcome to The Bijou.

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

WELCOMES INDEED, AT THE BIJOU ABOUND ERIC ... and of course our grand dame Jeanette of theatre'world speaks well for us all.

When I sat in the projectionist booth and adjusted all your spotlights, kliegs and cinemascoping, I heard my own intake of breath from how you drew me right in from the first line ~ "Other than off a cliff or the top of a skyscraper, I couldn't have picked a worse place to trip and fall." Considering the title, I knew an adventure was coming.

But man oh man, that's some breath-holding you take a reader down under for Eric. All the chills puns apply, though more so as your writer voice stayed so 'dead calm'.

Ronnie Tiddle looming over a break in the ice? Danger personified.

Great tale and how you tell it.
Thanks for letting AT THE BIJOU become yet another of your writing homes. ~ Absolutely*Kate and our staff of renonwn

Kate Pilarcik ~ absolutely said...

HEARTY WELCOMES AT THE BIJOU to new regular velvet seat watcher, Maria Kelly as well as karma-aware Walt, rockin' XPM, Marisa once again, Danielle and Ganymeder. Since you enjoyed Eric's show on stage, do scroll around, seek more to go with your popcorn ... and by all means give a go of one of your own . . .

SPEAKING OF WHICH ... Hey Laurita! We're lookin' for what's going on with your Neighbors or those critters in the woods. Will you shake us up again

Har, Jeanette, Ant and now JD the T, BIJOU wouldn't be BIJOU without you folks in the house. Your energies are well felt, in a good contagious connection. Thank*you

And looky here - Desiree of Ingrid or Ingrid of Desiree figured out the magic sesame in. Popcorn sales rally

Eric J. Krause said...

Thank you, everyone, for the kind words on this one. I'm glad you all enjoyed it! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to have my work published here, Kate. I appreciate it, and I love what you did with my words. As others have said, that photo is brilliant for this story, and the colors throughout matched perfectly.

pegjet said...

I think I finally caught my breath. *panic recedes*

Another chil-- I mean creepy tale from Eric. Bullies eventually get theirs, don't they?