From a contest where I couldn't describe a certain object in the story.
|Numbing the Curse
Caroline knew every inch of the woods. She avoided every shrouded obstacle, carefully dragging the object behind her so it wouldn't break. There hadn't been time for her to put on warm clothes, and she cursed what she was dragging just as it had cursed her. She hoped the incoming snowstorm would cover her trail so that no one would ever find it, or her for that matter.
She had to bury it. Deep. But her frigid, pained fingers couldn't scratch the surface of the dirt, and bled from the effort. The ice covering the river assured her that she couldn't send it down into the depths, and wouldn't have been deep enough to keep the object there. She would have gladly drowned with it at this point, but it would still cling to her even in her death.
Caroline glared at the object, but received no reaction other than the foreboding sense she had whenever she looked at it. A signal to her that if they went back, another person would die. A gleeful jump in her heart that made her stomach lurch. Her bloody hands dragging the object reminded her of all the blood that had already touched them. A smile, a giggle, released from her before she could stop it.
Her hands also reminded her that there were other bodies buried in the area, where the ground was softer. She heaved toward the most recent one. There was a small pile of sticks marking her guilt, and she swept them away, grabbing the sturdiest one to help in the digging. Caroline was already exhausted and frozen. She knew she would die tonight, but she wasn't going to die with the curse. She accidentally dug into the newly decaying body, and without remorse dropped the object into the gash. She covered the grave quickly, the edges of her eyes giving into darkness and a type of exhaustion that would leave her comfortably dead.
The stinging cold was becoming a welcoming numbness. Caroline laughed at her release, laughed at her own madness that had developed. She threw the sticks everywhere so that there wouldn't be a signal of the burial, and watched the ground drown under the storm that had finally reached her. Her body didn't even feel the snow covering her. She closed her eyes, imagining herself as a statue that guarded the woods and the bodies that had suffered from her curse. But she reopened her eyes as she felt them freeze, and all she saw was the continuing darkness. She couldn't be found with the body. Then the curse would be easily released on someone else.
Caroline's stiff limbs burned as she ran. She stepped on several other graves, her mind stifling the grotesque laughter that tried to leave her as she remembered the moment of death in each person's eyes. Somehow, she could hear the object calling to her no matter how far she ran, and even as she tripped into unfamiliar territory, bark ripping into her fragile frozen skin, her body screamed to return to it. She finally turned and called its name.
Exhaustion consumed her with her last scream, and somehow she awoke the next morning, buried in a cocoon of ice and snow. She cracked open the shell and saw the soft glow of the sun reaching through the trees. Her skin was healed of the scrapes and bruises she should have had. As she stood up she felt a pressure in her shoulder, and she reached to rub it, her mind assuring her she probably just slept on it wrong. Her hand, however, assured her that she was touching another hand. She swung around to find the body of the man she had buried the object with. She could see the object inside of him, somehow visible even though he was fully formed and alive.
"It's us, now," he said.
Caroline felt her eyes well up with sharply hot tears that froze on her face when the cold finally changed them. She nodded numbly.
"It's always been us," she whispered. An unfortunate giggle left her throat.