Skylar snapped awake from her hazy depression, looking about her and realizing she had walked further into the grounds than before, further than the pond would have allowed.
Her eyes scanned the edges of the walls, a terrible realization sinking in the further she pulled her gaze away from the landscape, the ground never changing from the snow white that extended out from the wall to where she was standing. Her eyes fell on her feet, and very slowly she slid her foot across the surface, scrapping the snow away and revealing the ice hidden underneath just as the first sounds of cracking found her ears.
She looked behind her, witnessing Harlin running as fast as he could underneath the bare Crimson Bride trees towards her. There was a single loud crack, and that’s when the ground broke underneath her, causing Skylar to freefall into the freezing waters that were trapped under the ice.
She fell almost sideways, hitting part of the weakened ice with her body weight, then falling straight through. The ice cold water swarmed around her, engulfing every inch of her in a sharp icy pain, and it froze her long after it had swallowed her under its wake. Opening her eyes, she fought to keep her breath in while every inch of her wanted to gasp from the cold shock of the ice water, and she found that she almost couldn’t move, the cold stabbing at every pore while the weight of her dress worked against her.
Skylar found the ice above her was light except for a patch of dark blue. She kicked her legs as best as she could, scooping her arms around her in order to move upwards. The air in her chest burned, her lungs demanding oxygen. She saw the ice above her, the light of the snow surrounding the opening she had broken through. Panic tingled down her spine and forced her legs to kick, pushing her upward. Just as she lost the last of her air, the surface of the pond broke through and her head shot up into the open air, gasping as her arms wailed around her trying to keep herself afloat.
The voice flung itself at her as Skylar paddled as best as she could towards the nearest chunk of ice. She tried to push herself up on top of it, but the ice broke, and she fell back through, almost falling completely under again. The weight of the water-logged dress started to feel heavier now, the exhaustion of moving in the ice cold waters taking its toll on her.
She tried to paddle to the ice again, throwing her arm over the ledge so she could pull herself up. But she was too weak now, too tired, too shaky to lift herself. And so there she remained in the water, shivering and burning from the cold, looking out across the snow towards the voice who had been calling her name.
A. M. Dunnewin inherited her love for mysteries and thrillers from her family, which motivated her to pursue a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. Although her stories cover a wide range of genres, she primarily writes historical fiction and thrillers. An avid reader at heart, she’s also a passionate collector of both antique books and graphic novels, and has been known to search for stories in the most random places. She lives in Sacramento, California.