"Cold"

A/N: Just a creative writing assignment my English teacher assigned the class in my senior year of high school. Dark. I will shamefully admit I was inspired to write this while listening to Casting Crowns' "Set Me Free", although this story is very different from the song.

He hated the cold.

He hated the weakness he felt.

He hated the world.

He hated the cold more, however. It ate away at him, froze him, and made him heartless and uncaring. He despised it, yet he loved it, too. The animalistic, brutal side of his personality, lying dormant for years, had finally broken the surface, and Kale could not stop that brutal side of himself from taking over. The animal in him raised its ugly, scarred head and beckoned the looming coldness closer when Kale least expected it, trying to catch him off-guard.

Kill! it's voice whispered to him, and laughed mockingly at Kale when he tried to ignore it. The beast devoured the cold, thrived on it.

Knowing he was a danger to everyone around him, Kale had first withdrawn from all his friends, then his family, and then finally left all together. He lived among the dead now, in a lone graveyard miles away from the nearest town, his shadow and the beast in him the only things keeping him company. He would have preferred being left alone. When he had been a child, Kale had been frightened of graveyards and the thought of being left alone.

Not so now. Now he wanted to be alone, would give anything to leave the evil creature in him behind. Not many things scared him, but the creature did. He was always frightened that the beast was going to take him over him completely, that the cold would finally win.

He learned to watch for the times when the beast would try to gain full control; he learned to blend in with the shadows of the tombstones. Wearing clothing as black as his hair, he slid into darkness easily. Small and lean, with shoulder-length obsidian-black hair and skin white as snow, he started many tales, tales told by men and women who claimed to have seen 'the ghost of the Devil, dressed all in black with a flowing robe and blood-red eyes.' Kale had no robe, just his black clothing, and emerald green eyes, not red. Yet these fearsome stories would continue for years after his death.

Kale no longer knew how long he had been living in his new home. Had it been a month? A year? Five years? He didn't care. He didn't want to know. The days held little meaning for him anymore. He wandered the graves alone, hour after hour, catching the rats living there and eating them to survive. All he was aware of was the coldness in his life. Even when it was eighty degrees out, he felt the cold.

One night, waking from a nightmare, he found himself drenched in icy sweat, shivering uncontrollably. He cursed the world for being this cruel to him, cursed the foul creature devouring him from the inside out. Kale curled into himself and tried to stop shivering, but found that he wasn't able to. It was as if he'd been placed in a snowstorm without any heavy clothing, left to die in his pain and misery.

He felt like he was dying. He wiped the sweat from his face, neck, and arms, but the icy cold did not leave his skin—it was as if the cold had seeped into his bloodstream and was wrapping itself around his heart, turning it hard and dead like everything else, sucking the very life from his soul.

The darkness surrounding him didn't help. Standing, he made to move into the moonlight… and stopped when he heard soft footsteps. He followed the source of the noise and found himself face-to-face with a figure crouched in front of a tombstone. The person sensed him and stood, and Kale saw it was a girl of about sixteen years, with pale skin, dark eyes, and long blonde hair. Her eyes widened with horror and she backed away.

"Who are you?" he snarled, his voice scratchy and hoarse from not being used in a long time.

She shook her head. "I… I…"

"I want an answer, girl. Who are you?"

But his intimidating appearance and voice seemed to scare her and she turned and ran from him, back through the tombstones.

It was then that the beast in Kale struck. He was not prepared for it, having been thrown off balance from the sight of a fellow human being; he hadn't seen anyone in a long time. He was not able to repel the creature. Insolent child! it shrieked, and the words burst from his mouth in a hoarse shout.

"Insolent child!" He chased after the girl, following her panicked breathing, and caught up to her easily. Tackling her roughly to the ground, he pinned her beneath his legs. "You should have answered when you had the chance!" he sneered.

"Please… please!" she pleaded. "Don't… don't hurt me!"

Kale sneered again. "It's too late to plead forgiveness." He put his hands around her throat, pressing down hard. "You should have answered." His grip tightened and she visibly struggled to draw breath; he saw tears shining in her eyes, but the sight did nothing to soften his heart of ice.

"Please…" she gasped.

"It's useless to resist. Useless. Stop fighting and it will pass much faster." He leaned his full weight on her throat, felt bones crunch, and the girl fell back, her blank eyes open and staring at the starry sky, her mouth open in a scream that would never leave her lungs.

Yes! the beast cried. Kill! Kale smiled harshly and longed to find another person, to end their life with his hands. It had been so much fun with this girl. The familiar cold folded over him.

Kale smiled again. He loved the cold.