Winters Noose

Anthony Slifkas

Hundreds of thousands of minuscule snowflakes drizzle from the grey skies above. They glide through the calm winds caressing every tree they land on. The site is almost blinding. The white powder suffocates every inch of the forest grounds. It obstructs every naked branch as they gaze up at the hazed ceiling. The winds that hug the season follow a similar pattern. By day they are rarely a problem but as the forest darkens, they tend to evolve into glacial temperatures. Temperatures that the human body cannot endure for long.

It is the forest of Dornberry. A small town just entering the fourth month of winter. More violent than the past, many citizens choose not to show their faces outside. Instead they snuggle with their coffee and sleep by the fire. They shroud themselves with blankets and wait behind locked doors. All but one man follows this ritual. All but one man finds himself standing in the forest only a few moments after dawn. Snow drips from the skies and slowly covers the faint footprints behind him. This man holds a large duffle bag in his right hand, while his left fingers dangle like icicles.

He begins walking deeper into the forest grounds. Noticing a small blue ribbon wrapped around a branch he had tied previously, his destination is near. A small pond presents itself just before he arrives. It had been taken over by ice, much like this forest. Nature's creation lay dead around the pond as well. All but one large grey rock made it out of the snowy burial grounds. It stands three feet tall catching anyone's eyes. It is somewhat eye candy in this blinding environment. Grey eye candy.

When the forest sleeps, the silence of the snowfall transforms into the sound of whistles from the winds. It transforms into the tapping of water retiring from the icicles. It transforms into a white glistening atmosphere as the snow shines off of the horizon. But now, the silence of the snowfall has transformed into thick black boots carving their way through the thick snow. This man has arrived. A large tree stands in front of him. The trunk is about a meter thick being one of the thickest trunks still standing in this forest. The man sets his duffle bag down and opens up his jacket. He removes a very small voice recorder. Holding it up to his mouth, he presses down the red button.

"Day 24" He mutters, releasing his finger seconds after.

Kneeling down, he zips open the duffle bag. Reaching down he removes a rope from the bag. He looks up and scales the highest and thickest branch close enough for the rope to reach. In this case, he is lucky. He begins to knot the rope.

"End of this loop here, wrap the end, poke through and pull…"

He finishes as he holds a perfectly knotted noose at his disposal. A vibrant smile lights up on this man as he opens the duffle bag fully. He lets the noose cool off in the snow as he kneels back down, hovering over the bag. His fingers dive into it.

He begins to slowly fondle the content in the duffle bag. Starting from one side he feels softness. Cold to the touch as his fingers slide over five small toes. His eyes feast on the female human creation. No older than fifteen, her numb pale skin almost matches the sky. With every blink he stares at the adolescence. So simple. No experience, no mind and no regret. His hands gently caress her neck.

Standing up, he removes the voice recording once again.

"Jessica Kinbrook. Fourteen years of age. Lives on West Montgomery Ave. House number 231"

Hiding the recorder, he retrieves the noose. The contents in the duffle bag are naked to the open air now. Any remaining amount of warmth in the bag has now been washed away. Tiny shards of snow begin to fall on her flat chest. The man attempts to hoist the noose over the thickest branch available. Succeeding with this task, he lets the noose down, tying the other end against the tree. The noose dangles by his chest.

"Yes….yes. You did have a pretty smile" He whispers seizing the girls arm, pulling her up.

He grunts, kneeling down to pick the dead weight up. Watching, observing, studying. The predator stalks the local game. A grade eight girl. Lives a simple life. When the youth had caught this predators eye, it wasn't long before every minute was being documented. Every morning before school. Recess. The walk home from school. Her image had brought water to his mouth. His lust for fresh skin had swallowed every last bit of thought. As he holds the girl on her feet, he wraps the noose around her neck. It fits perfectly.

With no more than three tugs, the girl is hoisted up hanging in mid air. Still with simple visible range, he gives it a few more pulls until the girl hangs high enough. As he looks up at the girl, her dirty, frozen toes are all that he sees. Her cold lifeless shell is no more than an ornament to this tree, hanging so silently. The only sound that can be heard is the grinding of the rope. The soft, subtle grinding of the rope. A sound very familiar to this man. He bends his knee to reach into the duffle bag once more. This time removing a book. A very famous book. The book is all black expect for a single golden cross that lays on the front cover. He opens the thick paperback, giving the pages a roller coaster ride until stopping abruptly.

"Revelation 14:13. Then I heard a voice from heaven say, Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit. They will rest from their labour, for their deeds will follow them"

He rises and begins to walk forward leaving his duffle bag and the girl behind. Once more, he removes the voice recorder and puts it to his mouth. Recognizing a familiar tree in the distance he looks up to see another victim. This time, much younger.

"Skylar Grant. Eight years of age. Lives on Anchor Street. Apartment number A13"

The itch for fresh meat is an itch too powerful for a simple scratch. One must dig his nails into the precious addiction. This man has indulged. His fingers have dug too far into his itch. His fingers are covered in blood. His mind is surrounded by iron bars. His feet are drenched in snow. He looks to his left, noticing another victim, on another tree.

"Ciarra Hudson. Sixteen years of age. Lives on Strathmore Drive. House number 41"

He stops walking after about a ten minute venture deeper into the forest. Holding the large book up to his chest, he closes is eyes.

"My work here is done. You have summoned me here to bring the gift of god to the ungrateful ones. This month, I have given three humans the greatest gift of all time. To be in your presence. Thank you for putting me in this position. To be the bearer of an early grave. You are welcome. Amen"

He places the book on the snow, only to take out a leather wallet from his back pocket. Opening it he removes two ID's with the identical picture on both. He looks at one and it reads : Alan Snipes, age 34. He places it in the clear slot in his wallet. He holds the old ID. His past name, age and picture. Holding it in front of him, he takes out a small lighter. Flicking it only once, the old ID begins to burn. The hot flames spread slowly making it impossible to hold anymore. He tosses it away, letting it burn as much as it can before hitting the freezing snow. Everything important, has been burned.

Hundreds of thousands of minuscule snowflakes drizzle from the grey skies above. They glide through the calm winds caressing every tree they land on. The site is almost blinding. The white powder suffocates every inch of the forest grounds. It obstructs every naked branch as they gaze up at the hazed ceiling. Alan Snipes picks up the book and continues to walk through the forest of sacrifice.