Cream Mountain Getaway
When Amanda turned up the volume to the music, Stacey leaned over and turned it down.
“Come on Stacey, lighten up a little! We’re going to Cream to have fun! Not pout about that loser,” Amanda said.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Stacey he hit you. He’s addicted to drugs. He couldn’t be a bigger loser.”
“Look I know he’s a loser okay? But I still have all these feelings for him and it doesn’t make it easier for me to enjoy myself when you bring him up. Can we please just clear the air and talk about other things? Anything but Travis?”
“Fair enough,” Amanda said. But she didn’t mean it. She wished Stacey would quit acting like such a victim. Even though the weekend was ostensibly about Stacey getting her mind off of Travis, the obvious corollary was that they would all have a good time partying in the mountains. Amanda just wished Stacey would be more of a sport.
They passed a series of gas stations and mom-and-pop eateries in a small town, before the small civilization disappeared and the road ran through an old-growth forest that ran parallel to a bucolic stream. An occasional fisherman in waders casted a reel in to the gurgling waters.
“I don’t see how they fish in the cold like this,” Kate said. “I mean, it doesn’t seem fun.”
“I guess if you loved it, you’d do it as often as you could, regardless of the weather,” Stacey said.
“Yeah, like I could chase boys in any climate,” Kate said.
“I told you I don’t want to talk about boys,” Stacey said.
“You said you didn’t want to talk about Travis, you didn’t say we couldn’t talk about boys-at-large. Boys are half the population. Jesus was a boy. Are you saying we can’t talk about religion? The President is a boy. Can’t we talk about politics? Oscar de la Renta is a boy. Can’t we talk about fashion?”
“Okay, okay, you can talk about boys in general. Just not him.”
“Good because we’re going to get some Dee this weekend!” Kate said.
“Okay, I take it back. You can’t talk about boys.”
“You’ve got it coming to you this weekend, Stace, and you don’t even know,” Kate said.
The girls giggled a little, Amanda turned up the music, and the girls sang along to the Top 20’s, songs they each knew by heart. Fashion magazines were busted out, lipstick passed around, cup size discussed, proper eye contact to make with a strange boy debated, toe nail polish compared, celebrity breakup and hookups were gossiped over.
A full-size carpenter’s van appeared on the road shadowing the girls, following them along the two-lane highway, unable to pass due to windy features of the road. The van intermittently pulled up to the girls’ bumper before slowing down and drifting further behind them, only to return to their tailgate once more.
“Who is this creep riding my ass?” Amanda asked.
Stacey and Kate both turned their heads to look behind, but the van had already started drifting away from them, allowing more space between the vehicles.
“Doesn’t Tr—, I mean, his Dad have a van like that?” Kate asked.
“Shut up, Kate,” Stacey said.
“Nice try to scare us,” Amanda said. Travis’ Dad really did have a van like that.
The van drifted behind and out of sight.
“See? That van wasn’t following us. There just isn’t anywhere else to go on this road. He probably has to keep braking just to keep from rear-ending you the way you work your brakes,” Kate said.
“I have to use them, it’s curvy through here, and how do I know there isn’t black ice?”
“I should have driven,” Kate said.
“Fuck you,” Amanda said.
“Oh, save it,” Kate replied.
The girls arrived at Cream Mountain Resort before dark without any problems. They stopped at the main office and picked up the key from the receptionist and excitedly drove up the mountain to their cabin.
“The directions say to drive down Reindeer Road and it’s in the cul-de-sac,” Kate said as she read from the print out.
They passed several nicer homes before the pavement road ended and they drove along gravel, before the gravel road ended and they drove on a snow-covered dirt road. Amanda had left it to Kate to book the house, and how she was gradually coming of the mind to regret it. There were several lots separating the girls’ cabin from the closest house, and the only house within sight appeared vacant.
“Not exactly a prime location,” Stacey said.
“Don’t be a bitch,” Kate said. “All the houses are like this. Besides, this place is ski-on ski-off. That’s pretty much like being on the Bourbon Street of Cream Mountain. Besides, there’s three bedrooms, a hot tub, the works.”
“Whoa, look at how big this place is! I mean, it’s got to be somewhat secluded to be so large,” Amanda conceded.
“Yeah, I guess it’s neurotic to expect a country estate to be located centrally downtown,” Stacey said.
The girls parked, and they carried their luggage inside the worn but sprawling cabin-style party house. Amanda struggled to remove the skis from where they were attached to the racks above the SUV. She had put her key in the rack, but ice had frozen the lock stuck. She punched the lock a couple of times until she whined out that she had hurt her hand. A little blood oozed from the notches of her knuckles. Like so many other things, the site of blood made her skittish.
“Don’t kill yourself,” Stacey said. She hopped up on the car, struck her cigarette lighter, and held the lit flame underneath the frozen lock.
“You’re going to melt the plastic,” Amanda said.
“Chill out. It’s frozen solid. Leave them on here overnight and we won’t ski the whole time we’re here.” Once some liquid ran out of the lock, Stacey dropped the lighter in her pocket, punched the lock three brisk times, then pushed the button and the rack flew open. “See?”
“Okay, I admit it. Nice work.”
The flurry intensified to a downpour of wet, fluffy snowflakes. The girls finished unloading the skis just as storm clouds eclipsed the evening sun. The evening ski lights on the slopes activated, illuminating the droves of skiers braving the cold winter mountain air. Fluorescents, grays, and go-pros whizzed by, amateurs tumbling across the powder as they fell to their sides on the realization that they’d chosen a more difficult slope than their experience would permit them to faultlessly descend.
"That’s the last of it,” Stacey said as she closed the door, four ski polls slung over her shoulder. The other two girls were standing at the large windows watching skiers zoom by. “People are still out there? It’s madness to be skiing in this blizzard.”
“Yeah, I feel like most of them are getting in their last run of the day,” Kate said. “What do we have to drink?”
“Did we bring anything?” Stacey asked. “I don’t remember bringing any booze in.”
“Shit. We forgot to stop at the store,” Amanda said.
“Well, what are we going to do?” Kate asked. “I’m not going to sit around this cabin all night with you two without any booze.”
“Take the car,” Amanda said. “There’s a grocery store about ten miles from the foot of the mountain.”
“I can’t buy booze in the resort?” Kate replied.
“You could, but it’s too expensive. It’s really worth going the extra distance for the money you’ll save.”
“Okay,” Kate said with exasperation in her voice. She was always getting saddled with the clique's burdens. “If I’m going all the way to town, then I’m bringing boys back! Dee!” Stacey tossed her the keys. Kate wrapped her large ski coat over her shoulders, checked her pockets to make certain she had her phone, and hunkered down and hurried out in to the storm.
Stacey walked over to the windows and stood looking out at the brave skiers where Kate formerly stood. The girls cackled at the sight of the bumbling many that passed before their eyes. The number of skiers began to dwindle after a time, and finally ski patrol was seen doing a final sweep of the runs, posting “Slopes Closed” signs variously within sight, and finally the floodlights that illuminated the slopes dimmed to blackness.
“Well, that was fun,” Amanda said, a measure of sarcasm laced in her voice.
“What do we do now?” Stacey asked.
“Well, we could drink if we’d been smart enough to bring anything.”
“Kate will probably be back soon.”
“No way, even if she went straight to the store, it’d take her an hour round trip. Plus if she really stalks the bars, who knows how long she’ll be gone?”
Amanda picked up the remote and pressed the power button once to no affect, then several times but the thing sat inanimate. “It’s out.”
“Great. Stuck in the boonies alone, in a blizzard, without booze, boys or TV.”
Oh God, Amanda thought. She didn’t want a few minutes of boredom to induce Stacey to relapse back in to doldrums. Nothing was more unendurable than the usual beautiful and bubbly Stacey pouting around. It was like seeing a one-legged kid on TV asking for charity, something no one could bare to see.
“We could tell ghost stories,” Amanda said.
“I really don’t feel like being scared,” Stacey replied. No sooner than Stacey had replied, automobile wheels crunched up the drive and headlights flooded in through the large glass windows, temporarily blinding the girls who threw their hands over their eyes to shield themselves from the light.
“Is Kate back already?” Stacey asked.
“No way. That truck has lights mounted on top of it,” Amanda said.
Stacey trembled. Memories of Travis coming home drunk at night, calling her a fucking bitch, telling her she’d never make it as a pianist, that piano was a stupid fucking instrument and that even if it wasn’t it would always be ridiculous when she replied in conversation that her occupation was piano. How fucking embarrassing, Travis would say. She should get a job as a waitress or a bookkeeper, something respectable, something practical he would tell her. These thoughts made her cry. Then she remembered how he would hit her. First, he would wrap his arms around her as if he was going to love on her, but then he would force her around the house, even when she tried to get away, making her feel as though he controlled even the most commonplace movements of her body. Then he would hit her. He didn’t warm up after he had struck her either—he’d go straight for the face, the place where his fist’s work would be most visible. She was in tears now.
Amanda, in truth, was fearful too. Maybe Travis had followed them to Cream Mountain? Who knew? He had threatened to hunt Stacey down “anywhere in the world” when she threatened to leave him once before.
Someone was on the steps now. The snow frozen to ice popped under the weight of the stranger’s steps. The stranger paused to allow himself a hacking cough, definitely a he, definitely not Kate unless she’d had a sex change in the mere half hour she’d left them.
The doorbell rang.
Amanda jumped, both feet leaving the ground. Then she jumped on Stacey, causing both to tumble over on to the couch, where they both quivered with fear. Amanda sat paralyzed now. Travis was twice the girls’ size. He could kill them both, and they would most likely lie paralyzed in fright while they did it. He was a mean enough son of a bitch to do it.
The doorbell rang again.
Stacey’s eyes were flooded with tears.
A poster hanging on a wall nearby portrayed a skier with a cruelly demented smile cut across his face, as he was about to plunge down a black diamond ski slope. He seemed to be on his way to harming them, too.
A thunderous refrain of knocks came at the door.
“Let’s go to the bedroom,” Amanda whispered. “Let’s go to the fucking bedroom and lock the fucking door and call the police.”
Amanda wished she’d never planned this trip. She promised she’d never plan another trip the rest of her life if she just survived this one. She might even go back and finish cosmetologist’s school if God would just spare her on this day.
Keys jingled outside the door, and one audibly slid in the lock. “Ya’ll in there,” an indeterminate voice, muffled by the wind and the thick walls, yelled inside the cabin.
The girls started to move, but the door blew open and flapped against the wall to the rhythm of the wind.
“Leave us alone!” Amanda yelled.
“Fuck you Travis! We’ll kill you,” Stacey yelled.
“Whoa, whoa, calm down ladies,” the stranger said, moving in to the light so he could be seen. He held his hands above his head to show he was unarmed. He definitely wasn’t Travis. “Hey hey, cool down. I’m Bart from the Management Office. This is actually my family’s cabin. I didn’t mean to scare you girls, I just meant to come up and invite you all to a party at the lodge tonight.”
The girls were quiet, mostly because they were embarrassed by their exaggerated alarm. Bart stood shivering in a tunnel of wind while the door stood wide open. The girls’ nerves settled and all that remained was their cardio-level heart rates.
“Do ya’ll mind if I come in and shut this door? It’ll take ya’ll an hour to reheat the house if we leave it open much longer.”
Amanda stood and pressed her jacket taut to her sides, so that she might recapture what composure she could. “Of course, step inside.”
Bart shut the door.
“Sorry, we’re just a little intimidated because my friend here’s ex-beau is somewhat of a stalker. We thought you were him.”
“Wouldn’t honestly be the first time I’ve been accused of that behavior, but nah I’m not stalking ya’ll. We don’t get so many pretty girls on Cream Mountain the tales of like I heard told of ya’ll down at the check-in, so I thought I’d drop by and invite ya’ll to our party tonight. I won’t bother ya’ll much longer, but to say the party starts at 9 and there’s no cover or nothing. Free drinks till midnight.”
“Thanks,” Amanda said. “We’ll try to make it down if we decide to go out.”
“Alright,” Bart said. “Cool, well I hope you pretty ladies make it. Sorry for barging in on y'all like this. Usually when younger people come up on the mountain they have the doors flung wide open anyway." He edged back towards the front door. “Well, alright. We’ll see y'all tonight I hope!” Then he escaped through the door, revealing more nervousness than he had betrayed throughout the entirety of his intrusion. He was just a bashful boy, employing forward methods to make friends with the pretty girls recently arrived in town. His headlights flooded the windows blinding the girls momentarily once more, then his tires crunched along the ground up the road away from the cabin.
“That was odd,” Amanda said.
Stacey laughed her nervousness away. “What a creep! Are those all that are left? It’s been so long since I’ve been on the market. Maybe I should give Travis a second thought after all. At least I know what he’s capable of.”
“Don’t even kid around,” Amanda said.
The phone rang.
“Who could that be?” Stacey asked.
“I don’t know. I didn’t even tell anyone which resort we were staying at, much less which rental company or anything like that.”
“Well, answer it,” Stacey said.
Amanda picked up the phone. “Hello?” She said cheerfully, but the cheer immediately dropped from her face. She spoke little and listened long. She couldn’t believe who she was talking to on the other line. “Un huh, yes, I understand, thank you, no I think it’s best if you didn’t talk to her. No I won’t confirm she’s with me. Thank you, goodbye.”
“Who the hell was that?” Stacey asked.
“You don’t want to know,” Amanda said, visibly a little shaken again.
“You have to tell me. Who was that?”
Amanda started to walk away, but Stacey caught her by the wrist. “Tell me who it was, bitch.”
“It was Travis’ Mom,” Amanda said. Her face reflected absence, like she’d just seen a ghost. “She said he was coming to Boone looking for us and we should be careful. He wasn’t acting right when he left.”
“You’re putting me on,” Stacey said. “You said you didn’t tell anyone we were coming here.”
“I swear to god I didn’t. I have no idea how he knows or his mother knows, but they definitely know. I mean she just called didn’t she?”
Stacey ran in to the kitchen and started yanking out drawers. When she found the cutlery, she took a 7” serrated blade and brandished it in front of her, whooshing its cutting edge through the air. “I’ll knife that fucker. Self defense.”
“Whoa, whoa, sweetie. You’ll be more likely to knife yourself. Just settle down. Give me the knife.”
“Backup or I’ll knife you,” Stacey said. Amanda took a couple of precautionary steps back. She was terrified by that numb look in Stacey’s eyes.
The lights flickered.
“Quit that shit,” Stacey said.
“I didn’t do it!” Amanda said, clearly flustered herself.
Then the cabin went dark. Everything disappeared.
The girls panicked. Screaming. Someone brushed passed Amanda, feet pattering away towards the living room when she saw Stacey’s silhouette streak across what light was to be had by the windows before disappearing again in to the dark wings of the house.
“Stacey, you’ve got to calm down! You’re scaring me. You’re going to hurt one of us, probably yourself. Please,” Amanda said in jerks, clearly upset, “please just calm down.”
Feet pattered across the living room again, up the stairs and a bedroom door slammed shut. The wind howled outside, and what snow could be seen in the faint light swirled violently, sticking to the heated windows, freezing. The gusting wind whistled again, and this time there was a loud noise, probably just the wind knocking over any inanimate object but it also snapped like a lock being broken.
“Stacey, please. I’m so scared. Let’s get out of here. Let’s go where there’s people, at least until Kate or the power comes back. Please,” Amanda pled, snot drizzling from her nose, never having been the type to endure much fear on her own.
There was silence.
“Stacey, please,” Amanda said as she crept up the stairs. Something else could be heard outside, another loud, unknown disturbance.
“Okay, okay, what do we do?” Stacey said, a return of reason hinted in her voice. “We don’t have a car. We sure as hell aren’t leaving this house to walk the road all the way down to the mountain.”
Amanda thought quickly. She had to get them out there, if for no other reason than to protect Stacey from herself.
She wished to God she hadn’t let Kate go with her SUV. Maybe if they weren’t always bullying Kate in to running all the errands they’d be at the store right now, safe, with Kate. Amanda saw the outline of the skis resting by the door.
“The skis. We could take the skis and be at the main lodge in five minutes.”
“Do you hear what this weather is doing out there?”
“It will take five minutes, then we’ll be in the lodge and we won’t have to worry. Someone will drive us back here after the power is restored,” Amanda said.
There was another shrill thud outside the rental house. Amanda trembled. “I’m going alone if you don’t put down that knife and come out of that room at once.”
Amanda listened to determine whether Stacey would acquiesce to her demand, but hearing nothing, pattered down the steps, snagged her ski boots, dropped to the couch and started snapping up. Fuck Stacey. Amanda had done enough trying to lift her friend’s spirits by bringing her away on this holiday, but it didn’t mean she was ready to die for her.
A door opened.
Amanda paused everything, holding perfectly still, even holding her breath. An involuntary shiver jolted across her nerves. She heard feet on the stairs now.
Amanda turned and saw Stacey hurrying towards her. Amanda scanned her person rapidly, looking to see whether Stacey was still wielding a knife. She could imagine Stacey tripping and impaling her with a giant butcher knife through the ribs, striking a vital organ, ending her days. Amanda took a pillow in her hands and assumed a defensive position.
“Where are my boots?” Stacey asked, as she threw her unarmed palms up in the air in a hurried panic. Amanda jettisoned her defensiveness as soon as she confirmed Stacey was no longer the possible source of a stab wound.
“By the door,” Amanda said, snapping the last of her buckles. Stacey didn’t indulge the formality of sitting to switch shoes. She just threw them off. Stacey stuck her feet in the ski boots without latching all the buckles, then she shouldered her skis and started towards the slope-facing door.
“Stacey, wait,” Amanda said, as she ran to collect her skis, attempting to keep up with the panic-fueled Stacey who was already disappeared down the stairs to the slopes.
By the time Amanda arrived outside, Stacey was already pushing down the slope without even having latched her right boot in to her right ski. Amanda was as diligent snapping in as she had been in latching her boot buckles. By the time she started pushing across the flat towards the slope, Stacey was but a mustard-yellow dot among the swirling snows on the bend of the run. Amanda lifted her skis and pushed with her poles, trying to gain speed on her friend, but she’d neglected to bring eye protection and her face was quickly freezing to the point of temporarily impairing her vision. Amanda entered a straight patch and took the opportunity to cover her eyes with her glove, to rub them and inject some life back in to them.
Then she struck something.
Her boots clicked out of her skis, which catapulted her sailing through the air. She struck the snow-covered slope once and slid several feet, streaking across the ground until she came to a bruising halt. She lay there for a moment until she realized that she was laying face down in the snow, so she rolled over and turned to inspect the cause of her wreck.
Among a splash of crimson, lay a tangled mass of skis, mustard-yellow waterproof clothing and Stacey. Amanda stumbled to her feet and hurried through the storm up the slope to her friend. “Stacey, Stacey!” She cried out. She breathed a sigh of relief when Stacey moaned a tormented wail. Amanda dropped to her friend’s side.
“I’m so sorry. My God, what have I done,” Amanda said.
“I spilled in front of you. It was my fault.”
“No, I wasn’t looking where I was going because of the snow.”
“Does it matter?” Stacey asked.
“No, no we just need to get you to the lodge,” Amanda said. She curled her hands under her friend’s armpits and tried to hoist her up, but Stacey once again wailed out in pain. “Oh my God, I’m sorry.”
“I can’t move. Just go get help,” Stacey said.
Amanda looked uncertain.
“Just go get help!” Stacey cried, tearful agony present in her plea.
“Okay,” Amanda said, standing and taking a deep breath, before hobbling back down to her skis, determination coursing through her veins, snapping in as quickly as possible, and noting the position on the mountain, nearby an ironic sun-shaped sign that read, “Have Fun! ” where she was about to leave her friend before beginning her descent.
She exercised a high degree of caution on this attempt. When her face got too cold for her to keep her eyes open, she stopped once on the slope and pulled her turtleneck up over her face for just long enough to reheat her precious sensory organs before starting down once more. Still, she was down the slope within 10 minutes of leaving Stacey, not half bad. She skied right up to the partially lit lodge and stopped at nearest door, unsnapped her boots and left them there without regards to their possibility of theft. Her boots clunked on the cement floor covered by the thinnest veneer of cheap carpet, pushing her way in to the stairwell and ascending the spiraling stairway up to the bar, the only room in the whole lodge that appeared to be active.
When she crested on the second floor and pushed the open the hallway door she could hear the happy chatter of voices inside the bar, drinking gaily, no doubt un-intimidated if not inspired by the storm raging beyond the insulated walls.
She scanned the bar desperately looking for security, an employee, hopefully a ski patrol or someone who could help her stranded, injured friend. But Bart found her first.
“I’m glad you made it,” he spoke before she’d spotted him approaching her from the midst of the gleeful crowd.
“Bart,” she said without a full chamber of wind in her lungs. “I need your help. My friend Stacey, we tried to ski down, and she’s hurt. Maybe hurt bad. I had to leave her on the slope. We. . .”
“We need to hurry. Come on, I’ve got a bobcat parked out front we can get to her in,” Bart said. He darted across the room, and was pulling on his jacket as he led Amanda back down the stairway from which she had just came, out in to an adjacent parking lot and in to an All-Terrain Vehicle. Bart fired up the engine, and soon Amanda was shielding her eyes again while she issued directions to Bart, the mountain native who was familiar enough with the climatic conditions to keep a pair of ski goggles on his person. They were barreling up the mountain in that ATV. Then they arrived at the spot Amanda remembered leaving Stacey.
Only Stacey wasn’t there.
“Are you sure this is the spot?” Bart asked.
“I could have sworn, I’m, yes, this looks exactly like where I left her but there’s no blood, no Stacey. Maybe there are lots of places that look just like this on the slope. How many sun-shaped signs are on the mountain?”
“This is the only one?”
“Then she had to have been here,” Amanda said.
Now the alarm gradually receded from Bart’s face. He began to emanate this form of delighted suspiciousness.
“What?” Amanda asked, hysteria still in charge of her emotions.
Bart sighed, like a man recently come in receipt of understanding and control of his surroundings. “Why did you really bring me up here?” He asked, reclining comfortably against the seatback of the ATV.
“You,” Amanda said as she whirled around surveying her surroundings one more time in search of her missing friend. “You really don’t think my bringing you here was some sort of a ruse, do you?”
“There’s no girl and no slope covered in blood.”
“Look, maybe someone found her and helped her to safety. Maybe the falling snow covered her blood just beneath us. I swear to God she was just here. Maybe she even found some energy she didn’t realize she had once the cold set in, and carried herself back up to the house.”
“So now you want me to take you back up to the house?”
“It’s not like that Bart,” Amanda said.
“I get it. Let’s go the house,” he said.
Amanda was perturbed by Bart’s presumptuousness, but what did it look like after all? He was entitled to harbor his amorous suspicions, and Amanda could care less as long as he subdued his desires to help her search out her injured friend.
When the ATV skidded along by the row of nearby houses, yellow lights illuminated their windows once more. Amanda was relieved to see the lights on in their own house, and even more relieved to see Stacey’s skis stuck in the ground by the slope-side door.
“Those are her skis,” Amanda said.
Bart parked the ATV off of the slope by the house, and from his trajectory it was apparent he was just going to walk inside.
“Wait, not so fast,” she said.
“What? You’re weird. Don’t we need to hurry inside and make sure your friend is alright?”
“It’s just, the reason we were skiing down to the lodge in the first place was because we were afraid my friend Stacey’s crazy ex-boyfriend was coming to get us. What if he’s here now? Shouldn’t we take precaution?”
“Man, you’re getting more and more paranoid as this Easter-egg hunt goes on.”
Bart opened the unlocked door and Amanda flinched behind the ATV. She was so terrified, she didn’t know if she was in more danger out in the cold by herself or following skeptical Bart inside that murder house.
“Come on for crissakes,” Bart said. “My family’s owned this house since I was five. Nothing bad has ever happened here.”
Amanda saw that he had left the keys in the ATV. She sat back in the passenger seat. If she heard any screams or anything else in that house, she was taking this thing back down the mountain to safety. It wouldn’t do anyone any good for her to sit around here by herself, waiting to get herself killed.
Bart seemed to read what she was thinking.
“Listen, do you want me to show you why I’m not scared?” He asked.
Amanda nodded her head up and down. Obviously she would love to hear why she shouldn’t be so scared. She was sitting there shivering with fright.
Bart reached in to his jacket and pulled out a revolver. “Because I’m prepared. Look, we’re safe. You’ve been riding with the most dangerous person on the mountain, so you might as well keep me close and stay on my good side.” Bart cracked a sincere enough smile.
Amanda climbed from her seat, walked up the short path and followed him in to the house.
When they entered the living room, Bart took immediate alarm. A lamp was smashed and the TV was knocked off its stand. There was blood and other signs of a struggle. Amanda shrieked when she saw the state of the place.
Someone screamed in one of the upstairs bedrooms. “Help!”
Amanda recognized Stacey’s voice.
“He’s here, he’s got her,” Amanda said, her voice trembling, her heart beats firing blood through all her veins, jolting her in to a most extreme alert and almost intolerable state.
Bart took his pistol out, cocked the hammer, and held it low to his side.
“Stay close behind me,” he said.
They started together up the stairs, when there was a clamor in the pantry. Bart doubled them both back down the stairs, not to be surprised from behind.
“Come out of there,” Bart ordered. “Or I’ll shoot.”
The pantry door opened and out emerged Kate.
“Don’t shoot,” Amanda blurted out. “That’s our friend Kate, she’s a good guy.”
Another cry resonated from the bedroom above.
“What’s going on Kate?” Amanda said her face contorted in fear, legs shaking.
“He’s got her,” Kate said.
“Who has her?” Bart asked.
“Her ex-boyfriend. Travis. He’s here. He had her in the living room when I got back. Then he drug her in to the bedroom and I hid.”
“Why didn’t you do anything?” Bart asked.
“I was too frightened. I’ve been trying to call 9-1-1, but my cell doesn’t have any service. I didn’t know what to do!”
“Okay, okay,” Bart said. “You’re both going to stay right here. I’m going to take care of this guy.”
“No Bart,” Amanda said, “he’s dangerous. He doesn’t care if he lives or dies.”
“No one pulls this shit in my house,” Bart said.
Bart hurried away, his feet heavy on the stairs. The bedroom door flung open.
“Can I help you?” A half-crazed Travis said, standing at the bedroom door with a nine-iron golf club in his hand. He was blood drenched and his left arm was partially blue from what appeared to be some degree of frostbite. Bart could see behind the lunatic that a girl had one arm tied to the bedpost. Her legs were covered in blood.
“You’re going to come out of there and sit in the living room until the police arrive,” Bart said, angling the gun at the loon.
A demonic glint flared in Travis’ eye, he raised the golf club and lunged at Bart, who stepped out of the way just as his attacker came within striking distance. Bart tripped him and pistol butted Travis on his way to the ground. Travis lay there unconscious after the tactfully executed maneuver. Still, taking every precaution, Travis held the gun on him.
“Call the police,” Bart yelled downstairs. “The house phones should be working now.”
Later that night, long after the police had taken Travis away in to the custody, Bart was still with the girls while Stacey’s wounds were being tended to. A single detective was asking her questions while a paramedic stitched up the laceration actually caused by Amanda’s ski running over her leg at an angle.
“His history and the restraining order are more than enough to hold him until after this storm has abated and we can properly arraign him. You girls were lucky to have someone as prepared and brave as Mr. Bart here to intervene on your behaves. Everything else seems in order,” the unconventionally longhaired detective, dawning mid-western themed apparel such as cowboy boats and a bolo tie said.
“Except for one thing. How do you reckon he came to know ya’ll were vacationing this weekend on Cream Mountain? You say you hadn’t told anyone which resort you were going to, much less which street or even house. I mean, there’s five ski resorts within thirty miles of Boone, and thousands of rental houses. How do you reckon he managed to arrive just a couple hours after yourselves?”
“I don’t know,” Stacey said, a trauma-stricken gaze cast down on the ground.
“My people down at the reception said no one came around fitting this Travis guy’s description all-day,” Bart said.
“It’s a real mystery,” Kate said, as she crossed her arms and legs.
“Well,” the detective started as he closed his little palm-sized notebook. “I don’t guess there’s anything more for me to learn here. Perhaps Travis will tell us himself how he found you while we’re interrogating him, until then, you girls just know you’re safe. Try to enjoy the rest of your vacation.” The detective observed each girl to make sure they were content with his departure, and then he nodded and left.
“I guess I better get out of here too. They’ll be looking for me to help clean up after the party down at the lodge,” Bart said.
“Can’t you stay?” Amanda asked.
“Yeah, Bart. Won’t they understand?” Stacey asked.
“It’s been a wild night, but they don’t take to kind to me skipping out on work,” Bart replied.
“Yeah, just let him go,” Kate said. “Like the detective said. The danger is gone. We’ll be fine.”
Amanda and Stacey both gave reluctant nonverbal acquiescence to Kate’s statement.
“Ok, well y'all got my number if you need anything. It’s no bother if ya’ll want to hit me on my cell, and I’ll be right back up here,” Bart said.
“Thanks Bart. Thank you for everything,” Amanda said.
Bart nodded, and disappeared down the stairwell leading out to the ATV parked by the slopes, a door slamming shut behind his exit. The girls surveyed each other, silence filling the air, until Stacey cracked a smile and laughed a bit.
“It’s over guys. Travis is locked up and the danger is gone. Let’s just enjoy ourselves as much as we can. With Travis locked, up, if you think about it, this is the safest I’ve been in months.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” Kate said. “Can I get anyone a glass of wine? Beer?”
“I’ll have a glass,” Amanda said.
“Me too,” Stacey seconded.
Kate walked over in to the kitchen, rummaged through her bag, and removed a bottle of red wine.
“Merlot good for you guys?” She asked.
“Definitely,” Stacey replied.
Stacey and Amanda sat on the sofa facing towards the large picture-frame windows out over the darkened slopes, while Kate could be heard in the background, opening and closing drawers and rifling through forks, spoons, knives, and other utensils, presumably looking for a corkscrew.
“How did he find us?” Amanda asked, and added “To bring it up again.”
“I know, and I really don’t want to think about it,” Stacey said.
A cork popped in the background, and the sound of liquid being poured into glasses faintly carried from the kitchen. Kate’s footsteps fell on the ground behind the two girls.
“Here’s your red, bitches,” Kate said once she stopped just behind both Stacey and Amanda, but when the other two girls turned to face Kate, it wasn’t glasses of wine she clutched in her hand.
#Unreal #ShortStory #Thriller #Suspense #Twist #Foes #Halloween
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