Suspense Fiction

The viciously bitter wind bit my cheeks. Hot tears stung at the corners of my eyes and I swiped them away. My fingers felt stiff and numb inside my brand-new gloves. The gloves brought to mind the past Christmas. My last with her. Good times. Happy times. I shook the memories away and focused my attention on the steep terrain ahead. The grey sky hung like a dirty curtain over the snow-white mountainside.  The hardy hemlock trees, burdened by the heavy weight of a late winter snow, stood tall and proud.

When I started the hike, large light snowflakes had danced in the cold air. Now, a couple of hours in, snowflakes gave way to freezing rain. A harsh wind picked up strength from the east and pierced my bones despite my snow pants and down jacket. My breath came in jagged spurts as I continued up the trail. The air so crisp it made my lungs ache. Suddenly there was a flash of red on my right.

“He’s friendly,” came the booming voice from above me on the trail at the same time a large dog burst through the trees. The dog came barreling straight for me, his tail moving as fast as his feet, almost knocking me over with his enthusiasm.

“Hey boy,” I said as I knelt down to stroke his damp head. I watched his owner carefully pick his way down the trail. His trekking poles piercing the crunchy top layer of snow as he went. He paused when he reached me.

“Cute dog,” I said. The man gave a slight nod of his head in response. His vivid blue eyes set in a heavily lined weather-beaten face. 

“A little late heading up, aren’t you?” 

“It’s not that late,” I protested. 

“You’re a good hour from the summit and this freezing rain is only going to get worse before it gets better,” he said as he leaned on his trekking poles and contemplated the darkening sky. 

“I’ll be fine. I’ve done this trail before,” I said with an air of confidence disproportionate to my experience.  His eyes took in my hiking boots. 

“It’s slick up there. You should be wearing microspikes,” he scolded. 

“I'd better keep moving,” I said, eager to get away from the man’s reproachful gaze. Who did this old geezer think he was talking to? I had to be half his age. Surely if he could make it to the summit then so could I.

“Well, I’ll leave you to it then. Be careful,” he said harshly. “Come on Bosco, let’s go.”

“Ya, you too,” I called after his retreating back.

With a shake of my head, I continued up the trail. I pushed the old man’s warning from my mind. I had a mission. A purpose for being on this cold wet mountainside. They had come here the past summer. Her and I. Their last summer. Warm afternoon sun kissed their shoulders as they slowly made their way up the trail. Her patient and encouraging as I struggled to keep up with her long powerful strides. When they woke up that morning, I had wanted nothing more than to cancel the hike. Curled up next to her under the covers as the first rays of light seeped into our bedroom. 

“Come on lazybones. A little exercise won’t kill you,” she teased as she worked to untangle herself from my arms.

“Hmmm, just five more minutes,” I said as I buried my face into the back of her neck. Breathing in the faint jasmine scent that always seemed to linger in her hair. My hands roamed her

body. She playfully slapped them away and headed for the bathroom. That image of her tall and lean silhouetted in the bathroom light. A soft ethereal image that stayed with me. She’s not really gone, I told myself. She’s just floating outside of my reach.

When she gave me the gloves as a Christmas present, it came with a promise. That we would return to this mountain on her birthday. To do the hike in the snow. “It will be a winter wonderland,” she gushed her hazel eyes lit as if from within.

But I was alone. Alone for 45 days. An SUV had hit her a mere block from our home. Took her from me. I wondered as I had every day since she’s been gone, what if? What if I wasn’t a lazy jerk and had went for a walk with her after dinner like she asked. But I didn’t. I begged off that I was too tired from work. That I had a headache. Lies. I just wanted to lay on the couch and watch the hockey game. So with a sigh and look of disappointment she left our apartment. I never saw her again. 

My legs burned as I crested the hill. I stopped to catch my breath and my brain tried to process what I was seeing. I had expected that by now the ground would have leveled off and the summit would be in sight. Instead I faced an incline steeper than the one I just climbed. This can’t be right, I thought as I scanned my surroundings. But everything looked strange, different under a blanket of untouched snow. The mighty trees casting long shadows. Far removed from that sunny day in August.  The old man was right. I should have left earlier in the day and now I was running out of daylight. Anxious to reach the summit, I cried in frustration. I didn’t want to let her down like I had so many times in the past. 

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” I whimpered. Tears sprang to my eyes and this time I let them make their warm haphazard course down my frozen cheeks. With a heavy heart, I abandoned my ascent. Suddenly, my feet slipped out from under me and I landed hard on my tailbone. I kicked the ground with the heel of my boot in anger. This wasn’t how this day was supposed to go. This was supposed to be a celebration. A way to feel closer to her and to honour her memory by doing the one thing that she loved the most.

I got to my feet and slowly, with more caution, I followed my tracks back down the mountain. But the darkness continued to creep in and soon my tracks were lost. I pulled out my cell phone and prayed that I would pick up a signal. But there was none. My heart thudded in my chest and I tried to quell the rising panic in the back of my throat.  

Her words came flooding back to me, “If you're ever lost, take a moment. Sit and have a tea and collect your wits. Don’t panic and trust your gut.” I dropped my backpack to my feet. Pulling the thermos out, I took a long swig of warm sweet tea. I looked around and tried to control my racing thoughts. 

“I’m not lost,” I muttered. Then louder I shouted, “I’m not lost!” My words instantly chewed up and swallowed in an icy gust of wind.  My feet felt leaded and frozen. I yanked my toque down over the back of my neck and tried to stop myself from shivering.   

Now with only my instinct and the flashlight on my cellphone to guide my way, I continued my descent. But wait. What was that smell? In the air hung the distinctively woody smell of a chimney fire. It smelt like comfort and home. Soon a small squat cabin made with roughly hewn logs appeared before me. A window to the right of the door cast a golden rectangle of light on the snow. Relief surged through my chilled body.     

With a vigor that had left me hours before, I ran towards the cabin and rushed up the three steps. Banging on the door and when it didn’t open immediately, I swung it open and stepped inside. A figure stood in front of a roaring fire. Her back to me. Tall and slender with her wild curly hair loose about her shoulders. When she turned around, I fell to my knees at her feet. She enveloped me in her arms. Her hot lips gently skimming my hair, my eyelids and finally my lips as if to devour me.   

“You’re late. What took you so long? I’ve been waiting for you?” she admonished in a whispered breath. 

“You didn’t think I’d miss your birthday, did you?”


      North Shore Search and Rescue have recovered the body of 27-year old Mitchell McCrae of Vancouver from Cypress Mountain. The hiker went missing on Thursday after a solo hike on the Howe Sound Crest Trail. Preliminary reports suggest that he died of hypothermia.

January 22, 2021 23:20

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Miss Boo
23:42 Jan 30, 2021

Thank you for your service! Lol. This is the first story that I have written in many many years, so it was a little disheartening to post it and not get any feedback (positive or negative). If you're looking for more feedback on your stories, you might want to check out Critique Circle.


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Elle Weaver
18:34 Jan 30, 2021

I try to scroll back to the end of the submissions to find little writers (like me), that don't get much love on their stories, and it was well worth it! I'm a sucker for sad stories, and this one really drew me in. I liked the details (like about the type of trees), and the monologue was so sad, with her feelings of guilt and self-loathing for something that was out of her control. The plot twist at the end gave me goosebumps. Sad, but in a good way.


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