Frost Bite
by D. Allen Crowley
Carrie trudged through the deepening drifts and pulled the collar of her jacket tighter around her neck. All about her, snow fell heavily
from the blackness of the night sky, floating and dancing like fluffy dust motes. She shivered in the near zero weather and squinted in
vain. The dark road before her was obscured by the near whiteout conditions. She turned back in the direction she had come, but
found that she was even unable to see the flashing hazard lights of the car she had left dead a half mile or
so behind her.
Cursing, she rubbed her hands together, trying to keep them warm. Goddamn car, she though for the hundredth time that night. If she
had still been there, she would have kicked it. She thought about turning around, but was uncertain if that was the best choice.
She had been making good time on her trip, and the map had shown that this country road was a more direct route to her destination
than the interstate. She had made the decision to change her route at a rest area two hours earlier. Of course, the sky had been clear
then and the temperature had been hovering around thirty-five degrees. Now though, her once trusty Ford Escort lay dead behind her
and Carrie found herself struggling forward in a snowstorm, some forty or so miles outside of Toledo. At least a foot of snow had
fallen in the last hour and Carrie had yet to see any other cars or even a farmhouse. Any sign of humanity would have been welcome.
The decision to walk had been one of self-preservation. She had run down the car's battery trying to start it, and the cold had driven
her out. She had been given a bleak choice; freeze to death in the rusty, old Ford or freeze to death trying to walk into a blizzard. Her
chances of finding a farmhouse or another motorist had seemed to be the better of the two choices at the time, but she had yet to see
either.
The realization that she was in trouble came on like a freight train on an unmarked intersection. She had always considered herself a
strong, self-reliant woman - but that belief was now being seriously tested. Any other woman would have started crying a long time ago,
she thought, as she felt a lump in her throat and the stinging burn of impending tears. She put her head down to protect her face from
the stinging wind and pushed on, willing herself forward.
Suddenly, she realized that the darkness around her had lightened somewhat and she heard the sound of a car approaching. "Thank
God!" she said, her breath pluming like cotton candy in the chill air. She spun and began waving her hands like a mad woman, almost
sobbing as she saw a pair of headlights approaching through the thick snowfall.
The car grew closer and closer, and then went on past her. Carrie cursed in disbelief as tears finally fell for real on her cold mottled
cheeks. The thought of sitting down in the snow and letting herself die
seemed suddenly very reasonable to her. She might actually have done it had she not seen the red glow of the car's brake lights through
the white ahead. She pulled her backpack tight against her shoulders and ran towards the welcoming cherry glow ahead, slipping and
sliding on the icy road.
As she drew near to the stopped car, she saw that it was an old Oldsmobile that had seen better days. It had rusty, salt covered quarter
panels, an Ohio license plate, and a bumper sticker that had been placed on the trunk lid crookedly. Glancing at it as she passed, she
read it quickly. The trite message said, 'Salesman do it on the road." She ran around to the passenger side and pulled open the car door,
looking in with gratitude.
"Howdy, there!" the driver said as he patted the seat beside him, "Climb on in, young lady. This is not the night to be out fer a stroll,
that's fer sure!"
Carrie slid into the seat, luxuriating in the warm car interior. Her benefactor was a middle age man in a brown suit that was several
years out of style. His unbuttoned jacket showed a paunch that crept over the edge of his worn brown belt and a loosened tie that was
wide enough to paint murals on. He was a big man, with a balding pate and ruddy cheeks.
He smiled at her with tiny white teeth and quickly reached to clean the seat of several empty candy bar wrappers and a half-full bottle
of Yoo-Hoo. This refuse was unceremoniously dumped in a back seat that was packed with similar detritus.
Carrie sighed deeply as she unbuttoned her own parka and slid her hands out of her mittens. "Thanks for stopping," she said gratefully.
"That's all right, sweetie," he said as he turned down the radio, relegating Peter Frampton to background music. On the floor at Carrie's
feet was the worn cassette case from Frampton Alive! She vaguely remembered it as one of her dad's favorites from her childhood.
Her traveling companion cleared his throat phlegmatically, "My name's Ed, by the way. Pleased to meet ya."
"I'm Carrie." she replied. As she did so, she placed her backpack between her knees. She busied herself with opening the front pocket
and putting her gloves inside. She saw out of the corner of her eye that Ed was appraising her in that way that most middle-aged men
did when around a pretty young woman. Beside her gloves, she saw the glint of the heavy-duty industrial stapler she used for hanging
flyers for her Pro-Choice advocacy group at college. She decided to err on the side of caution with Ed and left the bag open - just in
case.
Ed nodded, testing her name on his tongue like a piece of candy, "Carrie? Carrie. Hmmm... Carrie. That's a pretty name. So what're
you doing out here on a night like this, Carrie? Your car break down?"
"Yeah," she responded, "I was on my way to Ann Arbor and I got stuck in the storm. It wasn't like this when I started out."
"Ann Arbor, huh? You want me to drop you at the next town so you can call a tow truck or something?"
"That's all right, Ed. I just want to get up to Ann Arbor. The stupid car can rot for all I care. Besides, there's probably nothing open at
this time of night, anyway."
"I've had a few of those kinds of cars in my time. You drive 'em until they're lame and then shoot 'em like a wounded horse," Ed
laughed and Carrie smiled. He went on, "Good thing I came along, though. I'm on my way north myself, so I can drop you in Ann
Arbor."
"Thanks, I'd really appreciate it" Carrie said, turning towards the window. Outside, the snow flew by and she shivered again, still not
quite warm from her walk.
"What're you going there for? Got family in Ann Arbor?"
"I'm going up to see my boyfriend. He's going to school there. It was supposed to be a surprise."
"Where ya coming from?"
"Ohio State. I'm a student at their medical college."
"Well ain't that something," Ed remarked as he digested this new piece of information, "Gonna be a nurse, huh?"
"No," Carrie said, "I'm actually studying medicine. I'm going to be a doctor."
Ed's brow furrowed as he thought about that, "Hmmm. That means you’re probably pretty smart, huh?"
"Not as smart as you'd think. Tonight showed that."
"Me, I'm a salesman. I'm on my way to a convention in Flint. You're gonna be a doctor, huh? That's neat. I'd have figured you for a
cheerleader."
"No. Just a student, Ed."
Carrie leaned back and closed her eyes. Maybe if she feigned sleepiness, Ed the salesman would stop talking to her. She was grateful to
him for picking her up, and she realized that it probably got pretty lonely selling encyclopedias, or vacuums, or whatever it was that Ed
sold; but she also was a little offended by some of his comments. Besides, the Olds' heater was making her a little drowsy. She hazarded
a glance at him through slitted eyes and saw him looking at her chest where it peeked through her unzipped coat. He continued, "Yep.
You betcha! Not a night fit for anyone to be out."
The Olds fishtailed slightly and Ed slowed. He lapsed into silence and Carrie felt herself start to doze. A minute or two later, though,
she woke with a start as Ed jerked the car and cursed. She had opened her eyes only quick enough to catch a glimpse of someone
beside the road, a backpack or something slung across their back. The headlights lost the person just as quickly, and they sped on.
"Shoot!" Ed said, breathing out." That guy came from outta nowhere!
Almost hit him. Too bad for him, though. Only one hitchhiker per night here!"
The tape ended and there was a moment of silence, punctuated by the thrum of the wiper blades as they swung back and forth on the
windshield. Ed cleared his throat and went on, tentatively, "You know, this weather gets much worse, neither of us are gonna make it to
Ann Arbor."
Carrie shrugged, "That's fine, Ed. If you want, you can drop me at the next rest area and I'll call my boyfriend to come get me in the
morning."
"There's no need for that. I ... I know a hotel up where this highway meets I-75. We could stop... get a room. Together."
Carrie, at a loss for words, reached into her bag, pulling out a piece of gum. She used the moment it took to unwrap it to think quickly.
After placing the piece in her mouth, she sighed heavily, "Ed. I appreciate the ride. That's all I'm looking for, though. Like I said, just
drop me at the next rest area. I'll make it from there."
Like turning off a light switch, Ed's jowly face became hard. The amiable smile there faded and was replaced by a deep frown. Carrie
felt a sinking feeling in her stomach.
Damn car... she thought, for the one hundred and first time that night.
Ed glared at the snow ahead. "I'm just trying to be friendly."
Carrie, thinking to defuse the situation quickly, responded, "I know that Ed. I do appreciate the ride..."
"Shut up!" he said, loudly. Carrie, very suddenly, felt very unsafe.
Ed was gripping the steering wheel so hard that his knuckles had turned as white as the snow outside. The wheel made a creaking noise
at the strain of his grip.
"I'm just trying to be nice," Ed muttered. "I'm just trying to be friendly. I'm the one who helped you out. Think there'd be some
gratitude..." The tape flipped over and Peter Frampton's guitar filled the
car again. Carrie darted a quick glance out her window at the rushing snow and saw that the car was traveling too fast to jump out of
without serious injury. She could feel panic beginning to scratch at the edges of her mind, like some rabid animal outside the walls of a
tent.
"Ed..." she began, but he again cut her off.
"Shut up, bitch!"
Carrie very deliberately leaned over and put the pack of gum she was still holding into her bag. As she did so, she grabbed the handle
of the staple gun and, leaving it concealed, she grabbed her backpack and hugged it to herself. The idea of jumping out of the car didn't
seem quite so reckless now.
Ed went on, mumbling angrily and more to himself than to her, "I remember girls just like you when I was at college. Junior college.
Not some fucking Big Ten school. Yeah, there were plenty of girls like you. Too fucking smart for their own good. Wearing tight
sweaters and teasing a guy with their tight little bodies! And, when someone tries to get near them, they sick their brainless, muscle-
bound jock boyfriends on them. Yeah, I know all about bitches like you!"
With no warning, Ed ripped the wheel to the right and the car slid crazily to the side of the road. He slammed the gearshift into Park
and turned towards her in a rage, "Is that what you're doing? Going up to see your fucking jock boyfriend and bang him dry?"
Carrie turned to the door and half opened it before Ed grabbed her arm and pulled her around to face him. He pulled back a fist and
struck her a glancing blow on her brow. Her head struck the doorframe and she screamed at the pain. It was a second or two before
she could see again, and then her vision was filled with curious floating black dots. She felt a trickle of blood run from her forehead
into her left eye and she pushed at Ed futilely. He hit her hand away, grabbing a handful of her hair. She
felt his other reach into her jacket and twist her breast sadistically.
"Does that hurt slut? Is that what he does to you? Do the two of you rut like two perfect little animals and then make fun of the
normal people?
Do you? DO YOU? ANSWER ME!"
Still dazed and filled with terror, Carrie remembered the stapler. She jerked the stapler up and, without thinking jammed it against the
side of Ed's face, pulling the trigger twice.
Ed screamed and lurched backwards, clawing at his face. Finding herself suddenly free from his bulk, Carrie pawed at the door handle,
opened the door, and pushed herself out of the car. She fell from the Olds and landed in a snowdrift at the side of the road. Still dizzy
from the blow she had received, she wiped at the blood, which was now making her eye sting. She glanced back at the car and saw Ed
thrashing in agony on the front seat. He was trying unsuccessfully to staunch the flow of blood from
his own face. With a queasy revulsion, Carrie saw that she had put one of the staples into his left cheek and the other into his eye.
"YOU BITCH! MY EYE!" he bellowed, blood and aqueous humor running down his pudgy features. Time to get the fuck out of here!
Carrie thought as she pulled herself up and began running away from the car. She found herself slipping and falling in the deep snow as
she quickly scrabbled up an embankment at the far side of the road. Before she crested the rise, she looked back through the blowing
snow and saw Ed struggling out of the car, his gory features eerily illuminated by the car's dome light. She plunged down the other side
and rolled into another drift, crying out as snow found its way into her clothing.
She struggled to her feet once more and trudged on into the thickening snow. A few steps later, she encountered another snowdrift, but
this one hid a fence. She struck it painfully and flipped over it, tearing her jeans and gashing her knee on a piece of frigid and rusty
barbed wire. She realized that she was crying and paused for a few misery and fear-filled seconds before she was up and moving again.
As she ran, she tried to pull the zipper on her parka closed, but found that her numb fingers wouldn't work right. She looked up from
her struggles and screamed as a large, dark shape loomed out ahead of her in the whirling white snow.
She jerked to a stop and strained to see it, her heart thudding heavily in fear and anguish. Fear and stress made her almost laughed
when she realized it wasn't Ed, that he hadn't somehow gotten ahead of her. Towering over her was a sculpted angel, its eyes cast down
in sorrow. Through the snow, she saw several evenly spaced lumps of snow and it dawned on her that she was in a cemetery.
She ran on, focused only on escape, dodging headstones and rows of crypts and mausoleums. Finally, she paused between two closely
built crypts, hoping that maybe Ed had driven off.
Maybe he's left, maybe he's gone to lick his wounds, hoping that the storm'll finish me off..., she thought, blowing warm air into her
cold hands.
"You've probably lost him," she said aloud, trying to convince herself it was true.
Then, almost as though it were in response, a yell came through the chill night, "Caaaarrriiiee! Caaaaarrrriiiieee! I'm gonna kill
yooooooouuuu!"
With a whimper, she started running again.
She burst out from the shelter of the crypts and ran into an open area. The snow was deeper here and she fought through the snow
only to find her progress halted by a large and imposing wall. She cursed in dismay and began running parallel with it, looking for an
exit. From behind her, deeper in the graveyard, she heard the roar of a car and saw twin headlights floating between the headstones.
Realizing that Ed was still looking for her, she started sobbing anew and tried to push forward. Nearly exhausted and feeling the effects
of prolonged exposure, she was no longer running. She was shambling at a half trot, half walk; her hand numbly trailing the cemetery
wall.
The car was getting closer.
Suddenly, appearing like the angel had earlier; she saw the shape of a building before her. Running to it, she found a dilapidated tool
shed. Its roof was bowed with the weight of snow and age, and it looked ancient. She found the door and pulled it open against the
deep drift at its threshold just enough to squeeze in and quickly slam it shut behind her.
She scampered to the back corner and huddled down, looking about in the darkness for a weapon of some sort. There was nothing.
Her lungs burning from her exertions in the cold air, almost like she had breathed in fiberglass. Now that she had stopped running, her
shivering started in earnest.
She began to say a small prayer, but was interrupted when the room was suddenly flooded with light. She scampered across the shed
and pressed an eye against the wall. Looking through the chill space between two warped wallboards, she saw that Ed's car had stopped
approximately fifty feet away from her. She heard the sound of a car door squeaking open and Ed pull himself heavily from the
driver's seat.
She looked about again, frantically, and spied a foot long piece of twine. She imagined some grizzled groundskeeper discarding of it in
the corner, not realizing somebody would someday find it. She grasped the twine and clasped it to her chest, although she had no idea
what good it would serve as a weapon.
Her mind was abruptly filled with the image of her dead body, preserved and frozen in the deep snow until it was discovered some
time in the spring. She scrambled back to the wall. Looking out again, she saw that Ed was standing still, his bulk illuminated from
behind by the headlights of the car. He was looking directly at the shed. Carrie was certain he could see her. The cold seemed alive,
insidiously seeping through the gaps in the imperfectly built shed walls.
"Carrie," Ed said conversationally, reasonably, "I see your footprints going in there. Come out now and I promise I'll kill you quick."
Carrie heard a keening noise and realized with some distress that it was coming from her own throat. She did not move, feeling like a
child who had awakened from a nightmare, afraid to move for fear the 'monster' from your dreams will see you. Only this time, the
monster was a salesman from Ohio and, in the morning, this wasn't going to seem like a silly dream. She was quite certain that she
would never see morning again.
"Carrie!" Ed yelled, reaching a hand to his seriously wounded face, "get the fuck out here! If I have to come in there, I will tear your
head off and fuck your goddamn SKULL!"
Ed started to rush forward and Carrie had a strange thought. She suddenly remembered a moment from her childhood. She was
standing barefoot in the kitchen of her parent's home, the smell of oatmeal raisin cookies filling the warm summer air. Her mother
turned to her and smiled, saying, "They're almost done, Carrie! Be patient."
With tears in her eyes, she realized this memory of her mother was going to be one of her last thoughts.
Just then, the door was pulled open and Ed was there. He paused, glaring at her. He had wrapped his thick necktie around his head and
eye and he was breathing raggedly. Carrie could almost smell the rage rolling off him. He smiled maliciously, his face and form jig
sawed by the light that peeked through the warped wood of the shed. He began pulling at his pants, undoing his belt and fly. With
absolute terror, Carrie could see that he was aroused.
"Time for a lesson in humility, bitch," he yelled, "Time to show that you stuck up, snobby whores are the same as any other woman
when you're on your fucking back!"
Carrie started to scream, and held the piece of twine out in pleading hands. He took a step forward but abruptly stopped as though he
had been pole axed. Just as suddenly as he'd appeared in the doorframe, his body was sucked from the egress. It almost looked as
though he had been plucked up by an errant wind. In her confusion and terror, it took a few seconds for her to realize that she and Ed
were no longer alone.
She scrambled to the door and looked out into the storm.
Ed was lying on his back in the snow near an overturned tombstone. Balanced like some strange bird on another nearby tombstone was
a person, their shape concealed by a bulky overcoat with a voluminous hood. Across the individual's back was a backpack. It was the
person they had passed
earlier on the road.
Ed struggled up, his face still filled with that insatiable rage.
Carrie's savior jumped from the top of the slick grave marker, crossing the distance to Ed with unnatural speed and agility. The person
struck Ed across the face with a brutal backhand and he was propelled against another mausoleum. He crumpling to the snowy ground
once again.
Ed was seriously injured. His left arm hung limply to his side and he clutched his chest with his uninjured right arm, more than likely in
an attempt to stop the knifelike pain of bruised or broken ribs. He rolled up to a sitting position and spit out a gob of bright blood that
stained the turned up snow.
The newcomer stopped moving forward and stood stark still amidst the falling snowflakes. With a shake of the head, the stranger's
snow covered hood fell and Carrie saw that it was a woman. She was beautiful and in her early to mid twenties. She had a long mane of
blond hair that was so light it looked almost white. This mane cascaded down the back of her jacket and fell in straight lengths almost
to the small of her back. She turned to Carrie and smiled.
"It's an angel," Carrie found herself whispering as she was struck by the almost unnatural beauty of the woman.
Then the woman returned her attention to Ed.
She walked to him casually, grabbing him by his injured shoulder. Effortlessly, she pulled him to his feet. He cried out at the pain and
grunted heavily as she slammed a fist into his not inconsiderable gut. He fell to his knees again, crying and coughing and throwing up in
the churned snow. The woman looked at him in disgust and as Carrie watched, the woman's face changed. It became almost feral and
Carrie was dumb struck as the woman opened her mouth and her incisor teeth seemed to grow longer and
sharper. Ed was kneeling before her, looking at Carrie in pain and horror.
Just then, the stranger growled like a wild animal and brought both of her fists slamming down onto Ed's collarbones. He squealed in
pain and Carrie flinched as she heard the bones there snap. The sound was incredibly loud in the cold and silent air and Carrie almost
felt sympathy for Ed.
Almost.
His eyes rolled in pain and horror like those of a trapped animal and he slumped forward with a gurgling moan.
His attacker grabbed his battered body once again and lifted him by his hair as though he weighed nothing. The woman savagely sank
her teeth into his neck and began drinking while Ed kicked in a futile attempt to escape. He screamed and fought, but to no avail. The
woman held him tighter, like a lover in the grips of passion. Carrie finally squeezed her eyes shut as Ed's screams began to change in
pitch and tone. They grew weaker and weaker until they were gone completely; replaced by a wet, slurping sound. More disturbing than
this was the woman's excited grunts of pleasure.
They grew and grew and Carrie hazarded another look as the woman finished feeding on poor Ed. She pulled away from him, her face
covered in gore and, looking up, laughed into the snow filled night sky.
Still looking up, she grasped one of Ed's arms and, with the ease of a child pulling the wings off a fly, the woman pulled it off of Ed's
torso with a ripping, crunching noise.
It was too much for Carrie. She fainted.

Carrie woke to harsh light, jumping in terror as her memory of the night's gruesome events returned. She screamed in panic and flailed
about, hitting her injured leg painfully on the dashboard of Ed's car. It took a long moment for the terror to subside and for her to
realize that she was all right and that she was still somehow alive. The car was running and the heater was blowing blissfully hot air. She
was alone. Looking about, she saw her backpack. Grabbing it, she pulled frantically at the doorknob and
found, to her dismay, that the car door wouldn't open.
She looked through the windshield and saw that she was in a rest area somewhere. She recognized the block like, mid-1960's look of
the main building and gas station. It was the same generic design and architecture shared by all rest areas. Carrie saw that it had finally
stopped snowing.
Suddenly, the driver's side door opened with a rush of cold air. The terror of earlier returned full force as the strange and beautiful
woman from earlier slid into the driver's seat. Carrie yelped like a kicked dog and pushed herself as far into the passenger door as
physics allowed.
The woman smiled at her innocently, like an angel painted by Botticelli.
"Hello," she said sweetly.
Carrie was speechless with terror. The woman placed a cup of coffee on the dashboard and clicked on the radio. The speakers
crackled once and the car was filled with the sounds of The Cure.
Of course, it's The Cure, Carrie thought ironically. Vampire music for a vampire.
The two woman stared at each other for almost a full minute before Carrie found her nerve and squeaked out a question, "Are you
going to kill me?"
Her voice broke on the last syllable and she felt a single tear roll down her face.
The woman didn't respond right away. Carrie felt the silence grow uncomfortably until the woman smiled again. Lightning quick, and
before Carrie could flinch, the woman's hand shot forward and stroked the side of Carrie's face. Carrie was frozen, the touch of the
woman both disturbing and, worse than that, alluring. Carrie couldn't define the feelings the cool fingers brought to her. The woman
leaned closer and continued stroking the side of Carrie's face; almost like they were old lovers.
"I won't kill you, sweetie," the woman breathed, her lips inches from Carrie's. The only sound was the radio, the gentle rasp of the
woman's fingernail on Carrie's cheek, and Carrie's jagged breathing. Suddenly, the woman darted her head forward and kissed Carrie.
Carrie, to her surprise, found herself kissing back.
In the back of her mind, she didn't understand what was happening. She had never, ever, found herself attracted to a woman before.
Almost instantly, she realized that this was different. The woman before her wasn't a woman. She wasn't even human. And yet, Carrie
couldn't explain the desire that suddenly filled her core at the strange woman's touch.
The vampire finally pulled away, leaving a sparkle of moisture on Carrie's lips. Carrie's head spun and she gasped, as though she were
coming out of a dream. She started in fear, recognizing the woman for the dangerous predator she was. The woman simply smiled
sweetly and leaned over, unlocking Carrie's door.
"We're about ten minutes outside of Detroit. Time for you to get out."
Carrie stared at the woman before her, speechlessly.
"Go on, honey. It's all right. I won't hurt you."
Carrie scrambled behind her for the door handle and fell out as the car door popped open. She sprawled in a drift of snow, her bag
clutched to her breast tightly. The vampire smiled at her toothily, reaching over for the door.
Before she pulled it closed, Carrie croaked out, "Why?"
The vampire cocked her head, as though it were apparent, "Us girls gotta stick together, sugar!"
The door creaked shut and the woman drove off. As the vehicle pulled away, it began snowing again.