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A Cold Affair

01.13.13

Nick opened the front door to his small cabin isolated in the woods and peered out into the darkness. The previous night covered the ground with fresh fallen snow. Freezing wind burst through the entryway carrying snowflakes that scraped his face. It felt good, invigorating. “Better than a cup of coffee”, he thought. He scanned the woodlands surrounding his home, when he noticed something odd; a set of footprints leading away. His calmness transformed into confusion, which gave way to anger. Immediately, he slipped his bare feet into winter boots and investigated.

Nick was actually Nikolai, a Russian-born immigrant who lived the American dream, struck it rich with his Internet-based company, and retired young. His cabin did not reflect in size or stature the wealth he accumulated throughout his life, but it sadistically reminded him of his childhood home in Russia. Located in Siberia, temperatures averaged in the teens, making cold a way of life. At four, he witnessed his mother die of hypothermia. His father, stuck in an earlier time, chose to live off the land and forced Nikolai to do hard labor in the middle of blizzards and blistering winds. Indoor plumbing did not exist. To counter the cold, Nikolai used the steam from his piss to warm his hands in the outhouse. “Eto delayet muzhchin iz mal’chikov”, his father would say. “It makes men from boys”. To Nikolai, it made boys into psychopaths.

Nick’s heavy boots relentlessly crushed the pristine snow as he followed the tracks into the thickness of the woods. Draped only in a robe, frigid air chilled his nude body underneath like probing fingers drenched in ice water. It was cold, but nothing compared to Russia. “What rat trespasses on my property?”  His fists clenched in anticipation as he brazenly marched forth.

The cold in Siberia did evil things to men, and Nikolai’s father was no exception. Winters suffocated the daylight, leaving only three hours to enjoy the sun. The darkness and isolation made vodka his best friend. Drunkenness released his rage, and in turn, he released on Nikolai, beating him bloody for sport. When possible, he bartered for whores with furs and unabashedly slept with them knowing full well that his young son could see and hear everything.

Nick stopped. In the distance stood a dark figure, dressed in a long coat and fedora hat. Breath, chilled by winter, seeped from the stranger’s mouth at a staccato pace. Scared,”  Nick thought malevolently. “Who the hell are you?” he shouted. Without response, a gloved hand rose and pressed a button on a device.  Lights flickered behind Nick, and a cacophony of voices spoke. He abruptly turned and saw a montage of computer-enhanced pictures of former employees projected onto the back of his cabin. All quieted but for a lone familiar voice from a man centered within the pictures. He delivered a morbid soliloquy – a visual suicide note about his wife forcefully having sex with his boss and neither able to stop it. The man hopped off a chair, hanging himself. Nick smirked.

Nikolai welcomed his father’s death. He escaped to America carrying only the baggage of his past with him. He immersed himself in technology and discovered a passion for entrepreneurship. As CEO, he was ruthless, preying on employees’ fear of his power. His social life was absent, and he avoided relationships. Instead, he hired only the beautiful. With men, it ensured an equally beautiful spouse for his pleasure. With women, it afforded a late night office tryst. In either case, it was forced by physical abuse and threats of termination or worse.

Nick’s callousness turned to agony. His back arched and his hands reached backward as a piercing pain shot through his body. He glanced toward his chest horrified as blood oozed from the front of his robe. He fell to his knees. His vision blurred, but he saw the figure walk around to face him. The fedora was gone. A beautiful woman stood before him with long brunette hair. Fire burned in her eyes as tears streamed down her face. In her gloved hand, she held an icicle.

“I’m so … cold,” Nikolai sputtered as blood dripped from his lips.  The woman bent down and grabbed him by the front of his robe and drew him near her.  “Nikolai,” she whispered into his ear, “take it like a man.” She plunged the icicle into his chest, ending him. “Eto delayet muzhchin iz mal’chikov”.

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From → Suspense

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