I walk home from school everyday. Usually it's a long, tedious walk around a pond to my house. The pond's nice and all, just large. The water is clear and pretty. There are plenty of fish in it, so much so that we fish there every week for food. We do go to supermarkets, but the fish here have a taste to them. The pond is surrounded by long green weeds and grass. It's beautiful. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

Every year when winter comes, my walk is cut in half. The pond freezes over just enough to walk on, but you can see straight through the water. You can see all the fish swimming about under the ice. They are beautiful greens and blues with nice patterns like spots and stripes. I just stand out on the ice, looking at them, watching them swim back and forth.

This worries my mom as she doesn’t want me falling through the ice. I understand this fear, but I’m not scared of a little cold water. I don’t want to worry my mom, so the longest I stay on the ice is about an hour. Now, however, I almost never go out on the ice, even when walking home. Thats how it started.

I was walking home during a cold afternoon wearing my favorite winter jacket and blue jeans. The sun was hidden behind the clouds and the snow was falling lightly. We had a small blizzard during the first half of school, so the ground was covered in a layer of snow. This wasn’t new to the area though, most people were used to dealing with it here in Arkansas. There was already one of those snow plows driving through the roads, throwing snow off to the side.

It took me about ten minutes to get to the pond and another five to walk around it, but today... today it was frozen. I always test the strength with a rock, even if I knew I wasn’t going to fall through. There was a large boulder next to the pond that I liked to use. I would always throw it out onto the ice and if it didn’t fall through, I’d walk to the rock and throw it back to the shore. It wasn’t the best test, but it reassured me. I’ve never fallen through, so it seemed to be working.

I threw the rock onto the pond. It slammed into the ice, but it didn’t break it. The rock slid forward, but not very far. I stepped onto the ice slowly, and it held as well. I continued walking to the rock. As I lifted it up, I saw a man… a man UNDER the ice. I flew back in terror and dropped the rock. It landed on my foot, forcing it to the right. I ignored the pain though, I was too focused on the man in the ice.

I looked at him. His hands were pressed up against the ice, as if he was trying to hold it up. He was wearing a short-sleeved blue collared shirt and khaki pants. His skin was very pale, his lips were blue, and his eyes... those eyes. They were normal. They stood out on the otherwise dead figure stuck under the sheet of ice.

They were a bright, piercing blue. Blue eyes are supposed to be nice and peaceful, but not these ones. They were so full of hatred, anger… fear. What happened to this man? I snapped back to reality. I took the rock and started banging on the ice. I wanted to get this man out, he didn’t deserve to stay under the frozen pond.

It took me awhile, but I finally did it. I threw the rock behind me and looked down to try and drag him out, but he had disappeared. I looked everywhere on that slab of ice to no avail. He just left.

I found myself wondering if I imagined the whole thing, but I knew it was entirely real. I wondered if I should tell my mom what I saw, but I decided against it. I hated walking around that pond, and did almost anything to avoid it. There was nothing supernatural or anything, I was just really lazy. If I told her, goodbye, shortcut.

I opened the door to my mom, glaring at me. “Where were you James, you had us worried sick!”

“I was out on the pond,” I replied, curious.

“For five hours?”

“What?” I looked at my watch… 20:47. How long was I out there. I looked back up to my mom and met her glare. She had the meanest glare of anyone I’ve ever seen, I felt it my bones. I immediately looked back down at my feet.

“Well James, what were you doing?”

“I was sitting out on the pond.” I knew she would ask why I was out there so long, and I knew she would know if I lied to her. Sure enough…

“You just told me that! Why were you out on the ice so long?”

“I uh, I saw…” There was a soft knock at the door.

“Hold on.” My mom walked to the door and opened. I couldn’t see who it was, but I could hear the conversation.

“Mrs. Reynolds, your daughter, Sarah, she uh, she… drowned. I’m so, so sorry for your loss.”

“I uh, I need a minute.”

“Of course, I’ll be at my car.”

“Thank you officer.” She shut the door as he walked back to his car. My dad walked into the room, tired.

“Hey honey, I’m h…” He stopped. He saw my mom crying into her hands and me hugging her, tightly. “What happened.”

“Sarah, she’s… she's dead.”

“What, no, that can’t be, there’s just…” My mom got up and hugged my dad, and then I joined.

Sarah’s dead. I couldn’t believe it. She was my baby sister. She was only ten, how could she have died? She was annoying sometimes, but I loved her. I would've done anything to keep her out of harms way. I then remembered the man in the ice. Maybe he had something to do with this? I don’t why that thought entered my head, but it did.

After the crying was done, my mom told me to never step foot on the pond again under any circumstance and my dad agreed. They forgot all about my earlier transgression, which was of little relief after receiving the news that my sister had died. My mom went outside and said the officer could leave. When she came back in, she said we should all go to bed, and we’ll handle everything tomorrow.

My mom woke me up that morning, perky as ever. “Why are you so happy?" I asked her.

“It's a new day, I’m always happy on a new day,” she replied.

“Yeah, but even after…” I paused. Sarah walked by my door. I jumped out of bed to see if she was actually there. She was! She was alive. I ran to her and took her up in my arms. MY parents looked at me, they had a confused look on my face. “I thought you were dead.”

“Why would you think that?”

“Well the police came yesterday and they said…” I stopped as I saw my parent's face.

“James, are you doing drugs?”

“No mom, you don’t remember? The police came and they said that Sarah drowned.”

“James, that’s not funny. You're scaring your sister.”

“Dad, you don’t remember either?”

“It was probably just a bad dream son, they happen.” I saw that neither remembered the night before. Maybe it was just a dream, a very vivid dream. I let go of my sister. She was short, even for her age. She had green eyes and long brown hair, that was messy at that moment. She had some freckles on her cheeks, but there weren’t too many. She was wearing her pink nightgown, the same one she wore every night. “Son, you need to get ready for school.”

“Right, okay.” I took a quick shower, put on my clothes I had set aside, and grabbed my bag. Before I left, I grabbed my poptarts from the toaster and my mom said to be careful on the ice.

I got to the beginning of the pond. I didn’t know whether or not to take the ice today. I thought for a moment. It would be faster, but the dangers became very clear to me yesterday. I decided for it, mostly out of laziness. But also because the pond was… calling to me. Today I didn’t have my rock to test the strength, so I took my first few steps carefully before going my normal speed.

I started eating my cherry poptart when under the ice, I saw a man. The same man from before. He was in the same position, and had the same eyes. Those eyes were the worst part. Like before, he had bright blue eyes. Eyes that pierced your skin like spears. I freaked out when I saw him and dropped my breakfast onto the ice. I turned around to run, but I slipped on the ice and slammed by head on the cold, hard surface.

I woke up in a black bag, a black body bag. They thought I was dead. I started kicking and screaming to get their attention. I heard running and then felt some pressure on the bag. It started opening. When my eyes adjusted to the brightness, I saw an officer and my parents. They ran to hug me.

“James, thank god. We thought we lost you too.”

“Wait, what do you mean too?”

“You don’t remember, Sarah, she uh... she died.”

“When?! I can’t believe it, I just saw her this morning.”

“James, we know you miss her, but she died yesterday, she drowned under the…” He stopped, he couldn’t finish the sentence, but I was glad he didn’t.

“What the hell is going on?”

“James, son, I know it's hard for you, but you have to accept it. We all miss her.”

“What happened to me?”

“You slipped on the ice, even after I told you not to go out there. Please, stay away from the pond.”

“I’m so sorry mom. I don’t remember going out there.”

“It is okay, just please don’t go out there. The officer said they’re taking you to the hospital, they need to do some overnight stuff. We’ll meet you there.”

“Okay, I'll see you there.” Sarah’s dead. How did this happen? I thought she was alive. What the hell is going on? On the way there, I dozed off and woke up in a hospital bed. Sarah was sitting next to me, and hugged me tightly when I woke up. Wait, Sarah’s alive. What the hell is happening?

“James, are you okay? Do you need anything.”

“Mom, dad, what happened?”

“You slipped and fell on the ice. Don’t you remember?”

“Oh, yeah. Hi Sarah, you okay?”

“Hi James, how’s your head? And I'm fine.”

“I have a headache, but other than that, it’s fine.”

“Oh, that's good. Do you want some water?”

“Yeah, that’d be nice. My throat's a little sore.”

“James, be more careful on the ice, I don’t want you falling on or through the ice.”

“Of course mom, I don’t want that either.” I found it smart to not ask why Sarah wasn’t dead, as I’m sure anyone else would’ve. The doctor said that I had a concussion. That's why my parents were worried, they thought I might have slipped into a coma. The doctor said to be careful when it comes to sleeping. I didn’t really know what that meant, but I said okay anyways.

They sent me home later that day after making sure everything was fine. I slumped onto the couch and switched on the TV. Tom and Jerry was the first show to come on. That was fine though, I loved Tom and Jerry. I found the show hilarious.

It went on for the normal ten minutes before it faded to black to go to a commercial break. In the corner of the TV, I saw a reflection. It was the man from the ice. He was in the same position as he was in the ice and was also wearing the same clothes. I quickly turned my head to catch him. That wasn’t the best idea.

There was instantly an extreme pain in my head and I passed out. I woke up in my bed. I was wearing a green v-neck and blue jeans. I didn’t remember putting those on, but I figured it didn’t really matter. I got out of bed to get some water. As I walked down the hall, I noticed everyone was sleeping. I wondered how long I had passed out for. I got home around 4:00, and the oven clock said 10:56. Six hours. That is a long time to pass out for.

I got my coca-cola glass and filled it up with water. I put the cup to my lips and in through the glass, I see the man from the pond. I immediately dropped my glass and it shattered on the floor. My parents heard this and came into the kitchen. My dad stepped on a large piece of glass. It went straight through his foot and blood started flowing out around it. He let out a loud scream which I thought would wake Sarah up. She never came running in though.

I just stood there, petrified. “I saw the man again,” I accidentally said aloud.

“What man? James, help your father!” I shook my head and ran over to my dad. He put his arm over my shoulder and I put mine over his. I helped him to the car and drove him quickly to the hospital. By the time we got there, he had passed out from blood loss. I jumped out of the car and raced inside.

I told a nurse he had a large piece of glass go straight through his foot and that he had passed out from bloodloss. They quickly got on it. They got him out of the car, onto a gurney and into the operating room in minutes.

I woke up the next day in the hospital. Sarah was there, but something was different. I couldn’t figure it out, but there definitely was a difference. My mom walked into the room. She was getting snacks for her and Sarah.

“Sorry James, I thought you were sleeping.”

“It's fine.” There was something different about her too. I just could not put my finger on it. My dad woke up, so I forgot all about it and immediately shot up to his bed side. “Are you okay dad?”

“Yeah, but my foot is killing me.”

“I’ll see if the nurse can get you something for that.”

“Thanks, James, are you okay?”

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”

“When we came into the kitchen, you had this... terrified look on your face.”

“Yeah, I had a nightmare and got freaked out, nothing to worry about though. I’m sorry about your foot dad.”

“Don’t worry about, it was an accident.” My dad was always such an understanding man. He was very calm and gentle and reassuring. He always knew what to say and when to say it.

“Thanks dad.”

“Of course, son.”

“Alright, the nurse said she'd tell the doctor.”

“Thanks honey.” I started staring out the window, and I saw the man. He was in the same pose he was every other time. I tried to look away but I couldn’t. There was something keeping my gaze towards him, not letting me blink. Suddenly, his eyes snapped to mine. We were staring straight at each other. I tried with all my might to look away but couldn’t. His bright blue eyes staring at me, at my soul. My heart started pounding, my palms started to sweat. I tried to scream but couldn’t. He was keeping me in his gaze, and him in mine.

I was able to choke out two words, “Please, stop.” Suddenly his gaze fell back to the ground and I jumped back, away from the window. My family and the doctor looked at me.

“Something wrong son?”

“Huh… Oh, no, all is fine and dandy.”

“Oh, that's good.”

“I uh… I need to use the restroom, where is it?”

“Down the hall, fourth door on the left.”

“Thank you.” I walked casually out of the room, but as soon as I was out of sight, I booked it. I sprinted down the stairs and through the lobby, almost crashing into a nurse. I had to get to him before he got away. I flew through the door almost trampling a kid.

There he was. His dead body, his clothes... his eyes. Those blue eyes! His head snapped up and he was looking straight at me. “What do you want?!” He didn't say anything, just stared at me. “Answer me!” Still nothing. “Why are you doing this?!” I yelled at the top of my lungs. “Why me?!” I started crying. I slumped down onto my knees and looked towards the ground. “Please stop, I can't take it anymore.” He still didn't say anything.

I looked back up. He was gone. Where did he go? What does he want? Why me? These were just the few of the questions swirling in my head. I turned around to go back into the hospital but it was gone. Just like him, it swiftly and silently disappeared.

Where the hospital should be was my house. How did I get here? It was exactly my house, there was nothing different. There was the pond, the woods behind my house and the dirt driveway going to the main road.

I went inside to see if it was the same in there too. Nothing had changed in there either. I was extremely confused at this point. My mom walked into the room. “How was school sweetie?”

“How did I get here?”

“I assume you walked?”

“I was just at the hospital. How did I get here?” I was looking around, confused. I didn't understand anything.

“Why didn't you save me James, you could've saved me.”

“What are you talking about mom?”

“You saw me in the pond, what took you so long?” As she spoke her voice twisted and warped into a much deeper voice. Her eyes faded to a bright blue and her skin shredded away to reveal a much paler layer. Her cheeks caved inward, her lips turned blue. Her head snapped up, making a cracking sound and her arms snapped up as if to hold up the world. My mom became the man in the ice!

“Please, what do you want?!”

“I wanted you to save me James, why couldn't you save?”

“I tried, I did, I really did.”

“Did you?!” he yelled.

“I was out there, banging on the ice.”

“You should've banged faster. You could've saved me.”

“You were already dead?!”

“Then how am I here now?!” I looked down at the floor and a moment of clarity came to me. I looked back up.

“You're not here, this is my imagination. You can't hurt me, you can't do anything.”

“You're wrong James, you've no idea how wrong you are.” He started shaking wildly and his skin started peeling off. His eyes rolled into his head and was gone. Finally gone.

I looked behind me and I was back at the hospital. My mom came out to get me.

“James, why are you out here?”

“I was uh... I don't know mom.”

“Well, come inside. It's cold out here.”

“Okay.” My mom gave me a kiss on the head. When she brought her head back up, I found out what was different. They all had the same eyes as the man in the ice. The same piercing, bright blue eyes. Everywhere I looked, they had these eyes. I started freaking out. I ran to the bathroom, dodging staff and patients. I had to escape their gaze.

I flung open the bathroom door and hid. I tried to get myself together, tried to come up with some excuse for my behavior. I couldn't come up with anything. I decided to come clean to my mom. I found her and told everything. I told her about the differences, the pond, the man... his eyes. She was understanding but said we should see a “doctor”. I knew she meant a psychologist, even hidden under the veil of doctor.

I didn't protest this idea as I might indeed be insane, but there was something deep down telling me that it was a real. I agreed with this... thought, I guess you could call. I told my mom otherwise, but only to make her feel better.

Time passed, and I didn't see the man in the ice. I got comfortable with the pond again. My sister stopped dying every time I woke up. But still, there was something... strange about everyone. About everything. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I was sure it was there.

One day I went out onto the frozen pond wearing nothing but a light-blue short-sleeved collared shirt. The ice broke under my weight and the current pulled further away from where I fell in. The last thing I saw was a young man wearing a winter jacket and blue jeans.

I walk home from school everyday.