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Cold Night On The Thames

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Pulling up my collar to ward away the chilling winds of late December, I shove my gloved hands into my leather jacket and hurry along the snow-dusted cobblestone street. Slowly beginning to cross the London Bridge in the wee hours of the morning, the last few pints of lager still heavy in my stomach I relish the cold as I breath out a heated sigh. Watching my breath coalesce and drift away on the biting breeze I chuckled. Walking on the sidewalks on the outer edges of the bridge, I smiled as I pass by a young couple coming from the opposite direction.

 

As I reached the midsection of the bridge, I stopped as I heard a light voice drifting on the wind, a melodic tune carried by the whipping flurries of snow.

 

“I cannot hope to know,

Which form of tragedy will show;

And while I’d love to be held by him,

I know he’s buried in the snows den.

Oh, how I pray he makes it back,

Lest I be forced to act…”

 

Looking ahead, I’m amazed to see a young woman, dressed in thin scarves that cover her lithe frame and leave little to the imagination, standing over the railing, her hands gripping the iron guardrails as she dangles precariously over the sixty-foot drop into the icy depths of the Thames. Biting back a cough, I take a few steps closer and raise my hand.

 

“Miss?” I called out to her, trying to get her attention. Her head snaps in my direction, and in the darkness I can barely make out her eyes, only a billowing mane of red curls wafting gently in the breeze. She stares at me as I take a step closer, holding out a hand. “Do you need any help?”

 

“Are you the one who took Johnny away?” She asked in a Scottish burr, her voice thick with emotion. “Do you know where he is?”

 

Thinking on my feet in order to get this woman down from the edge of the London Bridge, I smiled reassuringly at her. “Yeah, I know Johnny. Good bloke if ever there was one. Now why don’t you just come on down, and I can take you to see him, alright?”

 

She stared at me for a few brief moments, her face impassive as far as I can tell. The shadows from the half-moon and clouds make it almost impossible to get the finer details of her face, save for the twin silver tear tracks running down her cheeks.

 

“You… know Johnny?” She asked again, her voice calming down from her previous cries.

 

“Yes, and I’d imagine that he wouldn’t want you out here on such a cold night all alone. So just take my hand and come on over, I’ll take you someplace where you can get warmed up.”

 

After a moment, she daintily raised her pale hand, holding it out to me. Looking her over as I slowly edged my way closer, my eyes bulged as I see that she’s barefoot. Checking her over for any bruises or obvious signs of drug use, I finally get close enough to hold out my hand to her, allowing her to grasp my forearm.

 

Her grip is like iron, and her fingers seem to leech the warmth away from my limb. Resisting the urge to yelp, I tug to try and coax her over the railing. She replied in kind with a forceful yank, slamming me into the side of the railing with a metal pang!

 

Dazed, I can only stare on in horror as she teetered off the edge of the platform, her death grip on my arm hauling me over the railing and into the open air with her. Turning in mid-fall to face me, I see her eyes for the first time, a solid darkness that sends a shiver down my spine.

 

Impacting the water knocks the wind out of me, and with her still gripping wrist I flounder to the surface, coughing and choking on the arctic waters I’m now surrounded by. Before I can even so much as called for help, her other hand circles around the back of my neck, dragging me forward until our noses are almost touching.

 

“Johnny left me here, left me here to rot…” she whispered, black eyes peering deeply into my own. “He left me to die going off to fight in some silly war… but I’ll show him. I’ve taken all of his friends to my bed for his treachery, just as I’m about to take you.”

 

And with that she leaned into me, sealing her mouth over mine. One hand still pinned in her amazingly strong grip, I use the other to try and wedge my fingers between us, to push her away. But somehow, the frigid water compares little to the chill within her kiss, which spreads through me like icicles in my veins. One of her legs intertwined with mine beneath the water, preventing me from keeping us afloat. Slowly, we begin to sink into the bone-chilling depths of the Thames.

 

Peering at her from beneath the waves of the great river, with the moonlight filtering down

around us, I can only struggle with numbed limbs as she continues to kiss me, her very lips seeming to suck the air from my lungs as I wrestle in vain. The moonlight only illuminates about the top ten-feet of the river, leaving the bottom of the deep body of water as dark as wrong side of the moon.

 

Slowly, my consciousness begins to ebb and become slippery, like trying to grip a slickened eel with wet hands. My mind begins to stall as my body begins to freeze, the young woman encircling me and grinding on my frigid form as she drains the last few gulps of air I have. I finally pull away enough to gasp, and my lungs fill with water, slowly easing me into unconsciousness as the strange woman cradled my body to her like her former lover.

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