frozen lake

The Lake (The Promise) By M.J. Preston

He plodded out onto the ice looking for the peg.
How many years had it been?
“Eleven,” he said, his breath turning to vapor against the remaining cold of mid-March. For eleven years at his mother’s insistence, he had come out with GPS in hand to peg the exact spot. The coordinates were: Latitude 40.741895 by Longitude -73.989308.
Only days after father’s death, she’d made him go back out, at great risk, to take those coordinates. The official report was that the ice had cracked and in a single undramatic gulp his father was gone. His body was never retrieved, and as a result, his mother could not come to terms with the loss.
“Why, Mum,” he asked. “Why are you sending me out there.”
“Because,” she said. “When I die, I want you to go back out there with my ashes.”
He’d gone that first time, creeping slowly. His heart pounding. Carrying only a GPS, the ice was cracking and popping beneath his weight. He found the fishing hole, a rod tip stabbing from the ice. It had refrozen, but before long that would be gone too.
He saved the location.
Now, he returned carrying a new GPS, an ice auger, and the urn containing his mother’s ashes. He’d placed a new peg just last January. She’d died at the age of 61, a life shortened by cigarettes and alcohol.
“We’re here,” he said and began to drill.
Finished, he opened the urn and dumped the ashes into the lake. Then he started to laugh. His father was not in the lake. After killing him, he buried his body in a wooded grave. He’d been an abusive drunk, she an enabling partner to that abuse.
“Jokes on you, Mum.”
Then to his surprise, the ice began to crack.

MJ Preston

Opal’s July Flash Fiction Contest Winner

MJ Preston’s debut novel: THE EQUINOX, published in 2012, was a quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Awards and rated a solid straight horror novel by a reviewer at Publisher’s Weekly.
His second novel: ACADIA EVENT, published in 2015, was inspired by his time running the world’s longest ice road, as an ice road trucker, in Canada’s Northwest Territories. It was also met with praise, including an endorsement by Gregory L. Norris, a screenwriter for Star Trek Voyager and writer for the Sci-Fi Channel. Norris called Acadia Event,’an Epic read and personal favorite.’
He is now hard at work on his third novel: Highwayman, a thriller, which is forecast to be published in late 2016.
In addition, he is producing a quarterly short story paperback called Dark Passages which will include many known and up and coming writers in North America.
He resides in Alberta, Canada with his wife, Stormy.
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