Excerpt from Whiteout

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Chapter 1

Abandoned

The first thing I see is light.

Bright, white light that fills my vision, then forms into hazy shapes that sharpen into focus. Through the window, I see a field blanketed with snow. I see mounds of white obscuring trees and bushes, and ice slashes etched on the glass by the hand of winter. It feels like a dream world.

The scene seems familiar, as if I know this place, but I can't quite remember how. I squint my eyes against the white, and I realize that it is more than the stuff of dreams. It is real.

My eyelid itches. I lift my hand to scratch it and realize I can't move it. Twisting my head to the side to see what's wrong, I realize I am chained to the rusted bed frame with handcuffs.

Panicked, I pull again. The metal cuts into my right wrist, and I bite my lip to keep from crying out.

Why am I here?

I lift my left hand—it's free. I sit up in the bed and gingerly touch the handcuffs with my fingers. They are heavy duty, and they aren't going anywhere.

Pulling back an army-green blanket, I look down at myself and notice the only thing I'm wearing is a flimsy blue dress with tiny white flowers. It doesn't seem like something I would typically wear.

The mattress is a disgusting mess of stains, gray pinstripes and squished metal springs that poke out of the fabric in places. I shudder.

I try to remember how I came here, try and fail.

Who am I?

How long have I been gone? A day? A week?

The panic deepens. Cool air chills my legs, and I realize it is entering from the crack under the door. I feel the coldness spread to my core. I need to find a way to leave this place. I need to go...but where?

Don't worry about that for now, I tell myself. Just find a way out.

I look at my surroundings. The cabin is small and roughly made, with a pine floor and light filtering through chinks in the walls. A dirty water basin with a leaky faucet rests in one corner. Yellowed pine cabinets line one wall. The hinge is broken on one of the doors, and it hangs open to reveal a couple of cans, one carrots and the other pork and beans. In the other corner is a wood-fire stove with a cooktop. Considering its state of disrepair, it probably hasn't been used in a long time.

A glowing space heater sits not far from the wood stove. This is likely the only source of heat in the room.

A hallway leads to another part of the cabin, possibly another bedroom? It's too dark to tell.

I scan the room for something to help me escape. The floors are bare, however, and my search reveals nothing. I slip to the floor and search under the bed with my left hand, stretching as far as I can. My fingers scrape across the floor and come up empty.

In the distance, I hear the rumble of a vehicle. I shove the mattress up with my free hand, but there's nothing underneath that I can use. The vehicle slows down, then stops.

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