The scene before me was perfect. A track surrounded by bare trees, stripped of their leaves by the winter cold, every inch covered in pure white snow. It was worthy of a postcard. It was just the photo I needed. As a freelance photographer, money was tight, and when I heard a hugely popular nature magazine was looking for a new photographer, I had to give it a shot.
I spot something tucked away at the beginning of the track, hidden behind a pile of snow. Moving in closer, I see it’s a wooden sign, its dark post sticking out of the ground with two mossy planks of wood on top of it ‘Beware of Snow Witch’ written in big, messy letters. The Snow Witch was an urban legend, told through generations. The story goes that the witch had promised her hand to a powerful warlock, but got cold feet and called the wedding off. He was so heartbroken, so incensed with rage, that he cursed her to an eternity trapped in these woods alone, only able to leave once she found someone to take her place. A task easier said than done, as no one who knew the story dared venture into the woods. Except for me. I didn’t believe the story for one minute and certainly wasn’t spooked by it.
“Brilliant,” I smile, snapping away with my camera, making sure to catch the sunlight peeking through the trees.
I continue to walk further down the track, taking pictures as I go, the beauty of the landscape engrossing me so much that I lose track of time.
And I sure as hell didn’t notice the lady in white standing before me.
“Hello,” she smiles, her eyes an icy blue, her long flowing hair platinum white. Her dress, with its long sleeves and large skirt that falls to the ground, is whiter than the snow surrounding us. She is stunning.
“Hi…” I stammer, my heart racing. “Wh-who are you?”
“We don’t need to worry about that,” she breathes, taking a step toward me.
My eyes dart behind her as I realize with a rising feeling of dread that the sun is setting quickly.
“I’m sorry if I’m trespassing…but it’s so beautiful. I couldn’t help myself…” I take a step back. “I’ll go now. It’s getting late.”
I turn to walk back down the track but she’s right in front of me, a smile curling her lips.
“Oh, you can’t leave,” she laughs, putting her ice-cold hand on my chest. “It’s your turn now.”
Her other hand thrusts forward and drags something sharp across my throat – her razor-like nails. The pain as she splits my neck from ear to ear is incredible. I drop to my knees wildly clutching at my throat, my blood staining the white snow a crimson red. She crouches down in front of me, her face close to mine, her blue eyes glowing.
“I’ve been waiting years for a replacement. People are too scared to come here, but not you. I’ve had enough of being the Snow Witch. It’s your turn now.”
I don’t remember much after that. All I know is that I’m here now, trapped in this blissful scene. I can’t say how long I’ve been here. I hear people in the woods sometimes, but none come my way. I just know, one day, someone has to come by. Maybe a young photographer like I once was, and then it will be their turn to be the Snow Witch. For I, just like the one before me, have had enough.
This story previously appeared in Sirens Call EZine, 2022.
Edited by Marie Ginga
A bookworm since childhood, Belinda is passionate about stories and has turned her hand to writing them, with several stories published in a variety of publications. Belinda lives in Australia with her family, two moody, yet oh so loveable, cats and two super cute miniature dachshunds who love annoying said cats and each other. Belinda adores all things spooky, music and travel.