The Winter Game

A dish best served cold?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

One fateful day, 18-year old Stephen Reiner is invited to hang out with a group of wealthy school peers from the private school of which they all attend.

Reluctant at first, he accepts since he lost his friends after moving to go to the private school.

Not long into their “bonding time,” does the group, led by Sebastian Myers, decide to get drunk and shoot at whatever small game they can find deep in the snowy woods, with rifles they parents got them or owned.

At one point, however, a heated argument erupts between Stephen and Sebastian. This, in turn, leads to Sebastian chasing Stephen deeper into the snowy woods, his equally inebriated friends following close behind in an attempt to stop him.

After several minutes of running, Stephen is chased onto the frozen lake, with Sebastian not far behind.

Sebastian continues to drunkenly argue with him when his friends finally catch up when the ice between his and Stephen’s feet start cracking.
Sebastian and his friends start panicking while Stephen tries to instruct him on how to get off the ice without it breaking. Sebastian, in his drunken stupor, fails to listen and clumsily runs back to shore. He somehow manages to make it back to shore.

Exasperated, Stephen tries getting to shore himself, when he winds up falling in, hitting his head and getting knocked unconscious.

Instead of getting help, Sebastian and his friend flee. As Stephen floats in the icy water, unconscious an unknown figure jumps in the water behind him, grabs him, and pulls him out.

As Stephen floats in the freezing cold water, motionless, an unknown figure drops into the water behind him, grabs him, and pulls him out.

Sometime later, Stephen wakes up to find himself, in different clothes, lying in a bed, inside a cabin. A fire glows warmly from a fireplace nearby.
Confused, Stephen cautiously gets out of bed and wanders around for answers. He notices the few photos around of a man with a woman and two young children.

Suddenly a voice breaks the silence.

“Well, look at who finally woke up.”

Stephen turns around to find a towering man with a scruffy beard, wearing a plaid shirt and dirty jeans with a shotgun in his hands.
Noticing Stephen’s eyes grow wide from the sight of the shotgun, the man immediately and carefully sets it aside.

“Relax, I only shoot game. Not humans.” he jokes. Stephen laughs nervously in response.

The man clears his throat when Stephen asks him who he is. The man responds by introducing himself as “Mark.” Stephen introduces himself before asking where they are. Mark replies that the cabin is his.

After introducing himself, he asks how long he was out.

“You’ve been out for nearly two days.”

“I have?”

Mark nods and offers some food before seeing him off.
Over lunch, Stephen thanks Mark for saving his life. Mark, in response, downplays it and instead asks who the group was.

“Just a bunch of assholes from my ‘rich kid’ school.”

“‘Rich kid’ school?”

“Private school.”

Stephen asks what Mark does, to which he acts evasive over before explaining that he is in real estate. Stephen then asks whether the woman and child in the pictures were his wife and child.

“Ex-wife and daughter,” he replies before excusing himself for a moment. Stephen takes the opportunity to explore Mark’s cabin out of curiosity.

Stephen eventually stumbles across evidence of Mark lying about who he was, before getting caught by the latter.

Mark demands Stephen to leave. Stephen hesitatingly obliges before asking if Mark was going to kill him now too. Mark asks him what he means, and Stephen inquires of him being a serial killer.

Mark balks at a question before making excuses. After Stephen nervously demands an answer, an annoyed Mark blurts out that he is a retired hitman.
Stephen’s blood runs cold. He nervously asks Mark again if he intends to kill him. When Mark hesitates, Stephen backs out of the room, runs out of the cabin and into the woods with Mark yelling out to him. Through his blind panic, Stephen fails to notice that Mark never fires a shot at him.

Eventually, Stephen stops when he sees a mother brown bear with a cub nearby, he tries to avoid getting her attention, but she does so and charges at him.

She jumps on him and bites down on his arm protecting his head.

The sound of a gun goes off behind Stephen, and the mother bear backs off and runs away with her cub.

Stephen slowly turns and looks up to see Mark.

“Kid. I’m not going to kill you, got it?”

He cautiously nods.

“Come on, let’s that looked at,” he says with a sigh.

While treating his wounds, Stephen asks what happened in the days while he was unconscious.

Mark hesitates before telling him that on the day Stephen fell in the ice, and after he saved him, a news report came out saying that Stephen had died accidentally and his body has not been found yet.

Stephen then demands to know what Sebastian and his friends said, to which Mark again, hesitates before responding that there was no mention of anyone else, no witness, only that Stephen’s belongings and evidence of him drinking were found.

Incensed, Stephen goes to leave to confront Sebastian before Mark talks him into calming down. After a moment, Stephen comments on how any legal actions against Sebastian and his friends were next to impossible.
Mark inquiries how.

“His mom is a lawyer, his friends’ parents are all police officers, a judge, hell, even a doctor. Unless something gets done, they get away with like they always do. How do you win against a fight this hard?”

Mark shrugs as the news drones on the radio in the background.

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Writer of true crime, unsolved mysteries, and marvels of history. Lover of movies, books, cats, and anime.

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Nicole Henley

Nicole Henley

Writer of true crime, unsolved mysteries, and marvels of history. Lover of movies, books, cats, and anime.

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