Some say that in the winter, when the shadows are long and the bare branches of the trees reach out with long, crooked fingers, that that is when the dead come out.
And sometimes... sometimes those who wander alone don't ever come back.
It was January, and the ice on the ponds was frozen thick.
Thick enough that every day, it drew in hordes of skaters, couples gliding 'round, and games of pick up hockey. But come night, the ponds of the small, rural Vermont town were deserted, even as the moon shined its pale rays across the snow. And maybe there was a reason for that. Maybe, when the temperatures dropped and the darkness came, it was wiser to stay by the safety of a crackling fire. But not all people are wise.
It was a Saturday evening, and that meant the teenager population in the town was out and about. One particular pair, a couple in their senior year of high school, decided it would be a good idea to go for an evening skate. The moon was bright that night as they wandered through the woods to a small pond, where black ice glimmered in the pale light. The couple tied up their skates and glided out. They spun and twirled, for it was a perfect night and they were happy in love. But there was a strange stillness in the air, even as a cold wind blew through the trees and rattled through the branches, dead leaves still clinging to the twigs. The uneasy feeling only intensified as the soft sound of feet upon snow filled the air. And that's when it happened. The boy fell through the ice, and his scream echoed through the forest. The girl turned in shock, only to see something- a thing that, perhaps, we have no words to properly explain. It was a dark figure, almost human like, with antlers growing off its head. Its eyes glowed in the darkness, and they chilled the girl to the bone. The creature was standing over the place the boy had fallen- and the place he had now disappeared from. And as the moon came from behind a cloud, it illuminated the still warm blood dripping from the creature's gnarled hands. And even as the girl ran, too scared to scream, fumbling to pull her skates off and boots on, those cold, glowing eyes haunted her- and would for the rest of her life.
The boy was never seen again- the only remains were a hole in the ice, and two drops of blood upon the snow.