Daddy’s Girl. A psychological thriller set in Finnish Lapland. For your reading pleasure, I give you the opening scene:
The frozen air hit her as the door swung open. Her body instinctively drew itself into a tighter foetal position. Her ears roared. The pain of moving tore at her tenuous grasp on consciousness, her field of vision narrowing to the 10 square centimeters of grey, lint-flecked nylon directly in front of her face: the musty lining of his car boot.
Grabbed by the collar of her coat, she was dragged out and over the lip. Head first, she slithered over the edge like an inebriated snake, hitting the ground in one fluid movement. The thick snow broke her fall and still it felt as though each of her bones imploded on impact. She lay face down in the snow, brain numb. Over the top of the pain fell a blanket of cold. Breath stealing, skin searing cold. Flames of ice that sliced through her skin. A whole other layer of agony.
She couldn’t move. Couldn’t even make a noise. She didn’t know if that was fear, the pain, or if her body had simply stopped working. It didn’t mater. It would be over soon.
He kicked her over onto her back, grunting with the effort. Snowflakes landed softly on her swollen face. The weak light of the late afternoon barely made itself noticed under her fluttering eyelashes as she fought to stay conscious. The pain helped. So did the cold. Although they were fast becoming one and the same. They gave her something to hold onto. She wanted to be awake when it happened. When he finally killed her.
A hand grabbed her under each armpit and she was hauled, head lolling, feet making ruts through the thick snow. Her mangled body was pulled onto the rough, wooden boards of their sled and then dropped. The light behind her eyelids exploded into a million slivers of silver edged glass, each one embedding itself into her skull.
Footsteps crunched through heavy snow, the sound loud and crude over the rolling white noise in her head. Her body lurched as the sled began to move. Pulled deeper into the Finnish forest, the repetitive canopy of pine-tree branches overhead lulled her into the dark, murky depths of unconsciousness.
Several times she came back around, the noises always the same; crunching footsteps, the loud hissing noise of the sled through snow. Each time she woke she was covered in a deeper layer of snow. She quickly lost all feeling in her hands and feet and when the numbness spread up her arms and legs a grateful tear slid down her cheek.
Something was different. She lay, paralysed, trying to figure it out. Her head ached, the white noise was so loud it made her ears hurt. The noise. It had stopped. They weren’t moving.
The sled tilted. Surprised, she tipped into the snow. Was this it? The end? She could hear heavy breathing and the sound of a match being struck. The smell of cigarette smoke drifted through the still air. He’s smoking again. He hadn’t done that since before… Her mind shut down. Even now it wouldn’t let her think about then.
He stood close to her head, his black boot inches from her face. She braced herself for it, welcomed it. The end. Freedom.
“Such a waste. Why did you have to turn out to be such a bad girl?” he said in a low murmur, crouching beside her and stroking her hair with his gloved hand. “But, what’s done is done.” He sighed and straightened up. “I’ll leave you both here for when the bears wake up. No-one will find you before they do.”
He flicked the dog-end into the snow. It burnt bright next to her face for a moment before going out with a hiss. A last kick to the stomach and his footsteps retreated, the sled making less noise now as it slid easily behind him and disappeared behind the wall of falling snow.