David Wellington

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1

Monday, July 31st, 2006

White water surged and foamed around Chey’s face. She could barely keep her mouth above the freezing torrent. Her hands reached around behind her, desperately trying to find what was holding her down, even as the water rose and she heard bubbles popping in her ears. Her skin burned with the cold and she knew she would be dead in seconds, that she had failed.

She had not been prepared for the freshet. She thought flash floods were something that happened in the desert, not in the arctic. Summer had come to the north, however, and with the strengthening sun trillions of tons of snow had begun to melt. All that runoff had to go somewhere. Chey had been hiking up a narrow defile, trying to get up to a ridge so she could see where she was. The ground had been hard and dry–she had climbed down into the narrow canyon to get away from a knife-sharp wind. It was rough going, climbing as much with her hands as her feet, but she’d been making good progress. Then she paused because she’d thought she’d heard something. It was a low whirring sound like a herd of caribou galloping through the trees. She had thought maybe it was an earthquake.

The frigid water had come blasting around a curve in the terrain and smashed into her body, the cold of it slicing through her, the force of it pummeling her until she thought she would be torn to pieces. The current dragged her backwards across ground she’d just covered, pulling her over sharp rocks that tore her parka, filling her mouth with grit and pebbles. She could see nothing but silver, silver bubbles, the silver surface of the water above her. Somehow she had fought her way upward, clawing at the yielding water until her mouth was up in the air again. Then she had stopped with an abrupt jolt. Something had grabbed her and was holding her down beneath the surge.

Her hands were numb and her fingers kept curling up from the cold as she searched behind herself. Chey begged and pleaded with them to work, to move again. She felt nylon, felt a nylon strap—there—her pack was snagged on jagged spar of rock. Fumbling, cursing herself, she slipped the nylon strap free. Instantly the freshet grabbed her again, pulling her again downward, down into the defile. She grabbed at the first shadow she could find, which turned out to be a willow shrub. Hugging it tight to herself she coughed and sputtered and physically pulled air back into her lungs.

Eventually she had enough strength to pull herself upward, out of the water. It ran waist deep but she could slog through it. After the first explosive rush much of its force had been spent and she forded the brand new stream easily. On the far bank she dragged herself up onto cold mud and exposed tree roots and lay there shivering for a long time. She had to get dry, she knew. She had to warm herself up. She had fresh clothes and a lighter in her pack. Tinder and firewood would be easy enough to come by.

Slowly, painfully, she rolled over. She was still soaking wet and freezing. Her skin felt like clammy rubber. Once she warmed up she knew she would be in pain. She would have countless bruises to contend with and maybe even broken bones. It would be better than freezing to death, however. She pulled off her pack and reached for its flap. Unfamiliar scraps of fabric met her fingers.

The flap was torn in half. The pack itself was little more than a pile of rags. In the stream, when she’d been dragged by the current, it must have been torn apart by the rocks. It had protected her back from the same fate but in the process it had come open and all of her supplies had come out. She shot her head around to look at the stream. Her gear, her dry clothes, her flashlight—her food—must be spread out over half the Territory, carried hither and yon by the water.

With shaking fingers she dug through the remains of the pack. There had to be something, the heavier objects maybe had stayed put. She did find a couple of things. The base of her Coleman stove had been too heavy to wash away, though the fuel and the pots were lost, making it useless. Her cell phone was still sealed in its own compartment. It dribbled water as she held it up but it still chirped happily when she clicked it on. The map she’d been given by the helicopter pilot was still there though the water had made the ink run and she could barely read it. The rest of her stuff was gone. Her tent was lost. Her dry clothes were lost. Her weapon was nowhere to be found.

She spent the last of the daylight searching up and down the steep bank of the new stream. Maybe, just maybe something had washed up on the shore. Just as the moon came up she spied a glint of silver bobbing against a half-submerged log and jumped back into the water to get it. Praying that it was what she thought it was she grabbed it up with both hands and brought it up to her face. It was the foil pack full of energy bars. Trail food. She started to cry but she was so hungry she tore one open and ate it instead.

That night she buried herself under a heap of pine needles and old decaying leaves. In the morning she was still damp and every muscle in her body was stiff and unresponsive. But she was still alive.

34 Responses to “1”

  1. Monsterboy

    July 31st, 2006 at 4:59 am

    Hallelujah! Got my fix, been a long time./ i look forward to many mornings of slightly reduced productivity for the next few months!
    Okay, Dave. First off, love the look. It manages to be verdant yet retain the creepiness of Monster Island. Are they tree branches, or claw-marks? Wonderful ambiguity.
    Interesting. We don’t see the monster in the first chapter, unlike Island and Bullets. Moon’s up though, so I don’t suppose it will be long. But it does have the action. Nice to see another female character, too; I find myself wondering if she’ll be the main character, a supporting character, or chapter-three lunch.
    Now the long wait for Wednesday.

  2. garth breaks

    July 31st, 2006 at 2:37 pm

    Dave,
    Thanks for this – I too am greatly looking forward to more mornings of reduced productivity.
    Excellent start – love the setting.

  3. Jemmy Legs

    July 31st, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    Dave-
    Great opening. It’s fantastic to have these updates to look forward to again; I missed out on Bullets because of school. This one’s off to a great start.
    Cheers

  4. arclyte

    July 31st, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    What a pleasant surprise to find this link waiting in my inbox this morning. Just when I least expected it too. Oh, what is that undefined feeling in the pit of my stomach? Is it because I haven’t had my breakfast yet? Nope, it’s that yearning feeling I get every time I get to the end of another of Mr. Wellington’s chapters… Like the zombies on Monster Island, we claw at your brain for more.

  5. Scarecrow

    July 31st, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    A lone hiker in the middle of nowhere? A map from a helicopter pilot? I wonder what she’s doing.

  6. Denuo Mortuus

    July 31st, 2006 at 3:03 pm

    Beautiful!

  7. Rakie

    July 31st, 2006 at 3:06 pm

    yay, it feels like it’s been FOREVER! :D
    oooh, very nice start, very atmospheric and you’ve already started with the questions. Greatly looking forward to seeing where this is going to go!!
    also, if it’s not too superficial a comment, i love the font you use. Font is greatly underrated. *nods*

  8. Mistaya

    July 31st, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    Yay new story!
    Love the colors. So she has a working cell, why didn’t she try to call someone? (Yeah I know it probably won’t work but she should’ve tried!)
    Eagerly awaiting wolfies,
    -Misty

  9. Mike

    July 31st, 2006 at 3:56 pm

    What’s new Dave?

  10. Jmeg

    July 31st, 2006 at 4:14 pm

    Nice work Dave.
    Thanks loads from an old Wellington junkie.

  11. Andrew Bellware

    July 31st, 2006 at 5:14 pm

    Sure, my productivity might get decreased, but the week goes by so much more smoothly now!

  12. Linda Hennis

    July 31st, 2006 at 5:26 pm

    Great start!! Idon’t know who’s “rush” was stronger, hers going down through the water, or the one I got on this first chapter.
    Waaaaaay to go Dave!

  13. Ardenstone

    July 31st, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    Huzzah! I’m excited for another book to be published, and I’m intrigued by this one already. A new monster and the arctic, what could be better?
    There was one line that bothered me. I ended up reading it a couple of times so figured I’d let you know: “…and physically pulled air back into her lungs.” The word physically jars me there, although perhaps that’s just my anal nature.
    Anyhow, overall it really looks great and I’m ecstatic to be reading another one of your books!

  14. Lasse

    July 31st, 2006 at 6:44 pm

    Cool! Another novel. Nylon, Cellphone, helicopter pilot. Society and civilization is still up and running. Or is it?

  15. alnjo

    July 31st, 2006 at 6:55 pm

    welcome back dave!
    good to hear from you again?
    your website is a little slow.
    i know, way too busy.
    but that is GOOD right?!!!!
    thank you for sharing with us again.
    you are still the man!!!!!!!
    write on!!!!!
    peace out
    later

  16. Joni

    July 31st, 2006 at 8:04 pm

    WOOOO HOOOO…seems like it has been forever since 13 Bullets. Can’t wait for Wed now!!

  17. bagelgod

    July 31st, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    Woo yea! Finally! I love the color scheme. Its sort of blue and relaxing, compared to bullets, which was scary. Just a question, why isn’t this story linked on the brokentype.com main page? I had to dig through my email to find the link. Anyway, great start! Oh, one more question. I *finally* got a copy of Monster Island, and I vaguely remember some form of short story thingy or something that one could receive should they purchase the book. Just wondering if I’m still eligible. Hopefully it won’t take me nearly as long to buy Nation =P
    - B to the A to the G to the E to the L

  18. Dave (the Author)

    July 31st, 2006 at 9:15 pm

    Thanks, everyone. I hope you will all enjoy the story to come. It’s a little different from what I’ve done before (though not too different).
    Bagelgod: Yes, you still qualify. And this goes for anybody else who buys “Monster Island”. Send me an email requesting the free eBook and I’ll send it to you. I need an email from you so I can keep track of who got it and so on, and so I can reply to your email address.

  19. Patrick

    July 31st, 2006 at 9:47 pm

    Sweet, this is my first time being there from the beginning. Caught 13 bullets after it’d been done, at least I was able to read it all in, almost, one sitting. Now I’m stuck like everyone else, waiting for the beginning, middle, and end of the work week for my fix.
    Can’t wait for the next chapter!!! :)

  20. elle

    August 1st, 2006 at 2:26 am

    YAY!!!!! Welcome back Dave! Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are back to normal again! (For us Aussies, that is ;-)
    I love this chapter Dave. I’m hooked already. I like Chey. Don’t kill her off too soon, okay?
    Whoo hoo! Horror fix!

  21. Anonymous

    August 1st, 2006 at 4:23 am

    Minor Frostbite typo: “snagged on jagged spar” should be “snagged on a jagged spar”.

  22. sunrise089

    August 1st, 2006 at 5:34 am

    It feels good to be back, and especially good to be reading one of these from the very first day.
    I’m surprised at the number of new names above, maybe the publishing on Island brought in a lot of new readers since the end of 13B.
    Dave, is there a reason why you seem to prefer female leads? My theory is this: you seem to enjoy main characters with some sort of internal conflict, and with a stereotypical male lead you have to introduce a personality flaw to create the conflict (Arkeley’s coldness, Bannerman’s inability to grasp the extent of the emergency as it was unfolding, and Decalb’s fear). With a woman, you seem to create much more of a “kick-ass-and-take-names” type of character, that is only compromised due to personal issues. I guess that allows you to have your tough character without having to story overrun with machismo, but I still wouldn’t mind seeing a story with a man who really has things together as the lead, just facing an even more imposing foe.

  23. Chachiboy

    August 1st, 2006 at 8:22 am

    Great to be with you on an other roller coaster from the beginning. It seems like so long since 13 bullets. It’s looking good so far. Can’t wait for more.

  24. mendoza

    August 1st, 2006 at 8:52 am

    SWEET!!! Nice to have a new story from you Dave!!!

  25. Scarecrow

    August 1st, 2006 at 1:49 pm

    I don’t think this is an apocalyptic story; it will be more of a single-monster horror story the way 13B kinda was. Werewolves just don’t fit with the whole end-of-the-world scene.

  26. briangc

    August 1st, 2006 at 3:08 pm

    I agree with Scarecrow…we seem to be in a different world/time this go ’round.
    Dave – You need to update your blog with the link to this serial. It’s only current up to 13B.

  27. Dave (the Author)

    August 1st, 2006 at 3:19 pm

    Thanks everyone!
    Thanks especially to BrianGC. If people don’t know, we asked readers of the forum to come up with a title for this one. “Frostbite” was his idea–and a doozy it is.
    As for my female lead characters, I’ve given it lots of thought and come up with lots of reasons why I like them, but the latest explanation is that I’m trying to “play” with gothic/horror tropes, in which the central female character has to survive despite an innate weakness. My female characters survive because of an inner strength they don’t recognize until they need to draw on it. My male characters, on the other hand, have all been raised in a culture where every teenage boy considers himself a badass until he finds out otherwise. Anyway, that’s my explanation for today.

  28. Ron

    August 1st, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    Very nice beginning. Like someone else mentioned: YAY! I get to read from the beginning. :)

  29. briangc

    August 1st, 2006 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks, Dave!
    For the rest of you, come on over to Dave’s forum, we’ve got a thread going on Frostbite already. Chapter comments are great and all, but we can more easily keep a running commentary in the thread. See below:
    http://www.brokentype.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=134

  30. marbotty

    August 1st, 2006 at 9:41 pm

    Damn you, Wellington! Just when I think I’m out, you keep drawing me back in…

  31. digbeta

    August 1st, 2006 at 10:00 pm

    How’d the summer treat ya Dave?

  32. Dave (the Author)

    August 1st, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    The summer was great–I spent it promoting Monster Island, which sold (and is still selling) really well–far better than I had any right to expect. Big things are afoot now, for 13B and its sequels.
    I’ve never worked harder in my life than I have the last few months–but it’s been so worth it. My life’s one real dream has come true! I’m officially a published writer.

  33. Ann Towey

    August 2nd, 2006 at 3:25 pm

    Silly Chey,
    The Artic is a desert. (as defined by its low rainfall) :)
    Ann
    p.s.= see Dave in the flesh at Nuke-Con. Come meet this groovie author.
    http://www.nuke-con.com

  34. Lee

    August 2nd, 2006 at 6:29 pm

    Glad to catch the beginning of this one, Dave. You’ve engendered a copycat, since I’m now serialising my YA fantasy novel MORTAL GHOST from my own blog and hope you get a chance to have a read.

New books

Pass Fail cover

Three new David Wellington eBooks are available now. These are full-length novels, and you can get all three for the price of a paperback:

Rivals: Sibling teen superheroes. Fight!

Pass/Fail: High school can be murder.

Plague Zone: Zombies!

Learn more about David's books and join in the discussion at the Hail Horrors Ning forum.

Table of Contents

Frostbite is a serial novel by David Wellington. Chapters are posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. To browse the story so far, visit the table of contents.

Part 1: The Drunken Forest
Part 2: On the Yellowhead Highway
Part 3: Western Prairie
Part 4: Port Radium

Latest News

Dave Will be at Phoenix ComicCon 2014!

April 28th 2014

See Dave at BEA, or Chat Live from the floor!

May 23rd 2013

Three new eBooks available now!

October 1st 2012

Book Giveaway on GoodReads!

April 6th 2012