By the time they crossed the ice bridge Charlotte had to struggle with the wind to stay on her machine. She was sick they hadn’t found Hannah, and she was frightened, tired and freezing. Her body had lost all sensation. She thought she had fingers in her gloves, but she wasn’t sure.
The ice bridge was eerier returning than when they’d come, if that was possible. An early night had descended, though the snow illuminated their surroundings enough so they could see. It almost made their headlights unnecessary. The ice was lit up as if there were lights glowing beneath it. Strange noises, sounding like distant moans and cries for help, rushed by her head.
She remembered what Hannah had said about the ice bridge ghosts. In her state of mind, she could imagine misty shapes flitting around the ice behind and around them, trying to tell them something. Did they know where Hannah was? If she looked quick enough she thought she saw them with their hollow ghost eyes in their transparent ghost bodies. It seemed they were closing in on her and Mac.
Hannah believed the ice bridge ghosts appeared when someone was about to die—or had died.
She panicked as her snowmobile sped over the ice, the wind behind shoving her along, faster and faster, as if it was trying to escape something. She was practically on top of Mac as a wave of vertigo hit her. She slowed down before she rammed him.
Her machine went into a skid and barely avoided hitting one of the evergreens. She took a couple of deep breaths to push the dizziness away. Out of the corner of her eyes, she thought she saw something standing on the ice to her right, lost in the particles of drifting snow. It looked like a shadow of a woman with her arms outstretched. Then it was gone. Yet for the split heartbeat it was there, it had scared the heck out of her. It had looked like Hannah. Impossible.
Charlotte wanted to get back to her aunt’s house where it was warm and safe—where there were no spectral shapes to taunt her. She’d never been out in a pre-blizzard before. She was beginning to understand what Mac had meant when he’d said that a whiteout could be disorienting. She wondered if it could also make a person see things that weren’t there.
She kept her attention on Mac’s silhouette when she wasn’t looking for a lost snowmobile and its rider. She didn’t want to see anything else. About three-fourths of the way to the other side, with land and trees in front of them, her eye caught unevenness in the snow a little ways off the secure path. Something in the air behind her, or was it in her head, whispered to stop. Look.
After honking the horn and blinking her lights three times, she swerved closer, but not too close, to the rough patch. She cut the engine and dug out a flashlight from the saddlebag to examine the irregularities. In the glow, she saw there were spikes in the blanket of snow covering the ice.
Had something gone through the ice there?
She was on her knees, with her face in her hands, when Mac joined her with another flashlight. He gently brought her to her feet and guided her to her snowmobile. He walked back to the rough patch. He examined it, getting as near as he dared. He directed his flashlight at the mound. Charlotte could tell by the way his shoulders slumped that he’d found something he hadn’t wanted to find.
He returned to her. The wind had died down to a whisper after the roar.
“Something’s gone through the ice in days past. It’s been broken and refrozen.”
“Hannah?” she breathed.
“Could be. It’s too early to know. Sometimes something goes through and crawls out, wet, scared and cold—but alive. It happens. Maybe a deer or a bear. There are bears on the mainland; did you know that? Every once in a while they wander onto the ice. Anyway, the unevenness doesn’t necessarily mean something is down there...doesn’t mean it’s Hannah, either.”
Mac put his arm around Charlotte’s shoulders. “Let’s go before the storm gets any worse and we get lost, too. When it passes I’ll get men out here to see if there’s anything down there. Come on.”
BLURB of The Ice Bridge by Kathryn Meyer Griffith (:
She’ll fall in love again…with a man and the island. Charlotte returns to her Aunt Bess and Mackinac Island, a quaint retreat that welcomes summer tourists and allows no cars to renew herself and write about the island’s ghosts.
She’s come to help Bess with her heartache, an ended love with Shaun, and to renew a friendship with neighbor Hannah.
In winter Mackinac closes down and everyone looks forward to the ice bridge that freezes across the Straits of Mackinac.
Until Hannah disappears into the icy waters crossing it.
Everyone says it’s an accident. But Charlotte and her admirer cop friend, Mac, don’t think so. Something isn’t right. Hannah was too smart to go off the path.
So it’s murder…but why…how…by whom?
In the end, it’s Mac–and perhaps Hannah’s ghost–who saves Charlotte and Bess’s lives when the killer decides they’re too close to the truth and tries to kill them, too.