You know what you have to do.
Johnny opened up the throttle further as the cold voice scratched at the door to his mind. He wished he could lock out the voice, but all he could do was ignore it. The snowmobile whizzed over a small hill and plunged down the other side, almost but not quite, airborne.
Behind him Kathy shouted with glee and held him tighter.
It was a perfect day. Crisp, but not too cold. No snowfall, but enough cloud to prevent snow glare. Little wind. Johnny ignored the voice for one moment longer.
You won't like what will happen if you don't listen to me, Johnny.
The words entered Johnny's mind as if drilled by an ice pick. He flinched, then opened up the throttle wider to drown the voice out.
He concentrated on the white open spaces ahead of him. Tundra, not fields. No trees, because Baffin Island was north of the treeline, and no hidden barb wire fences either. Just miles and miles of white until you hit the ocean. Or the mountains.
"Hey!" Kathy shouted over the throb of the motor. "Can I take another turn driving?"
The opportunity was too good to pass up. Johnny twisted his head around. "Sure," he said. The other girls in their snowmobiling party didn't drive much. It took a lot of upper arm strength to take a heavy snowmobile up a sharp incline and was quite tiring. Kathy had the musculature--she wanted to be a fighter jet pilot and lifted weights three times a week--but no snowmobile of her own.
Johnny eased off the throttle, and the snowmobile slid to a stop. He waited for her to get off, body tense.
Kathy swung one leg over the snowmobile, but his face must have given him away because she hesitated. "Wait. Is this one of your practical jokes? If I get off, are you going to drive away and leave me standing here?"
"No," Johnny said, forcing a grin.
She was still suspicious. "You get off first."
Instead Johnny opened up the throttle and sent the snowmobile leaping forward. Kathy shrieked and almost fell, but hung on, yelling and laughing at the same time. To her it was just a game.
To Johnny it was something very different. He wanted her off the snowmobile, but he dared not insist. Dared not draw Frost's attention to her.
Frost in his head, echoing in his skull.
You will do it, Johnny.
Under his winter jacket, Johnny shuddered.
Not now, he pleaded. Not yet.
Johnny would give in eventually, as he always had. He knew what Frost was capable of. Frost would kill, coldly and without remorse.
But this time Frost was asking for more. Johnny had already given up so much, including his brother and his last girlfriend, all for Frost's threats. This time was harder. Frost was asking him to give up his dream.
It's just for the season, he told himself. Next year you can do what you want. But the cold hollow feeling in his gut said differently.
You know what you have to do, Johnny.
Yes. He knew. Johnny did it.