The Iceman of Crystal Lake
by P. C. Denofrio, poet-in-residence at Raue Center
This is a piece of fiction, written in a Victorian-style, based on historical facts. These events did not actually occur.
An excerpt from the diary of Mary Florence Dole:
January 17, 1872 – Hattie and I were out today at the mansion, we wanted to go ice skating. Hattie ran ahead and slipped on the frozen lake. She kept going. I remember being afraid because the ice was particularly clear that day… like crystal, from where it got its name.
When Hattie had reached the middle of the lake, she looked down and let out a shriek. There, clear as day, I’ll never forget it, was the brow of a man. But it was not a man, or not any kind of man I knew. He looked pale, with a heavy, low brow, with hair all over.
I had to drag Hattie home, she was unconscious from fear. Daddy went out to take a look. When he came back he looked… (here the rest of the passage is missing)
Charles S. Dole sold us his elaborate mansion in 1873. I was from the Crystal Lake Ice Company out of Chicago, and as the demands were increasing exponentially we jumped at the opportunity.
I must admit, I had my misgivings about what seemed to me must have been an outstanding amount of money spent on Dole’s mansion, since he was just selling it to us for a dollar, but I’m no business man, just a land surveyor for the ice company.
Still, it seemed suspect…
Something troubled me about Dole’s sale of his estate for a single dollar. It seemed too simple, as if he was trying to get rid of it.
The Crystal Lake Ice Co. didn’t seem to care. So we went through with the purchase of Dole’s mansion. And started extracting immediately.
It was late February 1873 when it was found. At first the boys thought it was just a drowned man… but when I saw that face I knew it was something else.
Something not quite human. Something before human.
It was brought up in a huge cube of ice; it was then that I noticed its enormous size was no trick the ice was playing on the eye… easily it held a height of 7 feet or so, broad as two men.
Feeling that the finding of a body in the water from whence we carved our ice, the company man demanded a crude shack be built around his block of ice, to prevent its being seen.
The house, like an ice fisherman’s house was built, with a door to make it “inconspicuous,” but I bolted and pad locked the door myself, always fearing for the worst.
Suddenly Dole’s short sale was making sense…
As I have said, I bolted the door myself, being a naturally superstitious man, fearing somehow that the frozen Neanderthal might escape, after being frozen for what must have been an unfathomable amount of years.
On the morning of March 1, 1873, I woke to find my superstitious precautions wholly unnecessary… for when I went to the makeshift shack I found the lock was broken—
Along with much of our company’s equipment!
Furthermore, I could see the Iceman’s oversized footprints in the melting snow leading north, to the settled part of town.
I hastened on, toward the Iceman’s advance, not knowing of course my own fate, but knowing instinctually destruction lay in the monster’s wake.
I followed his tracks that led toward civilization, and to my mind the desolation thereof, and feared the worst for Nunda (for, even though it had only been my home for a few months, I loved the village I now called home).
It was south of Virginia Street I found the vile thing, beating at doors and causing a general ruckus, which I found intensely unsettling for such a quiet town, when a young woman emerged in her night robe holding a candle.
The villain hastened toward the girl, with a vigor I did not think something so recently frozen could muster, and she adeptly moved and ran down the length of Virginia, all the while the beastly thing following, and I set out post-haste after the pair.
We were, the three of us, hastening toward the lake…
The woman hastened quickly toward Crystal Lake, candle in hand, so quickly that I was almost unable to keep pace with her.
As for the ghastly man, his lumbering stride seemed to break into a series spasmodic lunges toward the young woman. He was constantly grasping at her arms, hands, as if to pull her toward him, if only he could catch her.
I saw, in the clear winter morning as if it were a play-acted vignette, that the pair upon reaching the rough sand of the shore did a sort of dance. It turned out to be a tussle, a fight over, of all things, the candlestick—
When suddenly, the lady, whose hand the monster had relinquished for but a moment, flung the candle into the air above the lake.
That thing, the beast in human form, ran headlong onto the thinning ice for the candlestick. It was in this moment I realized that he, naturally, wanted the warmth of the flame. Had he not been frozen for what must have been centuries!
I was about to call out to the Neanderthal or the woman, when I watched that same ice, which must have kept him trapped for years, give out from beneath his ghastly form, and he was gone.
But there are those who say the detestable Iceman of Crystal Lake still comes each winter, born from the ice, to find some semblance of warmth…