The windshield fogged steadily despite Jody having the jeep’s defroster on full blast. The snow made visibility past a few feet in front of the hood nearly impossible, the white headlights reflecting back at her from the wall of snow falling steadily. She flicked her headlight switch to the mid selection, dousing the main headlights and leaving the yellow parking lights. She sighed slightly as the white glair disappeared leaving only the fog light effect of her parking lights to pierce through the blinding onslaught of flakes. She slid the clutch in, with a silent prayer she shifted into first and slowly let the clutch out, the tires spun for a brief moment before finding grip on the snow capped ice covered road. The car lurched slightly as she pulled the rear section back onto the road from the shoulder she had slid just moments ago. The over-sized tires of the jeep trying to climb the snow instead of sinking into it gave the handling a floating and unsteady feel. Jody’s heart pounded hard in her chest, her head tingled with anticipation. The road curved gently from side to side flanked on both sides with thick evergreens, she scoffed quietly at the scenery which would have been very picturesque had she not been trying to drive through it.
Quickly she clutched and slid the jeep into second, trying to reduce the torque at the wheels and perhaps the uncontrolled spinning. The revs dipped to below the normal running range and the jeep lurched but Jody kept it straight and the tires found better grip with the reduced torque. Keeping the transmission in second gear allowed her to keep the idle low and feather the throttle to keep her on the road. She breathed out a heavy sigh of relief and she felt her heart calm slightly. The road angled down slightly as the grade aimed her downhill. The back of her mind dwelled on getting down the mountain, to the Emergency Care Center in town where her son lay injured.
Again the road waved from side to side, the snow blurring the sides making the road look like just a long clearing between the trees. Jody knew this road like the back of her hand so she knew when to expect the hard turns and soft curves. If she could keep going like this she would make it, barring any further slides. She dared bringing the engine up to two thousand revs and the jeep cruised atop the snow covered road at a calm eighteen miles an hour, her steering reacting like a dreamy farce of what it would be on dry ground. Jody relaxed just a bit more as things were going right for the moment. Her raised heart rate had caused her to sweat, she reached up and pulled her knit hat from her head and dropped it into the passenger seat.
She came to a corner she knew was tight. She tensed slightly and feathered the throttle back slightly and turned the wheel hoping for grip. The wheels turned but under steered as the jeep aimed directly at a set of trees as the corner approached, Jody’s eyes shot wide and she ground her teeth with frustration. She slammed the clutch to the floor and the wheels slowed slightly, just enough to find traction as the nose of the Jeep pulled into the corner. Jody gripped the steering wheel so tightly she could feel her gloves digging into her skin at the seams. As the jeep crested the apex of the corner Jody carefully released the clutch and reengaged the second gear to pull her the rest of the way through. As the road opened into another straight away she breathed out in relief.
The reprieve was short lived as Jody made her way close to another corner, this time a nasty switchback that would wreck anyone on a nice day if they were not paying attention. She took her foot off the gas pedal and let the engine slow the jeep as she made her way into the first corner, everything going well. Feathering the throttle slightly she kept the engine from dying as she crept around. The sound of the snow being crushed under the tires filled the cab of the jeep. She slowly turned the wheel from one side to the other, pulling the 4x4 into the second corner.
The back wheels lost grip. The front wheels pulled. The jeep over steered. She counter steered into the slide. Clutch slammed to the floor. A quiet scream.
The parking lights illuminated the tree line as the jeep spun and slid sideways through the corner. Jody had done everything she could think of the pull straight again, she would only be able to ride it out and hope she stayed on the road. Her eyes narrowed as she watched the trees slid by the front of the jeep and she jerked her head to track something… a face between the trees?
One last attempt, she slowly feathered the clutch out hoping the torque to the wheels would snap the jeep out of the spin. Her heart again thundered in her ears, drowning out everything.
The powered wheels spun, losing even more traction as the jeep slid off the road and as the sideways wheels struck a ditch at the side of the road they caught hold and the jeep tumbled onto its side. Glass showered the cab as the passenger window burst from landing on a rock. Jody instinctively threw her hands up and covered her face. The contents of the jeep flipped and flew about. The engine stuttered and died.
Moments later Jody opened her eyes and uncovered her face, she hung to the side held in place by her seatbelt. She looked around the cab and out the now cracked windshield and the world askew seemed peaceful and calm as the snow continued to fall in the beams of the parking lights.
“FUCK!!!” Jody screamed as the realization sunk in that she had just wrecked and she was still miles from anything. She reached around and unbuckled her seatbelt, holding onto the wheel she slid down and crouched on the broken passenger window. She pulled her cell phone from inside her jacket and pressed the power button with her enormously large gloved thumb. The display glowed to life and Jody’s eyes tracked right to the signal display. Her heart sank as she saw she had no reception. Without thought she jammed the phone back into her coat before zipping back up. She looked into the minuscule back seat in hopes to find anything that would help. She found a bundled army blanket and pulled it around herself knowing anything would help. She knew she had had a box of supplies tucked away for just such a… she had pulled it out last spring when they all went camping and she wanted to take more beer. “Fuck!” this time more of a grumble than an outright scream.
In the distance the sounds of a dog howling into the night echoed quietly through the jeep, only interrupted by the soft squeak of the driver’s front wheel still spinning slowly. Jody had no idea if that was a stray dog from one of the homes up here or if it was a wolf or coyote, she swallowed hard as the fear began to build deep in her belly. Wise or not she decided she wouldn’t just sit in her overturned jeep. She pulled the handle of the driver’s side door and flung it up and open. She climbed out of the jeep and hopped down to the snow-covered road and looked to either direction. If she made her way back it would be a few hours hiking on the road. If she went forward, toward the ERC and her injured son it would likely be just as long but at least she would be able to see her son. With a nod she started walking down the road. The cold bit at her exposed skin almost instantly. She adjusted her scarf tighter and pulled the army blanket up over her head making an olive drab cloak.
As she walked along the world seemed stopped in time, the snowfall blurred into a kaleidoscopic hallucination that twisted and turned. The eerie sound of the crunching of snow under her boots as she drudged on.
Howl! This time it sounded closer. Jody looked around, nothing but the cold whiteout she had been looking at for some time. Then she heard it, the wind blowing through the trees making an odd howling sound.
“Was that it? Just the wind?” Jody asked herself out loud. She shook her head, figuring the weather was just playing tricks on her and she continued down the road, trying to keep up a good pace. If she kept moving she would stay warmer, and the faster she moved the sooner she would be in town. She concentrated on her son. She needed to get to her son.
Her boots crushed down the snow with a wet crunching sound as she plodded along. Keeping her head down to minimize the sharp pain of the freezing wind on her face. The howl of the air rushing through her hair and into her ears clouded the silence. She felt like she had been walking for hours, the thick snow slowing her progress. She forced herself to keep thinking about her son, the only way she would get through this would be to focus on the destination and not the now.
Thump! She spun around and looked back up the road where she spotted a tree branch bouncing and specifically unfettered from snow, below it a large spot of tamped down snow.
“I’m getting jumpy, I need to just walk and stop worrying about all of this.” She announced into the blizzard. She turned back to the direction she was walking and there it was. It looked like the snow was no longer falling all the way to the ground but stopping well above it, as if landing on a huge invisible creature. The silhouette came into focus quickly. A bear standing on its hind legs? Jody thought, but she was looking right through the midsection and she could see the tree line past it. The snow continued to gather and build a shape of something monstrous. Jody looked on, frozen in disbelief. The shape moved slightly as if the invisible bear stepped closer to her. Jody only stared at the unnatural accumulation of snow, until it looked back at her. A bright blue light emanated from where eyes would be. Jody’s eyes widened in retort and her breath stopped as she looked up into the flaming blue eyes of what she could only think of as the snow made into a monster. It opened a wide and horrifying smile full of cat like fangs.
Jody screamed as she turned and ran. She could hear lumbering thumps from behind her as the snow monster followed. She let the blanket cloak go and ran with everything she had. Her first thought had been to get back to her jeep, but she wasn’t sure she could make it before the snow monster caught up with her.
She chanced a look over her shoulder. Her vision bouncing up and down from her panicked gait, she only saw white but she could still hear the thumps of its footsteps. She whipped her head back facing front and saw it. Somehow the snow monster was now in front of her; moving right at her. She tried to stop but the snow-packed ice covered road made this just as difficult as it had been in her jeep. She slipped and fell awkwardly on her side, sliding a few feet as she landed. Panic gripped her mind as she crawled up on all fours and tried to scurry into the tree line. The snow monster reached her almost instantly, grabbing her by the neck and hauling her aloft. It lifted her to its own eye level. She tried to scream out again but its ice cold fingers wrapped completely around her neck, choking any scream away.
But I have to get to my son. She thought.