One glance at the sky told me there will be more snow this evening. This winter has been longer than usual. I knew that even though I have lost track about time since I moved to live on that mountain. Away from cities. Away from the stressful way of life. From people hurrying to catch with whatever has left from their lives. From nervous people. From people in general…
I wanted to be left alone and it was fine to live here.
The nearest town is about 70km away and frankly, it looked more like a village than a town. The most important thing for me was that I could arrange to have food and necessities supplied directly to my log cabin once in every three months. The supplier was an middle aged man, wrinckled face, almost bald; hands always greasy from machine oil. He never asked too much questions and it was fine with me. I never asked any questiones. At all…
Since I have lost interest about time, the only way to count it, were his visits. I knew a year has gone after every 4 visits and there were 11 of them since I retreated to my shelter. And he was never late, I knew that by the receipts I signed, always a tenth day of a month, with three months in betweeen.
His last visit was in January, by a date on the receipt, and even though I didn’t have any calendar in my cabin, the amount of food left in my larder was dangerously low at the moment. So I knew he was late. I thought it may be because of snow, there has been a lot of it this winter and even though spring was always late in these mountains and it was usual to see it on peaks even in May, this time clouds seemed to bring some more soon. And it was very cold, freezing, well below zero. With a wind blowing day and night, whistling through tree trunks.
I was rarely hunting, I had enough food and it was not necessary; now I started to observe egde of a wood, the place where boars and roe deers sometimes visited, watching toward my cabin. But it has been some time since I saw them.
When my only food left were few cans with meet and fish and three half dried apples, I realised it was a time to take some action. Wrinckled face didn’t come and there were no deers in sight; soon I will start to starve and snow was still persistent. It was falling for over a week now, actually all I can remember for a last few months were only gray days with snow and wind. No sun at all.
I took all of my food and a riffle – maybe I will be lucky with hunting – and decided to go to the city. It would take 2 days in a normal weather, so I guessed I would need probably 4 days to reach it – about enough time with the food I have left with. And because of snow, I decided to go to highway, hopefully I could find a ride there.
Locked the door and looked around – everything white except the line of a dark wood. Damned snow…
It was not that hard walking through wood, there were a lot of snow between trees but not too deep. When it became dark enough, I made a shelter and spent the night half sleeping in my sleeping bag. With a first sign of a dawn I ate some food and packed a bag in backpack. I was shaking, my hands stiff, but walking warmed me a bit.
The real trouble started when I left wood and started to walk across the plains. Snow was very deep and I needed to rest after every hundred meters or so. I was sweating despite cold wind, breathing hard, pain in my legs. On the end of a second day, I made a shelter in a snow, tired as hell. Fall asleep immediately, without a dinner.
Woke up early, my muscles stiffed and painful, hardly been able to eat something. My lips covered with wounds from a wind. For a first time a thought crossed my mind that this was maybe a mistake. That I should stayed at my cabin no matter what. I dislodged thoughts of doubt; there would be no point of staying there, I would be sorry if I didn’t try this. Anyway, highway should be close now and someone will help me there.
After few hours I thought that I was lost. According to map and compass I should see highway and cars by now. Felt a short panic attack but got a grip on myself. I am not wrong. I followed a map thoroughly and soon I will be on a highway. I lost senses on my feet and moved further with only one thought in mind – to survive. Wind, very strong out there in the open, pushed me severeal times down in a deep snow.
I would miss it if there was no red letters on that truck, one of those big road cruisers. I almost ran toward it, hoping to find a driver and ask for help. Fall several times on a face; this is why I didn’t notice there was no one there. Until I stood beside it. And saw a line of smaller shapes; cars covered with a thick layer of snow. It was a highway, no doubt, but if there were no cars I would probably miss it. I climbed on top of one of it and looked around. There were two lines of odd shapes; cars jammed one close to the other, covered with snow and ice, abandoned. What happened? Jumped down by the car I was standing on and cleaned a snow; there was no one in it. I guessed they were all rescued after the storm started. Well, I will have to walk again. But at least now I was sure where a town was, even though it was impossible to see more than a fifty meters away. Wind renewed its strength and I prowled my neck deeper in a jacket. Ok, soon I will be in safety…
Cars were jammed all the way and I needed often to climb over them. This was how I discovered first body. I slipped and tried to hold on something; my arm removed some snow from a windshield and I saw a driver, still fastened with a seat belt. I was looking at him in a shock, then jumped by the passenger door and opened it. He was dead, frozen and his hands on a wheel, holding it like in agony. Newspapers on a seat beside him, with a big black letters across cover page: DISASTER. Damned newspapers; they would print whatever in order to increase a sale. Then I saw something, printed by the upper corner of a page, with a small font, so usual for that kind of information. My blood froze and I felt short of breath.
It was a date…
I couldn’t remember the rest of that day clearly. I opened few more cars just to discover more bodies. Sometimes whole families. With a same expression on their frozen faces; hugging kids; holding each other’s hands….
In Thursday, July 27th, 2017, I discovered I was finaly left alone in a world very cold…