"Oh, for the love of..."
I could only tighten my grip around the steering wheel in frustration as my car slowed down, its engine spluttering and whining while it comes to an inevitable halt in the midst of howling winds and heavy snowstorm.
"Come on, come on..." I turned the ignition once more in the hopes that the engine will roar back to life, but the only response I got in return was a half-hearted cough from the engine. Just great, I'm officially stranded in the middle of nowhere in the blizzard.
Grabbing my winter coat from the back of the passengers' seats and putting it on, I watched as my car wipers fruitlessly swept the piling snow on my windscreen out of the way. The radio chatters on.
"...please be careful if you...of the blizzard while driving. Meteorologists...persist for the next 4 hours." the radio DJ said among the interference.
4 hours, swell. Would I freeze to death before the 4 hours are up? Even if I managed to wait out the blizzard, the amount of snow piled outside would render me impossible to drive home for the night.
I turned on my phone and opened a map application to check my current location. Oh how wonderful, my car managed to die a kilometre away from the nearest town. It'll take some effort to actually reach there in a weather this inclement, and I sighed in resignation, knowing that I'll end up cold, hungry and angry were I to wait it out. With that, I opened my car door, and instantly experienced a sharp, biting sensation of the cold wind on my face. I quickly withdrew and shut the door.
"Ok, focus, James. Remember why you bother to open the door in the first place," I the door once more, I braced myself for the painful sensation of the cold air, and began to trudge in the snow towards the direction of the nearest town. As expected the snow was knee deep in the ground, with the addition of the wind blowing more snow into my face. In addition the snowstorm blankets the presence of the sun, and with the night approaching the dark roads ahead made the path difficult to traverse.
With each step I cursed my brother Harry for inviting me to his wife's birthday party, and with each curse a pang of guilt strikes my heart; I hadn't been paying attention to the weather report over the past few days, so my predicament can only be a result of my negligence.
It shouldn't have been more than 400 metres since I first stepped out from my car - it's very hard to make an estimate when I can't even see within 10 metres ahead of me - but approximately three minutes passed when I stepped on something in the snow, causing me to slip and fall into the white cushion of frozen hell.
"Don't panic, don't panic..." I told myself as I cautiously tried to stand up once more while hoping the surrounding snow doesn't collapse on me. Turning back to the hole I made, I knelt down to look for the perpetrator of my would-be demise. A torch, encased in a thin layer of ice laid innocently on the tar road. I picked it up and examined its condition; half of the iced layer has cracked from the weight of my foot, and I gave it a shake so it sheds the rest of the ice off. Flicking the switch, I was surprised to see that it still functions well.
Feeling thankful, I carried on the path towards the town, ignoring the howling winds battering against my ears. The snowy path is still particularly difficult to trudge through, but with the roads ahead now illuminated by the light from the torch that was one worry off my chest.
A faint cry stopped me in my tracks. Had I imagined it? Even with the torch illuminating my surroundings it is still hard to make out figures past 10 metres ahead of me. I cautiously moved forward again, my ears trying to pick up other sounds aside from the howling of the winds. If this was some sort of a ghost prank the perpetrator must be feeling really brave or really stupid to pull off this stunt. Another faint cry reached my ears, this time louder and clearer than the last, originating from somewhere in my north-west direction.
"Hold on!" I yelled out and made the effort to trudge faster through the snow. Have they been waiting long? Are they in mortal peril? A flurry of questions flitted through my mind as I hurried along in the direction of the I got closer to the cry's origin, I realised that I'm walking towards the edge of a cliff. I peeked over the edge to find two boys - both who are likely no more than 17 years old - huddled around a small campfire in a platform protruding from the cliff face out of my reach.
"Mister! Oh thank god someone heard us!" one of the boys cried out."What on earth are the two of you doing down there in the middle of a blizzard?" I asked incredulously.
"We were livestreaming a video for our viewers on our channel," the other boy explained, "but then the blizzard came and knocked off our climbing equipment. Can you help us back up?"
I looked around and saw a haversack half buried in the snow. Inside the bag is a climbing rope and safety equipment. There isn't a proper surface to act as an anchor for climbing in our immediate surroundings. I turned back towards the boys who are looking expectantly at me.
"Yeah, you're on your own on this one," I called out. I turned around and carried on trudging the remainder of the distance towards the town.