of town, defroster roaring, you barely noted the bank thermometer
on the town square: minus 27 degrees at 6:36. The radio weather
report warned of a deep mass of arctic air settling over the region.
The man who took your money at the Conoco station shook his head
at the register and said he wouldn't be going anywhere tonight if
he were you. You smiled. A little chill never hurt anybody with
enough fleece and a good four-wheel-drive.
But now you're
stuck. Jamming the gearshift into low, you try to muscle out of
the drift. The tires whine on ice-slicked snow as headlights dance
on the curtain of frosted firs across the road. Shoving the lever
back into park, you shoulder open the door and step from your heated
capsule. Cold slaps your naked face, squeezes tears from your eyes.
You check your
watch: 7:18. You consult your map: A thin, switchbacking line snakes
up the mountain to the penciled square that marks the cabin.
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