Title: Ice Cold
Category: Original Fiction---General--Themes of Adventure and Friendship
Warning: There is a curse word (*gasp*)
Word Count: 1,259
Summary: Two friends race down a mountain when day turns to night and the warm sun gives way to an icy moon.
She had never been so cold in her entire life. She had been uncharacteristically unprepared for the sudden drop in temperature. She hadn’t planned on being out so late but the afternoon had gotten away from her and the sun had set an hour ago. To complicate matters, in the dark they had lost their way back to the car. She was sure they were headed in the right direction now, this downhill slope had been a challenge on the way up. She remembered being so warm then, on the hike to the top of the mountain in the brisk afternoon.
Her coat was tied around her waist and another shirt was draped over her shoulder. Her pale arms were exposed to the bright afternoon sun as she raced her companion to the top of the mountain. Near the top they found a balding meadow that beckoned them to relax before finishing their hike. She lay in the cool grass staring up at the imperfectly blue sky as clouds passed in and out of her eyesight. Everything seemed so pure and natural. The peaceful moment with present company lulled her to sleep. He must have fallen asleep too, because when he woke her, the sun was setting, giving the horizon an eerie red and orange hue like the sun was bleeding into the sky.
That seemed so long ago now, an antithesis to what she felt now. She looked at her bare hands afraid to flex her fingers in fear they might snap off in the cold air. She looked around as they carefully made their way down the hill. She was sure they still had at least a half hour to go before they reached the bottom. She wanted to go faster but she could feel the cold affect her muscles and joints, it was getting harder to move them at will. She couldn’t tell if he was being affected by the cold, and he wouldn’t tell her if he was. They moved silently down, both aware of the unique dangers that presented themselves if they stayed outdoors much longer. She was a couple of steps ahead leading the way when all of a sudden, and she wasn’t sure how, the ground was no longer beneath her feet. Instead, the ground was under her chest and face, she screeched in pain only noticing the impact on her upper body. As she struggled to straighten up she noticed the real pain was in her ankle, which she now realized was most likely what caused her fall.
“Shit,” she cursed as she slowly pulled her leg in front of her. She felt like her hands possessed the size and dexterity of bowling balls as she tried to feel her ankle without exposing her leg to the freezing night air. It was a fruitless attempt to detect the problem, all she could feel was pain and cold. She noticed her companion hovering behind her uncertainly.
“Can you walk on it?” he asked gravely, extending his hand, which she could hardly feel in hers
“Let’s see,” she replied gingerly as she rose to her feet. She could stand, that was a start. He let go as she tested her ankle. A few short steps proved to be painful but not impossible, and it would be an impressible burden on their already cold and harrowing journey.
“It’s going to be slow,” she apologized, placing her hands back in her coat pockets making a futile effort to restore warmth and feeling.
“Are you okay?” he asked. Despite the dark, she could see the worry in his sage eyes.
“I’m alright, hopefully it stays that way for a little while longer,” she smiled trying to reassure herself as well as him.
“If I help you it might be faster,” he offered and she took his arm gratefully. They continued down the mountain in eerie silence. The stories of frozen dead hikers started to fill her uneasy mind and she kept praying that would not be her fate. Minutes seemed to take hours, and her legs were becoming more and more worthless as the cold ate away at her muscles and joints. She now concentrated solely on getting down the mountain; on every step she took she was conscious of every movement in her body. This seemed to help momentarily, until her mind wandered ahead to the car, with the heating and blankets. She could go home soon to her bed and sleep sounded so good all of a sudden, almost better than warmth.
Suddenly he stopped and she almost stumbled unexpectedly, but he caught her. “Let me carry you,” he insisted, “I can go faster, you’re getting slower and we can’t be out here much longer.”
She looked at him skeptically, “You can’t carry me, I’m too big, and I’ll slow you down.”
He looked hurt for a moment before he swept his arm under her legs whisking her off her feet, “I’ll be fine.” She grinned foolishly in spite of herself; it was something she thought only happened in movies.
“I saw that,” he scolded, fighting back a smile himself. As it turns out, she had been wrong, and he was able to pick up the pace from her slow stumbling, despite her extra weight.
Despite the less direct pain in her ankle, being carried did little to ease the discomfort of their situation. It was still freezing, she was still tired, and now she was being a burden added to his discomfort. She pushed away the thoughts of frozen hikers and warm fires and focused instead on how to make herself as light as possible to carry. She studied his face for a moment, which she couldn’t resist looking at, seeing as how it was always in her range of vision now. She noted his deep deliberation and discipline and looked away not wanting to break his concentration. This unlikely thinking allowed the time to pass more quickly than it had been before.
She breathed a sigh of relief as the parking lot and her beautiful car came into sight. As he walked up to the car there was an awkward pause.
“You can put me down now,” she chided playfully, anxious to get out of the frigid air.
“I think I’m frozen to you,” he replied strangely.
They stared at each other for a long minute. Her mind was groggy, in another lifetime and with different people it might have been romantic, somehow. His frozen lips touched hers and it felt strange like she was kissing an icy rock face, in attempt to improve upon the moment she tried to kiss him back but her lips were like marble trying to kiss granite. It was all wrong, and if she could feel anything other than her throbbing ankle and freezing body it might have made her sad. She pulled away and smiled anyway, even if he couldn’t be romantic, he was heroic and that was enough for tonight.
As they finally settled into the car she reflected on how quickly the day had turned to night and the warmth had transformed into freeze. How could she have prepared for such a change? As her mind stretched further she wondered what she would have done if he hadn’t been there. Would she have made it down the mountain by herself? One of those questions that would never be answered, she would just have to be content with the knowledge that she did make it down, with him, and together they survived the change.