500 Word Short Story
It was a sunny February day in the valley. A trip to the snowline for an afternoon of cross country skiing was the plan.
Hank Brower was an avid cross country skier. He hit the trails whenever he could.
The trip over the pass was smooth. He parked his car at the gate of an old forest service road. He had skied here before. It was a hard climb up, but the slope on the way back would make it worth his while.
He grabbed his day pack, strapped on his skies and headed into the sun. Hank had gone close to five miles when he stopped to eat his lunch. He didn't give the growing cloud cover a second thought.
The weather changed within a matter of minutes. A sudden arctic blast and heavy snow had arrived much earlier than predicted. Hank decided to head back to his car. After two miles he found himself in whiteout conditions. He could no longer see the road.
Hank decided the best thing he could do was find cover under some trees and wait out the storm. He hoped it would blow by in a couple of hours. About twenty yards off the road he found what he was looking for. A small rock ledge under some trees that shielded him from the wind and the snow.
The temperature had dropped to a bone chilling cold. Hank knew he needed to build a fire. He cleared an area and gathered what dry tinder he could find. It wasn't much. Dry wood was even more scarce. He dug in his pack for the container of waterproof matches he always carried.
A small fire soon gave a little relief from the biting cold, but the dry wood didn't last. He was soon burning wood he had tried to dry by placing it close to the fire.
The storm continued to howl as the sun began to set. It looked like he would have to spend the night. He wasn't prepared for this. His clothes weren't heavy enough and he didn't carry a sleeping bag. He had a space blanket that he wrapped around himself as best he could.
By midnight he ran out of burnable wood and the fire went out. Hank had to keep himself awake. The last thing he wanted to do was fall asleep and freeze to death. His friends knew where he was, but they wouldn't be able to get to him until the storm subsided. Being off the trail, they would never find him.
He stayed awake for hours as the storm raged on, but soon sleep overcame him.
Two days later he came to as a hound dog licked his face.
“It's a good thing you had this fire going or you'd be dead by now,” commented the rescuer.
Hank noticed the small fire and the stack of dry wood next to it.
Small eyes peered through the brush as Hank was carted away on a stretcher.
© Copyright 2019 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.