It’s 2pm on a Friday in February and the clouds have that bruised look that can only mean one thing. Snow. Everyone is getting jittery as they don’t want to be snowed in at work at the start of the weekend. You can almost hear what’s on everyone’s mind, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home” and the relief is palpable when we’re let out of work two hours early. There’s a polite stampede and no-one asks what their colleagues are up to this weekend. No need as it will be the same for everyone; keep warm, stockpile food and hope the electric doesn’t go off so that you can catch up with the latest must-see boxset. I’m on True Blood season three but Sue, who sits opposite me, has just started Breaking Bad and has been raving about it all week.
I dash out to my grubby white Peugeot 107, hugging my not-quite-thick-enough coat around me, shout a hurried, “Drive safe” to anyone within earshot and get in, just as the first thick snowflakes hit the windscreen. I’m running low on fuel but decide I have enough to get home and doubt I’ll need the car until Monday. I’m just about to start the engine when my mobile rings. “Hey Gran, what’s up?”
“Oh Kerry love, could you come round when you finish work? The pilot light’s gone out on my boiler and I’ve no hot water. I’ve tried to relight it but the button’s too stiff and I can’t be lifting pans with my arthritis.”
I suppress a sigh and the image of a brooding Erik Northman, which was going to sustain me until I got home, evaporates, “Sure Gran, I’ll be there as quick as I can.”
A few flakes quickly become a flurry then escalates to blizzard conditions within ten minutes. I have a choice and can either take the high road over the moors or go the long way round and add another three quarters of an hour to my journey. I decide to risk it and point my little car towards the lesser travelled road.
Things don’t start too badly but as the snow settles, the tyres begin to lose grip and I slow to a crawl to avoid sliding all over the road. I struggle to keep the car from running away with me as I descend the moors, lose control and end up in a ditch. Luckily I wasn’t going fast enough for the airbag to go off but I’m a bit shaken and the car is half on its side in a fairly deep gully. I check my mobile but there’s not even an emergency signal.
At least the engine’s still running so I turn down the heater to try and conserve what little fuel I have left. Snow soon settles on the windscreen and the inside of the car becomes darker as the light quickly fades outside. How long will it take Gran to call for help when I don’t show up? I’m always late so she’ll probably leave it a while but then they still have to find me.
The lights on the dashboard glow orange and the fuel gauge is well into the red so I must be running on fumes. My stomach starts to growl and I rummage in my handbag for my emergency Twix but it’s not there. I must have got peckish one morning and forgotten to replace it. I find some cough sweets at the bottom of my bag, pick off the fluff as best I can and pop one in my mouth.
The car starts to cough and splutter which goes on for a while then with a final hiccup, the engine dies. At first the silence is complete, then I hear the wind whistling from outside. Any residual heat quickly dissipates and I start to shiver, wishing I’d chosen a more practical winter coat. My fingers are warm enough, gloved and jammed under each armpit, but I can’t feel my toes. I’m wearing heels, not stupidly high but not exactly practical for walking through snow drifts.
My teeth won’t stop chattering and it’s getting on my nerves. Every exposed bit of skin is tingling from the cold and my feet are numb. I read somewhere that freezing to death is not an unpleasant way to go as your body slowly shuts down and you don’t feel a thing.
Much later, don’t know what time. Everything’s numb, no energy. Can’t keep eyes open. Just a little sleep ‘til help comes.