New story. I've started this in a stream of consciousness, first-person perspective, present tense...so that may seem odd at first. Hope you still enjoy! Table of Contents
Whitlash - Chapter 1
Day three of the power outtage. Day three bedding down in a quilted nest of sleeping bags and blankets in front of the fireplace. Day three of shrugging off expiration dates and convincing myself that al dente lentils wouldn't be so bad. In what feels like a bad sharknado spin-off, it has snowed for 8 of the last 10 days—which means I'm 30% convinced that an abominable snow shark has migrated from the Canadian coastal hinterlands and is swimming through frozen white waves inland. It's going to come breaching up out of the banks and squash my (less-idyllic-than-one-might-imagine) glorified cabin here in Whitlash, MT.
Whitlash is technically the address – but honestly, I can't get mail here. With a buzzing population of 39 (provided that old Donaldson hasn't kicked the bucket, and Tina hasn't popped out her twins yet), one could say I'm fairly ice-solated. Seriously, I haven't seen another soul in weeks, and these puns are getting worse by the day. SEND HELP AND OREOS.
Touting the nearest gas station (a brand spanking old Chevron) about an hour west as the crow flies, my bi-weekly treks into Sunburst are about as social as I get these days. So what am I doing holed up like a hermit in one of the worst snowstorms of the last decade? That's a good question. I have no idea. SIKE – jk, lol, I'm getting paid. Kinda paid. The IRS thinks I'm getting paid, but you could've fooled me. I'm a wildlife conservation specialist. IE – I chase off out-of-season hunters, troll around checking fishing licenses, and look awesome in khaki. Jk, lol again – no one looks good in khaki pants. For the mean time (while the weather full out blitzes), I'm a book-reading, blanket snuggling, color to paper person. Calling myself an artist sounds way too pretentious for what I do. Essentially, all my non-work clothes are paint-stained palettes. It passes the time.
*Yawns* Right. Bedtime. About that.
Bedtime is an elaborate effort of thawing water reserves, currently stationed in a mini army of filled milk jugs, and trying to squeeze out frozen tooth paste. Maybe it would make more sense to use scissors and cut the frozen lump of crest into pre-portioned nightly doses. *shrugs* With no one to judge my unruly hair and bare face, dental hygiene is all the pride I have left.
Everything outside a 15 foot radius of the fireplace has frozen or is permafrosty since the snow took out the power lines. For the first 2 days, I panicked about a pipe bursting. Day 3---no burst pipes. Knock on wood, cross your toes, and throw salt over both your shoulders. Now there's nothing to do but bunker down and try to dodge nightmares about The Jolly Green Giant...again. Too many canned green beans. Yep, that's what my body is telling me. Eyes close. Brain settle.
Five more minutes....wait, what the hell...?
Sharksnodo –is that you? Oh crimany. I just knew this would happen! All those animal behavior science classes be darned. I'm going to mauled to death by a physics defying, razor toothed fish! How did I ever get employed...
….maybe if I pull up the blankets over my head and sing Shakira songs REALLY loudly, the thing will go away.
Okay. That's it. I'm up, I'm up!
Crap, crap, crap the floor is coldest! Lousy roof better not be collapsing. I don't know how many feet of snow are up there now, but being turned into hashbrowns by a splintering, life-sized lincoln log would be hella inconvenient. Mm hash browns. Maybe I can get hashbrowns when I....
….Thump --- eeeeeyaaaa
Ummm, so temporal lobe---in your expert opinion was that sound animal, vegetable, or mineral? It sounded almost human...and even if it were animal, I'm pretty much contractually obligated to investigate. Why couldn't this assignment have been in Louisiana? I bet no one gets frostbite in Louisiana.
Dearest left boot, olly olly oxen free. I can see about as well as a shrew mole in here. At least the fire is still glowing enough to find the door. Probably.
The frosty door knob sticks to my palm, and to be honest, I'm shaking badly enough that unlocking becomes a complex operation. The metal portal to all-things-winter complains about opening, but from the widening windy gap to the outside world, all I can see is blackness.
Huh, pranksters pelting my door with snowballs? That would explain the thumping...and the snowy door...but not how a group of punks schlepped it out here in a blizzard. Too late for Mischief Night, too early for April fools.
“H-hello?...A-any-one out here? You...b-better watch out. I took karate w-when I was like 10 so, so whatever you are, you'd bes..”
“Hey, who's there? I hear you, but you can drop the ghost act because Bill Murry is probably like my second uncle thrice removed or something. That makes me a ghost buster by association, and you don't want to...”
My eyes are swimming wildly in the darkness. There's nothing to latch onto in the black, so I take a step forward into the crunch of the snow. Another step. I think my vision must be adjusting because the pine trees up ahead are looming like cloaked giants. It's been a whopping 30 seconds and teeth are already chattering around inside my mouth. The clacking of pearly whites is loud enough to make me feel like a wind-up monkey skittering awkwardly forward in the snow. The voice had sounded weak, but I wish it would pipe up again so my ears could lock in.
“Hey out there. I take it back about the karate. Are you okay? Where are you?”
The voice sounds strangled---the word twisting into a gurgle at the end. If I'm actually dreaming about The Jolly Green giant again, I can tell you – he's not terribly articulate or loquacious. Oddly enough, in the dead of night with whisking winds cutting through, the locator 'here' is totally unhelpful.
“Here where? You've gotta help me help you, okay? An incessant duck quack or—better yet-- chirping like a low battery firealarm would be really gre...”
And then I see. One word bubbles to my lips, and I cannot swallow it. Sorry in advance, mom.