Snow Cave – New Fiction Writing by C. C. Brower
Once I got inside, that was it. No second guesses. The one time dark felt better than light.
The storm came in faster than expected. Being up on the side of that mountain left me exposed to the fickleness Mother Nature shows at times. While I was prepared for a lot, being buried under two feet of suffocating snow wasn’t something to live through and tell your children. Even if you wanted the morbid experience of it.
Trudging on through the thick powder felt little better than mud. And bitter cold instead of soggy wet. No marsh would have a wind that sucked your life out as it screamed by. But at least it didn’t stink of rot. You only smelled and tasted sour wool across your face, covered outside in ice by moist breath from within.
Some people like to say snow was a blanket. But nothing you’d ever wrap yourself in. Unless you wanted to die. The only other option was to keep moving. Moving. My feet and my staff as an extra leg. One step, then next. Move staff. Next.
My memory said there was an old mine just ahead somewhere on this overgrown and slide-filled trail. All that studying of maps while they laughed at me during their endless poker games, playing through long winter waits under weather like this. But memory wasn’t something the weather could suck out of you. Its wind screamed the snow, dirt, and leaves past and dropped visibility to if’s, not when’s. At last a darker shadow and unnatural, straight crack told me I’d found it.
When I pushed up against that old mine entrance, I realized my bad luck just got even worse. The heavy, red-rusted door had been propped open with a 6-inch wood log, someone’s leftover firewood. No telling how long ago it had been like that. Those hinges weathered and corroded. Moving a three-inch thick door made of heavy dark oak and ruddish-black cast iron worried me. The actual opening was big enough to drive a semi into. That made the job even harder as there wasn’t some sort of little jack-door for maintenance access. It was opening the entire huge span, or nothing.
This little girl had her work cut out for her. It was either get inside or literally die trying.
The wind hadn’t helped as it was pushing like some defensive lineman against everything I was trying. Squeezing through that thin 6 inch opening would have been possible in a t-shirt and jeans. I wasn’t built like some lumberjack. And the guys always commented how I was so thin I could get blown away life a leaf in the wind. But they had to close their dropped jaws when they saw this “leaf” scamper up a spotting tower faster than any of those over-built muscle-bounds could. But right now, I was also swaddled with all this insulated parka, sweaters thick and thin, insulated bib overalls, thermal long-john’s, plus my canvas rucksack with vital necessities. Nothing was coming off just to get me inside. Too damned cold for that.
So it was push, squeeze, gasp, push…
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