It was so terribly cold. Snow was falling, and it was almost dark. Elizabeth was trembling so badly that she felt like a phone set to vibrate. She breathed deep, hot breathes underneath her winter coat in the hopes that it would be enough to keep her from catching hypothermia. The snot frozen to her cheeks wasn't a good sign.
The doors to her Honda Accord had frozen shut days ago as she sat stuck on the side of the highway. "I should have left when I had the chance…." She whimpered angrily to herself.
Her's wasn't the only car trapped, about a dozen vehicles lined up behind her, entirely encased in a shell of ice, buried in who knows how many feet of snow at that point. They all had the same dumb idea, wait out the storm. It was hard to say how many of them were already dead….
Elizabeth had noticed (before her car ran out of gas, and her defrost quit working) that the minivan behind her was carrying a family with a couple young kids. Hopefully they were lucky enough to get stuck with a full tank, her Accord had died within the first few hours…. As she sat their shivering, dying, making herself as small as possible, with her arms and legs tight together in the fetal position, she regretted using the heat at all…. She could have saved it up, and used it periodically to keep herself comfortable… but now there she was, cozy for a few hours, miserable for days….
HONK! A bus at the back of the line let out, it’s driver clearly growing impatient, it wasn't like being stuck in traffic after all. Though… it was hard to tell if it was actually the driver… it’d been so long it could have been any of them, they never should have stopped…. But it could work out for everyone, Elizabeth couldn’t even use her turn signals, at least if someone heard the honking they could find them….
Elizabeth peeked out of her goose down shelter, and into the void, toward the back of the line… The bus’ headlights shone through the ice, and snow surrounding her car, they were still running… there was no doubt. "Keep honking damn it!" She yelled, kicking at her window. It was useless, there was too much snow around her, it was less like kicking glass, and more like kicking a brick wall.
The struggling actually warmed her up a bit, but as she started panting it reminded her that she only had a limited amount of air, it wouldn't be long before the cold wasn't her biggest problem anymore. What the hell am I going to do…. She thought to herself. She already felt like her skin was covered in blisters, but it she wanted to make it out of that mobile freezer she'd have to inspect every square inch of her car for something, anything that would help her make her escape. If she could manage to break a window she could burrow through the snow, and as miserable as it sounded, if she could make it about fifty yards she'd be at the bus; and if their engine was still running that meant heat, and heat at that point meant survival.
Between the fast food wrappers strewn along the passenger floorboard, and the empty back seat she didn't see much to work with. Maybe she had something in her suitcase, but that was in her trunk, so it didn't do her any good…. Her center console coñtained her registration, insurance card, a pair of finger nail clippers, a pack of gum, and a clump of old napkins. Fuck…. Her hand trembled as she reached for the glove box, she grabbed the handle, but couldn't feel it, so she tried her best to clutch it, and threw her whole body back to open it.
The sun had set, the only light in her car was the feint glow of headlights behind her. She squinted into the glove box, and made out the hotel bible she’d stolen the weekend before. Between some of its pages were polaroid pictures of her trip, her and her friends all having fun at the beach… the beach for christ’s sake! That seemed like a dream to her, the thought of getting sunburnt was fantastic, the brisk waves would’ve felt like a heated pool… At least she had the pictures to remind her of where she could have been if she hadn’t cut her trip short… if her girlfriend didn’t decide to act like such a dick….
She threw the bible onto her passenger seat; along with an unopened pack of Virginia Slims, and a bottle of mouthwash. Reaching into the back of the glove compartment she felt something metallic, and sturdy. She tried grasping it, but couldn’t find the strength all of a sudden, so she pressed her wrist down on it, and drug it out close enough for her to see.
Whatever it was, it was dark in color, blending in with the shadows. Elizabeth could just barely make out the shape… it looked, familiar? She couldn’t quite place it…. She decided that she needed to unthaw her hands to inspect it more closely, so she tucked them under her thighs and waited…. Everything was freezing cold, her hands, her pants, the driver’s seat… but after a bit it actually felt nice, warm even. In a brief couple minutes she’d remembered there was a reason she was warming her hands up, and sprung to action (as well as a half-frozen person could).
She wrapped her frail fingers around the object, feeling the subtle weight of it as she brought it closer to her face. No use, she might has well have been trying to read the bible; so she caressed the object, feeling along its smooth surface for any giveaways. It didn’t take Elizabeth long to realize that what she was holding, was a gun… “Fuck!...” She screamed, dropping it onto the passenger side floorboard. “Fucking Anna….” She stewed angrily, as she ran her hand along the inside of the glovebox, only to find there was nothing left.
Her eyes shifted back to the trash heap of a floorboard. She’d never used a gun before, but that wouldn’t matter if she could use it as hammer… it was metal after all… and metal beats glass… or snow. She bent over the center console, forcing her body to do so, it all felt like one big charlie horse. Managing to find the gun quicker than expected, she used it to press against the passenger door to get herself upright. She, and the gun returned to her cacoon, if this plan was going to work she had to warm up….
By Elizabeth’s estimation about half an hour had passed, and she was as warm as she could possibly hope to get, it was the time for action. She emerged from Fort Coat pistol in hand (holding it by the barrel). She swung it wildly at the window, leaving a couple splinter cracks, nothing to write home about. Honk! Honk! Honk! Her head whipped toward the rear windshield at the sound of the bus. “I’m coming dammit!” She shouted at the bus-load of people that couldn’t hear her.
She looked at the gun still clutched in her hands against her stomach, and then back up to her cracked window. CLICK. Elizabeth cocked back the hammer of the handgun, and pointed it shakily at the glass. "Fuck it…." She whispered, and pulled the trigger. The shot screamed, and echoed through her tiny four door prison. The window shattered into hundreds of tiny shards, and the show rushed in… it began to take on a deep red color as it buried Elizabeth in glass.
If she and her girlfriend would have been able to get through their petty argument (she couldn't even remember what it was about at that point) she wouldn't have been there, weighed down by snow, unable to move or breathe. She'd be in the sunshine somewhere, but there in that moment she thought that she could see it, it was coming for her… or maybe it was just more headlights….