The whole family had waited with great impatience for weeks to go skiing, even the twins, who were generally stay indoors and dress up girls. The place to which they were now driving was a beautiful, big chalet. The picture of the place on the website, and its very close proximity to the ski hills had completely charmed them all. What’s more, they would have the chalet all to themselves the weekend they were going there. They could light a fire in the open-mouth of the large fireplace, and no one would complain of the smoke that issued out, except maybe the twins.
It took them a while on their long-anticipated drive to notice that the closer that they got to the chalet, the heavier it was snowing. What they hadn’t known was that it had been snowing there all that week on the mountains and the snow level was getting dangerously high on the slopes. This was quite unlike the recent weather in the small town where the family lived. There had only been a few short flurries, enough to cover the ground, but insufficient to make a decent-sized snowman.
The driving conditions were getting worse in the last stretch before they arrived. But there was no complaint from dad, who was imagining how good the hills would be for his favourite sport, presenting an opportunity for him to show off his skiing skills to the kids, and maybe even his wife.
When they arrived at the chalet, dad fetched the key to the building. As per instructions from the owners, he found it hung on a hook in the shed that stood a short distance in front of the chalet. In the shed as well were tools they might need to use while they were staying there. That included several shovels, big and small, for clearing off any snow that would fall on the front porch and on the driveway in front and back of the car. There was also an axe to be used to cut up the wood in the shed to burn in the large fireplace that had sparked their imagination on the website
After dad unlocked and opened the double front door to the chalet, the whole family rushed in. There was mom Shirley, then dad Ross, sixteen-year-old daredevil Jonathan, their son, slightly crazy Uncle Jack, mom’s older and unmarried brother, and the twin 10-year-old girls, Lisa and Louise.
They were not disappointed in what they saw. It looked inside just like the video they had watched so intently on-line. They all felt at that moment that they were going to have a really good time on the hills and in the chalet.
Jonathan was so excited, that, as soon as he put his stuff in the bedroom he claimed for his own use, he went running outside to “get a good look at the hills”. No one thought to stop him, even though there was limited visibility with the snow coming down. They were just happy for his excitement. He would probably be the first to ski down the hills.
A Sound A Lot Like Thunder
Jonathan had only been outside for perhaps twenty minutes or so when the family members inside heard a sound that was a lot like thunder. It couldn’t be thunder of course, not in the cold of winter. As a dutiful uncle, Jack ran to the back of the chalet to look out the large window that was about 30 or 40 paces from the bottom of the slopes.
He then saw what he dreaded that he would see – an avalanche. A tumbling wave of snow was coming down the hill, closer, closer to the chalet. He backed up in alarm as the snow covered the back porch and made seeing outside the window impossible.
Jack then went to where the others were standing still in the living room. “There’s an avalanche coming towards us.” There was silence at first. The twin girls, dressed not for the outside but more for some kind of party, blue dresses and long white socks, stood close to each other, holding each other’s hand. They often sought each other’s support
Mom’s first expressed thought was for son Jonathan. She had long worried about him when he went out on his own, like when he used to ride his squeaky tricycle here and there on sidewalks and across roads in town. “What about Jonathan? He is still outside.” Jack quickly replied, “I’ll go find him. He can’t be too far away.” Before anyone could caution him, he put on his coat and mittens, and went out with some difficulty the double front doors. He had to push hard, as there was already a lot of snow now on the front porch, and the outer door, which only moves outwards, had been stuck.
They Stayed Waiting
The family stayed waiting, not so much worried about their own precarious position, but about what might have happened to Jonathan and Jack. One hour they waited, and then two. At the end of the second hour plus a few minutes the power went off. Using the light provided by his cell phone, Ross, the father, searched out the drawer where there were matches, lit up some old tourist magazines from the 1980s, and dropped them into the small pile of wood in the fireplace. At least they could be a little warmer now, with a brighter light so that they could see each other.
Ross decided that he should go outside to “check up on Jonathan and Jack.” However, when he tried to push open the inner front door, it would not budge. His response to that was not to give up, but to check the two other doors, side and back. But they too where immovable, like an old man in an argument about who was the best hockey player of all time. Ross sat down, looking and feeling defeated.
Shirley asked what they were all wondering about, “What are we going to do now?” to which she added, “And what about Jonathan and Jack?” There was no answer to either question.
Then they heard some strange loud sounds – a kind of banging at first and then a smashing and splintering. All eyes were on the front door. Soon they saw an axe blade come part way through the inner front door, near the top. A few blows later and they saw Jack’s face through the hole. Another axe blow, a bigger space, and a younger face appeared all the way through the larger hole now in the door. And Jack yelled out, “Here’s Johnny.” Everyone laughed.