Cabin Bear Heat Box Set(9)By: Bella Love-Wins
“What the hell?” Barb reacted first. “You mean we have to walk? Fuck. Serves us right for listening to Ruth.”
“But I was so sure it was around here…” Ruth trailed off, looking out the window as if to recalibrate her bearings.
Trina let out a short whimper and leaned her head on John’s shoulder. “We’re all gonna die of hypothermia. I just know it.”
Panic was swirling and about to rear its head, so Abby knew she had to take control. “Look, I don’t want to scare anyone, but here is the plan we should consider. First, let’s all find our phones and see if one of us can get through to 911.”
One by one, they reached into their pockets or purses, and tried. None of them got a signal.
“No luck,” Rob said, looking back at everyone frantically trying and retrying their phones. “Not that they would be able to do anything. They probably don’t send emergency vehicles out in this, and even if they did, we may not be the only ones who need help.”
“Understood, and we needed to explore this option first,” Abby said calmly. “What this means is, we need to find shelter somewhere nearby.”
“Can’t we wait until morning?” Ruth asked. “Maybe by then we’ll get some help.”
“We can’t stay in the car, Ruth,” Rob answered. “We can’t keep it running, and we can’t stay in it overnight without heat.”
“Let me finish, everyone,” Abby commanded.
Her tone was firm, but respectful. She had practiced that tone when working with patients during her undergraduate nursing clinicals. There were times it was necessary to be firm, and this was turning into one of those times.
“What we’ll do first is put on all the breathable layers of clothes that we have. The layers will keep us dry and warm. We need to cover as much as possible, so if you have extra gloves, scarves, hats, winter boots, anything to cover up, then put them on. Next, we’re better off walking back where we came from. The SUV tire tracks may still be visible, and that will keep us on the road. If anyone searches for us, they’ll probably be coming from that direction too.”
No one disagreed or spoke up, so she continued.
“I believe we had passed the Lake Tahoe main access road about a half mile back. There’s got to be some people there, and if it comes down to it, we can try to access one of the vacant summer cottages there. Last thing. We need to stick together. So we need to all agree to this one plan to make it through until we get help. Is everyone with me?”
Everyone nodded at various levels of enthusiasm. That was enough for Abby, so she turned to Rob.
“It’s good you brought some of your moving boxes, after all. Check them to see what else you have that we can use. Extra clothes, blankets, camping gear, lighters, food, water, anything we can use for heat or emergency shelter tonight, and to keep from starving or getting too dehydrated.”
“Good idea,” Rob agreed.
Abby continued. “If anyone has food in your bags or purses, let’s take that with us.”
“I’ll help you, Rob,” John said. He kissed Trina and tapped on Ruth’s shoulder. “Hey, let me out from your side.”
“Wait,” Abby continued. “Rob, you and John will need to unload all the boxes. My dad put some emergency supplies in the wheel well under the cargo area. They will come in handy. Trina, come sit up front or beside Ruth and Barb. That way, those boxes and luggage can go in the back seat and we won’t have double the work unloading and reloading.”
The ladies quietly searched through their bags passed forward from the back, and began dressing in what they could find. The tone was somber, but as they all had something to do, they seemed more focused and calmer. Eventually, they were all cladded in layers upon layers of clothes and winter gear, and the men had emptied a large backpack and a gym bag to put in all the camping items, food, and tools that might help if they needed to sleep outside.
When it was time to go, Abby made them load up in the SUV to warm up one more time.
“Are you sure the snow plows won’t pass here soon?” Ruth asked.
Rob answered her this time. “We’ve been stuck here for at least twenty minutes, and drove through the snow for over an hour. Not one vehicle, police car, or plow. We’ve got to go with Abby’s plan, Ruth.”
“Okay, let’s go, everyone,” Abby called out as Rob turned off the engine for the last time. “Wait. One second, guys.” She pressed on the car horn and kept her hand fixed on it for almost a minute.
“Why’d you do that?” Barb asked, holding her hand to her ears to block out the sound.
“If anyone lives around here, they may hear it and come looking for us. That reminds me. Rob, there’s a whistle in the glove box. Let’s take it with us.”
With that, they left the warm SUV and headed into the bitter cold of the blizzard.
* * *
“Ouch!” Abby exclaimed, about ninety minutes into their walk. By then, they were all exhausted, near frozen, and beginning to get hungry. Abby was right—the main road to access Lake Tahoe was less than a mile back—however it had taken them an hour to get to it. As they turned onto the main road, the wrath of the storm worsened. The road elevation descended slowly and that was to be expected—they were getting closer to the lake. Walking through the driving, blinding, lake-effects snow, however, had slowed them down and worn them out. It didn’t help that the intermittent blowing of the whistle had not garnered any attention. And now this.