“Damn it!” It’s snowing so hard I can barely see beyond the windshield. The wipers are practically useless at this point. Where the hell did this snow come from? It was bright and sunny when I woke up this morning, and just a little cloudy when I left to make the trek to my parents’. I hadn’t heard a thing about snow. I might not have grown up here but I know a “snow sky” when I see one. There wasn’t an inkling. Now this. I’ve been struggling to so much as inch up the road for the past hour, and I know I’m not that far from town. It started snowing minutes after I left and before I knew it I was slipping and sliding. The snow was piling up fast, the winds whipping it around and nearly knocking me off the road more than once. I have to turn around. This is hopeless. I thought I might be able to drive through the storm and get to the other side, but no such luck. Holidays or no holidays, it’s just not happening today. I’ll have to try again tomorrow. But I can’t see. I can’t freaking see anything. I’d happily turn around if I could so much as see the road. I haven’t even been passed by another car for miles. They must have all caught the weather report I missed. I slow down, hoping to make a U-turn, but all I do slide. I don’t have the traction. What the hell am I supposed to do? “Fuck!” I scream, pounding on the wheel. This is just my luck. Why are things like this always happening to me? I’m not a bad person. I have to pull over. That’s all there is to it. I’m not making any progress. I also realize, to my horror, that the car’s running out of gas. Fast. Shit! There had been half a tank when I left the house, figuring on stopping once I was on the road of course. Now there’s less than a quarter. And I have no idea where I am or where the next station comes in. I slow down, hoping to slide far enough off the road so as to avoid passing cars and plow trucks. I can just imagine being plowed in on top of this. Damn, damn, damn! Now what? I’m completely unprepared for this. I know I’m supposed to have a winter survival kit in my car. I always hear about it on the news. Blankets, water, flashlight, batteries, a radio, flares. I’m not even wearing snow boots or a decent pair of gloves. Christina, you’re an idiot. I might as well curl up in the back seat and try to wait this out. There’s enough gas to get me to the next station, I’m sure. I just can’t make it while there’s a blizzard going on outside. It can’t last forever. I check my phone, realizing my parents will be flipping out before long. I’m only around two hours away from them, so once that amount of time passes and they don’t hear from me they’re going to lose their minds. Of course, in keeping with the rest of the day, my phone has no signal. Could this get any worse? Now I’m getting colder by the minute and worried about my parents. They’re going to be so upset when they don’t hear from me. But then…what about me? What happens if I’m snowed under? What happens if I can’t open the car doors by the time it stops? What if I freeze to death in this damned Corolla? Okay, Christina. Deep breaths. I run my hands through my long, dark hair, smoothing it down to calm myself a bit. No need to lose my cool. This will be okay. Things like this happen all the time, I’m sure. It’s not like I’m naked. I’m wearing perfectly warm clothes and while my boots aren’t made for snow they’re warm enough. My coat’s warm, too. I’ll be okay. I lean back against the seat, thinking that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to take a nap. At least then I won’t feel so cold anymore. I check the time—it’s a little after eleven in the morning. I set the alarm on the phone for one hour. That won’t be too long. I won’t freeze up. And hopefully by then the storm will have passed and I’ll be on my way. I close my eyes…only to have them fly open when I hear a heavy pounding on windshield. What the hell is this? I sit up, groggy. How can I be groggy when I just fell asleep? Wait—it’s darker outside. And much snowier. What’s happening? I pick up my phone…which is now dead. Oh my fucking god the battery died. How long have I been asleep, anyway? “Hey!” I call out to whomever it is outside the car. “Help!” I realize in the back of my mind that this person, whoever they are, could be a murderer. But I might have slept my way into oblivion if it wasn’t for them, too. The inside of the car is beyond freezing, and my teeth are chattering. If only I didn’t feel so groggy. I see sheets of snow falling from the exterior of the car and realize I was nearly snowed in. Holy shit. This person is my new superhero, whoever they are. I see a dark figure looming outside the car, beside the driver’s side door. I lean forward to unlock it and watch as it opens. An absolutely immense figure in a black hooded parka slides behind the wheel. I can’t see their face, a heavy scarf covering most of it. “How long have you been here?” The voice is deep, resonant. Of course it’s a man; otherwise I’d be dealing with the biggest woman I’d ever known. “Since around eleven this morning. What time is it now?” “Way after eleven,” he replies, his voice grim. “I don’t want to alarm you, but you wouldn’t have lasted much longer out here. It’s a miracle I even saw you from my window.” “Your window? Do you live around here?” “Not far. Less than a quarter mile off the road. The wind died down for a little while and your car stood out against the snow.” Thank god I went with red, I think. “You’re nearly out of gas.” “Yes, I know. I was going to stop along the way. I didn’t count on fighting my way down the road in this mess for hours.” “Do you even watch the news? They’ve been talking about this storm for days.” “They have?” I’ve been so busy at work, I completely missed the alerts. I don’t like the snotty tone in his voice, either. Whether or not he’d saved my life, he didn’t need to talk to me like some sort of idiot. I was doing a good enough job of talking to myself that way as it was. “Listen. If you stay out here, you’ll freeze to death. Do you even have a blanket?” I shake my head, feeling lame. He sighs, the exasperated sound of a put-upon parent with a willful child. “I’ll take you back to my house. It’s not far, you’ll be able to walk it. I can’t in good conscience leave you out here.” To his house? I don’t know who this guy is. He could be a cousin to Leatherface or something. Maybe this is his thing, waiting for storms to roll through so he can lure young girls to his house for God only knows what. He sees me hesitating and naturally knows why. “We can’t spend too much time before you decide whether or not I’m a serial killer. It’s fucking cold as a witch’s tit in here, and getting worse. You’re not dressed for this. Either come with me or don’t. Keep in mind the roads are impassable, and the car was nearly buried when I found you.” I know I don’t have a choice. It really is a matter of following him to his house of potential horrors or die out here. Neither is looking better than the other right now, but at least there’s a chance he’s not a murderer. I have no chance out here. “Okay,” I reply, throwing my useless phone into my purse. “Lead the way.” I only hope I don’t live to regret this.