Miranda Kate’s Picture Choice: 1
Title: Into the Mountains
They left the town and pushed deep into the mountains, getting further than Daniels thought they would before hitting their first road block. It looked like there’d been a small avalanche, and it looked reasonably fresh.
Daniels got out of the truck and surveyed it. Roderick joined him.
“Do you think we can dig through?”
Daniels sighed. “We’re gonna have to try.” He looked up at the side of the mountain. “But I don’t want to start digging if more is gonna fall, what do you reckon?”
Roderick following his gaze. “I can’t see where this lot came from to be honest. The mountain slopes back quite far, I don’t see much overhang. Are they common up here?”
Daniels pulled a face. “They’re not unheard of, it all depends on how the snow falls, and what type of snow, get the wrong type of layering with powder and wet and it can slide easy enough. Just usually goes on over.”
They both turned to the drop off, which was a few meters from the trucks. It was reasonably sheer.
“Maybe it was a slow build, not just one fall.” Roderick observed.
“Maybe…” Daniels wasn’t sure. He hadn’t seen a road block like this before, not on this side of the mountain, but then it had been a while since he’d tried to reach the cabin in snow. Plus no one had travelled through this way for months, so no one had been clearing what had fallen. Maybe Roderick was right.
Hanson and Harris had joined them by this point.
“Do ya reckon there’s more than just snow under that lot?” Harris voiced what had been whispering at the back of Daniels’ mind.
Roderick looked at Daniels. “Hadn’t thought of that, what do you reckon Wes?”
“Thought crossed my mind, but we won’t know till we start digging.”
They returned to the trucks and pulled out shovels. The rest of the group joined them, except for the children who stayed warm in the trucks under Pansy’s watchful eye.
They worked in a line shovelling almost in unison. There wasn’t enough energy for conversation as well, so the only sounds were the winter wildlife. At one point they were being observed by a group of foxes. Daniels kept them in check, but they made no attempt to approach. Maybe the lack of human movement over the last few months had returned them to their feral state causing them to be wary. But it reassured Daniels there’d be plenty to hunt once they got settled up in the cabin.
After almost two hours a scraping sound coming from Steve’s shovel indicated Harris’ suspicions were correct. Daniels expected to find rock, but this had a metallic ring to it. They all joined Steve and started digging round the area until Hanson’s blade hit something softer – rubber – a tyre.
Then they heard it; a shuffling sound.
They could see the snow shake and fall a little in response to the movement from inside the vehicle. The group unconsciously took a step back, looking at each other with a mixture of surprise and fear. There was no voice either; no one shouting for help or making any calling sounds, a sure indicator of something they all feared encountering – an infected person.
“Shall we dig any further?” Steve was the closest to the vehicle.
“We’ve got to, we don’t know for sure.” Abby was standing next to him.
“‘Course we do, no one living would last this long out in these temperatures.” Harris spoke the truth none of them wanted to voice.
“We’ve got to, because we’ve gotta move it out of our way anyways.” Daniels was the voice of reason as usual.
They all stepped forward again as one, circling the mound that they now could see was a vehicle and started digging it out. It was a small sedan not built for mountain driving, but someone had been keen to get out of town.
The snow fell away from the frost encrusted windows, which only revealed a dark shape inside the car. Once more light filtered in, it started to strike the windows at the movement outside, eventually pushing its face up against the glass. The bright iridescent blue of the infected eyes shone through, confirming that there was no one to be saved inside.
“Let’s clear the snow by the drop off, so we can push it over,” Daniels called out.
They had all paused in their shovelling, mesmerised by the glow of the eyes inside the car, but his words brought them back and they started to clear the road next to the car and by the drop off. With ten of them working it took no more than half an hour, and soon they were all lined up against the mountain side of the car ready to push.
Daniels counted them in and together they shoved hard. The car took a while to gain momentum but when it did it seemed to glide, and rushed over the edge of the drop off as though it had been driven.
They all stood for a moment catching their breath, watching it fall and bump and crash against the rocks, until it collapsed into a heap of snow so far down it was barely visible.
Not a word was spoken as they returned to the trucks and climbed in, keen to get underway again.
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