Stay Safe, Stay Warm

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: The Imaginarium

Submitted: January 06, 2018

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Submitted: January 06, 2018

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Stay Safe, Stay Warm.

The warnings were all over the news. It was on its way, fast. A weather bomb, so severe, that it would most likely surpass all previous temperature records, at least as far as cold was concerned. The freeze was about to hit, no doubt about it. The only question was how long it would be likely to remain.

“Stay safe, stay warm.” That was pretty much the extent of the advice we had been given when it hit. It was as though someone had switched off the heat, turned to fan to freezing. If you were caught outside by it, and many of us were, the air so bitterly cold it almost hurt to breathe it in.

There was a rush to get home, to get indoors. It had been raining and the roads, the side-walks, were instantly covered in a sheet of ice. Black ice, for now. It was hard to make it out and people fell, cars skidded. We might be in a hurry but we would have to slow down.

And then it began to snow. These were no gentle drifting flakes that landed and melted once contact with the ground was made. This was a down-pouring of whiteness, so thick it was almost like having to peer through a white curtain. Windscreens were covered; the wipers were unable to keep up with the heaviness of the snowfall. Traffic, when it moved at all, did so at barely more than a crawl.

The advice changed, or rather it was added to; ‘Make your way home. If your home is too far, make your way into another public building. Stay safe, stay warm.’ Some of us were not going to be able to make it anywhere, it was like these people had just frozen on the spot. No longer able to move, they fell to the ground and lay there, soon to become victims of hypothermia. And the self-survival instinct had cut in so much, that it was rare for anyone to try and offer assistance.

Maybe the people that headed to somewhere communal had the best of it. They could share their body-heat, share the effort of trying to keep warm. They could pool their ideas and work together. The downside, I guess, would be that generally the spaces would be bigger, harder to heat.

I made it home, shut myself indoors, but the icy winds made their way through the tiniest of gaps, counteracting any kind of heat I could get going. Blankets, I’d need lots of them. And mats! If I brought some in from another room I could use them to block off some of those draughts. I’d gather snacks and drinks and bring them all in to one room, make this into a kind of igloo.

Still the temperature continued to plummet. There was no running water in the taps; it was frozen inside the pipes and it was obvious that would cause a lot of damage once a thaw set in. Even the glass of the window panes began to crack from such an extreme cold. I’d have to move to a room with no window....the attic, perhaps. Isn’t it a scientific fact that heat rises.

The attic was draught-proofed, but that stopped the heat from escaping up there from downstairs. It stopped the cold from making it down from the roof. I would fall asleep and succumb to the cold very quickly there. No, I’d have to think of somewhere else.

The bathroom was a possibility. The window was only small. Perhaps I could squash a cushion tightly into the window space; at least that would provide some sort of barrier should the glass break. As I approach it I can see nothing but white. There are lumps and bumps, no longer recognizable as what they are. How deep is the snow? I have no idea but it is still falling thick and fast.

I drag my supplies in to the room. Put a mat inside the bath to stop the cold from penetrating up through the drains and out from the plug hole. I do the same for the sink, the shower base. I use the toilet then cover it up, sitting on the lid to pull on extra layers of clothes. Socks and gloves, thinner pairs at the bottom, layering another two pairs of each. Hat and hood, face wrapped in a scarf, I settle myself into a pile of blankets.

Now it’s all down to nature, I guess, down to how long this weather bomb lasts. For now, I’m counting myself as one of the lucky ones. I’ll survive, at least for a few days. The question is how long this big freeze is going to be here, and what happens once the thaw sets in.


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