It was forty miles to the next town, it was fifty below zero outside, and the engine had just died. They had told me Canadian wilderness highways were brutal, but I had driven in snow before. It couldn’t be that bad right? Certainly all that talk about an emergency radio, thermal blankets, and a three day supply of food had to be exaggeration.
I hadn’t even checked the weather before I had left. Typical tourist thing to do, I should’ve known better.
The temperature had gotten so cold inside the cab that my breath had begun to mist in front of me when I exhaled, and I could start to feel the chill through my gloves. It was like one of those movies where something evil passes by and everything suddenly freezes. Only this wasn’t a movie. I could start to feel my nose hairs tingling from the mucus in my nose freezing.
I was shivering rapidly now and was trying to think of the last time I had seen another car. Had it been two hours? Three? Surely someone else would come by soon.
My face was starting to go numb. I considered getting out and doing some exercise to warm up, but if it was this cold inside the car, how much worse would it be outside? Needless to say, at this point I was shivering uncontrollably, you could’ve made a catchy dubstep hook with the chattering sound of my teeth.
Then the shivering slows to a stop, and I begin to feel sleepy. That was better. I must be getting warmer if I felt tired. My body wouldn’t fall asleep unless I was safe. My body must be smart like that, shutting down to preserve energy.
My eyes begins to droop when I see bright lights in my rearview mirror. Those must be headlights coming towards me and the crunch of snow as someone steps up to my car door.
Someone opens my passenger door and a man slides into the shotgun seat.
“Thanks for stopping pal.” I say, slurring my words horribly. That was odd. I hadn’t had anything to drink today.
“No worries friend.” He says, reaching over and taking my hand with his, and putting his other on my shoulder.
“What are you doing?” I ask, now slurring like a roaring drunk despite barely talking above a whisper. “Aren’t you going to take me to your car?”
“No friend.” He says, giving my shoulder a squeeze. “I’m not here to save you. I’m here to comfort you. No one should die alone, so for those unlucky enough to be without friends or family, they have me to see them safely to the other side. Don’t worry, it won’t take long, and there’s hot chocolate on the other side.