Flatlander: Derogatory term for Connecticut or New York City people with pockets full of money who come up to Vermont.
I could hear the vehicle go by the house about eleven p.m. when I was watching the news. It was late and I knew it was going to snow before morning. What in Christ's name were they thinking of? The cabin someone was heading for wasn't insulated or winterized. Dumb-ass flatlander. Well he wouldn't stay long. I never liked the owner anyway--the rich, unsociable bastard with way too much money. Maybe it was some kids that were out four-wheeling, although the vehicle sounded like a small car. Time would tell. I forgot all about what I had heard and crawled into my lonely bed and went to sleep.
Morning found eight inches of heavy wet snow on the ground, and it was still coming down with no sign of stopping. The forecast predicted a major storm of twenty inches before it was to end later tonight. I went to work. This only meant going into my office in the back part of the house. I was a writer and I was beginning to have my efforts pay off. This was going to be my third novel. The first one I wrote was a big success--the second one not so much, just barely adequate. My publisher had come up with a decent advance and some advice when I showed him the plot outline for a new book.
I had been working on this last book under a cloud of sadness and loneliness. He advised me to take a little more time on this manuscript and add more detailed descriptions. If I did this, it would shorten the rework when he saw it for the first read of each segment. He was excited about the plot outline and said the first five chapters he had seen so far were fair, but I could do better.
I looked out at noon as I was waiting for my lunch to heat. Snow was still coming down. I snapped the radio on and the weatherman said this would be clearing out sooner than expected. There would be twenty to thirty mile an hour winds afterwards though, with the temperature dropping to near zero by tomorrow morning. No weather one wanted to be out in, that was for sure.
I finished my lunch and was heading back to my computer when I remembered the vehicle last night. Shit, it was about a mile to the camp, maybe I should go check it out. I sat down to write, but the thought wouldn't leave me. Hell, I needed some air anyway.
I put on my winter parka, strapped on snowshoes and headed up the hill. It was tough going through what I estimated to be fifteen inches of snow. When I reached the top, the wind was picking up already. I looked down into the bowl where the cabin was located, but couldn't see anything. Not surprising the way the snow was coming down and with it blowing so hard. I headed down.
I could see the outline of the building, but not before I was within a hundred yards of it. The car was just a lump of white except for one fender where the wind had blown the snow away. I stepped up on the little deck and peered through the windows. It was dark inside. I could tell that there had been no heat, for the windows weren't frosted and they would have been if there was a fire inside.
I shucked my snowshoes and tried the front door, finding it locked. I pounded on it until it finally was opened. The face of the young person standing there had a look of fright. I knew when she spoke it was a female. She stood there in winter clothes with a blanket wrapped around her.
"Where's your dad?"
"He is not here, I have never been here before so I don't even know where I am. My stepmother is the only one with me and she is terribly sick. We are so cold and there is no heat."
I stepped in and closed the door. I had never been in here before although the cabin had been built seven years earlier. I could see that a person could not survive for any length of time here in the weather we were expecting. There would be no power for the lines to the cabin had been down for a long while.
I walked over to look at the woman on the couch. I will say the girl had done the best she could to keep the person lying there warm. She was buried in blankets. I pushed my hand down through the blankets and felt a feverish face. She was very sick. "Are the keys in the car?"
I took a broom out and swept off the sides of the car. It was a small BMW and looked new. I got inside and started it. The gas gauge read empty, just coming off the peg a little. The engine might have an hour of running time left. I started it and let it run. Going back in I asked, "What is your name?"
"Ginger Hapgood. Camille is on the couch."
"Okay then Ginger. We are going to get the car warm and put Camille in it. When she gets as warm as she can, I'll have figured out how to get you two out of here and back to civilization. I may have to carry her. How big is she?"
"Not very big. She is a size five."
"Humm, well that doesn't tell me much. Okay, in about ten minutes I'll carry her out to the car and you get in and get warm too. We have a long way to go, half of it uphill as you know. I may have to carry her if I can't find something to pull her on. I don't think I'll find a sled. A toboggan would be perfect and is what I really need."
I installed the two women in the fast warming vehicle and started to look around. I passed by a kayak before I realized I might be able to use it. I studied it for a few minutes. With some help from Ginger I thought we could get Camille to safety if she wasn't too far gone already. I poked around and found a length of clothesline. Taking a hammer, I busted a hole in the front of the kayak big enough to take the line. I doubled it for strength and dragged the whole thing out to the car.
I knocked on the car window and when Ginger rolled it down I said, "If you are willing to help keep this thing upright and maybe push a little, we can get your mother to where she can be safe."
"She isn't my mother."
This pissed me off. "You know if I hadn't come along, you maybe would die too. Do you want her to die then?"
"No, I guess not. You show me what to do."
There wasn't much room in the kayak, but I wrapped as many blankets as would fit around the patient and made sure she was as nearly upright as possible. I directed Ginger to make sure the little boat didn't tip over. She had a difficult job walking behind, for she sank in even through the snowshoe tracks. She was pushing though, I could tell for when she stopped or fell, I had a tough time tugging on the rope and making forward progress.
God, what a relief when we reached the top of the hill and could start down to my house. It was quicker going downhill. It was late afternoon and was fast coming onto dark. I opened the door and transported Camille into the house which was nice and warm. Ginger was too tired to take off her coat and sat slumped in a recliner. I unwrapped Camille and found the fever had gone up a notch. Calling 911, they said they would be there within a half hour.
"What's going to happen to her?"
"Rescue will take her to the hospital and make her well I hope. You know what you did in helping get her here just might be what is going to save her life."
"Whatever. What about me? Where can I go?"
"You could stay right here."
"I don't know you."
"I don't know you either. That makes us even, doesn't it?" There was no answer from this girl with an attitude.
It was actually two hours before Rescue arrived, for the town had to send in a plow to clear the snow. The squad members determined that Camille had pneumonia. I couldn't tell them much about the lady, just her name. Ginger wasn't very forthcoming except to tell them Camille's name and to say that where I found them was their home address. She would be starting school here after the first of the year and that had been arranged the day she and Camille arrived. Lot of mystery here I thought.
I started to ask, but before I got the question out, Ginger said, "Camille was my father's second wife. My mother is dead and my father is marrying another bimbo, so I'm stuck with this one. Now she has gone and got sick. Where does that leave me?"
"I said you could stay here. Take my offer. You can sort out your personal problems later. You're warm and I'll feed you. Why don't you get out of your wet things? You must be uncomfortable. I'll show you to my daughter's room. There are clothes in the closet that should fit you." I took her upstairs, pointing out a bath down the hall. I opened the bedroom door and let Ginger pass by me.
She looked around and started taking off her sweater. Under this she had on a pair of designer jeans and a nice looking top. I would guess this girl was about fifteen. She had dirty blonde hair cut short. Her complexion was clear and what she was wearing accented her developing figure. I thought she would reach her full height soon or she would be exceptionally tall, for she stood at five-seven now.
Ginger immediately went over to the closet and peeled back the folding doors. She stood staring at the dresses and outfits hanging there. Pulling them off the rod, she held them up to her. Flicking a glance at me she asked, "Won't your daughter mind someone else wearing these?"
"No." I turned and went down the hall and down the stairs. I set about preparing supper. I usually had cold cereal for my evening meal, but I figured the girl upstairs needed more. I put a hamburger on the frying pan, doctoring it just a little to add flavor. I had chips and the remains of an apple pie to share with her for dessert. When I turned to place the food on the table, Ginger stood in the doorway watching me. I went to the refrigerator and poured a glass of milk.
"I don't know your name or what you do."
.... There is more of this story ...