Today my brother burned himself a blister on the heating. We are immobilized because of the "freeze of the century". Its Minus 120 outside. Don't ask
me whether that's Fahrenheit or Celsius, at this temperature it makes no difference. Step outside and your skull cracks in the cold - that's not just
a fancy metaphor, its a medical certainty. For the last three days we have been huddled up around the heaters in the house. The police and the news
tell us not to venture outside, there is a curfew. Mom went to the attic to get some more blankets the other day but came back with instant frostbite.
Thats how bad this is. Anything other than the immediate surroundings of the heaters is off-limits. Open the front door and you die.
Of course, there is no guarantee that the heating is going to work that much longer under these conditions.
And two weeks into the freeze, daddy ought to get food.
My family talked over ways to go about it. It was finally decided that daddy put on his snow suit and carry our portable battery-powered car-heater
inside that suit. Sounds like a dumb and dangerous idea, right? Well it was. The little portable device didn't stand a chance against the ice-winds
and daddy came back into the house screaming with agony. His face, feet and hands had gone slightly purple and we had to make him a hot bath to get
him back. My older brother took the snow suit and heater down to the basement because we still had some canned food there. He brought back was some
very frozen foods which we placed near the heater to thaw out.
One day, a national emergency broadcast said that they were predicting a temporary drop down to minus 75 for midday of the same day. The broadcaster
said that its still dangerous to go outside but this may be the only chance in weeks to get out and stock up on food.
Daddy took the chance, again with the portable heater inside the suit. It must have been an awkward walk. The heater had to be moved around inside the
suit so that various body parts received heating. They could not be moved through the legs or arms but pointed in that direction. Daddy did not dare
take the car, who knows what the cold had done to it. It would be a five block walk.
At the supermarket, people were looting. Daddy watched from afar. He didnt go near because he did not want to get hurt. On the other hand, who knew
how long the batteries of his heater would stay? Everything looked deserted except for the supermarket were people were apparently in panic.
But then the batteries of the heater went dead.
He raced for his life toward the supermarket which was now his only chance at survival. More than a few minutes in these temperatures without the
heater and his kids would be fatherless. As he approached the store his horror grew as he saw dead bodies lying around outside. But he had no choice
and rushed through the doors of the store.
There was some heating inside and he cowered close to it, panting heavily, trying to warm up, trying to get a sense of what was going on in here. From
where he sat, regaining his composure, he saw no one, but heard someone rummaging around in another aisle. A few more aisles down, to his shock, he
heard a gunshot. Soon thereafter, one of the people rummaging emerged at the cash counter looking paranoid. Their eyes met. The guy wore heavy winter
gear and had a huge bag full of items, probably more than his body weight could carry. He ran outside, apparently without any portable heater.
Am I now alone in here with the gunman? he asked himself.
And the gunman soon emerged with a shopping cart full of goods, pointing his gun firmly at Daddy. Daddy was still too cold and afraid to say anything.
The man with the gun left the building and got into a car. To Daddys amazement the car seemed to be working just fine. It seemed he was now stuck in
the supermarket that would continue to be visited by armed looters and thieves. But that's not how Daddy thought. He got up and started collecting
food for his family as if there might be a possibility to bring it back. By the time he had stuffed four bags full of foods, others had also been in
and out doing just the same thing. If this continues they`ll have emptied the shelves within an hour, he thought.
"Excuse me, can you give me a ride?" he asked one of the people who had come by car. "I need to get back to my family, but my heater is out of
batteries".Daddy only got home with the mans kind help and because there was no wind going at the time. Minus 70 plus wind would have cut right
through that snow suit. "This food should last us a week or two. But if we're going to survive, we need to come up with something else" he told us.
Temperatures were soon back in the minus 100s. At one point they hit the outer-space level of minus 140.
When TV Broadcasting stopped we kind of realized that we were now on our own.
My bigger brother guessed that some kind of sudden cataclysm had brought about a new ice age. He also thought we had a better chance of survival if we
took our car down south. He predicted the heating would stop working soon and millions of people would die. So when temperatures went all the way back
up to minus 80 (don't get me wrong, that's still deadly cold, but it gives you a few minutes of leeway compared to minus 120), we checked the car.
The car started! But we couldnt leave yet because we were not prepared. We had to leave because food was running out, but there was a whole lot of
preparation to go into so that we could survive. We had to make sure to take enough batteries for the portable heater. And we had to get several carts
of fuel. "Why doesnt the fuel freeze?" I asked Daddy. But he was too busy to answer. Or he didnt know why.
The next time it went up to minus 80 we just left. My older brother said we just have to go south, south, south. Inside the car, the portable heater
kept the car still well below freezing, but warm enough to survive. The landscape was all snow and ice. In 13 hours of driving down the Interstate, we
saw only two other cars. The country had shut down. When Dad started hallucinating about seeing deer on the roads, we knew he was exhausted and we had
to find some place warm to rest. There was a Holiday Inn and there were two windows in which lights shone.
Thats when we realized Mom was dead. She wasnt sleeping, she was in fact dead. Hypothermia.
The terror of the situation was that we were all too cold to care or grieve about mothers death. Deep down inside I knew I was supposed to feel
shocked or sad or something, but all I had was a red hot burning desire to get somewhere warm. We drove the car up to the door entrance (no, we were
not going to get out of the car and go through the door like normal people), but the door didnt open. So my dad honked the car like crazy. And he kept
doing so until this guy in a bathing robe came down into the lobby. He had a key. And the glass door slid open. And dad said: "Take all the bags, take
everything and run!" and so we did get out of the car and we were outside at around minus 100 for a few seconds. We left mom in the car. We collapsed
on the floor of the hotel lobby. The guy in the robe said: "The first floor is ours. We don't want to be disturbed there. Hotel owners dont seem to be
around. I have the key to this place in case you want to leave. Enjoy your stay".
(Continued next post)
edit on 13-1-2014 by Skyfloating because: (no reason given)