Chapter 3 - Vicky
THE next half hour or so was like a dream. The clouds rolled in and the sky grew heavy, sinking lower and lower until it seemed it was almost touching the roof of Monty’s red Isuzu Rodeo. As they got on the interstate, the light from downtown became dimmer, until, all at once, it was gone. The mountains loomed in the darkness like granite apparitions, their peaks pointed and their faces completely flat. It was just Monty and Vicky, alone on the highway, heading north for Boulder, towards the jagged peaks of the Flatiron Park.
It was already ten by the time they pulled into Boulder, and Monty decided to take a little short cut. He got off the main drag and turned left on Canyon and slowly ascended the winding mountain road. As they climbed higher and higher, the air became thinner, and the snow shifted from flakes into a flurry of clumps. It looked like feathers from the entrails of a gutted pillow, kissing off the windshield and floating off into the dark. Monty squinted his eyes and leaned as far as he could forward, both hands on the wheel, one foot on the brake. He flipped on his brights and hit the windshield wipers, which began to screech against the glass like the teeth of an aluminum rake.
“Wow,” Vicky said, leaning forward. “It’s really coming down now, isn’t it?” She sighed and turned toward Monty, a hint of concern in her eyes. “You sure you still want to go all the way up there?”
“Yeah,” Monty said, surprised, as if she was kidding. “Don’t you?”
“Yeah, I do. But look at this. You can barely see, baby. Maybe we should just stop and wait until it quits. We can always spend the night and go up there tomorrow.”
“What? Here? In Boulder?”
“Yeah. Why not?”
Monty groaned. He didn’t want to wait until tomorrow. He wanted to get up there right now.
“I think it’ll be okay,” he said, as he twisted the lever on the wipers, cranking them up to full speed.
“I don’t know,” Vicky said, peering out the windshield, wringing her hands in her lap.
Monty reached over and reassuringly placed his hand on her hand. “It’ll be okay. I won’t let anything happen, alright?”
Another twenty minutes and they were at the top of the canyon, snaking along slowly under a now starless, black sky. As the air became thinner so did the vegetation and, all at once, the road seemed to open into a desolate tundra of snow and ice. What was it? Monty thought, peering out the windshield, rubbing the sleep away from his eyes. Was it the Barker reservoir? Could they have already gotten this far? But, it was all frozen over. It looked nothing like how he remembered it in the summer. What was once brilliantly blue and surrounded by green, lush forests, was now nothing more than a thick layer of impermeable ice. The trees along the shore looked like bulimic cheerleaders, completely stripped of their once thick, full-figured leaves. Even the highway seemed to be getting skinnier, squeezed on both sides by an embankment of snow. Monty had to hug the center lane just to keep from sliding off it, down into the icy reservoir below. This sucks, he thought, as he eased off the gas pedal and changed the wipers from high to low. Maybe he should’ve just stopped and spent the night in Boulder. By now, he could’ve been in bed curled up next to Vicky, her legs wrapped around him, her warm breasts pressed up against him, the smell of her hair, the taste of her body, the touch of her fingers running up and down his skin. Damn. It gave him goose bumps just thinking about it, but he had to hold on, another forty minutes and they’d be there.
He turned and smiled at Vicky, when something snatched his attention up in the road ahead. It was a pair of headlights, piercing through the snowfall, barreling towards them on the wrong side of the road. Vicky screamed, clutching the sides of the car seat, as Monty slammed on the brake pedal and cut the wheel left as hard he could go. But, he cut too hard and the Rodeo started sliding, its right back bumper twisting outward towards the oncoming lights. The other car caught them on the end of their right fender and sent them spinning across the midline towards the other side of the road. They hit the guardrail and flipped over it and started tumbling down the mountain like a fractured stone. Shards of glass slung out from the windows as cold metal crunched between the rocks and the trees. When they got to the bottom, the car was turned over, spinning on the ice like a beetle on its back. They spun several more times and the car finally halted somewhere in the middle of the frozen reservoir.
Somewhere between stupor and awareness, Monty began to hear the echo of a strange sounding song. It was an old song, with a twangy guitar rhythm, and what sounded like the banging of sticks against a metal pole. He recognized it, but couldn’t quite place it. Was it real? Or was he just imagining it? And why would that song be playing right now?
As he lifted his head, he forced his eyelids open and let out a deep, labored moan. But he couldn’t see—his vision was blurry, distorted by something warm and wet flowing over his eyes. He lifted his hand and touched his fingers to his forehead, feeling the gash that was just above his right eye. The cut was deep and somewhat jagged by the pieces of glass sticking out of his skin. When he turned his head, he saw that Vicky wasn’t moving, and tried calling out her name but she didn’t respond. She just hung there, upside down, as lifeless as a rag doll, her arms above her head, her hair covering her eyes. “Vicky, wake up.”
He tried to reach for her, but was restrained by the seat belt that was still locked from impact. “Vicky! Wake up! Wake up!”
He reached across his lap and unbuckled the seat belt, but lost all his leverage and crashed into the roof. He whimpered in pain as he moved his hands out from under him and, in one quick thrust, he tried to push himself up. It took all his strength, but somehow he managed to turn his entire body over, such that the ceiling was now down at his butt. He crawled towards Vicky underneath the center console and brushed her hair back away from her face.
“Vicky, wake up!” he screamed, as he shook her shoulders. “Wake up! Please, baby, don’t do this to me! Wake up! Wake up!”
He lifted his hand and forced her eyelids open and positioned his ear close to her lips. She was alive. He could feel her breathing, a warm whisper of life blowing against the hairs on his neck. “Vicky?” he said, as he got closer, moving his lips right next to her ear. She groaned and her eyelids began to flutter like the wings of a moth caught in a spider’s web.
“Vicky? Can you hear me? Are you okay?”
She said nothing and just stared up at him, her face covered with blood, her eyes locked in a daze.
“Don’t worry, I’m going to get you out of here baby. I’m going to get you out.”
He reached across her lap and unbuckled her seat belt, then grabbed her shoulders and tried to pull her out. But,
she wouldn’t budge. Her legs were stuck between the dash and the floorboard that had been forged together from the impact of the crash. No, no, this couldn’t be happening. She was stuck. She was trapped. He grabbed her arms and began to pull harder, but Vicky screamed in pain and pleaded with him to stop.
“What baby? What’s the matter?”
“I know, I’m sorry, but I have to get you out. You’ll bleed to death if I don’t get you out.”
“No, Monty, don’t. Please don’t.”
“I’m sorry, baby. I have to.” He leaned forward and kissed her forehead then grabbed her again and pulled with all his strength. Then, something happened. He heard something cracking, like the sound of lightning splitting through the trees. It was the ice. It was cracking all around them, splitting open from the weight of the car.
“Oh God, no! Please don’t do this to me! Please God don’t fucking do this to me!”
“What is it Monty? What’s happening?”
“We don’t have time baby. We have to get out of here. I have to get you the fuck out of here!”
“Why? What is it? What’s happening?”
Monty leaned as far as he could forward, wrapping his arms around Vicky’s waist. “Here. I want you to put your arms around me. Okay?”
Vicky nodded and wrapped her arms around him, locking her hands tightly around his neck.
“Alright, now, I’m going to count to three and I want you to hold on to me as tight as you can, okay?”
“Alright. You ready?”
Monty snapped as hard as he could backward, shifting all his weight towards the driver’s seat. But, as he pulled, the car shuddered and began to slide forward, angling into the crevice, first the front then the back. It floated there for a moment, bobbing up and down in the water, until the last shelf of ice cracked and the car began to sink. The water poured in through the pockets in the floorboard, flooding first the engine block then the air conditioning vents. It was so cold that it felt like a wall of concrete crashing down on him, stealing the air right from his chest. He gasped as the water overtook him, pouring over his legs and filling up to his neck. He turned toward Vicky. Her head was already submerged under water, filling up fast past her shoulders and her chest. He took a deep breath then put his head under the water and grabbed hold of the metal that was trapping her legs.
He tugged and pulled, trying to pry away the wreckage, but the metal was too slick and he couldn’t get a good grip. So, he picked up his foot and brought it down against it, over and over, trying to weaken the forge. But, he couldn’t do it. He’d become too exhausted and he had to go up for another breath. But there was nowhere to go. The car was now completely filled with water, plummeting towards the bottom like a cinderblock.
Monty panicked and turned back towards the wreckage and started tugging and pulling as hard as he could. Vicky stopped him and grabbed him by the collar and pulled his face up towards her lips. Her face was a blur in the watery darkness, a small trickle of light coming from the dome lamp overhead. She looked in his eyes and mouthed the words, “I love you,” then brought his hand against her chest. As she opened her mouth, her grip became tighter, her nails digging deeper and deeper into his flesh. Then she stopped struggling and her mouth dropped open. Her head fell limp against his chest. Monty screamed out in a distorted murmur, as a frenzy of bubbles dispersed from his lips. He grabbed her hair and pulled her head upward and emptied his lungs into her mouth. But, it was too late. Her lungs were flooded. There was no room for air left in her lungs.
In a last ditch effort, he grabbed a hold of the twisted metal and pulled and pulled until his hands became bloodied and raw. But it was useless. The metal was fixed like dried cement. He couldn’t do it. He had to leave her. He was about to run out of breath.
He turned and took one last look at Vicky then rolled down the window and swam through the small slit. He kicked and pulled his way towards the surface, the beams from the headlights guiding his path. One last thrust and he breached the surface, punching his way through the glassy ice. He reached his hands out for something to grab onto, but there was nothing there so he just floated in the dark, his eyes turned up towards the starless atmosphere, his breath like smoke signals spiraling from his lungs.
Genre – Literary Fiction
Rating – R