“Peak” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Abigail L. Cohen, USA.
It was my first time mountain climbing. I could hear the snow crunching sound under my hiking boots. I shivered against the cold. This was not like anything I had ever done before.
“We’re almost there” mama panted. Almost wasn’t the word I wanted to hear.
“Cassidy” a voice said. I looked around. “Cassidy” it repeated. It took me a few moments to realize it came from my friend, Mila, who begged me constantly to come.
“Yes?” I said. I turned around.
“You never told me it would be this much cold, if I’d known, I wouldn’t have gone” she pressed the ends of her purple winter hat down on her ears. I smiled.
“Well, we already started climbing. So unless you want to be climbed three quarters of a mountain for nothing, we’re going to have to make it to the top.” “Plus” I added, “I heard they have a wonderful view there”. Now it was Mila’s turn to smile. Suddenly, I heard a breaking sound. I looked down just in time to see a thin sheet of ice beneath my foot starting to crack from all of the pressure. It eventually fell and shattered on a rocky ledge. I had pulled my foot off before the ice could fall, but that only solved the least of our problems. I didn’t realize it was large until it fell, and by then, it was too late. When the ice sheet shattered, it made a ginormous sound that I don’t think the mountain agreed with. I looked up. A giant ball of snow was shaking above us. Particles that were holding it in, such as, large icicles and strong lumps of snow were breaking.
“Run!” mama shouted. None of us hesitated to follow her orders. We all went in different directions. Mila ran down the way we came, mama ran to the side of the trail, where the lumpy snow towered a bit higher, and I ran up towards the peak of the mountain, going in diagonal circles. That was it, the mountain couldn’t take anymore. The slab of snow came tumbling down the mountainside. I saw Mila’s eyes get as big as lemons. I could tell she had never seen anything like this. Suddenly I tripped. The avalanche started to catch up to me. First it started to gather my toes into it’s huge, freezing body. I remembered that in Mrs. Throttle’s science class we were studying avalanches and how to get out of them. “If you have nothing to hold on to” she would say “try your hardest to stay on the surface of the snow.” “Once the avalanche has slowed a little, clear a breathing spot and punch an air hole on the surface of the snow to complete it.” I never thought I would need to follow those rules but here I was, trapped inside an avalanche. Once I had followedher directions (I made sure to make my breathing hole nice and large) I squeezed my fingers into a ball to conserve body heat. Suddenly the ice came to stop. I was scared. I wanted to call for help, but I felt so helpless. Suddenly a thought hit me, if I didn’t call for help, I would die, and if I died I would never get to do all of the fun things I was looking forward to like that camping trip mama had promised me, my sleepover with Mila, and getting out of this stupid avalanche. Suddenly I felt strong. “Help!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I repeated this process for a while. Right when I thought my vocal cords were about to pop out, I heard footsteps coming my way. I smiled when I felt lumps of ice slowly being shoveled off me.
“Are you alright ma’am?” I heard the voice. Suddenly I realized my eyes had been closed this whole time, it wasn’t a struggle to figure out why. I guess I had been so cold that my eyes had almost frozen shut.
“I c-can’t open my eyes-s-s” I shivered. I felt him put something warm on my eyes.
“This will help,” he said gently. Slowly I opened my eyes. Hovering above was a man wearing a green hat, black boots and an orange jacket with the words “mountain rescue” engraved on the shoulder.
“S-so cold” I shivered again. My legs felt wobbly. The mountain officer helped me up.
“What’s your name” he asked me.
“Cassidy-y” I replied. The mountain officer took out his walkie-talkie and began speaking into it.
“George I found a girl swallowed up by an avalanche, she told me her name is Cassidy”
“Christy told me she found a mother and a child on the other side of the mountain who said she lost her daughter with the very same name to the avalanche” the person on the other side of the walkie-talkie told him. The mountain officer put his walkie-talkie back in his pocket and turned to me. Suddenly I looked up and saw the peak of the mountain! The rumors I had heard about the view from the top of the mountain was right, I would repeat everything I ever did in my life (except for this) to see it every day.
“Miss” the mountain officer said bringing me back to reality. “I think we’ve found your family,” he grinned