Your Weekend Prompt: Trapped in the Ice

Prompting on the fly with snow on the horizon – stay warm, and have a great weekend!

Trapped in the Ice
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post your response (funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional around-the-office swag drawings.

Your car breaks down in the midst of a blizzard—and a critical cell phone call. Trudging through the snow, you discover something frozen in ice that will prove to be invaluable in the moments ahead.

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6 thoughts on “Your Weekend Prompt: Trapped in the Ice

  1. Catherine Davis

    Through the windshield is white. A colour I am beginning to really dislike. Looking out the windshield, it’s all I see. A flat, a snowstorm and my only thought was what next? To add to my dilemma, a car jack was an object I seemed to have overlooked as being important. My chances of another car travelling down this same stretch of road at the present time were highly unlikely. I decide to stay in the vehicle until the warmth from the engine runs out of fuel; the gage already reading empty.
    Starring out into the winter white, I am suddenly startled by the loud ring of my cell phone. “Hello, Hello” I said, tension now rising in my voice. “Kate …re…ou….al…Right”, the sound of my father’s voice on the other end was reassuring even with the broken signal.” are…y..ou? “ he asked his voice filled with panic “ Yes, but my car is not, I have a flat“. Before he could get the words out, “Please don’t say I told you so” I retorted, thinking about the jack and dad’s constant reminders to make sure I put it back in my trunk. “I am going to see if anyone lives up the road a ways, chances for a tow during this storm, is impossible”, trying reassure him I was completely fine.” “ dad replied. “”. “ I love you too dad” I answered. Suddenly the signal went dead; the engine sputtered and stopped; gas was gone.
    Making sure I was bundled, head and hands covered I opened the car door and went out into the storm. I could barely see what laid ahead of every step the snow, falling so fast I started off , not knowing the direction I was going , just knowing I had to keep moving. After, what seemed to be a mailbox in the distance, I focused not thinking of anything but reaching that mailbox. As I drew closer I realised the object ahead was something else. Finally reaching the object; my heart beating out of my chest, it was a car jack. Someone was looking out for me, helping me in this impossible situation. I looked up to the sky, snowflakes falling on my cold cheeks; thank you came from my lips.
    The jack was not easy to get out of its current surroundings; completely locked in ice, I chipped away at it with my boot; soon it was free and ready to use. Looking back, my car barely visible , I headed towards it. Once at the car, I started to dig the snow. Just as I was about to try putting the jack under my car, headlights, coming in my direction. It was a tow truck, suddenly my cold body began to shake, knowing that I would soon be back on my journey. This time a jack would have a permanent spot in my trunk, and a special place in my memory from this fateful evening.

  2. John Allen

    I had just finished my chores for the day and was headed for a week off at the Oregon coast. I’d driven to the coast so many times that I decided at the last minute to take a round-about route through the mountains on secondary roads. I had checked the state map and found a road that was all marked in black. According to the map’s legend, that meant that the road was paved at least. What I hadn’t counted on was an early spring snowstorm.
    The blizzard was a complete surprise and now snowflakes streamed toward the windshield of my car. They always reminded me of science fiction movies and their depiction of stars rushing past the view screen of a speeding spaceship. With an effort I forced myself not to plot a course to Star System Epsilon 5.
    Almost as surprising as the snowstorm was the ring tone of my cell phone. It was Richard Hammond, my boss at the beverage distribution company where I managed the computer systems. He had a problem and that meant that I had a problem. Someone on the sales staff had managed to delete some key files from the server. Of course, we had backed up all those files so it wasn’t the disaster that Hammond thought it was.
    “I’ll get it fixed as soon as I get back,” I said more out of hope than the conviction that he would buy it. My boss had called me just as I guided my car around a bend in the mountain road. I was surprised I even had a signal for my cell phone this far out. Where was the signal tower I wondered to myself even as I tried to figure out how to keep my boss from forcing me to turn around and take care of the supposed emergency that had cropped up in my absence.
    More talk on his end, then I offered, “Maybe if you put Jack on, I could talk him through the problem.” Actually, putting the boss’s pet poodle on the phone would be about as effective. At least the poodle couldn’t mess things up more. Or, could it? Just then the front passenger tire hit a pot hole and my car’s engine sputtered and died. I slowly guided it to the edge of the road.
    “Boss, I’ll have to get back to you. My car just stalled.”
    Nothing on the phone, just silence. I glanced at the screen. No signal. I’d lost my boss. Hopefully I’d get him back soon or he’d think I’d cut him off on purpose.
    I tried turning the ignition to off and then on again. No luck.
    Snow now completely covered the windshield as I sat in the driver’s seat of my car wondering what to do next. Out the side windows which were still clear, I watched heavy wet flakes continue to fall and cover the increasingly whitening landscape. One more time I turned on the ignition. Again the same null result. Angry at my situation, angry at my boss, I pulled on my jacket and grabbed my hat from the back seat to cover my head.
    After sitting and cursing myself a while, I decided to get out and see if there was anything I could do besides sit in my car feeling sorry for myself and, frankly, more than a little afraid. My jeans, light jacket, and tennis shoes weren’t meant for snow survival so I knew that I wasn’t going to walk out of this situation. If I couldn’t get the car started or find help, I’d have to stay in the car until someone found me.
    Plan A, walk up the road a ways and see if I could find a house with a phone. I zipped up against the cold and trudged through the blowing snow. My goal was to walk to the first intersection I ran across and if I didn’t see any reason to go on, I’d return to the relative safety and warmth of the car. A few feet from the car my feet went one direction, and my body went the other. Even though I hadn’t seen a soul for over an hour, I jumped up as quickly as I could and checked around to see if anyone had seen me fall. No one had. Good, no I mean bad. I continued up the road, more gingerly than at first. A hundred yards later, the snow still falling, I rounded a curve and came face to face with the first living thing I’d met in fifty miles, a bull moose. In Oregon? What did I know about moose? Well, I did know that bull moose attack hikers on occasion, so I switched immediately to Plan B. Wait in the car.
    Nonchalantly, I backed up. Problem was that the moose liked my plan and started to follow me. I’d call him Bullwinkle, but he didn’t seem like the friendly likable sort. In fact he looked crazy. I was now halfway back to the car. The moose was eyeing me like a target. Then he put his head down and charged. I turned and ran as fast as the slippery surface of the road let me. Luckily the moose, I think I’ll call him Bully, had the same problems with traction on the icy surface of the pavement. If I could reach my car and get inside, I’d be safe. I fumbled in my pants for my car keys. Not there. I tried my other pockets. No keys. I got to my locked car with the moose breathing down my neck.
    I did the only thing I could. I jumped up on top of the roof, and then slid unceremoniously off the other side onto the ground. I could hear Bully pull up short. Maybe it was confused. I sat on the ground and tried to think.
    Where were the keys? Of course, back on the ground near where I’d fallen, about where the angry moose was now standing and looking for me.
    I peaked my head up and peered through the window. Snow had covered it up so I stood up and looked over the top of the car. Bully stared back at me. He started to circle around the car. I circled with him. When I got to the other side, I scanned the ground but I couldn’t see the keys. The moose kept following. We, by mutual decision decided to keep on circling the car. On the third trip around I scuffed the snow and heard my keys slide against the pavement. No time to pick them up but at least I knew where they were. Next trip around I scooped them up, and unlocked the car. I had to keep running because the moose was too close. I came back around to the unlocked door and started to open it. That’s when I noticed that Bully wasn’t following me anymore.
    Now, I’m not sure how he did it, but that moose was now sitting comfortably in my car and out of the snowstorm.
    As for me, I’m back to Plan A.


    Trapped In Ice Prompt- by Karen Rock

    In the oppressive hush of a near white-out, my squad car’s radio crackled to life.

    "Patrol Forty, do you copy?"

    Startled, I spilled the nuclear-hot coffee I’d cradled in my crotch since Exit 34. Of all the goddamn luck.

    I pulled my thin polyester uniform pants away from my now volcanic groin.

    "This is Patrol Forty-one. Copy." I yanked down my pants while driving through the blizzard at 75 miles an hour.

    I looked up and understood two things instantly: One. I was in a full out skid toward a tree clump and two, my second degree burn was going to be the least of my injuries.

    The 100-year-old conifer had barely a bark scratch to show for our massive collision. My squad car had a crushed hood, smashed windshield, broken headlights, cracked radiator, and a demolished engine.

    Miraculously, the radio still worked. Unfortunately, I was barely conscious.

    "We’ve got a 10-54 at the High Falls Gorge turn-off."

    10-54? I lifted my head, wiping the curtain of red from my eyes. I’d passed the High Falls Gorge turn off a couple seconds ago. I knew my duty. A dead body had to be recovered. The possible crime scene protected. I wondered what it was: hunting accident, snowmobile crash, or MVA?

    Something I’d never admitted was that homicides give me a rush. Even after 30 years on the job. It wasn’t the blood and guts. It was knowing that no matter how miserable my life was, it was never as bad as the stiff’s. It was pure life affirmation.

    "I’m on it," I croaked, tasting iron. Strangely, I barely felt my injuries. Even my crotch had stopped burning. Adrenalin: an officer’s drug of choice.

    "An ambulance is on its way. Thanks Forty." The dispatcher signed off.

    "It’s Forty-one," I grumbled, heaving myself out of the patrol car. Gettin’ too old for this. I steadied myself against the crumpled hood and yanked up my pants.

    When I get back, I’m puttin’ them retirement papers in, I vowed. Make Martha happy for once. I thought of her soft, fleshy face, the tightly permed hair I loved to rub like Velcro. Maybe we’ll take one of them cruises to Saint something or other and drink those coconut drinks. I’d sure love to see her in one of those poinsettia mumus.

    I wove my way through the knee deep snow, leaving a red ribbon behind. At least the ambulance would know where to find me.

    I staggered to the High Falls Gorge sign and gripped its frost coated metal post. Three of my fingers traced the hole pattern that ran from top to bottom. Where were the other two?

    I wrenched off my mutilated hand. My pinky and trigger finger were gone. There was no question about retirement now. Probably even get disability retirement and a gold medal or something. I wouldn’t be going hunting any more neither. Not that I’d gone since Bucky got exploded by one of them I-raq terrorists three years ago.

    My eyes teared up and froze. At the funeral, I’d overheard one of my son’s high school buddies say that Bucky hadn’t been so lucky after all. Then the group of guys had laughed at the stupid rhyme.

    But I disagreed. Bucky was lucky because he’d died a hero. He’d died doing what he loved, what he believed in. Everyone should be that lucky. Everyone. In my line of work, I’d seen a lot of death. And barely any of them meant anything. But Buddy’s death had meant something. It made a difference.

    Blind and bleeding, I continued my search on hands and knees. The body had to be close. I was at the turn-off. Literally. How much closer could I get?

    Within seconds, I touched pay dirt, or rather, a polyester shirt, then a shoulder, then a head. I couldn’t see much, but I knew I’d found the body. My last success story. I was leaving the force with a bang.

    I rubbed my eyes with my shirt sleeves hard. My own white face and frozen eyes stared up at me from the snow. A red halo encircled my bald head.

    A squad car screeched up, sirens blaring.

    "Car Forty at the scene," an officer reported. "We’ve got an officer down."

    “Copy that,” the dispatcher replied.

    I shook my head. This wasn’t possible. Was I the 10-54? I thought of Bucky. Lucky Bucky.

    I closed my eyes. Everyone should be so lucky. I sighed. Everyone.

  4. Martha W

    Um, how about we just call this one of those 750-word prompts? This one just begs for more…


    I can hardly contain myself while I talk to her. She hasn’t a clue what I’m going to ask her but she’s using everything in her arsenal to find out. I smile at the snow flying around my car. She’ll learn soon enough.

    If I make it out of this blizzard.

    "Look, babe. I told you. We’ll talk about it when I get home."

    "But-" She takes a deep breath. "Is everything okay?"

    "Sure. It’s snowing like crazy but I’m fine."

    She sighs. "I mean with us, Ryan. Is everything okay? You know I love you, right?"

    "Mm-hhm." Outside the windshield the road is intermittently disappearing as the snow reaches a frenzy.

    "What does that mean?" She’s upset now. I can hear the waver in her voice.

    "Anna, I have to go. This snow storm is getting worse and I have to focus."

    "Okay. Be careful. Love you." The reluctance practically breaks my heart. Maybe I should let her off the hook and tell her.

    "Anna, I-" My car chooses that moment to completely shut down. Everything. No lights. No steering. No heat. All gone. "Crap."

    "What’s wrong? Where are you?" She is frantic now.

    A loud beep sounds in my ear and I jerk the phone away. I can’t believe it. The damn thing is dark.

    It’s now dead too.

    Suddenly the tail end of my Explorer swings to the right. The reality of my situation sinks in brutally as I hit the guardrail, slamming my car to a halt. My head snaps forward, hitting the steering wheel hard enough to have me seeing stars. Blinking away the daze, I don my coat, gloves and hat. At least I have boots on.

    There has to be something close. Keeping one foot moving in front of the other, I move toward home and her. I make a promise even though she can’t possibly know it. She’s the only thing keeping me moving. My lovely Anna.

    After what feels like forever, a twinkle catches my eye. My body automatically turns in its direction. Taking much too long, I finally reach the house with the beautiful, shining porch light.

    I knock, hopefully hard enough but with my hands numb I can’t be sure. Nothing happens. I knock again. Nothing.

    Tears freezing on my face, my gaze drops to the ground. I can’t believe what I see. Sinking to my knees, I rip my gloves off. They’re not helping anyway. I dig at what lies frozen there, partially covered by the welcome mat.

    The key to the door.

    Even with too cold fingers I manage to pry the key from the ice. I jam it into the lock, heedless to what might lie within the house. As I turn the knob and pull the door open, a blast of warmth rushes over me bringing both relief and pain. It is too much, too fast but I don’t care.

    All I see is the backlit keypad of the phone hanging on the wall. On stilted legs I force myself toward it. I dial the number of the only person who’s been in my thoughts for the last few miles.

    "Ryan!" Hope fills the line, infusing my heart with love.

    "Anna." My voice is now a weak thread and I know I probably won’t see her again. "I love you."

    "I love you. Just hang on." I can hear her fumbling with something on the other end. Soon she’s mumbling but not to me. Then, "Ryan?"

    "I’m here." Just barely. Sleep wants me but I fight it. "Anna, look in my top dresser drawer."


    "Please." There isn’t much left for me. Just this. It’s like a mission or something. I can hear the drawer sliding open. "See the little box? It’s yours."

    "Ryan. This is the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen but you’d better get home to see it on my finger." She never minces words, my Anna. I could feel the tension riding her words.

    "I love you." I hang up the phone because that’s how I want her to remember me. I want her to think of the love, not this.

    I sit down in the kitchen chair and lean on the table. As I drift into the darkness I feel something blazing hot on my forehead. I moan.

    The heat disappears and a loud voice fills my ears as someone yells, "John! Get in here!"

  5. Mark James

    Zac: I really scoured the page, but I didn’t see your usual "500 words or less". This is just a TAD more.

    I didn’t know what was worse, finding my way through the maze of words my ex-wife called conversation or the blizzard knocking my car around, making my wipers more useless than ice cubes in Hell.

    “You’re breaking up. Just tell me the date.”

    A gust of wind all but lifted the back end, nearly sent me spinning into the mile high snow drifts lining both sides of the road.

    I wrestled the steering wheel, kept my car on the road as best as I could, with the phone tucked between my ear and my shoulder. “Look, Tiffani. I’m sorry he scared you. But I need to know the date. Can you just tell me that?”

    Damn it all. She was still chattering in my ear.

    “Yeah. I’m selfish. All I care about is me. Now tell me the freaking date.”

    The storm was deteriorating, blowing harder. “January? January what?”

    The phone went dead. Before I had time to curse Tiffani’s name, my car stalled. The wind spun the car right around and sent me nose first into a snow bank. Lightly packed snow buried my car almost to the roof in seconds. I shoved at my door and slid out in the wind.

    I was walking, head down when I tripped over the sign. “Desperation Hotel”, it said, and under the words, a black arrow.

    I didn’t remember a hotel out here, and I didn’t think I’d be ringing for room service when I got there, but it didn’t matter, shelter was shelter.

    I came to what must have been Desperation Hotel after I’d been walking through the blizzard long enough for my fingers to be frozen over.

    Blocks of ice as tall as me rose out of the snow like those statues on Easter Island. Inside each block of ice, was a naked man or woman, eyes closed. Their hands hung at their sides, like they’d fallen asleep standing up.

    I touched one.

    And nearly fell on my ass when the man’s eyes rolled to my face.

    I recognized that look. I’d seen it in my own eyes when I was on the run, shaving in some flea bag hotel, wondering if I was gonna stay ahead of whoever was chasing me long enough to make a shave worth it.

    My mind slipped into survival mode. How could I make this weird hotel work for me?

    Seemed like I walked for miles down that aisle of the frozen and desperate before an idea bubbled up from some dark corner of my mind.

    I looked for a cube that was roughly my size, then I shed my clothes. If this didn’t work, I’d be dead in seconds.

    Taking a deep breath, I wrapped my arms around the ice cube I’d chosen, didn’t move, even when it felt like the cold was making my skin stick to the icy surface.

    My whole body froze over. I couldn’t feel the snow hitting me anymore, couldn’t feel the bite of the wind. Sleep dragged at me, like quicksand, pulling me down into the dark. Either my plan was working, or I was dying.

    When I opened my eyes, I was looking at my clothes in the snow. The black sleeve of my coat barely peeked out against the white. The man whose place I’d taken lay naked in the snow, curled into a fetal position, his lips blue and lifeless.

    It wasn’t so bad in here. Didn’t feel the cold. And I’d be here way after January, up to the spring thaw. When they came looking for me, on whatever date Tiffani had tried to tell me, they’d never think to look here in the snow, in the ice.


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