I ski down the slope, like I have done hundreds of times before. Skiing is my favorite hobby. The mountains are less than an hourís drive away from my home and snow is plentiful at all times of the year. In fact, we had just gotten a near whiteout less than two weeks prior.
Through my skiing equipment, I can still feel the rush of pure joy coursing through my system as I race down the slope. The wind against my hair, the icy chill of the morning air stinging my lungs, the pounding of my feet as they hit the earth after going over a bump, the raw energy expelled through my arms as I lunge forward, going faster and faster; I love every moment of it. Years of skiing later, and it still has yet to get old.
The vibrations rock through my system like never before. Another thing I love about skiing: even though I have done it hundreds of times, there is always the occasional fluke, a strange sensation which I have not felt. Most of the time, these are pleasant. Even those that are not still do not hinder my skiing.
This is my favorite pastime. When all the troubles of my life catch up on me, when I have been having lousy luck, when things canít possibly seem to get worse, when it looks like Iíve got nothing to live forÖskiing is still there, allowing me to unwind. Even though I am not faring well in life, I can still relax here, in the one place I consider to be my sanctuary.
Now I can hear a roar. Wait, a roar? What happened to the rush of wind as I soar across this field? Itís there, but it is being overpowered. The vibrations match this strange roar. I can feel it getting louder and louder, closer and closer, faster and faster. Only too late do I realize what it is.
My heart races, now out of fear instead of excitement. I pour all of my muscle into going faster and faster. I wonít be able to outrun the incoming locomotive of icy death, but perhaps I can outlast it. The icy chill gets closer and closer to touching me. I can feel the lighter flakes of snow piling up on my back. Iím too late.
The ice hits the back of my skis, first. I stop dead in my tracks; I hear at least my right legís bones snap in half from the impact. The ice consumes my flesh and I feel truly cold, as cold as death itselfÖsuiting, all things considered. I can feel the pressure of five cars against every inch of my skin. I canít breathe. I feel my body tossing and turning for a few millisecondsÖand then, nothing. Darkness. A gap in my memory.
I wake up to total darkness. Am I dead? No; there is no way that Iíd be in such pain, such miserable conditions, and still be alive. It takes me a few seconds to remember what happened, why Iíd be in such a place. My body temperature seems dangerously low. I imagine snow poured into every crevice, every gap in my clothing and froze me.
An avalanche had claimed at least one victim. But I sure am not dead yet. I feel a slight burning in my right leg: that would be the worst of the broken bones, where the ice canít remove the warmth of pain. I can barely breathe. My body feels numb. Yet I still can move.
I reach my right hand for my left, touching my watchís built-in light. The blue glow instantly reveals my tomb: ice on all sides. I had been buried alive by natureís icy fury. But at least I am alive. I see a green branch at the edge of my frozen coffin: either I am at tree level, or the trees have come to the ground level. Either way, the avalanche had damaged the shrubbery, and I think that the tree is what is responsible for my little pocket, for my breathing space.
Then I realize that the air is warm. Shouldnít the air be just as cold as the ice around it? I realize to my horror what that means: my cavern is running out of oxygen. If I run out of air to breathe, Iíd have just survived, only to die again. I panic. My breaths become shorter and shorter, my heartbeat increasing.
Then my survival training kicks in. I remember how slower breathes consume less oxygen, that I need to calm down. I do what I can, close my eyes, and begin to hibernate, barely staying awake, breathing as little as I possibly can while still living. Search and rescue would find me. They knew I was here, had not yet returned, and that there was an avalanche. Putting two and two together in that situation is a no-brainer. I just have to wait for them a little longer.
I force myself out of my deathly slumber. I look around briefly; the setup is the same as before. I can tell that it canít have been ten minutes. Iím running out of air, for sure. One or two breaths are all Iíll have left. The pressure on my chest reminds me of when the avalanche struck.
Then, I feel a rush of cold air against my face. I see a light above me. The ordeal is over. That much I am certain of. I can tell that I have, in fact, been saved. ButÖwhat exactly is the result? The question is, have I been saved from the pain of death, or freed from my suffering in life?
< Message edited by mastin2 -- 2/14/2009 2:46:44 >