A ski trip gone wrong.
The sun shone down on Kevin as he held his snowboard, scanning the mountain. The bright, clear, day was perfect for a nice run down the slopes. But his disposition was anything but sunny.
Where is she?
He watched the people coming off the slopes.
She was right behind me.
His mind raced like a rocket car on the salt flats.
I've got to get back up there and find her.
He was starting to sweat, but only partially because of the sun. He made his way over to the first of three lifts that he would need to take. As he soared high above the beautiful blanket of snow, his mind began to turn on him.
What are you going to do?
What do you mean?
What are you going to do about what she said?
... I don't know.
The debate ended when he reached the top of the first lift. He slid his board over to the next lift, searching the crowd for her.
He slid to a stop when he saw the huge line waiting for the next lift.
I didn't know there were this many people on the whole mountain.
As he stood in line, someone tapped his shoulder. At first, he tried to ignore it, but they tapped again. He slowly turned to see a large man in a snow suit two sizes too small for him, grinning like an idiot.
"I know what you've done," he said in a gravelly voice that was full of menace.
"Excuse me?" Kevin said as his heart slammed against his chest like a jackhammer.
"You know, the big line from your last movie," the grinning man said.
"Oh, yeah, right. Thanks for watching."
Kevin turned back around, hoping he would get the hint.
No such luck.
"I just can't believe you're out here, on a mountain with me, like a normal person."
"Yeah, I put my snowpants on one leg at a time too," Kevin said, hoping this guy would just melt into the snow and vanish.
"Wow, that is such a cool thing for you to say. You know my buddies think that you're a stuck up snob, but I told them no way, even after all those movies he's made, he's still cool."
"That's me, just a regular guy," Kevin said, trying not to vomit.
"Alright! I knew it," the man said, slapping Kevin on the back and nearly knocking him over. "Look here a second."
He turned more out of annoyance than anything and was immediately subjected to a massive bear hug.
"What ... ?"
The man had his phone at arms length, and then it flashed.
"Alright! That puppy's going on Facebook."
"What? No! You can't just ... "
"And ... Send. Sorry, what were you saying?"
Kevin just stared at him. He was at a perfect balancing point between fear, shock, and rage.
"Dude, the line's moving."
In a haze, Kevin skied up to the lift and was stopped by the operator.
"You alone?" he asked Kevin.
He motioned the big guy forward.
"What? I don't want ..."
"Sorry, bud, I've got too many people waiting. You go with him or you don't go."
Kevin looked over at the grinning fat man, then sat down in the lift chair.
It was the second worst decision he had made today.
For the next eleven minutes and twenty-three seconds Kevin tried to go to a happy place. The fat man held his ears hostage with the story of his life, focusing heavily on the screenplay he had recently written, and how perfect Kevin would be for the lead role. Mercifully, the trip ended. Kevin accepted the number of the man and lied about being interested in his screenplay. When they parted ways, both were happy.
Kevin breathed a sigh of relief as he neared the third lift. This one was seldom used. It went to the very top of the mountain. Only expert skiers were allowed to ride it.
"You going again, sir?" the attendant asked.
"I figured I'd press my luck," Kevin said.
"Where's that pretty, young thing you brought with you last time?"
"She seems to have wandered off. Have you seen her?"
"No, not since you two got off the lift together."
"If you see her, tell her I'm looking for her."
"Have you tried her phone?"
"No, she doesn't carry it when she skis."
"Well, I'll keep an eye out."
"Good man," Kevin said, clapping him on the back.
As the lift started its ascent, Kevin began his search. Leaning over the front bar, his eyes darting this way and that. Then finally he found it. A small red spot in the snow, barely visible through the trees.
He glanced at the rapidly approaching ski booth and made a mental note of how far away it was. When he reached the top, he rose from the lift chair, slid up to the edge, and glanced down at the nearly sheer drop which slowly became less steep. Then his eyes scanned toward the left side of the trail where he had seen the red snow.
He took a cleansing breath, let it out, and descended. His speed increased until he was nearly out of control. The adrenaline rush was so hypnotic that he almost forgot why he was there.
The red spot was coming up fast. He drifted to the left and slowed down as much as he could. Being unable to stop, he fell on his back and slid another thirty feet. He removed his snowboard and trudged toward the tree line. It wasn't long before he found what he was looking for.
A beautiful woman laid sprawled out on the snow as if taking a nap. She looked wrong though. It looked like someone had dumped a gallon of red paint on her. The left side of her face looked fine, but the right side looked like it had been caved in.
Kevin winced and looked away. He picked her phone out of the snow. It seemed unharmed but the battery was dead. He pulled out his own phone and dialed.
"Ski patrol, how can I help you?"
"My girlfriend, she's been in a terrible accident. I'm not sure if she's alive."
"Where are you?"
"Halfway down the expert slope. Please hurry!"
Within ten minutes he was surrounded by snowmobiles.
Within twenty minutes her corpse had been taken away.
Within thirty minutes he had received many condolences for his loss and reassurances that proper steps would be taken to avert future tragedies such as this.
As he slowly walked through the parking lot, looking for his car, the large man approached him with tears in his eyes.
"Dude, I am so sorry."
He grabbed Kevin in a tight hug that stole his breath and held him for a long minute, then let go.
"You call me if you need to talk."
"I will," Kevin said with moist eyes.
Then he climbed into his late model BMW and plugged in her cell phone. After a minute, he turned it on and scrolled back through the videos. He pressed play and his own face appeared. It was just hours ago, when they were on the ski lift, heading up the mountain.
"Guess what?" he heard her say from behind the phone.
"I don't know, what?" he answered, looking bored.
He watched as his own face fell into something between shock and revulsion. Then he quickly recovered, smiled, and said, "That's great!"
"Now, about that pre-nup ..." she said as the video ended.
He flipped to the next video and found that he was the subject again. He was racing down the expert slope with her right beside him, recording. He would slide over and nudge her, playfully, over and over. All the while they were drifting closer to the trees. Finally he gave her a strong shove. She cried out in surprise but it was cut short by a loud thud and sickening crunch. The video turned to sky and trees for the next ten minutes. The only sounds were a slight breeze and gasping breaths that slowed, then stopped.
He deleted both videos.
"I'd like to thank the academy ..." Kevin said.
A smile crept across his face as he drove away.
Word count: 1395