Attempting a shortcut through the forest pass during a blizzard was a mistake, but there was nothing to do about it now. He had more pressing matters at hand.
The wreck of the Z-28 rested on its roof in a ditch by the side of the road. The front-side passenger wheel had stopped spinning and a thin coat of fresh snow had already begun to coat the exposed undercarriage. Tom managed to crawl away from the rollover with only a couple of scrapes and bruises. He’d have counted himself lucky, if it wasn’t for the gale force winds and rapidly accumulating drifts.
He had no idea how long it would take for someone to notice he was missing and send someone out to find him. Until that happened, he needed warmth and shelter — just enough to keep him alive until help arrived.
Grabbing every old Hardee’s wrapper, parking ticket, and ball of lint he could find in the Z-28. he staggered to a shallow depression beneath a rocky outcrop. It didn’t offer much in terms of protection from the storm, but Tom was in no position to be choosy. He withdrew his right hand into the sleeve of his Member’s Only jacket and cleared the snow away from the ground. Using a few thin twigs snapped from some denuded trees along with his small bundle of improvised tinder, he constructed a small firepit.
He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his lighter, a Scripto jobber embossed with the Rush’s name and band logo inscribed on the side. He bought it on a whim when he picked up a copy of 2112 at the Strawberries in the mall. Considering how much weed he smoked while listening to the band, it felt like a fitting waste of a fiver.
He flicked it. Once. Twice. Three times. Nothing but a few weak sparks. He checked the flint in the fading light, shook the lighter in his hand and tried again, the tempo of his flicks matching that of his escalating panic.
Terror turned to rage, and he hurled the lighter into the forest. It tumbled end over end before vanishing into the darkness.
Tom covered his face with his hands and wept. His fingers and toes had already gone numb.
“WHY GOD WHY?” he wailed. “PLEASE SOMEONE ANYONE HELP ME! I DON’T WANT TO DIE. please help me.”
And the oaks ignored his pleas.