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August 14 2012 19:48:23.
Today Thursday 23 May 2013 14:33:32
"You've no idea the trouble I went to, mate. Anyway, we'll talk about
that later. We have to get a move on now."
"How far, do you reckon?"
His parka hood was looking skyward, too, but he didn't have a clue what
he was looking for. He started to shiver.
"Not far, Tom. Just a couple of hours. If we play our cards right,
we'll be on a nice warm train soon."
Why tell him the truth now? I hadn't bothered to so far. "You ready
He was coughing up the last of the brick dust like a TH patient.
I started down the road and he followed on behind. After just a couple
of hundred yards we hit a treeline, about fifteen yards off the road on our
left. I headed for it, leaving ridiculous amounts of tracks in snow which
was up to my knees and sometimes waist high. It didn't bother me. Why worry
about things you can't change?
I waited for Tom to catch up. The pace wasn't going to be anything to
write home about. You have to move at the speed of the slowest; that's just
how it is if you want to keep together. I wondered about improvising snow
shoes by tying tree branches to our feet, but quickly decided against; these
things look good on paper but in the dark it's just a pain in the ass to
prepare and wastes time.
I looked up. Wispy clouds were starting to appear and scud across the
Tom caught up and I allowed him a minute's rest before we
moved on. I wanted to get out into the open fields before starting
cross country, following Polaris. That way we'd give the compound a wide
berth as we had to head north, back toward it.
At the end of the treeline, visibility was about fifty to sixty yards
in the starlight. The landscape was white, fading to black. In the middle
distance to my half left I could see the dim glow of the target area.
I felt the cold bite into my face as I looked up at the sky once more.
Tom shuffled up next to me, knees buried in snow, standing so close that his
breath merged with mine, losing itself in the wind. His hood was off again
as he tried to cool down. I put it back up and slapped him on the head.
"Don't do that, you'll lose all the heat you've just generated."
He pulled the fur around his face once more.
I tried to find a reference point on the ground north of us, but it was
too dark. The next best thing was to pick a star on the horizon below
Polaris and go for that--it was easier than constantly checking skyward. I
got one, not as bright as some, but good enough.
The hood moved and the material rustled as a head nodded about in there
We headed north. The only positive thing I could think of was that the
pain in my ass had now disappeared. Either that or it was even colder than
The ground beneath the snow was plowed, so both of us kept slipping and
falling on the angled, frozen furrows. The best way forward seemed to be to
keep my feet low and push through the snow. I became the icebreaker and Tom
followed in my wake; anything to speed him up.
Clouds drifted across the sky more frequently now, intermit tendy
blotting out my guide on the horizon. Polaris, too, was in and out of cloud
Tom lagged about ten yards behind, hands in pockets, head down. There
was nothing to do but keep pushing north as the clouds moved faster and
gained in mass.
After about an hour the wind began to pick up, attacking my face and
tugging at my coat. It was time to put down the furry earflaps. Each time we
lost direction, all I could do was keep heading in what I thought was a
straight line, only to find that we were way off course when the cloud
cleared. I felt like a pilot flying without instruments. Our trail through
the snow must have been one long zigzag.
My major concern was that the wind and cloud would bring snow.