“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Max breathed out incredulously. After staring at the barrier of snow for a few more seconds, he slowly reached out and shut off the car. As the vehicle’s hum turned to silence, I peeked over the dashboard and whistled.
“Wow. Mother Nature’s a bitch.”
Against his better judgement, Max chuckled a bit. “We’re trapped here, and that’s the first thing that comes to your mind?”
“Well, no. The first thing that came to mind was ‘snowball fight’, but the ‘Mother Nature’ thing was a close second.”
“It’s the zombie apocalypse, Charlie.”
“That’s fair, that’s fair. But just remember that I offered.” I sat back with a huff and looked back out at the pure, untouched snow impeding our progress. “We probably should have checked the weather.”
“That’s an understatement and a half. I guess we should...head back inside, then.” He reluctantly clicked the garage opener again, drawing it closed and sealing us back off from the outside.
After countless trips back into the house, we ended up sitting in the middle of the kitchen, completely surrounded by a mountain of food. “Does it say anything about when it’s supposed to warm up?” Max asked wearily, nodding to the weather app I’d pulled up on my phone.
“No...It’s supposed to stay below freezing for at least the rest of the week. It doesn’t show any further than that.” I laid back on the linoleum and heaved a big sigh. The physical exertion of bringing all the food into the house had caused my flu symptoms to act up again, so it kind of hurt a bit to breathe. “At least we still have electricity. And I doubt we’re the only ones in the neighborhood still trapped here.”
He nodded and nudged a stack of canned corn with his sneaker. “Right. But we also don’t know how long the electricity is going to last.”
Very true. The overhead lights were steady and bright, but without anyone at the plants sending electricity to everyone…
Recognizing that he was being a tad pessimistic, Max blushed and shook his head. “We’ll probably be out of here by then, though. So, uh...don’t worry.” He drummed his fingers on his knee, glancing over at me again. His comforting words clashed with the nerves bouncing off of him, but it was endearing nonetheless. “Did you let your mom know, yet?”
“I tried sending a text, but the signal’s pretty shitty. I’m gonna try again later.”
I sneezed, drawing out a smile from Max. “You should take some more medicine. I need to figure out a way to store all of the frozen stuff that won’t fit in the freezer.”
Scrambling to my feet, I knocked over a trio of water bottles and began scooping bags of frozen food into my arms. “Nope! I’m bored to death. I’m helping.”
Max couldn’t even protest since I was already waddling to the sliding backdoor and pushing it open with my elbow. “Charlie!”
“Shut up, I already have an idea!” I yelled back with a grin. He had no choice but to just follow me outside into the backyard, if only to make sure I didn’t pass out in the snow.
I jerked my chin at a rickety old shed beside the porch. “See? It’s empty, so everything will stay nice and cold in there.”
Max gave an approving nod but also immediately hijacked my crusade and gave me the job of opening and closing the sliding door for him as he took groceries out to the shed.
Seven trips later, he stomped snow off his shoes and bustled back into the house. I laughed and reached out to shut the door for the last time, about to crack a joke about Max’s white knighting, when he froze and went pale.
“Charlie? What is that?” He murmured, staring at my arm. His whole body had tensed up.
I looked down and saw what had raised the alarm. My sleeve must’ve caught on the gauze around my wrist, unraveling it while I was distracted and revealing a festering, red bite wound.