Stomping his foot, Raiden felt the cold eat at him. He tapped his foot then dug for starter kindling, Harvester Whiskey, and matches. Walking around the shelving near the exit, Raiden looked for items to burn. Starting a fire was the only thing he could think of to stay warm until Doug returned. Fear made his stomach churn. His eyes flipped to the glass doors. What if Doug didn’t come back? No. The harvester was mean, but Doug wouldn’t kill him. Would he?
Just as Raiden turned around to explore the rest of the room, a faint scratching sound at the back of the building caught his attention. He paused and listened. What was that? More snow coming in? Ice cracking? He headed back over to the counter and scanned the area.
The bellow of a polar bear paralyzed Raiden on the spot. He didn’t even look to where the animal might be. Raiden dashed for the exit and squeezed back through the door.
Raiden looked backward. Movement of white flashed next to the glass doors. Terror fueled him. The cold became a forgotten memory. He started up the hill of ice. Slipping and skidding, he tried to climb the pile of snow, but it was difficult without his ice cleats. His leg caught on an ice rock, and his ankle twisted painfully. Another roar broke the air.
Raiden flipped his head back as he crawled over the ice dune. A huge polar bear came out of the building. The animal spotted him and headed his way. Throwing his body off the mini-mountain, he rolled down the other side and landed with an audible crunch. He scrambled to his feet and started a dead run.
Up ahead, Raiden thought he saw the glimpse of a snowmobile on the ice. He said a prayer of thanks to whoever was trekking this way.
Raiden had just stopped to wave and holler for whoever was on the ice when a cramp seized his joints. He hit the ground as his knees and shoulders spasmed. A storm was here. His eyes misted with tears as the familiar soreness dug its claws into his bones. Raiden cried out, but the exclamation was only a muffled scream. The storm would be here in four minutes and thirty-two seconds.
The sound of an engine broke into his daze of agony. Just then another bellow of the polar bear had him spinning backward. The bear was at the top of the ice hill. The animal climbed slowly down the incline toward Raiden. He turned around and leaped to his feet. Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw a snowmobile to his left. He began to sprint toward what he hoped was help. Another mini-mountain of snow rose like a blockade ahead of him. Shoving aside a second spasm of joint pain, he dashed toward the pile of ice. Maybe he could hide behind the snow mound until the person on the snowmobile showed up. Perhaps Doug had returned.
Raiden’s ankle hurt, but the sting was no worse than his knees and shoulders. His empty pack felt like the straps alone weighed about two hundred pounds. The canvas strap that ripped on the train began to give out.
He hit the ice mountain and started to pull himself over the top. This ice was smoother, and it was harder to get solid footing. He slipped at the top where an area was particularly flattened and fell onto his belly. He held onto the one band of material that still held his bag onto his back.
Just as he was about to throw his legs over, he heard another roar. The bear had caught up with him…