This week, they've asked you to imagine this, "You are trapped (alone or with others) in a single location during the fury and/or aftermath of a blizzard of historic proportions."
Leaning into the wind and sleet, Vladamir and Natasha trudged onward. The snow this year in Moscow had been horrendous and this was just one more storm...one of many yet to come. Yet this one was going to be different. Perhaps it was because they had to abandon the car and begin walking. After all, they couldn't remain in the vehicle. They would have been buried alive in their small car. Their vehicle would not have been spotted on the well forested road. There were two many tall pines creating a beautiful yet treacherous canopy. What was supposed to be a two hour drive to their favorite spot had now turned into a potential fight for survival. He was glad that they had gathered a few of the branches that were scattered haphazardly before they left the woods. They would come in handy to build a fire.
What Vladamir knew now were his basic survival skills and, of course, that he had to care of Natasha as well. He knew enough to stay put once he found a spot that could easily be located. Wondering if the food and drink in his backpack would be enough to get them through, he painfully lifted his legs which were getting heavier with each step. Looking over at Natasha, he saw that she, too, was tiring. Gone was the carefree jaunt that he admired so much in her. Now, with head faced downward and squinting eyes, she, too, was visibly feeling the pain of the driving winds and sleet.
Both struggled across the twenty foot drifts, knowing that they soon had to stop. He knew that he needed to find the right place. If only we could make it until we found the power lines, a well known landmark. It would be very visible from the air. He knew also that, although the snow drifts in Russia were immense, they had never covered the entire pole. He had seen pictures in the local newspaper once of the telephone poles nearly being buried during the winter months, exposing a mere five to six feet. Yet, once again, he felt that this one was going to be different.
Seeing the clearing up ahead, with the poles protruding from the deep white blanket of snow, he breathed a sigh of relief. Vladamir's mind reeled. We'll stay put, out in the open, where search and rescue teams would be able to find us. He needed to remember to place a marker on their spot distinguishing their mound from those formed by Mother Nature. It must be visible from a good distance, he thought. He also knew that once their snow cave was built, they would have a better chance of survival. Staying warm and dry was a first step in preventing hypothermia.
Removing the small shovel from the outside compartment of his backpack, he began the arduous task. Natasha, not far away, began to dig too. He yelled over, "slow and steady." She knew the routine, as they had spent many hours together out in the wilderness. As they dug, piling the snow higher and higher to form a mound, the brisk winds carried away some of the freshly dug white flakes into the air as if it was weightless. Only about an hour had passed and the mound they created together was significant. Now it was time to dig out their cave. Once again, wordless, they dug. No words were needed. They needed to conserve their energy. Energy meant heat. They were in this together and Vladamir knew they would get out together. For together, they could do anything. Remain positive. No matter what, always remain positive.
They had carved out a nice sized den for themselves and had placed a few pine boughs down on the frozen tundra as a layer of insulation. Then, taking the space blanket out of his backpack, he unfolded it carefully. Leaving the map in the inside pocket, he removed the flashlight and the matches. Then he removed the canteen, offering some to Natasha. She drank sparingly. Then he sipped on the bottle, knowing that they had to ration the water on hand. Natasha was exhausted and immediately wanted to lie down but Vladamir pulled her closer to him. It was now just the three of them...Vladamir, Natasha and Old Man Winter. As they sat, huddled together, his arm around her, she looked at him adoringly. Natasha had been his sweetheart many, many years ago but it wasn't until recently that they had found each other once again. Finding each other after so many years had made their desire to be together strong and meaningful. They meant the world to each other now even though they had been worlds apart for such a long time.
Vladamir needed to remain focused. He rummaged through the backpack, looking for something that he could use for a marker on the mound. His search was futile. He decided to rip part of the bright red shirt he was wearing under his heavy sweater and parka. They had both dressed appropriately since their plan was to hike, spending the day in the woods and looking for all the treasures that nature leaves behind. Quickly, Vladamir formed a flag of sorts and exited the cave. Almost blinded by the northern winds, he jammed the branch into the mound, watching the ragged red material flap uncontrollably. Looking up at the sky, he could see the darkness beginning to cover the land. It would be a hard night.
Before getting too comfortable, Vladamir knew that he had one more thing to do. He had to make an air vent in the cave. Using some of the small limbs he'd gathered, he began to chisel his way through the wall of the mound. Although it was only about a two feet thick, he knew it would be more than enough to insulate them. What surprised him was how the snow mound had already begun to ice over. This was, of course, due to the the rapid drop in temperature. Yet, once inside the cave, it was already noticeably warmer especially since they were not out in the that driving wind. They shared one of the small bars that he removed from the backpack. At last, he and Natasha could lie in each others arms, adding to the warmth. It would be daylight before we know it, he thought as they both drifted off to sleep.
Vladamir awoke to find Natasha was not at his side. He crawled through the small passageway to exit the cave and saw her in the distance. Natasha had dug her way out of the cave entrance inches at a time. She had added a branch or two to the fire and was now smiling with pleasure seeing Vladamir. The sun was shining. The air was crisp. Gone were the strong north winds and driving sleet and snow. They had made it through the night and now,feeding the fire, they created an unavoidable signal. They hugged each other with such intensity that warmth immediately consumed their bodies. Then, they gazed at the power line in amazement. This snowfall had nearly buried the poles! Vladamir, close to six feet tall, stood next to the pole. A few more feet and it would have been covered completely. I knew this one was going to be different, he thought.
After they returned to their cave, they once again shared another bar and some water. There was no need to speak. They looked into each others eyes and saw the joy. They were no longer in any danger. After all, they were together and that's all that mattered. It was then that the silence was broken. "Cut! Print!" shouted the director. "That's a wrap."