General Fiction posted December 20, 2021

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Constabulary Searches for the Missing

Snow Storm: Victim Recovery

by Allezw2

The two troopers stamped the snow from their boots before hanging up their coats and hats in the vestibule. Entering the warmer office, the heat burned their faces at first, acclimating to the eighty degrees inside from the minus twenty outside.

"Any luck, Denman?"

The senior trooper, Denman shook his head. "None. We checked as far as we could see until dark. There's at least two feet of snow in most places. The only reason we found the one was he walked into a barbed wire fence and couldn't get free. He was way in off the road. If anyone is still out there, I hope they found cover."

Wayman shook his head. "Or else we won't see them until the snow melts this spring. Damn shame. Anyway, there's a fresh pot on the hot plate. Go warm up."

Denman and Freeman stood under the heater vent in the assembly room to take the chill off with the mugs of coffee in both hands. Their conversation was muted. The snowplows had found several cars along the State Highway 21 between Tipple and Seymore. That was nearly 110 miles in a stretch with nothing save the mailboxes and the dirt roads leading to the ranch houses far off the highway. The worry was the several cars that had no occupants.

Of the cars reported missing, they checked the three they discovered in their area. Two were empty, one was a camper truck stalled in the drifts. When they knocked on the door a grizzled and middle-aged man answered. He assured them that he was okay. He had plenty of butane and food and water, grinning as he pointed at the drifts.

"Stay put, sir. The National Guard is sending out help for you folks that got stranded. They'll be by later today. Your cell phone up?"

"Four bars, officer."

"Watch your batteries and make sure you are checking for any CO." Nodding an affirmative he waved goodbye as the troopers started their snowmobiles and continued their search. The empty cars were the center of their search fanning out on both sides of the road.

Converging, after that first vehicle, they drove up the road, stopping to search with their binoculars. Freeman startled Denman when he suddenly called out. "Oh! God damn it! Look out there."

Denman was checking the other side of the road with his binoculars and turned when Freeman called. "Christ." was all he said as he surveyed the scene. Farther up the road and closer, they parked their snowmobiles and climbed through the fence. They walked the rest of the way toward the body hanging from the barbed wire fence far off the road.

He was a tall man, his head and shoulders well above the top wire that had captured and held him. The drifted snow reached above his waist. They knew he had walked up the road nearly a mile before he went cross country.

The eyes and mouth were partially open. Frost had covered his hair. The beard and mustache were frosted as if he were aged beyond what they thought was about his thirties or early forties. Only a denim jacket protected him. There were no gloves.

Denman shook his head. "Stalled, then left the car and got lost in the blizzard. Nothing we can do here. Let's go back and call it in."

Freeman looked at the body. "Try for some ID?"

Denman shook his head. Following his lead Freeman caught up as they pushed through the foot and a half of snow across the field to the highway.

"We've ID'd the car. To get anything off that corpse, you'd need an ice axe. Let the coroner thaw him out and we can get anything that's loose then" Denman said. Freeman, the new man, nodded.

It was goose eggs for the rest of their search area. Checking the other two vehicles again, they called in the IDs. They were still searching into the early dusk when they returned to their truck, loaded the snowmobiles onto the trailer and drove back to their station.

"Hey, boys," their supervisor called. "Come in and sit down. The county super is asking about the searches. What's with your section, milepost 10 to 23?"

Freeman looked to his senior. Denman shrugged. "Go ahead, Ernie."

"We took the ground on either side until dark. We met some of the hands and they said they hadn't seen anyone."

Suisun, pursed his lips. "That's twenty-five people we have missing." He swiveled his chair around and stood looking at the wall map.

"The State Highway Department and the National Guard escorted out the drivers that stayed with their cars. The others were pushed off the road. They'll be impounded when they get to them.

"Okay, check the radio and phone messages when you come in tomorrow and write up your reports. Your GPS coordinates are important and logged. Verify them.

"Anything else,?"

"No sir," the two men replied.

"The weather people say we have another storm coming in the day after tomorrow. They said it will be worse than this one. Something to look forward to, isn't it?"

"If it's all the same to you, sir," Freeman said. "For this first one of the season, I'd just as soon not."

Suisun smiled. "Good night, guys, well done."

"Thank you, sir, Denman replied.

Snow! writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
Write a poem or short story about the first snowfall of the season.

Use extreme caution when entering snow country. Be ready for any emergency with food, water, emergency survival gear and emergency communication gear. A cell phone rarely works in the back country.
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