A/N. Hello dear readers! It's me again with another one-shot. Don't worry, there is no way that 'LH' has been abandoned. I just needed to write something new. Thanks to XeroPrime for the idea! I don't own anything. Read on.
Winters in Minnesota are known for their harsh brutality. Particularly between December and February when daytime temperatures hover around the twenty-four degree mark. At night it becomes much worse and families blast the heat and stuff rags in the cracks of the windows before huddling in front of the fireplace. Below freezing is one thing. Below zero on the thermometers is another thing entirely. Housewives all across the state swear that they're going to leave their husbands if they have to endure one more winter in the cold state. The heavy snowfalls that can occur from October to March make driving dangerous for more than one reason. Fear of slipping on the slick roads is just ahead of the fear of getting stranded on the side of the road. And so most people do everything they possibly can to avoid being out on the roads in the first place.
But Carlos Garcia and Logan Mitchell were not "most people". It had been Carlos' idea to take a quick trip to the camping grounds about a two hours' drive from their homes to do some ice fishing. Logan had taken one look at the ominous sky and refused to go along with the crazy idea. But when Carlos pointed out that it was nine in the morning and the snow wasn't supposed to start until well into the evening, Logan had given in. As long they left by four they should be okay. Their best friends, James Diamond and Kendall Knight were both stuck at home with nasty cases of the flu so it was just Carlos and Logan that day. What could go wrong?
It should have been a smooth trip there and back. But the boys hadn't counted on the blizzard striking five hours ahead of schedule while they were still huddled together in one of the tiny ice fishing huts. They hadn't counted on not being able to find their way back to the main building of the camping grounds where they would have been able to call their parents and stay over night. They hadn't counted on finding Logan's 1980 Lincoln and then attempting to drive home before getting hopelessly lost in the first half hour. Everything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.
"Where are we?" Carlos asked, staring out the window at the blanket of white that covered everything. White also covered the air making it impossible to see. When he received no answer he looked over to his friend. "Logan?"
"I heard you the first time, Carlos." Logan's voice was muffled as he rummaged around in his glove compartment but his irritation was obvious. "I have no idea where we are, I can't even see a foot in front of me." He sighed in frustration and slammed the compartment door shut with a bang that made Carlos jump. "I can't find it."
"Find what?" Carlos poked his head over the front seat from where he had moved to the back at Logan's request.
"My survival kit." Logan answered, his normally calm demeanor tense with fear and worry. He ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "I was so sure that it was in there when I checked this morning. Now, I can't find it anywhere!" His voice rose in anxiety and his words were edged in panic.
"What did it have in it?" Carlos asked curiously. The youngest of the four best friends, he was looking forward to getting his learner's permit when his parents let him. Of course, that wouldn't be until it stopped snowing three times a week. It was a tragedy to Carlos that he was the last of the boys to have his license. Logan was the second youngest, just two months older than Carlos himself but he had gotten his license before James and Kendall. He credited it sarcastically to the fact that he could ask his father anything and Ryan Mitchell would say yes just to get his teenaged son out of his way. Logan's mother had died when he was six. Ten years ago. And ever since that day, the relationship between Logan and his father had grown distant until it was virtually non-existent.
"Some energy bars, two bottles of water, a flare, and a bunch of other stuff crucial to our survival." Logan answered glumly. "Have you tried your phone lately?"
Carlos raised the small device above his head. "Yup. Still no service."
"Great, and mine's dead." Logan flung the offending object to the floor and dropped his face into his hands. "What are we going to do?"
"Well, for one thing I don't think panicking is a good idea. I don't know how much it would accomplish." Carlos said, trying to calm the other boy down. Logan was a born worrier and their current situation was not helping. "Is there anywhere else it could be?"
Logan stared at him. "Of course, why didn't I think of that?" He said more to himself than to Carlos. He zipped up his jacket and put his hand on the door knob. "Stay here." He ordered.''
Carlos' mouth dropped open. "Logan, are you crazy? You can't go out there! It's like three degrees!"
"More like negative ten with all this snow and wind." Logan informed him. "But I won't be long. I'll check for the kit back there. Maybe I have a blanket or two." He started to get out again.
Carlos grabbed his arm. "Logan, don't be an idiot." He pleaded. "You'll freeze." He stared outside at the swirling snow. A sudden gust of wind rocked the car gently and howled through the trees. Involuntarily, both boys shivered. Then Logan gently pried Carlos' death grip off of his wrist.
"I'll only be a minute." He assured his friend. "Now sit tight. If you get out of this car I'll tell your parents about the party you tried to throw last week when they were out of town." When Carlos made a move to follow him anyway, Logan glared at him until he shrank back with a "Hurry up."
Logan flung the door open the climbed out quickly. The wind ripped the door from his hands and slammed it shut. The icy air hit the small boy like a ton of bricks. He was sixteen years old but Logan always had a scrawny build to him. He pulled his warm jacket around him tighter and keeping one hand on the car and the other holding the jacket close to him, Logan carefully inched his way to the rear of the vehicle.
To his dismay he couldn't possibly open the trunk with his thick gloves on so Logan took them off, stuffing them deep in his pockets. Flexing his already numb fingers, Logan pried the stubborn trunk open. To his immense relief there was a large quilt stuffed deep in the back. Unfortunately, that was the only thing there. Logan gathered the thick blanket in his arms and straightened up quickly, eager to get back in the warm car.
But he straightened up too quickly because he smacked his head hard on the low trunk door. The pain ran through his entire body and he fell dizzily to the cold ground. He lay there for nearly a minutes and tried to bite back the tears that hovered in his eyes. Sitting up carefully, Logan rubbed his head gently. There was no blood but there was a growing lump already. Logan groaned and stood shakily to his feet. The quilt sat on the edge of the car where he had dropped it. Once again, Logan picked is up, this times straightening up very slowly. Then he made his way back to the front of the car. He juggled to quilt as he tried to open the door with his bare fingers. But it was only a couple of seconds before Carlos opened the door from inside and removed Logan's burden from his hands. He collapsed into the front seat and pulled the door shut.
"Where the heck are your gloves?" Carlos demanded. He shoved the blanket to one side and took one of Logan's hands in his own. "Your hands are like ice." He frowned in deep disapproval.
"I had to take them off." Logan pulled them out of his pocket and waved them at Carlos. "I couldn't get the trunk opened with them on." He struggled pull them back on his hands before Carlos had to help him. "T-thanks." He stammered.
Carlos frowned. "You're shivering."
"S-so are you." Logan pointed out. "C-come on. Get in the b-back seat. There's more room there." He climbed over the front seats and settled into the back. Carlos thumped down besides him. Logan spread the quilt out and the boys huddled together to keep warm.
"I guess you didn't find the kit?" Carlos mumbled, his face pressed into the blanket.
Logan shook his head. "Just this. I was s-sure that it was in the glove compartment t-this morning."
Carlos brought his face out of the blanket to look at his friend. "Are you okay, Logan?" He asked in concern.
Logan nodded quickly. "I'm fine. Just cold." He concentrated on getting his teeth to stop chattering. His head was aching from banging it and his whole body was freezing from falling into the snow. Logan had aspirations to be a doctor one day and he had all three stages of hypothermia memorized. He kept a careful analysis on himself and was sure that he was still in stage one. That was nothing to be concerned about. Carlos was probably in stage one himself. The problems arose when stage one transitioned to stage two and then the worst, stage three. But Logan was sure that as long as he carefully monitored himself and his friend, they would be fine.
"So what do we do?" Carlos asked.
"Well, we have to stay warm, obviously. We can turn the car on for brief periods of time to help warm up but not too much. We might get carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, I have to make sure that the snow doesn't build up around the exhaust pipe too much." Under the blanket, Logan rubbed his hands together.
"What do you mean you have to clear the exhaust pipe?" Carlos interrupted, looking mad. "Logan, I' going to help,you know."
"Right. By staying inside at all times." Logan responded firmly. "I've already been exposed to the cold. One of us needs to stay warm." He sighed. "Anyway, we also need to be sure that only one of us is sleeping at one times. If we both doze off. . ." He shivered, whether from the cold or his thought, Carlos wasn't sure. "We might never wake up again." He finished solemnly. He glanced at Carlos. "What time is it anyway?"
Carlos looked first at his phone. "Dead." He said, scowling. He tossed the now completely useless device away and looked at his wrist watch. "6:00 exactly."
"Good." Logan let his head fall gently to the back of his seat, wincing slightly as the sore spot connected with a bump in the leather upholstery. "They might start looking for us soon if they can."
Kendall Knight wrapped his blanket more firmly around his shoulders. Outside the warm, cozy house the wind had kicked up a notch. The old house creaked and Kendall could barely make out the shapes of trees swaying violently. He sniffed, his nose tingling and then despite his best efforts, he sneezed.
"Bless you, Kendall." His mother called from the other room. She poked her head in. "Can I get you something, sweetie?"
Kendall shook his head. "No thanks." He rasped out. He hated being sick but at least the weather outside made him grateful for his warm home. Any other day he'd be heading over to the hockey rink with his best friends. But James was sick too and Carlos and Logan were probably at home watching movies. Or in Logan's case, studying.
His cell phone rang harshly and Kendall winced at how it pierced his sensitive ears. Pulling it out of his pocket, he held it to his ear. "Hello?' He mumbled sleepily.
"Kendall?" A familiar voice said. Kendall pushed the fog out of his mind and tried to place the voice with a face. He hadn't even looked at the caller ID.
"Mr. Garcia?" He guessed uncertainly. It sounded like Carlos' father but he couldn't imagine why he was calling his cell phone.
"Yes, it's me. I hope I'm not bothering you."
The voice on the other end sounded strange to Kendall and he sat up from his position on the couch. He feet hit the floor and blankets tumbled off of him. "No not at all, Mr. Garcia. Is everything okay?"
Mr. Garcia sighed and immediately alarm bells went off in Kendall's head. "Actually no. See, Carlos and Logan left for some ice fishing this morning. They had intended to head back before the storm hit but it started a lot earlier than the weathermen had expected. They should have been back a while ago. We were wondering if you had heard from them at all today, or maybe they should up at your house since it's closer?"
Fear made Kendall forget that he was sick. His headache and chills were drained away by Mr. Garcia's words. Minnesota winters could be deadly. A storm could strike whenever without warning. And now, Logan and Carlos were apparently right in the middle of a fierce blizzard. "No." He finally said. "No, I haven't heard from them at all." Out of the corner of his eye, Kendall caught his mother and little sister Katie coming into the room watching in concern. "Have you called James?" He asked suddenly hopeful.
"No." Came the response. "I was going to call him if you hadn't heard from either if them."
Kendall shook his head and then remembered that he was on the phone. "Do you want me to call James? That way you can keep trying to get a hold of them."
"Yes." Mr. Garcia sounded grateful despite the fact that Kendall's offer wouldn't do much to help. "That would be great, Kendall. Thank you."
Kendall mumbled a quick your welcome and then shut his phone. Then he opened it again, he dialed James' cell with shaking hands.
"Kendall, what is going on?" His mother asked. "Is everything okay?"
"I don't know." Kendall admitted. "That was Mr. Garcia. He was wondering if I had heard from Carlos and Logan today. They-" He broke off and held a finger up to tell his mom and sister to wait. "James, hi. Listen. . ."
"What time is it?" Logan gently shook a sleeping Carlos.
"Um, almost 1:00" Carlos rubbed his eyes and sat up. "I guess they haven't found us yet, huh?"
"Well at least the storm is settling down." Logan shivered. To his alarm he was pretty sure that he had entered stage two of hypothermia. He could hardly feel his fingers and toes and it was getting difficult to move around.
"Are you okay?" Carlos asked for the hundredth time. He was looking less and less convinced at Logan's insistence that he was just fine as the time wore on.
"Yeah." Logan shifted the warm blanket off of himself and more onto Carlos. "B-be right back."
"Hang on, Logan." Carlos caught his jacket sleeve. "Let me clear the exhaust pipe this time. I should be doing it anyway. I'm the one who got us into this mess in the first place."
Logan snorted. "Don't give y-yourself too m-much credit." He tried to joke. "I was the o-one who drove h-here. I could have s-said no."
"Logan." Carlos didn't smile. "Don't get out of the car. You're already shaking. Look I'm fine. Let me do it this time." He flung the blanket away but was stopped by Logan's firm grasp on his wrist. He gasped at the icy feel. "Logan, your hands!" He cried out. Before Logan could protest he held them up to inspect. "They're turning blue, Logan. That's not normal."
Logan snatched his hands away. "I'm f-fine Carlos. Let me g-go. I won't be l-long."
"Logan, you can barely talk, you won't stop shaking, and your hands are turning blue. You need to stay inside. I'll take care of things from now on."
"No." Logan said firmly. He dug around in his coin tray and came up with a quarter. "Okay. Call it."
Carlos glared at him but relented. "Heads." He said, taking the coin from Logan and flipping it into the air. Both boys crowded around it anxiously.
"Tails." Logan announced in satisfaction. "Be right back." Before Carlos could protest he was out of the car and into the unforgiving cold. The icy air knifed through his jacket and he stumbled at first. The wind had settled down a great deal but the temperature had also dropped a good deal. He waded through the waist deep snow to the back of the car. Thanks to his determined efforts, the exhaust pipe was still visible beneath the blanket of snow. He dropped to his knees and cleared it the best he could. A violent shiver ripped throughout his body and Logan had to stop digging to wrap his arms around his middle. When he finally stopped shaking, he stood up and walked back to the car.
Carlos practically pulled him back in their warm shelter. "You can't go out there anymore, Logan." He begged. "You're shaking."
"D-don't be s-stupid." Logan stammered. "N-no sense in b-both of us g-getting s-sick." He ignored the wave of dizziness that suddenly washed over him. He would not let Carlos get out of the car. It was far too cold and this was his fault. Sure it had been Carlos' idea but Logan was the responsible one. He would never forgive himself if Carlos was seriously hurt or sick.
"Carlos! Logan!" James rolled down the window of Kendall's car and shouted into the black night. His words were lost into the freezing air. But the effort cost him and he collapsed back into the passenger seat in a fit of coughing.
"James, be more careful." Kendall pleaded. "We shouldn't even be out here in the first place." He coughed hoarsely into his hand. "Don't get me wrong, I want to be out here looking for Carlos and Logan but you're not going to help anything by having stroke."
James glared at him. "I'm not going to-"
"You know what I mean." Kendall interrupted. He sighed and leaned his head briefly on the steering wheel before peering once more into the impenetrable darkness. His cell phone rang and the boys jumped. James snatched it up and answered.
"Hi, Mrs. Knight. No we haven't gone past the limit you set for us." He made a face at Kendall. The boys had long ago crossed the boundary their parents had set. "Has anyone found anything." He listened hopefully but his face fell. "Okay. No we haven't either. Okay. Yeah. See ya." He snapped the phone shut and stared silently out the window.
After a while he turned to Kendall. "Where are they?" He asked in desperation. "Nobody had seen a thing. The people at the camp ground said they didn't see them leave but Logan's car isn't there anymore. They must have left. But where are they?"
It was nearly five in the morning and the boys had driven back and fourth to the camp grounds twice without spotting a single sign of their two missing friends. Now that the wind had died down there was a full search on for Carlos and Logan. There were patrol cars, search and rescue dogs, and even a helicopter. The local radio stations were a constant reminder of the nightmare so James had finally turned it off. Despite their best efforts to remain optimistic, hope was beginning to fade.
Suddenly Kendall slammed on the breaks. "Look!" He said excitedly.
James followed his friend's gaze. Almost non-existent and just visible in the beginnings of morning light was a road. It was small and hidden from obvious view. But it was a road. James spun around. "Do you think they could have missed the turn?" He asked.
"I don't know." Kendall was already driving down the narrow path. "But we've looked everywhere else. It couldn't hurt to look."
Neither boy said anything then but the spotting of the small road had sparked a renewed sense of hope for their missing best friends.
Carlos wearily glanced at his watch. "6:39" He whispered. He blinked, struggling to stay awake. He and Logan had been staring at each other stubbornly for the last hour, each determined to be the one to check of the exhaust pipe next. But Logan was surprisingly stubborn. He refused to give in.
Logan was really worrying Carlos. His friend's face had the slightest tinge of blue to it and he would not stop shivering no matter how tightly they were wrapped in the blanket. He could barely talk anymore without stuttering. His teeth were chattering constantly and all the effort to keep warm was clearly taking it's toll on him.
Carlos frowned. "I told you, Logan. 6:39. Well, now it's 6:40 but don't you remember asking me less than a minute ago."
"N-no." Logan shook his head. "S-sorry."
"Okay." Carlos said. "That's it. No more outside for you. My turn." He made sure Logan was wrapped in the quilt and then he jumped outside, shutting the door quickly behind him.
Logan was aware of three things. First, they were still stranded in the middle of nowhere. Even though the sun was finally breaking through the clouds and bathing the world around them in a welcomed light, he didn't recognize their surroundings at all. He wasn't worried about that because Carlos didn't recognize anything either. The second thing concerned him. He was almost positive that he had approached the third stage of hypothermia. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't get warm. And his pounding head told him that he probably had a concussion from the night before. And the final thing Logan was aware of was the fact that Carlos was outside in the freezing cold. Calling on every last bit of his strength, Logan pulled himself out of the car.
Carlos stiffened at the sound of the car door. He jumped to his feet and ran around the car to meet Logan halfway. "Logan, what the heck? Get back in the car now!" He yanked open the car door, shaking with anger and fear.
"N-no." Logan murmured stubbornly. I have t-to." And then he collapsed.
"Do you see anything?" Kendall craned his neck to get a better view. "We've been on this road for two hours now."
"I know." James replied. He strained his eyes as much as he could. Hoping, praying to see a sign of life along the desolate stretch of road. He had been so sure that Logan and Carlos would have been found by now. But they had heard nothing. Suddenly, the sun glinted off of something far in the distance. James rolled down is window and hung halfway out staring ahead. His breath caught in his throat. After hours of searching he could hardly believe his eyes. "Kendall!" He shouted. "There's a car up ahead. I think it's Logan's!" He braced himself as Kendall responded by accelerating. The car sped up and James shivered at the cold wind. As they got nearer he knew it. "Kendall, it's them!" He cupped a hand over his mouth. "Carlos! Logan!"
Carlos caught his friend as he fell. They fell to the ground with a gentle thud. "Logan!" Carlos cried out in panic. He gripped his friend to him and searched his face desperately. Logan's face was a frightening blueish-whitish color. His chest rose ever so slightly with each struggling breath. He lay limply as Carlos called frantically to him.
"Logan, please answer me." He begged, his eyes filling with tears. "Come on, Logan." He shook his unresponsive friend and then in desperation looked around him. "Help!" He screamed as loud as he could. The word echoed in the stillness and Carlos started to cry in earnest.
"Logan, please wake up. I'm sorry. This is all my fault. I promise I'll never make you do anything again if you just wake up. Please Logan. Don't die. Come on." Sobs shook his shoulders and he cried into Logan's jacket. He was so distressed that he didn't hear his name being called or the car approaching right away.
Then, dimly he heard familiar voices. He jerked up and looked around, hardly daring it to be true. Then he caught sight of a car, Kendall's car racing towards them. Pulling one arm free he waved it in the air wildly. "James!" He shouted at the top of his lungs. "Kendall, we're over here!"
James fell out of the open window as Kendall pulled to a stop. Hitting the snow with a gentle thud he stumbled to his feet and ran towards Carlos and Logan. He collapsed to the ground besides he best friends and pulled Carlos into a hug. Behind him, Kendall already had his cell phone out and was speaking rapidly into it. He dropped down next to the other boys.
"Logan." Carlos was sobbing hard into James' shoulder, his whole body shaking. James was holding him tightly and babbling over and over again about how Logan was going to be fine. And all the while, he stared at Logan over Carlos' head and saw how still their best friend was
"They're coming." Kendall dropped his phone and carefully picked Logan up. "We need to get him in the car." He explained, trying to ignore the dead weight in his arms. Logan was going to be okay. He had to be. He threw James a silent message to somehow get Carlos into the car as well. James grasped his arms firmly around Carlos and led him to the waiting car. Once inside, Kendall blasted the heat and aided by James and Carlos, started rubbing Logan's arms and legs. And there they waited.
Carlos couldn't take his eyes off of Logan's sleeping form. He looked so much better than he had when he was first brought in. The color was returning to his face and his breathing was regular. The doctors told them that Logan had suffered from stage three hypothermia. He had also had a small concussion. But the best thing that Carlos had heard were the words, "He's going to be fine." He had nearly cried all over again when he heard that. "He's going to be fine."
Logan suddenly stirred and opened his eyes. James, Kendall, and Carlos were all staring at him. Their faces were pale and drawn but when they saw him looking back at them, they lit up with joy and relief. Carlos looked like he was trying to decide between whooping for joy and hugging Logan. He opted for the hug.
"Logan, don't ever do that again." His voice shook as he tried to smile. "You scared us all to death."
"Sorry." Logan managed to croak out. "Are you okay, Carlos?"
"Besides from being forever emotionally traumatized?" Carlos shrugged. "I'm fine. The doctors checked me out and gave me a clean bill of health. You're the one who insisted on getting hypothermia and a concussion.
"Yeah, Logan. It figures you'd get your first concussion from something other than hockey." Kenda;; sank down into a nearby chairs. "Man, Logan. You sure know how to scare a guy." He shook his head. "I'm with Carlos on this one. Don't ever do something like that again. Guys aren't supposed to cry." He sniffed a little. "You sure ruined that for us."
"Don't worry guys. We'll just eliminate ice fishing from our hobbies." James joked. "Take up something safe. Like singing."
Logan rolled his eyes. "That's a great idea for you James but I'm not too sure about the rest of us." He shrugged. "But who knows? With all the crazy things we've done it could happen."
A/N. Sorry about the ending. But it's almost 6am and I have to get up in four hours. Whee. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE review so I feel that it was worth the lost hours of sleep. Peace y'all.