Trapped in the milky unreality of the fog

Trapped in the milky unreality of the fog, Millie’s new love met its first challenge.

It had been an adventure at first, cloistered in the alpine hut. As they reached their planned destination that first evening, the fog was settling with the evening darkness. Millie congratulated herself on her excellent timing, her bouoyant mood raised when she found the fire set, dried logs heaped in a wooden basket and more in a shelter behind the hut.

In the tiny kitchen space, a row of tins graced a shelf, labelled emergency rations. Millie scorned them. They had food of their own, freshly bought in the village in the valley that morning and lugged up their mountain as their reward for hard work.

mountain hut in fog

Jonathan had attended the fire while Millie unpacked the food goodies on the narrow bench.
‘Good thing I remembered matches,’ he’d joked.
Mille gave him a scathing look. ‘You mean you took note of my list of essentials?’
‘Of course.’
‘First time for everything.’

Immediately regretting her snide comment, Millie followed it up with a wide smile and a pat on Jonathan’s arm. He smiled back, bent to the kindling, struck the match and held it to the crumpled paper. The fire took immediately and Jonathan reached for a large log to add to the flames.

‘Not yet,’ Millie said. She softened her bossiness. ‘Let it get going properly, and then smaller pieces at first.’ Reaching into the basket, she pulled out a more suitable length of wood and laid it on the hearth. ‘More like that.’

Jonathan returned his own log to the basket. ‘Ok Miss Fire Expert, shall I leave it to you?’

Millie had laughed. This was their first time away together. She liked Jonathan and she didn’t want him getting grumpy with her. Like others had done.

‘I’m sorry.’ She pulled in her lips, rueful. ‘Just tell me to back off. Look–‘ she swivelled about, gesturing at the comfortably shabby sofa placed to catch the fire’s heat ‘–doesn’t that seem a great place to curl up with our bottle of wine for the evening?’

Jonathan kissed her on the cheek. ‘And get a good night’s sleep, ready for tomorrow’s trek.’

But when Millie woke the next morning, a stillness in the air made her reluctant to pull aside the thin curtain and peer through the glass. Whiteness met her gaze.

‘It’s early yet,’ Jonathan had said. ‘It’ll have lifted by the time we have breakfast.’

It hadn’t.

‘Well, how bad can a bit of fog be?’ Jonathan dried the dishes Millie had washed. ‘We can follow the path, and by late morning the fog will have lifted, for sure.’

Millie frowned at this naivety. ‘I read in the guide book that fog can last for days up here, at this time of year.’ She snorted. ‘So much for the weather forecast. It’s supposed to be clear all this week.’

They had resigned themselves to an extra day in the hut, grateful for the stacked firewood. Millie sorted through their food provisions. Last night’s meagre leftovers, cheese, energy bars, dried meats, chocolate. She thought of their recent feast with some wistfulness. Perhaps they should have been less greedy.

But, it would only be for another night, then a hike down to the next valley tomorrow and a slap up meal in the best restaurant the doubtless tiny village provided.

By the third evening, the initial sense of cosy cloistering had soured in Millie’s mind to a foreboding imprisonment as her patience wore to a whisker’s thinness by Jonathan’s constant optimism. The man seemed content to sit on the sofa, reading magazines and dog-eared novels left by other occupiers, and asking at regular intervals what was for breakfast/lunch/dinner.

Their own food was long depleted. The emergency tins had come into play, to Jonathan’s delight.

‘Sausages in mushy peas, yum.’ Jonathan lifted a tin, and read the label. He rubbed his stomach, truly gleeful.

Millie stared and bit her lip hard.

The fourth morning she was woken by sunlight burning through the cotton curtain. Her heart lifted. Quietly, she slipped from the bunk bed, rolled her sleeping bag into its bag, and gathered her few things. With an eye on the still snoring Jonathanand her boots in her hand, Millie tiptoed to the door, opened it a crack and stole through.

The path along the ridge stood out clearly in the cloudless day. Millie bent to put on her boots, tied them firmly and set off at a pacy stride. Away from Jonathan.

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6 thoughts on “Trapped in the milky unreality of the fog”


    Despite the strong fog lights, Clive and his new-found friend still found the going tough – averaging no more than 10mph on the country road and constantly on the lookout for obstacles they might need to avoid.
    The fog showed no signs of lifting and Clive began to think this might be the case for the entire journey.
    Although the car’s heater kept him warm, he felt an unexplained chill in his bones that he could not shake – no matter how hard he tried.
    They had probably been travelling in convoy for over an hour when, through the mist, they spotted an old house, its shape silhouetted dimly in the fog lights.
    His new friend, who Clive now knew as Stan, stopped and, climbing out, headed towards the rear vehicle.
    “This might be a good place to rest for the night, especially if someone’s home and can put us up” he said.
    Clive agreed and, leaving their cars by the roadside, they headed towards the building.
    A dark and heavy wooden front door, complete with giant knocker, marked the front entrance.
    Their efforts at notifying the owners of their presence echoed through the house.
    Nothing moved as they waited impatiently, flailing their arms to keep warm.
    The two men leaned on the door which slowly gave way to reveal a dark hallway that seemed to stretch forever. Shrouded in shadow, a giant staircase led to an upper storey.
    “Looks like no one’s home,” Clive offered. “Wonder if we should shelter here, anyway.”
    “Can’t see why not,” replied Stan. “After all, who’s going to know.”
    Both returned to their cars and slowly drove them up the driveway to the front door.
    “You don’t happen to have any food,” Stan enquired.
    “Unfortunately, no, just a few snacks. You?”
    “Same. Ah well, it’ll just have to do.”
    Grabbing a couple of blankets from their vehicles, the two interlopers headed inside to see if they could find somewhere comfortable to sleep.
    A downstairs bedroom some distance down the hallway offered a couple of single beds, so, in the interests of expediency and hoping they could achieve an early morning start, they decided to bunk in the same room.
    Both men were dog tired from their anxious driving efforts and it wasn’t long before loud snoring rent the air.
    It must have been about 2am when something woke Clive from his slumber. The chill he felt so strangely in the car was back, stronger than ever.
    He opened his eyes to see the vague, white wraith-like shape of a young woman hovering over him, a smile on her face.
    Caught totally unawares, Clive leapt out of bed, hairs on the back of his neck rising, his heart beating rapidly in total disbelief.
    Stan was still snoring. The figure hadn’t moved, was still hovering in fact, the smile transfixed. For the first time, Clive noticed the eyes – two burning coals from which he could not tear his gaze.
    Stan mumbled and stirred, his eyes slowly opening. To his amazement, Clive was cowed against a wall, the wraith still hovering.
    “What’s going on?” he half spluttered. “Who is this?”
    “Dunno,” said Clive. “But whoever it is I don’t think it’s all that friendly.”
    The words were no sooner out of his mouth than the young woman, fangs bared, dived for his throat.
    Clive ducked and Stan, swearing profusely, grabbed both their blankets.
    “Come on,” he yelled. “Let’s get out of here.”
    And they both bolted for the front door.


    Trapped in the milky unreality of the fog, Clive knew he was in serious trouble.
    The dirt country road stretched endlessly before him – only thing was he couldn’t see it, not even an inch.
    As the fog had thickened, so had his progress slowed, until now the car was at a complete standstill, its headlight beams bouncing off the white swirling wall in front.
    Clive wound down the driver’s window and hung his head out. That didn’t help one iota – all he received for his trouble was a damp forehead and wet hair.
    Cursing his misfortune, he wound up the glass and turned up the car heater so that warmth once more permeated the interior.
    Wonder how long this will last before it clears, he thought, hoping that no other equally blind car or truck driver came along and ran into the back of his vehicle.
    Clive sat patiently, car engine idling to maintain the interior temperature.
    An indistinct figure appeared to emerge from the mist and tapped on the driver’s window, startling him from his reverie.
    “Can you help me?” it cried in desperation. “My car has run off the road just a few hundred yards from here and I am well and truly stuck.”
    Clive wound down his window once more.
    “Happy to help,” he replied. “But I can’t see a thing in this pea soup.”
    “That’s ok. I’ll walk in front and show you where to go.”
    The stranger began to walk, torchlight waving in the air and Clive slowly followed, inching his way in first gear.
    Several minutes later, the stranger signalled him to stop and pointed to the right-hand side of the road.
    Clive climbed out of his vehicle and noticed a late model sedan, its front wheels in a ditch.
    “Do you have a rope?” the man asked.
    “Yes,” said Clive, “in the boot.”
    Fetching the rope, Clive helped the man attach it to the rear bumper and fastened the other end to the front of his car.
    “I think if we back your vehicle up very slowly it should do the trick,” the man said.
    Clive slipped his car into reverse and took up the rope’s slack before feeling the weight of the other vehicle beginning to drag.
    A slight spinning of his back wheels before the car regained traction and the stranger’s sedan was eased from the ditch.
    The rope was then unfastened and returned to Clive’s boot.
    “Well, we’ve solved your problem,” said Clive, “but how are we going to see to get out of here.”
    “Don’t worry,” the man replied. “I’ve got strong fog lights and they should make a meal of this pea soup.”
    Clive fervently hoped he was right as they made their way ever so slowly through the night towards their eventual destination.

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