Why the Ski Lift Stopped

Once Marcus had finished, he noticed Jessica. She wasn't that tall for her age, but she was slim, and she had always had very long chestnut hair. She had neat features, but she had the look of the ruthlessly determined - and now, the ruthlessly concerned.

"There are dead bodies in there," he told her. "One - one rasped at me."


"Yeah," said Marcus. "Like a zombie."

Jessica looked a little confused. She picked him up and they went back into the control room.

"Damn it, Marcus!" he heard. "The man's still alive!"

Marcus did not feel well. "Are you all right?" asked Jessica. "What happened? Marcus, get help..."

There was a silence. Then, a terrifying rasp, which was forced into words, of which Marcus could make out: "I'm beyond help...the bandits...the bandits came..."

"Bandits?" Now Marcus knew how Jessica must have felt when he had likened the man to a zombie.

"Bandits..." murmured the dying man. "Mountain bandits...they stole..."

"What did they steal?" coaxed Jessica, when the man had stayed quiet for more than a minute.


"How many were there?" asked Marcus, who was feeling a little braver. 

"Five...six...I had to stop the...lift..." the dying man was truly in his last throes; every word was an effort: "Shot...but it's fine now..." a sort of smile came over the man's face. "It doesn't hurt any more..."

Jessica and Marcus watched as he sighed, and his eyes gently closed. Finally, he let out a last, shuddering sigh, and the cabin was silent.

I just watched a man die, was all Marcus was aware of. It was horrifying.

"Why would they want to steal money?" he asked. His voice sounded tinny and unsure.

"Easy," said Jessica. Marcus couldn't tell if she was shaken or not. "They charge people to go on the ski lifts - ten Euro per ticket, per day." Marcus nodded; he and Jules had joked about that on the first day - 'costs more than a holiday in Greece'. "There are about eighty or so people going on per day - so that's eight hundred Euros. But, of course, they make you top it up every day if you want to go on - twenty-five Euros each - and if people do that for, say, a week - "

"Fourteen thousand Euro," breathed Marcus. "Bloody Hell."

"Wouldn't you steal that?" asked Jessica. "Look where they kept it." A metal safe, mangled from a crowbar attack, was on the floor.

Marcus turned back to her. "We'd better get the others up," he said. "Then we'll think about it."

Jessica searched the controls. Marcus went outside, and turned to the pylon where Amy and Jules were waiting. He could hear the wind quietly blowing over the mountains.

What if they were out there still? he thought.

What if they were out there right now?

The End

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