The Hot Zone Essay, Research Paper
Something Never Forgotten
The movie had just ended and the picture on the television set screamed black and white fuzz. My eyes shifted to the window and were greeted by the same picture as that on the television. It had begun sleeting earlier that day. Later it turned to snow, which was still pelting the white-blanketed earth. After reading the time from my watch, three-thirty a.m., I decided I should probably head for home. My mind was thinking of the basketball practice our coach had graciously scheduled for seven o? clock a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, now less than three and a half-hours away. I recall saying something as I left to the effect of, ?I?m probably going to wreck.? I did not mean the words that I had said, but somehow they seemed to slip out of my mouth. My girlfriend scolded me for thinking such a thought, then sent me on my way.
There are some things in a person?s life he or she will never forget. For some it may be a first kiss. For others it is the delicious smell of their grandmother?s kitchen as she scurried this way and that, all the while baking and mixing and clanking and cooking.
Personally, I will never forget how peaceful my surroundings seemed as I stepped into the driveway that wistful morning. The snowflakes fell in beautiful crystalline shapes none the same as another. It was perfectly silent and the moon shone over the trees that lined the road. It seemed like such a perfect moment of frozen bliss. This was the exact middle of nowhere, five miles down some terrible dirt road in rustic northwestern Pennsylvania, so what did I expect? The air bit at my face and hands, yet it seemed so still. A chill ran my spine and my thoughts were lost. I had no idea what perils lay waiting for me.
My girlfriend watched from the door as her boyfriend?s tracks faded in the snow and the taillights of his parents? Chevy Lumina mini-van faded into the darkened road.
As I had expected, the road was in terrible condition, by far the worst I had ever seen it. Extra attention surely was needed during the trip down this trail, but I was so tired and groggy. The radio was loud, and my window was rolled down, in hopes that the combination of the two would keep me from slumber. The seat belt was digging into my side and I even contemplated removing it as I drove along. But I didn?t.
After about three miles, the road sloped downhill and curved to the right all at once. The van?s speedometer read thirty as I approached and my foot slightly depressed the brake-pedal as I began the turn. Then everything went completely wrong. Black ice was everywhere on this deeply rutted portion of the road. The brakes locked and the van spun three hundred and sixty degrees. I felt as if I was an axis and the car was rotating around me. Time stopped completely, and my heart with it.
Gathering as much common sense from my reeling head as possible, I tried to counter steer and straighten the careening vehicle out. It worked, for the most part. Unfortunately, I had gone off the road to the left and was now barreling through the woods. As I pin-balled from tree to tree, my ears heard the most awful sound of breaking glass, crunching metal, and my screaming voice as it echoed through the silent forest.
Finally, the disfigured van smashed something head on and the impact sent my body violently forward. I would like to shake the hand of the man or woman who invented the safety belt, because it saved my life that night.
The air bit at my face and hands, yet it seemed so still. A chill ran my spine and my thoughts were lost. Suddenly, the radio kicked back on and the song ?I Will Survive? by Diana Ross shouted into the woods. It was then that I realized what had happened. I went to wipe my forehead and felt blood trickling down my cheeks. Glass was everywhere. My ribs ached and I couldn?t breathe too well. Instinct must have taken over my body because I can?t remember thinking anything. I saw my foot kick the passenger?s side door open and my body tumbled onto the cold, wet ground. Soon I was walking down the road.
The two-mile walk to the nearest house seemed to take an eternity. The perfect frozen bliss I had acknowledged earlier had all but vanished. My mind was spinning and screaming and crying all the same. Nothing seemed to make any sense, it had all happened so fast? so fast. Suddenly, there I was, pounding on the door of a house, and I did not even remember the walking I had just done. After fifteen minutes of knocking, someone answered. I told him what had happened and he let me use the phone.
I called my parents, afraid that they would disown me after I had crashed the van. Of course they didn?t. They were happy I was not hurt seriously. I had only sustained some bruised ribs and some cuts and scratches.
The next day we had the van pulled from the woods. It was, needless to say, totaled. The fiberglass body was torn completely down to the frame. All seven windows were broken out. One of them lay on the ground completely unscathed, aside from being detached from the vehicle. The object I had hit head on was a giant boulder. Had I not run into that, I would have ended up in the river! The radio died sometime during the night, but I hadn?t. Which, of course, is what I was thankful for during that Thanksgiving weekend.
I never did make it to basketball practice that morning. I had a good excuse, though. Sometimes when the air bites at my hands and my face, yet seems to be so still,
a chill will run my spine. And if I listen close enough, I can hear the sound of breaking glass and crunching metal. Some things a person never forgets.