“Right here,” I said, pointing at a massive oak tree bowed down with snow like an old giant that had frozen to death. Between the dark and the driving storm, visibility was just down to a few feet and I’d almost missed the turn off.
“The house is about a mile down this road.”
“Christ Rose, give me some notice.”
“You try noticing anything from the back seat at night in a snow storm. See that light up there? That’s Vic and Michael’s place.”
“What, up that bastard hill? We’ll never get the car up there.”
He was right as it turned out, we couldn’t. The car kept sliding and eventually slid into a bank of soft snow from where it couldn’t be moved. Swearing, Rufus forced the car door open and had to do the same for mine. He stood with difficulty, snow encasing his legs up to mid-thigh and claiming the rest of him under a clotted blanket of ice crystals.
“Can’t you call your friends to come get us?” he shouted above the noise of the wind. “The weather’s too bad and I won’t be able to lug you all that way.”
“They weren’t in when I called. I’ll give it a another go,” I said, dialling.
I suppressed a smile.
“You made me drive all this way to the middle of nowhere, for fu-”
“We’re just outside Perth,”I reminded him primly. “It’s hardly the middle of nowhere. Oh hi, Vic. It’s me. Everything sweet? Sorry to hear that. Listen, we’ve got a bit of a problem. We’re at the bottom of the hill, cars in a snow drift and I’m not in great shape. Can you come get us?”
“Well? Are they coming?”
“They said they’re busy and could we come back tomorrow. I’m kidding,” I said as he punched the roof of the car. “Listen be cool with Vic and Michael. Try not to piss them off.”
A dark shape materialised behind him, an arm closed around his throat pulling him backwards. He yelped something incomprehensible and then started choking as the arm was pulled tighter. A high laugh rang out and then something thumped the window beside me as a smeared bestial face pressed itself against the glass, nose flattened, teeth bared.
“Hi guys,” I said. “That was quick. Say hello to Rufus.”