An illustration of a yeti in a blizzard.

The Yeti (a short story)

It had been a difficult year, what with the divorce, losing half the house, half the kids, not to mention half the company (therefore). Simon had half a mind left to take his ex-wife back to court, but then he knew he might just lose everything.
Anyway, not all was lost. Rather conveniently, Simon’s mother passed away only a week after Simon’s divorce settlement. Simon was her only son, and she had left him a massive hessian bag filled with cash. No, not 500 notes but each note was worth a whopping 500 Euros. He couldn’t be bothered counting them all. The point is, it was a lot of money, in a sack, hidden under her mattress (which had unfortunately resulted in Simon’s mother having long suffered from curvature of the spine). How she had managed to save so much money was beyond Simon. Though what was stranger was that Simon had no European heritage. On top of that he learnt his mother for the last ten years had been living in France. No wonder he hadn’t heard from her in a while. He suspected she had become involved in counterfeiting. Again. In any case, the bank didn’t seem to care.
What luck! The only problem was that Simon had to travel to France to pick up the bequest. The French post really mucked Simon around. They refused to ship such a large bundle of cash and instead suggested sending each note out of the country in individual envelopes. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, right?
Simon thought that was a very French and a very stupid idea. Anyway, picking up the money turned out to be a relatively easy task. He simply had to pick up the money from an old forgotten uncle, though we won’t get into that and I dare not describe him because he was a very simple fellow not worthy of description, who drank tea and talked a lot about cats.
And so, Simon was suddenly rich again. Still, the past year had taken its toll on him and seeing as he was in France already, he decided what he needed was to make the most of his forced holiday. He decided to go skiing. It was winter (luckily) and it would surely help him to relax and take his mind off other things. Or so he thought.
It was at the top of Mont Blanc on a particularly snow-swept day that Simon got off the chairlift finding himself at the top of a double black diamond run which was basically an accident because he only wanted to see what it looked like and at the top of chairlift peak was told he could take the chairlift up to the black diamond run but not down from it. An hour later, trying to avoid skiing down the double black diamond run Simon found himself completely lost in a crop of trees. And to make things worse, the mountain was now being pounded by a spontaneous blizzard. As the snow picked up and the sky turned white Simon noticed something moving around a collection of large boulders around the top of the mountain. He started to approach it, hoping it was one of those St. Bernard rescue dogs with a cute little barrel filled with cheese and crunchy bread dipped in olive oil around its neck. But as he got closer he saw that whatever the figure was, it was huge. It was not a dog, nor was it human.
A mass of white hair hovered above the rocks and in a moment the creature thundered towards him, making the Earth shake with every step, and cutting through the thick wall of snow as though it were cellophane. Its white matted fur glistened in the winter sun, its red ravenous eyes glowed, its dirty yellow teeth gleamed. It roared, ‘RRARRRAAARRRRGH!’
Well, Simon didn’t bother introducing himself. He clicked his boots back into his skis and skied like he had never skied before (only because he had never skied before). Trees, snow, trees, snow. The landscape whizzed by him in a flash. He had never learnt how to turn! Another two hours later, after tumbling and falling and careening back and forth down the double black diamond run Simon trudged back into the ski village at the bottom of the mountain. He was hungry, exhausted, trembling. His nose had turned blue. Thank Shiva, he said quietly to himself. He had escaped a yeti!
Back at his hotel, Simon said hello to the receptionists though he didn’t bother telling anyone what had happened. He was embarrassed after all. And would anyone believe him? Did he even believe himself? He retreated to room 286 on the second floor. Inside, he wrapped himself up in his bed covers and for a good long while he sat still trembling in a puddle on the carpet as he thawed. It was an hallucination Simon told himself. It was nothing.
Finally, having collected himself, Simon stood up. All he had left in his life was a load of cash and half a mind. But what good is money if you have no mind at all? He wouldn’t let the insanity beat him. He had to fight it. It was all delirium, a kind of anti-mirage. Surely. He had a shower, slipped on his slippers, and poured himself a small cup of brandy with still shaking hands and laughed to himself. How silly. To think, a yeti!
Suddenly there came a loud thumping at his hotel door and it burst off its locks and there stood Michael Schumacher.
‘Michael Schumacher?’ said Simon.
Michael Schumacher was dripping wet. His hair was long and his beard grew down to his hips. His eyes were bloodshot. His fingernails were long and sharp.
‘Yes, it’s me,’ replied Michael Schumacher. ‘I am the man you saw on top of the mountain. May I?’ He barged into Simon’s room and moved towards the brandy as if it and he were magnetised. He poured and knocked back a full glass before he looked back at Simon to see Simon’s jaw still hadn’t closed (he was still deciding whether to shout or cry). ‘Sit down,’ Michael Schumacher said. ‘I will explain everything.’
Well, Simon thought about asking Michael Schumacher to leave, but it was Michael Schumacher. ‘Um, okay,’ replied Simon, half in shock, as he took his seat and Michael Schumacher, still standing, poured two new glasses of brandy.
‘I faked my own coma,’ said Michael Schumacher. ‘I’ve been living in the mountains for years. Listen, we don’t have much time. There are people after me. The CIA.’
‘The CIA?’
‘They want to kill me.’
‘Because of this,’ said Michael Schumacher. He held up a bright yellow USB stick in his hand. ‘It contains on it, the ANSWER …’
‘To the meaning of the universe?’ asked Simon.
‘No,’ replied Michael Schumacher. He looked a little disappointed. ‘No, not that. You know, who shot JFK.’
‘Oh,’ replied Simon, forcing himself to take a sip of his brandy, only to steady himself. ‘But the thing is, Michael … Can I call you Michael? What does this have to do with me?’
‘I saw you,’ replied Michael Schumacher, ‘Struggling with your skis on the top of the mountain, struggling to get off the chairlift. I followed you as you were lost in the blizzard. You’re not like the others are you? Yes, I saw you and I thought, here is the kind of man I’ve been looking for. A man who has lost the way. A man who has lost everything. A man with nothing to lose. A man who has realised the great truth about everything. A man to take the answer …’ He held up the USB stick again as though it were a sacred jewel. ‘And get it to someone who can help. Here, you must take it. Hold out your hand. Tomorrow, I am sure something will happen to me. I shouldn’t have left the mountain you see. I believe I’ve already been seen. Simon, you must believe me. Tomorrow, I will be dead. Promise me, you’ll find a man named Baron McGall. You must find him and give this USB stick to him. He is a writer for Die Welt. He will make sure that the truth gets out.’
‘And he’s a Baron?’
‘No, that’s just his code name.’
Simon reluctantly held out his hand and Michael Schumacher placed the USB stick into it and clasped Simon’s finger around it for him. The only question that ran through Simon’s mind was whether Michael Schumacher’s were sweaty or just wet. ‘Um, I, well, I guess … Um …okay,’ said Simon.
And with that Michael Schumacher downed another glass of brandy, backed out of the door, and after looking both ways down the hall anxiously, disappeared again around the corner.
Simon got up and ran out into the hall but he could see through the open second-story window Michael Schumacher was already sliding down the outside piping towards the ground. He was as agile as an iguana! Simon watched as Michael Schumacher ran off across the snow-covered front lawn of the hostel and across the small road, and disappeared again into the night.
The next morning Simon went down to the front reception of the hotel. He had had an awful night’s sleep given all the events and had continued shivering all through the night, not helped by the fact that his hotel room now had no door and someone kept leaving windows open. He still hadn’t managed to convince the receptionist of his experience. Apparently no one had seen Michael Schumacher and Simon was informed he would have to pay for the broken door. It was then he saw the new day’s newspaper on the reception counter:
So the guy was an impersonator? A crazy? Thought Simon to himself. And yet he looked the spitting image of Michael Schumacher? But then, if he was Michael Schumacher and if Michael Schumacher was killed by the CIA wouldn’t the CIA cover it up? Simon’s head spun. He needed more brandy.
One name resounded in his head: Baron McGall.
Within the hour the police were swarming around the hotel. It seemed the receptionist had tipped them off to his report that he had seen Michael Schumacher the night before. But Simon watched them from the cafe across the road where he had seen Michael Schumacher, or at least the man who claimed to be Michael Schumacher disappear. It was at exactly 11:30am that a tall man wearing a fedora and a long brown raincoat stepped into the café, and after shaking his damp coat and hanging it up and doffing his hat, he approached Simon, and took a seat at his table.
‘You’re the guy?’ asked the man, in a low gravelly voice.
‘Who are you?’ asked Simon.
‘Baron McGall.’
‘Why do they call you that?’
‘I’m not really a baron if that’s what you’re asking,’ replied the man. A waitress approached but with a slight nod of the head the man sent her away. He turned to look out the window for a moment, through the still thick snow tinted by red and blue. ‘You’ve got something for me?’
‘Michael told me to give you this,’ said Simon. He placed the bright yellow USB stick on the table and slid it towards the man. ‘I just hope justice can be done.’
‘Did you look at the contents?’ asked the man.
‘No,’ said Simon.
The man frowned then, and looked deep into Simon’s eyes, searching. ‘Why not?’
‘Well …’ replied Simon. ‘I’m not all that interested in it. I mean, was 9/11 really an inside job? Were alien artefacts found on the moon but no one ever said anything? I’d like to know more about those things to be honest. Who shot JFK? I mean, I get it. Something doesn’t add up. But I just don’t think it’s really all that important anymore. I mean, it was a long time ago.’
‘Very well,’ said the man. He looked curiously at the bright yellow USB stick again in his black gloved hand before he slipped it into his pocket. He got up, retrieved his coat and tugged the brim of his fedora now back atop his head. He opened the door to be buffeted again by the snow and the blue and red lights, and with a wry smile he finally turned and disappeared back into the blender of it.
It should not be surprising that the great exposé in the international newspapers never came. You see, Baron McGall was not really Baron McGall. The real Baron McGall had been murdered with an umbrella two months before Simon met Michael Schumacher. Yes, he had actually been stabbed with an umbrella by the KGB two years earlier (who wanted him dead for numerous other reasons, namely counterfeiting). The thing was, Michael Schumacher had no way of knowing that because he’d been hiding away like a hermit on a mountain hadn’t he? The guy who claimed to be Baron McGall was really CIA. He knew too well how so many would give their right minds to know the truth. He knew too how anyone who looked upon that USB stick would likely not be able to mutter a single intelligible word for the rest of their lives. That’s the price of the truth. For he knew how sometimes answers unlock other answers. How sometimes keys unlock other keys.
But what if a man had no right mind?
What if a man only had half a mind left?

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