In his brightly coloured, expensive ski clothes, Elliott Price blended in perfectly with the world’s idle rich of a certain age, who took their winter holidays at Klosters in the hope of meeting a member of the nobility. Ideally it would be Prince Charles, or another member of the House of Windsor, but failing that any other European royal would suffice.
With a macho daring clearly in excess of his skill and judgement, Elliott Price raced past his wife and out on his own. He approached a slight undulation in the snow’s surface, and, since he was in the sight of no-one, decided to attempt a small jump. In mid-air, Elliott realised that the drop on the other side of the mound was considerably more than he expected.
The snow at the bottom of the precipice was powder soft, and although Elliott Price landed with considerable grace, he sank into the snow until he was totally engulfed by white, leaving no sign of his passage on the surface.
The Merlin Freezer in the “Thomas Delicatessen and Fine Foods” roared, the motor thumped against the floor, and the cans and bottles on the shop shelves began to rattle and clink.
Sir Murray St Clair, sitting alone in his large, modern house overlooking Sydney harbour, watched the evening television news, glass of champagne in hand. During a report on the cricket test between England and India, Sir Murray poured the last of the champagne into his glass. Sir Murray shook his head in disgust as the reporter wrapped up the day’s play, “And so, after England lost the last six wickets for just thirty seven runs, India won the first test by one hundred and three with half a day to spare“.
Sir Murray drained his glass and stood up, a little unsteady on his feet. The sports report and images on the television changed to the State Rowing Championships as the presenter announced, “There was a major upset at the State Rowing Titles today when Tanya Macquarie edged out Olympic Games medallist, Monica Wentworth, to win the Senior Singles Sculls final.”
“Good God! Women rowing, whatever next! Enough to drive a man to drink,” Sir Murray said with a chuckle before stumbling out of the room in search of some more champagne.
In the small kitchen behind the Thomas Deli, the atmosphere was one of euphoric relief. The Thomases, their neighbour Sky Crystal, Ruth and her father, as well as the rowing coach Steve and the two boys from the club were packed into the room. Dean called for quiet as the television sport switched to the State rowing finals. Footage of Ruth and Jane appeared on the screen and the group moved closer to the small television perched precariously on top of the microwave.
“The finals of the Junior Women’s Pair provided the most exciting race of the day and another surprise result,” the sports journalist enthusiastically declared to woops of delight from all in the room. “After a terrible start, former singles champion Ruth Goldsmith and her partner Jane Thomas managed to fight their way back into the race and snatch victory from the favourites and current Commonwealth junior champions in the last few metres of the race.” The room erupted in cheers.
On the other side of the harbour, Sir Murray St Clair staggered down to the basement and lent against the heavy door to the cool room in his wine cellar. Next to the door was an electronic keypad pad which controlled access to the room and the chilled wine it contained. Experience derived from many trips to the cool room had taught Sir Murray that he was unlikely to remember the high-strength entry code that the security experts had insisted on. He always kept a copy of the code in his wallet which he retrieved and put on top of the keypad. With the wallet back in his jacket pocket, Sir Murray laboriously pushed each number on the keypad after reading it on the card.
The lock clicked. St Clair pulled the door open, flicked on the light and walked inside. It was cold and he shivered involuntarily as the door swung closed behind him.
Abraham Goldsmith and Coach Steve were standing next to the now muted television in the Thomas kitchen reliving the last anxious few moments of the race when Dean Thomas re-joined them with fresh drinks. Dean lent forward to turn off the television, but froze when the words ‘Ocean Classic Yacht Missing‘ and a picture of Ray Purvis appeared on the screen.
“Quiet everyone,” Dean shouted. “Let’s have some hush!”
The room fell silent as Dean turned up the television volume in time to catch the end of the story. “Business entrepreneur and head of Purvis Holdings, Ray Purvis, is missing after his yacht Hotshot was hit by a whale late this afternoon during the RBT Ocean Classic. The yacht is reported to have sunk without a trace. There are unconfirmed reports that most of the crew have been rescued by another nearby yacht, but the fate of Mr Purvis is unknown.”
Suddenly, a series of loud mechanical clanks and thumps was heard coming from the adjoining room containing the Thomas deli. Dean rushed to the door, followed by his wife and daughter.
With a fresh bottle of Moet under his arm, Sir Murray St Clair walked across to the cool room in his wine cellar and pushed the door. The heavy door refused to budge. St Clair shivered and put down the bottle. “Did the temperature of the room suddenly fall, or was it just my imagination,” St Clair said to himself as he opened his wallet.
The card with the code for the cool room door keypad was not where it should be. One after another, the contents of the St Clair wallet fell to the floor as he looked for the missing card.
With growing terror, Sir Murray searched his pockets for the keypad code. The room was definitely colder. The thermostat that registered the temperature of the room fell to negative numbers as Sir Murray St Clair stabbed at random numbers on the keypad with increasing urgency.
Inside the ‘Thomas Delicatessen and Fine Foods’ shop, the Merlin Freezer was barely visible through the cloud of mist and smoke that surrounded it. The motor, its energy now dissipated, was making a tinny, wheezing sound, with a gentle thumping like a heart beat, getting progressively slower. Dean, Madge and Jane walked slowly up to the freezer as it gave a final shudder and the wheezing and thumping stopped.
Through the glass top of the Merlin the Thomas family saw the piece of paper with the names Price, Purvis and St Clair, which they had so deliberately put into the freezer just a few days earlier, now encased in a shimmering block of ice.
There is no next episode this time. I hope you have enjoyed reading Freezer and I am sorry it took longer than I expected to write all the episodes.
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