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Skiers paraded in woollen masks, protection against harsh mountaintop cold and wind, an auspicious cover.  The resort offered summit refuge, a full service restaurant, and a coffee shop for the anxious and dedicated, intent only on gliding down the mountain.

Shadows crept long across the valley, expanding pockets of darkening merging toward domination.  The sun carved a wedge out of distant peaks, throwing colour, as if an industrial laser machining its exit.

Mask down, boots clopping on the rough-cut wooden floor, he approached the smiling and gracious restaurant host.  Closer, a hard poke in the ribs, whispered instructions, cash draw emptied, a hurried exit.  He smirked over the easy haul, exchange for his night fix.

Skis carried him away.  Exhilarated but craving, attention lapsed.  Slick snow and gravity induced speed into a hairpin turn.  Impaired decision-making combined with insufficient skill, and the reckless plan ended at a sizeable tree, lifeless.

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