The Tale of Andrew and Monique

french alps

Chamonix is a small little resort area located at the base of Mont Blanc, the highest summit of The French Alps. It is often frequented by ski enthusiasts with a cable car system in place to take visitors higher to ingest stunning panoramic views. It was also the haunt of Andrew and Monique for the better part of Ten Years.

Andrew first ran into Monique whilst on a business visit in Switzerland for Vickers Armaments, who he’d joined immediately after the war. Andrew was known to be, persuasive and was more often than not, sent in to close deals that were tricky to say the least. It was one fine evening at a local pub in Zurich, that Andrew first met Monique, only nineteen at the time. Monique was everything Andrew was not; Demure, quiet and a sense of calmness that was difficult to come by. Andrew was loud, smooth and a tad bit brash. One drink became two, and soon the pair started moving around together, completely transfixed in the company of each other. Monique’s family did not approve of Andrew at first; Monique’s family shared a bloodline of prestige and Andrew was what they perceived to be a “smooth talking drunk Scottish fart”. But so smitten was Andrew, that he did not give up the ghost. The parents relented and soon Andrew and Monique were married in a beautiful ceremony attended by all their loved ones. For their honeymoon, Andrew and Monique traveled to Chamonix, which soon became an annual haunt for the couple. Andrew and Monique may have been two very different people, but they shared an immense passion for skiing, something that Chamonix offered in abundance.

On this day, Andrew sat outside his cottage, sipping on a cup of Earl Grey as Monique slipped into her ski gear. Andrew walked in whilst Monique fastened her straps and remarked, “I hope that comes off as fast as it comes on.”

Monique paused for a moment, and rolled her eyes at him. “Perhaps, you’d have found out later today mon chéri, but I’m afraid your alarming lack of grace may have severely hamstrung your chances.”

Andrew burst out into laughter whilst Monique grinned at him sheepishly. Swiftly swooping down, Andrew planted a kiss on her cheek and staggered back theatrically. “Ah how deeply you wound me, my love.”

Monique pushed him away playfully as she searched for her helmet. Turning towards Andrew, Monique said, “It’s about time we left. You head on down towards the Cable Car and meet the guide, I’ll quickly send in a telegraph to see how my little boy is doing.”

“Little Boy?” Andrew exclaimed. “Monique my sweet, he’s eleven. Almost a man now!”

“So?” Monique snapped back. “He’s still my little boy.”

“Ooof. The famous Delacroix temper. Your mother did warn me.” said Andrew, smiling. “Alright then, I’ll carry on. Meet me down in fifteen.”

At the base of the Cable Car Network, Andrew met Ernie, their guide for the afternoon. Ernie, was a mountain boy of seventeen, who’d lived his whole life surrounded by the French Alps. He’d approached the resort for a job two years ago and his fluency in English as well as his penchant for skiing ensured he’d found one. Ernie was loved by all at the resort, both the guests and the staff and was always highly in demand when the resort opened its gates during spring. But it was with Andrew and Monique, who Ernie had grown extremely fond of. They were the uncle and aunt, he’d never had, the family that he could look forward to seeing every summer. It was no big secret that Ernie put them above every other guest in the resort, but the resort did not want to risk losing some of their most loyal customers.

At the sight of Andrew, Ernie let out a scream of joy and ran towards him, as jumpy as a rabbit.

“Monsieur Andrew! It has been too long!”

“Indeed Ernie,” said Andrew, laughing. “How have you been, old boy?”

“Magnifique, Monsieur!” said Ernie, his enthusiasm unwavering as ever. “Are we ready to begin? where is Madam Monique? he said, looking over Andrew’s shoulder.

“She will be with us shortly, she’s just sending out a telegraph to our boy.”

Soon enough, Monique was seated beside Andrew in the cozy cable car, as Ernie slammed the tiny door shut and locked it from within. Monique slid her hand under Andrew’s as she lay her head on his shoulder whilst Ernie sang and whistled like only he could as the magnificent French Alps passed them by. Soon, they’d reached base camp and met up with all the other skiing enthusiasts who’d flown in from various parts of the world.

Strapping on their ski gear, Andrew and Monique adjusted their goggles as they pulled on their hoods. Andrew gave Ernie the thumbs up, and Ernie thrust his poles into the snow as he led them down the icy slope.

As the cold win cut through their skins like daggers, Andrew and Monique let out a collective sigh of ecstasy. It’d been way too long. Parenthood wasn’t treating them well as their son was a molotov cocktail of emotions, so it was nice to get some time to themselves. Monique however could not help but think of her little boy tucked under his sheets back home as she whizzed her way down the mountain. “Keep up!” roared Andrew as he slammed into the ground next to her and pushed on forward.  Monique laughed as she dug in deeper and accelerated forward.

And suddenly, a rumble echoed throughout the mountains.

Ernie skidded to a halt as Andrew and Monique stopped either side of him. He hastily pulled out his goggles, his face paling with every passing second. The Balorg-esque rumbling grew louder as the trio watched other skiers above them scatter in panic. Ernie turned to the couple and whispered, “Go.”

The rumbling exploded to a crescendo as a visible line of snow began to make it’s way down the mountain side. It began gaining momentum slowly but surely as it grew bigger in size. Ernie seized Andrew and Monique by their jackets and pushed them down as he himself began to make his way down to the station. Andrew and Monique flanked him on either side as Ernie desperately pushed himself further and further away from the oncoming avalanche.

The snow had now reached the pines and was showing no hints of slowing down as the trees began to topple out of sheer force. Ernie glanced towards Andrew to see him weaving down the path like the true professional he was. Ernie than gestured towards Monique to pick up the pace to keep up.

And in two seconds, everything just, dismantled.

Andrew hit a rock that threw him momentarily off balance. By the time he recovered, his arm slammed into a tree, sending him spinning. When he eventually stabilised, he was left facing the oncoming blanket of snow. Ernie screamed as the snow engulfed Andrew, completely disappearing from view. Monique’s cries were smothered by the avalanche as she watched her husband disappear into a sea of white. Ernie rallied Monique as they pushed on further, in a bid to stay alive. They both knew that Andrew was gone and would be never seen again. Ernie willed Monique to go faster but no sooner than had he done so, the pair went flying off a small cliff.

Ernie landed on his side as he slid down the mountain slope, with Monique not far behind him. The avalanche was fast catching up and Ernie knew he had no control of the events that were about to unfold. He closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable before he smacked his head against a rock. Ernie knew no more.

Two days later, Ernie awoke in a hospital in Zurich to be surrounded by the local policemen and the press. In a daze, Ernie stared blankly as the policemen did their best to keep the Press at bay. It took them an hour to clear the room before the Chief Head of Police sat down next to Ernie. “Where are Monsieur Andrew and Madam Monique?”, Ernie asked.

“Missing, assumed dead.” said the Chief, unflinchingly. “Along with another fifteen. We’ve sent out a search party, but no luck so far.”

Ernie broke down into his sheets. It took them an entire hour to calm him down before he pulled himself together.  “I need to write a letter.”, said Ernie, his voice quavering.

“Son, now is not the time..”

“NO! It must be done. It is my duty, sir. I must do this one thing. Please get me a piece of paper and a pen.”

The Chief sighed and looked towards his lackeys. “Give the man what he wants.”

Ernie scribbled down a few words and an address he’d pulled from his wallet and  passed it onto the Chief. “Please ensure that this gets to the address mentioned. Promise me sir, promise..” said Ernie as he collapsed onto his pillow crippled by exhaustion.

*******************

Kincade, the gamekeeper was busy tending to  the lawns when the letter arrived. He tore open the envelope untidily and began to read:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Skyfall,                                                                                                                                                                                                Elstead, Surrey

To whomsoever it may concern,

Good evening. My name is Ernst and I’m writing to you to regretfully inform you about the passing of Andrew Bond and Monique Delacroix-Bond in a terrible skiing accident in Chamonix. Monsieur Bond and Madame Delacroix were caught in an avalanche and were never seen again and I Ernst, could do nothing to bring them back. I hope this terrible news reaches the right hands and that their son James, will be well taken care of. I also hope that James will understand and forgive me for being unable to save his parents in the face of adversity.

Once again I am truly  sorry for your loss,

                                                                                                                                                   Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Kincade crushed the letter in the palm of his hand as he stood in shock. It seemed almost an eternity before he became aware of his surroundings. He looked towards the house, his eyes welling up with tears as he walked towards the door. Inside, eleven year old James was busy playing with his toys by the fireplace. He looked up as Kincade strode towards the armchair and collapsed into it. Quizzically, James asked him, “What’s gotten into you old man?”

Kincade let out a deep sigh and began talking.

Spectre opens in theatres November 20th, nationwide.

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