Waiting

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Waiting is a horrible thing. Sitting, in fear, unable to do anything but wait is a truly terrifying experience. I have no choice but to wait. My waiting never ends.

My misadventure began two months ago when I received a letter from an old friend, Daniel Scott, who was an expert in subterranean biology. He’d made a groundbreaking discovery at his lab in Greenland of a fantastic new species of mushroom he’d found growing underground, which had extraordinary medicinal applications. While I knew little of mushrooms or Greenland or anything outside of my field of hydrodynamics, I was excited to visit his remote retreat. It was going to be a huge change from my hometown of Cornwall, England.

My travels were uneventful, and went as smoothly as any sea voyage to the untamed wastes of Greenland could go. Upon arrival in Suoureyri, a small village on the “head” of the Iceland Lobster, I hired a small boat, and navigated my way to Greenland, where Daniel had arranged transport to his base.

I was greeted by a rather odd fellow by the name of Skut. He was around my height, muscular, and spoke very little English.

“You are félagi of doctor, ja?”, he said, putting on a pilot’s helmet.

“My apologies, felagi? Er... Skil Ekki?”. I tried the line for “do not understand” I’d picked up from the phrasebook I’d bought. Skut looked at me for a little while, and returned to his helicopter. He came back with a note written in my friend’s handwriting.

Henry-

Thank you for coming to Greenland, first and foremost.

Skut is difficult at first. Use short words and talk slowly, and he’ll

catch on eventually. Tell him you are my félagi (associate), he will fly you

to the base. He cannot stay, for reasons you’ll understand. I hope you

have everything you need with you. Safe travels,





-Daniel



I read the rather cryptic note, but thought nothing more of it.

“Ja, I am félagi. We fly, yes?” I addressed Skut.

The moment I said this, he turned, smiled, and told me to get in his “flying machine”. I looked over his shoulder and saw a very small two-seat helicopter. Hoping to get out of the dreadful cold, I climbed in and placed my suitcase by my legs. If anything, it was colder inside. Skut climbed in, pulled a book out from under the pilot’s seat, and began to read the first few pages. I shifted slightly to read the cover. “Bell 206B JetRanger Pilot’s Manual”. Skut furrowed his brow and began to flick switches while referencing the book. He clearly was not the most experienced pilot! After the most tense pre-flight check ever, the helicopter took off and my one way flight to my friend’s underground mushroom farm began. We flew for perhaps forty-five minutes, passing over barren, ice-covered land, and I saw no buildings or other signs of human habitation.

We landed beside a small series of huts, made from a combination of wood and metal. Small buildings with no signs outside, no hint at what they were being used for. Skut led me to the largest building and opened the door for me. As I turned to thank him, he was already making his way back to the helicopter.
As I entered the base, I wondered, at first, where everyone was. How silly, I came to realize. I wasn’t being received at a conference or a lecture. I was standing at the entrance to an underground mushroom farm in Greenland. Before opening the second door into the base proper, I began to regret my decision to come on such a wild adventure. There were no trees, nor vegetation of any sort at all. There were seemingly very few people who could inhabit such a barren land. I thought to myself that my sense of dread was just tiredness, since I’d now been travelling for days with little or no rest, so I proceeded in. There were no lights on in the entrance hallway, or any lighted rooms I could see, so I fumbled for my lighter, and held it up. I may have quit smoking years ago, but the lighter is a bit of a lucky charm. What I saw terrified me. The first room to my right had upturned desks, paper all over the floor, and what appeared to be a large bloodstain on the wall. Every instinct I had was screaming for me to run away. However, I realized I could only go outside into the cold. I held the lighter down to my suitcase and pulled out a flashlight. I left the room and began to walk down the hall, playing the light of the flashlight across the walls. Suddenly, a shout rang out. Three gunshots. Another shout. Then, silence.

Immediately, I switched off the light and was plunged into darkness. I could hear slow, laboured footsteps, as if the person walking was shambling. I readied the flashlight as a club and braced against the wall. If the wounded person outside was hostile, I would be ready. I heard a long, slow moan, and then another shot. Something cold and wet walked into the room, and a thick smell of rot filled the air. I remained hidden. The deformed outline I could see strained the limits of my sanity. The creature appeared to be a humanoid figure, but it was most certainly not a man. The limbs, for one, were much longer than those of a proportionally correct human. It more resembled a large chimpanzee than a man in stature. Whatever I was dealing with, it was no animal I had ever read about. After what felt like an eternity, the being moved deeper into the room. It flipped over the desk on the far side and let out an indescribable screech. Slowly, the thing turned. It appeared to be looking right at me. I was stiff with fright, hiding against the corner of the room behind a closet. Then, suddenly, the abomination left the room with frightening speed, letting out another shriek. Shaking with fear, I left my place of refuge and looked around the corner.

I had no choice but to continue to try to find Daniel, or anyone who could help. Further into the base I began to see an odd sort of soft red lighting, bright enough to show the way yet casting long shadows everywhere. What appeared to be a body lay in the middle of the hall. I gently tapped on the wall with my flashlight, seeing if he was merely unconscious. He wasn’t. In his hand was a large revolver. Checking the halls to see if the terrible beast was still nearby, I made my way to the unfortunate soul on the ground. I gingerly stepped over the body and considered turning him over, to get some clue as to his identity. I grabbed his shoulder, but decided against it. I am weak at heart, and I even find myself squeamish at the sight of blood in movies.

The revolver, of course! I picked it up and held it in my hand. The weapon was very heavy, at least two and a half pounds. I sat down and checked over the gun.

“Who am I kidding?” I said out loud, then immediately regretted it.

The beast could not have vanished. It was surely still nearby. Within earshot? I had no way of knowing. I slowly moved back down the hall, brandishing my new firearm. I was hoping I wouldn’t have to fire it. I study hydrodynamics. I study water movement. I don’t know the slightest thing about a “Raging Bull .357”, or whatever this is. Moving to another room, I readied the gun and threw open the door.

Slowly, I looked around. To my right I saw a door marked ‘bathroom’. I entered, and I sat down on the floor to look over my find. I turned it over and began to wonder how many shots I had. I had heard at least four shots fired so far. I pressed down on a small button and heard a sharp click. Nothing happened. I turned the gun over again and the cylinder fell forward, locking in place. I began to pull the bullets out. Spent. Spent. Spent. Spent. Spent. Live.

One. One shot. I closed the revolver again and placed it in my coat pocket. I turned my flashlight on and walked off into the halls. I had no destination. I just needed to move. Frightened to stay, frightened to move.

I found a room which looked like a research lab. Inside, I heard something. Static. Static means a radio. Radio static means someone is trying to broadcast. I looked around and saw a walkie-talkie. I ran toward the radio on the ground, not caring that it was attached to the coat of another deceased researcher.

“Hello? Hello? Who’s there?” I began to speak into the radio, hoping for a response.

“I hear you. Is that you, Vagn? Why haven’t you responded until now?” A voice emanated from the radio, calm and collected.

“I’m... I think I’m toward the southernmost side of the base. I’m not Vagn, and I don’t work here.”

“You don’t... you don’t work here? What?” My contact over the radio said, clear confusion in his voice.

“My name is Henry Williams. I don’t know, but my friend Daniel Scott invited me. I got here, and... where is everyone? What is happening?” I said.

Suddenly, I looked up. Movement.

“I’ll... I’ll talk to you in a second... something’s moving...” I trailed off.

The voice on the other end of the radio began to rise, in panic, “Get out of there, quickly. If you can, head toward the drilling room. You know where that is?”

I knew I had passed it earlier. “Yes. Yes, I’ll head there. I take it you will be waiting?”

“GO! GO!” The voice on the other end of the radio began to yell.

A horrific screech rang out from the hallway, and I was certain another abomination was closing in on me. I began to see shapes in the darkness, and I realized with horror there was more than one creature.

I did the only sensible thing for a hydrodynamics engineer to do when confronted by several deformed humanoid beasts intent on killing him. I ran. I ran as fast as I could. I found the drill room and threw open the door. Suddenly, a blinding light appeared at the end of the hall, and a familiar voice began to yell.

“FREEZE! HAETTA! SHOW ME YOUR HANDS!”

I knew better than to argue. I dropped to my knees and held up my hands. I tried looking up, but the light was too bright. The light shifted slightly and I could see it was attached to the end of a large shotgun. Suddenly, the light stopped altogether. A gloved hand reached down, and helped me up. I looked into the eyes of Daniel, my friend. He raised an eyebrow and smiled.

“Glad you came, Henry. I trust you had a nice flight in?”

“Danny! It is good to see a familiar face. What’s going on?”

“No time for chatting. Close the door and get into the control room.”

I did as I was asked. I followed Daniel into the control room, where two other researchers were sitting. One of them held a radio headset. Daniel looked over at me, and gestured toward the researchers. “The one with the radio is Ossur, and the other is Sif. We’re the only ones left.”

“Only ones? But... How? What are those creatures outside?”

“It’s a long story. You wouldn’t understand the science bits behind it.”

“At least try. I must know.”

“Very well. The reason you are here is, if you remember, my new medicinal mushroom. It has a bit of an unintended side effect. It stimulates growth in the limbs and greatly boosts reflexes, at the cost of reducing the user to little more than a shrieking husk. Those creatures? They used to be crewmembers. It’s only contractable by directly inhaling the spores. They were mostly medical doctors and gardeners. They’ve all been exposed to the spores.”

“Those... those used to be people?”

“Yes. By my count, there should be around eight of them.”

“Why can’t we leave?”

“Henry. We are in the middle of the lowest populated country on the planet and there is a sub-zero wasteland outside. We can’t simply walk out. They have us trapped”

“Call the military. Call Skut. Call someone!”

“It’s not that simple. The only working communications device is on the other side of the station. Out of this building”

“How about Ossur’s? It seems to work”

“No. His is only a short range device. We can’t even raise the intercom.”

I raised my voice, angered by Daniel’s cowardice. He had clearly been hiding in this room for weeks. “Then we go to the other side of the station. We turn on the radio and call for help ourselves. And if you won’t, I will.”

Surprised by my sudden change in personality, Daniel looked down. He turned to Ossur and Sif and said something in Icelandic. They both nodded, and walked toward the door. Sif moved toward the lock and opened the door. He rounded the corner, and called “Tomt” back. I looked at Daniel, and he said “Empty. No one in the halls. Let’s go.”

We proceeded down the halls, headed for the long range communication device. Ossur opened a door and let out a yell. One of the creatures jumped on top of him and started clawing at him. Daniel whirled around and let out a shout. He blasted the creature away with a blast from his shotgun, and ran to Ossur. Sif looked up and said “Hann er dauður. Við verðum að halda áfram. He is dead. We must keep going”. Sif grabbed Ossur’s radio and we ran into the darkness.
To cross into the second building, Daniel explained that we had to enter a long, vertical shaft where the spores were grown. Sif lead the way, with Daniel behind him and myself at the rear. Daniel warned me to watch my step. Sif told us to wait and took a few steps ahead. He began to gently prod the ice on the bridge ahead and mutter. He took a careful step forward and let out a shriek as the ice cracked and shattered underneath him. He fell down the shaft, screaming all the way. Daniel lurched forward, trying to save him, but I held him back. We had lost two good men in less than half an hour, and I did not wish to lose my oldest friend as well.
After carefully finding a different way around by going through the air vents, we crawled through and climbed out into the second division. Daniel went out first, waving his shotgun carefully. I followed. We moved to the communications room and I looked at the broadcasting device. It was a simple setup, and I looked around for a power switch. As I turned the machine on, Daniel walked out into the hallway. He yelled and began to shoot. He ducked inside the room and slammed the door, tipping over a desk to be used as a barricade.

“There’s a bunch of them out there! We can’t get out!” He began to panic. I told him to calm down and reinforce the door. He slid a chair across the ground, flipped it over and added it to our barricade. I began to call on the radio hoping for someone, anyone, to answer. I pulled a tape recorder over and spoke into it.

“This is Ice Station to Dock. Send evacuation immediately. Situation Unsafe. This message repeats.”

I put the recorder next to the radio, and pushed the play button. My recorded voice echoed in the empty space. Daniel looked at me and nodded slowly. He put his shotgun down and went over to the other door. He slid a chair over and barricaded the entrance.

“Let’s hope none of them come to us. I have no more shotgun ammunition.”

“I have a revolver. One shot.”

“That’s better than nothing. Give it to me”. Daniel looked up and held out his hand.
I pulled the gun from my coat and offered it to him. He took it and shook his head.

“Dagny, you bloody nut.” He held it up and grinned. “This belonged to one of the gardeners. He kept it for “emergencies”. We just stayed clear of him all the time. I guess he finally found a use for it.”

A loud shriek emanated from the hallway, and the door barricaded by the chair and table burst off its hinges. Daniel whirled around and fired. A deafening crack went off and the creature that had broken open the door flew backwards into the hall.

“So much for your one shot.” Daniel muttered, this time putting a much heavier bookcase across the entrance. He sat down and looked up at me. “Now, we wait.”

Yes, indeed. Waiting is a horrible thing. Sitting, unable to do anything but wait is a truly terrifying notion. I must wait. My waiting never ends. Daniel left to find food twenty-four hours ago, and I have not seen him since. I write these notes with a heavy hand, hoping to burn them in my study fireplace when I’m safely back home in Cornwall. So, I just wait for rescue, or worse. Just wait. If you’re reading this, then my wait turned out longer than I hoped it would.





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