Rob Coker, Larkman Nunatak, January 10, 2013 (G-058)
I warned them. I warned them not to go. I warned them not to go to the old camp. I had heard stories about the members of that expedition (Linda most especially) that gave me chills: they came back from the ice changed, unwilling or unable to talk about their experiences on the plateau. But of course my campmates didn’t listen to me, since I’m just the fingie of the group, so they just laughed at me and off we went. That fateful day started off nicely enough, with a snowmobile ride up over the pass through Larkman Nunatak. On the other side, we explored the blue ice bordering the crevasse-filled pressure ridges. We were properly prepared and trained and warned concerning falling into any crevasses, but nothing was said about any Thing coming out of them.
Before I go any further, in case some Thing happens to me, what I say here is a full and true account of events, no matter what others — or I — may say later.
After searching for a few hours, we approached some old bamboo poles, with the rotting remains of flags flapping from them in the cold wind; these marked the scarred site of the old camp. Ostensibly, we were going to clean up the detritus that inevitably gets left behind in a field camp, no matter how careful one tries to be. As we edged into the site, the broken poles and oddly disturbing reddish brown patches of snow and ice filled me with foreboding and a nameless anxiety and even, inexplicably, fear. Mysterious serpentine undulations, pointing back towards the pressure ridges, were visible throughout the dismal place; wind-carved features, I was assured. While I was attempting to extract the remnants of one such pole from the uncannily strong grip of the ice, I heard cries — quickly stilled — from some of my companions. I rushed over to Mini and saw she was smiling very broadly — almost inanely — no, insanely — and holding this…this green Thing, that she had removed from the ice. When asked how she had found such a small object in this vast wasteland, she would only rather distantly reply “It was just there.” Soon, after, she put on her full goggle mask — I haven’t seen her face since this picture was taken — while almost proudly displaying her new “companion”. They have become inseparable.
When we got back to our camp — with Mini speeding along ahead, eager to return to our abode on the ice for some fiendish reason — Mini and Marianne promptly sequestered themselves in their tent, not to be seen until the next day. The next morning, they were particularly impatient to begin searching; they seemed very focused on finding one certain type of Star Stone: carbonaceous, which bear amino acids, the building blocks of life. Even if I had made the connection then, I’m not sure what I could have done to stop the inevitable! While searching that day, Marianne lagged behind the rest of us, following an odd zig-zag pattern, until she stopped and excitedly waved Mini over to her. Luckily — ha! — we all went over to see the strange ominous blackened lump that Marianne was almost reverently packing away. At camp, in celebration of their eldritch achievement, I suppose, “the girls” — such an innocuous label considering what I know they have now become! — invited Shaun and Tom over for dinner. The latter have been moody and withdrawn ever since. The next morning — yesterday — Shaun spent hours alone with Stan, nominally fixing Stan’s skidoo. I should have realized two skilled men such as they shouldn’t have needed that long for a simple repair! Now Stan, my tentmate, is different somehow — subdued maybe — but suddenly he is very eager to return to “civilization” (which he says with an oddly condescending and seemingly hungry tone). The other four have been saying similar things and are getting increasingly visibly frustrated at the weather-induced delays for our resupply, which may result in our staying here longer than planned.
Last night I played cards with Andrew and Jim, the remaining members of the team. They appeared and behaved normal enough. However, they are even now having dinner with “the girls”, so I fear that I am the last. As the Frackin New Guy, I guess I wasn’t thought to be important enough to…to subvert, to change, or whatever that Thing has done, but I’m sure it will happen soon. I almost hope the storms come and bury us and our camp, never to be found, before the planes arrive, before they take these unknown Rocks and Things back to an unexpecting and unsuspecting civilization. Oh the horrible Truths that will be learned!
One final note of warning (and as I write this I sense them quietly gathering outside my tent, so I must hurry up and finish): at the old eldritch camp was a long odious piece of rope attached to something buried deep in the ice, some unspeakable Thing I’m sure the previous expedition found, perhaps in the deep crevasses of the pressure ridges. We tried to free it, but we