THE BLIZZARD WAS expected to last two more days and, as the sun wouldn’t rise for another thirteen, the phrase ‘dark and stormy night’ definitely applied – even if the sense of midwinter gothic was heightened by events elsewhere and discussions about something far more serious than weather. The prospect of ending it all had been mooted during the annual midwinter feast, causing serious dissension amid the traditional costumery and viewing of The Thing. Perhaps too much bootleg liquor had been consumed. Or maybe it was just that the monster was supposed to be inside the station, where it could be contained, for why else have a base in the first place? But there it was and here they were – handpicked for health and sanity, as everyone who worked in the station had ever been; debating mass suicide like entirely reasonable people, which they remained even under the circumstances.
Fourteen souls the station held, buttressed against this year’s deep nadir by insulated walls and mementoes of all that lay intractably far off. July in Antarctica was a dark, alien time that naturally brought ghosts to mind, the wind perpetuating the moans of dead explorers and the yowls of their dogs, which the former had often killed in vain attempts to stave off their own end. Modern expeditioners were caretakers steadier of heart than Jack Torrance had been in The Shining, and no less besieged by the uncanny. Not once but a hundred times had they sensed movement behind them of things that ought to be there but weren’t. Pets. Loved ones. Lives. An all-encompassing absence pressed this huddle of humanity into shapes reminiscent of the lean times when starving for glory was what one signed up for. Here, now, there was food and little glory, but the storm went on, and ghosts wailed and walked.
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