The sound of screeching snow under my boots in winter has always been one of my favorite sounds. Besides the rain. Yet it is all I’ve been hearing for the past two months.
I have decided to join my uncle and aunty on their antarctic research over at McMurdo Station on the south tip of Ross Island. It is pleasant for a while, soon enough your fingers start freezing until they reach the point of painful needles and go numb. I wore so many coats on me that I’ve lost count of and no thermos was able to keep your tea warm for longer period than two minutes.
Mr.Brown was the head leader, also known as the Polar Bear from the rest of the crew, due to his act of bravery he brags on and on about. He claimed that he rescued a penguin from a polar bear once, even though nobody was there to witness the event. No man can tell for sure if it was all made up or just a vision he had after freezing his brain in the cold for too long. Mr.Brown came back to tell the tale, his nickname has been stuck ever since. He doesn’t complain.
Our group was formed of ten people in total. Mr.Brown was definitely the oldest, although he never reveals his aging years. Aunty said it is rude to ask, and if however someone does dare to ask, Mr.Brown kindly replies that age and money should not be told. Despite his gray hair and beard, his wisdom and experience of the field show that he worked for at least 20 years on these frozen grounds.
My aunt and uncle are an early addition to the pack. They joined the research about two years ago before my parents have died. Uncle has always been fascinated by such icy wonders and one day he decided that being a college teacher just wasn’t fit for his life anymore, aunty of course joined in, she never questions his actions. Me, I just follow them wherever they chose to go. An orphan classy girl, born in a very wealthy family from the Swedish region. Some may call me royal, I believe I am just as similar to everybody else.
Father was a business magnate (formally industrialist), entrepreneur of great influence. Also happens to be the founder of a Swedish retail company specializing in furniture. Mother was his secretary.
They were both on their private plane while on a business journey when the plan crashed landed on a mountain. Haven’t spoken about them since.
Here at McMurdo Station days are long, nights are longer. Research never ends and interns come and go. Can’t even count how many names alongside faces I’ve forgotten over the past two months.
It was on the middle of January when Mr.Brown decided he had enough lazying for one winter and planned the first mission. While the rest of the team took all their equipment, two sleighs, food provisions and packed them all away in backpacks, I stood there gazing out the window longing to be home. By now I’m guessing anyone would have died to escape the winter wonderland I was forced to live in. Still, I went anyway. It was better than getting left behind to babysit the dogs and watch people on the station playing cards all afternoon.
Little did I know, this mission was about to change my life and view upon the world, forever.
Everyone was ready to go. Each with their own unique, yet strange fashion taste. Mrs. Carter was wearing a long cream-colored coat with light cream gloves and a type of hat that I would describe as a bird nest with a hawk feather pointing out of it. Despite her age, she chose to drag one of the sleighs saying it is how she will keep warm and going. Mrs. Carter loves to joke around by telling everybody the old British saying “There’s still life in the old dog” which makes everyone display a smile.
Henry, strangest of them all. His style was German like. Light gray sweater, green hat, green shorts and knee length green socks. If you would ask me, he was extremely funny looking, everyone seemed to adore his strangeness.
My aunty was the most classy one of them all. She would always wear a dress or shirt, expensive leather boots and a black umbrella with lace on the sides of it, which she never left behind. Uncle’s style would be similar to a hunters. Yet, the both couldn’t fit better than a pair of gloves.
Mr.Brown marked all the coordinates on his map and took notes while he stopped to study or admire something. Each person had their own role they followed and nobody would question where or why we are doing certain actions.
About seven hours into our journey we found ourselves on top of a frozen lake, it hasn’t been anything new for any of us, frozen lakes were all over the place and the only time you needed to worry about them was in summer time, in which case it was impossible to find yourself in a difficult situation if you intended to cross them.
Suddenly, Mr.Brown is stopping and without a warning shouts “Be quiet. Don’t move.”
Everyone stood still wondering just what in the world has gotten into the old man’s head. They all exchanged looks.
Bonk. A powerful force hit the ice from underneath the ice.
“Did you hear that?” exclaimed the old man.
“It can’t possibly be ice cracking in the middle of January now, could it?” said Henry. “That’s just impossible.”
“In all my years of research and I have never heard such a sound. It is coming from underneath the ice, Mr.Cole” said Mr.Brown
“Now what creature would have the audacity to hit itself on the ice to reach us?” screamed Mrs.Carter
“Leopard seal, southern elephant seal, whale, you name it. Never have I encountered such a hungry, crazy one like this.” said Henry
“Sure isn’t no seal, Henry old friend. That is no seal.” whispered Mr.Brown
“Back away people. We don’t know what this…”
Before Mr.Brown even got to finish his sentence, another hit encountered.
“Henry, pass me the icebreaker!” shouted Mr.Brown
“Oh please tell me you aren’t foolish enough to help it turn us all into breakfast now, Brown. We should switch route and leave it be.” said Henry.
Henry looked into his eyes and noticed there was no turning back once the old man made up his mind. My heart was racing while Hengry handed the icebreaker to him. Without any sort of hesitation, Mr.Brown started smashing the ice with all the force left in him. Before I know it, the lame already came gushing out.
To my and everyone’s surprise… nothing came out to bite our heads off. No monster. No seal. Nothing.
“I’m going in, I believe I spot something on the end of the lake, it’s floating unconscious, could be human.” announced Mr.Brown
“Now Brown let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, thank goodness we are all still standing. Back away now, let’s head straight back, you hear me?” exclaimed Mrs.Carter
Before any of us could do anything, Mr.Brown was swimming right towards that thing in ice cold water. If it were truly a human, how could it possibly still be alive?
Will we rescue someone or will we loose Mr.Brown?