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Estimated reading time — 76 minutes
As much as I despise having to type this, I’ve since come to terms with my wife’s suggestion. When I first told her of my assignment in the Arctic, she refused to let me leave. With time, she came to accept it, under one condition of course. She wanted me to keep this log while I’m out there. If I’m going to be stuck with a bunch of guys in an outpost for one month for what she calls ‘a total sausage fest’, she wants me to have something I can share my feelings with. She’s convinced that none of my fellow employees will be open for any personal discussion, and that bottling up my feelings will cause me to have a mental breakdown. I can be alone for weeks and not be bothered one bit, but there’s no convincing her of that. Any effort I put forth at this point would be fruitless.
I apologize for the long explanation, but that’s just how I am. If I end up going off on some tangent, hope that I catch myself before writing pages of irrelevant information. Wait a minute, why am I writing like this, like someone is going to read this? I hope no one ever reads this load of trash. I’m just keeping my promise to my wife so she can stay happy. If anyone ever does read this, I hope they enjoy the ramblings of a blind man.
As I was saying, I’m writing this journal while I’m on my arctic assignment. Actually, let’s call it an expedition. That makes it sound a little more exciting. This ‘expedition’ was put together by the company that I work for called Hornbeck Offshore. We specialize in machines called ROVs, which stands for remotely-operated vehicle. They’re mainly used in the oil field for servicing rigs, vessels, whatever the client pays us for. However, we were recently rented out by a division of the federal government for some observation under the arctic ice. I can’t remember which agency it is, since I had fallen asleep during the meeting. All I know is that I need to go with the team because I’m one of the most experienced machinists. Apparently, I’m going to have my own shop adjacent to the main building. I have no clue how much that costs them build, but the government is going to pay for everything, so I don’t really care.
Oh, there’s a knock at my door. I guess we’re finally ready to catch our shuttle to the airport. It’s going to be a roughly nineteen-hour flight, so I’m going to bring a bottle of NyQuil. I can hardly stand some of these people in the office. I can only imagine what a pleasure they’ll be in the confined cabin of an airplane.
I’m taking one last look over the shop from my office window. Everyone’s left already, and I’ve just been killing time at my computer. I better turn off all the lights so my boss doesn’t fire me for running up the electric bill.
I’ll try to update this every few days, but no promises. Apparently one of our employees has an external hard drive full of movies, so this excursion may not be as miserable as I originally anticipated.
As I had been hoping, I slept through almost the entire flight yesterday. As soon as the plane took off, I took my NyQuil and waited for it to put me out. Before I fell asleep, I had someone sit in the vacant seat next to me. I was so tempted to ask him to move but decided to keep my mouth shut. If I managed to piss this guy off, I would still be stuck in the same building as him for the next month. That wouldn’t end well.
I remember him shaking my hand and introducing himself, but I can’t remember what he said his name was. By that time, I was half-asleep and not really paying much attention. He remained silent after that but didn’t change seats. I feel asleep with my head against the window and pressure building in my ears.
When I finally woke up, I let out a long yawn and popped the pressure that built up in my head. I had forgotten to take the decongestant my wife bought me, but it wasn’t that bad compared to what had occurred on the flight while I slept. Apparently, one of the computer technicians had too much to drink and ended up vomiting all over the bathroom. It got cleaned up, but still took both flight attendants to do so. As I left my set to use the bathroom, I passed the drunk man. He had been placed in his seat and had the seatbelt pulled tight. I guess either the flight attendants or some of my coworkers had restrained him. No matter who did it, I was thankful. I also prayed that he wouldn’t continue with this behavior when we got to the base camp.
I remained awake for the remainder of the flight, which was only about an hour. I occupied my time by catching up with the news on my laptop. Luckily, my company hadn’t been cheap and booked us a plane with Wi-Fi. Although the base was supposed to have internet access half the time at best, it didn’t really bother me. I vaguely remember my boss saying that the signal was infamous for dropping out at random times.
The plane touched down rather roughly. The Jeep I drove back home was far worse. I stretched and grabbed my bag from under the seat in front of me, following my fellow employees outside. The wind struck me first, causing me to grab the brim of my hat. As I descended the stairs, I had to keep my eyes narrowed to slits to avoid the stinging pain. Once my feet finally touched solid ground, or possibly solid ice, I set down my bag and placed my hand over my eyes.
Nothing but white… I don’t know why I was surprised. I acted as if I had expected to see rolling plains or grassy hills. Instead, I was met with a barren white landscape as far as the eye could see. Of course, there was a small one-story building a short distance off. A radar dish barely taller than the roofline stood next to it on a rusty steel structure. I felt pity for whoever had to work that miserable place.
“Alright everyone, I need you in groups of three for the ride over to the basecamp,” I heard my boss call. He stood in front of all of us with a clipboard in his hand. Everyone refused to move, instead standing in silence and pulling their parkas tighter around their bodies.
“Don’t just stand there. I didn’t get paid an extra thirty percent of my salary to stand here freezing my balls off while you assholes stand around like penguins. Move!”
He shouted the last word, causing everyone to scramble into groups of three. By the time I had picked up my bag, there was only one group left that had two people. As I walked over to join them, I recognized one of them as the man who sat next to me on the flight. Joining them, he looked over his shoulder and made eye contact with me.
“Hey man, it’s you! Did you get enough sleep?” he asked with a tone that seemed unnaturally joyous. I hadn’t noticed it the night before, but he spoke with a thick country accent.
“Yeah,” I replied hesitantly. “I got plenty. I’ll need it for the big day that we have ahead of us.”
He smiled and nodded his head in acknowledgment.
“You seemed like you slept hard. I had to switch seats because you kept leaning over on me.”
I scratched the back of my head and tried to hide my embarrassment.
“Yeah sorry… I don’t stay still when I sleep.”
“What did you say your name was again?” The man had flipped his sunglasses down to save his eyes from the harsh sunlight reflecting off the snow.
“John MacReady,” I said, extending my hand to shake his. With both of us wearing thick gloves, we were barely able to grasp the other’s hands.
“I’m Drake Mason. Now that I think about it, I think I remember seeing your face around the shop when I’ve been there on occasion.”
I smiled, not really knowing how else to respond.
“Alright everyone, grab your belongings and pile into a vehicle. We have another few hours to the basecamp, so get comfortable.”
Our respective groups walked over to the snow vehicles that sat in line. They were painted orange but had long faded in the beating sun. The lettering on the side, ‘SM100S’, had also formed brown spots due to rust.
We all packed into the snow crawlers, which rumbled to life with a plume of smoke from the exhaust. I sat with Drake in the back while someone whose name I didn’t know sat up front with the driver.
As we pulled away, I looked out the window towards the small building. There was what looked like a person standing in the open doorway. I don’t know how, but this individual seemed to be bent over in the doorway, as if too tall to fit under it normally. Although hardly striking me as dangerous, I was filled me with a sense of unease. As we drove away, the person walked back inside, never breaking his gaze from our departing fleet.
I turned to Drake, looking to see if he had noticed the man as well. He had occupied himself by opening a book. I took it that he hadn’t seen the creepy guy, so I decided to not bother bringing it up. It wasn’t worth freaking him out over such a small incident. I barely knew him and didn’t want my first impression to be that of some rambling lunatic.
The drive to the base wasn’t that bad, save for the driver trying to start up a conversation every few minutes. I had never been a big social person, and I sure as hell didn’t feel like starting now.
When we finally arrived at the base, I had grown tired once again. Perhaps I had jetlag, or perhaps I was getting a taste of how low my energy was going to be while I was out here. Even though I had gotten plenty of sleep on the flight, I was beginning to feel fatigued.
The vehicles finally came to a halt and we all piled back outside in the cold once more. By this time, the sun had mostly set, leaving the camp illuminated in the glow of floodlights. As my boss talked to everyone, I only nodded my head. I wasn’t paying attention to him, the hunger starting to rumble in my stomach or Drake poking me in the side with his elbow to keep me awake. I only fantasized about going to sleep once again. When I heard my boss say something about taking the day off tomorrow to catch up on sleep and rest, I perked up.
I was one of the first people through the door. While everyone else looked around the basecamp in curiosity, I consulted a bulletin board on one of the walls. I quickly found my room number and walked in that direction. Once I entered the room, I shut the door, dropped all my belongings on the floor, and collapsed onto the bed. I didn’t bother removing my boots or parka. I simply went limp and let the grasp of slumber engulf me.
I woke up this morning to find that Drake had been assigned as my roommate for the duration of our stay. I’m not going to complain. I’m just lucky that I’m not stuck with the drunk from the plane or that loudmouth from the graphic design office.
After I woke up this morning, I went into the main area of the base. My boss calls it ‘the den’, so I guess I’ll do the same. The den consists of a group of couches around a large television, a pool table, a pinball machine, and some other things I don’t really see myself using.
I joined two other men in the kitchen which overlooked the den. They had cooked breakfast and were sitting at one end of a table. They offered me the remaining fried egg and bacon strips, which I happily took. Before sitting down to join them, I scooped some grounds into the coffee maker and turned it on.
Breakfast went better than I had expected. The two men, who introduced themselves as Roger and David, were a pleasure to talk to. Roger is a muscular man who keeps his dirty blonde hair spiked up with a large amount of product. He spoke with a booming voice that could strike fear into anyone. David was a skinny man who kept his long black hair combed back. He spoke with a quiet tone but perked up when we started talking about books. We ended up talking about our favorite authors until around 2 in the afternoon when everyone else began to wake up. We dispersed, saying how we hoped to talk again the next day. Although I had never been big on long conversations, these two were a joy to talk to. I guess this trip will turn out to be decent if I can continue to fight off my usual fear of being social.
And so, that leaves us to where I am now. I’m back in my room typing this up, Drake is on his laptop watching videos whenever they manage to load over the crappy wi-fi. I better get going. The boss just announced over the intercom that dinner was ready. Oh, before I go, I only have one complaint. I forgot until now that I woke up last night to a shout. Apparently, Drake screams in his sleep. I just ignored him and buried my head deep into my pillow. I really hope he doesn’t do this all the time. I’m hundreds of miles from a pair of earplugs.
Today is the first day that we actually did some real work! I shouldn’t exactly be celebrating that, but at least it gives me something to do during the day. I, along with Drake and four other people, boarded a pair of snow crawlers and headed out to our project site. The ride was about forty-five minutes. Compared to the ride from the plane to the base, this one was short. A team had come out here a couple of weeks ahead of us and set up a temporary building near a large hole in the ice. Although the portable shelter was nothing to brag about, it had a heater, and that’s all I cared about.
After a quick tour of the facility, we got to work. My job was to monitor the gauges on one of the screens. If the pressure in one the pneumatic arms went out or something like that, it was my job to go out to the ROV when it returned to land and remove the broken piece. We had brought a spare part for everything on the robot. I would place the new part on and fix the busted one when we got back to camp. Luckily, nothing went wrong today, so I mainly sat at a table talking with Drake. He would occasionally have to tend to a software issue with the computers, but it never took long. Overall, the day went by at a decent pace.
By the time we were ready to head back to camp, I had worked up an appetite. One of the team members had forgotten to bring our lunch, so I wasn’t too pleased with that. The drive back to base seemed longer than it should have been, mainly due to my stomach only became noisier. As we neared the base, the floodlights turned on to illuminate it. The sun had begun to set while we were at the expedition site, and by now, had almost completely gone down.
As soon as the snow crawler came to a halt, I flung open the door and ran inside. Rounding a corner, I ran through the den and into the kitchen. I yanked open the door to the fridge and grabbed my pre-made sandwich that the asshole had forgotten to pack. I threw the crumpled plastic wrap on the floor, too consumed by my desire to feast to throw it away. I tore the plastic wrap off and devoured it in a few bites. Even after consuming my sandwich, I was still hungry. I joined the rest of the team in the den while our cook prepared dinner. Although the Seinfeld episode currently on had my attention, my nose would get distracted as the smell of cooking meat wafted in my direction.
Soon enough, all of us sat down at the long table in the kitchen and devoured our meal. I sat with Drake, along with Roger, David and a couple of other people I recognized from the expedition today. In between bites of pork roast, we talked about our lives back home and got to know each other a little better. I can’t believe I’m saying this but, I’m actually starting to become social. I guess my wife was wrong. Maybe I don’t need to keep this log. On the other hand, writing these entries does give me some quiet time to myself. I guess I’ll keep writing. Maybe I’ll enjoy reading these someday in the future.
After dinner, we gathered in the den to watch a movie. The boss figured that after our first day of work we needed to have a mild celebration. I had thought of turning in to bed early but decided a social activity would do me some good. The employee who brought the external hard drive of movies connected it to his laptop and then plugged that into the television. After scrolling through a list, he clicked a movie and started it up.
He had chosen a movie I remember being in the theaters when I was a kid: John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’. For those of you who don’t know what the movie is, wait… there I go again, acting as if I have some audience interested in my ramblings. Never mind, I just won’t bother correcting myself anymore. As I was saying, ‘The Thing’ is about a team in the arctic who end up having a shape-shifting alien infect people in the camp. It can take the form of any person, making it almost impossible to tell human from monster.
Halfway through the movie, I got up and went to the kitchen to grab a beer. No one seemed to notice me get up and leave. They all had their faces glued to the screen as a husky began to shift into some ungodly monstrosity. I opened the door to the fridge and found a strawberry ale I thought would be good.
As I turned back to the den, I caught sight of Drake starring out the window to my left. Whatever he was staring at had his full, undivided attention. He didn’t so much as blink when I walked past him and sat back down on the couch. I followed his gaze out the window. There was nothing there… All I could see was falling snow illuminated in the pale glow of the floodlights. Shrugging it off as some obscure behavior, I sipped my beer and turned my attention back to the movie.
I don’t remember the ending since I dozed off with about half an hour left. I woke up to Drake shaking me, gently calling my name. After rubbing the drowsiness from my eyes, I followed him back into our bedroom. I sat in bed and tried to go to sleep but failed. I’m one of those people where if I fall asleep and wake up, I won’t go back to sleep until one in the morning. So, I might as well entertain myself.
Currently, Drake is cursing at his laptop for dropping the internet signal. The poor guy’s been trying to send the same email to his wife and kids for an hour. I’m sitting with my laptop, typing these words. I can finally feel myself getting tired, so at least I can go back to bed. It’s two in the morning and we have to wake up at eight to head back to the expedition site. Better turn in. I’ll need as much sleep as I can get.
Yesterday went by a little rough for me. I woke up and went out to the expedition site. I had only gotten six hours of sleep, making me groggy the duration of the workday. Drake kept me company and made conversation as much as he could. I give him kudos for trying to keep me awake. If only I could’ve put forth as much effort trying to stay awake as he gave trying to keep me from faceplanting onto the table.
Close to the end of the day, the ROV had to be pulled back up to the surface. One of the floatation blocks had come off, causing the vehicle to be pulled back to the surface via its tether cord. Apparently, the pilot had tried to explore a small cavern structure and scraped the block clean off. By the time I had undone the bolts on the frame that once held the flotation block, it was too late to put on a new one and continue working. I was told that by the time the ROV could’ve flown back to the spot of interest, we would have five minutes before it needed to be turned back around. I relished at the idea of a short work day. I kept my excitement hidden, not wanting my boss to regret his decision.
We all piled into the snow crawlers and headed back towards the base an hour early. After dinner, I played some videogames with Roger and David, then turned in for the night.
Instead of heading out to the expedition site today, I stayed in my shop to craft a new floatation block from the stock we had brought down here. I had never stepped foot in the shop but expected it to be like a much smaller scale of the one back home. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with new machines lining the walls. Although the small shop was one quarter the size of my other one, it had half as many tools. It felt a little more cramped than I would have liked, but I wasn’t going to complain.
I spent the day machining a solid block of condensed foam to a set of plans on a nearby table. Apparently, the government had given my company enough money to where they bought a Bluetooth speaker for me to use. As I worked, my playlist of Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Rush, and other such artists played in the background. I took a break for lunch, sitting with David and Roger at the table in the kitchen. They had been brought along to create maps, spreadsheets and other collections of data that the ROV gathered. Whenever we brought back information one day, they would spend the following making sense of it and storing it in a neat and organized manner. I still didn’t know what we were doing, and the two of them tried explaining it to me. I failed to comprehend the gibberish that left their mouth. Roger had said something about mapping the ocean floor. David was a marine biologist, so his explanations made even less sense than Roger’s.
I finished my lunch and went back out to the shop to finish my work. Spending another hour working away the foam to the smallest detail, I finally finished. I glanced down at my watch to find it was only four in the afternoon. Drake and the team weren’t due back for another hour. I grabbed the floatation block along with other supplies to bring with me to the expedition site tomorrow and turned off the shop lights. Stepping out into the cold, I zipped up my parka and dreaded the short walk back to the main base camp.
As I walked through the snow that had fallen overnight, I glanced over at the mountain range that dwarfed our camp. Some members of the team had wanted to take the helicopter up there and ski down, but the boss prohibited it. He had said something about ‘our insurance doesn’t cover you being a bunch of dumbasses.’ He had never been too pleasant back home, but the cold only seemed to irritate him further. That’s why I kept my distance.
Suddenly, something on one of the mountains caught my attention. At first, I thought my eyes were playing a trick on me. I used my free hand not holding the floatation block to rub my eyes. I looked at the same spot again to see it was still there.
I couldn’t make out the shape too well. All I could see was a tall, slender black shape. Although my guess is rough, I estimate it was at least ten feet tall. It stood still, not moving a single bit. Even while writing this, I find it hard to believe what I saw.
This wasn’t like me seeing Bigfoot or some demon. What I saw didn’t scare me or make me piss myself on the spot. It just filled me with an overwhelming sense of dread. Even now, I faintly feel its effects fatiguing my body and weakening my mind. I wish I could describe in better detail everything I felt at that moment in time, but I can’t. It filled me with trepidation that I have never come close to feeling before.
Drake is asleep now, and I probably should do the same. I locked the door and drew the curtains over the windows a few minutes ago. I keep telling myself that what I saw wasn’t something alive, but merely a manmade structure of some sort. Jesus, I should just stop. Working myself into a sleep-deprived fit isn’t the answer. I just need to get some rest and think this through.
I’ve come to the conclusion that what I saw was just a figment of my imagination. My wife had warned me that being in an isolated place like this can make a man go mad, but I know I’m not on the brink of insanity or anything like that. What I saw was simply a trick my eyes were playing on me. Nothing more, nothing less. Ever since that day, I’ve just pushed it to the back of my mind and ignored it. I haven’t talked to Drake, Roger, or David about it. There’s no point in bothering those poor men with my delusions.
The past few days have gone by without any problems. Drake and I have gone out to the expedition site and sat in the portable building while the ROV does whatever it was rented out to do. Luckily, the only part of it I had to replace so far is a flotation block. Although I’m pleased that I haven’t had to replace any parts, the days are boring just sitting in that building. Drake does a good job trying to keep my attention, but I still wish that I was at least back at basecamp watching a movie on the television. When we returned to base camp yesterday, Roger and David were doing their work, but had the television on all day. I’m starting to grow a little envious. They get to have a television, while the only entertainment I have are the strange ice patterns that are forming on the window of that building. I know it’s a crazy idea, but I’m tempted to purposefully break a piece of the robot just so I can be in the shop with my music. Even a little music will cure my boredom.
I seem to have forgotten why I started typing this entry to begin with. It wasn’t to inform you how I’ve spent the past few work days in a boredom-fueled daze. Something happened last night. And to answer your questions right off the bat, the answer is no. No one died. Drake just told me something that I still find a little unsettling. He didn’t tell me that he was planning on killing everyone in the camp or doing something else dangerous. He didn’t act like some stereotypical madman in a horror film. What he said was just unnerving.
As soon as he finished eating dinner, he left the rest of us and went back to our room. I stayed in the den with a few of the others, had a couple of beers and watched ‘The Fog’. It must have been around midnight when I finally left the den and came back to our room. When I opened the door, I was met with the sight of Drake staring out the window like the other night. However, this time his face was pressed right up against the glass. Although I was hesitant to get closer to him, I found myself inching forward in his Direction.
“Drake,” I asked him, “are you all right?”
He must have been in some kind of deep trance, because when I asked him that question, he immediately turned around and covered his mouth to stop a scream from escaping. His eyes were open wide with fear, and the hands covering his mouth trembled.
“Seriously man, if there’s something bothering you, you can tell me.”
I was never all that comfortable with people opening up to me, but I felt this time I had to do it. I couldn’t have my roommate remaining in a constant state of fear the rest of our time here.
Drake slowly uncovered his mouth, his hands shaking even more violently as he placed them down at his side.
“Y-you… you’ve seen it, too… haven’t you?” He spoke with fear strangling his throat, causing him to choke on every word.
The only response I could muster was letting my mouth hang open and let out of confused sigh. I shook my head and finally found some words to say.
“What in God’s name are you talking about? There’s nothing out there but snow and ice.”
Drake shook his head. His eyes darted back up towards the window. His body shook, and he returned his gaze to me.
“I know you’ve seen it… I can tell you have…”
At this point, I’d started to become more aggravated than concerned. I turned around and glanced out into the hallway to see if anyone was listening to us. After I was certain that everyone was either asleep or in the den, I shut the door and locked it.
“Alright Drake,” I said with a tone of irritation in my voice I wasn’t bothering to hide. “You need to tell me what in the living hell you’re talking about. Let’s just get this over with and get to sleep. What do you mean by it?”
Drake sucked in a deep breath.
“The Shape… I know you’ve seen it, and I’ve seen it too.”
At that moment, the image of that thing standing on the mountainside pushed to the front of my mind from where I had tried to ignore it. I remembered it as vividly as the day that I saw it. With that image burning in my mind, I also began to feel that sense of dread fill me like it had the first time I saw it.
“How the… how the hell do you know that I saw it? I haven’t talked to anyone here about it.”
Drake hadn’t broken his gaze with me the entire time we were talking. His eyes had gone cold, conveying no emotions to me.
“Because… you’re acting just like my grandfather when he saw it.”
I widened my eyes with confusion and let out an exaggerated breath.
“Well,” I said as I pulled a chair up next to his bed, “I guess we’re going to be here a while.”
I took my seat and motioned for him to continue.
“You act just like my grandpa when he saw it. What you’re seeing is something he called The Shape. I know something with a name like that doesn’t sound terrifying at first, but I haven’t seen anything terrify a grown man as much as this thing did.
When I was growing up, my grandfather lived with me and my parents. Although his mind was still sharp, his body had long since begun to fail him. My mother thought that putting him into a retirement home would do nothing but strip away his dignity. So, she renovated our old guest room and allowed him to move in with us. He sold his house and used the money to renovate the room. Anything that was left over, he put aside for me in a college fund. After a few months of him living with us, I started to notice that he was constantly looking over his shoulder. He acted as if someone was around every corner waiting to get him.”
Drake broke his gaze from the wall and looked into my eyes again.
“Although you’re not acting exactly like that, John, you share that same look in your eye that he did. I don’t know what else to call it except for a sense of fear that he tried to keep tucked away in the back of his mind, a small bit of it breaking through every once in a while and making itself known.”
I didn’t respond, not knowing how to. Instead, I simply starred at Drake in silence.
“One day, I finally worked up the courage to ask what was bothering him. He placed a finger over his lips and lead me into his room. He locked the door behind us, putting his ear to it to make sure my parents hadn’t followed us. He sat me down on the bed and pulled up a chair next to me. With a stone-cold look on his face that I’d never seen before, he made me swear to never tell my parents what he said. He feared that they would take him away and lock him up in an asylum somewhere. I gave my word and he took a deep breath before starting his story.”
“When he was in his twenties, he was drafted into the second World War. He wasn’t sent into the heart of the fight, but he was still near some brutal stuff. Although the name of where he was deployed escapes me now, I remember him saying that during the winter, it snowed at least six feet. He stayed with his fellow soldiers in a makeshift tent in a field. The nights were cold and brutal, sometimes two blankets not even being enough to keep him warm. One night, it got so cold that he put on his jacket and went outside to make a run to the supply tent and grab more blankets. The weather outside was well below freezing, but he felt it would be worth it to be warm in bed. As he trudged through the snow towards the supply tent, something out in the distance caught his attention. There was enough moonlight for him to barely make out a shape standing at the edge of the field by the tree line.”
“At first, he thought his eyes were playing a trick on him. However, he soon found The Shape slowly starting to move in his direction. He was frozen in fear for a few seconds, but soon found the strength to move and run towards the supply tent. He sprinted to it, throwing open the door and running inside. He slammed it behind him and locked it tight. The officer on duty at the time gave him an extremely confused look rather than one of worry. He asked my grandfather what had him out of breath. He simply replied by pointing towards the window, motioning for the officer to take a look outside. The man walked over to the window and looked out over the field. My grandfather had expected The Shape to be gone, making him look like he was absolutely mad, but it was there.”
“The officer told my grandfather that it was now standing close enough to the tent that a spotlight could easily catch it. He darted away from the window and immediately picked up his radio. As he shouted into it, he flicked on the spotlights and illuminated the entire camp. Within less than two minutes, the commanding officer had burst through the door. He pulled my grandfather and the solider on duty aside and questioned them.”
“He was never told what happened that night. All he knew was that by morning, three soldiers had gone missing. Although no one at the camp sent out a search party, he recalled seeing Jeeps swarming the surrounding area. He had no idea where they had come from, and they lacked any sort of identification. The vehicles remained there for nearly four days, but nothing came of their activity. They simply left and were never seen again. My grandfather never learned anything more about the missing soldiers or the mysterious search party.”
“When he returned home from the war, he told my grandmother of what he saw out in the field that night. For years, he lived his life with her and enjoyed himself. He had gotten a job at a machine shop when he returned home and loved every waking moment of it. It wasn’t until ten years later that this incident resurrected itself. It was a cold night in November when he saw The Shape again. It wasn’t standing right at his window or in the corner of his room. Instead, it lingered in the back yard at a distance. No matter what time of day it was, the shape was always there. Rain or shine, sleet or snow, it was always there. My grandfather lived in a state of constant fear that it would come in the house one day, but it never did. Every damn day… it just stood there and mocked him.”
“He tried doing research at the library to try and find even a shred of information as to what this thing could be. After years of searching, he finally came across one piece of information. It was in some obscure medical journal that had made its way into the library from a mental hospital in Ohio. It had been in a private collection donated to the library. The journal contained the notes of a doctor whose name had long since faded from the cover. Inside, it contained three pages of notes on a patient named Mark Squier. Mark had claimed to see a shape standing outside of his house. It never got any closer but was always there. The Shape soon drove the man insane, causing him to murder his family in a fit of rage and confusion. The jury found him unable to stand trial, thus causing him to be transferred to a mental hospital and into the doctor’s care. This doctor noted that Mark could still see The Shape standing outside on the lawn. During the day, it stood on the lawn and looked at his window. During the night, it stood on the lawn and looked at his window. It was always there. After three weeks of Mark being in the hospital, the doctor noted in his journal that Mark may need even more intense care than originally thought.”
“Mark had finally opened up more, revealing to them that The Shape had started talking to him. When the doctor asked what it said, Mark simply shook his head and clasped his hands over his mouth. He refused to repeat The Shape’s words, stating that it would be upset. After days of talking, the doctor finally convinced Mark to write down what The Shape had said. Mark shook violently as he wrote on a sheet of paper. That piece of paper had been taped inside the journal. Although it had yellowed and faded with age, my grandfather could still make out the one sentence written in scraggly handwriting.”
All of our mistakes are never forgotten…
“As they arranged to move Mark into twenty-four-hour care, the nurses found him dead in his cell. Apparently, he had bent the metal leg of his bedpost back and forth until the metal fatigued and snapped. Using the jagged edge of the pipe, he cut a deep gash in his throat and bled out all over the floor. The final note the doctor left about Mark was that he had died sitting against a wall, facing out the window…”
“My grandfather never found anything else about The Shape. He gave up his search, somewhat pleased with the results he had found. That day, he went to the window overlooking the backyard, and it was still there. He had been waiting years to build up enough courage, and he finally felt able to do it. He opened the door to the backyard and stood on the porch. With one deep breath, he shouted at it.”
“I’m not afraid of you!”
“At first, The Shape didn’t respond, but soon turned towards the woods. It retreated into the trees and vanished from sight. My grandfather couldn’t believe it. After all these years, it only took a few words to make it leave. However, it didn’t leave for good.”
“My grandfather then told me that it had returned, standing in our backyard. This caused me to shrink back in fear. I asked if it had come into the house. He reassured me that it was still in the backyard. He theorized that I was too young to see it. Over the years, he constantly thought about those words Mark had written. ‘All of our mistakes are never forgotten’. My grandfather had come to believe that The Shape was a physical manifestation of all our wrong-doings. Its prime function is to make us suffer for the error of our ways. Since I was still young at the time, he thought that I hadn’t done anything bad enough for my wrongdoings to take a physical form.”
It was at this moment that Drake paused. I pulled my mind from the story he had told and made eye contact with him. He now had tears flowing down his cheeks. I had never seen a grown man cry, except for at funerals. I wanted to find some way to console him, but instead let him have his moment.
“My grandfather died a few weeks after that talk. During his last few days, he warned me about The Shape. He said it had begun to move closer to the house and was now at the back door. When I asked why it was approaching him but hadn’t done the same to Mark at the hospital, he only shrugged his shoulders. He said it didn’t follow a specific set of guidelines or acted in a pattern. Just like human nature, it made unexpected moves. My grandfather said that it probably acted differently for everyone it stalked.”
“One night, he came into my room and gave me a hug goodnight. He said that The Shape had made its way right outside his bedroom door. He knew his time had come, and there was no place he could run. With tears welling in my eyes, I told him goodbye. I didn’t sleep that night. Instead, I lay in bed with the covers pulled over my head. When morning finally arrived, my parents opened my bedroom door and rushed me into the living room. They told me to stay seated on the couch. My mom ran into my grandfather’s room while my father dialed the phone in our kitchen. He had suffered a heart attack that night. Although my parents saw it as a surprise, I knew exactly what it was. I didn’t speak a word of what my grandfather told me. I simply sat on the couch and waited for the ambulance to arrive. To this day, I haven’t told anyone what he said.”
Drake wiped his face on the sleeve of his shirt and sniffled. I continued to sit in stunned silence while my mind processed what I had just heard.
“You’re the first person I’ve spoken to about this, John. I would’ve kept this to myself had I not seen you with the same look in your eyes as my grandfather. Like he said, The Shape doesn’t follow a set of guidelines. It acts randomly and without notice.”
Drake slowly turned around and faced back out the window.
“I can see it high up on the mountains in the moonlight. It hasn’t moved since I first saw it, but that could change at any moment.”
I had begun to tremble at this point, moving a shaking hand through my hair. My mind had long since shifted from seeing The Shape as a figment of my imagination, and now I began to fear it.
“But why here,” I asked with an obvious tone of panic in my voice. “Why is it coming for us here?”
“I wish I could give you an explanation, but I can’t. The Shape works without reasoning.”
Drake turned to me and remained silent while we made eye contact again.
“I just pray to the Lord above that it doesn’t come down from the mountain before we leave…”
I hoped that I’d never have to type these words, but it moved. Drake and I woke up this morning and checked out our window like we’ve been doing the past few days. When I asked him if it was still there, he was silent. I called his name again, but he refused to answer. I took it upon myself to investigate and walked over to the window. I can still picture it just as vividly as I did this morning. It hadn’t moved a tremendous amount, but it was almost halfway down the mountain now.
I let out a deep breath, my body beginning to shake again. I asked Drake how long it would take for The Shape to get to us, but he just shook his head.
“It could take weeks to get here, or it could take days or hours. Like my grandfather said, it acts differently for everyone.”
Drake and I spent today at the expedition site. We didn’t want anyone to notice how nervous we had gotten, so we did our best to hide our fear. It must have worked, considering that no one gave us any questioning glares. While everyone hovered around the screen for the ROV, the two of us sat at our table and whispered to each other. Drake feared that when we were returned to base, the figure would’ve moved even closer. I did my best to keep my calm, thinking that one of us needed to keep a level head. I told him not to try and worry about it too much. Neither of us wanted to work ourselves into a panic.
When we returned to the base, it hadn’t moved all day. The two of us exchanged a glance of relief. That night, everyone gathered around the television to watch another movie. While everyone else had their eyes glued to the screen, Drake and I would occasionally look out the window to see if The Shape had moved. By the time the movie ended, neither of us could remember what exactly happened in it. When we weren’t looking out the window, we were thinking about what we would do if The Shape got too close. The entire time, I kept reminding myself not to overthink it and to take breaks if necessary. A stressed mind yields no good solutions.
I’m sitting in bed right now, typing all of this up. Drake fell asleep about an hour ago. He had told me out at the expedition site that he hadn’t slept well the night before. Although this is the first time he’s admitted to me about not sleeping, I have a feeling it’s happened on more than one occasion.
I just glanced over and noticed that he has a cross grasped tightly in his hand. I’m not going to say anything. I’ve never been someone to judge anyone based on religion, politics, or anything of that sort. Although I’ve never been religious, a voice in the back of my head is telling me that an occasional prayer wouldn’t do me any harm right now.
Something happened just now.
Less than an hour ago, I woke up in the middle the night and needed to go to the bathroom. I got up quietly, doing my best not to wake Drake. I slowly opened our door and made sure to lock it behind me with our key. Our bedroom is at the end of the hall, requiring me to walk a considerable distance to the community bathroom at the opposite end of the hall. I wrapped my blanket tightly around my shoulders and proceeded down the hallway.
The heater must have blown another fuse, because the hallway was absolutely freezing. It had done so maybe a week ago. My boss made Roger go outside and change it. It wasn’t until later that I learned the man seemed to hold a grudge against Roger. David told me one day that it was because Roger had hit my boss’s car in the parking lot or something like that. I stayed out of their fight, not wanting to make my relationship with my boss any worse. As I passed Roger and David’s room, I noticed that the door was open. Roger must have taken it upon himself to go replace the fuse. Although I would never do such a thing, I applauded the man’s kindness.
I turned the corner and pushed open the bathroom door when I felt something. There was an almost painful cold nipping at my ankles. The chill sent a shiver up my spine and caused my entire body to tremble. When I looked to my side, I saw that the entrance door was wide open. The bitter freeze was flooding into the building.
“Damn it, Roger…” I muttered to myself with no one around to hear me.
I pulled the blanket even tighter and made my way to the open door. With each step I took towards the door, I could feel the air getting colder. I stepped over the threshold and out into the night. Even though I was wearing my parka and had a thick blanket wrapped around me, I could still feel the chill in the air penetrating the layers. I shivered before turning in the direction of the fuse box on the side of the building. I damned whoever designed this place. I wondered who would put the fuse box outside instead of inside like a normal contractor. When I studied it closer, however, I found it was closed. If a fuse hadn’t blown, that meant he walked outside for another reason. I called out his name, expecting to receive something in return. All I could hear was the sound of wind blowing.
Not knowing what else to do, I started walking around the base and searching for him. By the time I circled around the back of the base and I’d come up on the North side, I could see him standing in the snow. A feeling of relief washed over me that he hadn’t wandered off somewhere to die of hypothermia. I called out his name, but he didn’t respond. He continued to stand motionless, the floodlights around us casting his long shadow across the flawless white snow.
“Roger!” I yelled at the top of my lungs as I began making my way in his direction.
“Damn it, what the hell is wrong with you? Have you gone deaf or something?”
I extended a hand and placed it on his shoulder. As I gently started to shake him, he refused to acknowledge my presence.
“All right, I’ve had enough of this”, I screamed as I leaned forward to glance at his face.
He wasn’t dead, considering that I could still see his breath forming a cloud in the air. His blue eyes were wide open, and his mouth hung open in a contorted frown. As I studied him more, I could see his throat trembling as he tried to speak. With each failed attempt, his mouth would utter a squeak that I could barely hear over the howling wind.
“Roger…”, I let out with a trembling voice, “what’s wrong?”
I nearly jumped out of my skin when his head suddenly turned to stare into my eyes. After one big swallow, he managed to choke out a few words.
“It moved… damn it… It moved…”
I shook my head from side to side, unable to comprehend what he was talking about. Suddenly, he lifted his hand and pointed out into the night. I followed the direction his finger pointed. He was motioning towards the mountain. That’s when I saw it.
The Shape had almost reached the base.
“No,” I thought to myself. “How could it have moved that much in just one night?”
I turned back to face Roger. His mouth was no longer hanging open in a frown, but instead forming a demented smile. Starting off slowly, he began to laugh. This wasn’t the laugh I’d heard him use whenever David told a dirty joke or we were watching Seinfeld in the den. This laugh was maddening. He sounded like someone who belonged in a mental institution.
“What in God’s name is the matter with you, Roger?”
He pressed his finger over my lips and silenced me. Although he had stopped laughing, that sick smile was still plastered on his face.
“All of our mistakes are never forgotten…” he whispered with a laugh.
It was at that moment that I ran. I didn’t want to stay and confront him, all I wanted to do was get away. I sprinted, not so much as turning back to catch a glimpse. I crossed over the threshold back inside, and quickly slammed the door behind me. I didn’t care if I woke anyone up. All I wanted to do was get back in my bedroom and hide under my covers.
Like I said earlier, I can’t go back to sleep once I wake up. I’m now sitting in my bed typing this on my laptop. Drake is still asleep with that cross gripped tightly in his hand. There’s no point in me waking him to tell him what I saw. The poor man has been exhausted the past couple of days and needs his rest. I’ll break the news to him in the morning.
When I woke up this morning, I found Drake sitting at his laptop going through his email. Before I even grabbed my supplies to go shower, I told him what I saw last night. The entire time I spoke, he remained perfectly still and silent. When I finished, he sat in silence. I didn’t exactly know how he would react, but I surely wasn’t expecting this. For at least a minute, we sat without speaking a word to each other while he stared at the floor and thought. I was a little spooked when he finally lifted his head to look at me.
“So, The Shape is after someone else, too. I guess we’re not alone in this situation anymore. Just make sure that you keep an eye on him. God only knows what a man like him is capable of.”
Without speaking another word, he stood up and left our room. I didn’t really know what to make of his statement. I came to the conclusion that I would talk to him more out at the expedition site and left our room to go get breakfast.
When I walked into the den, I was greeted with the sight of Roger and David sitting at the table eating breakfast and inserting data into their laptops. They both paused and looked up from their work to give me a smile and a quick wave good morning. I returned their gesture with a forced smile, doing my best to not show my fear.
I wasn’t simply shocked but mortified that Roger had returned to normal. After the incident last night, I was expecting him to lock himself in his room all day. Yet, here he was. He was fully functioning and treating this morning as if nothing had happened a few hours prior. I was tempted to pull him aside and have a talk but decided against it. I would have to talk to him when he was alone and no one else was around to have any suspicion.
I ate my breakfast with the two of them, making light conversation between bites of cereal. By the time I finished and rinsed out my bowl in the sink, David had gone back to their room to grab some supplies. I tried to take advantage of the situation and talk to Roger alone. Just as I pulled back a chair to have a seat, I heard my boss call that it was time for the expedition team to depart. I swore at him under my breath and went back to my room to retrieve my backpack.
Drake and I spent the day at our table in the mobile building at the expedition site. He had to go fix an occasional software problem, and I had to repair a pneumatic line on the ROV. The rest of the time that we weren’t occupied with work, we discussed how to confront Roger about the previous night. Although we both started with ideas of building up to a confrontation with him, we decided against it. When we considered what we were dealing with, we decided it was best to flat out ask him about it.
We ended up staying about an hour later than we usually did. The team working the controls had been delayed and wanted to finish up the day’s assigned work now instead of making it up by leaving earlier tomorrow morning. By the time everyone piled into the snow crawlers to return to base camp, the sun had completely set. We traveled back under the guidance of bright fog lights bolted to the top of the vehicles. Even with the massive amount of light that they gave off, we still found it difficult to see through the heavy snowfall.
When we finally returned to base camp, Drake and I leaped out of the vehicle and immediately rushed inside. As we had hoped, Roger was sitting alone at the kitchen table drinking his pre-dinner White Russian. We had no idea why he did it, but we were thankful that he had kept a daily routine. The two of us each grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat down with him. Before I could even open my mouth to speak to him, he held up a hand. I sat in silence while he drained the remaining liquid from his cup and rested it down on the table with a clink.
“I know exactly what the two of you want,” he said while wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
“I’ve been waiting all day for you to return from the site.”
He let out a soft chuckle. “You know, it’s really not that pleasant being left alone with your thoughts all day. I never knew I had so much darkness inside me.”
Drake and I turned to each other and exchanged confused glances. Neither of us knew how to respond, so we simply sat there in silence and waited for Roger to speak again. After a few seconds, he reached over and grabbed my open beer bottle. He wrapped his lips around the neck and drank the entire thing down in a few large gulps. He lowered the empty bottle from his mouth and stared at the label. Then out of nowhere, he threw the bottle with all his might against one of the cinder block kitchen walls. Drake and I jumped in our chairs as the loud smash sent fragments of glass flying everywhere.
After a few short moments, I was able to choke out a few words to him.
“Wha- what the hell is the matter with you, Roger?”
By this point, some of the others had left their rooms to investigate the noise that echoed through the entire camp. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see David inching his way towards us. Roger sat in his chair and glared at me with that same sick, demented smile that I saw last night. It still managed to make me feel just as uncomfortable now as it did then. He then slowly turned and looked over the faces of our fellow colleagues who had gathered in the den to observe him.
“There’s nothing to worry about here, boys,” he said with a chuckle. “I think I’ve just had a few too many to drink. He reached over and picked up Drake’s beer bottle, lifting it up to show everyone.
Everyone must have believed them, because they all walked away. Even though David left, I could see a hint of fear in his eyes as he walked away. When the den has finally cleared, Roger turned back to glare at me with intense hatred. He slowly stood up and placed a hand on my shoulder. He leaned closer and whispered in my ear, and I could feel his hot breath tickling my skin.
“It won’t spare a single one of us. We all have our faults, but some have more than others. Compared to me, you’re a saint. But that doesn’t mean it’ll spare you. It may just end your life without any pain. I, on the other hand, may not be so lucky.”
With a final few pats on my shoulder, he left the den. As I watched him turn the corner, I could still see hatred in his eyes. I slowly turned to Drake, but he didn’t acknowledge me. He just stared at the corner Roger had turned, a single tear rolling down his cheek.
My hands are still shaking, so please forgive me for any errors I type.
I hadn’t slept well in the days following my encounter with Roger. I found myself constantly looking over my shoulder. As if having to keep an eye on The Shape wasn’t bad enough, now I had to watch out for a threat that lived among us. Roger had returned to normal since the incident. He acted completely rational whenever we ate dinner or watched a movie in the den. At first, I thought the way he acted that day was only momentary, but I was proven wrong. Whenever I would come to get breakfast in the morning, he would be sitting alone at the table. I would walk over to the fridge and he would stare at me as I passed. His eyes still burned with that intense hatred I saw almost a week ago. Out of fear, I kept my mouth shut and didn’t say anything to him. I’d hoped that simply ignoring him would solve the issue, but I had no idea how wrong I was.
Everyone in the base camp gathered in the den to celebrate only a week left out here. We all gathered snacks and the last few cases of beer that remained in the fridge. That only left us with the hard stuff. Although I wouldn’t turn down anything with vodka or whiskey, it still wouldn’t be as enjoyable as a beer. For the first time in a couple of days, I allowed myself to relax. With everyone in the base gathered together, I wouldn’t have to worry about Roger springing an attack on me. I took off my shoes and placed my feet up on the coffee table. For the first time in days, I was able to let down my guard.
That’s when it hit me.
Roger wasn’t with us. At first, I thought I must have overlooked him. As I glanced at everyone in the room once more, my worst fears were confirmed. Roger was nowhere in sight. I started to panic. He was sitting in a chair to my right whenever the movie first started, but he had now vanished. Without drawing too much attention to myself, I darted my eyes around the room and started looking for any sign of him. Out the corner of my eye, I saw movement. I turned my head towards the window to see someone’s shadow being cast upon the snow by the floodlights. It slowly moved across my field of vision before vanishing out of sight.
“There’s someone outside…” I whispered with my eyes still staring out the window.
David and Drake, who were both sitting on the couch next to me, turned their attention towards me.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. What’d you say?”
“I said there’s someone out there.” I spoke louder this time and managed to grab the attention of everyone in the room. My boss paused the movie, and I could tell he was irritated at my disruption.
“Dammit, MacReady! What the hell are you blabbering about this time?”
I pointed out the window and spoke again.
“You damn well heard me. I said there’s someone out there!”
My boss scowled at me, and I returned it with an even fiercer one. He walked over to the window and pressed his face up against it to look outside. His eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.
“By God, he’s right. Someone is out there.”
“It’s Roger…” I said under my breath before leaping from my seat.
I zipped my parka up and rushed through the front entrance. While everyone else scrambled to gather their jackets, I rushed in the direction the shadow had been walking. I soon heard the familiar crunch of snow under boots as everyone else joined me outside. I turned a corner of the building and was met with the sight of Roger kneeling in the snow. I slowed my pace down to a gentle walk. I finally came to a stop about six feet from where he knelt. As I heard everyone else run up behind me, I held out an arm and motioned for them to stop. Everyone listened and came to a halt, leaving the only sound being that of the howling wind. I turned to face them and spoke with command in my voice.
“Stay where you are. I don’t want a single one of you to move unless I say so.”
Everyone nodded their heads. I turned and walked towards the figure that knelt in front of me. As I walked around Roger, I glanced down at his hand. Clenched in his grasp… was a straight razor, the blade shining brightly in the floodlights. My attention then turned to the green stains in the snow.
“What the hell is that?” I whispered under my breath as I leaned in closer.
“…Antifreeze…” he said with a hint of pride in his tone.
I was surprised at Roger’s sudden response. I took a few steps back and withdrew the knife from my waistband. Pointing the tip in his direction, I motioned for everyone else to gather around us.
“Stay back and remain on guard,” I let out. Outstretching a trembling hand, I watched as Roger kept his gaze pointed out into the void that surrounded us.
“Please, Roger… hand over the razor before something happens that you’ll regret.”
With breath leaving his mouth in a white cloud, Roger slowly turned to me. I’m not sure how long he had been outside, but his face gone pale and his hair had been frosted over. He slowly raised the blade. Everyone behind me gasped and moved forward. As they got closer, Roger quickly swung the blade around.
“All of you better back the fuck up right now!”
They listened and retreated.
“Listen to me, Roger. You need to consider what you’re about to do.”
He chuckled and brought the blade closer to his face.
“What I’m about to do? I’ve already fucked up my life beyond repair. Anything else I do can’t possibly make it worse…”
Roger stood up, never breaking eye contact from me. I remained perfectly focused on him. I didn’t want to give him any chance to make a move on me. He lifted his head up towards the sky and took in a deep breath. He let it out slowly, letting his breath go out into the air like cigarette smoke.
“It’s not happy with us right now. In fact, it’s down-right fucking pissed with a fair amount of us. You all have a little more time, but my time on this Earth has come to an end.”
He slowly lifted the blade and as he continued to stare into my eyes.
“It says my death will be easy since I go first.”
Roger then placed the blade up to his throat and sliced a deep gash into his flesh. The blade made a tearing sound as it ripped his neck open. I watched as the dark crimson fluid gushed from his neck and splattered onto the snow. As it traveled through the air, the floodlights caught the liquid and reflected on it with some kind of sick beauty. Behind me, I could hear multiple people vomiting. I’m not sure if it’s entirely correct, but I could swear I heard someone faint and fall to the ground.
Roger dropped down to his knees, and the razor slipped from his hand. It fell into the snow and vanished from sight. Even though I thought it was over, blood continued the pour out of his gaping neck. It sounded like he tried to speak, but all that escaped from his throat was stomach-churning gargling noises. I had to place a hand over my mouth to stop myself from vomiting. I watched as Roger’s eyes rolled up into his head and he finally fell forward.
At that moment, anyone who had not vomited or fainted crowded around his fallen figure. I didn’t join them, however. I stood in place and stared out into the night. While everyone else was losing their sanity in front of me, I tuned them out.
The Shape had gotten closer. It was now halfway between the base of the mountain and our camp. I’d been watching it over the past week, and it had barely made it a quarter of the way as of last night. Although the physical proof stood before me, my mind refused to grasp the fact that it had moved that quickly. As everyone else hovered over Roger, I stared at The Shape. Even though all I could see was a solid black mass, I still had the uneasy feeling that it was staring right into my soul.
We’ve come to learn that Roger cut the radiator tubes of the snow crawlers. There’s antifreeze all over the snow. It didn’t take long for the engines to freeze over and become completely useless. We can easily patch the tubing, but there’s no point. Any extra antifreeze that we stored, Roger had cut the containers wide open.
My boss sent out a call on our radio asking for assistance this morning. It’ll take a couple of days, but we should have new snow crawlers coming to pick us up. We’ve all made a decision this morning to cut our assignment short. As soon as new snow crawlers arrive, we are all getting the hell out of here.
While everyone else just seems saddened by Roger’s suicide, Drake and I know what really killed him. He was manipulated, but we’re not going to tell anyone that. Could you imagine what everyone would say or do to us if we told them Roger killed himself due to elements completely out of his control? I surely can, and it wouldn’t be a pretty sight.
Someone destroyed our radio in the middle of the night. We had all gone to bed saddened by the news that snow crawlers would take an extra three days to get here. They’re being brought in by a fleet of army helicopters. Apparently over the next few days, the weather is supposed to be too bad for them to fly.
When everyone woke up this morning, we discovered that the weather had died down a little bit. My boss went to the radio room to see if the helicopters could make it through today and discovered the damage. It looked like someone had taken an axe to it. Shards of metal, broken glass, and fractured bits of circuit littered the floor. While everyone either stood in the room or looked through the doorway, my boss slowly turned to us and glared.
“I’ve had enough of this! I’m instituting a curfew. If I see a single one of you outside of your rooms past 10 p.m. without my permission, I will shoot.”
I tried to speak up in protest but was silenced by the loud bang of a gunshot echoing throughout the room. My boss had pulled a pistol from his waistband and shot it into the floor.
“I’m only going to say this one more time. I don’t want to see a single fucking one of you outside of your rooms past 10. Do I make myself clear?”
No one spoke a word, including me. We all nodded our heads and shrank back in fear.
“I said, do I make myself clear,” he roared.
This time, everyone responded with a unison, “yes sir…”
“Good. Now get the hell out of here. I don’t care what you do, as long as you stay inside. I’ll be patrolling around here. I don’t want to catch anyone somewhere you’re not supposed to be.”
As we all shuffled from the room, I felt Drake place a hand on my shoulder and keep me at the back of the group. He leaned in and whispered into my ear, being extremely cautious not to let anyone overhear him.
“Follow me back to our room. There’s something I want to show you.”
We returned to our room and he locked the door behind us. He then went over to the window and made sure no one was peering inside. When he confirmed that we were completely alone, he crawled under his bed and slid out a long metal case. He pulled a key out of one of the pockets on his parka and used it to unlock the case. When he lifted the lid, I was met with the site of a double-barrel shotgun.
“Jesus, Drake. Why the hell did you feel the need to bring this with you?”
“Because I don’t trust some people. I know it seems like a paranoid thing to do, but I care about my protection as well as the safety of my friends and family. Right now, you’re not only the one friend I have here, but you’re also the only person I can trust.”
He removed the shotgun from its foam cradle and held it up in front of me.
“I want you to take this to your shop and cut off the barrels. That’ll give this thing one hell of a kick.”
When he thrust it into my hands, I found myself unable to speak. My father had always kept guns in a cabinet in our living room, but I’d never touched one. This was my first time holding a firearm, and I was supposed to take it to make an illegal modification?
“Drake, have you lost your mind? How the hell am I supposed to sneak past our boss and get outside? If he sees me out there, he won’t hesitate to put a bullet through my head.”
Drake held up a finger and motioned for me to pause. He reached into another pocket and pulled out an orange pill bottle. He twisted off the lid and emptied a few of them into his palm.
“That’s why we’re going to give him one of these.”
I raised an eyebrow, not liking where this discussion was heading.
“And may I ask just what exactly those are?”
“Suvorexant. They’re pills for people with insomnia. I took one the first few nights we were here until I got comfortable. I have trouble adjusting to sleeping anywhere that’s not my bed, so I thought I should bring these with me. All we have to do it slip one in his drink or grind it up in his food and he’ll be out like a light.”
I massaged my temple where I could feel a headache beginning to grow. Letting out a slow groan, I finally mustered up the courage to speak.
“Have you just completely lost it? I mean seriously; we’re talking about drugging our boss so we can sneak into my shop and modify a firearm. Do you not see how asinine this sounds? This isn’t normal.”
“Normal? What part of any of this would you consider normal? We have something waiting outside that’s drawing closer by the day. It drove someone in this camp to slice open their throat and destroy our snow crawlers. And now, I think it made someone destroy the radio. When you consider what’s happening all around us, I would consider this plan to be quite normal!”
At first, I didn’t exactly know what to say. I’d never seen this side of Drake before. I was unsure whether to be proud of him for standing up or be afraid at how commanding he could be. I went with my first option, and then reached out and grabbed the pill bottle from his hand.
We waited until dinner was cooked. As food was set out on the table, Drake and I went into the kitchen to make ourselves a drink. When I asked if anyone wanted me to make one for them, my boss and a couple of other people said yes. I was thankful that I would be able to drop it in his drink and not have to put it in his food. With all the drinks made, I took out a plastic bag from my coat pocket. I had ground up the pill to a fine powder earlier that day. I emptied the little bag’s contents into one of the drinks and made sure to mix it well. I made a mental note of which drink to bring to my boss and set it down in front of him. He took a sip and then stared at the glass with a raised eyebrow. I felt my stomach turn at the thought of being caught.
“My God, this whiskey is terrible.”
A wave of relief washed over me. I gave a laugh and set down the rest of the drinks on the table.
“I don’t really know what you expected,” I said with a laugh. “Don’t expect good quality when the federal government is paying for all of our supplies.”
He shrugged his shoulders and finished off the drink. I looked over to my side and saw Drake wink at me. Now, all we would have to do was wait.
It was around 11 p.m. when our boss finally crashed on a couch in the den. We left our room with the shotgun concealed underneath my parka. Drake had put a pistol in his waistband in case we got into an altercation and needed additional protection. He had managed to grab it out of the supply room before our boss locked the door.
We opened the front door and ran outside. Drake made sure to shut the door quickly, but not slam it and make a sound. As we made our way around the side of the building, we crouched under any windows to avoid detection. By the time we reached my shop, I could feel the cold penetrating my clothing. I opened the door and fled inside. The two of us basked in the warmth that filled the small building.
I pulled the shotgun from my jacket and placed the barrel in a vice. I was able to use a powered saw to cut. No one would be able to hear it over the howling wind outside. The saw made easy work of the barrel and was able to cut it off in under 30 seconds. I filed off any burs that remained from the cut and released it from the vice. We both exchanged satisfied glances and left the shop. As we entered back into camp, we made sure to shut the door quietly again.
“Well, well, well…”
Drake and I both turned to face down the hallway. Our boss stood at the entrance to the den, an axe gripped tightly in his hands. My throat tightened and I struggled to breathe as terror filled my body.
“It’s not happy that you disobeyed its commands. You will have to be punished.”
I reached into my parka and wrapped my finger around the trigger of the shotgun. By the time I removed it from underneath my clothing, he had already sprinted to us and swung the axe. Drake and I dropped to the floor as the metal blade pierced the door behind us. While he struggled to dislodge it, the two of us scrambled away with our backs still on the floor. With one final grunt, he pulled the axe from the metal door and turned back towards us.
“All you boys had to do was listen to me. Was it really that fucking difficult?!”
He swung the axe again. Drake and I both rolled over to the side as the blade made contact with the floor. The concrete chipped under the immense force of his swing, sending small fragments flying. By this time, others had poked their heads out of their rooms. I could see the desire to help in their eyes, but they were too fearful of their own safety.
My boss lifted the axe over his head and prepared to swing down on me. I pointed the shotgun at his chest and took a shot. The loud bang echoed throughout the entire base and left my ears ringing. The impact of the close-range shot sent him stumbling back into a wall. I watched as his arms slowly lowered, and the axe slipped from his hands. It hit the floor with a loud clang. I watched as the white shirt underneath his unzipped jacket began to grow a red spot. He slid down the wall and ended up sitting on the floor. He took one last breath and then toppled to one side.
“You… you killed him…”
I turned to find Drake still sitting on the floor and shaking with fear. It was at that moment I realized what I had just done. I had taken the life of another human being. The fact that I was justified in doing so still didn’t settle right with me. I continued to sit on the floor and gather my thoughts as everyone left their rooms to come investigate. I tuned out their hushed voices as I stood up and walked towards the nearest window.
“Oh, God…” I let out under my breath.
The Shape had moved even closer. It now stood within the reach of our floodlights. They could barely reach it, but I could still see it. I didn’t hear the shotgun hit the floor as I dropped it. All I could hear was a ringing in my ears. My vision began to blur around the edges and soon faded to black. The last thing I remember was falling to the floor and my head making contact with the concrete.
I woke up this morning to Drake and a few others in my bedroom. As soon as I sat up, he rushed to my side.
“Take it slowly.”
As I sat up in bed, I immediately grabbed the side of my head. A pain rushed around my mind, causing me to squeeze my eyes shut.
“Shit,” I yelled as the pain began to subside.
“Consider yourself lucky that you didn’t get a concussion. There’s a nasty bruise on the side of your head now. It’s not pretty, but you got off easy in my opinion.”
Drake handed me a glass of water along with a couple of pain relievers. I gratefully took them.
“If you feel up to it, we would all like to have a meeting. I think the reasons for it are obvious enough.”
“After what just happened, a long talk is in order,” I said while slowing lifting myself from the bed.
We all gathered in the kitchen at the large table. An eerie silence filled the air as everyone sat and refused to speak a word. My eyes darted from person to person as I waited for someone to speak. Every time I made eye contact with someone, they would immediately look down at the table or up to the ceiling.
“We’re not going to get anywhere if all of you just sit here with your traps shut. Someone needs to speak up.”
To my left, I heard a long sigh. It came from David. I hadn’t heard him speak since Roger’s death.
“Please tell me I’m not the only one who’s seen it.”
Drake tried to speak but could only mutter squeaks. Although I was able to get my words out, it was rather difficult.
“What did you just say?”
I can’t believe what my ears had heard. I didn’t want to believe it, but I knew it was true.
“I know I’m not the only one who saw it standing out there. It was there not long after we arrived. I’ve kept my mouth shut thinking it was some figment of my imagination, but I’ve since come to know better.”
He threw his head down in his hands and stared down at the table. All of us remained quiet as we observed him. When he finally looked back up at us, I could see tears streaming down his face.
“A few days before Roger…”
He struggled to say this next part, and I honestly couldn’t blame the man.
“… had his incident, he started talking about that thing. He had noticed it when it first appeared. Just like me, he thought it was his mind playing a trick on him. When I told him that I could see it too, he was relieved that he wasn’t going mad. We didn’t know what to say to anyone else in the camp, so we just kept our mouths shut.”
He paused and walked into the kitchen. He returned with a glass of ice and a bottle of rum. He didn’t return with anything to mix in with it, but none of us said anything. He filled the glass and gulped down its contents in one swift motion.
“One morning, I woke up to find him staring out the window. I tried speaking to him, but he didn’t respond to me. I finally reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder. His face turned and I saw blood running his neck. He had this nosebleed that was just gushing from his nostrils. I’d never seen someone bleed that much, and it started to run down his shirt. The entire thing was soaking wet. After a few moments of me trying to speak to him like some bumbling idiot, he left the room and went to the bathroom. He stayed there for at least an hour. When he finally returned, he acted as if nothing had happened. He asked if I wanted to go make breakfast. We spent his last few days talking as we had this entire time. I wanted to say something to him or anyone, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.”
He filled his glass once more and swallowed it quicker than he had the first time. Although he had stopped crying, I could still see wet streaks running down his cheeks.
“What the hell do you mean you couldn’t bring yourself to do it? Is it really that difficult to tell one of us that your roommate is acting like a complete nut?”
This came from someone sitting at the far corner of the table. I recognized him as the doctor we had brought on duty. David glared at him and slammed his glass down on the table. This caused a small part of it to chip off.
“What? You think it’s easy to tell everyone that your roommate is acting like his sanity is about to completely meltdown? You think it’s easy to tell your friends and colleagues that you’re seeing this… this thing out in the distance?”
“You’re not the only one who’s seeing it.”
We all turned to face the end of the table. One of the mechanics we brought along to repair generators and the snow crawlers was staring down at the table. David rested his glass on the table and let his mouth hang open in shock.
“You’re not the only one who’s seen it,” he repeated.
Everyone in the room had their eyes on him. The room went quiet and an awkward silence hung in the air.
“That thing has been tormenting me since the day it first appeared. It began by standing on the mountainside. Then it started invading my dreams. I saw that thing night and day. It’s getting closer, and I don’t want to know what it wants us for when it finally reaches us.”
I took in a deep breath and looked over everyone sitting at the table. It was hard to imagine that we were actually having this conversation. What started as me thinking that The Shape was an isolated incident, had grown. It suddenly hit me that it was here from more than just one person. After snatching David’s glass, I swallowed its contents and mustered the courage to speak.
“Alright, I want a show of hands. How many of you have seen it?”
I watched as everyone at the table raised an arm in the air.
“This is a good starting point. Now, have any of you seen it do anything besides stand there? Have you seen it move, or heard it make a sound?”
A few them shook their heads, while the rest remained silent. I made eye contact with everyone who kept their mouths shut. They still did not say a word. I slammed my fist on the table, causing a few people to jump.
“I don’t want to see a single one of you sit here and sulk and refuse to acknowledge me. We’re not exactly in the best of situations here, so I expect all of you to follow my orders without hesitation.”
“And may I ask just who exactly made you our leader,” someone scoffed.
I reached underneath my jacket and withdrew the shotgun that had been lying on my desk. Luckily, I had been able to sneak it out of my room without anyone noticing.
“Not to mention the fact that I’m the only one willing to lead us in a direction of progress instead of sitting here in silence. I intend on making it out of here, and I won’t be stopped by one of you. Those who wish to join me are free to do so. Anyone who doesn’t, just try not to get in our way. I don’t want another violent altercation.”
Up until the past couple of days, I lacked the ability to speak with any sort of authority. I felt a sense of pride in that moment until I heard laughing and turned to see you it was. The mechanic from earlier was now throwing his head back and letting out an almost maniacal cackle.
“What the hell is so funny?”
He turned and stared into my eyes.
“Nothing you do is going to make a difference. It won’t let you escape…”
A chill ran down my spine as I came to the realization. The Shape had gained control of another person…
“Everybody back away from him,” I shouted as I pointed the shotgun at his chest.
Chairs toppled to the floor as everyone scrambled behind me. Even with all the rustling going on, I kept my eyes focused on the mechanic and my finger on the trigger. To my side, I heard Drake withdraw the pistol from his waistband and cock it.
“Don’t you already see what’s happening? There’s no use in resisting. The plan has been made and there’s nothing you can do to change it.”
“What the hell are you talking about? What plan,” Drake asked.
“It doesn’t want me to reveal any details.”
The mechanic lifted his wrist and glanced at his watch.
“Now if you’ll all excuse me, I really should be going. Feel free to join me later. I don’t know about you, but I’m not really a fan of this chilly weather. It says the weather is warm where I’m going.”
While we all tried to make sense of his words, he pulled a pistol from his jacket pocket and wrapped his lips around the barrel. Before any of us could so much as speak or make a move, he pulled the trigger.
The loud bang quickly echoed around the room. I watched as the back of his head exploded outward. Shattered fragments of bone and clumps of hair and flesh went flying through the air. Chunks of brain matter and other tissue shot out the hole in his skull and stuck to the wall behind him. His eyes rolled back into his head, and his whole body slumped forward onto the table.
I could hear some of the people standing behind me begin to sob while the others began to shout obscenities. Drake and I paid no attention to them. Our focus was directed out a nearby window. The Shape stood motionless in the snow. Even with the full blast of the spotlights upon it, I was unable to make out any details of its body. All I could was black.
Some of them have given up hope. The snow crawlers were supposed to arrive this morning, but nothing’s come yet. I tried convincing them that they have just been delayed, and that they would probably be here within the next couple of days. None of them bought it. Although I’m just as upset about all this as they are, I can’t let them see that. I’m their leader now, and I have to act like it.
I can feel the tension between everyone getting worse. A few days ago, we would greet one another in the morning. Although we did it with a forced smile, we at least had some sense of respect for one another. Now, everyone just stares at each other. Although Drake and I are still close, I’m starting to notice that everyone else is isolating themselves.
The only time I’ll catch a glimpse of someone else is when they run from their room to go to the kitchen or the bathroom. This morning, one of the ROV pilots sprinted from his room and into the kitchen. Drake and I were sitting at a table in the den, going over possible options if we had to suddenly leave camp. We watched as he flung open the door to the fridge and pulled out a pack of raw hamburger meat. He took it and retreated to his room. For the next ten minutes, all Drake and I could hear was the sickening sound of him devouring the uncooked flesh.
I’m becoming extremely worried by everyone else’s behavior. It’s not as if they’re just getting antsy. What I’m seeing is not leeriness, but distrust. Although they’re just acting strangely for the moment, I’m fearing that it can grow violent in the coming days.
Drake and I came to a decision today to repair one of the snow crawlers. Although Roger managed to drain them of antifreeze, I’m starting to think that I could repair one of them. There’s some rubber hosing in my shop that I can use to repair the lines that he sliced open. As for all the antifreeze, we’re going to use water for the time being. After the two of us spent a good hour reading through the owner’s manual, we came to the conclusion that water can act as a substitute. The manual warns that this is only a temporary solution when antifreeze is unavailable. I don’t need this thing to run across the continent. I just need to make it to the radar station where our plane landed.
I went into David’s room and asked if he had a map of the surrounding area. He pulled one from a container by the door and followed me back out into the den. The three of us then determined the path we would need to take back to the radar station. Although it may be difficult for us to navigate in this weather, we figured that we have nothing to lose.
I’d rather die trying to escape then remain here and die like a trapped animal.
It took a lot of work, but I was able to repair the snow crawler. David kept watch over the camp while Drake and I repaired it. We spent a good part of the day under that thing trying to get the hose clamp tightened down correctly. Although I’d helped my father repair his car many times when I was younger, this was a little bit trickier. Before dinner, the two of us were able to fill up the radiator with water and fire the engine after warming the oil pan with an external heat source. After a few promising grunts, we finally got it to turn over. We rejoiced in our success and then returned inside.
As we trudged through the snow, I could see some of the other team members staring at us from their windows. Their eyes were blank and their faces expressionless. At first, I thought they were just staring out into nothing, but then I turned behind me. The Shape had moved a little closer during the night. This gave me a surprise considering that it hadn’t moved since the night my boss attacked us.
We walked inside and quickly shut the door right as David pulled dinner from the oven. As the three of us sat down to eat, no one else came out to join us. I tried calling for them on the intercom but received silence in return. David told me that he had seen none of them leave their rooms for at least a whole day. Although I had a strong inclination as to what they had been eating, I didn’t want to believe it. I walked over to the refrigerator and opened it.
Almost all the raw red meat we had been keeping was gone. Just like I’d seen a couple of days ago, I knew that they had eaten it raw. My stomach churned as I began to recall the sounds of them devouring the raw flesh days earlier.
I left the kitchen and returned to my shop. When I came back inside, I had chain and a padlock in my hands. I wrapped the chain around the door handles and locked it shut.
“I don’t want a single one of them going back in there. If we’re going to be leaving, I want to make sure that we have enough food to last us a few days if something happens.”
I pulled the chains to make sure they were secure, and then dropped the key into my jacket pocket.
“What do you mean ‘in case something happens,’” David asked with a puzzled look on his face. “We’re not taking some month-long expedition. I think if we just bring some granola bars, water bottles, and bags of chips, we’ll be fine.”
“Going to the radar station should take less than a day, but I can guarantee you that The Shape will do something to interfere with that. It wouldn’t surprise me if we end up walking there on foot. If the worst-case scenario happens, I want to make sure that we’re prepared.”
They both sat there in silence. It occurred to me that they hadn’t thought about the worst-case scenario for us until that moment. Although I thought about it multiple times over the past few days, they apparently hadn’t.
“What are we going to do about them,” Drake asked.
“Once the three of us are prepared and ready to leave, I’ll unlock the fridge. They’ll be fine for a few days just eating the raw meat like they’ve been doing. Once we reach the radar station, we can radio for a team to go out and rescue them.”
David gave me a puzzled look.
“So, your solution is to just leave them here and lock them up like animals? John, do you realize that they’re human beings?”
I pointed towards the hallway that led to their bedrooms.
“Whatever those things are, they’re not human anymore. All I see is a husk of what used to be a man. Whatever is filling that shell now is not human. They don’t speak anymore. All they do is make grunts and other weird noises and run away into their rooms with raw meat. Right now, they’re more savage than human. I don’t want to take them with us and risk jeopardizing our escape. Do either of you have a problem with that?”
None of them said a word. After they gathered their thoughts for a few moments, they both shook their heads.
“I want to leave here tomorrow night. As soon as I’m done packing and we’ve made meals to take with us, we’re heading out of here.”
“That sounds good with me,” Drake said.
I then turned to David. Cocking an eyebrow, I gave him a look asking for his response.
“You’re right. The sooner we get out of here, the better.”
We finished our dinner in silence. We dumped our plates in the sink and retired back to our rooms. As I sunk into bed and prepared for my last night in the camp, I heard something. At first, I thought it was just my drowsiness, but I soon saw Drake perk up. He was hearing it too.
I rose from my bed and slowly tiptoed over to the door. I tried to make as little noise as possible as I slid the thick bolt that locked our door. I cracked open the door just enough to lean my head outside.
The door to one of the rooms that had remained shut for days was now open. In the hallway, I could see light coming from the den. There was a shadow dancing around in the pale, yellow light, and I could hear laughter drifting my way. This wasn’t laughter like someone watching a funny movie. This was the laugh of a demented creature. Whatever was letting out those blood-curdling cackles, it sure as hell wasn’t human.
We woke at the crack of dawn to prepare. It turns out that I was not the only one who had trouble sleeping. Since David’s room was closer to the den, he could hear one of them laughing all night. We walked into the kitchen this morning to find a mess. Whoever had been in here during the night had thrown the equipment all over the place.
Drawers had been ripped out of the cabinets, the contents emptied all over the floor. The oven and microwave both had their glass smashed in. Any shelf that wasn’t bolted to the wall had been toppled over. We saw no point in cleaning all of it up, so David just gathered ingredients he needed from the floor.
While he prepared our meals, I gathered supplies. I unlocked the storage room at the back of the camp and gathered anything we might need and placed it in a metal storage locker. By the time I took any supplies I deemed necessary, I was barely able to close the lid. I grabbed one of the handles and turned to drag it out to the snow crawler. As I faced the doorway, I was met with the sight of one of them standing in the doorway. I immediately let go of the locker and grabbed the pistol from my waistband. I aimed directly at his head and put my finger on the trigger.
“What do you want,” I asked with a hint of fear in my voice.
It stood there and just stared blankly into my eyes.
“I’ll give you one more chance. What the hell do you want?”
Its lips slowly peeled up into a smile. As its lips parted, I watched as a fair amount of blood spill from its mouth. As I looked closely at him, I was able to see that various teeth were either missing or chipped. He reached down and placed a hand in his pocket. I remained attentive with my gun trained on him.
From his pocket, he pulled out the remains of a metal spatula from the kitchen. The flat end had been drastically misshapen. I soon came to realize that the imperfections in the surface were bite marks. Small dents covered the surface of the metal, along with a few blood stains.
“You won’t let us eat anymore, so I had to improvise. But don’t worry. It says that soon all of us will be able to feast.”
He licked his lips and looked over my body.
“I hope your meat is tasty.”
I couldn’t control myself any longer and fired a shot. I heard the bullet bury itself into the wall behind him. I couldn’t believe it at first, but I had missed. I stood there in astonishment, not knowing what to think. He continued to stand there and stare at me.
“It grows stronger every day. Your feeble weapons can no longer stop it. Give up and join us.”
I fired another shot at him and missed again.
“It’s not so bad where we are. We no longer have to worry ourselves with problems of this world.”
I shut my eyes and continued to fire. As I emptied my clip, I turned my head away from him. I didn’t want him to see me cry.
“John, what in the living hell are you doing?!”
I looked up to find Drake standing in the doorway. The creature that had been there just moments before had left and retreated to its room. I stuttered over my words as I tried to speak.
“One of them… It was there… it wanted me to join them, but I wouldn’t let that happen.”
“Look, man, you need to sleep. You’ve barely slept more than five hours over the past couple of days. Just go lie down in bed and I’ll finish packing everything into the snow crawler. Drake is almost done preparing our meals, so I’ll have him stand guard over the camp once he’s done.”
I nodded slowly and placed the gun back in the holder on my waist. Drake placed a hand on my shoulder and walked me back to our room. I laid down in bed and shut my eyes. As I began drifting off into sleep, I thought I could hear them laughing again.
When I woke up, Drake was standing over me shaking my shoulder.
“The sun is almost down. I think it’s time for us to go.”
I quickly hopped out of bed and grabbed the shotgun leaning against the bedpost. I grabbed my laptop bag and a portable charger. Turning around and looking around our room one final time, a thought crossed my mind.
I sure as hell wasn’t going to miss it.
Drake and I met David in the den. He had removed the chains from the fridge so that those things could eat while we were gone.
“Does everyone have everything?” David asked in a hushed tone.
The two of us nodded and turned to show him our backpacks.
“Alright, good. Now let’s get the hell out of here. I’m getting more and more creeped out by the minute.”
We all turned around and walked towards the exit. As the door handle came within an arm’s reach, I heard something coming from down the hallway. It wasn’t laughing this time. It was… grunting.
“Am I the only one he’s hearing that,” Drake asked as he turned in the direction of the noise.
“No,” I said. “I hear it, too.”
We all stood completely still and didn’t make a sound. I turned to face down the hallway and waited to hear another sound. At first, there was nothing but silence. Then, I heard that same grunt again. It was louder this time.
I concentrated and listened to which room it was coming from. After a moment, I could hear the sound again. This time, I could hear a gut-wrenching scream along with it.
“It sounds like one of them is hurt,” I heard David say from behind me.
“I don’t care,” I let out in a stern tone.
“But John, shouldn’t we go help them? They could be seriously injured.”
I turned and scowled at him.
“I told you already that those are not people. They’re lucky that I’m leaving them with raw food in hopes that a rescue team may find them and try to return them back to normality. Can’t you tell that they’re just trying to lure us into a trap?”
David shook his head at me and dropped his bag on the floor.
“If you won’t help them, then I will.”
He walked past me and down the hallway towards the source of the noise. I tried to hold him back, but he ignored me. I couldn’t think of anything else to do but follow suit.
He continued to ignore my warnings, and soon reached the door. As he grabbed the handle and slowly opened it, I sprinted to reach him.
What I saw in that room will forever be burned into my mind.
The first thing I noticed was the metallic stench of blood as it invaded my nostrils. One of them lay on the bed. His clothes had been ripped to shreds and thrown all over the room. His eyes were wide open, unmoving and staring at the ceiling. There were several craters all over his body where the others had taken large bites from his flesh. Other parts of him were covered in deep cuts from his attackers fighting any resistance he gave. Since I had locked the fridge, they needed to eat. They chose the weakest out of all of them. After I got over the initial shock of what was laid out in front of me, I began to realize the stench of fecal matter and rotting meat that hung in the air as well. I turned my attention to a corner of the room as I heard movement. I quickly withdrew the shotgun from under my jacket and put my finger on the trigger.
Slowly, one of them emerged from the shadows in a corner and came into the light. Blood ran from his mouth all down his body. He clothes sagged with the amount of blood that they held. More began to emerge from different parts of the room. As they gathered in the center, I came to realize that they were all gripping kitchen knives. I grabbed David’s shoulder and leaned over to whisper in his ear.
The two of us started back down the hallway. From behind me I heard one of them scream, followed by many footsteps chasing us.
“Grab our stuff and get outside,” I screamed to Drake down the hallway.
He took our bags in hand and quickly sprinted towards the door. He ran out into the night, and the two of us were close behind him. As my boots came in contact with the snow, I turned on my heels and slammed the door shut. I grabbed the crowbar propped against the building that we had used to scrape ice from the threshold and brought it down with all my might on to the door handle. As it sheared off, I heard the locking mechanisms inside break as well.
The three of us continued and ran towards the snow crawler parked a short distance from the building. David and Drake took the front seat while I quickly threw my stuff in the back and slammed the door behind me. The engine roared to life, and the searchlights on top of the vehicle illuminated the snow surrounding us. We began moving, and I turned to face out the back window.
The Shape now stood before the front door of the camp. I hadn’t seen it move during our escape, and I was thankful that it didn’t get us. At first it remained motionless in front of the door. Then, the door flew right off its hinges. I watched as it soared through the air and landed in a nearby snow embankment. The screams of everyone still inside the camp echoed out into the night louder than naturally possible. I turned away and faced forward. I knew that whatever was about to happen to them, I didn’t want to see it.
We’ve been traveling for a couple of hours. I wanted to sleep, but every time I close my eyes, all I see are the faces of those monsters in that room. I’ve come to the conclusion that it would be the best use of my time to write everything that’s happened over the past couple of days.
We finally made it to the radar station. We got turned around once or twice but were lucky enough that David was able to correct us before we veered too far off course. The three of us took turns driving during. We had not gotten much sleep during the days prior to our departure and needed to rest up. I had never driven a vehicle like this before, but there’s a first time for everything.
We had one person driving while the other sat up front and read the map. Whoever sat in the back seat would keep an eye out behind us for The Shape in case it followed us. I don’t know whether to be grateful that we lost it, or fear that it could appear at any moment. Either way, I refuse to let my guard down.
We’ve secured ourselves in the radar station until a rescue team can come for us. We radioed them and were told that it would take two days for a team to reach us. There’s no bad weather in sight, so we don’t need to worry about them getting delayed like last time. The only thing that we need to be vigilant of is The Shape.
We’ve agreed to take shifts on watch duty during the night. We’re not even sure if it knows that this building is out here, but we don’t want to take any chances. All the lights or anything that could give us away are going to be turned off at night. We just finished putting sheets of plywood over the windows. We found it around the back of the building. We’re lucky that it hadn’t rotted outside in the weather yet. Each one has a small slit cut in it so we can see outside.
I better finish typing up this entry. We need to get some sleep so we can be on high guard in the next coming days. I’m not sure how well I’m going to sleep on a cot in this room though. There’s one bedroom here, and we gave it to David. The three of us agreed that we should lock ourselves in our own separate rooms at night. Even though I trust the two of them, there’s no telling what The Shape could make them do if it finds us. It’s best to keep away from each other at night in case something happens. I can never see either of them wanting to hurt anyone. But right now, any logic just needs to go out the window. We aren’t exactly in a normal situation.
Today went by without any kind of incident. We looked out one of the window slits every 10 minutes to scan the surrounding area. All we can see is white and the mountains very far off in the distance.
Since we don’t have the hard drive full of movies anymore, we spent the day entertaining ourselves by talking. We discussed our political views, got to know each other on a personal level, and spent the day in good company.
I know it doesn’t seem right to be thinking this kind of way, but I would be happy to call them my friends if we make it out of here.
I have both good news and bad news.
We received a call on the radio this morning. The rescue team took off and should arrive here early tomorrow morning. The three of us are overjoyed that we’re finally going to get rescued.
Now for the bad news.
David spotted The Shape on the horizon early this afternoon. He said it’s far away, but that didn’t give any of us a sense of comfort. It could easily reach us before nightfall. Although it moved slowly when we first saw it back at base camp, I doubt it’ll move slowly now. We managed to escape from it, and it’s most likely not pleased with us right now. I highly doubt that it will so much as hesitate to rip the door to this building right off its hinges.
I know I’m not thinking positive, but I’m starting to get scared. I’m not ready to die.
Day 42 – Part 2
It’s almost midnight. David is currently standing guard. When I finished my shift just a few minutes ago, The Shape had moved. It was no longer just barely visible on the horizon. It managed to make it within about 300 yards of the building. Because there aren’t any clouds obscuring the sky tonight, I could see it illuminated in the moonlight.
The entire time I stood watch, I never stopped staring at it. I had a feeling deep in my gut that if I looked away, it would move closer. I didn’t want to give it any chance to make a sudden move.
While I was staring at it, I got to thinking. What exactly happens to us when we die? That thought never crossed my mind until now. Is there a heaven and hell? Do we just get reincarnated as another person or some animal? For the entire two hours that I stood on watch, I could never come up with a conclusion I was happy with. All I gathered was that we’ll just have to wait and see when we die. It may be decades before I find out the answer, but I can wait.
There’s one more point I wanted to add to that that I can’t believe I didn’t think of until now. The Shape says that after we die, we go somewhere warm. I honestly wouldn’t mind that considering that we’re freezing our ass off in this building. It asked me if I wanted to go to this ‘warm place’. I may have to consider that offer. I’m not a big fan of the cold.
Day 42 – Part 3
I tried telling David what The Shape told me once his turn to stand watch was over. I thought he would be interested in what I had to say, but instead he looked concerned. He left me standing in front of the window and went to find Drake. I was a little offended that he didn’t take me with him. I wanted to tell Drake about the warm place.
The two of them ended up talking in a distant corner of the room. No matter which one was talking, one of them always had an eye on me. David looked slightly upset, but Drake just seemed depressed. I don’t understand why he would be upset. He should be happy that we’ve been invited to go to the warm place.
When the two of them were done talking, they approached me again. I noticed that David kept his hand over the pistol strapped to his waste. They then proceeded to tell me that I should probably go lie down. Drake was even kind enough to let me sleep in his bedroom. I tried telling them about the warm place, but they told me I should just go to sleep. They said that they wanted to hear all about it in the morning.
I’m currently sitting on this bed typing on my laptop. I’m too excited to fall asleep, so I figured that this would be a better use of my time. I just can’t wait to tell them about the warm place in the morning. I hope that they’re excited to go there as I am.
That’s strange. I can hear them hammering something over my door. I’m not sure why they’re trying to trap me in here. If I’m unable to get out, then we won’t be able to go to the warm place together.
It’s almost four in the morning and I can’t go to sleep. My mind just keeps racing with thoughts about the warm place. I can’t sleep because I can’t bear that David and Drake don’t know about it yet. I don’t want to be taken there and leave the two of them behind. They don’t deserve to be left here in the cold.
I’ve managed to remove one of the metal legs to my bed frame. One of the ends has a flat plate riveted to it. Maybe I can use it as a crowbar to open the door. If that doesn’t work, I can always just use my body weight as a battering ram to break it down.
Although the two of them took the gun from my waist holder when I came in here, they didn’t know about the one I kept in my hidden pocket. What I love about this jacket is that it has a hidden pocket on the inside. I kept a pistol in there the entire time. I took out the clip and found that I have seven bullets in it.
I’m so happy. That should be plenty enough to take the two of them with me to the warm place. I should get going now. I want to make sure that we have plenty of time to leave before the rescue team gets here. This may be the last entry I type.
To anyone who reads this, I hope that you’ll be able to join me in the warm place eventually. The Shape says that no matter who you are or what you’ve done, everyone gets to go to the warm place in the end. That means that my wife will be there with me one day. Everyone will be in the warm place one day. I can’t wait for you to join me there, too.
* * * * * *
Susan walked down the long hallway as she had been doing for years. She had grown accustomed to the routine she had formed while working at the hospital. It wasn’t a thrilling job, but it paid the bills. At least she hadn’t end up like her sister who had to sell herself to make rent.
She came to a stop in front of one of the rooms. John MacReady had been in that room for a couple of weeks now. The entire time she tended to him, he had not spoken a word. That made him her favorite. She had grown tired of the other patients making disturbing gestures and saying creepy things behind her back.
Susan grabbed the key ring that hung at her side and used it to unlock the door to his room. Just like every other day, John was sitting in the far corner of the room. His eyes darted to her and then quickly returned to face out the window. Every time she came in, he let her change the sheets on his bed and leave his meal on a nearby desk without ever moving a muscle.
She tucked the corners of his sheets under the mattress and fluffed the pillows before placing them at the head of the bed. She then returned to her cart and fetched a meal tray from one of the racks. The gray plastic tray was covered with a piece of plastic wrap, squishing the bland food underneath it. As she laid it down on the desk, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a piece of candy. She placed it next to his bottle of water as a way of thanking John for not making her job more difficult than it already was.
Turning to face John again, she saw that he had made eye contact with her. She gave him a soft smile and then turned to leave the room. She had many other patients to attend to and needed to start moving if she wanted to leave work early to catch a movie.
“How much longer do I have to be here?”
Susan froze in her tracks. She could hardly believe what she had just heard. This was the first time John had said a word to her, or to her knowledge anybody in the hospital, since his arrival.
“What was that, John?”
He remained sitting in the corner and continued to stare at her.
“I just wanted to know how much longer I have to stay here. I don’t like it, and I really want to go home.”
As strange as it was, Susan had never heard a patient ask her about leaving. She was used to them making obscene comments and graphic suggestions, but this was unexpected.
“I really don’t know, John. If you want, I can ask your doctor how long you need to stay here. Does that sound good with you?”
John nodded his head and then turned to face back out the window. Without offering another word, Susan quickly turned on her heels and walked out the room. She locked the door back, quickly grabbed her cart and walked in the direction of Doctor Carpenter’s office. She didn’t stop at any other room that was on her schedule.
When she reached his office, she knocked on the door quickly. She heard movement inside, and soon enough, the door opened to reveal a thin and aging man. He was holding a book in one of his hands, the cover closed with one of his fingers in between the pages he had been reading to mark his place.
“Did one of them try to touch you again?”
Susan shook her head and pointed down the hallway in the direction of John’s room.
“It was John. He… spoke to me.”
Doctor Carpenter’s eyes went wide, and he dropped the book he was reading on the floor.
“He actually spoke to someone?”
He looked around the hallway to see if anyone else was within hearing distance. After a moment he motioned for her to step inside his office.
“Get in here. Now.”
Susan did as she was told, quickly entering his office. Doctor Carpenter shut the door and locked it behind her. He walked over to his desk that was covered in different papers. On the few rare occasions that she had been in his office, Doctor Carpenter’s desk had been completely clean. She found it odd that he would let his workspace fall into such a state of disarray.
“What did he say to you? It’s an absolute miracle that he said anything to anyone.”
“He wants to know when he can leave.”
Doctor Carpenter froze midway through shuffling a stack of papers. He gave Susan a puzzled look, not really knowing what to say at first.
“He wants to go home?”
“Yes, sir. He says he doesn’t like it here and that he just wants to go home.”
Doctor Carpenter stood up and let out a big sigh.
“Well, this is great. It’s the first time he’s spoken a word since he’s been here, and he doesn’t remember a bit of what he’s done. He’s acting like he’s here for some unknown reason and that he can return home and life will be normal.”
“Doctor, why exactly is John here? He’s the only patient I’ve seen come into this hospital where I wasn’t allowed to see his records. What is it that you’re not telling me?”
The man didn’t say a word. He only motioned for Susan to take a seat in the chair in front of his desk. She did so and waited patiently for him to begin.
“John is here because he was a member of an expedition team in the Antarctic. Something happened, and he, along with two others, had to be rescued from a radar station miles from their camp. When the rescue team found them, John had been tied up and kept in a closet. The other two that were rescued told me that he had tried to kill them. I first approached this as being a case of Cabin Fever. Granted, that would make this the most severe case I’ve seen, but I really have nothing else to call his condition.”
Doctor Carpenter reached for a binder on his desk, picking it up and handing it to Susan. She took it and opened it to begin reading. As she looked over the first couple of pages, Doctor Carpenter leaned against his desk and remained silent. After a few minutes, Susan looked at him with a questioning look on her face.
“It’s his journal… Where did you get this?”
“Those pages were taken from his laptop. One of the two people who were rescued along with him told us that he had been updating it while they were there. I had a feeling that it would contain some information as to what happened at that camp, but I wasn’t expecting what I read.”
Susan flipped around more, looking over the pages for any detail that might stand out to her.
“What did you read in here that was so shocking?”
Doctor Carpenter hesitated at first, not wanting to tell her the truth. He soon gave up and grabbed a folder off his desk. The front had writing on it, but it looked rushed an illegible.
“I’m just warning you that whatever pictures are in that folder are extremely graphic.”
After a short pause, Susan opened the folder and immediately placed a hand over her mouth to stop a gasp from escaping. One by one, she flipped through the images. A few times, she had to stop herself from vomiting on the floor of the office.
“Where the hell did you find these pictures?”
“They were given to me by the rescue team that returned to the base camp. Anyone who had been left there was found dead in the snow outside. When I first read John’s journal, I didn’t want to believe anything that he wrote. He talked about something they called The Shape. According to his writing, it’s a physical manifestation of a person’s wrongdoings. This thing tormented them there, driving some of them to suicide and complete madness.”
“When I finished reading his journal, I thought that it was nothing more than the senseless ramblings of a madman. After looking over those pictures, I’m starting to think that what he was writing may have some truth to it. Those people out in the snow were killed by some nonhuman force. One of them was torn in half as if his legs and arms had been tied to two trucks and ripped apart. Another one had his skull crushed in. The rest were found at different distances away from the camp. If John’s story holds true, then I theorize that these people escaped the camp while The Shape attacked others. Although they failed to survive, it sounds to me like freezing to death isn’t nearly as bad as the way others perished.”
Doctor Carpenter paused. He stared out the window to his office, watching the leaves fall. After a moment of the two of them sitting in silence, he stood up and walked over to the door. Unlocking and opening it, he motioned for Susan to follow him outside. The two of them exited his office and walked down the hallway. As they walked, Susan glanced in the small windows of passing doors. Sometimes there would be a face watching them from the other side and glass, and sometimes there was nothing.
The two of them reached the door to John’s room. Doctor Carpenter looked inside, studying the man he had been getting to know all too well over the past couple of weeks.
“Whether or not the entries in his journal are true, I have pity for that man. One part of me is saying that he made it all up. The other part says that he experienced something that no person should ever have to go through.”
As the two of them observed John sitting in his corner, Susan noticed that he was muttering something. She was unable to hear him through the door and pulled the keys from her waist to unlock it. She turned the key and swung the door open. The two of them slowly stepped into the room, making sure not to startle him. Doctor Carpenter stepped closer to John, unable to hear what he was muttering from a distance.
“Susan told me that you said something to her, John. Would you like to share that with me?”
John stopped moving his lips and immediately turned to face Doctor Carpenter. At first, the man remained silent, but he soon began to move his lips once more. Whatever he was muttering, it was at such a low volume that none of them were able to hear it.
“You’re going to have to speak up for me John. Will you please do that for me? Remember that I’m here to help you.”
Doctor Carpenter pressed a button on the digital recorder in his pocket. He was about to make a breakthrough with the most unique patient he had ever seen and wanted to document every moment of it. He watched as John stumbled over his words for a second, and finally corrected himself.
“Can you please close the door?”
This was not what Doctor Carpenter had been expecting, but he wasn’t going to complain. Every word out of his mouth was a step towards progress.
“Sure, I don’t see why not. Is it letting in a draft?”
John lifted a trembling hand and pointed towards the open doorway.
“The Shape is standing outside. It’s best that you don’t let it in.”