08 Apr Under the Ice
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"Under the Ice"Written by
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Estimated reading time — 7 minutes
As I lay in my sick bed with my mind muddled, I find it quite impossible to find motivation to continue on and lack the focus to return to my work. Ever since a fantastic yet terrible event I have bordered on mania. Now I feel the urge to relate my story to others, perhaps to ward against the vile allure of knowledge. Perhaps it is just to pass the time until my end.
Before I embarked on a journey that would change my perspective, and indeed, my life; I had been a historian. Though I was not affiliated with any particular historical society I did achieve some note. My interest was mainly anthropological and I spent much of my existence venturing from place to place. The intricacies of obscure cultures and languages ignited a spark of curiosity within me. I was noted for possessing an impressive collection of tomes and artifacts contained within my serene study.
The bleak day of which my descent into madness began was of little excitement. I had returned from an expedition to Siberia four days prior. I was to examine a carven tablet presumably crafted by a Neanderthal hand, however it was revealed to be a mere hoax. Having no current project, I gazed idly at Goya’s “Saturn Devouring His Son” painting as I often did. It was afforded a central resting place in my study due to my inexplicable fancy for it. Not long after my contemplation began I heard a shrill ring and mechanically answered the telephone’s summons. I immediately recognized the voice of my long-time compatriot, Laurence.
Laurence had accompanied me on a vast majority of expeditions and was surely the adventurous spirit of our duo. Always seeking out more work and new challenges, his call was not wholly unexpected. What he conveyed to me was incredibly strange. He claimed that Antarctica had suffered a vicious summer and a considerable amount of ice had melted in some areas. The peculiar thing was, in one certain area, on the southern coast, the uppermost towers of an ancient cathedral had been spied. I listened with disbelief, no civilization could exist beneath the suffocating ice, surely the sighting was an illusion, a trick of light. Yet Laurence assured me with vigor that what he spoke of was so. I reluctantly agreed to accompany his exploration.
Gathering and purchasing items for preparation of the voyage spanned the long hours of the next three days. Procuring cold weather gear was not an issue as my previous trip had been to Siberia, and this freed up a modest amount of time. The excess time allowed me to think on the expedition more and when the time to leave was upon me, I was in considerably higher spirits. I thought that maybe it was possible someone had once inhabited this alleged icy citadel. Glancing at Goya’s masterwork for the last time, I exited my dwelling and proceeded to the prearranged meeting point.
We boarded a ship headed for Buenos Aires and from there we would make the trip to Antarctica. I now had an almost tangible sense of excitement, Laurence did not hesitate to chide me for my earlier incredulity. In Argentina we resupplied and it was then that I first met an interesting member of the crew headed to the glacial plains. He was a large man named Mikhail and spent much of his time drawing and writing in his notebook. He had a vivid imagination and was very much superstitious, thus he relished our current mission.
The long arduous voyage across the sea was initially uneventful. Of strange note however, is that as we got closer to the frigid continent, my dreams took on a strange quality. Mikhail seemed to be affected the most as he was by far the most sensitive of the crew. His drawings and writing were more sinister than usual yet he could offer no explanation. We encountered a strangely abandoned ship that was in excellent condition besides the fact that it had no fuel left. We looted it for provisions and left. Mikhail seemed strangely entranced by the sea after that incident. His artwork had already shown marine influence before, but now it was an obsession. Later that day Mikhail was nowhere to be found and I remembered strange ripples in the water I had seen shortly after we passed by the ship. I watched the stars that night yet they offered no solace, the only thing I could think of was the vast emptiness of space and it terrified me.
When we landed and breathed in the dry frigid air, morale was very low. The loss of Mikhail hit everyone hard as he was of friendly character. We could also see that a storm was building. We quickly set up our tents, mostly to find the embrace of warm air. Laurence inexplicably fell ill that night, and as the moon reached the zenith, the storm struck with full fury. I noted a sound much like a screeching call and attributed it to the fierce winds.
When the morning sun lazily emerged from the clouds it facilitated my view of the vast arctic landscape, heaped snow from the blizzard creating small hills and valleys. Another member of our crew had gone missing and none could account for him. The crew assembled a search team to discover his fate, bidding me to remain with Laurence. Quickly ascertaining that he required no aid, I set off towards the supposed sunken city just to catch a glimpse.
All doubt left me when I saw the great spires reaching towards the heavens. The light reflecting off of the highest steeple was almost hypnotizing. I trudged through the ice with renewed purpose, forgetting completely about Laurence and the crew. My first challenge was to locate some entrance or weak spot in the thick ice to breach the frozen burg. As I was exploring the surrounding, I stepped on a deceptively thin layer of ice and fell through, opening the way to the forgotten city. What would lead me into the sunken cathedral was a long corridor with a massive staircase. I found the corridor odd, it was clearly made for beings no less than eight feet tall and the material used to construct it was unearthly. The stone was of an ivory color but was shimmering, as if some liquid were coating it. I also found it strange how well kept it was, it exuded an air of utter ancientness but looked as if I should see other people traversing the hall, it was so well maintained.
My wonder was displaced as, when entering into a vast room with many doorways, a charnel scent rose from the depths of the city. The room contained great arches, hinting that the city was intentionally buried under the ice. They were engraved with exquisite bas-reliefs and inscriptions which I could not comprehend. A warmth and faint light was transmitted from a stairway in between two giant statues of bird-creatures. As I approached I heard a papery rustling sound from within and my curiosity took control. The foul stench pierced my nose once again, invading my sensibilities. The stairs seemed to lead to a housing area and a vast manor loomed directly before me. Pressing my hand to the stone door, I noticed the stone itself radiated heat. Also of strange note, I could hear the sound of rushing water, hinting that I had travelled farther than I initially thought. As I entered I caught sight of a vast library through an open doorway and preceded through. That is where the creature resided.
The creature was enveloped in feathers whose likeness was closer to scales. Even hunched over in its ornate chair, I could tell the creature was at least eight feet tall. Its beak was monstrous in size and appeared to be sufficient enough to break through even the tough stone surrounding us. His hands and feet contained large, intimidating talons. He was putrid yellow in color, flecked with black and with the occasional rust colored feathers. He looked up to me in a surprisingly casual way which confounded me. What was even stranger was that he was capable of speaking. The manner in which he spoke was quite bird-like as I suspected, his tone rapidly changed as he spoke, and it was in short, quick bursts. He greeted me as if this event was normal and bade me view his archives. My trepidation increased as I scanned the titles, some were of very recent print. I recalled the offensive scent and abandoned ship, shuddering. He took no note of my discomfort.
Much was gleaned from the creature. He articulated his name in a fashion that cannot be properly pronounced with human tongue, the best I could manage was “Groth”. Groth told me of his species, the golka, and of their numerous great cities crafted in the inky black recesses of ice. He spoke of strange rituals they performed in a ghoulish tone. His candor startled me as he spoke of things which brought the occult to mind. At last, he removed his hands from his lap, revealing that the book he had been poring over when I entered was in fact the dreaded Necronomicon. With a glint in his eyes, he beckoned me to follow him.
We entered a room which was shrine-like in appearance. The place of worship was a great monolith, exquisitely carved. Directly in front of it was a pedestal with grotesque statuette perched upon it. I was stuck with a wave of nervousness and wished only to escape, however I could not will myself to move. The hideous golka began chanting from the vile tome in his possession. His voice strangely maintained its
normal quality as he spoke.
As the last undulating wave of words left Groth’s throat, the monolith underwent change. On the top of the vast obelisk opened a chasm, or portal, of pure darkness. The inky blackness was so intense that my eyes ached and I knew it to be the very cosmos. The eternal and deafening silence filled me with dread. Then emerged the Star-Born Being with images of the future. The sight of the indescribable creature induced in me a madness so intense, it is impossible to chronicle. The mass of shadow and eyes revealed the future of mankind. When it descended from the stars to claim the Earth as its own, the downfall of humanity would commence. The golka and other creatures would claw their way out from the depths to liberate the world from humanity. My knees quaked and instinct forced me to take action. I ran back through the manor and out of the city. I made no note as the icy gale chilled my flesh.
A search party was sent out by Laurence when I did not return and they found me stumbling and rambling madly not far from camp. I told of my experience on the way back to my home but none would heed my words. I write this from my room in my psychiatric ward to explain my actions. When the Star Spawn comes to Earth, humanity will be reduced to primal and barbaric ways. Thus, I shall cast myself from the window. Even now I can hear the call of the thing which should not be, calling from the unfathomable cold of space, and the depths of madness.
Credit: Richard S.
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