Charles Howard Wise's character is trapped in a lonely weather station during an endless Antarctic blizzard.
The wind is still screaming outside. It's been at least ten days since I've seen the sun. This eternal night, this white hell that I'm trapped in has numbed my mind. The weather station's inside temperature is a balmy 68 degrees and I have plenty to eat and drink. My ten companions are only a few hundred feet away in the main shelter, but they may as well be across the universe. Stepping out into this blizzard would be suicidal. The last temperature reading was 60 below zero and the wind speed was 70 miles per hour. How long can it last?
Journal Entry: 7.31.2023, Antarctic Station Gamma-3, Lt Cmdr Jacob Scott
There is still no contact with my companions. Our communications failed days ago. For all I know they may all be in the main unit huddled together in a frozen mass. The blizzard still howls outside, uncaring but majestic in its own malevolent way.
As a child, I always wanted to be an explorer. I would hike for miles on end, study the trees and rocks, and crawl through the caves near home.
When I was a senior in high school, my girlfriend Nancy and I crawled through a small side passage in a cave we'd found. After a few minutes, the passageway opened out into a huge room. There was the sound of rushing water in the distance. We clicked our lanterns to high intensity and found that we were on a ledge, about twenty feet wide, and at the edge it dropped into blackness. Across the void, there was a waterfall that glistened like silver as it leapt from the jagged rocks into the abyss. The vaulted roof was toothed with hundreds of stalactites, multi-colored and varying in length from pencil-sized to twenty feet or more. Everything was unspoiled and beautiful.
Journal Entry: 8.5.2023, Antarctic Station Gamma-3, Lt Cmdr Jacob Scott
The wind never stops! How can a person even think with the banshees wailing outside the door? When the relief expedition comes and finds us all dead, will they bring back our frozen bodies? Maybe they'll just toss us out on the ice and let nature take its course. We'll all be covered and part of the ice sheet inside a year or two.
Today's daytime temperature was 66 below zero with a wind speed of 68 miles per hour. I can't remember when the blizzard started and really don't want to know any more, it could last for months, maybe years. The snow has probably already piled deep around me in my tomb. The relief expedition will come and find nothing but ice. They'll drive over us, check their instruments and quickly drive off, not wanting to be caught in the next storm. Oh, you can be sure another storm will come.
Nancy and I went back to our cave often to explore. We found that if we dressed properly we could keep out the cold and dampness and make love in that special place for hours on end. I made a door covered with rock and dirt that we'd use to hide the entrance to the side tunnel to keep anyone from coming upon us. By placing a ground cloth under us and zipping our sleeping bags together, we could stay quite warm indeed.
Journal Entry: 8.18.2023, Antarctic Station Gamma-3, Lt Cmdr Jacob Scott
Today I tried the door. I'm sure that my life will end here in this weather station tomb, so why not? I put on my full cold weather gear and slid open the interior door, shutting it behind me. The anteroom was frigid and it took a few minutes to adjust to the temperature. I knew this would be nothing to how cold it would be when I opened the outer door. I pushed the button, the machinery whined, but the outside door would not budge. I stood there for more than an hour listening to the wind. It was laughing at me in the same mad, shrieking way it had for weeks and weeks.
Nancy was laughing. The bitch was laughing at me! Our romance turned sour with the onset of summer. God knows why, I was still devoted to Nancy, but she'd grown cold, she said she needed some space and when I persisted she said I was no fun, that I was a damned boring dweeb and that she had more fun with her vibrator than she ever had with me. Pathetic! The bitch called me pathetic!
Journal Entry: 8.31.2023, Antarctic Station Gamma-3, Lt Cmdr Jacob Scott
I spent six hours today playing tic-tac-toe against myself. What does it matter? I'm all but dead anyway. Unless you are a complete idiot, you can't win playing tic-tac-toe. I thought I qualified as an idiot, but I have tried for hours and still can't win. I tried the radio again today, but with no more luck than before. There is nothing but static. I think sometimes that I must be going crazy. I wake in a sweat thinking that I hear voices, not loud, but whispering to me. I don't understand what they are saying and they don't really frighten me but they grow in number and intensity and finally wake me up. I'm angry and want to rip off my ears so I don't hear the voices anymore, but I find I can't raise my hands. My arms are made of lead. Then I go limp and plummet into darkness again.
The summer slid by and I heard that Nancy had moved to San Francisco. I had not been to the cave, our cave, for a long time, but I needed a quiet place to think. Her scornful laughter still rang in my ears and it would not stop. I hadn't seen her since our last fight nor had I wanted to. I pulled aside the door and crawled through the tunnel. I emerged to see a light at the far end of the ledge. I instantly turned off my light and listened. There was a couple moaning and cooing with delight. I watched their shadows on the cavern wall as they rutted like a pair of dogs. I knew at once that it was Nancy and her new lover - it had to be. Why was she here? She was supposed to be across the country. How I hated her!
Silently I side stepped along the wall in the darkness until I was upon them. I lunged out of the shadows. Nancy jerked up her head and shrieked as I smashed her lover's skull with a large rock. Her screams were cut short as I wrapped my hands around her neck and squeezed. I could hear a sick cracking sound as I pushed my thumbs into her throat. Her eyes bulged and she scratched at my face, then suddenly it was over. She went limp. I started sobbing as I kissed her bluish lips. I stood there a long time holding her cold body close to me.
February 15, 2009
After an awkward pause, Mr. Scott spoke.
"I don't understand what happened. Was Jake involved in some fraternity prank?"
Dr. Abernathy looked down as if carefully considering his reply.
"No, Mr. Scott, I wish it were that easy to explain."
"But he was found sitting in his boxer shorts outside his dorm at three in the morning; why would he do that?" Dr. Abernathy slowly shook his head and sighed.
"From what we've observed, your son is experiencing severe delusions and an acute disorientation from reality." Jacob's father paused to consider.
"Was he on LSD or something like that?"
"No, there is no evidence that these delusions are drug induced. My preliminary diagnosis is that he's suffering from paranoid schizophrenia." Mr. Scott collapsed into his chair as if struck by an arrow. Mrs. Scott gazed up at Dr. Abernathy's face searching for anything that would give her some solace, but it revealed nothing.
"Will he get better?" She prayed inside not to hear the answer she expected.
"I'm sorry to say that his break from reality is quite severe and the best we can hope for is that, with the right combination of drugs and cognitive therapy, we can lessen his agitation and keep him comfortable."
Mrs. Scott buried her face in her hands and wept.
Journal Entry: 10.15.2023, Arctic Station Gamma-3, Lt Cmdr Jacob Scott
The wind outside still wails incessantly. Will it ever stop?