This has been inspired by John Carpenter’s film The Thing and the recent prequel of the same name. It will feature a mysterious predatory beast in the Arctic wilderness and bring some colour to the festive season
“That is so not funny – I’m just going to have to have another drink!” Canning opened another bottle of beer and passed it absent-mindedly from one hand to the other.
“Well I’ll tell you another one then!” Willhelm slapped his thigh, “My jokes can last for days and days yes – you get used to it in Norway.”
The team had been snowbound for two days. All of them in and out of the Rec room. The place was a mess of beer alcohol and fast food, hot sandwiches and toast and the menu was getting more and more like beer and more beer. If it weren’t for the relentless high spirits of Willhelm Canning wouldn’t really have minded.
At least the Christmas carols had stopped, and the karaoke box was broken.
Canning still wasn’t getting used to it and went out to feed the dogs, zipping inbetween the snow mobiles to lessen the brunt of the wind and stopped short. The alpha dog Tom, was out of the pen and crouched on top of the snow mobile’s bonnet growling at him lips quivering in a snarl. This was not good, these dogs can do some damage. It stood about twelve feet away with a four foot elevation on Canning. If Tom leapt it would knock him out at least. These dogs were bred and conditioned, the Arctic a training ground to toughen them up.
“Now boy.” He tried his best unconcerned voice, “Come come – away. No fear boy…no fear.” He knew the dog could hear him despite the blizzard. It was looking for reassurance, that’s all they ever want.
It leapt and Canning ducked.
# # #
“It wasn’t going for me, I tell you. I’d have been a goner.”
Some sobriety had returned to the Rec room.
“We have to find the dog. That’s the first thing.” The other Norwegian Janker, spoke. “We cannot have a spooked alpha dog on the loose. I will prepare the bait, yes.” The bait would be raw scented meat with plenty of sedative. And he would watch over it to see no wildlife took it instead.
Canning remained behind to warm up. But it was really tiredness. The cold made him tired he thought. Almost like a migraine. And it was getting dark again. The days don’t last, if at all. Maybe it hadn’t been light. Had he imagined the light when he saw Tom? Did he have a torch – is that what shone? But where was it? Was it still out there where he dropped between the snow mobiles?
Marcel the Frenchman stopped Canning before he had his coat back on,
“Rest now, they’re just getting hold of the dog. Don’t go outside.” Marcel blocked his passage, holding both arms wide to usher him backwards, “John my friend…”
Canning tried to edge past him nonetheless, “I’ve lost my torch – I dropped it out there by the snowmobiles – I’ve gotta go an’ get my torch – I’ll be lost without my torch – you know I’ll be lost without my torch…”
Marcel smiled, “You’re new to the arctic, you’re not used to this yet. Just trust us my friend we will get the dog – you will see.” Canning stumbled, “The air, you are tired my friend.” Marcel helped him back to his seat. Canning did feel breathless and silently agreed with him.
Marcel made some coffee and started tidying the rec room. The party was over now one of the dogs had got loose, “John, the air is very thin and cold up here. It takes some adjustment. Acclimatisation. It can take weeks or months with some men. You have only been here a few days now. Rest. Rest is the best policy. When you have been here a long time you will rest as much as possible. Conserve energy – you understand? The cold will drain and sap your strength it is only natural. It is nothing to be alarmed about – but it will be alarmed if you do too much. Don’t go out to the dogs on your own again eh? It is best believe me to go at least in two’s. Cover the back you see?”
A terrific whumo whump sound interrupted Marcel’s speech, Canning twitched, “John mon ami – its only the wind. It gusts.” He paused until it died down, “It’s not so bad as it sounds.”
“The wind? It sounded like it was tearing us to shreds?”
“Yes John, it would if we were outside.
“These buildings can stretch and strain without breaking up. You know that.”
The sound of rapid barking caused them both to look up and exchange glances,
“I know – they don’t bark. Or they shouldn’t bark.”
# # #
Georg had been bitten, and Wilhelm was carrying him in, supporting under his shoulder when Marcel and Canning got outside. The blizzard had died down and dawn cracked the sky which would last for a few hours before darkness fell again. A slither of brightness jagged the top of the hill which sheltered the encampment from most of the weather.
“His thigh is ripped to pieces, come inside gentlemen, help me get a table ready – we need sterilization!
Wilhelm quickly cauterised the wound and cut off very loose flesh leaving a bandage to keep the rest in place until help could arrive. Although the storm had left, the nearest base with medical support was now snowbound. Nothing would be travelling for two days at least. But Georg was stable and sedated.
Wilhelm wouldn’t talk immediately about the incident but muttered about keeping Georg clean.
And when he did speak it wasn’t good, “Janker has gone after the dog. The dog is wounded. He will kill the dog. But the dog didn’t do this to Georg. He has to kill the dog. We are to set up watch. Do you understand?”
“The dog didn’t…?”
“No the dog was also attacked. The dog was already hurt.
“There are three of us, not including Georg. One will rest and the other two will keep watch.” Wilhelm was already into the gun cabinet as he spoke.