365 Writing · Stories

In the Company of the Damned (Part 1)

Master Sergent’s Log

Entry 1.

The first day we arrived at the site was cold. Not your put on a jacket winter cold. Not even your let’s walk through a snowstorm cold. No, this cold was inside your blood and cut through burned the marrow of your bones. I was wearing my full uniform and gear, but something told me that even with another ten layers of clothes I’d still be freezing. It was this place, to bottom of the world. It would take a thousand miles for us to escape the cold here, and that wasn’t about to happen.

Our drop planes engines began to freeze when we landed near the site. Even they couldn’t take this cold for long. How are we going to stay here for a year or more? The thought boggled my mind. I think the only thing that prevented every one of us from freezing to death was the heating units we brought with us. Setting up the site was brutal. But we were soldiers. All our job was to make sure the experts in Antarctic base camps did their job, and that they did.

After the first week, the science teams began digging. I overheard a few of the men asking why they needed to hire mercenaries like us to protect a scientific dig at the bottom of the world. I didn’t tell them that neither the officers nor I had the answer to that question. If anyone did know it was the Commander, but he was keeping his mouth shut and I nor anyone else, certainly wasn’t going to ask.

Entry 2.

One month in this place. I couldn’t even remember how it felt to be warm again. I missed our days in Brazil or even the middle east. At least the dig had progressed to the point that the pit they were digging had extended down so far into the tundra that we could no longer see where it ended. The freezing winds were continually covering up the dig, so the researchers had erected massive tents to cover sections of it, and we had to frequently assist them in blasting off huge chunks of ice and snow which formed around them.

The Commander had assigned most of us to stand guard in the lower parts of the dig. I was starting to think that our job was more and more about protecting from some unknown threat they were uncovering than from some competitor research team. But that couldn’t be right. This was real life, not a science fiction movie.

All we could do is wait and hope that before too long it would be over and we could return home, or to any place other than this.

Entry 3.

Even standing directly under heat lamps in the depths of the dig I felt colder than I could ever remember. It didn’t seem to bother the Commander at all as he strode back and forth as if other things were plaguing his besides the cold. The scientists, however, seemed to be in the same shape I was in but weren’t trying to conceal it. Several of them were continually shaking and rubbing their hands and arms together.

Today the Commander had called three of our best men and me down to the bottom of the dig. We hadn’t gone this far before, except for the Commander and the scientists, going this low into the pit was strictly off limits.

The rock and ice had been blasted away as if by laser cutting, but we stood in a tent-like room at the very bottom of the pit, a hatch the scientific team had set up was in the middle of the floor with a winch over it.

Finally, the chief scientist walked in, accompanied by several of the senior researchers. “Are you ready?” He addressed the Commander.

“Of course, my men and I are standing by.” He answered as I wondered what it is we were supposed to be ‘ready’ for.

The science team began to unlock the hatch, and I could feel the cold get stronger around me. A part of my brain began to tell me to leave here, but I knew I couldn’t do that. Finally, it was unlocked, and upon opening it, I could just see a dark black void, not even the light from the room we stood in could penetrate it.

The Commander looked over to the chief scientist and with a nod activated a glow rod and dropped it inside. There was no sound, and it disappeared from our view in a brief moment. He looked over at me. “Stap yourselves in; we have point.”