It’s Getting Closer, I Swear!
The radio buzzed with static as snow flurries shot past the window in the nighttime darkness. A single candle burned on the desk next to the window, casting faint light throughout the tiny cabin. With a look of desperation, the woman turned the radio dial while holding its microphone up to her mouth. “Hello? Hello?” she said. “If you can hear me. I need help.”
“Karen?” said a voice through the static. “Karen, is that you?”
“Yes, it’s me! Please, I need help!”
The static subsided and the voice said, “Karen, it’s Wendy. Why haven’t you been checking in? We haven’t heard from you in days.”
“Listen. I need someone to come get me right now.”
“Karen, you know that’s impossible. The next boat from Ushuaia to Machu Picchiu Base in Antarctica doesn’t leave for another two weeks. And it’ll take another two weeks to sail there after that, probably longer because of the bad weather. You’re stuck there for now.”
“No, no, no… please listen, I…”
“Karen! We talked about this when we decided to return to the city after Monica broke her leg during our expedition to the ice shelf. You knew it would be a long time before we’d able to come back for you. We begged you to come with us, but you insisted on staying even though there was a storm coming. You said our research was too important to abandon it.”
“Yes, I know, but… listen… there’s something outside the cabin, and it’s…”
“What? What’s outside the cabin?”
“You mean that tall wooden pole on the west side of the cabin? The one we couldn’t figure out why it was there?”
“You're afraid of… the pole?”
“Yes! It’s getting closer, I swear!”
“Have you completely lost your mind? Do you have any idea how crazy that sounds? What are we supposed…” Static garbled the rest of Wendy’s words, making them unintelligible.
“Hello, Wendy?” Karen said into the microphone. She heard nothing but static.
Sighing, she put the microphone down on top of a messy pile of charts, graphs, and printouts strewn across the table. Then, she stared out the window.
Through the billowing snowflakes and pitch darkness, she saw the pole in the moonlight. Snow had accumulated on one side of it. Karen estimated that it was about 20 meters away.
“It was at least 30 meters away yesterday,” she said to herself.
The cabin door flew open with a bang and a gust of icy wind rushed inside with a deafening whoosh. Snow blew everywhere.
Karen cried out, covering her face with her arm to shield herself from the cold. Then she pressed her body weight against the roaring wind, staggering toward the door before finally slamming it shut.
She rushed back over to the window and gasped. The pole appeared to have moved several meters closer to the cabin. Then she saw something wrapped around it like rope, or wire, or…
“Chains,” she said. “There are chains wrapped around the pole.”
“Are you ok, Karen?” came a voice behind her. It startled her so much she jumped. Turning around, she saw Wendy standing there in the cabin. She wore her large brown coat with matching hat, gloves, and boots. Snow covered her from head to toe.
“Wendy? Wha… what are you doing here?” Karen said.
Wendy shrugged and said, “You said to come get you right away, didn’t you?”
Incredulous, Karen said, “But… you said it would take weeks to get here.”
“…so, how’d you get here so fast?”
Wendy opened her mouth to say something, but then stopped to stare over Karen’s shoulder. Karen looked and saw that the pole was right outside the window. It appeared to be soaked in blood.
Karen looked back at Wendy, but she’d disappeared. Then she looked out the window once more, but the pole was gone as well.
“This isn’t happening,” she said as she collapsed to the floor, pressing her hands against her temples. “This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening.”
The radio crackled to life in a burst of static. A faint noise came through the speaker. The volume increased by itself, and Karen heard the sound of someone screaming and crying. She crept over to the radio and picked up the microphone.
“Wendy?” she said.
The screaming stopped. Silence filled the air.
Then, Karen heard Wendy’s voice whisper through the speaker, “Nothing worse than physical pain. Nothing worse than physical pain. Nothing. Nothing. NOTHING!”
The speaker squealed with high-pitched feedback. Karen covered her ears and closed her eyes as she grimaced in pain. Then, blood-covered chains smashed through the window and writhed in the air toward her. She screamed as she ran out of the cabin into the snowy darkness.
Her heart thudded in her chest and she took quick, panicked breaths as the sprinted through the snow. She ran until she had no energy left and collapsed. She lay there for several moments, staring up at the snowflakes as they fell to the ground. Then she pulled herself up, shivering as she looked around.
“What am I doing?” she said. “I know the things I’ve been seeing and hearing aren’t really there. This is what happens when you spend too much time alone. I should’ve gone back with the others. I put my sanity at risk out of desperation and selfishness.”
She slumped her shoulders and sighed, then turned around to go back to the cabin. She took one step forward and slammed face-first into something cold and hard. She fell backward in surprise.
Looking up, she saw the pole looming above her in the darkness. The blood on its chains glistened in the moonlight. She screamed.
Submitted April 16, 2019 at 05:30PM by JamesGBoswell