The Highjump Mystery

U.S. Navy Martin PBM-5

A U.S. Navy Martin PBM-5 Mariner in flight – Public Domain

December 30, 1946 – Antarctica

“George 1 calling Little America base, come in Little America, over.”

The radio receiver aboard the US Navy Martin PBM-5 Mariner flying somewhere near Thurston Island emitted harsh static but no message of hope.

“Nothing doing, Lieutenant.” Radioman James Robbins turned to Bill Kearns, the aircraft’s co-pilot. I can’t raise anyone. It’s like there’s no one out there.”

“And I can’t see anything through this blizzard. Can you figure out our heading, Skipper?” The expression on Kearns’ face was one of bewilderment.

“Magnetic and radio compasses are useless.” Captain Ted Burns gripped the aircraft’s yoke as if some force were trying to tear it out of his hands. “There’s some sort of interference, but we’re not close enough to the magnetic pole for that to be the cause.”

“If we go down in this, it’ll take more than a few parkas and a box of matchbooks to keep us warm.” Ensign Maxwell Lopez was at the doorway of the cockpit listening to the conversation.

“If it wasn’t for the damned security surrounding Operation Highjump, we could have waited until there was confirmation of clear weather.”

“Can’t blame security, Skipper. It’s like half the territory we’ve been flying over is capable of radar absorption or something.”

“Kearns, are you saying someone can deliberately elude our radar?”

“No offense, but the reports I reviewed right before we took off showed a noticeable semicircle in the radar sweep was either severely distorted or blank.”

“I saw that too, but I figured it was an equipment malfunction.”

“What if it’s something man-made instead; something nearby.

“That might not be as nuts as it sounds.” Robbins had switched from the speakers to his headphones, but was still listening to the pilots. “A buddy of mine works for Army Intelligence. A few weeks ago, we got to drinking, and he said that the Nazis sent expeditions into this area around 1933, but this is the really weird part. Earlier this year, a joint German-Argentine expedition was reported in going into the same area. Then all of the Germans disappeared and only the Argentines came back.”

“What did the Argentines say happened?”

“Sorry, Captain. He wasn’t drunk enough to tell me that part.”

Burns chuckled. “The Army suspects there’s secret Nazi base in Antarctica? Glad I work for the Navy.”

The Mariner suddenly lurched, throwing Robbins and Lopez onto the deck. Then the storm abruptly vanished, and the aircraft emerged from the blinding white blizzard into stark blue skies. The amphibious transport’s course was set directly for a huge ice cliff near the center of the island.

“Still getting nothing but static.” Robbins recovered his seat and vainly hoped transmitting in the blind would finally get a response.

“What the hell is that!” Kearns could feel himself go light-headed as he saw a vast aperture open up near the top of the cliff. It was big enough for a dozen Mariners to fly into. “That’s impossible.”

“We’ve got bigger problems than that, Kearns. I can’t change course. We’re locked onto the center of whatever that disturbance is.”

“Disturbance? Skipper, I can see a city inside. There are people.”

“Well, whatever it is, contact in twelve seconds.”

History would record this was the last flight of the BN 59098, but for the crew and passengers aboard “George 1,” it was only the beginning.

I wrote this for Wordle #196 hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The idea is to use at least ten of the twelve words in the “wordle” in a poem, short story, or other creative work. I used ten and they are bolded in the body of my wee tale.

The twelve words are:

  1. Parka
  2. Raise
  3. Security
  4. Absorption
  5. Offend
  6. Nearby
  7. Bewilder
  8. Matchbook
  9. Abrasion
  10. Semicircle
  11. Noticeable
  12. Alice and Wonderland Syndrome

This is actually an experiment or trial for a much larger piece based on the very real Operation Highjump and the loss of a U.S. Navy Martin PBM-5 Mariner on 30 December 1946, which in reality, went down in a blizzard. Except for the pilot, the names of everyone in this story are those of the victims.

Oh, there have been theories for decades about a secret Nazi base in Antarctica used for developing advanced aircraft.

Oh, not being a pilot, military or otherwise, I’m sure I made a thousand technical mistakes in my rendition of flight operations above, so if anyone in the know would like to correct me, I’m open to it.

14 thoughts on “The Highjump Mystery

    • Thanks. I will have to do something else with this project. I wrote is as sort of an experiment based on an open submissions call that is heavily “themed.” However, something made me check out the publication involved and I discovered something disturbing about the head editor. I won’t go into details, but over the past five to eight years, authors have either not submitted works to the editor involved or pulled previously submitted stories. I may end up developing this anyway and submitting it elsewhere, but unfortunately, it’s not just about writing a good story and having it published. You have to watch out for the reputation of the people behind the periodical or anthology.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are far ahead of me on this stream of action. I am just now trying to figure out a plot-chart and chapters for my idea. I know how its done from the reading teacher’s perspective, but I have NEVER competed one I thought about placing my heart into for my writing. ALL NEW! and a little scary!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Actually, with the steampunk project, I just started out writing a couple of flash fiction pieces for these various challenges. Then something took hold and I started expanding. After chapter seven, I realized I needed some sort of plot for a whole novel and spent an afternoon fleshing that part out, well, making the skeleton anyway. I now have a villain and an evil plot.


      • I want to dream of the submitting a story…. Not sure I want the dream of rejection, but I have read enough to know that that is part of the process. It means SOMEBODY read it!


      • True. Actually, I’ve only received three rejections on two stories, so it’s not like I’ve been hammered with them (although so far, my acceptances are at a solid “zero”). However, when I do get a rejection, I Google the topic to see how badly I suck. As it turns out, lots and lots of now famous writers of best selling novels have been rejected, including Stephen King and J.K. Rowling. This latest one came only about six weeks after the deadline, so I’m imagining it was on the “we don’t want you pile” early in the process. I knew it was a bit of a stretch based on what they were asking, but it was my strongest concept in that theme, and contained characters near and dear to my heart.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I have read enough to know that until ‘your name’ becomes wanted there will probably be more rejections than welcomes.

        I am nowhere near even at the place to look forward to either…. but I sense our writing community has much I can learn form reading it and listening.

        I am looking forward to both!


      • I was actually meaning my name means nothing to anyone, You have published meant things… just in a different genre. I suspect once the door is found ….


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