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:
- 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.