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.”

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Terror

cape crozier

© Google, Nov 2016

The Adelie penguin colony at Cape Crozier, Antarctica had long been the subject of study. There were over a quarter of a million breeding pairs of birds identified. Scientists inhabited several tents at the site plus a crude permanent structure that vaguely resembled a collection of shoeboxes. However, this expedition was not here for the penguins.

“What do the latest readings look like, Scottie?” Carter Roberts addressed the party’s Chief Volcanologist Amanda Scott. She ignored the unwanted familiar use of her name.

“Not good, Carter.” She didn’t bother to glance up from the seismology report. “If these readings are accurate, then given the progression we’re seeing, we’ve got less than three months.”

“So Mount Terror is aptly named.”

“We always thought it was an extinct volcano, but sometime next October, it’ll make the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa look like a firecracker, plunging the whole world into a new ice age.”

Written for the What Pegman Saw photo writing challenge. The idea is to use the Google street image above as the inspiration for a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 149.

Today, Pegman takes us to Cape Crozier, Antarctica. I looked the place up at Wikipedia, and when I saw “Mount Terror” and “extinct volcano,” I knew I found my hook.

To read other stories based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.