Dirge (revision)

March 7, 2010

Dr. Miller and I have begun our research of the ice worms on the Malaspina Glacier, just a few hundred miles from Juneau. Our encampment is an ideal place, far enough from the lake and tourism but not far enough that we can’t get to civilization within a day in the case of an emergency. Just dig in the ice and you can find dozens crawling around, like little squirming hairs.

March 10, 2010

Counting worm mean density in glaciers is tedious, especially the process of staking off areas. If I wanted to dig holes, I’d have become an archaeologist.

Our survivalist, Eric, entertains Dr. Miller and I with his stories. He has a way of telling them that uses his whole body, like the time he was carrying a dead seal to the butcher (who is a good friend of his) to sell its skin and fat and to get its meat cut into seal steaks. This was actually the normal part for him; apparently, PETA was hanging out, protesting, and they saw him and chased him through the streets. He had to chuck the seal into the crowd just to get away. “What a waste!” he told us and laughed a deep laugh.  He keeps us in warm spirits.

March 11, 2010

More worm counting. It’s cold and I’m tired. My fingers are numb. My nose is numb. My ass is numb. I’ve been slacking off to chat with Eric. Dr. Miller keeps eyeing me. I can only guess she disapproves of my slacking off or my flirting with Eric, though probably both.

March 14, 2010

I am writing this the next morning. I’ve always been a lightweight, but the cold is soothing to hangovers.

Eric and I started the day talking about science fiction. He’s a huge fan of Conan the Barbarian. He said that there were two stories about ice worms that he had read, one called “The Lair of the Ice Worm” featured Conan but was not written by Howard. The other, preferred by Eric, was called “Valley of the Worm” and was about a man named Niord who battles a giant ice worm and dies.

Since he offered some of his vodka, I reluctantly admitted that my interest in ice worms had been birthed from science fiction writers like Peter F. Hamilton and Alastair Reynolds. I recalled one story in which ice worms were used to terraform the planet by excreting the bacteria used to birth new life.

It was a strange conversation, but I felt like a connected with Eric a little. Then came the vodka. Dr. Miller will be livid.

March 15, 2010

Dr. Miller was bitten by a man wandering about the glaciers. I’m writing as Eric drives us to Juneau. She’s finally asleep from the anesthetics we gave her, but I’m not so sure about her condition. I can’t tell what’s wrong with her except for the fact that the wound is festering. He seemed to have some form of leprosy, perhaps, his body was so decayed. Eric put the man down. I don’t know how else to describe it since he was acting like a rabid animal. I just have to remind myself that it was mercy; it’s amazing he was still alive. Though it may ruin our research, we’ve left our camp behind. There is a large volume of bears about. Strange. Polar bears never head this far south. I wonder if this is a result of global warming?

March 16, 2010

If anyone is reading this, I am dead. My name is Dr. Hermann Schulz and I have been attacked by diseased polar bears. Like walking corpses. Some of them have their flesh torn right off from the bone, but they still keep coming with a ferocity not of this world. I was here with Eric Nass and Dr. Nancy Miller. They are both dead. God help me, they are. Poor Eric, torn apart by mad polar bears. He was every bit the man, though that means little under the might of a bear. Dr. Miller was bitten and contracted the disease. She attacked us and we left her. I leave nobody behind, save a couple of aunts and an uncle. I don’t want to die.

March 17, 2010

Ice worms come out at night. Must have killed tens of thousands just walking around.

If they had mouths, what songs would they sing for us? Or would it all be drowned out by the screaming?

March 21, 2010

I’ve had a few days to think while I lay in the hospital. Living bear corpses hobbling around the glaciers and tearing into Eric with bloody nails. All still vivid memories. This may sound crazy, but I need to know what killed my partner and my friend. Eric told me about that story and Niord and how his friend sang a dirge for him after his battle with the ice worms and his death. I think I’ll start experiments on the ice worms promptly. Maybe they know something we don’t.

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2 Comments

Filed under FEATHERTON III, Flash Fiction

2 responses to “Dirge (revision)

  1. libertad

    for some reason i really like this part: “More worm counting. It’s cold and I’m tired. My fingers are numb. My nose is numb. My ass is numb.”

    i think this entry shows how your story is evolving as a whole. this is a good thing, these strange things just sound so… normal. i read this thing twice, and the first time i thought, “ugh, worms, survivalists… WAIT!” then i got it, zombies! i guess on a more critical note i just had a question, do you want people to feel like these things are “normal” and then have them questions themselves about it later or would you like to be more blunt? well, i don’t know how much control you have on readers, but i was curious.

  2. awesomepie

    I’m trying to be more subtle, but let me know if it’s working for you.

    ~ Seamus K.

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