Tag Archives: polar bears

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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Filed under FEATHERTON III, Flash Fiction

Dirge

March 7, 2010

I am keeping this personal journal for myself as a companion to my research.

We 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 piece of living hair. Our survivalist, Eric, pulled one of his chest hairs out to compare and laughed to find that his were bigger. If the worm was dead, I suppose it would look just the same.

March 10, 2010

Eric has been telling me about how he is an ancestor of the vikings. He takes great pride in his Norwegian heritage. The man even looks like a viking. He’s a giant of a man with a beard down to his stomach which cradles the frost. The only difference is that his hair is more of a blue-black rather than the stereotypical blonde. He’s what they call a “Dark Norwegian.”

March 11, 2010

I’m enjoying Eric’s company but I feel that Nancy is the only one serious about her work. Our first job is to count ice worms in different areas at different times of the day. It’s daunting, though I know this information is necessary for our studies. Nancy glares at us often when we are chatting behind her, carrying the instruments while she does the measuring. Then again, she says that we’ll never get anything done if she lives the resarch to us. I’m okay with this and I’ve been happily carrying our tools around while chatting with our behemoth friend.

March 12, 2010

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

Eric is a wealth of information. He’s a huge fan of  Norse mythology and celebrated fan of Robert E. Howard, the creator 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. The story, he says, is a celebration of a man’s pride and spirit, much in the style of eddas like Beowulf.

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.

This inevitably got us talking about the end of all things. Apparently, the Norse peoples would clip or pull the nails from their dead so that a ship made of nails wouldn’t come from Hell and bring about the end of the world. But, Eric said, even with everyone doing all this, the end was still inevitable. I wonder, then, where did they get the nails from if they took them from every dead person?

March 13, 2010

Today, while listening to the radio, we heard a hoax program about zombies. I wondered what brought on this “War of the Worlds” style program.

March 14, 2010

It’s on again. We checked every station. It’s on every station. Why?

March 15, 2010

We haven’t been able to get ahold of our employer, but we called family. They say that it is all real, but that it is safe up north. They are all heading up north. Nobody believes it’s actually zombies, but there’s obviously something going on. Nancy can’t reach her husband and kids. She’s scared shitless. We all are. If it’s some kind of epidemic, we’d be safer out here until it blows over. Nancy has decided to go home and we don’t blame her. We’re packing up.

March 17, 2010

Eric is dead. He shot at a polar bear right in the head and it just kept coming. not sure how the bears keep finding us but we’re lost out here. had to abandon equipment. zombies????

March 18, 2010

Ice worms come out at night. We must have killed tens of thousands just walking around. Read a story once about ice worms that lived on another planet. Ice worms were brainless but secreted chemicals to give information to passing ice worms. Like how bees find flowers. Nancy is yelling at me about writing in my journal, but we need to rest sometime. I don’t talk to Nancy anymore. I only talk to the worms. At least the worms don’t have any teeth. Or nails.

If they did have mouths, what songs would they sing for us?

March 19, 2010

Rescue team found us. Zombies are real.

March 28, 2010

I’ve had a few days to think. Living bear corpses hobbling around the glaciers and tearing into Eric with bloody nails. All still vivid memories. I’ve spent several days studying zombie books since my release from the hospital. This may sound crazy, but it occurred to me that Eric never got to sing his story as he died like Niord did. If only to honor him, I’m opening up my journal again. I shall be his Grom and sing his tale. If I can research more about these undead creatures, maybe I can make sure that Eric’s death was not completely in vain. I’ll start experiments on the ice worms promptly. After all, they don’t have any teeth. Or nails.

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Filed under FEATHERTON SESSION, Flash Fiction