The sound was repetitive, digging deeper into my skull each time I heard it. However, the noise could be allowed if it meant blocking the windows up. The wind was howling today, I hated that sound a lot more. When I had finished blocking the sound with the palm of my hands, I picked up a hammer and set to work.
The last window was covered and I returned to my bed. The cold air blocked out and the roaring wind muffled. Massaging the bruises on my leg carefully, I slipped beneath the covers. The pain had yet to fade, but at least I was safe. At least, as safe as I could be in this area.
“Kowalski, are you there? Over.” a voice over the ham radio asked.
My eyes drifted towards it along with my hand. Flicking a switch, I then collected the microphone and held it to my mouth. Closing my eyes, I took a breath and answered.
“Kowalski here,” I murmured into the microphone. “What’s the problem, Trevor? Over.”
I released the button and rolled onto my back. There was heat in this place despite the arctic environment. Something we didn’t have to worry about losing in our situation. Our heat was sourced from underground volcanoes. On a bad day, you might smell the chemicals.
“The target is two klicks from my station,” Trevor began. “From the pattern of it’s movements it should reach me in half-an-hour at least. At that point it will make a bee-line for you. ETA...uh...one hour. Over.”
“Have you tested the machinery?” I asked. “Over.”
“I sink just fine, it will pass over no problem. Over.”
The target needed the scent of life. Blood of a man or woman would be the most potent and the target would make its way towards the source. Our bunkers were tough, protected from the top mainly. Once the bunker sunk into the ground the scent was masked and the target would head towards the closest scent.
After Trevor, that was me.
We had a limited time below as the descent would cover any leaks to the bunker. It was imperative that this happened to hide our scent. We then raised our bunkers when the creature was close to the next piece of bait in the sequence.
We led this thing around the arctic in a wide circle until somebody knew what to do with it. However, it had been a little over eight months now and we haven’t got any news aside from failed experiments.
“Right, let me know when it’s nearing midway. Over and out,” I told Trevor.
“Understood. Over and out.”
I eased back into the bed and waited for time to pass.
“Kowalski! Kowalski, we have a situation, over,” Trevor shouted through the ham radio.
Having not really fallen asleep, I was quick to respond.
“What’s happened? Over.” I asked.
“I have sunken into the ground, but the thing hasn’t moved an inch since reaching here. Over,” Trevor told me in a panic.
I heard a chorus of cursing in my head.
“I heard it’s howl...I heard moving, then it stopped,” Trevor continued as I was unable to say anything. “Oxygen will run out in forty minutes. I need advice, over.”
“Trevor, give it twenty minutes,” I told him. “After that, I will go outside and get its attention with a flare. Over.”
“Understood, but look at the tracker,” Trevor replied. “It isn’t moving, not even an inch.”
I waited at the radio, preparing warm clothing for the inevitable. It isn’t like this hasn’t happened before. Usually it was a pair of other stations who had the problem because the terrain was difficult. The creature would get stuck or it would move too slowly. Still, you were safe as long as you were in the ground.
Twenty minutes passed too fast for me to be happy. I told Trevor that I was going to switch to close communication radio and leave my bunker. He understood and we soon switched to the radios. I placed the device on my jacket and opened the door.
The cold air hit me and my legs were all too ready to buckle. Wavering on the spot, I collected myself and took deep breaths.
“Ahh, God...it has been too long,” I told Trevor over the radio. “I forgot how cold it is out here.”
“I’m sorry about this,” Trevor replied. “I can’t help but think that this might be the end for me.”
“Let’s try and avoid it.”
I raised the flare gun and pointed towards the clouds. The trigger was tough for a moment, but once it passed the point of no return, it pulled easy and the flare was shot into the sky. A startling red filled my vision was the bright light ascended. I looked down the line in the direction of Trevor’s bunker. The creature was slow moving without proper motivation, but that flare and my scent would get it moving.
“Trevor, the flare is shot,” I told him. “Tell me it’s moving.”
“I-I...it isn’t moving, Kowalski,” Trevor told me with a shaking voice. “It’s just sitting there, it the same spot.”
“Trevor, calm down. If it sensed you that well you would hear banging on the ceiling. I need you to confirm if it is really there. Reset the tracker and tell me what you see.”
“Resetting now, Jason,” Trevor murmured.
My first name. It had been a long time since anyway used it. I was usually the only operative who used first names. Trevor was extraordinarily worried if he finally broke that simple protocol.
“It’s still there,” Trevor told me. “I’m...I’m raising the bunker. I have too, there is too thin.”
“Trevor, if is there, you fire a flare south and run north, I will see about meeting you halfway.”
“I know...wish me luck.”
In the wind I heard it. The howl of the black creature. It’s silhouette slowly fading into existence as it drew closer.
“Kowalski, there is-there is a hunk of it in the snow,” Trevor told me over the radio. “The tracker is in it...it isn’t here.”
“That’s because it’s right in front of me,” I whispered in reply as the yellow eyes flashed amongst the grey snow and fog.
The hunter had outsmarted its prey.
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