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Cold Energy. Episode 2 of the Alex Cave Adventure series.
By James M. Corkill.
CHARS, (CANADIAN HIGH ARCTIC RESEARCH STATION):
When Sonja Hanspevin studied the computer map of the Polar Ice Sheet, she lightly shook her head. Thirty minutes ago the GPS unit on the Ice Sheet north of Canada began flashing a warning. The elevation had just increased by two hundred meters. “This cannot be right,” she whispered with a strong Icelandic accent. The sudden increase in elevation had to be a mistake.
Thirty minutes later Sonja and the helicopter pilot, an American named Tom Hatfield, thought they were seeing an illusion. Directly ahead, a two hundred meter vertical wall of transparent ice had risen out of the Arctic Ocean.
“Now that’s different.” Tom stated.
Sonja was speechless as they closed the distance to ice wall. “Take us higher, Tom.”
Tom increased their altitude for a better view. From the higher elevation, they could see that the transparent ice sheet extended two hundred kilometers south into the Beaufort and East Siberian seas.
“This is not logically possible, Tom. We should find the GPS unit and retrieve the data. That will help us determine how this could happen.”
Tom gave her a nod and entered the new coordinates into the navigation system. “If all this happened as quickly as you say, I would imagine it made one hell of a wave.”
The surface of the newly formed ice sheet was as transparent as the sides, and Sonja’s heart broke at the sight of dozens of white pilot whales now frozen in the surface of the ice sheet. What could have caused the water to freeze that quickly? She wondered.
They approached the GPS unit still mounted on top of the original white ice, as if a section of the original Polar Ice Sheet had been sheared off the end and forced up into the air on top of the massive new clear ice sheet.
Tom set the helicopter down fifty feet from the GPS receiver, and brought the engine speed down to idle. As Sonja climbed out to exchange the units she noticed that the air felt extremely cold. When the black rubber sole of her shoe touched the ice, it immediately stuck to the surface. She struggled to pull the shoe free, and when it tore loose, chunks of black rubber remained stuck to the ice. “What is going on?” she whispered.
She climbed back inside and looked at Tom, who had seen what happened. “The ice is extremely cold. I do not think we should stay here. We will have to come back with different equipment.”
“Works for me.”
Tom shoved the throttle forward and pulled up on the collective, but the helicopter runners were frozen to the ice in a vice-like grip. He shoved the throttle forward to full power as he pulled up on the collective. The vibration threatened to tear the helicopter apart, but the runners remained frozen to the ice.
“What’s wrong?” Sonja asked.
Tom let go of the collective and pulled back on the throttle until the engine was idling. “I can’t break free. We’re stuck to the ice.”
“Can I do something to help?”
He shook his head. “If we can’t break free with the rotors, there’s nothing we can do.”
“Call for another helicopter to pick us up.”
“Are you kidding? No one else can land to pick us up. They would just get stuck, too. We’re trapped out here, Sonja.”
Sonja wrung her hands together on her lap while she tried to think of a way out of their situation. “Call the research station and tell them what happened. We have many intelligent people working at the facility. Maybe someone will think of a way to help us.”
Tom entered the research facility’s frequency into the radio and pressed the button on the side of his headset. “CHARS research station, this is CHARS helicopter one. Come in please?”
No one responded and he tried again. After several minutes without a response, he changed frequencies. “This is the CHARS research helicopter calling anyone on the emergency radio frequency. Please respond.”
Sonja and Tom waited in uneasy silence as Tom tried again, but the plea for assistance remained unanswered. “Something must be interfering with the radio signal, Sonja.”
“Do you have any survival equipment?”
“Not much. Spare water, a small supply of power bars, first aid equipment, and signal flairs.”
“If we do not return to the station, they will send a search and rescue unit to find us.”
“Even if they do, they still can’t land to pick us up. Without radio communication, we don’t have any way to warn them about the ice. They’ll be stranded out here with us. When our fuel runs out, it’s going to get very cold in here.”
“How long do we have before that will happen?”
Tom looked at the digital readout. “Even leaving the engines at idle, we’ll run out of fuel in less than four hours, and without heat we’ll be dead two hours later. I’m sorry, Sonja.”
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About James M Corkill:
I’m a retired Federal Firefighter from Whidbey Island in Washington State, USA. I Live in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina now, with a nice view from my writing desk. I enjoy writing as a hobby now that I’m retired. My grandfather immigrated from the Isle of Man with his family when he was a small boy, hence the Corkill sir name. After I retired, I traveled to all the Isles to learn about my heritage, and it was a great experience.