It was mid-January when an American glacier research team found a ship drifting between the glaciers north of Greenland. The rag-tag team of three was supposed to be studied the effects of climate change on the ice formations, but the opportunity to explore an old galleon and uncover hidden riches and secrets was not passed up once suggested. After all, Nord was less than ten clicks away, and their radio had plenty of range. After securing their little boat to the old wooden vessel, the head of the research team, Lilly Stronach, was able to find the something carved into side of the bow.
Espejo De Hielo. It could have been the name, but it was so sloppy and hastily scratched into the wood, it looked as if it had been a patch job. It seemed to Lilly as if the ship was an employee using a name tag until an ID card was printed. Needless to say, the research team had no language expert team, but the weathered sailor they had hired, Benito Ruiz, was of a Hispanic lineage. Although he had never actually bothered to learn the language, he had picked up enough to translate the name as "ice mirror".
It wasn't hard for Lilly and her colleagues to navigate downwards from the crunchy ice of the deck down the two decks below. It was strangely tidy. There were no stray coils of rope or knotted messes of rigging. The dust and ice crystals coated the floor evenly, each door shut. This was most likely a passenger's deck, and it was proven so as several doors were pried open. Couples, individuals, families, and even lone children laid in their cabins, perfectly preserved. The rooms were much like the hallways, impeccably orderly. Not a thing had moved out of its place, even after all that time of drifting aimlessly through treacherous icebergs.
The mirrors of each cabin were horribly cracked and dusty, barely reflecting the blue shimmering of the flashlights, but she supposed that was to be expected after centuries of cold and wet. The broken reflections danced, making odd shapes and shadows, and playing tricks on the mind. A hand here, a smile there, the backside of a head of fair hair, sometimes a blurred female face. The hairs on the back of Lilly's neck stood on end, doing their part in warning of danger, and she swore she heard laughter. She refused to alarm her crew however, but more than likely didn't want to sound silly by saying she felt watched.
The bodies showed no sign of suffering, even starvation. It appeared as if one night the passengers all went to bed in an industrial freezer, never to open their eyes again. Going in your sleep didn't exactly seem peaceful for these unfortunate seafarers, though. Cracked blue lips were slanted in partial frowns, the way a person would frown at something amiss. The skin around the sunken eyes seemed wrinkled as if scrunched with worry. Lilly felt her stomach tighten as she gazed over several permanently grimacing faces, drifting from room to room.
Even more disturbingly, the frozen corpses in the descending cabins seemed to be becoming less historically accurate. A shattered, water-damaged iPhone sat on the rustic vanity table of one cabin. A Funship Freddy from Carnival Cruise Lines leaned against the pillow in another. A portable fan sat on the nightstand of yet another. And then the cabins were empty for nearly an entire deck, their mirrors cleanly intact and their beds made.
The last body found in the cabin at the farest end of the hallway on the bottom deck was that of a teenage girl, a young woman in her own time period. Her blonde hair was stiff and straight, neatly fanned out across her bed. Her eyes were open, unlike the other passengers who seemed to have frozen to death in their sleep. The blue orbs were fixed on the ceiling, sunken back into her skull. Her skin was as white as her nightgown and it took the eye a moment to distinguish the two. Not that it would need to, because one's gaze would jump to the balled yellowed parchment in her left hand.
Benito crossed himself, backing away from the cold colorless corpse. He excused himself from the room as Lilly plucked the parchment from the pale, stiff fingers and flattened it on the vanity table, her associates reading over her shoulder, shining their flickering lights on the text. The boat's name was written in elegant calligraphy in the center of the square parchment, and signed by an Angelina Ernesta.
Slowly, more signatures began to appear on the parchment, inky splotches bubbling to the surface. Lily had to blink several times before she believed what she was seeing. Many were old Spanish names such as Isabella Reyes, Ricardo and Amalia Garcia, Bernardo Montoya, and several Mendozas; many more names were illegible. The text in the center of the page faded slightly, snaking into another shape before darkening to a inky midnight shade.
It was the most familiar thing in Lilly's world. Her own signature.
Nothing was heard except the crunching of ice beneath the shifting weight of bodies. Lilly refused to turn around, still in disbelief of what was written on the paper. The crunching grew louder, to the cracking of glass. She lifted her gaze to the mirror, finding a perfect portrait of the girl instead. Her eyes seemed to fix on each individual in the room simultaneously. The image shifted, her smile grew and stretched to painful extents. The temperature dropped steadily, biting at the already freezing flesh of the three remaining stowaways.
There were no screams.
The research boat and its captain were found two weeks later near Húsavík, Iceland. The official report stated Benito Ruiz was found frostbitten and in a delirious state of dehydration. When asked about the ship, he sobbed out a phrase, claiming it was the name of a ship. The ship he named is believed not to exist, due to a lack of any documentation. A search was launched, but the vessel in question was never found.
The three member research team that had accompanied the sailor are, to this day, still missing.
The original pasta can be found here.