This morning I diverted course from the rest of my research team to set up some equipment and a makeshift shelter to take my photos from. The rest of the crew promised that the ice I’m currently positioned on should hold its position until their return in a week’s time to collect me. To be honest, I’m so happy that I’ll be alone for an entire week in this amazing wilderness. Well, obviously not entirely alone; I’ll be accompanied by my Panasonic Lumix Mirrorless camera and this journal. I can’t be sure how much I’ll get to write in this because hopefully I will spend most of my time documenting the Terns. I will make a conscious effort to record what I can when I can in this book, but I always have my photos as a reminder of what I’ve seen if I forget to mention certain parts of my journey.
My shelter is made of an Ultra mesh shade-cloth which is weatherproofed and reinforced by a layer of insulation and aluminium foil. There is a layer of metal which spans the entirety of the tent just inside the first layer of Ultra mesh, which is about a centimetre thick in diameter and incredibly hard to set up. However, it helps the tent to withstand strong winds, falling trees and even animal scratches as sharp as knives. The inside is made with the same material, so my tent both keeps outside influences out, and inside influences in at the same time. The zipper on the end of the shelter is reinforced with weatherproofing and requires a padded lock to open.
Yesterday gave me mixed feelings about my freezing, temporary abode. The good news is that I managed to capture images of a small flock of Arctic Terns. There is a small wooded area about forty or fifty metres north of my shelter. I’m positioned about five metres from a mini ice cliff west of my shelter which is about a five or six metre slanted drop to the bottom. To the east and south of my tent is nothing but white and barren snow for hundreds of metres. I last saw the rest of my research team heading south away from my tent before they disappeared into the snow.
I decided to set my camera up in the small wooded area considering the trees would provide good cover for any animals wandering in or out. I opened my tripod and set the camera down, then recoiled into my layers of clothing and tried my best to stave off the freezing wind. Suddenly I could hear something stirring behind me, and then the thunderous sound of dozens of birds rocketing overhead caused me to leap straight up to my camera and I just held down that shutter. The Terns flew straight through the trees, keeping tightly together in a flock as best as they could, considering the obstacles in their way. Thank God my camera was already set to speed shutter mode and now I have more than enough shots to work with. Hopefully Ryan is pleased with this outcome as much as I am! I left the zipper of my shelter down so I could be ready to head out and take photos at any time.
Later in the afternoon however, I heard some noises outside the shelter. Noises like animals eating to the west of the tent. I stood up so fast to get a photograph of whatever was making the sounds that I tripped over the peg keeping the tent in the ground and half of the roof collapsed. I grabbed my camera and tore out of the tent, crunching snow beneath my feet due to having forgotten my snow shoes. I half walked and half tumbled down the small snow cliff to see what was making the sounds. There, in the middle of the swirling white landscape were three even whiter foxes. A mother and her two pups. I gently set down the camera and took a whole bunch of photos. They reminded me so much of my little Lucy back at home, playing with each other and rolling around carelessly. All the while their mother tore into the dead lemming before them. It was such a shock, the kind of juxtaposition playing before my eyes. I stood up and packed away my camera before turning around to head back to my tent.
I looked along the snow at where I had just run out from my shelter, and there were no markings or footprints to be seen anywhere, even though I had practically tumbled down the face of the thing. I had to walk for about three minutes before I found a way to get back up the cliff. I kept thinking how strange it was that there were no markings anywhere in the snow, and how I’d probably need to pull down my whole tent to set it back up again properly. I never have been able to put anything together or build anything unless I have an instruction manual handy. I decided that the lack of markings could be explained by snow falling behind me as I fell, covering any trace of my existence. But as I neared my shelter, I couldn’t be so sure. My heart stopped and panic rose into my stomach and lungs.
My tent was upright.
I didn’t sleep at all last night. I have no idea who or what put my tent back together, but despite my best efforts to distract my mind from the subject, I couldn’t help my curiosity getting the better of me. I recalled this Greek myth I had learned about in high school, maybe six or seven years ago, about a great land ‘to the north’ known as Hyperborea. Here people could live happily for thousands of years free of disease and other symptoms of ageing. It was described by the Greeks as a paradise where, if man ever found it, one could live joyously forever among the Hyperboreans who called this land their home.
I cannot help but think that any time I set foot out of my tent to do anything, something is watching me from those woods, or hiding their face just below the lip of the cliff. I keep picturing these three foot tall beings with four fingers on each hand, gnarled and rotting teeth due to the incredible age of their host, and eyes that are always watching.
I know it sounds ridiculous, even as I’m writing it down now. But at three in the morning trying desperately not to think about it, and flinching at every shadow that whipped by with the chilly wind outside my shelter, it was hard to push this memory back into my subconscious. I know that Hyperboreans do not exist. If they did we would have found them now already, I mean the northernmost point on this globe has been traversed many times, and no such land has ever been found. Well, that’s a comforting sentence to read, but for some reason it won’t sink in. I keep thinking something is out there with me, not just the Terns or foxes or Polar bears.
I’m missing my team. I still have four days left before their return, and I feel like I’m going crazy without another human to talk to. It is usually dark most of the time, and I can never see more than a few hundred metres into the distance before everything becomes too blurry and covered with snow. Looking each direction out of my tent makes me feel horrendously trapped, so I’m just trying to bide my time by writing in here. Hopefully when I read these sentences again from the comfort and safety of my home I can look back on this and laugh.
Now I’m just stalling. I’m going to go take some photos. Should only be gone a few hours.
The photo attached below is the reason I have shut myself in this shelter for the past day. There is absolutely no way I am going outside this shelter again without knowing my research team is on their way.
What the hell is that in between those trees?! I don’t know of any animal that casts a shadow like that, and I can’t remember seeing any animals in the woods before taking it!
Come to think of it, I haven’t seen many animals at all while I’ve been here. I was out for around three hours taking photos last time, and I didn’t manage to capture even a footprint! It seems like this was a pretty bad place to set up my camp because all the animals are avoiding it. I am not setting foot outside my tent again until the 27th when Ryan and my team come and find me. There is no way I am heading back into those woods without a good reason. Fuck that.
Hyperboreans were described as very small humanoid beings who lived beyond the north wind. In Greek mythology, Hyperborea was a land which was perfect, with sun shining twenty-four hours a day, but there would be no way to find this land on foot or by boat. See, I think the problem is that explorers decided to go over the pole instead of under…
Just a thought.
Ryan called me today on the satellite phone and said that the expedition was going well, and that he would be happy to see me in two days. He asked about the pictures I had been taking, and to both rationalise the situation to myself, and give him a reason to make sure to come back to get me, I told him I had taken so many wonderful photos of the Terns that he should come back a day early to see them! He said he couldn’t do that. Then I broke down.
“I am going mad here Ryan!” I think that’s how the argument started. He yelled something about shifting ice flows and that that was the reason the journey had been more difficult than he’d first thought it was going to be. Because of that he might not be able to get me for another week, but I hope he was just angry and making empty threats. I cannot stay here another week. The longer I stay trapped in this shelter the less my mind can cope with it all.
I can’t sleep for long because I’ve heightened my senses to detect even the smallest scurrying outside the shelter, and I’m constantly woken up by large wind gusts or snow movement. Every single time it happens I just picture one of those beings standing outside my tent, waiting for me to head outside for something before they creep up behind me. There can’t be much food for them up here I would think, due to the lack of any animal presence save for the first couple of days. I am going mad here without any human contact.
I wish I’d brought the damn satellite phone like Ryan had told me to.
I waited all day for the research team to arrive at my tent and rescue me from this hell on earth. My legs and back ache from limited movement, and my eyes have adjusted better to the artificial light of my torches rather than the natural light outside. I probably look like a damn corpse, which wouldn’t be far off how I feel. As the hand on my watch ticked down to eight o’clock and I had spent yet another day in this place, I knew I had to leave the tent to see what was going on.
The first thing I saw was a small, straw-wrapped gift lying in front of my tent. On it was written ‘Sara’, in a sort of red marker. I picked up the present and carried it with me outside. The first thing I noticed was that instead of the cliff about three or four metres away, there was now nothing but ocean for as far into the distance as I could see. The ice must have broken off and left a gap of ocean in its place, which would explain the reason for Ryan’s absence. He is probably still trying to find a way to get to me, if he even knows where I am now.
I took the gift inside the shelter, not daring to spend too long outside the safety of my tent. Inside the straw wrapping was a liquid in a tiny bottle, and a note written in the same red marker.
“Sara, please come back with us. I know you are scared to come outside and see us, but we must get going before the ice shifts. I know you can hear us in there; please just come outside. We are not going to hurt you. We only mean to help. Take the liquid before you fall asleep tonight, and tomorrow you will be home. We cannot stay much longer here. – July 30th.”
The Hyperborean idea is an interesting one. I mean, nowhere in the textbooks that I read did it ever mention that the Hyperboreans are a harmful race. It says only that the beings live in a land of eternal bliss, right here on earth. Free of disease, stress and worry. The sun shines twenty-four hours a day, instead of the miserable four or five real hours of sun I receive here per day. Strange how this helps them move forward in time; it must also be affecting my equipment as a glance at my wristwatch tells me that today is the 31st of July, although I know it is the 27th so this cannot be the case.
Ryan is telling me that I need to drink the liquid now so that I can go and visit Hyperborea, if only for a little while. I don’t have to stay, he said. I just need to leave the shelter.
After I finish writing this I will take the liquid and drink. They are all waiting for me outside. Even now I can hear them growing restless. They have done enough waiting for me to join them. The ocean is less than ten steps from my tent, so all I have to do is drink and then dive in. I’m sure I’ll find Hyperborea sooner than later. I will write about my experiences upon my return.
The above is a journal found and taken in as police evidence in helping to solve the disappearance of Sara Kelly, who went missing after setting out on her expedition to the North Pole in July. The mentioned research team partner Ryan Schaffod and other colleagues Tim and Duane Murphy were proclaimed dead on the 31st of July, when their boat returned to port in Greenland with each member deceased and on board the ship.
Written by Natalo