Coldest Winter: Chapter Three
by CRMY Studios·
Ralph, Levi, Calvin, and Bean never made it to Valdez for their scheduled pick-up at the end of November. After a week passed, the fat cats contacted the local authorities and demanded an immediate search and rescue. However, this was remote Alaska, and no local law enforcement had enough men to conduct an in-depth investigation across hundreds of miles of the Alaskan wilderness.
True to form, the fat cats had little patience and began bribing the Valdez Sheriffs Department to create a rescue team. With little funding, the department took the bribe and enlisted the help of other law enforcement offices from all over Alaska. Over the next week, a search party backtracked the final route Ralph and his group planned to take. The hiking was bitterly cold, for winter had finally settled in. The men were unhappy about venturing into the brutal Alaskan winter. However, the money was too good for anyone to pass up.
The search party went through each town on the outskirts of the Alaskan and Wrangell mountains to question the locals. Unfortunately, no villagers saw any expedition parties come through the previous month. Ralph and his men vanished. While talking to the locals in Tok, the search party confirmed that Ralph and his men did pass through the town at the beginning of November and were headed south through the mountain pass. Whatever happened to Ralph and his group, it was between Tok and the first village south of the mountain pass.
Somewhere neither here nor there.
The villagers in Tok were skittish of the officers, who felt like they were hiding information. Something was off. It was practically like pulling teeth trying to get answers out of anyone. The villagers knew something, and they were covering it up. The only detail the search party could get was Ralph and his group seemed paranoid when they arrived in Tok and left in a hurry.
Law enforcement hung around Tok for a few days, hoping something might shake loose. Yet, the longer they stayed, the colder everything became: the weather and the local's attitudes. Soon a strange feeling of uncertainty began to hang like a thick fog; the air charged with electricity. At night the officers heard primal screams off in the mountains. When they asked the locals what the sounds were, the locals replied, "Those are the snowmen rejoicing over the coldest winter."
Since the locals were growing hostile, the search party decided to head back to Valdez. The captain of the search party didn't want to risk an altercation between the locals and his officers. The last thing he needed was more stress and conflict between native Alaskans and law enforcement. There was no evidence that anything occurred in Tok, so there was no reason to keep hanging around. The officers had followed through with the search, so it was time to get paid, regardless that they didn't find anything. Little did they know, they would soon pay with their lives.
Days after returning from the search, the officers who participated began experiencing extreme nausea and vomiting. A week later, every officer died. They melted into themselves, turning into giant slushes of flesh and bones.
When word got back to the fat cats that the exploration party was still missing and the first search party mysteriously died of radiation poisoning, circumstances escalated. The situation became more than just a pursuit of oil. Soon dozens of agents landed in Valdez wearing bright orange parkas. Embellished on the left chest of the parkas was a little blue seal. In the middle of the blue seal was a pyramid with an eye at the top with text that read the CPIA.
The agents brought fancy equipment that looked straight out of a science fiction novel: military-grade artillery, fancy-looking cameras, radiation suits, electric cattle prods, and more. They were here for something clearly larger than just a missing exploration party. Whatever that something was, it was serious. Some of the Valdez officers noted that the older agents acted like they had been there before. Not only did they have extensive knowledge of local geography, but they walked with a certain confidence that only native Alaskans had. It was clearly not their first rodeo in the Alaskan wilderness. When questioned on why so much equipment was needed for the search, the agents gave cagey answers, explaining all the extra gear was in case of a polar bear attack. The officers balked at their reasoning but could not get any other answers.
The officers relayed that Ralph and his party must have gone missing somewhere between the Alaskan and Wrangell mountains, and locals in Tok said that Ralph seemed paranoid and exhausted. The agents quickly departed Valdez and traveled north, passing the small towns without asking the locals questions. Soon the agents entered the mountain pass and set up camp. A light fog has settled in the area - putting everyone on high alert. Sophisticated trip wire systems and other surveillance equipment were set up throughout the pass. After establishing the base camp, the agents split into two crews; one to stay in the mountain pass to sweep the area and another to search for Ralph and his men up in the mountains.
It took only a few days before the agents found the missing campsite. Interestingly, the campsite was 20 miles NE up in the mountains on a ledge that jutted out from underneath an overhang. It made no sense for Ralph and his men to veer that far off the trail - unless they were blindly lost. Even then, it would have been a journey for them to find the ledge where the campsite was located. Agents had to scale a half-mile scramble of loose rock and debris to find the campsite. The only reason they decided to even look in that area was the trace of radiation that led them to the spot.
What the investigators found on the ledge shocked them beyond explanation. The carnage and gore chilled them more than the billowing winter winds. Blood soaked the snow, and little chunks of what the agents guessed were flesh sprinkled the area. Bullet shell casings littered the forest floor, giving the impression that an all-out firefight occurred. Upon further investigation, the agents determined that the tents were slashed apart from the inside. This meant that whatever happened, Ralph and his men had to cut themselves out of their tents in a panic.
However, no bodies were at the campsite. After canvasing the surrounding area, the carnage only got worse. The bodies were scattered throughout the surrounding woods in all different directions.
Been was found closest to the campsite at the base of a tree. There were obvious signs that Been tried to climb the tree in a panic because there were wood chips and splinters underneath his fingernails. Been's body had large slashes across his back - similar to the markings of a polar bear attack, except these slashes were about four times the size. In addition to the wounds, Been's body was badly charred.
Calvin's body was located close by at the base of another tree just beyond where they found Been. His body was shredded into strips to the point that he was barely recognizable. The agents found Levi decapitated at the bottom of the ravine that the campsite overlooked. His body was covered in large slashes similar to Beens, and his skull was crushed into pieces.
Finally, the officers discovered Ralph on the opposite side of the camp. His body was ripped in half; his legs were nowhere to be found. Ralph was missing both eyes, and his tongue looked torn right out of his mouth. Even with those features missing, the look on Ralph's lifeless and frozen face was pure terror.
After fully canvasing the campsite, the only evidence the agents found were two large, humanoid footprints in the snow. This was the only evidence they needed to confirm their suspicions about what happened to Ralph, Levi, Calvin, and Been. It wasn't an avalanche, it wasn't natives, it wasn't nuclear testing gone wrong, and it certainly wasn't aliens. The CPIA had dealt with this once before, a long time ago when Americans first began exploring the Alaskan wilderness. They had captured one of these beasts and performed all kinds of studies on it before it escaped. Some of the older agents wondered if the beast that caused this carnage was the same one from back then... the attack seemed too brutal, too personal to be a standard hunting attack.
Now the agents had to decide what to do next. These beasts were incredibly hard to track down, let alone capture. They could elude space and time, shifting in and out of relms and realities. Given the worsening winter conditions, the agents were at a disadvantage - even with all their fancy equipment. After gathering the remains, the agents hiked back to base camp to consult with the rest of the team.
Out of all the carnage and gore, one detial stood out against it all. It wasn't a crucial detail because the agents knew what beset Ralph and his men. It was more of a sad detail, the type that sticks with someone long after an event or experience passes.
Inside one of the tents, an agent found Been's trip journal. The final entry read: From now on, we know that the Snowman exists.