Coldest Winter: Chapter One
by CRMY Studios·
The year was 1968, and oil fields were discovered in the far northern region of Alaska known as Prudhoe Bay. Global oil supply chains were strained due to international disputes, and the discovery of oil in Alaska was monumental.
The Prudhoe Bay fields were special because they were being circled by some money-hungry cats. Yes, that's right, the fat cats behind Big Oil were eager to sink their teeth into the substantial profits underneath the cold Alaskan ground. There was one issue… How would they transport that precious oil from Alaska to the lower 48 states? No pipeline system of the necessary length had ever been constructed. Solutions such as jumbo jets, submarines, ice-breaking oil tankers, and railroads were all hypothesized. However, all were too outlandish, costly, risky, or dangerous.
All ideas damned, these fat cats were thirsty - so a pipeline had to be made.
Constructing an 800-mile pipeline is no joke. It required 11 pump stations, an entire highway system to build the pipeline, towns, supply chains, plenty of welding experts, etc. That was hard work that only the bravest Americans could tackle.
The fat cats proposed their plan to big Uncle Sam. They asked for the rights to plop their pipes all over Alaska and then pump the land's rich, black gold. They didn't care that the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline would cut an enormous scar across Alaska. Neither did they care that it would potentially disrupt migration patterns, alter the landscapes, and trespass on Native lands.
Since the fat cats knew all these things, they also knew there would be objections. They weren't stupid cats; they just knew their bet on black gold would win in the long run.
While the pipeline plans were tied up in the courts, the fat cats hired a team of explorers to scout the Alaskan wilderness and survey a route for the pipeline and the highway to build it.
These explorers were some of the finest frontiersmen in American history. They were seasoned veterans with a taste for venison, vengeance, fresh air, Alaskan salmon, and adventure.
Somehow, all of them were in Alaska at the right place, at the right time...
General Ralph - A local Alaskan, standard American ex-military guy. He was honorably discharged after his time in the Korean War. Ralph had a taste for smooth cigars and sports like polo, rugby, and skiing.
Captain Levi - A reporter and Vietnam Vet who was dishonorably discharged for smuggling cocaine in empty grenades; no one is sure how he is not in jail. He was a bit of a cowboy and preferred to do everything wild style. Levi liked women, cheap wine, and blues.
Mr. Calvin - A successful businessman turned adventure enthusiast. He was like Bruce Wayne, but instead of Batman, Bruce went on wild expeditions across the world. Calvin liked martinis at nightclubs, brawling with locals in dive bars, hunting big game, and practicing his own form of Buddhism.
Lieutenant Been - A sharp young man who lacks a bit of confidence. He was discharged from Vietnam after his unit was caught in friendly fire. Been enjoyed books, Vermont winters, and pancakes for breakfast.
Dick - The estranged cousin of Levi. He was abandoned after his mother died and randomly showed up on Levis's porch one afternoon. Dick likes ducks, dragons, picking up heavy objects, and doing things backwards. He's a bit of a liability, but they needed manpower.
It was a ragtag group of men, but they were the only men fit for the job. Or... the only men with the right skills and knowledge of the Alaskan Wilderness Ralph could persuade to come with him.
Because of logistical issues and miscommunication between the fat cats, the expedition was repeatedly delayed. When the party finally set out in the late and fateful summer of 1970, they were fighting against the clock. Winter was coming, and this one was predicted to be the coldest. Little did these men know, they were hiking straight into their own doom.
The party traversed over miles and miles in the Alaskan tundra. They packed only the necessities, knowing they would be able to restock at Fairbanks and small villages along the way. Each man had been issued a reversible bright orange parka to help them stand out from the landscape in case anyone got separated.
In the beginning, the party worked its way south. First, they entered the Brooks Mountains and then ventured toward the Yukon river.
As they traveled, Ralph, Calvin and Levi enjoyed ice fishing and hunting the small game they came across. To Calvin's disappointment, the fat cats forbid hunting any big game because the activists were already mad enough.
Been mainly kept to himself; he journaled and took photographs. Occasionally, he hung out with Dick. The two would climb, look at clouds, and pick the dying wildflowers.
At the start, the trip was standard. The surveying was easy, and physical traveling was manageable. The Brooks Mountains proved to be a beast. However, since it was summer, the party had no real problems. It seemed like all enjoyed the break from society. At night they would sit around the campfire and listen to the sounds around them.
The only strange thing during the journey was the random snowmen they would stumble across. These snowmen had fat carrot noses, wicked charcoal smiles, and large eyes. Their snow glistened like it was about to melt.
One night, as they approached the Yukon River, Ralph saw orange and blue fires off in the distance. In the afterglow, he swore he saw the silhouettes of snowmen dancing. The sight sent a shiver down his spine. He lied to himself and claimed his eyes were playing tricks.
When the party crossed the Yukon River is when things changed. Dick said he felt they were being followed -- claiming that the snowmen were tracking their moves. He swore he saw the snowmen's eyes between the trees and them dancing at night.
Levi dismissed Dick's fears as make-believe because he was getting bored with the trip. Ralph, on the other hand, swallowed his fear and decided not to mention having seen similar things. It was best not to alarm the group - for all he knew the snowmen were harmless.
Then the voices started. Ralph barely heard them; it was like they were just on the tip of the wind's piercing tongue. The voices warned Ralph not to continue.
Then Dick started to have dreams. Every night he had the same nightmare of being trapped inside a snowman - listening to people being torn apart. He continuously woke the group up at night with shrieking.
In Fairbanks, the group overheard a story about a caribou herd slaughtered outside the Tanana Valley region. When Calvin interjected and asked if the hides were recovered - the locals scoffed at him. They claimed an Abdominal Snowman roams Alaska, and the caribou slaying was a warning of darkness to come.
While smoking outside the pub, Levi overheard some children talking about snowmen causing mischief throughout the area. Some of the kids laughed and found amusement in the matter. However, an older child scolded them. She lectured them in a hushed tone about how the snowmen helped find victims... for the "King
Chapter Two releases next week...