Lachlan Thomas was stationed out in the Arctic on his latest hunt for an artifact that was said to hold the key behind the recent crash site back in Canada. An unknown “alien” ship had crashed and from what they had found inside was that this spaceship, or whatever it was, had made several trips to this planet. The interior of the spacecraft had what looked like old drawings inscribed on to its wall. They were unique and yet strangely familiar. The government had realised that this ship had taken trips to the Arctic. It was obviously looking for something there. But what, no one knows yet.
That’s where Lachlan comes in. He had studied this spaceship, trying to decode the drawings, and so was sent out to the Arctic by the big guys at the top; the Government. They had told him to keep this quiet, obviously this was a big deal and not a soul should know about it. And here he was, sitting on his little fold away chair, watching his breath come out of him in a burst of steam. He had been to cold places before, but this took the award for the coldest place he had ever visited.
He started his search for this, thing, on the edge of the Arctic, he would work his way into the middle. He was given a year to find this object. His equipment consisted of gadgets that would confuse even the biggest of technological nerds. He had brought everything he could think of with him, he had a gadget to test the earth that lay below the snow to see if it had been disturbed or any unknown chemical or bacteria was lurking there, his trusty metal detector, his snowmobile, a tent, food supplies, a gun in case any polar bear wandered up to him, clothes, a radio and a communication device to send out for help if he needed it. He felt very alone.
Lachlan didn’t even know what he was supposed to be looking for. Some high up government agent, who looked like he just left school, told him that it must be something that spacecraft needed to get home, so he assumed it would be made out of metal and told him all the things he should bring with him on his trip. Lachlan just stared at the agent. No child was going to tell what to bring, he knew.
The environment here was bleak. Lachlan thought he must have arrived at the Arctic’s worst ever winter that it had ever experienced. It was mostly blizzard, if he put his hand out in front of him it would disappear in the thick snow that poured down from the sky. The animals here were friendly enough and left him to his job, the only thing that concerned him was the hungry polar bears, but once he cleared looking round the edge of the Arctic, he figured he would be safer away from the ocean as the bears mostly hunted there. He liked the little Arctic foxes that played about in the snow, he found himself watching them for hours, one had even been brave enough to come close, and he threw it a bit of food which it hungrily wolfed down. Speaking of wolves, they were the other thing to keep an eye on as they too stalked about. He knew that they were more scared of him but that didn’t stop Lachlan keeping both eyes out for them. It was hard to tell in this terrain, all the animals had white fluffy fur, so they just blended into the background. It was impossible to tell if they were close.
Lachlan sighed and heaved himself off his chair and packed it away. He got back to work and begun prodding things into the ground which beeped and flashed, he dragged his metal detector over certain areas, tested the earth by digging out samples and repeated the process on another area. It was back breaking work but it passed the time quickly enough.
Once he had covered an entire section of an area, he sat back down again; this was going to take forever. He decided to start setting up camp, so he unloaded all his gear off the back of his snowmobile and began to unpack. The tent went up with ease, and he set up trip wires around his camping area to warn him of any dangers that might approach. He set up his radio and logged in today’s finds; which was nothing, again. Tomorrow will be the last day he finishes searching the outer edges of the arctic area, the day after that he gets to move further in and start the whole process again, moving round in a complete circle until he keeps moving in, reaching the very centre of the Arctic circle.
After everything had been put together, Lachlan snuggled inside his sleeping bag and began to read his book, listening to the wind howl outside. He could feel his eyelids getting heavy and he drifted off to sleep, wrapped up in a cocoon of many layers of thick clothing, blankets and his heavy sleeping bag. His hat was pulled down to almost his nose and had a scarf wrapped up to his mouth. He found it surprising warm and peaceful
Once night had set in, a few miles in, away from the Lachlan’s camp, something was glowing from under the snow, it burst out a golden light up into the sky, flashed a few times then shrunk back into its source from under the snow. A little Arctic fox became curious as to what this flash of direct light was and trotted over to the source, it sniffed the ground, snuffing away the snow as it exhaled into the ground. It began pawing and digging. Once it reached the item it was looking for, it nuzzled it, only to receive a fatal shock. It dropped down dead. The snow caved in and covered up the Artifact, hiding it again. The rest of the pack of foxes scattered, sensing something wrong. The place had gone deadly quiet, not even the wind seemed to make a noise, it was almost like everything was too scared to make a sound in case it disturbed the item that lay beneath the snow.
Lachlan awoke to a slither of sunlight popping through the flaps of his tent, so he got up, had breakfast and got ready. He bundled up his tent and packed everything onto his snowmobile. He moved onto his final section of the outer circle, and then hopefully he can move further inland, away from the cold ocean.
He did his usual routine, of checking the ground for any abnormalities etc. etc. and still came up with nothing, logged in his (lack) of findings and then sat down for some food. As he took out his flask, he could smell something strange; he hoped it wasn’t a dead seal carcass that a bear might have left behind nearby. But this had more of a metallic smell, it almost burned his nostrils. He decided to investigate and followed his nose.
The snow sunk under his foot every step he took, it was difficult walking in snow and he began to sweat, but he kept going because the further in he went the stronger the smell got. At one point it almost became unbearable, but he pressed on until he could see a small, fluffy object lying motionless on the ground. Lachlan rubbed his eyes, making sure they weren’t playing tricks on him. He continued towards the little body and he found that it was a fox, he felt slightly sad at this sight because he liked the playful foxes, they were the only carnivores he felt safe with in this snowy terrain. He knelt down beside it to see if he could figure how it died, but saw no marks on it, so assumed it died of an illness or old age, but it didn’t look old and seemed quite healthy. Lachlan glided his hand over its coat, and saw the fur became static. He looked closer and saw small droplets of dried blood coming from its ears and nose. It had been electrocuted. This confused him, there was literally nothing out here that could do such a thing, unless ……
Lachlan made a bee line to where his equipment still lay, bundled everything up and powered the snowmobile to where the fox was killed. He parked the vehicle and got all his equipment back out, he glided the metal detector over the area and it went crazy with beeping, he then tested the earth under the snow and the tests showed that there was some type of chemical down there. He was too scared to start digging because he didn’t want to end up like that poor little fox. The artifact was more than likely under the earth, not the snow; it would be safer to dig the snow away first then decide how to go about getting the artifact that lay beneath the earth. And that’s what he did, he dug away at the snow with a shovel and he quickly got to the earth below. He instantly felt the energy buzzing off the ground, whatever was lying there was a live wire that will probably kill whoever touches it. He had to think this through, this thing, whatever it was, had the power to kill the fox with a single shock, he didn’t want to end up in the same position. As he had his back turned from it, the artifact began to flash again, sending out an electrical charge vertically up to the sky. Lachlan spun around to witness this sight but started to back away. He was in awe, it was beautiful and yet haunting, it made a low humming noise and sparked now and again, the more Lachlan looked at it the more he could feel himself taking a step closer, it was almost like it was drawing him in.
Before he even realised what he was going, his hand lifted up by itself towards the brilliant beam of light. The light that was sent upwards appeared to have tiny symbols within, also heading up. As his fingers were inches away from touching the light, it flickered and the beam went back inside the artifact. Lachlan shook his head in disbelief and looked at his hand which was out in front of him; he dropped it to his side and sat down in the snow. He felt tired all of a sudden and dropped onto his back and closed his eyes, falling into a nightmarish sleep.
The dreams that Lachlan had were terrifying. It seemed more like a premonition about the world’s fate. He saw people fleeing in terror, large crafts hovering above in the sky, peculiar creatures lurking about in the shadow, waiting to pounce on anyone that dared to come close. He then saw himself; he was holding the Artifact, like he was its slave. His eyes had become the same brilliant golden light, which had beamed from the Artifact; his body had the same symbols etched all over his body. He raised the Artifact above his head and started screaming some unknown language.
Lachlan awoke bolt upright, he was covered with a light dusting of snow and his ungloved hand was turning blue. He tucked it back inside his glove which he didn’t even remember taking off in the first place. He peered down to where the Artifact lay; the snow having covered it up again. He felt scared because for the first time ever, he had no idea what to do. Whatever this thing was had clearly some significance to the spacecraft that was currently being kept in Canada. It was dangerous, maybe if it was left here in the Arctic, nobody would find it nor would the alien that was sent would find it, therefore the world would not decent into chaos like his dream had suggested. But the beam of light it had sent up to the sky; was the Artifact acting like a landmark for more crafts to land? Or was it contacting home, feeding other life forms information about this planet, showing its weaknesses and where the best place to attack was?
He didn’t want to think anymore. He kept thinking about his dream, he desperately wanted know what he was saying. The language, it that’s what you could call it, was burned into his head; the high pitch screaming pierced his thoughts over and over again. Plus the symbols that coated his body, the golden light that beamed out of his eyes; none of this made any sense. He couldn’t but feel this Artifact was going to be the death of the planet, either aliens were coming to take all the resources and the people or they were just here to kill anything in sight.
A lone wolf was standing a few feet away from Lachlan; he turned his head and looked back at the wolf. It in turn sunk its ears down and its tail went between its legs, the wolf then skulked off, it looked scared. Lachlan let out a big, long sigh and picked himself off the ground. He needed to think about what his next move was going to be. This essentially was a life or death situation and Lachlan was inexperienced in making life or death decisions. There really were only a couple of options available; tell the government or don’t tell the government. Simple and yet difficult. To make him loosen up a bit he decided to dig around the artifact, maybe there were some clues in the soil that surrounded it, so he began to dig, and he became quite frantic whilst digging. He went quicker and quicker and before he knew it he threw the spade away and screamed. His head felt crushed, not from the difficult decision he had to make but something felt like it was physically crushing it. He dropped to the ground and put his head into the cold snow, he felt the cooling sensation enclose him and the crushing feeling subsided a little bit. And then he felt it.
Little droplets of rain came falling from the sky, and then it poured. Lachlan looked up towards the sky and it looked agitated, like it was ready to burst. It was not unusual for it to rain in the Arctic but this felt different, like something wasn’t right but hard to put a finger on what was wrong. Lachlan pulled down his hood and took off his hat, letting the rain drench his face. Pulling off his gloves and he dragged his hands down his face, the rain felt oily. He looked down at his hand and saw the “rain” glisten on his fingertips. The snow melted quickly, leaving massive pools of water behind, mixing in with the mud. He could feel the cold water turn hot, the oily substance was starting to burn his hand and before he knew it a sharp bolt of lightning burst from the sky and straight down to the artifact that was now partially visible from the earth. It seemed to react to this bolt and began to glow white hot.
Lachlan could feel his body starting to shake. This was happening all too quickly for him to register. The oily substance was starting to cool down and became hard, he began to peel it off his finger but as he did so he let out a sharp yell, it was pulling away at his skin, his hair and face was also covered in this stuff and he dared not to pull at that if it was ripping his skin off. He noticed that his clothes had become solid to, he tried to move his arms and legs but this substance had gone rock solid; he was stuck on the spot, only inches away from the now glowing artifact.
He wasn’t able to turn his head, but he turned his eyes onto the artifact as much as he could. It began to quiver, glowing more white and brilliant. It repeated the same process as before, shooting up a golden light up to the sky, the same symbols flowing upwards. The substance on Lachlan began to soften, but this was only to allow him to come towards the artifact. The light attracted him closer, like a moth to a flame. He bent down towards the artifact, hands outstretched in front of him, his slender fingers curled around the artifact. The artifact engulfed him in the golden light. Lachlan Thomas was no longer Lachlan Thomas; he had become a slave to whatever this thing was. He could feel the golden light surround him, entering his body through every pore, symbols were slowly but surely etching themselves onto his body, ripping open his skin to produce these unique looking characters. His mouth opened wide, letting a golden flash pour out. His grip on the Artifact got tighter and tighter. He started screaming the same high pitched tone in an unknown language.
The sky grew darker, and shadows began to descent onto the Arctic. They landed quietly. Lachlan was still clutching the Artifact, there was no fear at these shadows; there was no questioning as to why they were here. He just knew what he had to do. The world would descent into chaos and darkness. These creatures needed resources and the people on this planet were their resources. All Lachlan had to do was get back to the government base in Canada where the process could fully take place.
A creature stalked over to Lachlan, it had no features or voice, it had neither feelings nor patience’s. It was simply shadows and darkness, it communicated to Lachlan through his mind. The same crushing feeling poured over Lachlan’s head but he no longer reacted to this. He knew what he had to do.
He stumbled over to the radio that was on the snowmobile.
“This is Thomas” he said, in a voice that wouldn’t be considered human but yet it hypnotised any that heard it. “I need a plane over here. I found the Artifact.” The radio crackled and someone confirmed that he heard him. Lachlan threw the radio down and headed over to the edge where land met ocean. He waited for the plane with the artifact hidden inside his rucksack.
A grin spread across his face when the plane came into sight. This was the beginning of the end.