Corporal Kit Thunder of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
in
The Monster on the Tundra!

A 4-Part Eerie Adventure of the North

by D.K. LATTA
About the author

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Episode 2: Crawler Under the Snows



Previously: In the 1930s, R.C.M.P. Cpl. Kit Thunder goes to investigate a brutal massacre, where the victims were literally torn to pieces. Temporarily lost, an inukshuk -- a local landmark -- not being where he expected, Kit eventually found his way to an abandoned settlement that was, temporarily, not so abandoned. It was currently being occupied by the members of a spiritualist society who had travelled all the way from southern Canada, for some bizarre seance...

Inside the relative warmth of the main building of the deserted settlement, Kit doffed his heavy black coat, revealing his Mountie uniform underneath. The chestnut-haired woman looked him up and down. "You're the real thing, huh? I've never seen an honest to gosh Mountie before -- we don't get many down in Ontario. You're kind of cute, too...in a freakish sort of way. Like Tyrone Power...if Tyrone Power had been rolled in baking flour."

The albino corporal turned his pink eyes on her, and asked petulantly, "And just who are you, anyway?"

"Me? I'm Brenda Glickman."

"And are you also from Mississauga?"

"Actually, I'm from Brockville originally -- just so you don't think I'm holding anything back, soldier," she mocked good-naturedly. "But I live and work in Missassauga these days."

"As a...spiritualist?"

She laughed. "I'm a reporter. Least ways, I will be when I get this article published. None of the big brave boys of the newsroom wanted to trek all the way up to here and gone to cover this little shindig, but I saw it as my chance to move up from copy editor, so I told Barty -- the city editor -- that I'd go. He didn't like the idea, but I'm told Brody Tate was all keen for it. So here I am. Hey, now, here I'm talking and you haven't said a thing. What brings you here? Are we keeping the neighbours awake? Hah. That's a joke, soldier."

"I'm not a soldier," he said tersely.

Just then, Brody Tate came back into the room, a tray of steaming cups in hand. "Come everyone, gather 'round."

Kit eyed the room of people as introductions were made. There was Broderick Tate, who he took to be the leader of this little group. The old woman, Mrs. Agatha Carrington. The reporter -- the would-be reporter, he corrected himself -- Brenda Glickman. Jesse Sears, a lean, teen-aged black man in a knitted vest, looking rather like someone who would be on the math club of his high school. A plump, middle-aged woman with frizzy red-hair and an accent he placed as being from the maritimes who had been identified as Moira Bidgood. Then there was Carl Mothers, the man who had tried to club him outside. Mothers sat dejectedly in one corner, still nursing a sore stomach.

So far he knew who they were -- that still left what and why.

"Hot chocolate, Corporal?" asked Brody, holding up a steaming cup.

Accepting it politely, Kit made to speak, but Jesse Sears stopped him by piping up with: "Why are you here?"

He looked at the youngster, debating in his mind whether he should be asking rather than answering. Then he decided the latter might lead to the former. "There were some...deaths not more than a mile from here. Any of you know anything about it?"

"Deaths?" Sears looked genuinely startled.

"How did it happen?" asked Brody.

"Hard to say. The bodies were mutilated."

"Good lord."

A deep voice said, "Probably a bear."

Slowly Kit turned to regard Carl Mothers. "Could be," he said, though he didn't really believe it. "I never did get an explanation for why you tried to put a dent in my skull."

"Can't blame him, really," said Brody. "I mean, here we are, in the middle of nowhere, our bush pilot not set to return for us for two days, at the mercy of who knows what. And then you show up, armed, sneaking around. Our profoundest apologies."

Kit pursed his lips. "You're all, um, spiritualists?"

"Well, not Ms. Glickman, nor Carl, of course. Carl's our guide while we're here."

Kit turned back to Carl Mothers. "I don't seem to recognize you from around here."

"It's a big territory."

"Yes," he agreed neutrally. Turning back to the others, he said, "Now that we know why I'm here, why don't you tell me what you people are doing hundreds of miles from home, in the middle of a ghost town."

"The answer is quite simple," said Mrs. Carringtom primly. "This town was built on a spiritual nexus, making it a focus for great power. The cosmic forces are in proper alignment -- you've noticed the increased brillance of the Northern Lights, I'm sure -- and we've all received the signs, indicating this is the time to attempt it."

"What?"

She looked at him, as if he were missing the obvious. "Why, to contact the spirit of Sir John Franklin and his crew, lost and wandering these wastelands for some 90 years."

* * *
He had excused himself to check on his dog team, but he mainly needed time to think. Something had torn three men and a pack of dogs to pieces less than a mile away, and here he was with a bunch of spiritualists from Ontario who were bound and determined to contact a man dead almost a hundred years. He had certainly heard about such things -- when that theatre guy in Toronto, Ambrose Small, had disappeared a few years back, the papers were full of reports of psychics and spiritualists attempting to locate him. Why not Franklin? But he couldn't dismiss the feeling there was more than happenstance at work here. And even if there wasn't, these people might still be in deadly danger.

Whatever had killed Peter Qamaniq's kin might still be out there.

The Mountie turned suddenly, his hand dropping to the Enfield service revolver at his belt, tethered around his neck by a lanyard. Then he relaxed, recognizing Brenda Glickman in a heavy winter coat.

"Jumpy, aren't you?" she asked, grinning. "Look, I know you figure they're nuts -- heck, I think they're a little flakey -- but they're good people." She plopped herself down on his sled and blew out, letting tendrils of steam whisp away into the icy night air. "You also aren't out here because Winnie the Pooh muched down on some tourists, are you?"

He hesitated, then sat beside her. "A polar bear isn't easy to mistake for Winnie the Pooh, but you're right. There are some...discrepencies that don't gell with a bear attack. Tell me about your Society."

"It's not my society, soldier. But there's not much to tell. They all seemed to receive -- I guess you'd call summons -- in their dreams, or in signs. Apparently there's a window of supernatural power that's open around here for just a little while, when the barriers between this world and the next are weak."

Suddenly the lead huskie of his team started whining.

"Hush, Kevin."

Another dog yapped miserably.

"Kevin? You named your dog Kevin?"

He shrugged. "A summons you said? From who?"

She shook her head. "John Franklin? Maybe Santa Claus? Who knows. I don't think they're quite sure -- except maybe Brody. He seemed to get the strongest signals."

The huskies started yapping louder and louder, a couple straining at their harnesses, as if eager to get going.

"Would you lot shut up!" he yelled.

"Uh, soldier? What would you say if I told you I saw a shadow moving under the ground."

He looked at her. "Not impossible. Where there's ice, sometimes Killer Whales prowl around underneath. Best to get off, though, before it mistakes you for a seal and breaks up through to eat you."

"We aren't on ice now are we?"

He laughed. "No -- why?" Then he froze, seeing the terror in her dark eyes. He whirled, leaping to his feet. A great shadow was slithering across the tundra toward them. He looked up, but there was nothing overhead to cause the darkness. He couldn't explain it, and the hairs on the back of his neck bristled with fear. He grabbed her hand. "Come on!"

They raced back toward the shabby buildings. He spared a glance over his shoulder and saw the shadow, the shape, turn from the huskies, angling toward them. Whatever it was, they were its intended prey. Suddenly he realized that it might be something moving just beneath a thin layer of snow. What, though, he had no idea. He knew of no creature that hunted like that.

And this was huge.

They made it to the first house and leapt up inside. He slammed the door, throwing down the locking board. As he turned, suddenly Brenda was in his arms, holding him.

"Oh my God! What was that!"

"I don't know," he admitted, breathless. "But we're safe for the moment." They were, he realized grimly, but the dogs were still out there. He could hear them yapping and howling hysterically. He looked around. The building they were in was apparently unused by the spiritualists, and was deserted. "We have to warn the others -- tell them to stay in doors where it's safe-"

The words were barely out of his mouth when the floor erupted. Wood planks went flying, and an unholy stink washed over the room. Brenda screamed, and he thought he might have done likewise, then he pulled himself together and yanked her out of the way as a piece of floorboard came flying at them. Not bothering to unlatch the door, he kicked out with one powerful leg, and the bar splintered and the door snapped free of its hinges. "Go!" he roared, shoving her out the door. He whirled back to the pit in the floor, and his already pale features turned even whiter.

Something was crawling out of the hole in the floor. Something big. Something with lobster claws and tentacles. Something unnatural. A tentacle lashed out for him, and he glimpsed what looked to be savage teeth in a mouth at the tip of the flailing limb.

He yanked his Enfield revolver and started firing. The "mouth" exploded into green goo, indicating the creature could be hurt -- but hurt was a long way from dead.

"You shouldn't have come here, Mountie!" hissed a sibilant voice, echoing in his ears.

There was only one thing more horrifying than an unholy monstrosity erupting from the floor, trying to kill you, Kit figured.

That was a monstrosity that knew who you were.

He turned and leapt out the door as more mouthed tentacles snapped at him. He hit the snowy ground, his feet almost skidding out from under him, then he righted himself with the nimbleness of a mountain lion. Brenda was nowhere to be seen, which he figured was a good sign.

Something exploded behind him and he glanced back in time to see the front of the house splintering apart as the creature burst out into the cold night air. Seeing it dressed in the weird glow of the Aurora Borealis, an eerie mirage of coloured light and shadow, just made the thing all the more horrifying.

He jumped, twisted in mid-air, and fired two more shots directly into what he hoped was its face, then his spin carried him around so that he landed in a run, still heading away from the creature. He was almost to another building, but he didn't hold out much hope for it providing any greater sanctuary than had the last. Unless...

A storage barrel left by the vanished previous inhabitants was nestled against the side of the building, and the roof was not very high. Releasing his revolver to dangle from its lanyard about his neck, Kit ran for the barrel. He leaped onto it, and sprung without missing a beat for the roof. He caught the overhang, his fingers threatening to slide off the icy film. Then, with a groan of super-human effort, he hauled himself up onto the roof. He heard wood splinter with impact, just below his boot, indicating the creature had swung at him. Swung, but more importantly, missed.

He rose, chest heaving, sweat building under his uniform, and turned to look down.

It was a repulsive abomination. He actually felt his eyes begin to ache as he attempted to perceive it fully. Then he was almost knocked from his feet as the old building lurched under an assault from the creature.

The damn thing was trying to tear down the building!

Clearly the creature wanted him, wanted to destroy him. Just like it had killed the Inuit hunters. But so far, it had not molested the spiritualists. That bothered him more than a little. The creature was clearly eliminating unwanted parties...which meant that for some reason, and in some way he shuddered to think about, the spiritualists were wanted.

Again the roof beneath him shudder. He looked at his puny pistol -- it had not done much good so far.

"Kit!"

He turned, seeing Brenda bursting from another building, Jesse Sears wisely trying to hold her back. "Get back!" Kit roared. "Get away!"

Brenda ignored him, racing forward, something clutched in her hands. After a moment, he recognized his carbine. He stepped to the edge closest to her and nodded. "All right, toss it, then get away!"

She flung the Lee-Metford up at him. It glittered for a moment, the light playing off its metal skin, then he snatched it from the air. Praying she obeyed him, he raced to the other side of the building which was crumbling under the creature's assault, skidded to a precarious halt, and started pumping the heavier calibre shells into the creature's dark hide. It wailed, pounded at the building a moment longer, then seemed almost to sift down through the topmost layer of snow until it was just a dark shadow, then it skimmed away, heading back for the tundra from which it had come.

Kit watched it go with a mixture of helplessness...and relief.

In moments, even the huskies had calmed their yowling...


On to Part 3

Back to Part 1


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The Monster on the Tundra! is copyright 2000 by D.K. Latta. It may not be copied without permission of the author except for purposes of reviews. (Though you can print it out to read it, natch.)