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

A 4-Part Eerie Adventure of the North

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Episode 3: Paid For in Souls

Previously: In the 1930s, R.C.M.P. Cpl. Kit Thunder investigates a gruesome murder on the tundra, encountering the members of a spiritualist society in an abandoned village, come north to contact the spirit of the lost explorer Sir John Franklin during a mystical convergence. But then the Mountie is attacked by some tentacled horror beneath the snow, a horror which apparently knows who he is...

"You say it knew you?" asked Brody.

Kit was hunched over in a chair in the building used as the main meeting place for the spiritualists, a cup of hot chocolate trying hard to remain steady in his hands. He nodded stiffly. "It knew I was a Mountie."

"It actually spoke?" said Jesse Sears dubiously.

Brody turned to Brenda. "But you didn't hear it?"

"No...but I was running. I'm sure if the corporal says--"

"Oh, for God's sake," snapped Kit. "I'm not going to sit here while a bunch of psychics intent on contacting John Franklin question my sanity!"

Brody flinched, looking rather hurt. "Obviously, we didn't mean to suggest you imagined it."

"It's merely a highly singular occurence," offered Mrs. Carrington. "Encountering a hitherto unknown entity...and one that's sentient."

"And can recognize an R.C.M.P. uniform," finished Jesses Sears pointedly.

Kit pursed his lips, but didn't rise to the bait. "Brenda -- Ms. Glickman -- tells me you figure there's some kind of supernatural convergence happening. When does it end exactly?"

Brody looked at his watch. "It commenced almost four days ago, but ends, oh my, within a matter of hours. I'm afraid it took us days just organizing our expedition. If we don't begin soon, we'll have missed our window."

The other members of the Mississauga Society of Spiritualists looked at each other, wide-eyed and nervous.

"Um, are you sure you should proceed?" asked Brenda. "I mean, people are already dead, Kit and me almost added to the list. Clearly there are forces at work here no one anticipated."

Brody grinned slyly at her. "Oh, I wouldn't say 'no one'."

"What?" demanded Kit, rising from his chair. The room was taking on an oddly disconnected quality, and he wasn't sure why. "Hey, where's Carl Mothers in all this? That creature made enough racket to wake the dead."

He lurched, his knees feeling all wet, like noodles.

"That's sort of the idea, Corporal."

And just as he pitched forward, unconscious, Kit could've sworn he saw Broderick Tate's eyes commence to glow...

* * *

Kit woke, cursing himself for an idiot for having drunk the drugged hot chocolate. He was sprawled on the floor, boots bound, hands tied behind him. He was alone in the little room. The Mountie shivered violently, trying to shake the vestiges of the drug-induced fog from his brain.

They had stripped him of his Enfield service revolver, but he allowed himself a humourless grin. They had neglected to actually frisk him, or else they might have discovered the steel-bladed Bowie hunting knife he kept in his boot. He arched backward, bringing his heels up toward his hands. Fumbling blind, he managed to latch onto the knife handle and draw it soundlessly from its sheath.

Just then, floor boards creaked and he froze, looking over as a figure occluded the light spilling in from the next room. After a moment, his eyes adjusting, Kit recognized Carl Mothers, a striped Hudson's Bay blanket over his big shoulders.

Mothers leaned against the stout frame of the doorway, and regarded the prone lawman.

Kit squinted at him, unspeaking. At this point, he still was not entirely sure of how Mothers fit into the whole picture. Actually, he wasn't even sure of what that picture entailed. But he knew it was bad.

At last, he said, "Hurry, untie me."

Mothers just stared at him, then slowly grinned. "Not right now. Look on the bright side, Mountie -- you just might live through this, after all. Whether you're dead or just trussed up, the result's the same. So, you just keep your head down and you'll have a tale to tell your grandkids."

"Where's Brenda Glickman?" Kit asked tightly. Slowly, trusting his body blocked his actions, he began to saw at his bonds with his knife.

"I'm afraid she won't be as lucky as you. Too bad." He grinned evilly, indicating he didn't consider it too bad, after all.

"Are you going to tell me what the hell is going on here? Who are those people?"

"Just who they said they are. A group of amateur wanna-be seers driven by guileless wonder more than brains."

"Not Brody," Kit said coldly, still carefully dragging the keen edge of his knife across his bonds. Suddenly his hands were free, but he resisted the urge to twitch or otherwise betray that fact. Instead, with methodical care, he set to work on the ropes holding his feet together.

"No. Brody's a little more ambitious. He knows what's going on, but he needed the others to help him make it a reality. To make the call across the dimensions."

Unbidden, a chill seemed to ripple through Kit's body. "And how did you get mixed up with them?"

"Mixed up?" Mothers threw back his head and laughed. "Mixed up? Mountie -- I'm the one who called them!"

And suddenly Kit Thunder was exploding from the floor, a brown and black tornado. Mothers barely had time to register the pink-eyed Mountie coming at him before a mighty fist cracked across his jaw, splintering teeth. A knee went up into Mothers' groin, and then he was shoved violently against the wall, shaking the entire structure.

"Talk!" hissed Kit. "What're you up to?"

Mothers stared at him, his mouth bloody. Then, slowly, he grinned again. "I just want to go home."

Kit stared, confused. For some reason, staring into Mothers' dark, mocking eyes, he felt a shiver race fingers up his spine. The eyes were empty.

"I've been trapped here by a curse for millennia. But the recent mystical convergence freed me from my physical shackles temporarily. Now all I have to do is summon the dimensional ferry to take me home before the time expires."

Kit shook him, unwilling to believe what he said. "You're crazy! You're as human as I am."

"In this form, sure. That's why you can take me. But, brother, when I change I'm going to rip you to pieces."

As he spoke, his blanket fell from his shoulders and Kit saw ugly-but-healing scars from bullet wounds. His mind flashed back to his encounter with the mysterious creature outside, and to the bullets he had fired into it.

His pale features went totally white. Then, after a moment, steely determination re-entered his expression and his pink eyes blazed red. He hefted Mothers bodily and flung him across the room. Without a word, he turned and raced through the door.

His Enfield he found discarded in the next room, so that when he raced outside, he was armed. He skidded to a halt in the ivory-glare of the snow, his jaw dropping open, the gun momentarily angling downward limply.

In the centre of the little settlement, the four members of the Mississauga Society of Spiritualists were standing in a circle, dressed only in sweaters that could hardly be keeping back the cold, arms outstretched toward the dark sky. In the middle between them, Brenda Glickman was sprawled upon the ground, bound hand and foot.

The spiritualists were chanting.

"Come O Myrrafoghyya, Ferryman -- Come and Receive the Dark Prince Shoggantolthet as Passenger Upon Your Blood Ship! Come, Myrrafoghyya -- Take This Girl's Soul as Payment for His Passage!"

Shaking himself from his stupor, he raced forward and grabbed the nearest figure -- young Jesse Sears. He whirled the black youth about, ready to slam his fist into his face. Then he stopped. Sears stared at him with blank eyes, pupils little more than pinpricks, his mouth continuing to utter the incantation. He seemed not to register Kit at all.

Unclenching his fist, Kit grabbed the youth by the shoulders and shook him. "Sears!" he yelled. "Snap out of it, kid!"

"He's under my command," said Broderick Tate, grinning cherubically, resembling a harmless English professor lecturing a well-behaved class. "They all are. Shoggantolthet has promised me great power in return for our aid."

Kit turned on him. "Shog-Shogga -- what?"

"You know him as Carl Mothers. He's not even remotely human -- but then, I'm sure you've realized that by now."

"Come O Myrrafoghyya--" crooned the the others, oblivious.

"Kit!" screamed Brenda. "For God's sake, do something! These fruitcakes are trying to sacrifice me or something!"

Kit shot her a glance, then focused once more on Brody Tate. "She's right, isn't she?"

"Why do you think I agreed to drag her all the way up here with us? For a two-bit item buried on the back pages? No! Passage on the Blood Ship must be paid for with human souls."

Kit spared a glance skyward. The Northern Lights were going berserk, streaks of light blooming across the sky as though an invisible crop duster was flying overhead, followed by flashes of reds and whites and purples, like fireworks. The sky seemed to be churning as well, like a sea caught in a storm. He didn't like the look of it one bit.

"Look at my uniform, Brody. You're finished. It's over," he said, trying to evince a confidence he did not feel.

Brody laughed. "You going to tell me you always get your man? Hah!"

Trying a different tack, he said, "What do you get out of this?"

"Power! I'm Broderick Tate, psychic and spiritualist. I predicted the Great War! I warned of the stock market crash! Am I heralded, admired and worshipped as an Oracle for the 20th Century? No! I'm a novelty piece, a human interest column that'll net some cub reporter her first by-line, nothing more. Well, I'm tired of being looked on as a fool and a freak!"

"COME O MYRRAFOGHYYA! COME! PAYMENT FOR PASSAGE ON YOUR BLOOD SHIP AWAITS!" chanted the hypnotized members of the Mississauga Society of Spiritualists, their voices raised to a hysterical frenzy over the howling of the wind.

Wind? thought Kit. There was barely a breeze. He stared at the mad Broderick Tate, almost frozen, unwilling to raise his eyes to what he knew he would see. Then, slowly, exerting all the will he could muster, Kit looked up.

"Oh my God," he muttered.

On to Part 4

Back to Part 2

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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.)