Snowcase #19 • 17 August 2007 • The SnowBlog
Kris Williams started writing Ghost Port for his son Oscar, intending for it to be a personalised bedtime story. Three years later it has grown into the first of a planned series.
Ghost Port is a scary place. Ask Oscar J. Pennicot: in just two days he has been attacked by zombies and pirate ghosts, and buried alive. Ghost Port - Chapter One
The wind pawed at the tent, pulling the ropes tight against the pegs. Two people lay huddled together inside the cramped shelter, exhausted and freezing. Oscar couldn't hear the remaining huskies any more. He feared they were dead like the others.
'I'm so hungry, Ma.'
'Just a minute,' Marie put a gloved hand into the front of her huge jacket, and retrieved a small piece of mint cake.
'I thought we were out of rations?' whispered the boy.
'I've been saving this piece for when things got really bad. I'd say our situation fits the bill, wouldn't you?' She smiled but Oscar could see sadness in her eyes. She had never looked so tired to him. Her face was gaunt, and her pale skin looked thin.
'Now come on, eat.'
'What about you, Ma?'
'Oh I'm not hungry,' she lied. 'Besides, your Pa will be back soon. He'll bring food and help. We'll soon be out of this mess, warming ourselves on an open fire. Maybe we'll toast marshmallows.' Marie hoped she sounded convincing to her son, because she didn't sound very convincing to herself.
Oscar digested the information, and then placed the sweet into his mouth.
He swallowed it, and his stomach growled for more.
The blizzard raged on outside. How much longer can we survive this? Marie thought, watching her son shiver.
They had been trekking across the North Pole. All had been going well, until the sixth day. The attack had been swift and ferocious. Marie found it hard to forget the sight of fresh blood splattered on crisp white snow.
They had lost their guide and two dogs on that day. Since then four more huskies had succumbed, during the long days spent lost in the vast whiteness of the Arctic. When they could walk no more, they put down camp.
Then the storm came. They had been grounded by the blizzard for two days, though it seemed longer. With no more supplies left, Felix decided to go on alone to find help. Marie had thought it would be a miracle if he survived, let alone managed to get to a settlement. But what choice did they have? They had to do something.
It all seemed like such a long time ago now. She tried not to think about the emptiness that was growing in her belly like a bubble. The tips of her fingers felt hot and numb, and her limbs heavy. She was weak, too weak to move. What would she do if her husband did not return? She banished the thought quickly, not daring to dwell on what may happen if Felix didn't come back. But it kept surfacing like a bad egg. She was under no illusion; their situation had become desperate. The numbness in her body was beginning to fill her head; her ears throbbed with a sharp pain that refused to ease.
Oscar closed his eyes. His breathing had become shallow. Realisation that there was nothing more she could do to help her son, bought a tear. It trickled down her cheek, and onto Oscar's forehead.
'Ma?' he said in a breath, without opening his eyes.
'It's okay Oscar, I'm here.'
She embraced him, pulling him close, trying to get as much warmth from her body to his. It was all she could do for him now. She began to sing quietly, perhaps that would help.
The orange of the tent blurred into darkness, as Oscar drifted into a deep sleep.
When he woke the storm had passed, and his Ma was dead.
Author: Kris Williams
Email: kriswilliams_360 [at] hotmail [dot] com.