NYC Midnight Challenge Three Story
Prompt – An action/adventure – In the North Pole – With a tourniquet
Synopsis: A glaciologist at the North Pole witnesses a Space Craft crashing into the ice. She attempts to rescue the lone survivor.
Nora sat huddled with her huskies in the frigid cold. This kind of cold penetrated deep, and her skinny build would never grow accustomed to it. She scooched closer to her dogs in a futile effort to absorb their warmth.
“Watch it, Space Heater.” Nora adjusted the alpha dog’s head away from the jerky. Without people around, sometimes she imagined he was talking back to her.
Suddenly she saw a bright light shine through the tent. She unzipped it and looked outside. In the endless night sky, she watched the light fall onto the ice shelf in the distance. In the deadening silence, she heard the crash, even miles away. Her curiosity kicked in. Hooking the dogs up to the sled, she packed up and headed towards the smoke.
An hour later and the wreckage was in sight. She stopped the sled about fifty feet from what looked like a satellite or spacecraft. Slowly, she approached. Having been alone in the North Pole with nothing but her research and her dogs, she wondered if she was imagining this. The impact had left a small crater in the ice with 20 foot cracks stemming from the…spacecraft. Definitely a spacecraft.
Among the wreckage someone was groaning. Nora ran forward, and something took hold of her. She sprang into action—she had trained for situations like this but, being a glaciologist, never encountered one. She extricated the woman from the crash.
She panted and saw her dogs were signaling another body in the snow. Nora beckoned Space Heater to watch over the woman and cleared hurdles of debris to check the man. He was dead. She whistled for the dogs to follow her back to the woman.
Quickly, she searched for an ID or wallet. That’s when the moonlight shone on the woman’s leg, and Nora’s stomach turned. It was almost completely severed right above the knee. Nora breathed heavily, eyes wide with fear. She saw snow turn red with blood. With resolve, she pulled out her knife and sliced through that last bit of skin and muscle. Her breath quickened, but her focus remained. Working fast, she pulled rope from the sled and quickly tied a tourniquet above the wound.
Adrenaline coursing through her, she dragged the woman onto the sled and wrapped her in layers of blankets. She left the dogs to watch over her, except for Space Heater; he came with her as she climbed inside the spacecraft. Her eyes scanned the remains—definitely scientists gathering data. Was there anything to save? The computer was severely damaged, but the hard drive seemed to have survived. Nora shoved it in her bags.
“Come on, Space Heater,” and he followed her back to the woman.
She needed to get to a hospital. The tourniquet would only stem the blood flow for so long. It would take hours to head off the ice shelf into Greenland, but she trusted her huskies were up to the task. As they traveled, the woman moaned. Even with the blankets, her lips turned blue, forcing Nora to stop. She built a fire and motioned the dogs to pile around the woman.
Nora shivered. Space Heater left the woman and came to Nora, pressing his warm body against her cold one. Nora nuzzled her face in his neck.
“She’s got to be a scientist,” she wondered aloud. He looked back at her and tilted his head.
“Nope, no ID,” she replied to his question. Space Heater sighed.
Then without opening her eyes, the woman spoke, “Мɧɟ хɨɥɨɞɧɨ”.
“Was that….Russian?” Space Heater seemed to nod. Nora sighed. Nothing would come easy tonight.
A little while later, the woman looked at Nora and spoke more clearly “Гɞɟ я”. Nora shook her head and asked “English?”
In a thick accent, the woman inhaled and said “Where?”
“North Pole,” Nora said slowly. “Heading toward hospital.” She hoped the woman understood.
“Cold,” she muttered. Nora wondered if she realized yet that her leg was gone. The cold was surely numbing it.
“I know. My name is Nora.”
“What do you remember?”
She paused. It was difficult for her to talk. “Our spacecraft. Computer malfunction of some kind. “My partner?”
Nora shook her head and looked down. Nadyenka was silent, too.
“How you find me?”
“I’m studying the ice shelf.” Nora said simply. Her own questions burned her tongue.
“I study, too. The…uh…Polar Shift.” Her eyes closed. Nora fed the woman jerky, and she chewed it obediently.
She let the woman rest and tended to the dogs. Some pats and a couple pieces of jerky later, and they were off.
Hours later and one last stop, Nora finally saw the village north of Daneborg. Her muscles were tight, and Space Heater looked back at her in a way that said his were, too. But, they didn’t slow.
About fifty feet from the closest building, they stopped, and she was too weak to shout. Space Heater howled, and the other dogs followed his lead. Nora saw villagers rushing toward them before her knees buckled.
She woke in a hospital room surrounded by her dogs. The shouting that woke her came into sharper focus.
Nadyenka was yelling in Russian.
She had come to and discovered the condition of her leg. She saw Nora was awake. “Where is my leg?”
“I couldn’t save it,” Nora said in a low voice.
She screamed at Nora, and though she didn’t speak Russian, she knew Nadyenka was screaming obscenities.
Nora understood, but didn’t think she realized all Nora had done.
Then she remembered the drive. She forced herself out of bed, pulled on her coat, and crammed her feet into boots. She found her sled tied up outside and fished the drive out of her pack.
Nadyenka was still distraught when she returned. Nora handed her the drive.
Suddenly, hope flooded her face. “You save research?”
“I saved what I could,” Nora said, and she knew she had done her best.