by Tim Metz
MacReady watched the dancing flames as they slowly engulfed
the smoldering remains of Outpost #31. Childs took another swig from the
whiskey bottle and then offered some to Mac.
"No thanks, I've made a resolution to stop drinking," Mac said,
grinning. Childs then looked down at his hands, which were turning a puffy
white color. He sighed.
"I imagine I'll be losing my fingers soon, my toes already went about
fifteen minutes ago," Childs said.
MacReady then turned his attention to the dark snow capped cliffs off in the
distance behind Childs. "Do you think we could make it to the Norwegian
camp without the bird? I mean, if we could, we could probably manage to hold
up there until spring..."
"No, we'd never make it, Mac," Childs said. "The storm's
hitting this area too hard, and it took you guys an hour to get their just
taking the chopper. Besides, who knows if there still isn't any of that
Thing left over there crawling around the place."
"Exactly, that's why we have to go. I found the fused body outside, but
me and Doc did a pretty quick sweep through the camp. There could be more of
them, and I'll be damned if we just sacrificed everything so that Thing can
get found by their rescue team."
"C'mon Mac, that's suicide."
"So is sitting right here, Childs. No one is going to rescue us, we can
either curl up and die, or at least try to make it back home alive."
"I thought you said we shouldn't, maybe we should die," Childs
said, eyeing Mac suspiciously. "You did seem awfully confident during
that blood test, Mac, I've been wondering if you rigged it."
"You never were one of the brightest of them, Childs. That Thing still
has you suspicious, even after I blew the fucker sky-high. If you still
don't trust me, then go ahead, kill me, you're the one with the torch. I'm
telling you right now though, if there's any of that Thing left at the
Norwegian camp, I'm the least of your problems, and you're gonna need all
the help you can get if you want to destroy it."
"Very well Mac, we'll go. But after we've checked out the camp, we'll
continue this interrogation."
"Fair enough." The roaring wind suddenly died down, and MacReady
looked back over at the burning compound, as the flames began to shrink.
"Let's head out now, while the wind's down, it's our best bet."
After salvaging whatever extra clothing the two men could
find to layer themselves with, MacReady and Childs began their long trek
across the ice. After about an hour of walking, they turned to find the
light of the burning camp a dim glow on the horizon. When two hours had
passed, they found that they could no longer see it anymore at all. Childs
soon began to find himself tiring, and stopped to rest on the field of ice
the men were crossing. MacReady was still persistent though, even with
traces of frostbite beginning to cross his face and hands. He walked back
rather impatiently to his resting comrade.
"C'mon, we gotta keep moving, we're almost halfway there, and that
storm could start back up at any time," MacReady said.
"How...how do you even know if were going in the right direction, it's
darker than shit out here, and we don't have a compass or a map or
anything," Childs said, rather frustrated.
"I just flew down here a couple days ago, and I'm a pilot remember,
it's my job to know the terrain, even in the dark."
"This is crazy Mac." Childs looked at MacReady's frostbitten face,
and then down at his own hands. He found that two of the fingers on his left
hand no longer worked, the rest brought upon a terrible stinging pain when
he attempted to move them. "Mac, we're gonna die out here, we should
just head back to the camp..."
"What camp Childs? There's nothing to go back to, this is our only
chance to live, and to maybe stop that Thing once and for all. You're
welcome to see if you can even find the damn camp anymore, but I'm pushing
on to the Norwegian outpost."
With that, Mac walked off, and after pondering what to do for a minute,
Childs soon followed him. After several more hours the sun began to rise
just a bit, staying low in the sky. In a few more weeks it would not even be
rising at all as Antartica got into the dead of winter. With the rising sun,
MacReady could see the Norwegian Outpost in the distance, and he felt his
heart nearly leap out of his chest. What Childs had said had him doubting
his navigation skills, for it was incredibly dark, and he was rather dazed
between the booze and the frostbite, and after passing through the last two
days of grim despair, a ray of hope suddenly was shining down on him and his
comrade. Childs soon spotted the camp and ran up to Mac's side.
"I don't fucking believe it, Mac, you did it, you actually got us
Within a few minutes, the two men were upon the desheveled
Norwegian Compound, and quickly got inside its walls. The interior of the
complex wasn't much warmer, for there were numerous holes in the roof and
walls, and the station's generator was dead as well. However, the walls, as
poor of quality as they were, did offer shelter from the violent storms of
the Antarctic winter. Plus, Childs was Outpost #31's mechanic, and with the
proper tools, he felt he could fix the Norwegian generator.
"Alright, let's see what we can do with shithole," MacReady said
with a grin. After working for several hours with the few materials they
were able to salvage, the two weary men managed to get a good section of the
camp into reasonable shape. MacReady had patched up all of the walls in the
camp's Recreation Room, so that they had one room completely sealed off from
the pounding snow, and sure enough, Childs did manage to repair the
generator, and hooked up several portable heating units to keep the Rec Room
warm. There were a couple frozen candy bars and cans of soup in one of the
cuboards, so if the men ate sparingly they'd have enough to hold them out
until Spring came along. Much to his pleasant suprise, MacReady found an old
chessboard stashed away underneath one of the tables with two complete sets
of pieces, one black, one red. He gently picked it up and set it up upon the
card table in the middle of the room.
"Do you play?" Mac asked Childs with a smirk.
"Well no, but hell, I guess I'll be learning," the weary mechanic
said. With that the two men plopped down in a set of chairs on opposite ends
of the table. MacReady gave a quick explanation of the rules as he set up
the pieces on the board. Childs made the first move, ushering a red pawn
forward. As the game wore on, and Childs found himself quickly losing to the
superior MacReady, a puzzling thought began to wander through his tired
"I don't know Mac, this kinda reminds me of a game we already
"And what is that?" MacReady asked, as his black bishop took
Childs' red knight.
"You know what I'm talking about, Mac. Just how did you walk away from
that explosion unharmed?" Childs took a swig of whiskey, and moved
forward his queen while carefully eyeing MacReady.
"A good question, Childs. Almost as good as the question of why exactly
you went out into that storm, and how you made it back to the camp
alive." MacReady quickly took Childs' queen with his rook.
"I already told you, Mac, I thought I saw Blair and went after him.
That damn storm spun me around all over the place, and I probably wouldn't
have found the camp again, but that explosion was hard to miss, even in that
god-awful weather. You however never did explain your half of it."
"I blew that fucker sky-high, and ran for my life, just got lucky I
guess. Check." Childs quickly moved his piece out of check in
"Well, Mac, since you and I are so sure of ourselves being human, one
more little blood test wouldn't hurt now, would it?"
"If you insist Childs." With that, MacReady cut his hand with a
nearby shard of glass, and poured the blood into a cup on the table. With a
sly grin, MacReady threw the cup of blood on the nearby heating generator,
and Childs watched in horror as the blood let out an unearthly shreik of
pain before quickly burning away into nothing. Childs lept up from his chair
and pointed his flamethrower directly at MacReady.
"You son of a bitch! Before I torch your alien ass for the last time, I
just want to know why... why you did this to us."
"It's nothing personal, Childs, it's just the way we survive. It's the
way we've survived for thousands of years."
"But why attack us, man? We could have lived together, in peace."
"Oh Childs, but we do live together. All your friends... Mac, Palmer,
Nauls, all of them, they're all in here with us, along with millions of
other lifeforms from all across the galaxy. We're all in here, sharing our
knowledge and experiences, and compiling them into something big, something
"Yeah, one big happy fucking family."
"C'mon Childs, don't be so cynical. I know all of your friends, the
Norwegians too. I've looked into all of your minds, and I know that you
humans are always looking to feel loved, to feel accepted, but ultimately
you all simply feel terribly lonely and alone. With us you'd never be lonely
again though Childs, you'd always be loved, and you'd always be
"Oh I see, you think you can just bring in your big fucking universal
wisdom, and convince me to give up the one thing that is truly mine... my
individuality? Well fuck that, bwana!"
"This is most disappointing Childs, I was hoping that you'd come with
us willingly. No matter, you soon shall be a part of us."
"Ha, how do you figure that shitheel? Last time I checked, I was the
one with the torch." MacReady began to laugh.
"You still don't understand, do you? You're already becoming part of
"What the fuck are you talking abou..." Childs suddenly froze, an
expression of sheer horror crossed his face as he looked down at the bottle
of whiskey on the table. "Oh my God."
"Catch on quick, don't ya?" MacReady said, sarcastically.
"We've slowly been infecting you ever since you took that first drink
when the Outpost went up in flames."
"I... I... my head... hurts..."
"Yes, the mind is always the last part we take. Don't fight it, it's
less painful when you don't fight. Not to worry though, you'll soon feel
right as rain." MacReady then picked up the bottle of whiskey and
finished it off.
"It's... it's all so clear now Mac, I can remember it all."
"Wonderful isn't it? You better double check the heaters though, we
wouldn't want them crapping out on us in the middle of this awful winter.
After all, waiting in that ice for a hundred and fifty thousand years was
such a pain in the ass. Hate to have to wait in it again." With that,
Mac Ready moved his queen into position on the chessboard.
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