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Title: A Blinking Light up on the Mountains of Madness
Fandom: Welcome to Night Vale/Cthulhu Mythos
Author: tikistitch
Rating: M
Characters/Pairings: Cecil/Carlos, Telly the Barber, John Peters (you know, the farmer), the City Council, Big Rico, Intern Dana, various characters from Lovecraft
Warnings: AU. Cursing
Word Count: ~30,000
Summary: 1930s-era AU (yes, really). Carlos, an impoverished graduate student attending Miskatonic University, joins an expedition to the Antarctic. But the explorers get more than they bargained for when they stumble upon a weird lost civilization.
Notes: At the end.





“Can you pilot an aeroplane, Carlos?” inquired Prof. Danforth.

Carlos sat uncomfortably in the straight-backed wooden chair opposite Danforth, Dyer and Lake, trying not to tug on his starched collar. He nudged his spectacles back up his nose. Prof. Dyer's office smelled of stale cigar smoke and old money.

He sat up straight, pulling his shoulders back. “My father used to fly air-sea rescue missions. He was my instructor. I have been a piloting aeroplanes since I could reach the controls.”

“Oh,” grunted Lake, who had been nursing a clear impatience with the interview. “Your father a business owner? Aeroplane company, then?”

“Uh, no,” Carlos admitted. “He worked at an aeroplane company.”

“His father was a tradesman,” sniffed Danforth. Although Danforth was just a graduate student like Carlos he affected a distinct air of superiority. His family were full-tilt Boston brahmins, although, as a second son, he was not fated to inherit the larger part of his father's wealth. Nevertheless, it was all but certain given his family's status as trustees that he would be granted an assistant professorship at Miskatonic following his graduation.

Carlos resisted the urge to pop him one in the nose. Long ago – it seemed lifetimes – Carlos had been a welterweight Golden Gloves boxer. He had never gotten his nose broken, which was a particular element of pride for him. “My father was a tradesman,” he said, his voice a low growl. Danforth seemed to catch the hint of a threat and nervously stroked his wispy mustache. Why would one even attempt to grow a mustache if that was the result?

“Yes, yes, terribly sorry to hear about your father,” blustered Dyer. “Bad luck.”

Carlos narrowed his eyes. “It wasn’t bad luck. It was sudden wind shear.”

“Ah, yes,” drawled Dyer, who was suddenly making a big deal out of shuffling papers on his desk. “Ahem. You have all the certifications, I take it? The paperwork?”

“Yes.”

“Well then-“

“Here’s what I’d like to do,” Lake interrupted. He had spent the interview tapping his foot and thrumming his fingers on a set of files. While Dyer harrumphed and Danforth looked amused, Lake unrolled a crumbling map out over the clutter of Danforth’s desk. “You see here? When they crossed the Transantarctic range off McMurdo there was another mountain range beyond: higher they reckoned than the Himalayas!”

“Starkweather-Moore?” asked Carlos.

“You’ve read up on your polar expeditions,” said Dyer, whose expression read (to Carlos) as if his Labrador had just spouted in Latin.

“It’s an avocation. I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Amundsen when I was a boy.”

“Before his own encounter with wind shear,” said Danforth, which comment, to Dyer’s credit, educed a scolding look from stern professor.

“Fog,” breathed Carlos. “It was probably fog.”

“We’ll probably encounter more of the same,” blustered Lake, who was now madly rapping on his map, scattering eons of accumulated dust everywhere, and causing Dyer’s black Labrador, which had curled up by the fireplace, to look up and sneeze in confusion.

“Starkweather attempted to fly an entire airship over the mountains,” said Carlos. “At least according to the reports.” Carlos did not add, because the men no doubt knew, this stunt had ended in flames.

“Mad. The man was mad!” sighed Dyer.

“We’ll carry aeroplanes in parts, right on our airship. That’s what we’ll do,” said Lake. “Mr. Pabodie has a methodology.”

Carlos smiled, hearing the familiar name. “Oh, yes, Mr. Pabodie! I took an engineering class from him last semester. Is he coming on the expedition?”

“He’s coming, yes,” said Dyer, ignoring Danforth’s sour face at the mention of a topic so base as engineering. “And bringing half the shop with him. There’s mechanical marvels such as you’ve never beheld, young man.”

Carlos smiled fondly. Pabodie was a quick-tempered Scotsman who didn’t take any shit from his often snooty trust fund students. “Fuck me for a joke,” appeared to be his favorite expression, although through his thick brogue it came out more like “Fook me fer a jook.”

“We’ll need qualified pilots,” said Lake.

I’m a pilot,” Danforth pointed out.

“Can’t have too many on a mission like this one!”

“And there will be a stipend for you, Carlos,” said Dyer. “Here at Miskatonic, we take care of our widows and orphans.”

Carlos frowned again, not pleased to be brought back to a sensitive subject.

“So, it’s settled,” said Dyer, rising and extending his hand.

Carlos rose as well, though his legs were shaking a bit.

“Just one thing,” said Dyer, clasping Carlos’s somewhat sweaty palm with a dry hand. “You might consider getting a haircut before the trip. Don’t want to look like bohemians, do we? Standards, you know.”

Danforth sneered.



Carlos departed Prof. Dyer’s office feeling morose instead of cheered. He tugged off his tie and stuffed it in his pocket, and opened the collar of his shirt. As the weather was brisk, he decided to take a walk around Arkham instead of going directly home, to see if he could cheer himself out of his mood. He proceeded down Garrison St. towards the river. It was autumn, and the leaves were turning to all shades of crimson and gold.

“Haircut,” he muttered, putting a hand through his dark hair. There was a small commotion along the riverfront. Some devotees of Baba Premananda Bharati were out dancing and chanting to their god, “Hare Krisna, Hare Krisna, Krisna Krisna, Hare Hare....” Arkham at large detested the cultists, considering them some kind of deviltry, but Carlos found he rather liked their vegetarian cookbooks. At any rate, their saffron robes offered a tint of color to a city that could be overrun with grey at this time of year.

Leaving the dancers with a fond nod, he walked for a time along River street, which brought him out to a cluster of engineering outbuildings huddled in the warehouse district. Hearing a clatter from inside one of the shops, he took a chance and ducked inside. He grinned when he saw the shock of red hair.

“Carlos!” hailed Pabodie. “Get your ass inside before you freeze!”

The dark-skinned man squatting beside Pabodie with a welding torch paused his chores and flipped up his mask, revealing a friendly face. It was Gedney, his assistant.

“Wanna go a round, Mr. Boxer?” asked Pabodie, grinning putting up his fists. Despite himself, Carlos smiled and put up his fists as well, pretending to dodge Pabodie.

“Aw, Francis, he'll knock your block off,” said Gedney.

Pabodie slung an arm around Carlos's shoulders. “Naw, our lad won't clobber me, though I may deserve it.”

Carlos looked around at the perpetual chaos of Pabodie's shop. “What are you working on?”

Pabodie and Gedney shared a mischievous look. “We're working on my drill. Going to cart it all the way to Patagonia, and points south! Digging in the dirt, we are.” He pointed to a table, where there was spread out various bits and bobs of an apparatus intended to obtain core samples.

Carlos whistled low. “That looks fantastic, Frank.”

Pabodie looked Carlos up and down, staring over his half glasses. “What's gotten into you, lad, that you're out and about on an early winter's day without a coat?”

“I had an interview with Prof. Dyer.”

“The secret expedition?” asked Pabodie, arching a bushy eyebrow.

“Yes.”

“You're coming along?” Carlos nodded, and Pabodie grinned wide. “Well then, this is cause for celebration!”

“Dyer needs aeroplane pilots, and I’m qualified. Even if I am a scholarship student.”

“Well, it’s good we’re not all gonna be the stuffed shirts.”

“You're a member of the party too?” Carlos held his breath. A friendly face would mean a lot.

“Sure as fook! Me and Gedney. Not gonna let them take all the glory and the credit for my gizmos.”

“Gonna freeze our balls off, all of us,” grumbled Gedney.

“We’ll attempt to emulate Mr. Amundsen and not Commander Scott in that regard,” Pabodie declared, to furious agreement from Carlos and Gedney, both of whom treasured the family jewels. The engineer crouched down, his knees cracking in protest, and rummaged around in a low drawer. He withdrew a bottle of scotch whiskey and three shot glasses, which he lined up on a workbench.

“Gentlemen, let’s have a drink then. To the Antarctic, to brave Mr. Amundsen, that foul dimwit Scott, to Professor Dyer, to discovering new worlds, scientific inquiry, and most of all to the continued safety of our balls!” Liquid slopped into the glasses. Laughing, Carlos grabbed a glass and, with his two companions, drained the liquor.



“It's late, miho.”

Abuelita,” said Carlos, shutting the door to his grandmother's cramped apartment. He went over and kissed her on her forehead, and nodded to his cousin, who was sitting on the worn couch, reading a paperback novel.

“Keeping late hours, scholar boy,” said Ernesto, who made a big show of checking his watch. “You got a little something going on the side? You dizzy for some dame?”

Carlos blushed, but swatted the top of Ernesto's hair to cover it up. “I was out with Pabodie and Gedney.”

“The professor? You can't have any fun, primo?” asked Ernesto, sitting down the book with a huff. The cover was a lurid watercolor of a large tentacled monster grabbing a screaming blonde.

“We were celebrating.” Carlos grinned and sat down next to his cousin. Ernesto was only a year older, but liked to act like Carlos's overbearing older brother.

“What were you celebrating, miho?” asked his grandmother.

Carlos tugged his tie out of his jacket pocket and tossed it thoughtlessly onto the coffee table, much to his grandmother's consternation. “I was accepted for the expedition.”

“Hey, congratulations, kiddo!” said Ernesto.

The old woman put down her knitting. “It's such a long way to go. Dangerous!”

“This will mean more money for us, Abuelita. It's a generous stipend.”

“Are you certain about this, Carlito? Ernesto is still looking for work down at the shipyard.”

“It's pretty useless,” sighed Ernesto. “I think I need to enlist.”

“You'll do no such thing,” scolded their grandmother. “There's a war coming.”

Ernesto rolled his eyes. “Maybe in Europe. But we're never gonna get involved. We've learned our lesson.”

“Maybe we need to get involved,” said Carlos. “Hitler is a madman!”

Ernesto picked up his book, waving a dismissive hand. “Let them work it out for themselves.”

“I thought you just said you were gonna enlist?”

“To get the money, not because of any patriotic folderol.”

“Boys, no fighting,” scolded their grandmother. Somewhat laboriously, she got to her feet. “I'm going to bed. It's late. Carlito, if you want something inside you that's not that Scotsman's booze, there's dinner in the oven.”

“Oh, thank you, Abuelita!” said Carlos, who found he was still quite hungry. “Good night!” He made his way into the kitchen and, after ditching his suit jacket on the back of a chair (where his it would no doubt remain until his grandmother scolded him the next day) he nosed around for a plate. “You want some, Ernesto?” he asked his cousin, who had followed him. Ernesto nodded and sat down at the small kitchen table while Carlos grabbed some mitts and pulled the casserole dish out of the oven. He served himself a generous portion of rice and beans, and handed the serving spoon over to Ernesto, who seemed uncharacteristically subdued this evening.

“How's my Tia?” asked Carlos.

“Mama's good.”

“So, when I'm away?” Carlos began as Ernesto poked at the pinto beans.

“Mmm?”

“You're gonna stay with Abuela?” He tried to keep his voice low.

Ernesto finally selected a small mound of beans that evidently met with his strict standards. Pausing to pull a finger along the serving spoon and then lick it off, he placed the spoon back n the casserole. “Yeah. If I let anything happen to her, Mama would kill me. No, she'd fry me first, and then kill me.”

“Good.”

They ate in silence for a while. Ernesto looked up from his book. “So. Is that rich boy pendejo going along?”

“Danforth? Yes, of course.”

“You watch yourself with him. That boy is crazy. You can see it in his eyes.”

“He's just annoying.”

“I swear, one night, he's gonna flip, and go after everybody with knives.”

“You read too many dime novels!”

Ernesto held up his hands, and Carlos had to grin. “I'm just finishing one where the Martians take over the world. They're gross, like green octopuses or something. Maybe that Danforth kid is Martian in disguise.”

Carlos chuckled, and ate in silence for a bit while Ernesto looked at his book. The boys had grown up on pulp science fiction, to the extent that when Carlos was accepted at Miskatonic, Ernesto joked that he was planning to take over the world.

“Uh, Ernesto.” Carlos wasn't quite sure why he felt he needed to broach this right now.

“Mmm?”

“You know your thing about me having a girl?”

“Yeah?”

Carlos's face was hot. “I don't- I mean, I don't really go in for that. I mean … girls.” His voice was barely above a whisper.

Ernesto didn't even look up from his Martians. “Yeah. I know.”

“What?”

Ernesto put a finger in his book to mark his place. “Teasing you about a girlfriend? I do that for Abuela. Look, I may be the stupid one, but I ain't blind.”

“Oh.” Carlos went back to eating. Ernesto read. They sat in silence.

Suddenly, Ernesto slammed his book shut. “Dios mio!” he cried, putting his head in his hands. “Are you trying to tell me you're with that Danforth kid?”

“Oh, hell no.”

“Good, 'cause I'd kick your ass. That boy is crazy.” He pointed to his eyes, and Carlos laughed. Ernesto looked serious. “I got something to confess too.”

Carlos leaned forward, having no idea what he cousin might say.

“Beatriz?”

“Yeah?” Beatriz was Ernesto’s long-time girlfriend.

“She’s gonna have a baby.”

Carlos was silent, probably for longer than he should have. Normally, this would have been fantastic news, but given Ernesto’s current unemployment and the family’s already strained finances, it was yet another cause for worry.

“That’s wonderful,” said Carlos, with confidence he didn’t actually feel. “You guys will be great parents.”

“I know it’s a bad time.”

“Nonsense. We’ll figure it out. We always do.”

Ernesto smiled uncertainly, and went back to reading. Carlos sat back and thought about packing. He was a late hire, and the expedition was leaving in days. Fortunately, he didn't have many possessions, so it ought to be a snap. Would he have time for a haircut. He put a hand through his dark hair and smiled. Maybe not.



Sheep. Everywhere, sheep.

Carlos scratched his shoulder. Pabodie had insisted on the tattoo, in honor of Carlos’s crossing the equator for the first time, and Carlos had been drunk enough to agree, at least to the first visit. It had then taken two additional sessions to complete the coloring, Carlos, once he had sobered up, being something of a perfectionist.

Dyer hadn't been pleased. “Time for a tattoo, but not a haircut?” had been his only comment. But Pabodie had told him not to worry. In a few days time, they would all be growing winter beards. Except maybe Danforth and his wispy facial hair.

After the long sea voyage had finally come ashore here in Tierra del Fuego, where they began frantically unloading the frigate they had sailed down here on and then madly packing the airship for the voyage south. The hangar was located on what was evidently somebody’s ranch, and the grounds were overrun with braying Merino sheep. As Carlos strode out across the fields he could already hear Lake barking at the workmen (in English and some horribly broken Spanish) to hurry things along.

He entered the hanger and beheld a great commotion as many crates and various pieces of equipment were being laid out in the belly of the magnificent airship. Rumor had it this vessel was courtesy the beneficence of none other than William Randolph Hearst, who had been envious of the various exploits of the Graf Zeppelin. The rigid dirigible had a capacity for 100 passengers and crew, although some of the cabin space would be taken up by the masses of equipment.

Some men of German origin, supposedly manufacturers representatives and crew, had met them down here. Though they were not in uniform, something in their stiff postures and formal manner suggested to Carlos that they were military men. They kept to themselves, speaking in low voices to one another. Carlos knew only a smattering of German, and mostly by the written word at that, but he had nevertheless overheard them talking about some kind of project. Though his instinct was to avoid them, he nevertheless made note of them, as these were dangerous times.

Despite the clatter and chaos and grim German faces, Carlos’s heart soared as he espied the ship. He adored flying, and it would be a welcome change after the weeks confined on the frigate. Though he had to admit it had been quite wonderful to discover that Danforth was extremely susceptible to seasickness, something Carlos and Gedney just may have potentiated by always happening to have Lake’s marine samples out for dissection when he passed by.

As the aforesaid Lake was now red-faced and shouting at a couple of local workmen, Carlos heaved a sigh and decided to step in. “Can I help here?” he inquired.

“Talk some sense into this idiot!” Lake barked. “He insists on throwing my dissection equipment at the bottom of the pile. It’s essential!”

Carlos nodded and turned to the equally red-faced foreman. “He wants you to leave these items near the top, so he’ll have access to them,” he told him in Spanish.

Heavy items go on the bottom,” the man grumbled. “Otherwise it’ll crush everything, the ballast will shift, and your ship will end up crashed on the ice.” He also offered a few choice opinions of Lake, his mien and his probably parentage, but Carlos did not share these with the professor.

He turned back to Lake. “Unfortunately, there is a kind of protocol to loading the airship, and he expresses reluctance to break it, as it may compromise the aerodynamics. What if you opened this crate and took out the essentials? Maybe you could keep them with you in your cabin?”

“Aw, cabin’s already crowded enough. I’ll never sleep! Well, if that’s the only option, all right.” With Carlos’s help, they grabbed a crow bar, and Lake was able to secure a few tools of the trade.

Carlos spotted his partner in crime, Gedney, over working in the corner, so he slipped away before Lake could pick another fight. He found his friend hunched over a length of dented metal pipe, making generous use of a hammer.

“Hey, this got a little banged up in the trip, so we’re applying what Francis calls percussive maintenance,” he told Carlos, who laughed. “I'm supposed to be tending to the sled dogs, but I've spent most of my time doing this instead.”

“Lake is about to burst a gasket,” Carlos confided.

“Lake is always about to burst something. High strung S.O.B., if you ask me.”

Carlos crouched down next to Gedney and talked softly, so he would not be overheard. “I don’t understand, why is Lake coming on an Antarctic expedition? He’s a biologist, and there’s not going to be much growing where we’re going.”

Gedney’s eyes lit up. “Ah!” he said, brows arching, “you haven’t heard the fish stories.”

Carlos perked up. There was something about the way he said it that intrigued him. They had always been friendly, he and Gedney, but they had kept to themselves, as Carlos was a student and Gedney a tradesman. But the two had drawn a bit closer during the sea voyage, notably through pranking Danforth. “I’ve just spent three weeks asea, I’ve heard enough fish stories to last a lifetime.”

Gedney made a big production of searching left and right. “OK. Pabodie won’t hear of any of this, says it’s pure grade bullshit, but have you heard tales about the lost civilization?”

Carlos pushed his glasses back up his nose. “But, that’s balderdash! Dime novel stuff.”

“Balderdash, maybe. But Starkweather’s last transmission said he’d happened upon an ancient city.”

“Starkweather was mad! They were all mad at that point! The whole party was probably suffering from scurvy, just for beginners.”

Gedney looked cagey. “That’s what they say.”

Carlos couldn’t believe it. Especially coming from someone who seemed as down to earth as his friend. “And Lake believes this?” he asked, avoiding probing more into Gedney’s opinion of the matter.

“Not just Lake. Dyer too. They think this is their ticket to fame.”

Carlos didn’t reply, but his expression must have betrayed what he was thinking, because Gedney continued, “Sometimes when Francis hits the scotch he gets chatty. I know you graduate students tend to think your professors are better than the likes of us, but they have the same faults as anyone. At least, that’s my take.” He went back to banging on the pipe. “Sorry if I spoke out of turn.”

Carlos struggled to form a reply, but just at that moment, he heard the voice of the venerated Prof. Dyer calling his name. “I'll be back later. Maybe we can catch Pabodie and get a drink?”

Gedney made a noncommittal sort of grunt, and Carlos had to depart. He hurried to where Prof. Dyer was standing just outside the hangar with Danforth and another man he didn't recognize.

“Carlos,” said Dyer. “I would like you to meet Mr. Pym.” Pym, a strange little red-eyed, dark haired man with a melancholy expression, reached out a pale hand.

“Er, it's good to meet you, sir,” said Carlos.

“A.G. Pym,” the man muttered. “And, likewise,” he added, though in all honesty he didn't seem terribly pleased by the encounter.

“Mr. Pym is an author of some renown,” Dyer bragged.

“Oh,” said Carlos, who immediately regretted his ignorance in the matter.

“You wouldn't have read anything of his,” Danforth told him. “He only writes for the better periodicals.”

Carlos glared. “You're looking well today, Danforth,” he said. In truth, the graduate student was still a bit pasty-faced. Danforth glared back.

Dyer ignored the pissing contest and blustered on. “Pym is going to chronicle our adventures for the domestic press.”

That got Carlos's attention. “I'm sorry? A- a journalist? We're going to report our results to the appropriate scientific journals, aren't we?” he added.

“Well, yes, of course, of course. But one must have a handle on popular opinion nowadays, mustn't one? At any rate, be a good chap, and show our journalist friend around the ship, will you? That's a good lad.” With a clap on Carlos's shoulder, Dyer turned on his heel and marched away. Danforth gave a final stormy look, and Carlos retaliated by pointing his finger down his throat. Danforth cringed, and followed along with Dyer, the duckling following its leader.

Carlos found two dark, watery eyes staring up at him. “Er. Yes, Mr. Pym-”

“Arthur will be fine,” Pym informed him. He dug into his somewhat threadbare vest pocket and extracted a flask. He gestured towards Carlos, who waved him off, and then took a healthy gulp for himself. His eyes, very briefly, lit up, and he re-pocketed the sliver flask. When it flashed in the sunlight, Carlos noticed the initials inscribed near the top. Oddly enough, they were “E.A.P.,” and not “A.G.P.” He ascribed this to the item being perhaps something owned by a relative of Pym's, like a keepsake.

“I go by Arthur, nowadays,” Pym was saying.

“Well- Well then, Arthur,” Carlos stuttered. “This will be our conveyance to McMurdo Sound.” He gestured at the airship, and began to walk towards the hangar. As we are going by air, we will avoid the potential situation of being ice-bound.”

“Yes, a shipwrecked party,” said Pym. “You'll have to resort to cannibalism.”

“Uh,” said Carlos, who was a little taken aback that Pym had catapulted to this particular eventuality. “We are carrying sufficient stocks, actually....”

“You always think it's sufficient,” sighed Pym, who seemed lost in his own little world of woe.

Carlos started gesturing “And we are carrying as well scientific equipment, and two areoplanes....”

“We drew straws, on that last voyage.”

“Er, I'm sorry?”

“To pick out who would sacrifice themselves.”

It took Carlos only a moment to catch up with the thrust of Pym's musings. “Uh, oh, yes. I take it, it wasn't you?” He cringed, as he sounded thick, even to himself.

“No. It was poor Parker.”

“Oh.”

“And then Augustus followed soon upon. Poor bastard.”

“Well, I'm sorry....”

“By the way,” said Pym, who directed his gaze downwards, “you have very fine haunches on you.”

Flustered, Carlos pushed his glasses up his nose. “Um. Thank you?”

“Would feed a grown man for the good part of a week.”

Carlos didn't have a ready answer for this. Or indeed any answer at all. As it happened, at that moment, Pabodie appeared, Gedney at his side. “Pym,” the professor snapped. “Don't be making a snack of my graduate assistant.”

Pym seemed annoyed. “He's hardly a snack. More a bountiful full meal.”

“Carlos, you're needed,” said Pabodie, grabbing by his no doubt tender and luscious arm and pulling him away from a now faintly hungry-looking Pym. They began walking back up towards their quarters, through the milling sheep and away from the hangar.

“He's, uh, rather a colorful character,” said Carlos when at last the threesome was out of hearing range of the journalist.

“Survived some kind of fatal sea voyage, if you listen to his wild tales,” grumbled Pabodie while Gedney snickered.

“It's not funny,” Carlos told Gedney.

“Oh, it is, brother!” Gedney assured him. “I'm apparently too bony to merit a meal, and Francis would be nutritious but stringy.”

“Get see to your dogs, will ya, you laggart!” Pabodie told Gedney, who grinned and ambled back to the big, rambling ranch house. The sled dogs had been quartered out back, and Carlos could hear them yowling and barking.

Pabodie leaned close to Carlos, speaking in soft tones. “I want you to have a listen to this, Carlos. As the closest thing we've got to a linguist in the party.”

“Linguist?” said Carlos. But, without answering, Pabodie let him to an outbuilding they had taken over as a sort of storehouse/workshop.

“You can dispense with the false modesty: you speak more languages than the rest of us put together.” Pabodie had barged into the shack and had clicked on a wireless radio. The device hummed, and then whined. Pabodie inched the dial back and forth, and finally, a voice emerged from the static.”

“...I repeat, the penguin park is absolutely not a place for penguins. Do not go into the penguin park, do not approach the penguin park, do not speak of the penguin park, and in particular, do not think about the penguin park. Ah, but there you are, contemplating the penguin park, aren't you? Citizens who persist in musing about the penguin park will be apprehended and taken to re-education and brainwashing at an undisclosed location, which is actually situated conveniently close to the penguin park.

“The City Council has also issued an advisory reminding citizens not to feed the Shoggoths after midnight. Not naming any names, but you know who you are, Steve Carlsberg! Remember they will only take slow-moving children, and then only on odd Tuesdays.

“And in other news, we're all looking forward to the latest expedition party meant to visit our little corner of the globe. Listeners, a little penguin has just told us that a group of intrepid explorers from Miskatonic University are about to pay us a visit. So, polish up those bloodstone circles, and remember to leave your offering of absinth and cookies out by the yule log....”

The voice faded back into static.

Carlos was too startled to speak. Pabodie reached over and clicked off the wireless. They sat in stunned silence for a long moment.

Finally, he found his voice. “No one was supposed to know about this trip. Who is that?”

“Give me your honest opinion, lad. Was that a native speaker of English we just heard?”

It was an odd question. Carlos thought back at the voice, which had seemed more than anything else to be preternaturally calm amidst the odd events he was describing. “He seems a native speaker, or one who has at least been schooled in North America.”

“No trace of German accent or idioms?”

Carlos paused. He thought back to the German crewmen, and their hushed conversations. “If you are wondering about his motivations, it is possible whoever is behind these broadcasts has gotten an American they have either hired or threatened to speak for them. Where does this broadcast originate?”

Pabodie flashed an odd smile. “South. As near as we can determine.”

“South of Tierra del Fuego?”

Pabodie nodded.

“Someone is broadcasting … from the Antarctic?”

“Passing strange, I would agree.”

“It's more than passing strange,” said Carlos, thinking that their must be some other explanation. Some rational explanation.

“I lobbied very strongly for us to bring along a linguist on this trip. But Professor Rice claimed that he had to go off with Armitage on some wild goose chase. We have Wilmarth, but he supposes anything but English and Latin to be beneath him.”

“Did you offer a drink earlier, Frank? I believe I'm in the mood.”

Carlos put away several shots of Pabodie's best hooch that evening..

And when he slept, his dreams were narrated by a familiar voice, transmitted from out of the void.



At last, after several more arguments and a lot of shifting and re-shifting crates, the Explorer was ready for her journey. One of the unsmiling German nationals sat in the pilot's seat, which didn't go down well with Pabodie, who somehow heard the ship's original name had been the Reichskanzier.

But Carlos put those worries behind him, as he was excited to finally get into the air. He made yet another check of the hold to assure himself the disassembled airplanes had been properly secured. This was also Danforth's responsibility, but in truth Carlos didn't much trust his counterpart. There had also been no further broadcasts received from the mysterious voice to the south, which somehow reassured him, although he had experienced more dreams of the mysterious broadcaster talking to him. He tried to push it out of his mind, chalking it up to some kind of clever prank. Perhaps someone like his cousin had just been reading too many dime novels.

He hailed to Pym as he boarded. The man was melancholy as usual, although he hadn't troubled Carlos lately about feasting on his nether regions, he always seemed a little hungry when Carlos passed him, so he had tried to avoid the journalist as best as he could. Danforth, for his part, appeared pale enough that Carlos almost felt sorry for the man, although he wondered how someone with such a developed case of motion sickness had managed to qualify as a pilot.

Nevertheless, the air was clear, the sun was high and the sea was calm, so it looked like a propitious day to embark. The cells were filled with helium and, with the help of seemingly every man in the local village taking a line, the Explorer launched, with a destination of the Ross Ice Shelf.

Most everyone ran to find a porthole, excited for the first glimpse of the Southern Ocean. They were not out of sight of land for very long, however, as they soon had gained the islands of the Bransfield Strait. Thereupon they sailed over Western Antarctica, hugging the rocky coastline.
Carlos had thought to grab some field glasses out of his pack, and used them to spot the orcas that breached and spouted in the chill waters.



“…So I’ve just sent Intern Byrd out to look for the kitty cat, but cannot say when or if he shall return. Godspeed on your journey, Intern Byrd! And please be careful of radiation burns!

“Moving on, listeners, we have joyful news: that brand new party of explorers has landed! I’ve heard that they’re a very good-looking lot, with very surprisingly good dental hygiene, which is always important. We wish them good fortune. May they discover many ancient mysteries, and create yet more mysteries of their own.”

Dyer switched off the wireless radio and glared around the temporary shelter where his party of explorers now huddled. The voice, once faint and shrouded in a cloak static, was now crystal clear.

Carlos rubbed his hands together and then planted them deep into the pockets of his coat. The heater was working, but hadn't been burning long enough to warm the large room. The unsmiling German crew of the Explorer had quite abruptly turned impatient about unloading, and had more or less dumped the exploring party on the ice shelf. They had immediately turned about and made for home, telling the scientific personnel in broken English something about inclement weather, but muttering about other things in German: things Carlos could never quite catch.

They had thus incurred some damage hurrying to unpack all of the crates and equipment. The primary victim had been the light aircraft. Fortunately, it looked to be something they could repair with the available equipment and tools. Not that it looked to be pleasant work in the freezing temperatures.

Carlos started as a metal door boomed open, and the sound of the windstorm whirled outside. The dogs barked and howled. “Be careful, will ye?” boomed Pabodie, as Gedney, grumbling all the time, assisted him to a chair next to where Carlos sat on some unopened crates.

“Not my fault you fell on your ass on the ice, Francis,” grunted Gedney as Pabodie sat down with a grunt.

“Gedney! Language!” scolded Dyer.

Gedney leaned against the wall in back of his boss and shot a somewhat flustered Prof. Dyer a dark look.

“Typical,” muttered Danforth, who had seated himself at Dyer’s right hand.

Pym tilted his head, studying the splint that had been fixed around Pabodie's injury. “Hmm. Broken leg. He’ll be the first we’ll sacrifice, if it should come to that,” he declared.

“Pym, quit ogling my haunches, will ye?” Pabodie shot back, to the general amusement of the party.

“Silence! Please!” bellowed Dyer as the assembled men laughed and began to chatter. “Is this a conclave of gentlemen, or a fraternity party?”

“Fraternity party, would be my guess,” whispered Pabodie. Carlos cracked a smile and listened to the bitter, lonely wind outside.

“What are we gonna do about the radio man?” demanded Lake. “He’s obviously working for those devils from Copenhagen! They mean to scoop my findings!”

“You don’t have any findings to scoop,” Pabodie told him.

“That’s my point!” said Lake. “We’ve got to get moving. We need to get to the site up to the west with all alacrity!”

“Carlos, what is the state of our aeroplane equipment?” asked Dyer, as Danforth looked insulted.

Carlos tried not to appear nervous when every head turned towards him. “Um. The transport is ready to fly, but the light aircraft has sustained some damage.”

“Can you repair it?”

Carlos looked at Gedney, who nodded. “Yes, but it will take a couple days….”

“Then I’ll take the transport,” said Lake.

“You’re not going off half-cocked with my drill,” said Pabodie.

“And you’re not going out on expedition with a fractured ankle, Mr. Pabodie,” said Dyer.

“I’ll be there,” Carlos assured Pabodie.

“You’ll be here, effecting repairs upon the light aircraft,” Dyer told Carlos. “Take Gedney,” he told Lake, waving a dismissive hand. “He knows how to drive a dog team. You will establish a forward camp and make some observations for no more than a fortnight. At which point, we will regroup, and, as we will have established a proper base camp by then, we will forge more permanent plans.



Carlos stumbled back into the shelter to find it deserted. Gedney had helped him make a list of repairs for the light aircraft before he had taken off with Lake's crew.

He had begun working on the plane, though he was feeling dejected. To come all this way, only to be considered some kind of maintenance man? He had consulted Dyer after the big meeting, but the professor had only snorted and told him to get to work. He had wanted to talk to Pabodie, but found the gruff redhead busy getting the parts of his core sample drill assembled.

He threw off his gloves and sat down next to the heater, warming his hands.

The wireless, as if of its own volition, crackled to life. Carlos went over and donned the headphones. “Erebus Base, this is Erebus base,” he said. “Over.”

There was nothing but static. But then, just as he was about to move away, a ghostly voice came over the airwaves.

“We've been waiting for you, Carlos.”

“Hello? Hello?”

But then the radio went dead.



Notes: This one is going to be a crossover of Night Vale and the Lovecraft tale, "At the Mountains of Madness." The story is public domain, so if you're interested, it's pretty easy to find on the web. Also, the Graf Zeppelin flew to the Arctic in 1931 (there was even a commemorative stamp), so it's not completely ludicrous to send an airship to the Antarctic like I've done here.
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