Sunday, June 16, 2013

Much Worse Than Surstromming

     Yeti urine smells worse than surstromming, thought Sven.  He tightened the hood of his parka against his face.  His fingers held little feeling despite thick dragon-hide gloves.  The chill seeped into his boots.  He shuffled forward a few steps.
     “Just a thousand more meters,” said Ulrich, shouting over the wind. 
     Sven twisted to look at him.  Ulrich’s three-meter frame supported swathes of fabric from multiple civilizations.  The iris of his single eye glowed through the snow.  It flickered, seeming gold or green in turn.
     Sven’s foot struck something that felt like stone.  He crouched down to feel the contours of the object.  It felt round at one end.  The other dipped in several places.  Sven jerked it from the snow bank.  “Ulrich, I found a skull.  It must be from that Russian centaur who went missing up here.  The idiot tried to climb Mt. Everest with hooves.”
     Ulrich chuckled, a low rumble.  “The yeti must have gotten him.”
     The permanent storm escalated to a blizzard.  It howled, forcing Sven’s hands to his ears.  He stumbled forward.
     A patch of snow beside him was colored dark red.  Two horseshoes stuck out of the mound.
     Out of the corner of his eye, Sven saw Ulrich’s jaw drop.  “Did you hear that grunting?” Ulrich asked.
     Sven cocked his ear toward his companion.  “No.”
     A thud resonated as Ulrich fell to a patch of ice.  Sven jerked his head around, squinting all around him.  “Clumsy me,” Ulrich said.  His teeth chattered.
     Sven let out a deep sigh.  He forced his eyes to stay on the pathway dictated by the mountain ridge.  Everything looked the same, a blanket of white, save the grey stone crags.
     A rise in the snow coverage uphill evaporated with a gust.  The cold bit Sven’s skin despite his parka.  He forced in a gulp of air.  The next breath was thin and haggard.
     Ulrich paused to set up his oxygen tank beside him.  “You should put yours on,” he said.
     Sven shook his head.  “I’ll live.  I want to reach the top unaided.  I’ll use it on the descent.”  His lungs gave a tiny dissatisfied spasm.
     The summit came into view.  It looked very much like the snapshots Sven studied for hours down at the base camps.  A figure crouched in the corner of his mental photograph.  “That wasn’t in the pictures,” he muttered.
     A roar tore through the screeching gale.  Sven glanced over at Ulrich.  His face was even paler than last he’d seen.  The sound could not possibly have come from behind his clenched jaw.
     Ulrich slid down the slope backward.  A primate, covered in dense white fur, fell with him.  Red dyed the back of his hands.
     “Ulrich,” Sven shouted.  His head bobbed, first to the summit, then to his comrade.  It settled on the latter.
     The yeti swung its paws across Ulrich’s throat.  Blood splattered, mixing with the snowflakes.  Ulrich moved his feet as if to stand, but it threw itself into him, keeping him down.
     Sven pulled a climber’s pick from his belt and held it aloft.  The yeti twisted to look at him.  His eyes held only black.
     Letting go a heavy breath, Sven charged forward.  He plunged his pick into the yeti’s shoulder.  It lurched back and cut into his stomach.  He grabbed at his wound with one hand, lashing out with the other.  The yeti tripped to the edge of the cliff.
     Time slowed.  The yeti clawed to stay on the mountain.  Its feet slipped.  Sven gasped in relief.  The rest of its body squirmed down.  It disappeared, leaving behind a strangled growl.
     Sven took a step toward the summit.


  1. Okay, I totally cracked up on that first sentence. Yeti urine, priceless!

    1. Thanks. It started out comedic and changed into light suspense as it went on.