Here's another story for you. I like the idea, I'm not convinced of the final result, or that it's that its even a final result. This might be better expanded as a novella/novelette (it would help the characters). I know there's very few places that don't dismiss non-traditional formats out of hand. The one place I'd like to put this is on a pause at the moment. So here it is, the North in all it's Endlessness.
The following is a transcript of a recording discovered in [Redacted] University Audio Library. The recording was made using a 1980s-standard Dictaphone.
Voice: Boarded the plane... waiting to take off... this is the audio log of Staff Sargeant Crane of the 821st Air Base Group, Thule, Greenland. I am... [inaudible] I'm recording an entry... It's a lovely day, May 23rd... 10:10am and the sun is shining... I'm accompanied by Airman Danforth... [inaudible] Sorry! Senior Airman Danforth...
Crane: Only temporarily demoted, He will be our pilot. Co-pilot is Airman Dyer… Who is not speaking… also Flight Engineer Rasmussen of the Danish Royal Airforce.
Crane: And Doctor Ross, accompanying us from the National Weather Service...
Ross: That's me.
Danforth: Why are you recording this?
Crane: I am Commanding Officer of the Search and Rescue team leading an expedition from the Thule base to locate and if possible contain...
Danforth: Yeah, but why are you recording this?
Crane: Audio record; it's the simplest and easiest way to account for what happens on these kinds of missions.
Ross: And what kind are we dealing with, boss?
Crane: Doctor Ross has worked with me before... We are headed in pursuit of a reported anomaly several hundred miles into the interior of the mainland, the details of which are still being established but the essentials are 1) intermittent but frequent radio signals of unknown origins accompanied by 2) less frequent bursts of radiation, visible in the night sky from 23:19 hours yesterday as flashes on the horizon. Prior to this expedition two satellite passes were unable to locate and engage the source of the anomaly, detailed briefing is to follow. We are proceeding in a Cessna light aircraft with 20 days of food and supplies and around 200 hours of fuel. I do not anticipate being on the ice-field for that long.
Crane: We are approximately ten minutes into our flight. Thule Base is receding... Beautiful in its own way... Up in front is the ice-field. There is about three and a half hours of daylight left... This is... This is a truly vast country... The far north... You can only really appreciate how... endless it seems... the sense of it from the air... Broken only by occasional hills… Every time I see the uplands... All is well. We will begin triangulating the signal shortly.
Crane: It’s now approximately fifty-five minutes after take-off and we are making great progress. We are currently receiving the anomalous radio signals loud... if not clear. You might be able to [a mixture of static, tonal sounds and voices] How soon did we begin receiving?
Ross: Almost immediately. The signal has been more or less consistent.
Crane: What about the radiation?
Ross: Nothing much really, it's all, uh... oh, there's a spike.
Crane: Is it dangerous?
Ross: It's hard to tell at this range. We are still several hundred miles away, bearing east-northeast. Anyway, we’ve come prepared. Nothing we can’t…
Ross: Here, listen...
Metallic grinding and animal sounds, akin to roaring.
Crane: End of day one, almost. 18:25pm. We have made camp; about to report to base... The, uh, location of the anomaly has been narrowed down to a twenty mile radius. We expect to... It's odd that the intercept planes were not able to locate... whatever this is. I suppose it will all come out in the briefing... This is not our usual mission… I'm looking at the eastern horizon. There are flashes in the long twilight, maybe one every few minutes... They're not regular. They come in several colours. We have seen white, red, green and indigo. Wind is gusting considerably, short blasts from the uplands. It is unclear whether this is connected to the emissions… Rasmussen is here.
Rasmussen: Please, call me Lucas.
Crane: Ok, um, so, Lucas, why’re you here?
Rasmussen: I volunteered.
Crane: But, [inaudible] motive-wise…?
Rasmussen: I’m sorry I don’t…?
Crane: What prompted [inaudible due to wind] volunteer?
Rasmussen: Curiosity, I guess; that and the pay. I work at the base [inaudible] civilian engineer. If all goes well… villa on Samso won't pay for...
Prolonged gusts of wind hit. Mostly inaudible except for occasional fragments, e.g. ‘get inside’ or ‘secure the tents.’
Voice: Unknown flying object was spotted 22:55 hours, altitude approximately 2,000 metres, bearing east-northeast a controlled arc at an estimated speed of 440mph. Command Control attempted to contact the object but was unsuccessful. The object disappeared after seventeen seconds. At 23:10 Command Control began receiving a radio signal on standard USAF distress frequency. Signal was largely unclear but some variety of English. No American or Allied craft is known to be lost. Russians currently deny any involvement. Unable to pinpoint location via satellite pass. Intermittent radiation bursts began at 23:19, high-energy, electromagnetic radiation, largely directed upwards. Bursts continue to be detected. Please repeat: over.
Crane repeats message.
Crane: [Whispering – wind noises in background] Early morning now, let’s see, 3.19am. Gusts of wind have been intermittent but frequent. Thank goodness for the snow-wall we built. It’s difficult to get much sleep though the others seem to be… Keep trying. The sound has an unusual quality, akin to howling.
Crane: It’s morning. The sky is bright blue, very little evidence of what happened… the front must have passed over. Crisp and… I’m tired. We are currently packing away the camp. Continue with mission once airborne. I’m confident we will make visual contact today. I must check the time.
Crane: It is 10:45am. We have been airborne for about fifty minutes. Dyer is piloting though... still not talking to me. There has been no sign of the anomaly so far, no radio signals and no visual contact.
Danforth: This is my demotion.
Crane: What happened…?
Danforth: I don’t know if…
Crane: Sure I mean…
Danforth: [Interrupts] Too much trouble, see? I was a Staff Sergeant at Hohenfels but the place got overrun.
Danforth: Communists were… all over the base.
Crane: How is that…?
Danforth: [Interrupts] They’re good, they know what they’re doing and they’re committed. Not like our side.
Crane: But how?
Danforth: They were running the local drug trade, heroin, marijuana, you name it… They were running the operation out of a brothel in the town, [chuckles bitterly] Hotel Palatinate. The pimps were commies too. I was Staff Sergeant in charge of training. It’s my life. The recruits… They were just kids… I tried to stop them. I tried to stop my men from seeing them. Sure I mean it worked. I called in the MPs… It worked… The place was closed. The owner was holding Russian gold, literally… I… I ended up getting busted though, taken in on a drink driving charge, insulting an officer… must have been a commie too. They got me… Now I’m here.
Danforth: Still [laughs] I like the north. What’s left to lose? They can’t get a drop on us up here.
Crane: Three hours and twenty five minutes... we are now flying directly over the centre of the search area defined yesterday. There has been no contact visual or radio...?
Ross: No contact.
Crane: Though I do note what looks like odd patches of earth, roughly round, where the snow has melted. Either the anomaly has moved or...
Ross: Wait a minute...
Sounds over the radio resolve into a distorted human voice.
Voice: [Continually repeats] A stairway to...
Crane: What's that...? What's it saying...?
Voice: A stairway to...
Ross: A stairway...?
Crane: Can you get a fix on it?
Ross: I can it, uh...
Sound devolves into noise again, peaks and then cuts out.
Ross: [Mid-sentence] something again. Listen.
The sound of white noise then rhythmic bleeping emerges and a voice.
Voice: They got me [inaudible] here [inaudible] closed [inaudible] stop the recruits.
The voice is overwhelmed again by white noise. The bleeping continues.
Ross: What’s that…? That’s SOS.
Crane: We have visual… We have visual contact. Current co-ordinates are [gives co-ordinates] heading in an east south-easterly direction. Subject it roughly at ten o’clock. Bearing towards subject as we speak… Subject is maybe fifteen to twenty miles away, large, difficult to tell what colour or shape. Dark and flickering… Approaching directly now. Radiation levels…?
Crane: Radiation level are…
Voice: [Lightly distorted – fairly clear - repeats] It’s like a stairway…
Crane: I’m in the co-pilot seat. Closer now, getting a better appraisal of the target. Very large, several hundred meters high… appears to be biological, animal or… unsure. The target/subject is grey, dark-grey in colour with lighter, mottled parts. It looks like a mass of fronds or tubes in motion, fixed to the ground, waving like the action of water on… water on an anemone. Radio signal is indistinct but not a… It reminds me of...
There is sudden loud interference and distortion on tape.
There is continual background sound from radio, white noise and SOS signal.
Crane: About two or three minutes ago, god what’s the time, I haven’t been keeping the time?
Voice: [Sounds like Danforth] Twenty past two.
Crane: 14:40, sorry, 14:20, there was a large burst of radiation, the, uh, subject flickered rapidly then retreated to the horizon. Plane is coming in to land.
Burst of turbulence.
Crane: [Shouting] Sudden [inaudible] subject is still visible. We will [inaudible] the time being. Take her down.
Gusts of wind are audible throughout.
Crane: We have located the source of the transmission; currently in visual. The object/source is of [inaudible] unprecedented nature… possible EBE… two to three hundred metres tall. Occasional strong bursts of high energy radiation… [inaudible] Request back up…
Voice is inaudible due to wind and some interference on signal.
Crane: [Inaudible] do not understand, please repeat.
Voice is still inaudible. Crane responds giving a set of co-ordinates.
Crane: Please repeat those co-ordinates.
Voice appears to repeat co-ordinates.
Crane: [To unknown] I think they’ve got it. [To Voice] How long before we receive support?
Voice begins but signal becomes overwhelmed.
Ross: [Begins in mid-sentence] mostly directed upward. See the colours above…? It’s probably plasma in the mesosphere, I guess, where it hits and spreads.
Crane: I see.
Ross: The object is pretty vertical too from what I can make out with these. It’s fifteen, maybe ten miles away. It’s like…
Crane: It’s like the time on Aleutian Islands.
Ross: Yeah, but if they came from an extra-biological entity that’s hundreds of metres tall. Dyer, you, uh…
There is a short, inaudible conversation between Ross and Dyer.
Crane: What shall we call it…?
Dyer: Does it need a name…? Let’s call it ‘Get the Fuck Out of Here, Now…’
Crane: They said for us to keep visual contact…
Dyer: That thing, that fucking monster fried half our instruments, man. Rasmussen and Danforth are working on repairs… Who knows what they can do…?
Crane: We’ll see, all we have to…
Dyer: We’re not in this to die. We don’t have orders to die.
Ross: We’re not going to die.
Dyer: Fuck knows what it’s doing to our balls.
Crane: What the fuck…? I ought not.
Dyer: The radiation. I’m not on some adventure. I’ve got kids! I got a family!
Ross: You know why you were chosen.
Crane: We have bio-suits.
Dyer: Who are you? I've not seen you on...
Crane: [Angry] Stand down, Airman!
Ross: [Interjects] Look… Listen… [soothingly] We were caught off guard. Now we have it, now we know where it is and what it’s doing we can take greater precautions, yeah…?
Dyer: How long before we get back up?
Crane: Forty-eight hours they said.
Crane: What time is it? 20:23pm. I’m worried. I’m on watch in my bio-suit. It doesn’t feel safe. We’ve built a snow barrier. Dyer and Ross are resting. Danforth is manning the radio… It looks like a hand… The eyes adjust. It’s not completely dark. Oh, it’s weird… It’s like a huge hand with black fingers. There’s a vortex above the EBE. It’s spreading, colours draining and whirling. It’s… not even evil. [Long pause – the sound of shuffling in the snow] I don’t know what it wants.
Radio signal: two voices sound simultaneously in a loop, one speeded up, high-pitched – “he’s gone where?” and the other slowed-down, “Danforth…” This repeats for over a minute until a loud crashing sound:
Crane: Where’re you going, stop, please, it’s…
There is the sound of doors failing to slam. Crane disappears from audio range. Wind becomes audible. The audio loop continues for approximately four minutes. The radio-sound then changes to SOS signal atop more metallic grinding. After seven minutes tape stops abruptly.
Crane: 07:20am. We are getting ready to leave. We have been unable to contact base however it is my opinion, and that of my team, that it is too dangerous to continue with this expedition. We’re not paid to die. Well… not like this… I’m on watch again at this little… [the sound of crunching snow]. Last night was unnerving. We were woken, those of us who are asleep, by very loud noises, metallic/animal noises, very close to camp, in the brief bit of darkness. It came from multiple directions as well. Nothing... came at us however and we saw nothing but something about the sounds though seemed like… I don’t know, a warning, a mute warning. We were being told to get away. The anomaly has grown. It must be a quarter of a mile high… Through my binoculars I can see what look like scales, tensing muscles and tubes venting some kind of warmth. Not of the Earth; it must immensely powerful. It’s flickering a little, not like before. We have to get back as soon as we… Guys… Guys… GUYS… [running sounds] Start the engine!
Roaring sounds throughout; almost overwhelming.
Crane: [Shouting] EBE is in pursuit of our plane. It’s very… very fast… relentless… following… I don’t know if we can…!
Very loud shaking and banging sounds, roaring reaches a peak, crew can be heard yelling. There is a flashing sound. The audio becomes distorted. There is the sound of engines failing and a moaning voice repeating something. The sounds reach a high pitch then cut out suddenly.
There is distant screaming in the background.
Crane: I am alive. I am amazed but [sharp intake of breath]. I don’t know if this is working. My left leg is almost certainly broken, otherwise just.
Dyer: [Shouting – distant] Shut that fucking thing off...! Liar... What're...?
Crane: Dyer is now dead. It is dawn, Day Four. Yesterday we were pursued and attacked by the EBE. Our plane was… shaken out of the sky. Rasmussen and Ross died... on impact. The EBE is gone now. It disappeared more or less after the attack… I think. It’s gone now. I am taking shelter in what’s left of the plane. Danforth survived almost [pained intake of breath] unscathed. He is off scouring the wreckage for… I don’t know what. The fucker’s gone mad. This is mad. We’re all mad. Dyer isn’t. He’s dead… and the others… Have set off an emergency alarm; they should be here in two, three days. There’s enough food. Must check the... radio…
Radio signal, alternating phrases in a loop: “if all goes well” and “holding gold.” This lasts for approximately thirty seconds.
Crane: [Deep, slow voice] It’s still out there.
Very slow walking sounds.
Crane: Danforth…! Danforth…! [Sighs] He’s gone. Where’d he go…?
Crane: Dyer was right... right to be suspicious... Danforth... that's what you get for bringing army along... It's eight, something... night-time... sun is setting... should it be setting there though...? Clouds are rising up like... strange... stairway to heaven... [Laughs] [Loudly] I'm Field Agent Crane of the Unusual Incidents Unit, FBI... Staff Sargeant Crane of the... [Quieter] I hope the bureau bills them for everything... [Painful sounds] I need more tablets.
Crane: Dark... [Long pause] Windy... [long pause] The sky... the sky to the north is glowing... different colours...
Sound of radio being turned on.
Voice: [Repeats] Plasma in the mesosphere it's still out there.
Crane: They came. It must have been after midday. I saw them, the plane... a plane. I let off a signal flare and they just... The plane just dived... I don't know where they went. I think I'm beginning to... [distortion on tape] understand...
Ragged walking sounds.
Crane: They came [distorted - low] again [repeats phrase]. I followed them. I walked [more distortion] towards them and [lower] reached out... and they [thins and speeds up] disappeared... out of the sky... Making my way back to the plane but I think I'm beginning to understand. The north is endless [echoes for two minutes before diminishing].
There is no record of this mission existing either in USAF or FBI records.