Diaries by Heloise Ezra, as found by Marcelina Vizcarra
Art by Luke Spooner
We have nearly cleared Room 24, noting nothing of significance thus far on our study of the hollows, though Dr. Margliss’s enthusiasm remains intact. One would never know we were nearly half a mile below the arctic permafrost.
Another surface worker was injured this morning while investigating one of the stelae behind the commissary. Its glass armor had been compromised, perhaps by last night’s storm. During attempts to repair the casing, the fifteen-meter tall stelae fractured and crushed the man’s right arm. Joseph says he’s lucky to have survived.
This brings the count of stelae-related casualties to six: the two techs who suffered nervous breakdowns while transcribing text (Joseph now claims that their mental states were disturbed before we arrived), the tech who lost his hand to the booby trap, the one decapitated by shattered case glass, and the missing tech.
I must admit I am relieved we left the surface before the storms. I’ve always been wary of the effects of magnetism at this latitude, though I did not relate my suspicions to Joseph. He joined Dr. Margliss before her failed expedition to the hollows last year. So, he’s acquainted with the entire crew.
Several techs abandoned the site today. Dr. Margliss has declared the stelae off-limits and canceled preservation efforts pending a thorough investigation. She instructed us to reroute around the plinths, to a depth of eight hundred meters, in case the area between the markers has been contaminated–the nature of said contamination being so far undefined. Joseph increasingly blames the government for the stelae, which he claims are fakes put up to discourage exploration of the arctic hollows. Meanwhile, we have progressed through Room 24 and await the data dump, though we have found nothing out of the ordinary.
To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2014 collection.
Heloise Ezra was a speleologist and artist based in Vietnam, studying the Son Doong cave. Born in Cold Iron, Kentucky, she spent her formative years below ground with her family in the Mammoth Cave Paleo-Clans Project, where she discovered the blindfish, Amblyopsis ezra. After graduating from Subterra Charter School at the age of fifteen, she earned degrees in anthropology and geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago. She joined Dr. Margliss’s second expedition to the arctic hollows.
Marcelina Vizcarra lives in the glacial aftermath of the Pleistocene Epoch in a house that would have been built by eight-foot-long beavers 10, 000 years ago, if the giant beavers had acquired a taste for bungalow construction. She has three children. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Word Riot, The Colored Lens, and Vine Leaves Literary Journal.
Luke Spooner a.k.a. ‘Carrion House’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at www.carrionhouse.com.