Cold Eyes in the Storm: Act I

Cold Eyes in the Storm: Act I

A Story by PWyates

Two journalists embedded in the Himalayas are caught in a blizzard with their Sherpas. Doomed, until they find a cabin. Meeting two men with the same objective, find the Yeti of the mountain.


*Intro to a news exposé segment playing a subtle new wave synthesizer melody under a riff mysteriously similar to Money for Nothing by Dire Straits.  After it ends, the attention is cut to a ruggedly handsome man holding a microphone, wearing an enormous parka*

“Welcome to the tundra viewers, this is Chuck Kirkland.  Here for another segment of Night Scoop.  Embedded deep inside the mountains of Nepal; we are smack dab in the middle of the Great Himalayan Trail.  And as I’m sure you can tell this weather is no joke, brrr…I’m joined by my loyal cameraman Bobby and our two Sherpas.  Here following up on a swarm of reports from locals describing a strange Big Foot-like creature.  We are here to investigative using our unique expertise to expose a local hoax.  Or make a meteoric, historic scientific discovery.  Regardless, tune in over the next several weeks; and join us on our perilous journey to find the Abominable Snowman...there that’s a cut.”

“Seriously?  We barely got anything besides you being blocked by the snow.  I was hoping that we could work some shots of these trees and the Himalayas in.  Since this is the expository segment.  I mean we’re here, man.”  Argued Billy the cameraman gloomy, and shivering as he reluctantly began to power down his equipment.

“Look, man I really don’t think any of that is necessary they’ll get just enough.  The audience appreciates a grittier approach.  Reassures them of the authenticity of this whole thing; you see I was acting when I shivered.  It’s all about delayed gratification Bobby, people love it when you give a mysterious build up; even if it leads to nothing.”

 “All respect due, couldn’t we have just done that from the comfort of our studio.  I mean if we want a Christmas special with fake snow being blown around by an oscillating fan, we should’ve stayed at Channel 5.  Do you really think we’ll find anything substantial out here?”

“Seeing as how you’re a rookie, and a decent one at that; I’ll break this to you easy Bobby.  First off, I don’t take notes unless they’re imperative to my survival.  People don’t want new; they want what they’re accustomed to.  You have a lot to learn about this business Bob and you’ve got a lot more to worry about in the survival department than I do.  So I’m gonna go try to make some sense out of those Sherpas gibberish and we can forget this little unpleasantness.”

Chuck does just that, making a sharp about face and heading towards the two natives who were having a far more quiet and civilized conversation.  Tripping over his snow shoes after about thirty paces, he whipped around; straying from his own plan and yelled “don’t let it happen again either!” 

“You also said ‘here’ about a bazillion times in a thirty second promo.  And my name is Billy you f*****g Bozo.  But I’m too green to notice that aren’t I?  You out of touch, arrogant prick.”  Billy spoke to muttered to himself on and off as he huffily put his camera equipment back into his overloaded pack.  After he’d finished, and calmed himself down; Billy walked towards his three companions.  Wearing the same smile he’d been wearing earlier.   After about fifteen minutes of frustration and confusion, Chuck was able to understand that they were about a mile from the Great Yeti Lodge.  Glad to have some hope of refuge from the intensifying storm, Billy instantly complied and followed their stiff guides.

Less than five minutes later their trail was becoming unintelligible from the waist high piles of snow all around them.  Billy looked over at Chuck and knew that he too was concerned about making their Yellow Brick Road was becoming less and less visible.  Both detached Sherpas were completely undaunted by the quickening of the accumulating snow.  If anything, they seemed to be in their true element.  Either that or their demeanor was as difficult to decipher as their rapid, garbled language.

Over the next half hour the precipitation was more a sandstorm than snow.  The path was now completely indistinguishable.  Billy began to panic as his vision started fading out.  It was as if he were watching a 3-D broadcast of static.  He’d lose focus of Chuck for a moment or two, then the Sherpas.  Finally it came to the point where he could see nothing but white, disoriented would have been a gross understatement.  The beaten path was a distant memory.  All hopes of finding the lodge were completely erased.  He didn’t even know how far they’d ventured.  A moment after these gloomy thoughts Billy was finally able to spot the two Sherpas.  Though it was not much of a comfort; he was almost certain that neither they, nor his boss had any better idea of what to do next.

After what could have been minutes or hours they took shelter underneath a particularly dense tree.  They all realized what they had gotten themselves into was most definitely not worth the highest of accolades.  Billy knew his part would assuredly be for nothing anyway.  Since Chuck always gave him a whole quarter inch display in the credits and consistent mispronunciation of his name.

As these sour thoughts froze over, Billy fell back onto the vulnerable sanctuary of this monolithic pine tree. 

Blinded by his hurried attempt to simultaneously warm, and stretch himself out.  Billy tuned out the frantic attempts at discourse between his boss and the two indigenous guides.  Once his body was semi-comfortable, he up righted himself and attempted to decipher exactly what was going on.  From his previous assumptions, and the undeniable anxiety behind the Sherpas’ words assured Billy that they were up s**t creek. 

They both turned, ignoring Chuck’s scolding and conversing amongst each other frantically.  The segment host screaming in their respective ears until his face turned purple.  This behavior was apparently out of sheer habit.  However, unlike most of his proposed hectic” situations he’d bragged about, this was life or death.  Billy’s current opinion was that they were tipping further toward the death end of that spectrum by the minute.  His boss did not seem to have been impressed by the gravity of the situation.  It seemed that being ignored was front and center in his limited mind.  In this frozen desert Chuck could have been the richest man in the world, and it wouldn’t save him from the language barrier.  Let alone Mother Nature. 

Still ignoring him, the glassy eyed Sherpas began to trudge onward.  Billy assumed following them was the best path to avoid being all but buried alive.  He followed immediately; Chuck on the other hand spent another several seconds still screaming after them.  Billy really couldn’t make it out over the shrieking wind.  It took no divination to predict that it wouldn’t be long before he was following them.

Less than five minutes later this was the obvious result.  Chuck was out of breath, jogging alongside him.  Still attempting to establish some semblance of authority over the other three men, but was too exhausted.  Billy was far too terrified to pay him much heed anyway.  The concept of losing his job was nothing in the face of turning into Italian Ice.  The aloof Sherpas were so far ahead of them, but he was sure if he could ask them (and they understood the reference) they’d agree. 

Time began to lose all sense of continuity through the flying, stinging flurries of snow.  After a while, even Chuck sullenly marched on behind them.  Just as each step was beginning to push the boundaries of exhaustion; their leaders stopped in front of a thick patch of trees.  Without looking back at the newsmen, or any form of hesitation they both disappeared behind the gigantic, dense trees. 

Frantic, terrified Billy and Chuck hobbled toward the trees as quickly as they could, in fear of their guides disappearing in this whiteout.  When reaching the trees they too also stopped.  Their pause was less ominous.  Leaning against the fat trees; huffing and puffing.  At this point they almost completely forgot their guides and perils through the budding frostbite, and obscene exhaustion.  After what seemed like an hour of catching their breath, the two colleagues looked at each other; and without a word nodded. 

They waded through the trees, and to their surprise did not find their Sherpas.  What they did find was something so much better that both men believed they must be suffering some form of psychotic blow.  What stood in front of them were their guides and a large clearing, and in the middle was a cabin.  Strangest of all was that the cabin was fully lit, and the chimney was belching out healthy plumes of smoke.

Both Billy and Chuck began running (to their best ability) toward the cabin.  If the Sherpas had access to American cinema the two men would have reminded them of the stumbling undead army from Night of the Living Dead.  They looked at each other and shrugged, following after their employers without a word.  Before they got a chance to voice any of their concerns Billy and Chuck had already thrown themselves against the door beginning to bang deftly.

At first there was a response of frantic whispers and footsteps.  Then a moment of complete silence; Billy and Chuck; ears pressed against the door attempting to hear inside over the shrieking wind.  Just as Chuck was beginning to lose his patience, he cocked his arm back to knock again.  Billy threw his hand on Chuck’s shoulder, the index finger of his other hand over his mouth.

After another few seconds there was a barking voice from inside of the cabin, “go away, if you value your life.  Don’t care who you are, things are gonna get nastier in here than they are out there, real quick.”

Chuck looked at Billy completely drained of hope.  A feeling they both shared through the shared gaze.  Rather than surrendering to it Billy chose to respond.  “Things really can’t get any nastier; this storm is swallowing us whole.  Mister anything you could do to us wouldn’t be half as bad as what Mother Nature’s got in store.  Please let us in, we just need shelter.”  He looked behind him and saw the two Sherpas speaking to each other in rapid whispers.  Their vacant eyes darting back and forth between their employers, almost a punctuation to every unheard sentiment.

No time to consider what they were thinking, he listened intently at the door for a response.  It came less than a minute later, “well, you sure got sand, stranger.  If you refuse to leave, I guess we got no choice other than opening up.  But I gotta warn you, and whoever you’re with that we are armed; and plenty dangerous if I allow myself a quick boast.”  After this a set of footsteps began to approach, and stopped at the door.  The voice returned a second later.  It didn’t sound any closer though.  “Now my boy Peaches is at the door, and he’s holding a pistol.  So let’s make our way inside single file, and converse beside the fire.”

The door opened, and as the voice had promised there was a young man (must have been Mr. Peaches) holding a service revolver at chest level.  His eyes were sharp, but strangely kind in Billy’s opinion.  He led them into the tiny, messy cabin.  The floor was cluttered with duffle bags and assorted weapons.  Walls cluttered with the mummified, taxidermy heads of the most deadly of beasts imaginable.   

In the back of the single room was the silhouette of a larger figure.  He was almost completely hidden behind a large cloud of smoke from a fat, stinky cigar.  After expelling another exceptionally large puff he said “come on over by the fire boys, let’s get to know each other.  I am Colonel Kilgore, and as I have already told you; this is my man Private Peaches.”

As he made these introductions Billy took a seat in a stuffed leather chair closest to the fire, as his boss and guides approached more timidly.

Chuck took a seat, and the Sherpas stood behind them with their arms crossed.  Before they had a chance to speak; Kilgore cut through the silence again like a knife.  “First thing’s first.  I’m sure is a fantastic story of how you wound up here.  But I drive a few more points home before you dish.  As I’m sure you noticed we probably have more fire power than the hundred mile radius combined.  Ugly truth is we’re ex-military turned poachers, no way to spin it. 

Some of the richest people in the world contact us, and offer more money than God to follow a lead on the rarest of the rare.  Just last month ago we were in a much warmer area of Asia tracking down some missing link in the evolutionary chain.  Someone from the Church had contacted us to take care of it.  Kind of a one fingered salute to the scientists who’d spent their lives looking for it.  Got the skull mounted up on the dashboard of our Bobcat out back.”  At this he chuckled before continuing, “I can already tell from your indigenous friends’ sour faces, they’re picking up the main points.  And can’t stress enough how tenuous of a relationship this is going to be, if you can accept it.  It’s all on you, not us.  If you boys decide you got some moral objection against us, the door is right there.”  He pointed, looking up again at the Sherpas; who were gazing back intently.  “We understand each other?”  He asked, only the two of them, nodding placidly.  This seemed to be the Colonel’s only concern. 

Kilgore then looked over at Billy, and Chuck who tripped over each other’s words in emphatic agreement to the terms. “Welp, now we got that unpleasantness out of the way; let’s say we get down to some chow.  I’m sure you fellas must be hungrier than a stable of horses.  We caught a couple rabbits before the storm started to really buck.”

With this he picked up the duffle bag nearest to him.  Unzipped it, and produced three reasonably sized, skinned rabbits inside of a black ancient stew pot.  Billy’s mouth instantly began to water at the sight of the unprepared meat.  Regardless of the fact that he’d never eaten such fresh meat, or rabbit for that matter, he was truly famished. 

Chuck on the other hand recoiled, “I’ve actually been picking at some supplement bars all day.  The gesture is more than appreciated, I promise you.  But I haven’t partaken in any meat or dairy products in about ten years.  Don’t think my system would be able to handle it.  Last thing we need is regurgitated rabbit stew all over the floor, and your spiffy artillery.”  He chuckled at his own jest, alone.  Kilgore merely stood in his position, glaring at Chuck silently. 

He didn’t quite understand why but Billy sensed that Kilgore hadn’t taken much of a liking toward his boss.  Even though Chuck had clearly stumbled over his ego in an attempt to avoid insult, and impress Kilgore.  Inversely, the Sherpas were clearly off put by their new surroundings.  Seeming far more concerned than, their aloof reaction to the storm they’d just escaped.  Both stood near the door; next to also silent Private Peaches.  Who still hadn’t uttered as much as a sound since they first laid eyes upon him.  Both guides whispering back and forth while Peaches was clearly attempting to listen in. 

Billy barely noticed this, being preoccupied in his attempt to make a positive impression on the intimidating stranger.  After the look he got for denying Kilgore’s offer of dinner Chuck, accepted the distaste Kilgore gave off.  He walked over to his pack, making himself busy ruffling through it. 

The Colonel asked Billy if he’d ever made rabbit stew before.  To which he awkwardly chuckled and responded that he’d never even gone camping prior to this excursion.  Kilgore took this honesty with a smile, and handed Billy the black pot by the handle.  Telling him to fill it with snow, and put the pot over the fire to get a nice boil while he prepared the meat. 

Billy, pleasantly surprised by the gruff man’s candor immediately took the pot over to the closest window.  Applying as much pressure as he could to it, the window would not budge.  Just as he was about to give up Kilgore took a poker out of the fire.  Tracing it along the edges of the window, and to Billy’s amazement it successfully defrosted the ice without breaking the window.  And after the Colonel motioned for him to try again it glided open like a warm summer day.

Billy leaned outside, so shocked by the change in climate he almost fumbled the black pot into the seemingly bottomless snow.  Quickly he dipped it in, and withdrew back into the warmth; closing the window as swiftly as possible.

“Easy there pal,” said Kilgore snickering, “take a seat again before you get to work.  Unless you want to take another trip back out into that winter wonderland.”

Billy gladly heeded the advice, and planted his shaking frame back into the leather chair.  He sat for several moments, transfixed by the intricate style Kilgore used with his knife.  It was as if he had been skinning animals in the womb.  For some reason the methodical serrating put Billy’s mind at ease enough to distract him from the troubles surrounding him.  And confident enough to ask the Colonel some questions.

“Not that I can judge or condone it, but how did two soldiers wind up big game hunters?  Especially all the way out here in no man’s land, what makes it worth all of this?  Why not stick to exotic animals in exotic locales.”  The words came out far less awkward, and clunky than he had intended.  Contrary to how Billy usually felt almost immediately after saying almost anything.

Kilgore smirked, and looked up at his new companion.  “I’ve met enough to tell already that you and your friend over there must be journalists.”

Billy stared at him in a state of complete awe, and confusion.  “How on Earth were you able to guess that?”  He snickered nervously.  “Neither Chuck, nor myself have been able to say one thing about ourselves; apart from our names.”

The Colonel let out a chuckle of his own before answering.  “I’ve been around more newsmen in my military career than hostiles.  You all are able to instantly paint such a broad picture of someone, missing out on the finer detail.  While also looking so hard, you forget all about your logic.  Think about it, why else would we be doing this unless it were an opportunity that would put my man and myself three steps beyond easy street.”

“Well I did guess that you weren’t risking your lives out here for peanuts.  But what made you two give up on the government salary, and pride in serving the greater good?”

“Christ, kid what kind of journalist are you?  I’ve never even had my priest ask me that one.  Long story short, it’s too long a story to share before this meal is prepared.  Probably long enough to burn out this here fire to embers. 

To abbreviate it, we both got booted with dishonorable discharges.  A consolation prize from Uncle Sam to make sure we could never make an honest living.  I’m sure you can see why we sought an option B. 

Neither of us had acquired the taste for human blood like so many others in our company.  We therefore ruled out the possibility of mercenaries.  Simultaneously we lacked the sympathy, and patience to be glorified babysitters as bounty hunters.  It wasn’t until our stop in Africa before returning home that we found our true calling.  Two giants of men saw our gear in a local bar and invited us to what must have been the nicest house in the country. 

That’s where we met the young King Koba, who had until recently been Prince Koba.  He offered us a quarter mill each to track and kill the tiger who had mauled his father.  He explained that the beast had lost an eye in the attack.  But all the men in the surrounding villages were too terrified to approach the king killer; let alone hunt it. 

Easiest money I ever made in my entire life.  And since then, I have found similar affluent men who have offered me ungodly sums of money.  Sometimes the beast will get its money’s worth, but normally it’s easy as pie.”

Billy waited a moment before responding.  Partly because he was not sure the former Colonel was finished, and mostly from unbridled shock of the story he’d just heard.  How much more spectacular would their segment be if they had interviewed these men rather than hunting the “illusive” Big Foot.  “So what exactly brings you to such an uninhabitable area of the world?”

“Guess I could ask you the same question, but I suppose you’ve gotten enough of the story to hear that bit.  We were contacted about a month ago back in the States, by an anonymous client.  Sent us some ridiculous videos of some fellas that looked like your Sherpa buddies with these glowing eyes, tearing villages to shreds.  And at the tail end of the video you get a glimpse of a giant with white fur, almost towering behind the trees.”

“Well footage like that can be easily doctored, trust me.  I think that your anonymous employers may have sent you on a goose chase just like us.”

“That’s what I figured too.  Until one hundred thousand dollars dropped into our bank accounts the day after we got the video.  Next day, two tickets to Nepal show up in our P.O. Box.  Week later, here we are.”  He took a powerful burst of air into his lungs, and let it out.  “God’s Country.”         

As these words had just escaped his mouth, there was a blood curdling shriek from outside.  All six men looked toward the door of the cabin with expressions of sheer horror.  The sound had cut through the howling wind like a knife.  And they all knew for a fact that it had been made by some form of beast.  More likely than not the one they had all been tracking.

© 2017 PWyates

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Added on September 13, 2017
Last Updated on September 13, 2017
Tags: Horror, Supernatural, Thriller, SciFi, Mountains, Nature, Scary



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