I was informed last week that I would be going to Antarctica. I packed all my cold weather gear and camera equipment and waited. It was like this 90 % of the time. Pack and wait....
It was about two in the afternoon, three days after the call that a very obviously unmarked government vehicle pulled up in front of my house. It was parked out front for a good ten minutes before my phone rang. The dry voice asked if I was packed. I was. He told me to place everything I was taking in the garage on a blue tarp. I told him everything was already there. Good.
I walked out the front door with a light jacket on and my iPad in hand. I slipped into the back seat as the door opened for me. I closed the door and the driver peered at me in the rear view to inspect that I was ready to go. I smiled widely. I always smile at these guys. I thing it irritates them slightly. Only once had a woman picked me up. She looked at me the same way. So much for my charming nature.
After a long drive we pulled into an outskirts airstrip. The sign said International Airport. I guess a two seater to Canada makes it international. I would be taking a two seater to my destination. A Harrier.
Vertical takeoff always sounds cool, but it is pretty lame actually. I walked over to the jet and climbed up. In my seat was a manilla envelope, a flight suit and a digital tablet. I climbed back down and put on the flight suit, climbed back up and in. I buckled in and with a broad smile at the pilot we were off. Or up, I guess. I opened the envelope and took out the contract. Flipped through it quick (top secret...treason...blah blah blah) and signed the bottom. Standard. I flipped the iPad on and plugged my headset into it.
"The information contained on this device is for your eyes only..." the voice said.
"New narrator." I thought. Briefly wondering how one gets that job, if it is union, or have to audition...
The narrator told me I was headed to a local base, onto another plane, then onto a carrier, then a sub, and finally into a hot zone. Hot zone was their way of saying a well protected area. Very well protected. I perused through some grainy photos of an area with some blobs circled in red and labeled 'structure'. I will see it when I get there I thought. We were starting our descent.
Climbing out of the sub and onto a dock on the continent of Antarctica was a little surreal. I've been in subs before, but not a long trip. I had forgotten if it was day or night and stepping out of the sub I still couldn't tell. Day and night sometimes interchange here. The dock is a standard Army Corps of Engineers quick set up deal. It feels like you are walking across canoes that can hold up a tank. At the end of the dock I am met by several men in fatigues that tell their rank, but no their names. Two Sergents. Maybe. They lead me up an incline. As the ground starts to level off, I now understand what the photos were of. Structures. Several of them. Low arcing buildings buried in the ground. Older than anything I have seen.
I see the stuff I left in the garage in a crate, parachute strings still attached. I quickly start setting up cameras. They trust me because there are two things they know about me. I don't have any family and no close friends and I'm damn good at what I do.
I spend the next two weeks shooting buildings being excavated and tools being unearthed. These people set up for the changing weather and eventually were snowed in permanently. Twenty thousand years before the pyramids were built. As I'm packing up to leave the first real archeologists and anthropologists arrive. The Army always makes sure there is no alien technology to be found. Seriously. Unfortunately they usually wreck quite a bit of history. Aliens. Whatever.
The ride home is less interesting. Boat to Australia and a long flight home. I look in the garage and my stuff is there. In a crate. I walk into my living room a sit down in my Lazy Boy. I let out a sigh as my eyes close. My thoughts drift. I dream I am back on the sub. An alarm is going off. Everyone is running around. I get knocked down a flight of steps and jolt awake from the feeling of falling. The alarm sound is my phone is ringing. I sigh again as I answer the phone. At least I don't have to pack again.