[This pasta is completely unrelated to the recent earthquake in Nepal, which is a tragedy and should be treated as such. It so happened to have been written before it took place]
I was hardly known as being a particularly brave man.
So you could imagine my surprise when my master, who I was currently working under for a fair amount of wage, stood up from his black leather couch and announced to the whole room. “Grab your things, Charles! We shall be embarking upon an expedition!” Just following a rather aged documentary about Mount Everest, and the local legends of a terrible beast, the Yeti, which wandered the mountain.
Erwin Baker had always had a fascination with the unknown, and as his valet I was inclined to listen to his frequent ramblings of the occult and supernatural, and occasionally even partake in the occasional ritual that he claimed would grant immortality, or some other fanciful enhancement.
Perhaps it was because he was so rich that life just didn’t hold its element of surprise as much any longer, and this was just one of his many attempts to stave off boredom. Either way, I do not claim to know, and soon we had traveled from London to Rome, and from Rome to Turkey, and finally the long journey from Turkey to Nepal. Nepal was a very cold place, might I say. The air was thin and the locals were more than happy to relieve us of a few pounds in exchange for supplies for our rather impromptu expedition.
We had gathered a team of a rough and ready sort, and our guide, who went by the name of Lawrence Fisher, had vexed me from the very beginning. He bore a greasy black handlebar mustache and a head of similar colored hair, and carried himself as if he was a prince. My master and I must have shared the same loathing, but he had claimed to have made it to the top and down five different times. Of course, my master was uninterested in the full journey and instead wanted simply to find and photograph the elusive Yeti.
Lawrence also claimed to have “made arrangements” and after staying in Nepal for a night, we began our trip to the base of the great mountain via a bus. My master was a little upset at its condition, as it was rusty and worn, and rattled us every time we encountered a slight bump in the road, but he managed to at least prevent other passengers from coming aboard and mucking up the trip more than it already was. The trip to the mountain lasted two long days, and as I stared blankly out the window and into the hilly surroundings, I couldn’t help but feel some apprehension about going on such a journey.
Of course, I didn’t really believe that Yetis existed, and all the different rituals my master had made me do had all ended in failure. But even so, these lands had a sort of mysticism about them. Something distinctly… Unknown.
We arrived at the base of the mountain at about noon, and when we pulled up to a small lake by the name of ‘Imja’, we saw an old rundown shack beside it. Lawrence led the group to the shack, and inside the foul smelling place was this crusty old man who communicated only in sign language. Lawrence translated the various signs to something like ‘footsteps on the middle, look for caves.’ I thought my master would be upset at such vague news, but to my surprise he gave the man a thankful nod and said. “Gentlemen, we have our course!” Everyone present shared my surprise as he walked off back to the parked bus, but a few mumbles and shrugs were exchanged and from there we moved on.
Yet another three hours later, we reached a different part of the mountain, and the bus drove away this time. “Lead the way, Mr. Fisher!” Spoke my master with a cheerful voice, and we were on our way up. At this point, the air was dry, but not as cold as you may imagine. Sure it was quite frigid, but with all the coats and layers we wore, the weather was quite bearable. I suppose the best thing I could say of our expedition was the beautiful surroundings, with massive valleys of green and incredible views of the nearby landscape. The mountain loomed overhead farther than I could see, and the snow underneath our feet was crunchy.
After about a day of travel, we made camp at the flattest piece of ground we could find. Camping on Mount Everest was a painful affair, considering the bitter cold bit into you at night the further up you went. But we all made it through, and continued to follow Lawrence the next morn. It was about two thirty, according to my watch, when Lawrence stopped dead in his tracks about fifty feet ahead and with a jubilant expression turned to us and began shouting. “We are on the trail, my friends! Look!” When my master and I approached where he was standing, and were both equally shocked by the outline of what appeared to be an oversized foot in the ground. Erwin looked more overjoyed, whilst I must have appeared quite horrified by what was before me.
All these years, I imagined that the pictures of footsteps upon slopes of Everest had all been staged, but the frightening reality of what was before me hit harder than I imagined. Even so, I kept my best poker face, and couldn’t help but grin a little at just how enthusiastic my master appeared. Usually, past the twinkle in his eyes, one could see a hint of… Boredom within them. It was gone now, and I thought that was a good thing, to be quite honest. The people who were with us just stood there, most with expressions of disbelief. One rubbed his eyes, while another raised a hand to his mouth.
There was a little hesitation within the men as we pressed on, following the scattered prints in a hope to find where they led. “Looks to be a snowstorm in the making!” Lawrence announced, picking up his pace. “We must find our Yeti before it sets in!” How he knew this, I do not know, but he stomped up the snowy slopes at double time, and my master and I followed suit. There was a childish spark of adventure in me that evened out with the initial shock of seeing the mark in the snow. Perhaps I am just a weird person at heart, but Erwin’s pure enthusiasm was contagious.
Another night went by, and the prints were beginning to grow more and more discernable. At first, the outline was very faint but as we continued our progress up the mountain, the marks were clearer. Three huge toe-shaped extremities and a giant main section. Simple enough, but nonetheless frightening. And to think we had found our footprints within the first week! It was incredible! Perhaps we really would be the first ones to discover the Yeti after all.
A couple men had snapped some photographs of the prints we had found, as my master demanded, and we had even taken an old polaroid along, just to make sure none of the evidence would be lost. It was another day of travel, and things were beginning to get much colder. The air was starting to become more thin, but we still pressed on. Flurries were falling from the slightly darkened sky now as we walked, but were hardly enough to cover up the trail of footprints.
That night when we made camp, a boy named Anokhi, who was a native of the region, approached me in my tent with a very serious expression on his youthful face. “Why does your master wish to find the Yeti?” He asked. “Mr. Erwin is a man of variety,” I replied in a proud manner, “he wishes to be the first to find the Yeti and prove it exists!” Anokhi just stared at me blankly for awhile. “I did not think that we would find Yeti. I will be leaving tomorrow. You should do the same.” And with those ominous lines, he ducked out of my tent and left me there to ponder. The next morning he was nowhere to be found, and a little of our supplies had gone missing. My master didn’t hold it against him, bless his soul, and acted as though nothing ever happened.
A few rumors flew around here and there about why Anokhi had left, but soon the rest of us forgot about him and were on our way again. Today was the day we found where the footprints led to. It was just eight in the morning when we stumbled across the gaping maw of a cave in the distance. Sure enough, the prints went right to it. We had all gathered at the entrance and stared into the murky abyss with apprehension. Even Lawrence didn’t have his usual confident look on his face anymore. The atmosphere was silent and awkward for a time before I spoke up. It was something completely uncharacteristic of me, I know, but my curiosity about what was inside the cave had piqued my interest. “I shall go in first.” Everyone looked to me and nodded in a greatful way, including my master who also appeared a little proud. For a time I just swung my arms and cleared my throat in preparation, looking around at the expectant stares around me as I took a step forward. “I will be going in now!” I restated, slowly taking a few steps forward and letting the darkness of the cave engulf me. Thankfully, we were equipped with heavy duty flashlights for just such a circumstance, and as I entered I turned mine on.
The whole cave lit up in a brilliant pale, as I progressed through it. There wasn’t the usual dripping of water one would expect to hear within a cave, considering any water was probably frozen in these conditions. The tunnel snaked around a bit, forcing me through a section of left and right turns in a very rigid manner. While the walls were actually considerably close to each other, the ceiling was almost higher than I could see upwards. The cave continued on a little further before terminating in one giant cavern ahead. The ceiling was far closer to the ground here, but for some odd reason whitish blue ice had crept into the walls and ceiling until it all but covered the whole area. It was quite strange, I thought, considering I had seen no such thing within the tunnel area.
Even stranger, there was no need for my light here, because the roof of the cave had a jagged hole within it that let the light of the sun cascade through the ice formations nearby. Hundreds of miniature icicles hung from the intact part of the roof, but what took my breath away was the sight of half a skeleton hanging upside down with the skull and bones of its upper body scattered haphazardly on the freezing floor below.
I put my hand to my mouth, and now it was not only the cold that sent a chill down my spine. Bloody bones belonging to all kinds of various different creatures were littered all across the place, but what disturbed me most was how many of them were human. Some were hard to distinguish, because they lay in messy piles with other bones of different creatures but the ones in plain sight were enough to let me know that we had most certainly found our Yeti. My heart nearly stopped as my eyes slowly looked over the rest of the cave, but to my immense relief the beast must not have been home at the moment. I almost couldn’t bring myself to snap a polaroid before I left, but had managed to do so in the end.
When I showed the image to the group outside, everyone seemed just as frightened as I had been. That included my master, who, with an unsavory look upon his face, said. “Gentlemen, I believe we have what we came for. It is time to depart… And in a most timely fashion.” Not one man raised a protest of any sort, and soon we began descending the slope of the great mountain once again. I suppose when he saw that picture, Erwin knew just what he was getting himself and his group into. And the risks outweighed the rewards. We, like many others, had gathered what little information we could and would not be pushing our luck.
But I’m afraid that my tale doesn’t end there, for as we stomped our way down the mountain at a reasonable rate, we were engulfed within a blizzard that descended upon us in what felt like a few minutes. The whole world was cloaked in a powdery white, and soon I had to struggle in order to see five feet in front of me. I made it a priority to stay by my master all the way, who plodded onwards with his gloves batting the air ahead in an attempt to aid his vision. “Well, Lawrence did warn us!” I shouted, trying to stay as positive as possible. “Indeed he did! But not of how fast it would happen!” Came the reply, and to be honest I couldn’t refute this. It had been about an hour of incessant walking, and I was sure we must have lost some men by this point. I could see none of the nearby surroundings, only an endless amount of snow and a barren wasteland beneath my feet, which I was beginning to have trouble feeling. Just as I thought things could not possibly get worse, through the unbearable howling of the wind, a terrible cacophony of roars filled the air. The noise was so loud that the ground underneath our very feet shook as if it was about to give way, and I found myself falling face first into the snow. The frozen liquid stung my already chilled flesh, but I rose back to my feet in order to join my master once again. The scream sounded unearthly. It is hard to describe, but I would liken it to the sound of a thousand lions roaring at once mixed with the cries of a hundred children. It was terrifying, to say the least, and despite the weather my master and I began running faster than ever.
We became fueled by adrenaline as something from behind us slowly began growing more and more noticeable. It was a rhythmic rumble that shook the ground like the roar, but to a lesser extent. But it sounded suspicious… Frightening in a primitive way. As if a man had grown three stories tall and was sprinting towards us. From what little I can recall of this, my theory must not have been far off, because we heard a horrible scream from behind that momentarily pierced the veil of wind before fading into the frozen oblivion for good.
With pure fear to spur us on, we began almost stumbling down the mountain. That thing must not have been far behind, but the reason I believe we are still alive today is because our team bought the two of us time. After what felt like hours, the storm was beginning to let up. Enough for me to see the figure of Lawrence Fisher lagging slightly behind us, and occasionally glancing back into the storm in fear. The only memory I have of the beast itself is the massive, hairy arm that momentarily reached out from the cloak of snow to grab the entirety of his torso and drag him, screaming at the top of his lungs for help, into the ocean of murky white.
Erwin and I didn’t stop running until we were away from the storm, and even then were sure to behave as if paranoid. All the provisions we had for the way back were some bags of chips and bottles of soda we had kept in our coats, but after three days of no sleep and exhausting travel, we managed to stumble down off that God forsaken mountain and back to the closest thing to civilization that was nearby.
Besides my master and I, only one man made it off that mountain alive. And it was the boy Anokhi, who we actually ended up meeting on the way down. He had been traveling at a much slower pace, you see, and was more than happy to share the food he had taken with us. Water wasn’t exactly much of a problem though, as you may imagine. The three of us made our way back to the village, after we exchanged our horrifying tale, and after thanking the boy we booked a flight back to Turkey. I am currently recording our story in this country, and make of it what you will, but please, if you value your life at all, do not visit Mount Everest.
Something lurks there, amongst its frozen slopes. Waiting, and hunting its prey. Something that is truly horrifying.