Chapter 8

Written by: jessica g

Cold gnashed its teeth on Peter Marshall’s face. He heard George scream and the crunch of her body as she landed on an ice ledge nearby.

“George!” he called. “Can you hear me?”


She was just two metres below him. Gingerly she reached down to touch her leg which throbbed.

“I’m sorry,” Marshall continued.

“What about?”

“I never meant it to happen!”

“What are you on about?” George barked. “I think I’ve broken my leg.” She yelped as she hit a tender spot.

“I should have never let Alex come. I think she’s pregnant,” Marshall babbled.

George frowned. What in the world was he talking about? In fifteen years of marriage he had never been unfaithful. Her mind flicked back to the days before the expedition. No telltale signs of an affair …. that she could see. She calmed her racing heartbeat and winced as pain stabbed through her leg.

Recalling Marshall’s tendency to ramble in important situations, George tried to get closer by shuffling along the ledge. A spike of ice caught her leg. She screamed. Panic gripped Marshall.

“Are you okay?”

“Mmm,” she moaned.  

Thinking she had screamed because of what he had said, Marshall kept going. “She’s a sweet kid. Looks up to me. I don’t know what I’m going to tell James.”

George stopped. “James?”

“….The young man she’s been dating. The baby’s father.”

A light smile played on George’s lips. Thank goodness she had not reacted. The pain of losing Marshall would outstrip any spasms coming from her leg.

“He’s at the USAF base at Eielson. They met at a Washington State Cougars game a few months back.”

She shuffled forward and saw the beacon’s dark outline against the snow. Holding her breath she examined it in the dim light and, releasing a relieved whistle, she sat up. The beacon was undamaged. She sent it out into the night.


Cursing his stupidity Dawson picked up the overturned Primus. The flame was out. As much as he was furious with Alex, he couldn’t leave her to die. He refused to be like his father, Kramer who had gambled away millions and left his mother to die in squalor. He looked at Alex, eyes closed, pale. Her vulnerability reminded him of his mother. He would do the ‘right thing’. Above all he would be a better man to Alex than Professor Marshall who had walked away without looking back.

Dawson remembered the emergency first aid kit. He went over to the balloon and ferreted around, his stomach clenched into a tight knot. He dragged out the hypothermia blanket and tucked it around Alex and tenderly held her head in his lap. She couldn’t leave him, not like this. He placed one hand on either side of her face, hoping, praying for signs of life. Alex let out a faint whimper.

Back at the Research Station, Marcus gave a loud whoop as he turned to Henry and Sam.

“I’ve just seen a flare.”

Jess Gillon, NZ.



Nice pick up. Believable story on the pregnancy. I liked the more depth into both the profs. relationship with his wife and the unexpected turn of events between Dawson and his situation. Especially liked the condensed rear end regarding the base camp although I'm not sure if they would see a flare from there, or did you mean a signal from the beacon. Apart from that small point I thought the story has moved along really well. Nice one Jess.
Thank you for the feedback :)
There are only two chapters left in this story.  It is now time to begin (at least) to find a way to find a conclusion.  You mentioned that Alex's boy friend is at Eielson AFB but did not say anything else about it including the fact that it is just outside of Fairbanks.  A professor once told me "If you show your reader a gun you are going to have to use it."  Well, you showed them a gun but you did not tell your reader it is a gun.  You just lost a great opportunity to move the story on.  This is a short story--each word is valuable.  You have given a lot of detail that has no bearing on the outcome.  This chapter was critical to MOVE the story and recovery it.  Now there are only two chapters left to come up with a believable ending.  It is going to be difficult to do.
Thank you for the feedback and picking up on the AFB error :)
Without giving to much away, my idea with introducing Alex's boyfriend (who could be later revealed to be the guy Dawson saw Alex with at a football game, and Dawson mistakenly assumed he was a football player) could lead the rescue party. Old fashioned romance and what not. Also an opportunity for a showdown between him and Dawson.   
Yes and I just spelt "too" wrong, hastily typed, no bearing on my intelligence!
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE is the name of the installation.  Not the name of the place it is located.  It is located just outside the city limits of Fairbanks, Alaska.  Also, COLD is a temperature--a temperature can not  "....gnash its teeth"  It has no teeth. 
Thank you for the feedback, this was an interesting and valuable experience for me.  I'm a relatively new writer and this was an area outside of my comfort zone so I viewed it as a challenge!  Regarding the AFB in an attempt to make the story more realistic, (apologies for the incorrect reference) I mistakenly made the assumption from the AFB's website that it was located in an area called Eielson rather than that being the name of the installation itself.Thanks for bringing this to my attention. On the bright side, this is fiction, not specified as 'historical fiction' or based on true events, so there is some creative licence acknowledged with this. I did have a bit of trouble with the chapter in attempting to work towards resolutions, as it seems many of the events in previous chapters were setting up action and cliffhangers. It seemed a little like each author was adding more and more exciting parts to the story rather than working on what they had already been given, and doing some of the more "boring" background work on relationships etc.  So my rationale for the way I have laid out my contribution was that I had to somehow: a) link in with all previous chapters (there were several characters introduced who were not explained, 'guns not used', some characters names and roles were even unclear from chapter to chapter )  b) explain the pregancy (can't leave that hanging) c) explain the relationship between Marshall & Alex, and why George would go after Marshall straight away (she loves him to death!) d) Avoid making everyone 'the bad guy' e.g. Marshall be unfaithful to his wife, Dawson be evil. e) someone had to have an epiphany in order for the story to move forward/ set it up for a resolution. I chose this person to be Dawson, rather than Marshall. Dawson's father (introduced earlier) seemed to be a good character to reference based on the information given. f) take the story somewhere unexpected but still within the realms of possibility. I chose "gnashed its teeth" as a form of personification, I like giving natural elements human qualities (this may seem silly to some, but I like that it is not using a typical statement eg "the biting wind")  Feedback is always the most constructive when directed to specific elements of writing/work rather than the individual themselves, as they can improve on their skills, but can't change who they are as a person. A little debate can be healthy though :)  Rather than feeling like missing an opportunity to take the story somewhere, this was an opportunity to develop my capabilities as a writer, and hopefully make a better more improved contribution to a future serial! This site overall is a great way to establish a two way dialogue to enable all writers to  work on their skills. Thank you for introducing me to it Suraya.                
I thought you dug things out and set things up well. And kudos for even trying to look up correct information on the base for a two-paragraph tie-in.
  Jessica, I think your feedback on the feedback shows something a lot of writers lack to a certain extent. The ability to accept criticism, and then answer that part of it that you want to argue, with clear and concise personal views, and acknowledging that which you found correct, all within a dignified manner. Thank you so much. I find it hard to believe that you are a new writer. New or not, I am looking forward to seeing more of your work.
You have totally made my day!!  I love a good, well thought out and intellegent debate!  You have done that and a lot more besides.  Your reasons for what you did make sense and you have certainly followed through on what you said.  I took the obvious track with my ideas.  You sat back and looked at the whole picture then came up with something all together different.  Actually your ideas will make this a much higher quality story.  I had on blinders just trying to find a way to wrap it up and make sense.  Sometimes it is very refreshing to be wrong--this is one of those time!  Thank you also for having the courage to stand up and debate what I said--it is a dificult skill for some to learn.  I look forward to many more "debates" and the opportunity to hash out ideas with you.  I completely agree with what Ray said about you critique.  Well done.   Again, thank you for making my day!!  
I am going to book a chapter in the next serial, looking forward to the feedback and learning of ways to improve my writing :) . Looking back on the "cold gnashed its teeth", I realise that this is somewhat a naive sentence , probably stemming from worrying about constructing a "hook" for the audience into the chapter (so something for me to watch out for next time!) Also looking forward to seeing how the serial ends! Thanks, Jess