Fulgin: the origin




Such a dark and lonely place to die.

In the dwindling circle of lantern light, Scott Greyson drank the last of his hot soup and listened at the blizzard screaming outside. Light was life. Food was life. Both would be gone soon.

It hadn't sounded dangerous at first, no dangerous than his other stunts. Open-sea kayaking off the Ross Ice Shelf, vertical climbing on the massive icebergs calving into the bay, and negotiating cravasse-ridden expanses of glare ice had all seemed worse, but he had survived them all right. So when Jason and Mac proposed a sled dash overland to McMurdo Station, he'd jumped at the chance. Powered sleds, for Christ's sake! Sure the sleds were balky, but with plenty of spare parts and fuel they'd be fine. Making the run in mid-June, just as the Antarctic season veered into the long winter night, just added spice to the trip. They'd be fine.

Outside, the blizzard was a continuous roar, a mind-numbing white noise broken by occasional cracks as sheets of ice broke free of the tent's outer surface and whirled away into the darkness. Scott shivered as he dialed the lantern down to a faint glow, barely brighter than a candle. The fuel might last another hour.

The first few days of the run had been a lark. The sun, a pale marble rolling along the rim of the horizon, cast elongated shadows as they sped across the ice. They pitched camp in darkness, had a hot meal while the beers thawed, then woke to more darkness and another ride. Scott and Mac laughed at the six crown roasts Jason had lashed to his sled. He pointed out it would guarantee them a warm reception at the station.

Scott cocked his head. For an instant, he'd heard something different than the mindless scream of the blizzard. Something faint but unmistakeable intelligible. A thready voice whispering, asking. He shivered again. The cold, he thought, sneaking icy tendrils into his mind. Soon he'd be as mad as poor dead Scott and his partner, who insisted a third man was hiking alongside them during a blizzard just like this. Maybe he'd be luckier. Maybe he'd die first.

Back on the ice, the end was startlingly swift. Mac was riding in the middle when the fuel line on his sled ruptured. Scott whipped around to see the fireball. A ski shot backward and speared Jason through the chest. He tumbled sideways, his blood freezing before it could hit the ice, as his sled skidded into the flaming hulk before it. Scott managed to throw himself from his seat as a second explosion lit the sky. Burning debris rained around him, turning ice to water for the first time in milennia. A third whoosh and thump told him that the fire had found his own sled as well. Scott staggered to his feet, surveying the carnage. Jason was dead, but he took the time to arrange his friend's body before starting a search for Mac. He never found a corpse. The sleds and their supplies were utterly lost. The tent and gear in his backpack would buy him just enough time to thoroughly contemplate his own death.

The voice was back. Scott had been drowsing; he jerked awake. Freezing to death was just like falling asleep, right? Falling asleep and never waking up. But the voice was back, growing more distinct but never louder as Scott listened. The voice suggested, cajoled, pleaded. Not in words so much as ideas.

Not a human voice at all.

Outside in the storm and the darkness another traveller had gone astray and become trapped. Unlike Scott, it could not live outside this place. But with Scott's help, perhaps something of themselves -- both and neither -- could escape. The storm pressed tighter against the tent. Scott listened.

On June 28th, something walked into McMurdo Station. It walked and talked like a man, but it had crossed hundreds of kilometers of bare ice with no heat, no food, not so much as a coat. Scott Greyson had embraced the dark heart of the storm and become Fulgin. He still isn't sure what that means.

Good Guys: Touch of Gray, Cap'n Lil

Bad Guys: Maduro Man, Ghostbound, Amish Cyborg