WHO GOES THERE

The place stank. A queer, mingled stench that only the ice­buried cabins of an Antarctic camp
know, compounded of reeking human sweat, and the heavy, fish­oil stench of melted seal
blubber. An overtone of liniment combated the musty smell of sweat­and­snow­drenched furs. The acrid odor of burnt cooking fat, and the animal, not­unpleasant smell of dogs, diluted by time, hung in the air.
Lingering odors of machine oil contrasted sharply with the taint of harness dressing and leather.
Yet somehow, through all that reek of human beings and their associates ­ dogs, machines and
cooking ­ came another taint. It was a queer, neck­ruffling thing, a faintest suggestion of an odor
alien among the smells of industry and life. And it was a life­smell. But it came from the thing that
lay bound with cord and tarpaulin on the table, dripping slowly, methodically onto the heavy
planks, dank and gaunt under the unshielded glare of the electric light.
Blair, the little bald­pated biologist of the expedition, twitched nervously at the wrappings, exposing clear, dark ice beneath and then pulling the tarpaulin back into place restlessly. His little
birdlike motions of suppressed eagerness danced his shadow across the fringe of dingy gray
underwear hanging from the low ceiling, the equatorial fringe of stiff, graying hair around his
naked skull a comical halo about the shadow’s head.
Commander Garry brushed aside the lax legs of a suit of underwear, and stepped toward the
table. Slowly his eyes traced around the rings of men sardined into the Administration Building. His tall, stiff body straightened finally, and he nodded. “Thirty­seven. All here.” His voice was low, yet carried the clear authority of the commander by nature, as well as by title.

 

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