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The long walk outside

Oates was not popular with the other men and it didn't help that he stank of rotting flesh

By Raymond G. TaylorPublished 25 days ago Updated 25 days ago 1 min read
A Very Gallant Gentleman: painting by John Charles Dollman, public domain

"Hey, Soldier! Where are you off to?"

"I am just going outside and may be some time."

"Well take that shovel with you. And be sure to dig deep."

Roaring and howling, the maniacal wind beat its vengeful tattoo against the walls of the tent, snow piling up without mercy. It was a wonder that frail material made by man could survive such punishment. A wonder too, that frail human material within could withstand it.

One man, Oates, known to the others as 'Soldier', was succumbing to this daily punishment more than others. Not a popular man, Oates came from a wealthy family, was educated at Eton, and had served as an officer in South Africa. Frostbite had taken a big enough toll of him but a leg injury had turned to gangrene. The rotten stench it made in the cramped tent, did not make him any more popular.

There would be no respite from the blizzard for days to come. They needed to get to the food dump and Oates was holding them up.

The next day, when he announced his now familiar: "I am just going outside and may be some time," nobody took any notice. They were too demoralized by cold and hunger to respond.

Oates didn't bother with the shovel. He wouldn't need it. Limping out into the wind, he dragged his putrid leg behind.

A comradely goodbye would have been nice, he thought, as he lay in the snow sinking, frozen, into unconsciousness.


About the Creator

Raymond G. Taylor

Author based in Kent, England. A writer of fictional short stories in a wide range of genres, he has been a non-fiction writer since the 1980s. Non-fiction subjects include art, history, technology, business, law, and the human condition.

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Comments (6)

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  • Mark Graham23 days ago

    Everyone needs a friend in even that time of preparing for death. I feel for Oates.

  • I felt so sad for Oates 🥺🥺🥺 Loved your story so much!

  • Ha Le Sa25 days ago

    great sharing!

  • L.C. Schäfer25 days ago

    Ooh I hoped it would be Oates! Brilliant piece, good luck in the challenge 👏

  • John Cox25 days ago

    Wonderful writing, Ray. You bring the Antarctic blizzard to brutal, terrifying life. Thanks for the helpful comments below. I loved the 'stiff-upper-lip' comment! History is often dry, but it does not have to be.

  • For readers who do not recognise this story, it is a fictional/dramatization of a true story from the history of Antarctic exploration. By 'fictional' and 'dramatization' of a true story, I mean that the event depicted is true and documented in history. The 'Who', 'What', 'When' and 'Where' are true. The 'hoW' is made up for dramatic effect (dramatized), as is the dialogue. The result, I hope, is more 'realistic' than the somewhat clinical version found in Scott's diary or the 'stiff-upper-lip' version told in the history books of the British Empire and its heroes. Comments are always welcome. Love to all xx

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