Don't Go There
Written By: LaLa Leo
Part III - A Hiker's Nightmare
"What really happened to my friends that night...?" - Yuri Yudin, The Dyatlov Pass Incident (Horror Movie) by Renny Harlin, Hollywood Director
By mid-morning, the eager group was completely packed up and ready for today's trek through the mountain pass. A few of them chatted happily amongst each other as they waited. After a moment, Igor stepped to the front to make an imperative announcement. He needed them to understand that with every step, every climb, their lives were in grave danger.
"Yuri would have wanted to be here for this beautiful journey... We press onward today. I would like to say that I am ecstatic to be your leader for this expedition. This will be my last trip for some time as some of us will be graduating soon..." Igor enthused as he nodded toward Zina who casually bowed her head back, smiling. Most of the students on the trip had just recently graduated, or were expecting to graduate soon in a few years.
"It will prove to be a challenging hike at category III, and we must all be prepared for anything," Igor stated in a more grim tone, setting the stage to avoid carelessness and tomfoolery. The Ural Mountains were no place for that. These lands were feared by everyone, including the native Mansi people that viciously warned others to stay away.
"A Nazi can survive anything!" Lyudmila heartily shouted and surprised everyone with her loyal Communist patriotism. The supposed quiet girl may not have been so quiet after all.
"Aye!" everyone screamed out in unison as there was enough said at this point, and time to cover more ground before noon. Everyone chortled at the youngest member's enthusiasm.
Igor turned around while rigorously waving his arm for the others to follow. Sasha soon caught up to him, and they whispered quietly as Georgiy watched them ever so intently. Zina then caught up to Georgiy and anxiously inquired of him.
"What could THEY be discussing?" Zina asks as she feels Georgiy, being Igor's best friend, knows everything about him. Georgiy wished he knew, but didn't dwell on it.
"I haven't the slightest clue, but that guy gives me the creeps!" Georgiy softly joked with Zina, and looked back over his shoulder at Aleksander, Lyudmila, and Yuri. He could only hope that it wasn't bad, or that it had anything to do with what happened the other night. Either way, there was no need to alert anyone of anything just yet.
The group trekked silently through the crunching snow as the sun beamed down with the intensity of a stage spotlight on improv actors. The warmth was always welcomed in this environment except during strenuous physical activities like walking. After about two hours of heading in one direction, Igor spun his hand to signal that they were stopping for a 10-minute break. Georgiy collapsed to the ground instantly, his red face glistening under his ski mask, heaving hard.
"Whew!" Sasha was winded, too, as he also sat down near Georgiy. Sasha was the oldest, and was considered the most experienced of the group. Igor respected him despite the fact that they all knew so little about him.
Sasha withdrew a medium-sized flask from his heavy coat's chest pocket and sipped for a few moments before placing it back. He coughed profusely, ignoring his onlookers as they unloaded their heavy packs, and either walked around to examine their surroundings, or sat down to rest as well.
Igor studied a map intently while periodically looking up at the sky towards the sun. Zina pointed north to what appeared to be a giant hole in the side of a mountain. It wholly gaped like a blooper cartoon hole that had been placed there instead of a natural land formation.
"That has to be it," Yuri motioned as well, and pointed to a place on Igor's map. The pass loomed ahead like unnatural darkness within such a wintry white expanse. Dread unknowingly overcame them all, but no one said a word about it. No one ever suggested that they should turn back.
With the few minutes that remained, Rustik and Tibo drank ice cold water from their canteens, and replanted them on their persons. This would prevent the water from freezing completely. Everyone else quietly reloaded themselves and Igor signaled once again. And, they were off!
Within the hour, they stood outside of the giant hole that now resembled the huge mouth of some unknown beast that made them seem minuscule in comparison to its size.
"Step lightly, keep your lights on, and stay close," Igor made eye contact with everyone as he disappeared in the dark entrance followed by Sasha and Georgiy. Then, Rustik and Tibo. Then, Zina and Yuri. Followed last by Lyudmila and Aleksander. There was definitely no turning back now.
"Much of our waking experience is but a dream in the daylight." - George Eliot, Theophrastus Such
Yuri awakened with a fright in the warm bed of a primitive infirmary back in Vizhai. The flashing light of a dying bulb was dizzying to wake up to. He steadied himself with the bedrails as he glared around the small room slowly as if he'd forgotten where he was. An anxious caretaker rushed in with a basin full of steaming water and a sponge. She rushed across to the nearby chair, sat and looked at Yuri carefully as he regained his composure.
"Bad dream?" she inquired after a few moments. She studied his worried countenance carefully as she waited politely for his response, and for the water to cool a bit before attending to her nursing duties.
"More like a nightmare... say, do you ever get the screwy feeling that something terrible is about to happen, and there's nothing that you can do about it?" he sat up gradually, leaning forward in attempts to reach a glass of water on the bed stand.
She lightly lifted the glass that appeared to be out of Yuri's reach, motioning for him to sit back, and not be so hasty to move just yet.
"Well, knowingly or unknowingly, there is comfort in knowing that we do not control everything. Less responsibility, in my opinion. My name is Lyuda, by the way," she said casually as if she felt that he should know better than to even speak of such things.
"Lyuda..." he breathed as he sat back and took a sip of water. He reminisced for a moment of Lyudmila's tight hug before their departure. The caretaker patted the dried sweat from his brow away lightly with the rough sponge before placing it back into the basin. Afterward, she abruptly stood to make her exit.
"Should you need anything, I'll be right outside," Lyuda called out to him over her shoulder, turning back once more to check the room before gently closing the door after herself.
"Otorten..." Yuri uttered as he placed his glass back on the bed stand, and turned over to try and sleep again.
Part IV - The Mountain of the Dead Coming Soon!!!