A Message For Martha

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A Message For Martha Dave Ungless

“When we finally landed ashore and later found the wreckage of the aircraft Lazy Daisy, Scott could no longer contain his anguish, ‘Merciful Lord, what have we done,’ he exclaimed loudly to the heavens because by now he was at the absolute end of his tether. Icy Queen lay wrecked on the shoreline and it is no exaggeration to say that each of us were utterly exhausted beyond our every measure. Mentally, we three could give no more, we had given everything we could possibly give, every ounce of energy we possessed had been expended in this foolish venture and once again we had nearly paid with our lives. Whether the Lord to whom Scott implored his soul would reveal why he had cast this sufferance upon us would be something we could never hope to understand. Nor would we ever wish to know such outlandish endeavours.” Dave

In the manner of all inconceivable mysteries, you now have a compelling decision to make. I believe in my heart that I have given you good cause to absolve me of all blame for our first disaster in the Peril Strait, the near perilous shipwreck seven days before that had nearly cost us our lives. This altogether new catastrophe that fell upon us might surely convince you that I am no fool, that I was the victim of some unpleasant deviousness that sporadically occurs in the Peril Strait when one approaches the Narrows. I had nearly lost both my vessel and my crew in a futile rescue attempt which at that time we believed was nothing more than a cruel trick to lure us into Deep Sound for reasons that are difficult to explain. Of course, there is also the official version of these cataclysmic events that was untruthfully presented as fact to the authoritative enquiry that took place seven months afterwards – after Icy Queen too was caught then wrecked on the rocky beach located on the northern shore of Deep Sound.

The choice that you now have to which I refer to above is simple. First, you can decide that you have no reason to read more of what happened when we again received the distress call on Bill’s old radio – indeed, my commonly disbelieved and often ridiculed account that follows pays no attention to the foul-play or natural occurring forces verdict that was decided by the official investigative enquiry, the official version of what occurred in the Peril Strait that attempts to rationalise the causes of the tragedy that unfolded. If you wish to accept the investigative enquiry’s findings that are published elsewhere then you have no need to read further. Alternatively, you can choose otherwise. You can choose whether you wish to know what really happened – that is, if you have the temerity or boldness of mind to be less impertinent in your general condemnation.

I hope beyond hope that my written discourse so far will have adequately described to you the events which lead to this second frightful disaster that now occurred. Certainly the true facts will turn your mind inside out. I have before warned you that you would need to be strong in your thinking, that you might need to recognise that transcendental paranormal does not necessarily always mean evil, that these things are truly remarkable metaphysical occurrences nevertheless. Why else would Marie be able to converse with a man long dead? How could she talk rationally at length with someone who had died a horribly cruel death? A long-lost radio-man who was without any shadow of doubt already dead, a man who tried to make one last attempt to contact the woman he loved.

Your choice now is whether to keep reading below or not, to then decide which version of the truth you prefer. I swear on my life that everything I have related to you before now is true in almost every detail, but confess to you that what you will read from here might contain some deliberate untruths. When you finally make up your mind which way you wish to lean, when you once and for all understand that in all of these tragic events I myself have entirely no blame, you will have that fearful decision to decide for yourself if the compelling evidence I will present to you is believable or not.

If you wish to know everything, the whole truth and nothing but the truth that includes things you really should not know, then you must accept every attestation we give.

The Subtle Truth

Lazy Daisy 1942.Almost all of what you read from here is mostly true, this sequence of extraordinary events occurred as described but some crucial facts have been deliberately changed or excluded in their entirety – there are those who need to be protected who do not deserve the hand they have been dealt. Marie flicked the DPT switch on the radio and repeated her answer to the caller transmitting the emergency SOS – she transmitted her response in a magnificently steady voice in the time-honoured manner required by international radio protocol.

‘Station MX577 calling Mayday, this is fishing vessel Icy Queen. Please state your exact position and nature of emergency. Over.’ Marie repeated this three times, then switched the set to receive. This time there was a silent pause broken only by irritating static and interference, but significantly the crackling, hum and hiss was exactly the same as that which occurred when the caller made their transmission – there was just no recognisable voice. It was almost as if someone was receiving the call but had held-back their reply to consider what they should do. All of us standing around Marie inadvertently tensed in some sort of unexpected anticipation – surely, we all thought, something was about to happen. Everyone present remained intensely quiet and alert, Even Scott paused his steering of Icy Queen up in the pilothouse, allowing his vessel’s engine to power down so that he too could hear the radio more clearly. After the seemingly deliberate delay by whoever, the caller’s voice suddenly crackled into life…

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday. MX577 calling. Urgent help. We are downed on the north shore, vicinity Deep Sound.’

Straightaway everyone felt immediately deflated, you could feel the air of disappointment as the spellbinding tension snapped and broke. But in my own mind came the thought that we were simply being manipulated – the change in the atmospherics of the broadcast seemed to suggest that something was about to happen, that someone somewhere had listened to Marie’s transmission then, for some reason, they deliberately paused to consider this new situation before deciding to retransmit their usual frustrating message either to confuse us or to throw us off our guard. But thus strange, almost transcendental pause was a minutely subtle change in the essence of the emergency broadcast, more a feeling of anticipation than anything else but enough to convince myself that once again we were being indubitably led by the hand, that some malicious individual had sensed we were a threat but had decided to hold their nerve. Of course, as we all know now, I was entirely wrong.

Scott and Braden had timed their passage of the Straits to perfection. By now we were less than a mile from the Narrows with Yankee Maid only a half mile behind. We still had forty-five minutes or so before the tide changed to go against us which was more than enough time to decide what to do, but we were conscious that in less than an hour we would be faced with the same precarious dangers that we ourselves had encountered only one week before. Our general plan was to turn into Deep Sound to then find a suitable anchoring depth using Icy Queen’s greater engine power and ability to drop anchor in a much greater depth than Sänna. We had to do this before darkness descended but right now we thought we had more than enough time in hand. Then Scott’s screaming voice broke the trance-like state of each of us standing around the radio – just as Marie transmitted her standard reply one more time.

I raced up the steps to the pilothouse closely followed by Braden, we moved at a pace not unlike two raccoons surprised by a ravenous fox. Then we too stared through the helmsman’s window right before our eyes. Scott’s face was frozen in absolute horror and in that tiny fraction of a second we saw why. The placid waters ahead of us, waters that were supposedly approaching flat-calm before the turning of the high tide suddenly reshaped themselves into a terrifying heaving mass, an irrational monstrous cauldron unlike anything we had encountered before. Then we stared in dread as the serenity of our surroundings changed significantly, to our utmost horror the sea ahead of us as we neared the entrance passage into Deep Sound began to revolve in one single direction to create a chaotic vortex of unimaginable proportions.

Our way towards the Narrows was completely barred, in the centre of this new mass of terrifying white water a pitch-black abyss suddenly appeared into which the sea itself simply tumbled before vanishing into oblivion. This tidal turmoil was not yet supposed to happen, we were still a good fifteen to twenty minutes from high tide then roughly the same time again before the tide turned against us. Even then it should have been another ten to fifteen minutes after the turn of tide before the currents begin to race in the Narrows to form the usual dreaded whirlpool that naturally occurred there twice every day. We should still have around forty minutes or so of safe water before our time in the vicinity of the Narrows became too dangerous for our presence. This new devilment was entirely unexpected, nothing had prepared any of us for this with the sheer ferocity of our predicament rendering each of us unconditionally speechless and frozen in abject fear.

This before us was an altogether new phenomena. Icy Queen was being drawn towards the abyss and our resourceful helmsman battling at the helm could do nothing to prevent it. Braden and I stared at each other in utter consternation when we both realised the same thing at the same time, I myself felt that sickness of feeling inside when you realise how easily you have been tricked, the sudden realisation when you have been deliberately drawn then trapped by some unknown force that is working its hardest to end your life. The subtle pause in the caller’s transmission, it was never a deliberate delay to allow the caller to consider their actions at all, it emerged as a definite shift in the metaphysical momentum – it was almost as if there had been an indistinct alteration in our transcendental paranormal surroundings or even a deliberate merging of two different times. It was as if there had been a discriminate change in the fabric of our universe, an alteration in time that was meant to lead us to our inglorious doom.

Scott fought hard on the wheel of Icy Queen. I turned to see Yankee Maid too caught in the outer reaches of this new turbulent chaos that suddenly threatened our lives. Marie though, remained cool and calm. My unflappable wife continued to transmit her exact same broadcast to the caller without any pause to consider this new terror that was upon us. It seemed as if she suspected some cohesive trickery out there that we did not, some strange thing or some unfathomable force that we now fought against which would ultimately decide our fate. Quite clearly Icy Queen was out of control and being drawn towards the fearsome rocks to the southern shoreline of the Deep Bay entrance. I myself became resigned to our fate knowing full well there was nothing we could do, in the meantime Scott tried desperately to save his vessel but he all at once resigned himself to our rate as Icy Queen crashed in a great crescendo of destruction against the jagged shoreline rocks that lay in wait like ravenous demons, their deadly jaws slathering with the white foaming sea that rose and fell like the cold deliverance of hell.

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Icy Queen never stood even the remotest chance of surviving. We were dashed against the waiting rocks by the tumultuous whirlpool driven sea, we were twisted and then turned in all directions like a dancing cork. Icy Queen’s underside hull was torn through like matchwood, the salty-cold waters then pouring through the breach to begin the slow-sinking death that happens when the relentless cruel sea claims yet one more mighty fine vessel. But Icy Queen’s tough Alaskan build and Scott’s irrefutable bravery, his gritty determination honed by years of astute toughness fighting cold arctic storms that on numerous occasions before had threatened his survival, now came to the fore. The double-hulled construction of Icy Queen meant that our inevitable sinking did not occur straightaway, Scott had enough time and a will of mind to drive his vessel hard for one last time. Scott beached Icy Queen on the one flat piece of dry land that lay close-by in our vicinity, a just enough sanctuary that meant we might not lose our lives – it was expert seamanship to the highest degree by a resolute skipper who remained calm, cool and calculating whilst battling for our very survival. Without a shadow of doubt and any semblance of argument we each owed skipper Scott our lives.

Yankee Maid herself somehow survived. Forewarned by Icy Queen’s futile predicament, Rigger Don was able to steer his own vessel safely through the narrow entrance into Deep Bay, though it was an extremely close call. Yankee Maid managed to avoid the same rocks that had destroyed Icy Queen, but only by the narrowest of margins. Yankee Maid slowed and dropped her anchor only a short distance away so that she could assist us to her greatest abilities – of course, at this moment in time her crew were unaware if we ourselves had survived or not. To add to our hellish anguish, darkness began to fall.

Shock and an acute inability to think straight are the first dreadful reactions that debilitate your soul in these most awful of circumstances. For fifteen minutes or so all seven of us onboard Icy Queen could not quite comprehend what had happened, our total disorientation of mind meant that panic became our next adverse danger unless we could get a firm grip of our situation – though the descending nighttime only served to add to our total confusion. Each of us gradually realised that we had not died, that Scott’s quick thinking reactions had somehow ensured our temporary survival. Furthermore, in the fading grey light it dawned upon us that we had sustained no crippling or debilitating injuries, though Bill had a bleeding cut to his head which turned out to be nothing much serious. Of course, my own immediate concerns were directed towards my wife, who in turn turned her devoted motherly attentions to the welfare and safety of her son, that mother’s instinct kicking in instantaneously when everything else surrounding us was utter chaos. Scott, Braden and Sasquatch were quickly ashore, immediately assessing our situation and the final state of Icy Queen’s hull. Very soon we were joined by the three-man crew of Yankee Maid who quickly came ashore in their skiff to offer what aid they could. Their greatest relief was that we were all alive and relatively uninjured though suffering from extreme shock, we were wet and sodden like stinking drowned rats – but soon we were immediately ferried off the rocky beach to the relative safety and welcoming warmth of Yankee Maid.

That first night anchored in extremely remote Deep Sound is difficult to relate or even describe to you. Uncountable ship’s disasters have before been tempered by inordinate amounts of sailor’s rum or neat whisky, whether it be cheap blended scotch, a much sought after single-malt or straight American bourbon of sometimes dubious quality – and it is fair to say that this particular occasion was not much different. In the wonderfully warm sanctuary of Yankee Maid we slowly recovered our will to live though Scott’s inconsolable anguish over the loss of his beloved Icy Queen weighed heavily upon everyone there. At first-light it would much easier to make a full assessment of Icy Queen’s damage – it was quite conceivable that she could be patched up then towed off the beach to be repaired. Crucially, Icy Queen had not sunk, she had been driven safely ashore meaning that she could easily live to fight another day. Scott’s quick thinking had not only saved seven panicky lives but had also provided a glimmer of hope for his stranded vessel – providing everything proceeded reasonably well the next day.

During that evening’s conversation, as the heavily consumed alcohol steadied our overly frayed nerves and fuelled our brave bravado to new levels, we resolved to make our way ashore to carry out a rudimentary search of the shoreline forests – by now we had each fired up our resolve to find out what the hell was going on, there was now a score to be settled although, without doubt, there was a general feeling that we were up against something not quite right. The Alaskans amongst us were the most disturbed, these tough rednecks were well used to battling debilitating adversary but they too sensed unexplainable danger, that some mysterious phenomenon was working against us, trying to control our destiny and our will to live. The sudden appearance of the dreadful whirlpool was easily testament to that – as every seafarer knows, such forces are created by the natural occurrence of complex tidal currents, they are easily explainable in their regularity and their predictive behaviour. But the deadly forces that had ultimately driven Icy Queen hard against the rocks was something else entirely.

There had been no powerfully running currents or the squeezing of tides through the restricted confines of the infamous Narrows – there had been none of that. There had been nothing created by the violent coercion of the moon against the sea that drives unimaginable volumes of water along the Peril Strait, first in one direction then the other twice every day. It was clear to all of us, each of us experienced mariners well used to the vagrancies and powerful forces created by the immense gravitational powers of the moon against the earth, that our latest disaster was both deliberate and ghastly in every imaginable way. Right now we undeniably needed to take stock of our precarious situation – even more so given that our woes were pretty much self-inflicted.

You may well think that I’m not entirely blameless in delivering us once more into the jaws of adversary, that having already escaped with our lives the first time then I should not have risked a second disaster using another vessel that was not my own. The wrecking of Icy Queen lay heavily upon my heart, my conscience did not allow me to consider myself not culpable or clean-handed in this new catastrophe – but I ask you now what could I do? Following our first near-death debacle I resolved that we had forever done with the Peril Strait, that we had nothing more to prove except our previous miraculous escape. We had then reported what had happened to the correct authorities, then expected some action to be taken to search for the survivors of an obvious emergency whom, we assumed, were fighting for their lives somewhere in Deep Sound. But nothing had happened. Then Billy Bishop came up with his mad-cap theory which, on reflection at that time, was both irrational and stupid in its reasoning. But it was myself who had coerced the crew of Icy Queen to participate in this altogether new adventure, an escapade that had now resulted in the loss of that vessel – even if their crew had been more than exceptionally eager to assist.

But no one had anticipated this, not one of us realised that we might trigger some metaphysical violence that would unleash itself upon us. Despite Bill’s absurd theory and his seventy year old radio, never in our thinking did we seriously believe that we would be able to communicate through time with desperate men trying to stay alive, we naturally assumed that we might discover whom or whoever it was who transmitted these emergency calls and, if the transmissions were not indeed malicious in their intent, we could then provide some form of assistance to their wellbeing. If the calls were malevolent or evil-minded then we could somehow put a stop to them. But this predicament we found ourselves in now was something altogether different – especially when Marie correctly pointed out that, if by any inconceivable chance we had in some way communicated backwards in time, then we were meddling with extraordinarily potent forces that humankind could never even begin to understand.

At this point in our outlandish conversation, when the evening’s alcohol and the hot-stove heat of Yankee Maid had permeated our souls, No-Neck Nigel revealed how he knew of the identities of the missing seven-man crew of Lazy Daisy. Ten years previously Nigel had come across old news clippings relating to other vessels that had experienced problems in the Peril Strait – in every instance they had received strange radio communications that could not be explained. One of these news stories endeavoured to make the link between the B17 lost in 1942 and these emergency mayday calls but the publication in question had been understandably laughed out of town – so Bill Bishop was not the first to suggest his outrageous theory. But No-Neck Nigel had dug somewhat deeper, he had researched the disappearance in more detail learning that all seven men involved in the disaster were still listed as missing, no death certificates had ever been issued – but the US Military would give no further details. Then, out of the blue, Nigel received a letter. The correspondence, it appeared, had been sent by the supposed widow of Lazy Daisy’s radio operator, a woman by the name of Martha. Of course, you will understand that it would not be correct of me to reveal the full name or a more detailed identity of the radio operator’s widow to you.

Then, incredibly, Nigel told us he had learned that Lazy Daisy had been testing a new type of aircraft radio technology the night she disappeared, that Alaska had been deliberately chosen because of its remoteness and for its wilderness territory. Nigel continued by saying the crewman’s widow had been officially informed by the military that Lazy Daisy would never be found, which, I have to tell you, caused some concern and alacrity to everyone then present. We were each convincingly dumbfounded, that is, all save one. Bill Bishop, according to No-Neck Nigel’s alcohol fuelled revelation which under no circumstances did we ever reveal to the subsequent inquiry, knew full well that Lazy Daisy had been carrying experimental radio equipment on the night she was lost.

Indubitably, we all stared at Bill. To say that he looked uncomfortable would be an understatement of fact. To me his grey face seemed worn out with a pallor not dissimilar to an aged man who knew his time had come, that finally he had been nailed down after years of concealed secrets. It was Marie who asked the question that no one else had yet thought of, Marie asked if the radio set still lying forlornly in the appalling wreckage of Icy Queen was anything similar to the radio type used by Lazy Daisy. Bill confirmed that it was. Looking at each of us who stared intensely in his direction, he told us the radio used the same experimental valve technology and was the only surviving piece of equipment from the original project. He also told us that when Marie operated the standard DPT switch, it was then when things started to go wrong.

The pieces in this disastrous puzzle finally began to fall into place. Bill had placed every hope in being able to pick up the radio communication from Lazy Daisy so that he could analyse what was being said and its effects upon the set itself, he never seriously expected any form of two-way communication. Henry, being Henry, had recorded everything, he had a complete record of the radio transmissions stored on his smart phone. With that, we listened again to the emergency broadcast and Marie’s subsequent response, we noted when she flicked the DPT switch and the subtly change in atmospheric interference which then occurred. Bill confessed that he had not expected Marie to do this, he said this because he already knew the DPT switch activated some unnatural occurrence from inside the radio that was unexplainable and not supposed to happen.

CDCF29DA-519C-491D-B918-9FE666C47002Daylight comes early in Alaska, sunrise during the short summertime begins to show its hazy head at an unearthly hour when those of us who have consumed too much rum or whisky would rather be sleeping things off. At first light Scott, Braden and Rigger Don made their way ashore to inspect the damage to Icy Queen. They were appalled by what they saw. The starboard underside was ripped apart almost the full length of her hull, only the robust inner-hull had saved us from an instantaneous sinking and almost certain drowning. The tide and now receded, leaving Icy Queen stranded a little distance from the sea and easily accessible. They began the process of recovering things we needed, our personal effects and documents essential to our own wellbeing. They also recovered everything required for our exploration inland, because we fully intended to get to the bottom of this mystery – for the sake of our sanity as much as anything. Afterwards, Scott could then make arrangements to transport new lumber here to Deep Bay so that they could affect temporary repairs to then float Icy Queen off the beach at the next super high tide. With this in mind, Scott himself felt much happier.