No. 540

The worst storm in 100 years blasted across the Arctic ice. Inside Polar Research Outpost St. Roch, two scientists were engaged in an intense debate.

“If you go out there, you’ll be dead in minutes,” said John Bancroft.

“If I don’t collect the data in the next hour, we’ll have wasted the entire season,” said Roald Bjorn grimly. “I have to take that chance.”

Bancroft knew it was the truth. “I’ll go,” he offered quietly. “You have a family.”

Bjorn saw it was pointless to argue. “Let’s get you ready.”


Some time later, Bancroft was prepared to leave the base.

“Remember,” shouted Bjorn above the howling wind. “You’ve only got five minutes.”

“I’ll hurry,” said Bancroft.


“I’ve got them,” Bancroft called into his radio as he staggered back across the uneven ice on his return journey.

The precious samples were slung across his back. He was close to the station and he’d be safe in moments.

His radio crackled with Bjorn’s reply, but Bancroft couldn’t hear it.


Without warning, the storm intensified. Bancroft was knocked to the ground. He struggled to get up, but hit a rough patch of ice and fell again. The impact split the berg, and Bancroft was thrown into the freezing sea.

He felt his body relax as he accepted what he knew was going to be an almost instantaneous death.

But something shocked him. He was still alive. He commanded his limbs to move, treading water to stay afloat.

“Roald,” he screamed into the radio. “I’ve fallen into the water. Come and get me. I’m within sight of the door. I’m ok, though. I don’t know why.

“The ocean is warm.”