One More Winter

Posted: December 3, 2014 in Friday Fictioneers
Tags: , , , , , ,

At the time Douglas Mawson and his partner Xavier Mertz were struggling to survive in the Antarctic by eating the livers of their dogs, it wasn’t known that Husky liver contains extremely high levels of vitamin A. Such levels of vitamin A can cause liver damage to humans. With six dogs between them (with a liver on average weighing 1 kg), it is thought that the pair ingested enough liver to bring on a condition known as Hypervitaminosis A.

Mawson looked at the thin blue icicle
hanging off the peak of his tent.
He needed to move or he would freeze
along this hellish coast of the Antarctic.

Mawson chewed the last bit of husky liver
and strapped on his crampons.
An hour later he tumbled into a crevasse.
Saved because the sledge wedged tightly into the ice above him,
Mawson struggled out using the harness attached to the sledge.
Tired, hungry and hallucinating, he trudged forward on bleeding feet.

Heart thumping he climbed the hill above base camp
and watched his rescue ship, the Aurora, disappear over the horizon.

  1. storydivamg says:

    Interesting bit of history for this week’s Friday Fictioneers. Thanks for sharing it.

    All my best,
    Marie Gail


  2. draliman says:

    What a terrible thing to endure such hardship only to see your rescue sailing away.


  3. This sounds like it really has happened.. but to be left behind.. antarctic expeditions where tough deals… so many perished.


  4. It DID happen. Mawson almost died, Mertz did.


  5. What a feeling of utter despair, to have endured so much only to see the ship disappear. Well told


  6. plaridel says:

    as long as you’re breathing, you can live on hope. great story.


  7. wildbilbo says:

    Finally – a piece of history I had actually heard of (I need to read more history books)! That ending is made even more brutal by being a true story.

    Nice work


  8. Dear Alicia,

    There’s nothing I appreciate more than history. I could see this played out on film. And for now, pass the ketchup. I prefer liver well done as is your story.




  9. dmmacilroy says:

    Dear Alicia,

    An awesome story that will entertain me long after it ends because I am going a Googling to learn as mush as I can about Mr. Mawson and company. Thank you for writing this riveting slice of his grim end.



    P.S. I’m a husky Doug. I wonder if my liver is dangerous to others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Husky Doug, I’m going to spoil part of your research by telling you now that was not his grim end. Thus the title One More Winter. P.S. As long as you keep your liver where it belongs, I think the world is safe. Thanks for reading. Alicia


  10. Alicia, what a compelling, riveting story! You have really pulled me in, and now I need more! Wonderful writing. (for the record, I had written this, and then just noticed Doug and I used the same word and thoughts… great minds?)


  11. subroto says:

    The period when these intrepid adventurers and explorers contributed so much to our knowledge of the earth is fascinating. And especially those who embarked on the journey to the Poles. In our connected time it’s hard to imagine what they went through. This was a wonderful recreation of those times.


  12. hafong says:

    Gives me the shivers – the ice and eating livers. I shuddered, too.



  13. I really hope that’s not true. All that and the ship goes over the horizon. Imagine how he felt!


    • With a bit of dramatization, it was true. The ship left two days before his return and he had to spend another winter there. On the bright side, physicians think that if he had gotten on boat, he probably would have died on the return voyage. He needed time to recuperate.


  14. rgayer55 says:

    Wow, that was an interesting tale. That had to be heartbreaking to see the rescue ship disappear over the horizon. You entertained and educated us with this one. I love when that happens.


  15. Amy Reese says:

    Such an extreme situation here, Alicia, that you captured very well. To think they were not saved! I like your technical details of the crampons, the harness, and falling into the crevasse. When I hear these types of stories, I feel very cold and know that I never ever want to climb a snowy mountain. Eating the livers of dogs is just horrible. Great story. Well done!


  16. Imagine the strength and the perseverance, to survive even when you watch your last hope leaving you behind. Nicely put together.


  17. Margaret says:

    Heart-wrenching, and full of tension. A great achievement to tell such a big story in 100 words.


  18. Alicia, What a miserable thing to happen. I was glad to learn he make it anyway. What determination. Great story and well written. — Susan


  19. What a sad piece of history. I cannot imagine being in that situation and hope I never am!


  20. I’m reading another Polar Expedition story now called The Ice Balloon. It’s choke full of stories very much like this one. Thanks for going back to read One More Winter!


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