This story was started as an ebook "mini" for sale, but I've decided to put it up here. It was conceived as a blending of Carpenter's "Thing" with the original story "Who Goes There?", with the exotroopers thrown in.

1931

If anyone had had a watch to check, it would have shown 3 in the morning, but the skies of Antarctica were as bright as day. Yet, the only warmth came from the blazing ruins of an encampment. There had been a dozen men in the expedition, plus sled dogs and cattle, and even with the men crammed in so tight there was hardly room to swing an elbow, that took a fair amount of lumber to burn.

A figure trudged, almost staggering, out of the camp, with three layers of heavy jackets all open to the cold that already pressed at the bubble of heat. He gave it no heed, actually going a little faster. He whirled at the sound of a crash and an unearthly howl. Something moved in the flames, something that was itself only an amorphous mass of flame, something that had no right to be alive. The man drew a revolver and took aim. Then there was a shrill shriek, rising so high that it began to fade into the ultrasonic, and the shape lurched once more before collapsing, for good. The man's shoulders slumped, and the gun dropped from his limp hands into the snow, and he himself followed after.

It could have been seconds, minutes or the better part of an hour before the man in the snow sat up at the sound of approaching footsteps. The newcomer seemed to coalesce out of a haze of falling snow. It was hard even to discern a human shape under the layers upon layers of arctic gear. The man rose abruptly to a crouch, scrabbling for a weapon. Then a deep tenor voice spoke, "Mack!"

"Donald," said the other warily.

The newcomer shifted a burden carried on one shoulder; it was a large pick ax. "All your fires, they warm things up. Won't last long, though. Oughta button up."

"'S okay. Guess we lost track of each other."

"Guess so."

"Did we get 'em all? All of them?"

"Dunno. Thought I saw someun walkin' out. Prob'ly nothin'. Followed a few paces, but I couldn't find no trail."

"Really."

"I don' know 'f we're gonna make it."

"Maybe we shouldn't."

"Mebbe not." Donald hunched down. "Y'know... when I followed... what I thought I saw... coulda sworn... looked a lot like you, Mack."

"If there's any surprises left... I don't think either of us is in any shape to do something about it."

"I s'pose you're right. So what do we do?"

"Just sit here, I guess. Sit... and see what happens."

"Yeah. That doesn't sound too bad." Donald sat down, and after a little while, he took a drink from a flask, and offered it to Mack. The other man smiled as he took it... and with the other hand, he cocked the revolver.