The last wireless message Jenkins had sent was on top of the pile, held down by one of the rocks the Eastern Party had collected from beyond the glacier. McNair picked it up, wincing at the Antarctic chill that still permeated the rock. Jenkins was still in the latrine, audibly groaning, so there was a moment’s opportunity.

Unfolding the note, McNair read it: TO WIRELESS HILL MACQUERIE ISLAND STOP EXPEDITION IN JEOPARDY STOP MCNAIR AND OTHERS UNHINGED MAYBE MAD STOP HAVE ALREADY ATTEMPTED POISON STOP DO NOT REPEAT DO NOT ATTEMPT RESCUE OR RESUPPLY UNTIL FURTHER WORD STOP

“Poison…?” McNair muttered. “We’ve not poisoned anybody.”

He pulled the next telegram out from from under the stone: TO WIRELESS HILL MACQUERIE ISLAND STOP SITUATION DETERIORATING STOP WIRELESS MAST FAILING STOP SUSPECT SABOTAGE BY MCNAIR AND OTHERS STOP

“Sabotage!” McNair whispered sharply. He looked at the small oil-smudged window in the hut wall, through which he could see the wireless mast, very much intact and swaying gently in the polar wind.

Jenkins was stirring in the loo; McNair heard the sound of a belt being buckled. There was time to read one more, perhaps, before shoving them back.

TO WIRELESS HILL MACQUERIE ISLAND STOP SUPPLIES AND RETRIEVAL NOT NEEDED AT THIS TIME PER MACNAIR STOP SEND SY ATHENA ON TO SYDNEY FOR WINTER STOP

McNair’s hands were shaking badly as he replaced the telegrams. Return the Athena to Sydney? Even if the ship couldn’t land it might be able to drop off supplies or embark the men.

There was something very wrong with Jenkins, and he was the only one who knew how to operate the wireless for 2,000 miles in every direction.

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