Charles, what I'm about to describe to you details the events that occurred during my trip to the Himalayas from March 3rd, 1979, to March 5th, 1979. I strongly encourage you to read this letter til the end and reconsider your plans.

We had just arrived at the village sometime in the evening. The sun was already setting but Rodney, our expedition planner, urged us to continue forward. I cannot disclose which mountain we had set out to traverse, for I fear you might suffer a fate worse than I had.

We spent hours asking the villagers, although none seemed very eager. Only Leonard spoke their native tongue, making communication difficult. Rodney's incessant demands already began to get on our nerves, although Leonard and I made an effort to suppress our distaste.

It was around midnight when we chose to set up camp and try again at dawn. Rodney chose to make a scene regarding our lack of beds and refused to sleep in the tent, even going so far as to lay in the snow and risk a cold for tomorrow's expedition. I confided in Leonard my worries, and he entered the village inn to try and negotiate free lodging for us. When he emerged, his face was ecstatic and he toted with him one of the natives.

Leonard spoke of how this particular native had traversed the mountain many times, although had never been accompanied with tourists before. The native, however, appeared disheveled and almost scared in his demeanor. Leonard insisted to me that those who hunt in the mountains are never the richest of the village, however I still grew uneasy at the thought of him as an escort.

Rodney was clearly agitated at our lack of proper lodging, trudging through the thickening snow and entering the inn. Leonard and I could hear the commotion inside, the sounds of yelling and fighting audible even through the snowfall. The sounds stopped and we anxiously awaited Rodney's return, but after hours had passed we assumed he had gotten his free lodging and went to bed. We soon followed, ourselves.

That night, I had terrible nightmares. I was trudging through a blizzard, following a light atop the mountain. As I climbed higher, I'd see a shape dart past my vision every now and again. The snowfall was thick, obscuring my vision, but I was sure this was a living, breathing creature. The closer I got to the light, the more I'd see the shape dart past. It peaked when the snow was thick enough to block my movement and the light was mere feet from my vision. A figure stood motionless to my left, its true visage obscured by the snowfall but close enough to make out its gangly, ape-like shape. I panicked, reaching for the light, when the creature grabbed my foot and dragged my screaming body into the blizzard.

I woke up, freezing. My snow gear was discarded to my side. I hadn't remembered taking it off, but the sweat droplets frozen into small icicles told me otherwise. Rodney entered my tent soon after to wake me for the expedition, but wasn't surprised when he saw that I was awake.

We set up the mountain base with our guide in about an hour. The village looked beautiful from up there, but Rodney pressured us to keep moving before the nightly blizzard closed off the pass. Even our guide seemed uneasy at the idea of racing against the snow.

As I suspected, the blizzard had already closed the pass as we arrived. There was no way we could return to the village in this condition, but no way we could move forward either. We set up camp, praying that our heating equipment would keep us alive and warm in these conditions.

It was later into the night when Rodney grew frenzied, tore open a hole in the tent, and ran into the snow, screaming. Our guide showed no remorse, and Leonard set out to search through the snows along with him. I was left alone outside a destroyed tent.

Hours went by with a lone heating unit and a bag of flares keeping me company. Shapes in the snow began to take form, twisting and turning. I had begun to hallucinate, or at least at first. Trudging through the snow, I started to make my way back to the village. Small disturbances through the blizzard flickered across the white landscapes every now and again. My heart raced in realization.

My feet pushed up from the layers of snow with each step. The once-fine powder had accumulated into a thick slush, cracking beneath my boots. The figure began darting more and more through across the landscape. It was getting increasingly closer. It was after me. It was going to kill me. It did the same to my friends and I was next.

The shape darted past my vision and I fell to the ground. I can only assume it had pushed me. My hands pressed against the sharp ice crystals while I struggled to regain my footing. My flares had fallen a good foot in front of me. I needed them. I needed to know what this creature was. My arm extended forward, leaving my fingers inches away from the bag. Just as I reached for the bag's strap, a hand gripped my ankle and began dragging me through the snow at an alarming rate. I think I cleared a good mile just from its pull.

I knew I was going to die, or at least I thought I was. But then, Charles, the most amazing thing happened. I had apparently grabbed the bag of flares just as I was dragged away. It was being dragged alongside me, clutched within my freezing hands. Several of the flares had fallen out from the momentum, but one remained at the bottom. With all my might, I pushed against the air currents and reached for it, popping it open and waving it toward the creature.

"NO! NO! NO! WHAT IS THAT?! WHAT IS THAT WHAT IS THAT WHAT IS THAT?!" it screeched in the most shrill, hoarse voice I had ever heard. It released its grip on me and cowered, turning fetal at the mere sight of the flame. Living in the mountains, it had never seen fire in its entire life.

"GET IT AWAY! GET IT AWAY!" it cried out, pleading for me to stop. I nearly relented until I realized what it had just done to my friends. My arm thrust forward, scorching the creature's skin with the flame. With the light and fire, I could see clearly through the storm and saw my first glimpse of the beast.

This creature, this foul beast that invaded my dreams before invading my camp, laid defenseless in front of me. Its skin was blue with jagged spikes jutting out at asymmetric angles, its fingers ending with long talons made of ice. It had no lips, instead a Cheshire-esque grin of razor and fangs. Its arms were nearly the entire length of its body, dangling only a foot or maybe two above its toes. Oh, and its toes! Three curved spikes, like an eagle's claw, with thousands of miniature cleats to allow for dashing through the snow.

It disgusted me, leading to me pushing the flare even further. The creature's flesh began to melt off like ice melts to water, leaving the gruesome visage of its muscle, sinew, and skeletal system for all to behold. It screamed and flailed as I grabbed one of the discarded flares from the ground and it, as well, was lit and forced toward the creature. Soon its entire body, organs included, melted away into a translucent, pink fluid. I stood above it, panting, before tossing the flares into its remains as if to make sure it had died.

I don't remember how I returned to the village, although I do remember I traveled there by foot. When I arrived, I saw the village guide heading towards the inn. My mind entered such a frenzy three of the village's strongest men had to restrain me. The guide shook, slammed against a wall and covered in bruises.

"What was that? You knew. You knew! What was the creature?! You knew, didn't you? You knew!" I shouted, demanding the truth. The guide nodded frantically, shielding his face in preparation for another blow.

"What was it?! Tell me what it was or so help me God I'll kill you myself."

"Something primal," he said, speaking fluent English, a fact he had initially tried to hide. "Something old, something ancient. We feed it so it leaves us alone when we climb. It doesn't like goats. It wants meat."

A helicopter arrived to take me away that morning. I never looked back, and Leonard and Rodney were never found.

Charles, I know this story sounds ridiculous, and I'm sure you're wondering why I've never told you this before. Please, I beg of you not to take your trip. I know you're looking forward to climbing St. Helen, but I fear for your life. Not from your decision to climb a volcano, no...

If there exists an ancient monster in the snow, then what lives in the ash?

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