September 11, 1998
Please excuse my penmanship; I was forced to cut off my good writing hand with an ice hatchet. Frostbite had eaten its way into the bone. There was no blood.
My name is José Guardez and I am arguably the luckiest man alive. I am the sole survivor of a downed fishing vessel due east of the Falkland Islands. My shipmates, bless their souls, died one by one from the wind as we were blown for days towards Antarctica.
Somehow I survived.
What are the odds that in the middle of these horrendous winds I was able to find a cabin twenty feet from where I washed up? I am certainly a fortunate man. This old whaling hut has just about everything I need: radio, dried food, parkas, bedding, and a woodstove with fuel.
I may have chopped away my hand, but I am still alive. That is a gift.
Alabado sea El Señor!
September 15, 1998
The radio has been of little help. The band has gone silent. I spent hours pleading for someone to hear me through the static. No reply.
I did discover a broadcast, just a recording of people chanting in a crowd. They were shouting, “GAR-DEE-INN…GAR-DEE-INN!”
English word for guardián, perhaps?
September 21, 1998
I have begun to ration what is left of the canned herring. I can eat for about four more days and then I will begin to starve. They say a man can starve for two months and survive. If God has any mercy left, he will kill me earlier.
The storm is over, and outside is almost -- dare I say -- warm. I found a seal club underneath the bed. I pray that I may find something plump and fatty to kill by the shore.
September 29, 1998
Last night, while debating the merits of finding my frozen hand and eating it, I heard a loud knock on the door. My heart thumped and my brain boiled with fear. I hadn’t seen a soul in nearly a month.
When I opened the door, I saw no one. Only a bag by the foot of the door. The visitor’s tracks were blown away by the storm. I opened the sack and discovered a bottle of vodka and enough austromerluza to eat for a week. I tore into the fish like an animal.
I wonder if I'm a prisoner here.
October 1, 1998
Now, someone knocks on my door every night. I wait like a trained dog for their gifts. Today it was toilet paper. I have never missed anything more than I have missed toilet paper.
I’ve been hearing people chanting “GAR-DEE-INN” outside. The broadcast must have come from this forsaken hell. I do not trust the people living here, but I need to make contact if I am to survive.
My life is in their hands.
October 2, 1998
Today, there was a terrible storm. I passed the time meditating on my cot. My mind conjured up a leopard seal and it talked to me.
The seal and I were dancing in a grand, golden ballroom. She snuggled her whiskery face into my neck and hissed for me to get ready. She said I have to open the cabin door on the third knock.
I woke up and waited by the door. On the third knock I swung it open. In the door frame stood a man in a whaling parka. His hood was completely covered in ice. I could not see his face. In the distance were three other parka-people with torches. And -- I swear on my life -- I saw another man who was completely naked. He wore only a black bag on his head. He was dancing between the unmoving parka-people, waving a jagged hunting knife.
I read the thermometer. It was -46ºC
I was scared, but it didn’t stop me from begging this parka-man in front of my door to take me out of this hell. I sobbed at his feet. He stood there for a moment, listened, and walked away. They all did. I tried to follow, but I was not dressed for the storm.
I must be insane, por el amor de Dios, I must be insane!
October 3, 1998
Tonight I walked with the parka-people to the foot of the black mountain. The dagger man was not there. I begged, running back and forth between them. No one talked to me. They would not even look at me.
We arrived at a small circular foothill where hundreds of other worshippers were gathered. There was a woman. She too was naked except for a black bag on her head. She danced in the snow, waving a hunting knife. And after that she disemboweled herself. She never made a sound.
The crowd chanted, “GAR-DEE-INN…GAR-DEE-INN!”
I watched her blood pour into the snow. I watched the people chant. I was unable to move, frozen in my fear. I looked up into the sky and saw it erupt in waves of green, purple, and blue light. Then I fell asleep.
I awoke in my cabin, the wood stove ablaze. I can hear the voices of the parka-people.
October 8, 1998
When I received a knock on my door today, warmth spread through my limbs. The hunger vanished from my stomach. I wanted nothing. I needed nothing. I was complete.
The chanting started on my radio, "GAR-DEE-INN...GAR-DEE-INN!"
By the foot of the door was the ceremonial hunting knife and a black hood. The storm spilled down from the hills drenching the scenery in a vast, beautiful pale. All at once I understood my purpose. I am to become a guardián.
Tonight I will dance into the divine.