This letter was written by John Parry when he was in Colville Bar, Alaska. He wrote this letter to his wife, Elaine, to inform her of what he was up to.[1]


Darling — I won't get a chance to post another letter for a while — this is the last town before we take to the hills — the Brooks Range — the archaeologists are fizzing to get up here. One chap is convinced he'll find evidence of much earlier habitation than anyone suspected — I said how much earlier, and why was he convinced — he told me of some narwhal ivory carvings he'd found on a previous dig — Carbon 14 dated to some incredible age, way outside the range of what was previously assumed — anomalous, in fact. Wouldn't it be strange if they'd come through my anomaly, from some other world — talking of which, the physicist Nelson is my closest buddy now — kids me along, drops hints to imply that he knows that I know that he knows, etc. — and I pretend to be bluff Major Parry, stout fellow in a crisis but not too much between the ears, what — but I know he's after it. For one thing, although he's a bona fide academic his funding actually comes from the Ministry of Defence — I know the financial codes they use — and for another his so-called weather balloons are nothing of the sort — I looked in the crate — a radiation suit if I've ever seen one. A rum do, my darling. I shall stick to my plan — take the archaeologists to their spot and go off by myself for a few days to look for the anomaly — if I bump into Nelson wandering about on Lookout Ridge I'll play it by ear.

Later — A real bit of luck. I met Jake Petersen's pal the Eskimo, Matt Kigalik. Jake had told me where to find him but I hadn't dared to hope he'd be there. He told me the Soviets had been looking for the anomaly too — he'd come across a man earlier this year high up in the range and watched him for a couple of days without being seen, because he guessed what he was doing, and he was right, and the man turned out to be Russian, a spy; he didn't tell me more than that. I got the impression he bumped him off. But he described the thing to me. It's like a gap in the air, a sort of window. You look through it and you see another world. But it's not easy to find because that part of the other world looks just like this — rocks and moss and so forth. It's on the north side of a small creek fifty paces or so to the west of a tall rock shaped like a standing bear, and the position Jake gave me is not quite right — it's nearer 12"N than 11.

Wish me luck my darling. I'll bring you back a trophy from the spirit world — I love you for ever — kiss the boy for me — Johnny.



  1. The Subtle Knife, Chapter 5
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