By Keith Ansell
How the hell Robert Scott had managed to reach the South Pole 115 years ago was beyond Captain Paul Abbot and his men, who were attempting to retrace the famous explorer's footsteps.
It was damned hard going even with all the advantages of 21st Century polar gear and equipment. Abbot and his five man team had left their base on Ross island on November 1st - the same day Scott had started out on his ill-fated expedition back in 1911.
The Antarctic winter did not begin until April. There should have been plenty of time to reach the Pole and get back to base again before the bad weather took hold but present conditions were like nothing they had ever imagined in their wildest nightmares.
The snow was being whipped into a blinding blizzard and the temperature was down to minus 50oC but the chill factor was more like minus 60.
"This is crazy, Paul" shouted Rob Holbrook over the howling winds. "We can't go on any further in this. Let's set up camp until the storm blows over."
Grudgingly Abbot agreed and his party set about erecting their tent.
The pride of the World Navy rested on his shoulders and he did not want to call in a rescue helijet yet - but if things got any worse Abbot wondered if even a helijet would be able to reach them.
The Antarctic was like another planet at the best of times - conditions were now harsher than on the surface of Mars and that was saying something.
"Paul, Paul, look over there" came the half crazed voice of Jim Steele, the youngest member of the expedition.
"I can't see anything but this damned snow" said Abbot unpacking his sleeping bag.
"There was someone over by the ridge."
"Don't be crazy man, you're imagining it" responded Abbot. "Come and help with the tent or we'll freeze to death out here."
"He's right, Paul. I saw something as well" said Gary Carter. "There were two figures over there. They were watching us but they've gone now - at least I can't see them any more in this blizzard."
"Calm down, all of you" ordered Abbot. "Set the tent up. Martin keep a look out. If there is anybody over there, they may need help."
A feeling of unease had settled over the World Navy expedition even though there were no further sightings of the mysterious figures.
The tent was erected with practised ease and all five men squeezed inside.
Their microwave soon produced hot soup and coffee but Abbot's team still felt chilled to the bone.
The weather was getting worse. It was as if time had speeded up and they were now in the middle of the Antarctic winter. The eternal daylight was fading before their eyes and it was getting dark - but that was impossible!
Fear was beginning to grip Abbot and his men. What the blazes was happening to the weather? Was there anybody out there in the storm - or were the figures just a figment of their overwrought imaginations.
No-one could sleep as they became aware there was something outside their tent - something threatening. The sense of dread was so real no-one could ignore it.
Abbot decided to call base for the helijet before it was too late - he reached for his belt transmitter and activated its pre-recorded distress call. Suddenly an intense white light enveloped the tent. Every man within it covered his eyes to try to shut it out without success.
The mayday message was instantly snuffed out - no one could save Abbot and his men now from a very cold encounter .............an encounter of the third kind.