The jet aircraft bounced and slid as it landed on the runway of smoothed ice. But at last it came to a stop, and as soon as it did, the hatch just behind the cockpit was opened. The two teens from Maxxim city were ushered to the doorway, where they looked out into the darkness to see a massive tractor, covered in huge lights, rolling across the ice and snow toward them. It came to a stop right next to the plane and a set of four steps was raised up to the bottom of the hatch.
“You two take care not to freeze,” said the flight attendant as first Astrid and then Christopher climbed down the steps.
A figure just as wrapped up as they were awaited them on a metal walkway that led around the cab of the huge tractor. With a wave, this person led them to the cab door and guided them inside. There was a seat in front for the driver and in the rear, two bench seats, facing toward each other. Astrid and Christopher sat down on the bench seats as the door slammed shut.
“Hey guys!” said a cheerful voice from beneath the layers of fur and insulation. “Let me pull this buggy back out of the way so they can take off.
The great tractor rumbled and growled as it was backed about fifty yards from the aircraft, which had never stopped its engines. The plane turned quickly around, and with a throaty whine, shot down the runway and off into the darkness.
“Welcome to the Antarctic Circle,” said the tractor driver. “We had about twelve minutes of daylight today, but you missed it.”
“Are you Australian?” asked Christopher.
“No, I’m a Brit. I’m here working with the Frenchies. Melanie Kincaid.” She stepped around the seat and shook hands with both of them. “You cold yet?”
“Actually, I feel pretty comfortable,” said Astrid.
“Not bad in here. Still, we don’t want to get stuck and have to walk home.”
The cab door opened and another figure climbed in.
“Bonjour,” said the newcomer.
“This is Nathan,” said Melanie, pulling her outer hood back to reveal from forehead to chin a pretty, freckled face.
“Nathan Oliver,” he said, sticking out his hand.
“This is Christopher Harris,” said Astrid, “and I’m Astrid Maxxim.”
“So, it really is you,” said Melanie. “We heard you were coming, but we didn’t quite believe it really.”