The Frozen Detaunt
by Gary Towner
It is 1976 and the Cold War rages on. But the news community is abuzz with speculation on the whereabouts of the charismatic, albeit eccentric Howard Hughes. All reported instances of sighting him recently have proven to be unfounded. Suddenly there is an announcement that informs the world exactly where Hughes is. In Antarctica the apolitical Russian scientific icebreaker, Brezhnev, was investigating a new theory on the geographic location of Atlantis when a gang of Russian Mafia arrived on power skidoo sleds to surround it. Somehow the thugs had learned the ailing Hughes had purchased a berth hoping to be among the first to see remnants of the ancient city described by Homer, Plato, and others.
The mafia easily overtakes the unarmed captain and his crew and they use the ship radio to demand a billion dollar gold ransom. The Central Intelligence Agency fears broadcasting their association with Hughes may be an embarrassment to the U.S. if the Red Army gets to him first and makes him talk. They bring Johnny Walker out of C.I.A. retirement to see if he can rescue Hughes. They ask Harlow, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, to tag along as his Russian interpreter. She nearly backs out of the project when she learns it is Walker, the same Walker that once left her at the altar.
Both Harlow and Walker accept the assignment as a patriotic gesture to the U.S. President. Walker learns to his dismay that he is to get Hughes off the ship if possible, but if it looks likely the Red Army will ultimately get him, and there is no way to get him out safely, Walker must kill for his government this one last time. Walker eventually proves resourceful at turning the tables on the Russian Mafia pirates. He is instrumental at getting the ailing Hughes flown off the ship via helicopter, but the man dies a few days later of natural causes. At the President’s animate urging, Walker takes over the Brezhnev and he resumes the hunt for Atlantis. When it is located, two miles below solid ice, he and Harlow have the challenge of their lives getting to it and going through what is left of it. But their exploration is interrupted by a volcano blast that rivals that of Mount Suvius.