John Davis squinted against the bright sun reflecting off the snow. His boat, Cecilia, bobbed on the Southern Ocean's waves. His first mate slipped on the ice and John grabbed the man's arm before he slid into the water.
"Thanks. We might be the first ones."
"Shush, you'll scare the seals."
"We'll be famous. You heard those russkies claims to have found the southern continent. It don't matter you just see something. You got to put boots on the ground, claim this place for America."
"Our business -- seals."
"Celebrity makes its own money. Just think about it. When we return to New York, any man will stand us a drink."
A dark shape flitted against the snow as if some smooth-bellied critter had belly-flopped on the ice, moving like a broken mast, riding the glacier. John itched the back of his neck. "You see that?"
"A blur," said the first mate. "Wait. Come back. It was too small to be a seal."
"There's something about this island --"
"Whatever. It's like the place watches you."
The first mate's eyebrows shot upwards. He hunched inwards, bunching his shoulders forward, crouching as if he could hide from whatever lived upon this land. "It's the seals. Their spirits must go somewhere. We... we got to get out of here. Now." Snow crunched as the man fled, falling into the boat. The sound of the boat's hull creaking against the ice carried on the wind. The first mate waved his hands as if he was fearful of shouting.
Finally, peace and quiet. John crested a ridge and saw hundreds of penguins shuffling their feet. So much for seal. John smiled, returning to the rowboat.
"Let's get out of here," the first mate said, pulling at the oars, rocking the boat back and forth, the motion knocking John to the floor. Once some distance separated them from the shore, the first mate asked, "What'd you see?"
The first mate's eyes grew large and his oar skipped over the water.