Check back every week for a new instalment of the online exclusive by Richard Cozicar The Ice Racer
Annaliese left the prisoner and walked through the long building. The reading paper the man had given her secretly hidden in the folds of her robe. As soon as she returned the tray to the building’s cooking area she would race to the privacy of her room in what the towns folk secretly called the palace.
Her father’s house wasn’t anything like a palace but it was certainly grander than the other homes in the city. A perk she supposed came with being an elder and the most revered Prophet. Until now she had paid no attention to the whispers and snide remarks from the other towns people.
People were very careful about what they said when she was around but she occasionally overheard their shielded cries of discontent. Her father and the other prophets were stringent and not at all forgiving when it came to the rules being followed.
To question the Prophet’s laws or beliefs was received with extreme prejudice and any outward show of defiance was treated as blasphemy and dealt with quickly and harshly. This she accepted without question, but in her outings around the city she could tell that not everyone had the same unwavering faith. Ever since the stranger had been captured she had started questioning the strict system.
The one time when she was a child and she had raised her concerns to her father she was sternly scolded and warned about such dangerous thoughts, even threatened of the consequences of rebellious thinking. The repeated and scripted explanations her father used to quell her doubts started to sound feeble and contrite.
Annaliese knew that being the daughter of the High Prophet, she of all people should without a doubt accept the word of her father but after seeing the fear hidden behind the eyes of the city’s inhabitants she could no longer simply ignore the depressed and scared nature of the general population.
If her father found or even suspected that she had on her person a paper containing word of a history that preceded their own records and was different than the written archives in the city she would be dealt with in the harsh manner that had befallen other free thinkers, High Prophet’s daughter or not.
A lot of the archives in the libraries and schools contained accounts of history that she found harder and harder to believe as her mind searched for clearer meanings, the explanations didn’t make total sense to her whenever she spent time thoughtfully reviewing them. The accounts of the Climate Prophets and history of the city were taught to the young when they were old enough to understand and presented as the one and only truth.
Annaliese rushed back to her room and locked her door before tentatively sliding the reading paper out from the protection of her robe. Sitting in her bedside chair on her folded legs she soon became engrossed in words and a history alien to that which she learned as a child.
Skimming back and forth through the paper she at first dismissed the new accounts of history and then found that some of the writings fit better with what she had pieced together than the twisted artificial history the Prophets wrote and preached. Not to say the writings weren’t still disturbing to her.
She paused in her reading. How could she even consider this paper to be anything close to the truth? Could the prisoner not have believed in a history that was falsely presented to him and believe in it the same way she was told to believe the Prophet’s version?
Wouldn’t she be conceived as being irrational by simply dismissing a history that she lived with all her life, a history accepted as gospel by the entire city for a written narration passed to her by a complete stranger, in fact maybe even a spy as he was being called although she didn’t think he was a spy or was that because she kind of liked him. He seemed different than the people of the city, gentle in a way. For some reason she had a hard time believing that he came here to do any harm to the city or her.
Long into the night she read about the rise of the Climate Prophets, the climate wars and then the construction of the giant wind turbines and how eventually the earth started to vibrate and shake. How long doormat volcanoes became active again spewing ash and dust. How soon all the world’s volcanoes began erupting at the same time until the combination of dust and ash blocked out the sun slowly freezing and killing the planet.
She had never left this city, she had never been to the surface, the Prophets forbade it, but she had heard rumours that the surface consisted of nothing more than ice and snow like this diary claimed. The deeper into the paper she read the more uncertain of the Prophet’s version of history she became.
Alone in my cell again I sit down to eat the food the girl brought me. Each mouthful was chewed with no memory of the taste of the food as I dwelled on her parting words and then dismissing the subject I laid down and resumed planning my escape.
If she was right and they came for me tomorrow I needed a plan of some sort once I was removed from this cage. Where they were to hold this council and how many people it involved was an unknown. I knew that the more people around the harder it would be to escape so if I was going to get away it would have to be between this cage and the area where the meeting was to be held.
How many guards would they send? The same number that escorted me to this building I wondered. If it was four again I needed a plan to overpower them, maybe wrestle a gun away. How well trained the guards were I had no idea but I knew that the years of hard work on the ice sled had given me an uncommon amount of strength and for my sake hopefully enough to overpower the number of guards sent to retrieve me.
I lay thinking, my hand turning over a spoon from the tray of food. The spoon was made of a light metal and bent very easily. I played with it bending it this way and that until I fashioned a stout point on the end then I stuffed it in my suit. As a last resort I could at least gouge with it. It was the only object I had for a weapon.
The hour was growing late. I left the metal shelf and restlessly paced the small confines of my cell, my thoughts flashing between my captivity and Annaliese. I started to tire so I sat back down. If something was to happen to me tomorrow I didn’t want to spend my last hours sleeping or so I told myself as I struggled to keep my eyes open. Sleep eventually overcame me.
Sometime later I was roused from a troubled sleep by the sounds of clanking on the cages bars. By the time I discovered where the sound had come from and stood at the bars distant footsteps in the dark were all that remained. Disgusted by my tardiness I was about to return to the metal shelf when I glanced down.
On the floor at the outside of the cage was a bundle. I bend down to examine it. Squeezing my arm through the bars I grab the bundle and by twisting and pulling I work it through the bars. As I lift up my hands to have a closer look something falls and clinks against the floor.
Up close the bundle reveals itself. A robe. In the dim light I can see that it is a brown robe like I saw the town folks wearing. I don’t get it. What meaning would the robe have? Then I remembered the sound of clinking. Kneeling down I slowly search for the object that fell. The light was too dim so I place my visor on and look again.
Inches from my cell lay a shiny flat object. Once again squeezing my arm through the bars up to my shoulder, I stretch my fingers and then slide them along the floor until I feel the object, which I work closer to the cage.
I slide it close enough so I can use my finger and grab it. Raising it to my visor I study it, a strange looking object, one that I have not seen much of before, a key. Then it dawns on me as I look toward the door on the cage. Maybe, just maybe this is my way out of here.
I stand for only a second contemplating the object and the robe and who might have left them then with a rushed urgency I pull the robe on over my suit. My hands go instinctively into the front pockets, checking.
My right hand closes over a piece of paper. Drawing it up to my visor I check it out. A crude map is drawn on the one side of the small piece.
For an instant I think this might be a trap but it’s a chance I am willing to take. I reach my hand through the bars, the metal in my hand held tight. Reaching and twisting I line the key up with the front of the cages lock. I am careful not to drop the metal while I manoeuvre it toward the hole in the door of the cage.
It takes some patience but I finally manage to insert the key in the lock and holding my breath I twist. Clunk.
A new Canadian Author with too many ideas in his head. Surprising even himself with where his stories go.